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Dancing with Matt

I’ve written about Matt Harding (www.wherethehellismatt.com) a couple times before.  Previous posts are here and here if you are interested in re-reading them.  Yesterday, Jon and I danced (very badly!!) with Matt for his new video!

Foot massage

I’m in Kunming right now with my college advisor and his family. They lived here 8 years ago while he taught here.

Aaron and Lyle are getting a foot massage here…. they guys turned the bucket sideways so their feet could fit!

3 Days, 3 Continents

Monday I was in Australia.

Today I am in Asia.

Tomorrow I will be in America.

Gotta love how easy international travel is.

I was visiting Dan, Wendy and their new baby Alex in Brisbane.  I’ll be posting  more photos of that soon.

Last week, Jon’s grandma Creta broke her hip.  The next night, his mom Jenni was knocked down by a door caught by a massive gust of wind.  She broke her collarbone, fractured five ribs, and punctured a tiny hole in her lung.  I’m going home tomorrow to help out, and Jon will come next week.

Cemetary in Hong Kong

I thought this cemetery was interesting.  I’m used to seeing sprawling cemeteries with lots of grass between the headstones.  In Hong Kong, they are very compact and terraced.  I like all of the lines in the photos.

IMG_9796_hk

IMG_9795_hk

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IMG_9794_hkAll of the photos were taken from Joris and Dagmar’s balcony.

Victoria Harbor, Hong Kong

HK Walk of Fame

Hong Kong has an “Avenue of Stars” modeled after the Hollywood Walk of Fame.  Dagmar and I walked down it (sweating profusely all of the way. )  A group of Japanese schoolkids asked me to take their photo a couple times – they were pretty cute.  We also had high noon tea at a hotel overlooking the harbor.

From HK to Macau

When coming back from Cheung Chau Island, I had an idea to go to Macau for the evening.  Ferries run all night, so after we got back we cleaned up and headed to the international ferry terminal.  We met Adam, ate sushi, went to the VIP room at the Sands (thanks Adam!) and taught Esther how to play Liar’s Dice, then went to the Grand Lisboa Hotel to check out the “shark tank.”  The next day Esther and I went to the Venetian and ate at Fat Burger (yum.)  We then went to the old part of Taipa, to the A-Ma Temple, and to the ruins of St. Paul.

I counted the stamps in my passport – this was my 10th trip to Macau!  It was the first trip that was entirely for fun though.

Hong Kong – Cheung Chau Island

Esther and I took a ferry to Cheung Chau Island.  We ate at what the guidebook called a local seafood place (we agree, seemed very local and cheap), then rented bikes and rode around a bit.  It was HOT and we were just soaked with sweat.  There are no cars allowed on the island, so the “road” is really just a sidewalk and the hills were horrendous!  I wasn’t sure if I was going to make some of the hills in the heat.  Some of the interesting things we saw there: grown-ups riding bikes with tiny training wheels, the steepest and most crowded cemetery I’ve ever seen, and the steep, winding sidewalk/streets of the town itself.

Hong Kong – The Peak

The Peak has the infamous view of Hong Kong.  Wow – it’s been a year since my only other trip to Hong Kong.  Here are the Peak photos from then.

What do you think of the fisheye lens?  It’s totally a novelty lens, but I bought a big new camera bag so I have room to lug around a couple more lenses than I usually do.

Hong Kong – Stanley

Last week I spent four days in Hong Kong.  My friend (we went to school in Sweden together, then visited her in Belgium and last summer she came to Shanghai) Esther’s sister lives there now, so Esther came to visit and so did I!

These photos are from Stanley, which is known for it’s market.  We weren’t that impressed with the market – it seemed similar to any other Chinese one!  We did find one shop with very unique clothing, original designs silk screened by the owner.  We both bought clothes there.  The waterfront was nice though.

(Click on any of the photos to see them larger.)

Rainbow

This was definitely the prettiest thing in the sky in Shanghai!  I used Photoshop’s Photomerge tool to create these panoramas. 

