Two Waiguoren. Two Umbrellas. And a helluva lot of lightning!

Asia ~ China ~ Beijing

So I’m in holiday mode. Not going-around-the-world holiday mode, not crazy-busy-study-chinese-in-shanghai holiday mode, not bead-show-in-perth holiday mode, just plain HOLIDAY MODE! As such, I have very little of interest to write about. Every day has been a lazy crazy china kind of day…

Much of last week for me was spent in bed – turns out my body went into shut down at the thought of either a) dodgy chinese water/food or b) dodgy chinese hot weather and packed busses. Either way, I had a nice case of food sickness/heat stroke and spent most of my waking hours attempting to keep down the various Western Foods (combination of McD’s and Subway) down. Not nice. Feeling much better now – the question is, did I learn my lesson? Probably not, the dodgy chinese street food is soooo yummy, and it’s hard to stay cool on a crowded bus in Beijing’s summer.

Street food

Street food

We have spent most of the last week attempting to get to the various visa offices in Beijing. First stop was the Chinese Embassy to get an extension on Matt’s visa – it expires about a week before we’re due to leave China. Day one consisted of us getting up at about 4pm and realising that, even with superpowers, we’d never make the visa office in time. Day two we got up at about 3pm and realised the same thing. Day three saw us up at about 12pm – we were on the streets and down to our local metro station by 3pm, to find out that it is closed. For the next two weeks. Nice. Bus to the right area got us there by 5pm. Day four – we gave up. We’ll get the visa later. Similar story to us getting our visa for Mongolia (we’ve decided to head there for a week sometime soon) – except the visa office is only open 9am to 11.30am, not really convenient given our current predicament at leaving the apartment before dark.

We’ve spent our afternoons wandering town once the sun goes down, and we’ve seen some interesting sights. The other night, on our perpetual search for the perfect supermarket, we stumbled across a large group of mainly older chinese women dancing in unison. Maybe dancing is the wrong word – they were moving there arms and shaking their hips to popular western and chinese songs, with the vigour of an aerobics lesson. We joined the men on the grass as these women continued their exercise class for over an hour… Who would have thought that watching chinese women do the nutbush would be so entertaining.

Dancing to the beat

Dancing to the beat

Today/tonight we finally ventured out of our apartment at 8pm, in search of food. Our search led us to Wangfujin, where we wandered and finally settled on Japanese, mmmmm. Unfortunately, our walk home was not so nice, when is started pouring rain. Not so bad, considering we both had umbrellas. And then the lightning started. There’s nothing quite like walking through a lightning storm with an umbrella to get the heart racing.

Hope the weather is being kind to you all… Catch me on msn 🙂



Asia ~ China ~ Beijing

Ahh, back in Beijing. Finally on hols again! Where to begin… My trip started with a phone call at 12:30am on the night/morning that I was to leave – “do u want to go out clubbing in the city, then we’ll drop u at the airport”… NO! Flight was relatively uneventful – decent food, had a 1 hour stopover in Hong Kong, which stretched out to a 4 hour stopover when my flight was delayed. Matt was waiting at the airport though, so a friendly face was most definitely appreciated! We got me and my stuff up to our apartment (right in the middle of Beijing), where I quickly sussed out the place (photos to come later). Best surprise was the air conditioner in my room (thanks Matt :)).

Street food outside our apartment

Street food outside our apartment

For the first couple of days whilst staying here, Matt had friends from his Hong Kong uni staying here – Marcus from Sweden and Tim from the U.S. Our days have consisted of sleeping till about 11, then up and mucking around till it’s safe (i.e. not hot hot hot, just hot hot) to go out. Then shopping, lunch and dinner… We’ve also been getting ourselves organised – first day was spent buying mops, detergent and finding a post office. Mop and detergent were obviously to get this apartment into order (was a pigsty!) – post office was for a completely different reason… Turns out I accidentally bought mum’s car keys with me, and she only has one set… oops. Luckily, after calling her, they found the spare, so I have been saved, phew.

