the other thing i've recently gotten over is a nasty fever (the cough is a more persistent bedfellow). i've been sleeping for like 15 hours a day, which is darned nice, not to mention the time off from work, and the excuse to skip an offsite in macau (altho i would've liked to see the newly built venetian casino). seems like 4-5 ppl from my hot hot team came down with it, along with a ton of boys from the texas men's team...um...i plead innocent.
the thing i have NOT gotten over is how AWESOME my team at kaimana turned out. major props to lori for getting me in. we made it to the finals, losing to howling coyotes 15-10 (they're schwa players? and defending champs from last year). the rest of the weekend, in bulletproof form:
- on the flight over, we had to emergency stop in narita (japan) b/c some passenger got really sick. the pilot came over the intercom and said, "flight attendents, man the slides!"--i felt guilty for being so excited given the circumstances, but the SLIDES MAN!
- thursday, we tried to drive all the way around oahu, but the road ended, and responsible johnny forbid me from offroading in our rental...which was wise. we tried to walk to the other side, but instead we found a nature reserve and a albatross nesting site. albatross are HUGE, and they make these really funny noises with their beaks...click click whirr whirr arouuuga (kidding on the last one). i thought we'd only see 1 or 2, but they nest in droves...like clusters of 3 all over the place. and then lots wheeling overhead. awesome.
- friday we went on a hike with shwu+doyle+j9. it was like a scene out of lost (which incidentally, is filmed in hawaii)--jungle gyms of vines, bamboo forests, fallen logs, orange flowers, ferral chickens, and waterfalls.
- for lunch, we found some small hawaiian dig called ono. i can't remember the names of all the foods we had, but i didn't like the poi very much. my mom used to boil taro and dip it in sugar as a dessert, so i can't get used to the taste of it as a salty substrate. the other stuff was mostly meat wrapped in a huge glob of spinach, and of course, poke (which is marinated sashimi). and then...COLDSTONES! peanut butter and reeses cups in french vanilla ice cream and a chocolate dipped waffle cone. oh boy oh boy. i couldn't finish it, but we were picking lori up from the airport, so she drank the rest. yay lori!
- i met kate wilson at the friday night party, where she propositioned me for butt sex. turns out, this would be an appropriate introduction to my team, hot lava.
- jon and i went surfing sat morning (hot lava didn't have a game till 11:45). turns out he's really good at it...i guess i should stop making fun of him for owning so much billabong gear. i...could get up once or twice, but mostly i drank a lot of water.
- the surfing meant i was late for the team activities and missed the intros...whoops.
- we won 2 games and lost to yelena's team, superflown (couldn't defend their swing cut). yelena played really good fwisbee and went deep twice for amazing grabs.
- i spent the sat night party chilling with beautiful. she's just as neurotic as always. we decided we're jealous of cathy chu and her attentions elsewhere (cathychu! pay attention to US darnit!)
- i would like to take a moment in memory of the tourney breakfasts. they had soymilk. nuff said. (except i'd also like to mention the muffins and 5 types of cereals and fresh papaya and pineapple and smoothies). if you need caffeine, it is best to eat your coffee separately from your cereal...it makes your cereal mushy super fast (this lesson is courtesy of lily and her school of hard knocks).
- on sunday, we won both our games, upsetting #1 seeded howling coyotes (chelsea dengler's team), only to almost lose to phine (tucker's team). we pulled it out in the end tho, coming back from a 4 pt deficit in the first half to win on universe point. which means...NO CROSSOVER GAME!! we were done for the day! and then i got fabulously drunk doing team shoutouts, climbed some railings, went to subway, and lost my wallet. go drunk lily go! i'm definitely not allergic to alcohol anymore. that doesn't make it my friend.
- slap, the DD of the day (she faked her sips of shoutout), turned out to have a huge concussion...which probably meant she shouldn't have driven either. luckily, the concussion didn't hit her (har har) till the next morning, AFTER a night of the craziest styliniest, illest (ok, i'm not really fly enough to use ill as an adj, but i'll pull it out for slap) dancing i've ever seen. thank goodness for slap. anyways, slap drove a bunch of us to the beach. i think britta was riding on the hood, and i was standing out of a window. can i mention at this point that we'd probably already won the party?