Temple in Hangzhou

(photo by Jon)

(photo by Jon)
Lots of people waving burning incense all around. Very safe.

Why do people have to touch everything? We all know that the oils from our skin ruins old things. So, they’ve put up a fence to stop people from touching the very old carvings of Buddha. This doesn’t stop them though… they just use it to stand on to lean over and touch him!

Too many people!!! Everyone seems to need to get a photo in front of everything, so people are just constantly standing everywhere.

Trip to Hangzhou and West Lake

Last weekend, Jon needed to go to Hangzhou for work. Saturday, we took the slower (and very loud and annoying) T train there. Mr. Fan is also very interested in photography, so he took us to West Lake twice, as the famous lotus flowers are in bloom.





More pretty flowers from Sweden





Pretty drinks


Swedish Cruise

We took a one-day cruise in Sweden that went from the Stockholm archipelago to an island in the Finland archipelago. Since alcohol is SO expensive in Sweden, a lot of Swedes go to other countries to get it. So, it was basically a beer run!

(photo by Jon)
We had a couple of hours in Stockholm before we left, but it started POURING rain, and we’d left our umbrellas with our luggage. Jon and I sat down at a pub and watched the weather and had a couple beers.



It finally stopped raining as the ship left Stockholm.

Celia, Hanna, Andreas, Henrik and Jon in the dining room. We ate a couple smorgasbords. All very traditional Swedish food like herring and salmon.

Enjoying a last drink.

Celia the movie star… looking fabulous after a nice relaxing massage.

Henrik bought Hanna a Canon DSLR for a wedding present. What a sweet guy! She loved it. We teased them about bringing 4 extra people on their honeymoon, but they claim that the honeymoon isn’t until they go to New Zealand in December.

Örebro Castle

In Örebro, we also visited the castle. Instead of a traditional tour, they made the tour into a play of sorts. It was much more interesting than hearing a guide rattle off dates!

A person walking over the bridge is reflected in the moat.

I think this little ducky was laying eggs in this flower pot.

Wadköping

One rainy day we went to Örebro. We walked through Wadköping, which is an open-air museum. They moved in old buildings to create Wadköping, which was a fictional place created by an author.




More of the Swedish summer home

Cute little cabins that just sleep two.

Cute little nook – perfect for a cup of tea in the morning!! I want one.

There was dew or rain every day.

Hanging out by the lake, drinking beer around the fire.

The diverse group of people staying a few days after the wedding: Mattias and Anna (they are Finnish, but are part of the 5% of Finns who speak Swedish as their native language); Sven (German); Celia (Kiwi living in England); Andreas (German)

Sweden seemed like the cleanest, most peaceful place on earth compared to China!

That’s SO Swedish….

When Hanna was in America, she said certain things were “SO American.” Like peanut butter and jelly. Here are some things that I think are SO Swedish.

Summer homes! Swedes get at least 5 weeks of vacation per year, so it seems everyone has a little cabin in the woods by the lake to get away to. Very nice.

Woods. Green things. Nature. Sweden has a law that every person has a right to hike through and put up a tent and camp on ANY land. Technically someone could sleep in your cow pasture or field two nights. However, Swedes are very polite and certainly wouldn’t set up camp anywhere that might bother someone.

Bread and cheese and meat for breakfast. Yum! Swedes have “tube food” which is just like it sounds – many different types of food processed and put in a metal tube. Flavors are things like: cheese and bacon, ham, salmon, and various types of cheese. We can get two kinds at our local IKEA, but they have whole aisles devoted to it in Swedish grocery stores.

Another cute little Swedish house. The majority of houses are red. If it’s not red, it’s yellow. It’s just the rule!

My favorite sunset photo from Sweden

This was taken at 10 PM on the day we arrived in Sweden. We were driving to the cabin and we just had to pull over to take a photo – it was beautiful!

