Tiger Leaping Gorge! Where the Yangtze comes down into a narrow canyon, making for some CRAZY rapids. Story is a Tiger jumped across the gorge to avoid being killed, Jane beilieves it… I think she’s crazy… Apparently a group of Chinese guys tried to raft it in the late 90’s… They all died, which is not suprising at all when you actually see the water. Pretty sad that they thought to try it, pretty no-bueno idea.
Also, a big “better luck next time” to the two kamikaze-pigs who took their final breaths atop the narrow section. Foolish farm animals right there. Apparently Yangtze suicide is a big problem amongst Yunan Pigs….
Daisies and kisses ;)
G and J
That’s the wizardly yak. Some dood-man charges people 2 bucks to take a picture with this poor yak who happened to be born White. He is of course a wizard though, so don’t try anything…
Yunan has some real nice flowers! Jamie got really into his Botanical photography… All jokes aside he isn’t kidding around about this stuff! We only have half of the photz from the trip, but here’s a little taster of Jamie’s flowa-photo platter. Mmmm, tasty….
A sad day it is, as the time of Parent has come and gone. Twas a golden age of splendor, comfort, and convenience, but all good things must end. First Marc of Denny Blaine, then Maud and Jane of Denny Blaine and Cap-Hill (WHAT WHAT!) respectively, left us alone and forced to relocate.
We are currently riding one of the high-speed Magnet trains from Beijing to Shanghai, doing a COO 303 km/hr. Rumor is they had to slow em down after they had a bit of a whoopsie daisy, but hey! they’re still mighty quick…. We can’t see much of what’s outside, smog is so bad out here today that you see nothing over about a half-mile, BIG TIME S-M-D-H at the Chinese right now, pretty gross stuff.
Lets rewind to the golden days and share tales of Yunan!
We arrived in Kunming, only to have me lose my passport immediately. But then find it at the airport lost and found HOLLLA! We were not to meet our parents until the next day, so we stayed in a lesser hotel near the airport. It was too much lesser… The floorboard were peeling up, the walls were stained, there was a prostitutes personal ad stuck to the inside of our door (cmannn really) and the room smelled awful. We tried to pass the time with a laptop-movie, but in the morning when I went in to use the bathroom and it smelled so badly of broccoli-death I gagged and almost threw up, I had a tantrum and demanded we leave immediately. We soon met our rents and started our happy journey.
We went from Dali to LiJiang to Shangri La, spending a few nights in each town and experiencing new “Old” China. These places are trying to rebuild their old towns and restore Chinese culture to attract domestic visitors, which made for an interesting sight. We went to a traditional concert, which was sort of sad because that type of music is dying out in China, and you could hear the electronic music from the nightclubs booming as they performed… But they were all realllly old, wise looking Chinese guys which made it sort of fun to watch. They even had a part in the program to shout out their octogenarian (80+) musical-ballas! In other news, they had lot’s of paintings of Osama Bin Laden around that town, which was sorta odd… I dunno, just thought I’d throw that our there… We had a tour guide, Dorgie, who was a real nice laddie and taught us lots about Buddhism as we visited various Temples along the way. Team member numero DOS was our driver (woah!!) Pang Kun who was the OG (original gangster!!!) He was a really nice guy, and he a kind ear to us when we spoke Chinese with him, but his massive under bite/ orangish timbalands/ gold accessories made him the real tottin’-gunz and shootin’-dice deal! At one point we actually got locked out of the van, but the OG and Dorgie melted off the window lock with a lighter and got the key back. Atta babe!
We ate like champs the whole way. It was weird not having to search for a restaurant every meal. Travelers of old had to hunt for their own food, just as amie and I had to hunt for our restaurant. It’s just as difficult. You have to look for a pretty grungy but also busy joint. Then one must survey the menu and if the stars align and all the factors come together, you find THA DEALZ! Anyways, our hunting days were over… momentarily.
Many Temples, awesome sights, delicious meals, and miles later, we made it to Shangri-La and prepared to set off on our trek the following days.
paht 2 beloww
After Shangri-La, we made a coo-moove to the mountains and began our trek to the base of old Tibet’s most sacred mountain. We were way tha-heck up there, driving past the 15,000 foot mark and hiking up into the 13,500 range twice. We had an altimeter in the car, which turned out to be the great entertainment for simple-minded James and I. We stayed in a rad hotel near where our hike started, and they served us delightful food and even gave us free slippers to take home (!!!!!) so I hereby declare them an international BRO-tel.
On the hike, Dorgie had a hard time keeping up, apparently he’d gained 22 pounds and 14% of his past bodyweight in past couple offseasons, (tuff stuff) leaving him out of hiking shape/ breath and in need of Donkey assistance.