- and THEN we went skinny dipping, which actually feels more different from normal swimming than i thought it would. yelena was also at the beach, but she wouldn't really talk to me until i put my clothes on again.
- the party was crazy good and full of dancing. voltron tried to hold a dance contest for the girls, which sucked (poor organization and no follow thru, what do you expect from boys?), except for the part where jen smith (who already had huge scabs on her hips from her sick layouts) got onstage, pulled out a killer backflip WHERE SHE LANDS HORIZONTALLY ON HER HIPS and goes straight into the worm, which she then turns into a backspin (think mikey of the turtles--you know, the one who's a party dude?). that girl is my hero.
- did i mention that britta halverson is a dead ringer for kathy dobson? i mean, except that she skinny dips and all that. but with clothes on, on the field, she looks so much like kdob that i was very happy for a lot of the weekend b/c i felt like kdob was almost there. yay kdob lookalikes. also, she (britta) is very good at frisbee, so its not like she's an abomination to the face or anything. i have to try kinda hard not to like her so much that i freak her out (KDOB! KDOB!), cuz i don't want her to think i'm a lesbian or a weirdo (not that there's anything wrong with lesbians, i'm just not one. and ok, i AM a weirdo, but not in a bad way). ok, this point is weird, move along.
- sunday morning, we won our quarters game against the UCSB alum team, our semis against phine (more comfortably this time), and lost our finals rematch against howling coyotes (so we didn't get to see any new teams). our finals rematch against howling coyotes? lasted 2.5 hours. oh yeah. it was a war of attrition. towards the end (or the middle?) chelsea laid out into mina's knee and tore, it seems, 3 out of 4 of the major ligaments. our prayers go out to mina.
- and then all of a sudden, it was over. one of the best pickup teams i've ever played on. i can't wait till kaimana 2009. you ladies are all class.
after lijiang, we met our guide for shangrila--shiro. he's a tibetan with an indian accent, which makes him sound very rolly and jolly. there's a certain joy and kindness that emanates from shiro...he said at 1 point that he would've been a monk, except he likes women too much. maybe in the next life, shiro. anyways, we had a fantastic time with him hiking in tiger leaping gorge. there's a higher trail that you can take if you have 3-4 days (and horses and packs), but the views are basically the same and we were under time pressure. plus, 12km of walking in 3000-4000m altitude is enough for me.
we made it to tina's guest house by evening and had a delicious dinner of stir fried things. my favorite part of the dinner, for once, was not the food. it was the big coal stove grumbling under the table. and then the snickers bar afterwards--the lack of sugar was hitting me hard.
shiro told us about some of the various tour groups he's led. some ppl are really nasty and treat him like a servant. guess which nationality those groups are? wrong! not american. americans are the best ones, actually, and tour guides fight over who gets to take them (gloat) (and he wasn't just saying that for my benefit either. he thought we were both british). anyways, israelis are the worst about complaining and demanding things (as a generalization of course, i'm sure some israelis are perfectly angelic).
the next day, we woke up to a wonderful breakfast of flatbread and eggs and corn porridge before driving out of the gorge into shangrila. first stop: songzanglin. a beautiful tibetan monastery.
there are no age restrictions to becoming a monk, but you have to be sponsored by your family. it's a terrific honor for a family to have a monk (but it costs a lot to sponsor one). it doesn't sound like a bad life--you spend your time studying how to be joyful. we heard a monk listening to madonna on the radio (she's a fellow buddhist after all). the monks all seem rather upbeat and cheery.
shiro told us that tibetans believe everything is formed by natural forces (like physics), and everything has a soul. we occupy our forms temporarily, like hotel rooms. all things have the potential to achieve godliness by eschewing ignorance. true happiness is attained thru detachment from all desires.
monks have 3 ranks. the first follows 9 rules, lasting for 5 years. the second follows 30 rules, and takes another 5 years. once you've mastered that, you're in the last stage of monkhood, with 336 rules. the dalai lama has already achieved enlightenment, but he chooses to continue in his earthly form to help others. apparently, the higher lamas can choose their next form, and they'll leave hints about where to find them in the next life. boys of age 3-4 get tested extensively before they're recognized as a lama.
the monks open the doors to the protector room at prayer time to let in spirits who want to meditate too.