Our apartment has internet access, you’d think getting that organised would be relatively easy. Not so. Matt had already bought a router so we went about setting that up – turns out the broadband here comes with a password – which we have – but it only allows one puter to be hooked up at a time. Useless for us. After a lot of mucking about, we have my macbook hooked up to the net, and is sending the internet to wirelessly to Matt’s – who would have thought?!

Halfway through setting up our net, the power went out. “Hmmm”, I thought, “it’ll just be a quick power-outage”. “Whoops” says Matt… Turns out the people he rented the apartment from had told him something about the power… Now what was it… In the end, he figured out that the electricity is on a pre-paid system – you charge up your electricity card at the bank, then put it into the meter outside the apartment. Very useless information at 11pm on a hot night… Got the electricity sorted out and am now keeping a keen eye on the meter.

Other than our technology issues, we have been shopping, eating and exploring Beijing. Went with the boys and Eric, a local guy, to the electronics market the other day. Poor Eric had never been to such a place with foreigners – the vendors swarmed and Eric was the center of attention – he got pulled this way and that. Don’t think he’ll be making that mistake again. Had Peking Duck for dinner last night – YUM. Also visited the hill overlooking much of Beijing (including the Forbidden City), the plan for today is yet to be decided. Might be a jama day…

Eric, Matt & Tim overlooking Beijing

Eric, Matt & Tim overlooking Beijing

Hope all are well… We’re in Beijing for about 2 months – if you’re in the area, be sure to drop by!


Sweating it out in Edinburgh

Europe ~ United Kingdom ~ Scotland ~ Edinburgh

How typical is this? We’re in one of the countries that is renowned for its cold and rainy weather and we are in the middle of a ‘hot spell’. Everyone is complaining about the heat, people are having trouble sleeping at night. This morning I was eating my brekky in the dining room (one of the coldest rooms in the hostel, brrr), one of the longtermers walked in and remarked ‘wow, isn’t it nice and cold in here’. Tomorrow the temperature might get as high as 22 degrees Celsius, I wonder how everyone will deal with the heat and lack of sleep. Despite all this, I did manage to get horribly sunburnt the other day, ouch!

We went out for a couple of hours on Sunday night, ended up coming home early because it was oh so hot in the club. Funny, in Australia, Sunday night/afternoon is spent lazing around, sad that the weekends over, slightly sick from a weekend of partying etc etc. You might have a drink or two, but that’s about it. Over here its one of the biggest nights of the week, 1 pound drinks, so everyone gets really drunk, quite different from home.

Next week the G8 is coming to Edinburgh, expected to be pretty big. Not only will we have all the world ‘leaders’, we will have all the protesters that come with them. Bob Geldof is calling for over 1 million people to flood the streets and ‘make poverty history’. The whole of Edinburgh is shaking in their kilts… Everyone has made all sorts of plans – they are closing down the main street (the one that runs past the front of the hostel) and are advising most shops to close for the day, if not the whole week. Pubs are replacing pint glasses with plastic cups and removing all chairs in anticipation of riots. The council is advising people to stock up on groceries and not to venture into town unless ‘absolutely necessary’. Despite all this, some of the shops are staying open – one of my friends shop is staying open, however they have put aside extra funds so they can whisk staff out the back, into taxis and away to safety in the event of riots. Should be fantastic, we’re gunna be right down there in the middle of it all…

Apart from gossiping about what’s going to happen next week, we haven’t been up to much. Just more roaming of the city, yesterday we went for a nice long walk up the mountains. Walked past Holyrood, the Queen’s residence when she’s in town (pretty impressive, she has her very own church in the backyard). Climb up the mountain wasn’t too bad, very impressive seeing the view over the city. The difference between the ‘old town’ and the ‘new town’ is astounding.