It was an awesome little trip though. The Chinese tourist wore an extraordinary amount of clothing and equipment, despite it being pretty dang HWarm, which was quite impressive/ perplexing. The also had no problem littering all over their most sacred mountain, also quite puzzling. The mountain itself, however, was beautiful, and we stayed in a nice little town down near the bottom of it. The Yunan region is world famous for its flowers (as you’ll see in the botanist James post…) which really got Jane going with her plant names (over my head…) and jazzed about hittin’ tha garden!
We all split ways one day and THA DOODZ (a team of Marc, Jamie, “Handsome Chef”, as my mom liked to call the trek’s cook, and I) went up to the Ice Lake, and Maud+Jane went waterfall bound with Dorgie (who never actually made it to the waterfall) It was real booti-ful to see that large and in-charge glaciers melting down. Plus the glacial river made for a perfect post hike ice-bath for the sore-old muscles so I give it a REAL-cool grade!
On the third day of hiking, we hiked out of there and back to our amazing accommodation just outside the sacred mountain.
We lost Marc soonafter, and headed for Xi’an to see the Terracota Soldiers.
More love a comin’,
Keep it peachy,
G and J
Hue was sweeter than a Black and White (our favorite Asian Ice-Cream drumstick) on a hwarm eve. We got a dang nice hotel room for $7.50 each a night which included water and a BIGTIME free breakfast where they gave us a menu and we could order unlimited food (unless we took it too far, like when we started getting three orders of cream cheese each along with our omelettes, baguettes, chocolate banana crepes and chocolate milkshakes. Then they told us we’d have to pay 25 cents for the cream cheese… brutal.) and it was all delicious and the free breakfast was always a happy time.
Jamie’s papz’ company Cascadia was doing a project in Hue, so we helped out, compiling photos and video interviews about the flooding and typhoons in Hue.
We made a friend, Tueng, who had lived in New York for two years and had us for dinner to his house twice, took me fishing, and guided us for a day trip down the river to meet the most impoverished people. We bought 440 pounds of rice, loaded up our boat, and alongside Cascadia pal Christine, we delivered rice to Boat people, (large families who live on small fishing boats) who are hit hard by the typhoons. We interviewed them and Teung translated and other than the near mutiny when our boat became surrounded by people demanding rice and some even boarded the boat (Daudon defended the keep by sitting on the open bag of rice, way to be!) it was a really nice day.
We took a trip to the beach, Brodon went twice!, recorded a mothers day rap video from start to finish in just over half a day (the final shot coming at 3:30 am on the lounge chairs of our hotel’s indoor pool), attempted a bike ride into the mountains alongside Pat from the Cascadia project, successfully used the glorious facilities at Cascadia’s hotel for over a week, played some soccer in the citadel, attended a business meeting as “Adventure Journalists”, fished in the moat of the forbidden city with some old men, got in a motorcycle crash (way to go James!), gave and received Vietnamese pedicures, ate (but didn’t refused to eat) an un-hatched Goose fetus hotpot with our Vietnamese homie (too much… see pic), met some wild Vietnamese doodz while on our picture taking grind, and many, many other exciting things.
More on said crash… We were riding around the Lagoon, trying to find a spot to take some pictures of the shrimp farming and Mangrove deforestation. James was in front of me, and when I spotted a back alley to the water, I honked ahead and tried to signal for him to turn around. Eventually he saw me, and pulled a real casual U-turn… I’m going to go ahead and call the maneuvar bit under-dressed, because a bike was passing Jamie right as he tried this sly little shin-dig. The result was a crash that looked pretty gnar-shreddin. The bike slammed into the side of Jamie’s bike and it looked like it crushed his leg. So I was obviously pretty concerned, like oh S$%^ Maud is gunna’ KILL ME! But… thank the good ol’ stars he was squeaky clean and A-okay. After some commotion we saddled back up and pushed onward. We managed to find an old (Key word) bamboo bridge that went out onto the lagoon. We cautiously walked out on it to take some pictures of the mangroves. After just about every step it seemed like the bridge was going to crumble, and the one time Jamie and I were foolish enough to put our weight on the same spot, the bridge did in fact let out a big cry and begin to collapse before we jumped ahead to safety. Warning: Next person to walk on that spot is swampward-bound!
After a Vietnamese meal where Teung cracked an egg into our hotpot and we were all shocked to see a bloody Goose fetus tumble into our suddenly sullied soup, we had a rest and mentally prepared for our final motorbiking adventure. (Big shoutout to the lady we rented from. It wasn’t easy, and we always came back late, but we love you for it!) We spent our last day attempting to head mountain-ward with Pat. We rode for about two hours, saw some awesome tombs along the way (I want to be buried Vietnamese style!) and found ourselves continually lost. We finally found a road we were pretty confident with, and two hours after we’d left Hue we pulled into a gas station, anxious to hear our incredible progress confirmed. Instead, we had gone in a giant circle, the wrong direction, and were NOWHERE near where we thought we were, only about 10 minutes from Hue. Demoralizing stuff there…
Our time came to leave Hue, so we took another 16 hour overnight train to Hanoi. This time, our only cabin mate was a oober-glam Vietnamese lady, who spent what seemed like the entire night chatting on her Iphone with various friends. The talk quite nearly drove us crazy, but we made it to Hanoi with Oreos to spare and headed straight for our true love, the Rising Dragon Hotel.
