Monday, September 27, 2010

China - Finally!

Did I mention we're in China? I know you're all dying to see pictures and hear more about it, so I'll just jump right in. We've been here for about 2 months now and will actually be wrapping the trip up in just a few more weeks. It's been a blast so far. My favorite things are: the hotel staff (they are super friendly and I love being called Mrs. Mark, although most of them know my name now), everyone smiling at me and saying "Hello!", strangers taking pictures of me, babies and their crazy crotch-less pants, the amazing temples/gardens/history that we've seen, and just getting to see a place that is SO foreign to me. My least favorite things are: the squatter toilets, people hocking loogies all the time, people peeing (and occasionally pooping) in public all over the place, weird guys who just stare at me, the complete lack of personal space, smoking (everyone smokes,'s very hard to breathe here), and spending most of my days alone. I'm pretty much by myself all day, every day (except for the weekends). I had a friend that I was able to hang out with for the first month or so, but she's back in the States now, so it's just me. I'll make plans everyday so I can get out and see everything I want to here in Shenzhen. Yes, somedays the plan is lay by the pool, but most days it's a bit more exciting.
But then again, sometimes I'll just walk down the street to Walmart. It's about a 15 minute walk, or just 1 metro stop away from our hotel. A week or so ago, when I last went, I took a few pictures. Enjoy.I love the case you can't read the small print, these are Little Tomato Flavor, Lemon Tea Flavor and Breezy Blueberry Flavor. I also like how they're "Cool & Refreshing".And here we have BBQ Steak, Shrimp and Aromatic Crispy ChickenThe ever popular "Intense and Stimulating" Numb and Spicy Hot Pot FlavorDragon FruitDried fish...smells as good as it looks.I'll take the eel head, thanks.Rice cookersWant to get a new mattress?Love this aisle random.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Summer Road Trip - The End

After leaving Niagara Falls, we started the drive home. Although it was a long drive, it really wasn't that bad. Until the tire started unraveling. But that didn't happen until we were about an hour from home, so that's good. Too bad it was when I was driving!
Anyway, we left Niagara and drove for a few hours that night. We stopped - somewhere in New York - and had some very yummy BBQ for dinner, and then stayed the night in The-Middle-
of-Nowhere, Ohio. The next morning, we realized we weren't too far from Kirtland, so we made a quick stop there. (Side note: we met a fam with 4 kids at the Kirtland Temple that was in the midst of a 2 month road trip...and I thought our trip was big!) Then Mark decided he wanted to swing by to see his sister (Nashville isn't really on the way, but whatev) so we ended up staying there for the night. On the 4th of July, we had to get up really early, so we could make it to Mark's parents for a late lunch (this is when the tire gave put us a little behind schedule, but oh well). We were really glad to have Monday to relax, since when Mark returned to work on Tuesday, it became all about China!
So for a quick trip recap...we had an amazing time. Loved every place we went. I am really glad we got to visit so many awesome places together. If you ever want any tips on any of the places we went, just let me know.
And, if you haven't noticed, my "States I Haven't Visited" list (on the right side of the blog) is getting quite short. Now I just need to continue to grow the "Countries I Have Visited" one...

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Summer Road Trip - Niagara Falls

After the morning at the CN Tower, we hit up Niagara Falls in the late afternoon. We arrived around 5:00 and were on the Maid of the Mist almost immediately. This was my first time to Niagara and I had a fabulous time. Who doesn't love getting soaked and taking pictures from under a poncho?! If you've never been, I'd highly recommend it. And don't forget your passport - I don't understand why anyone would go all the way here and then stay on the US side. It's WAY more spectacular from the Canada side. Hey, we've gotta give 'em something, right? :)

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Summer Road Trip - Toronto

Just in case you were curious, the drive from Montreal to Toronto is long. Very long. We didn't get to our hotel until around 1am, so the next day it was a little slow starting. But we were excited to visit Casa Loma and also to meet up with one of Mark's co-worker's from China, Maggie. He'd never met her in person before, and it was fun hanging out with her. We went to lunch and then headed to the castle. I'd definitely recommend this if you're in the area...especially if you're going to visit Niagara Falls. We all really enjoyed the audio tour and learning about Henry Pellatt. On Toronto Day 2 we visited the CN Tower, the 3rd tallest radio tower in the world. It was fun going up and seeing the view.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Summer Road Trip - Montreal

We arrived in Montreal in the evening after visiting Ben & Jerry's. The first night, we just went out to eat in the Longueuil area (near our hotel)...where I promptly realized I'd definitely forgotten all of the French I used to know! It was fun hearing the language again, but my comprehension was pretty much nul. Mince!The next day, we were up nice and early, ready to see tons of sights that I'd planned out. Unfortunately, the day wasn't quite what I'd hoped for. We arrived at our first sight only to find that the workers were on strike so the first 2 places we'd planned to visit were closed. So we headed to the Botanical Gardens (which I'd planned to visit in the afternoon, since the weather was supposed to clear up by then). A cold, rainy day is not the ideal way to see a huge garden, but it was still gorgeous. I just wish I'd had a jacket! Later that afternoon, we roamed around town and just took in the scenery.The next day, we toured the Notre-Dame Basicila which was pretty incredible (Celine Dion got married here). I really enjoyed our guided tour, and especially our cute tour guide.Then we headed to St. Joseph's Oratory. We learned about the church's founder, Brother Andre, on our morning tour. He is currently nominated for sainthood (there was a petition to sign in the church). The inside of the church was actually really plain for a Catholic church, but there was one stand out "feature" - Brother Andre's heart. Yup, that's right, his heart. It's on display in a case. We didn't take a picture, cause really we were just so stunned that his actual heart was sitting there. It was really bizarre.After we were done at the churches, we ate a legit Canadian lunch (poutine, anyone?), swung by the Biosphere so I could snap a pic, and headed on to Toronto!