Hugs and kisses all [and a special hug to my new 2nd cousin, Phoenix]
xoxo bobs

Tash, Elysha and Mike, on their way up the mountain

Tash, Elysha and Mike, on their way up the mountain

Living it up in Vegas

North America ~ United States of America ~ California ~ San Jose & Nevada ~ Las Vegas

Well, what a wild couple of weeks. Am now back in the U.K., but before I go into that, I’d like to explain a little of what I’ve been doing…

One of the girls that works at the shop, Remy, also works at a theme park called Paramount’s Great America, which is only 3 miles from home. She managed to get us free tickets, so mum and I spent a fun filled day at the park. We went on a day when the park wasn’t open to the public, it was a ‘school’s day’, where they focus on science and maths, and only school kids are at the park (although how a 9 year old can learn maths whilst on a rollercoaster is beyond me). So there were heaps and heaps of little kids under our feet. Luckily, the kids all left at about 4pm, so until 7pm we basically had the park to ourselves. We spent most of our time hanging upside down on various coasters and thrill rides. Whilst in the park we stumbled across Boomerang Bay, an ‘Aussie’ water park. There were ‘kangaroo crossing’ signs and toilets named ‘blokes’ and ‘sheilas’ everywhere…

One day was spent over the hill at Santa Cruz. There was a couple canoeing down under the wharf right next to the huge sea lions. It was great fun watching the sea lions come up next to the canoe and then dive under the canoe and just disappear. The faces on the people in the canoe were priceless… On the wharf we went to Stagnaro’s and had clam chowder… YUM! Didn’t get time to wander along the boardwalk, as there were absolutely millions of people about, but I’ve been there everytime I’ve been to the U.S., so I think I’ll cope.

Grandpoppa took me down to his Alameda, Santa Clara University last week. Was a complete culture shock. The university was gorgeous, really nice grounds. However, on the front lawns of the university there were girls sunbaking in bikini’s! Once we got past that we had to dogde girls and guys skateboarding their way to class… I’m not at all sure I’d be able to go to uni in California – I just don’t have the balance on a skateboard.

Las Vegas was fantastic. We flew up there on the tiniest plane I’ve ever been on, only 18 rows, with one flight attendant. Just before we got into Las Vegas there were heaps of turbulence, which was fun… Las Vegas was so hot compared to San Jose, definitely warmer than London! We stayed at the Boardwalk Casino, not one of the really well known ones, but still a great hotel. Each day we wandered along the strip, visiting Bellagio, Alladin, Caessars Palace, Mirage, Monte Carlo, Paris Las Vegas and the Venetian. My favorite was probably Bellagio, the lobby had a huge display of glass flowers covering the roof, made by a guy that mum and dad met a couple of years back. Paris Las Vegas is pretty cool too, inside the casino, the rood is made to look like the sky, it’s curved, painted light blue with clouds and has natural lights. As a result you lose track of time, and it’s a huge shock to walk outside and be greeted with the night…

It’s been a bit of a drag, as [legally] I’m not old enough. The legal age here is 21, which is a hastle. Whilst in Las Vegas I was only kicked out of one casino for underage gambling, not a bad effort I think! Oh yeh, nearly forgot. On my second day in Vegas I saw a real live Las Vegas Wedding!!! The pair got married in the tiny little gazebo in the ‘garden’ [read: 2 meter square lawn], at our hotel. Maurice and Petunia were really happy, or so the priest with the microphone proclaimed to the rest of us under-agers swimming in the hotel pool… Found another ‘under-age’ suitable venue that I quite liked – M&M World! Four storeys of m&m’s and m&m related products. They had one complete wall devoted just to m&m’s.

The rest of my time has been spent shopping, attempting to find a digital camera. My original camera stopped working back in India, so I just brought a cheap one there, but as you can probably see from the photos, the quality’s not that great. Now I have a better camera, so hopefully I’ll get some more photo’s up. I’ve also been catching up with all my family, seeing my cousins and so forth. My cousin Dave’s mate caught a pirana with inch long teeth last week in a local reservoir, bit of a shock to everyone. The fisheries department came in and confiscated it…

Well, hope everyone is having a dandy time back in Aussie. I’m now in Edinburgh (Scotland), I’ll be looking for a job soon, grr!

xoxo Bobs