We spent our remaining Vietnamese Dong, drank many a fruit smoothie from THE SPOT on Hang Dieu, and sped out to the airport, China bound in the morn.
Later ahn’ Vietnam
<3 and :*
Guy Freddy y James Danny-Lou
The next morning we set out to ride all the way back to Lao Cai, and then through to Sapa, the famous mountain town of the north. Like true Turkeys, we rode around Coc Pai for about 30 minutes trying to figure out how to get out of town. After such tomfoolery, the blind squirrels found a nut and we were up and churning. It was a true scorcher-got-off-ya-front-portcher of a day, and when we got to Bac Ha we took a much needed nap on a matress in our friends house. Tough news was given as we left, he informed us it that was 42 degrees Celcius, so 108 degrees Fahrenheit outside and even hotter down where we were headed. As you can imagine, it was a long day riding three+ more hours to Sapa despite a nice tea break with some old Vietnamese men, and when we finally made it back up into the mountains again, the cooler weather (like 75 at night!) was straight refreshing!
We got some food (pho, duh) and met a super funny, silly till she drops street seller named Coco. She is a Hmong who came to Sapa to make money for her children and grandchildren. At first we gave her some money for her clever begging tactics, but soon realized she’s a man amongst boys in the street selling game. She talked a big game, such a big game I thought it was necessary to take Coco out to dinner during my late night snack run. She liked to make fun of me, but no feelings were hurt, and she ate her Pho like a straight PRO, finishing broth and all before I’d even cleaned up my noodles. Damn. Coco had some facial expressions worthy of goofy-goober status, and I’ll miss that crazy lady…
The next day, our plans were spoiled by rain. Yes, rain. We’d had about an hour and a half of rain the previous two months, all during torrential storm downpours, but this was the kind of light grey rain we remembered from a past Seattle life. Not only was it raining, but it was ALMOST cool. Still shorts and t-shirt weather, but there were no sweat requirements outside, and with enough wind resistance riding the motorbike, the chilled, electrifying feeling where you sit straight up and then tense down was back-in-action.Wahooo, really cant say enough for being cold…
We took a slow ride back to catch the night train, stopping a couple times to sit and enjoy the very peaceful mountain pass. We made it back to Lao Cai after dark and spent a bit of time good and lost before a pal-man set us straight.
After that it was back to back nights on the train, first to 9 hours Hanoi with an Australian and his Vietnamese wife/girlfriend/who knows what who was an eager beaver to get off the train and had us all up an hour beforehand unnecessarily preparing ourselves, and then 16 hours further south to Hue with a heavily lisped Belgian doodman who LOVED Ankhor Wat.
Tired, and hot again, we stumbled into Hue and settled down for ten days there!
Tootle-ooski me brewskis
Guy and MAHBOI JD740Fizza
PS: That was actually his AIM name back in our darker middle school years; a reference to one of his favorite musicians of the time 50 cent or “fiddy-cent” as Jamie would have called him back then… But considering that I was “Imthefuturenmbr1” i can’t really talk so…
Low moments, low moments. Hindsight is 20/20!
We set off at 7am with a tank half-full from a decent nights sleep on the train and a bunch of Oreos. Brief side note on Oreos- they are our asian-life-elixir, to be used in all situations where access to food is limited, or one’s soul-love levels are low. We <3 Oreos… We got speedy-slickque motorcycles from a nice dood at the restaurant outside the train station, gave him my Australian passport (which he kept in his back pocket for three days…), and had our necessary preparatory bowl of Pho. With warm tummys, we set off with a grand vision of making it to a place called Ha Giang, along the Chinese border. We were told it would take the entire day to get there, but when we finally made it to destination uno, Bac Ha, about two hours later, our pal there laughed at us and told us we had no chance to make it…
Instead, our new friend (whose name eludes me, as you’ll notice soon when I continually refer to him as “our friend”) said that there was a waterfall way up in the mountains he had always wanted to go to, and that he would come with us if he could ride on our bikes. And so, like a the great captains of world’s past, he guided us up and up and up into the mountains around Bac Ha. It was beautiful and quiet. We met Hmong people who didn’t even speak Vietnamese, which seemed pretty bad-ass to me. Also, a big shoutout to Hmong clothing, I’m now hoping I’ll be reborn as a Hmong because they rock ridiculously colorful clothing like it’s Saturday night… ALLDAY. Most of the children wear these full-traditional outfits and brimmed hats, which make them look like a group of miniature adults when they’re all together. It’s pretty dang cute if ya ask me!