Schiphol

We got into the Amsterdam airport at about 4 AM. We always seems to be at Schiphol at weird hours. The sunrise was nice though! Schiphol is a nice airport – it has a museum, a play area, a casino, a spa, tons of shops… not a bad way to kill a couple hours. I saw that a 10-minute neck and shoulder massage cost 16 Euros. That’s 153 RMB for 10 minutes; well over 10 times more expensive than China. China – 1; the Netherlands – 0.

I bought some nail polish at a shop, and the salesperson was super nice, even bubbly at 4 AM. I was so surprised at how nice she was. I’ve forgotten what customer service is and how nice people can be, even if they don’t know each other. China – 0; the Netherlands – 1.

Sweden in Summer = no complete darkness!

10:42 PM

11:58 PM

3:44 AM

All of these photos are right out of the camera – no adjusting levels or contrast.

We’re off to Sweden!

Today we’re leaving for Sweden! Our friends Hanna and Henrik are getting married on the 4th of July… at a castle. OK, maybe not a fairytale castle, but the summer home of Swedish Royalty.

We went to Jönköping University in the Spring of 2003. Six full years since we’ve been there. We’re very excited to go back for a visit. We’ll be traveling around for few days with Hanna, Henrik and a few other international guests.

Henrik, Hanna, me and Jon at the international students good-bye dinner

We lived a couple blocks away from Lake Vättern.

The view over Jönköping.

I’m having some posts publish while we’re gone, so there will be new content while we’re gone.

Geocaching in Pudong

We went Geocaching today and got a FTF! (First To Find)  It was a micro cache; also known as an evil blinkie.  (Blink and you miss it.)  It’s about the size of a button and magnetic.

The sign says “No speel.”  It’s not a spelling mistake – look it up.  It actually means “climb.”

Longhua Cemetery of Revolutionary Martyrs 龙华烈士陵园

Sunday we went geocaching at the Longhua Cemetery of Revolutionary Martyrs. We spent a lot of time looking for the cache, due to the fact that I’d downloaded the coordinates several months ago and then they moved the cache to a new location! Good thing for smartphones with internet capibility to confirm coordinates with the website. Because of that, we didn’t get to look around as much as we’d have liked to – maybe another time.

2887 Longhua Xi Lu, Xuhui near Kaixuan Nan Lu
龙华西路2887号 近凯旋南路




I’ve never seen a Chinese guy with such rippling muscles!

One of the things where we shake our heads and say “Only in China.” I’m sure the sign says something like “Don’t be stupid and walk off this ledge.”

Harbin Snow and Ice Festival

All of these buildings are massive, and totally built out of blocks of ice. There are LED lights inside the ice (well, not actually in the ice, between layers of the ice.)






I had no desire to freeze my butt on these slides.

Harbin – February 15

Jon had a meeting in Harbin, so we went up on a Saturday for the weekend. Harbin is very close to Russia – it has a lot of Russian influence and the city looks nothing like other Chinese cities.

It is frigid there. See my really cute hat? Shannon sent it to me along with a scarf and I think I would have died without it. This is the main pedestrian street. (She sent me another hat and scarf set – you can see it here on her blog. I feel a little bad cause the scarf sounds like a real pain in the rear. But it is really cool!!)

We ate Russian food here – a pretty small place but with good food.

The entrance to the Ice Sculpture Park. We went there the first day and I didn’t even have long underwear on. Not a good idea. We decided to really be comfortable, you’d need snow pants or heavy coveralls. And awesome boots – Jon thought he might lose a toe!

On the second day we bought face masks for 10 RMB and that made life a LOT better. The wind is so frigid. We still had to go warm up about every hour. It really is freezing. We thought we were tough South Dakotans, but we were acting more like Floridians!

Elephant Shrine




Crusing around the island


On Thursday Jon and I rented a motorcycle for the day. The island is pretty small – we kept driving by our turns! Here are a few snapshots from the street.






A tuk-tuk – we never actually took one, but they are common to use to get around. (We really just hung out on the beach most of the time!) Just a local taxi.

The King and Queen are highly respected. I thought it was interesting that they have these monument/shrine things all over.

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