we got fleeced by a small boy for change (to take pics)--he promised us long life and "snow white happiness". 2 yuan bought his loyalty for the day. he would praise us loudly whenever he happened upon us in the monastery.
we gave a monk a ride into town, where i bought some oranges--sugar-deprivation!
in the afternoon, we went to shika snow mtn. we had to rent huge army surplus jackets to shield ourselves from the wind (even tho i was already wearing a northface). the cable car ride took 40 min to 4500m. the elevation made me sleepy, but shiro forbade napping (threatening to fine me 5000 yuan).
look! jon's throwing an iceball at me! and instead of ducking, i decided to take a picture of it! just kidding. i'm holding that iceball above the camera.
on the way down, shiro managed to wangle some digits off a girl who shared our cable car. i had a terrific headache for the rest of the day.
tibetan hot pot. the table is metal and coal heated. my sprite kept boiling. a beggar wandered to our table, and shiro gave him some money so we did too. he said that old beggars need the help, but young beggars should go out and work.
that night we watched a traditional tibetan dancing show. if you have altitude sickness, DO NOT drink the homemade barley wine (even tho the locals claim it has vitamins A-G). it was all i could do not to puke when the other tourists dismembered and tucked into the roast piglet. the yak cheese wasn't very good either--it tastes like old sour alcohol mash. no wonder no restaurants in the area offer "traditional tibetan food"...it's gross. on the other hand, the dancing style is very cool in a whirling dervish way. the copious amount of audience participation dancing tuckered me out.
here you see jon winning a tug of war contest.
the prize? a traditional smock, a thick black mustache, and a demure tibetan bride...
and here he's parading around his newborn tibetan baby...
and here he's in a pile of shit (napa lake--unimpressive in the winter. the boys had fun stomping on the frozen puddles).
hot spring in the Natural Stone Bridge Environmental Park. very relaxing.
last lunch in shangri la: yake meat broiled in soy sauce, minced and fried yak meat, cold pickled turnips, tomato+fried eggs, stir-fried wild mushrooms, cabbage soup. everything except the yak is imported.
An unremarkable last supper (we had gorged ourselves on oreos and toffee biscuits on the 5 hour drive back to lijiang)...j refused to eat until they brought the tater tots...classy.
and back to the old town. we sat in the 3rd floor balcony of a coffee shop, sipping yogurts and watching the bonfire dance below. the end.
thursday, we spent a lot of time selling jon's furniture. some guy bought his bed for HKD500 (we posted at HKD1000), then took his screwdriver to reassemble the bed, then called him 3 hours later b/c he couldn't figure out the reassembly, so jon ended up having to go to the guy's place. british boys are too polite, and ppl are ridiculous. at least we got the screwdriver back.
we finally tried karaoke here. the song selection is a bit stinted but otherwise it's good times. they had 2 pages of spice girls songs, and only 2 eminem ones...which means i actually had to try and sing instead of just hollering white boy rap lyrics at the top of my lungs.
i've had a massive burger craving for the last 2 days. where is my red meat?! where are my red packets?
a trip to the hairy yak meadow via cable car (3700m high). the jade dragon snow mtn, a virgin peak, looms over. At the foot of the mountain is the Baisha Land (means white sand in chinese), named for the bodies of the slaughtered Puni warriors (history loves a pun). The Naxi won the land at great cost, but the land itself was too infertile to grow anything but grass for the cows to munch.
that evening we spent in the village of the dogs, aka shuhe village, which is 600 years old. i ate my favorite of the local foods: chicken eye pea rice cakes--it's a glutinous fried mass that's mixed with bean sprouts, vinegar, spices...mmmm glutinous, mmmm fried (i actually like yak yogurt better, but only b/c you can drink it out of a glass bottle. i'm a sucker for drunken yogurts. plus, since you drink it, it's not technically a food right? which obviously means it doesn't contain any calories and won't do you any harm if you have 4 in 1 go). anyways, back to the dogs. we saw everything from st bernards to huskies to pitbulls to collies to cocker spaniels (not to mention the countless roaming mutts). i fed a demanding little thing all the ham from our soup under the table. the heartless bastard lost interest in me as soon as we left the table. i mean, is it too much to expect a bit of following around?