For some of them, we were the first white people they’d ever seen. Our bro didn’t do much good since they knew no Vietnamese, so we just sat, and looked at one another, laughed and drank tea. Our guide had forgotten his cigarettes, so as we continued through the mountains, we would stop pretty frequently for him to smoke this tobacco-bong thing that the northern Vietnamese are really, really into. The old men would gladly give him the pipe and some tobacco and pour us green tea and all was quite well. Upon further observation, Daudon and I figured that the number one social activity for Northern Vietnamese men is smoking tobacco from the bamboo-bong and drinking green tea. Pass by any storefront, home, our restaurant, and you’ll see one of these giant bamboo pipes leaning up against the wall or in action. Northern Vietnamese men may be the most friendly and relaxed dudermen out there on this earth.
After our ride with our new friend, we dropped him off in Bac Ha and continued on towards our revised target, Coc Pai. About five minutes outside of Bac Ha, I came around the corner on a gravel road and was hit by two guys on a motorbike riding on the wrong side of the road. I went over the handlebars and slid on my stomach across the road. Luckily, I only had a few minor cuts, and went back to our pals house where his wife cleaned my cuts using the local wine (60% alcohol). The worst part was that I had forgotten to screw on my gas cap at the last gas station (CMANNN Guy), so when my bike crashed, my backpack (all of my clothes) were trapped underneath the bike and thoroughly soaked in gasoline. This, unfortunately, left everything- tooth brush, clothes, books, ect… soaked in gasoline. Real brain-fart on my part there!
After a short mental recovery, we hopped back up on our mechanical-stallions and rode an incredible 25 km, gravel/dirt/boulder road through the mountains right as the sun was setting. These massive mountains were all completely terraced out, which in and of itself was spectacular, but that combined with the serenity of the small villages dotting the mountainsides made for a truly stunning ride. The “road” was pretty scrubbin’ however, and with minor mishaps and many near crashes, it took us 2 hours to go 22 km. When we finally made it to Coc Pai at dark, we had two bowls of Pho and slept like living-logs who like to sleep (dead logs can’t sleep silly-geese!), despite our room smelling of gasoline.
It had been a tootin-long day…
Stay thirsty my friends,
But with such UV exposure, take no chances when considering a hydration plan…
All love baby babay,
G and J (PS this post is super late, we’re in China now, but my momma bear just got here wahoo!!!!)
We booked our trip to Halong Bay through our hotel, which advertised the cruise as a romantic couples getaway, just our kind of thing, obviously. But when we got aboard the bus, we soon met our fearless leader Jeremy who always looked so angry but constantly yelled things in very, very broken English like “Comeon guys, tonight we going to make the big part time, ya!!! Party boat yeah, we going to make the party on the boat yeah!!!” which always made us laugh… So we quickly grew to adore the angry partyboy.
Halong Bay itself was amazing, giant green mountains protruding from the warm sea made for ideal chillin/swimming turf. We spent the afternoon visiting an enormous cave inside the sheer rock face of one of the mountains and then enjoyed sunset playing soccer on the beach with our boatmates. The Party Boat was generally just about hanging out in this beautiful part of the world, no complaints from me! We had some genuine brotha-men (and sista-woman) on our boat, including a funny-man from our favorite, Cape Town, three Israeli guys who were in their own words “just trying to party” and had actually chosen our cruise based on its name, the “Party Boat”, many Brits, and even some Toronto-ans who supported the Blue Jays… Gross.
The night was good. Jeremy tried his best to inspire us to party by giving loud, emotional speeches atop chairs and even threw out his share of fist pumps. I’m not sure what Jeremy does when the boat is full of couples with their children (as we were told it was the day before) but he certainly held nothing back… For that, I have great admiration for ol’ Jeremy. The next day, we kayaked around to some of the caves and enjoyed watching the British dudes intentionally sink their kayak and then cut themselves numerous times on coral trying to pull it into the beach. This is typical behavior from British people as we have come to realize here in Asia… But most of all we spent the morn soaking in the rad-ness of Halong Bay.
Soon after it was back to Hanoi and quickly aboard the overnight train up into the mountains in the north.
By some odd coincidence, we were bunkmates with an older couple from Tacoma, which was good fun considering we hadn’t met anyone from Washington all year. Upon arriving in Lao Cai, we said our goodbyes to said chance state-rads (state comrades) and rented two Honda motor-bikes. We set off into the mountains with great dreams and little hope to achieve them, but it would be a spectacular ride!
Twas to turn to a tremendous tour,
Stay thirsty my friends,
And get over to Halong Bay, it’s quite nice!
oh and Jamie…