a couple of weeks ago, jon and i took advantage of the deadfest holiday to visit yangshuo. yangshuo sits about an hour away from guilin amongst some ridiculous karst scenery. limestone hills rise out of flat green fields. groves of orange and pomelo trees.

saturday, it drizzled, spreading a mist over the mountains--made me feel like a monkey king, somersaulting in the clouds. we took a bus to a village famed for its pickpockets (they've stolen all the way to india),
where we rode a
to the green lotus caves. Spelunking goes hand-in-hand with the holey mtns.

For lunch, we had the local delicacy, beerfish, but jon couldn't handle the bones.

And then we rode a "bamboo" raft down the Li river (the raft was actually made out of pvc pipes painted various shades of green). the scenary was beautiful, but i was FREEZING the entire time, and jon had to pee. as soon as we got off, jon sprinted for a bathroom, leaving me to pay...i didn't have enough RMB, so i tried to pay in HKD, but some stupid chinese tourist with a fake LV wallet told the guy that my HKDs were fake..."are you sure those are HKD? i've seen hkd, and they didn't look like that"--and then he proceeded to pull a $20 out of his stupid fake wallet. yeah, duh, of course a 20 doesn't look like a 100, but the damage was done. we had to wait till jon came back to pay in rmb.

atop some rooftop in a village that bill clinton visited. fang gui (our guide) grew up here.

saturday, we rented 3 bikes and went riding in the countryside, stopping at various parks along the way. this one has a 1000+ yr old banyan tree...and monkeys.

speaking of monkeying around...we spent RMB40 to roll around the river in a human hamster ball. standing was impossibly hard--knees and elbows flying all over the place.

after eating a home cooked meal and a ton of fresh pomelos from fang gui's yard, we went to a cave near moon mountain that the villagers used as a hiding place during the japanese invasion. we had to enter by boat, but eventually, the path rose above the underground stream for 3kms of pretty amazing tunnels. the whole thing was lit by naked bulbs...it felt like a scene from macguyver. in the middle of the cave is a huge mud pit with a mud slide. the mud was freezing, but if you stayed still, you could trap pockets of warm air around your body (like a frog). we wallowed for a bit before tramping the rest of the way covered in the stuff.

that night, we decided to spend the rest of our RMB food hopping. the rules: 1 restaurant, 1 dish, 1 drink, 1 postcard written. turns out, we didn't actually write that many postcards...a 1:1 food to drink ratio is bad news for me.

this was our last stop, mc blues. they had some pretty good snickers milkshakes. b/c it was sunday night, the whole top floor was deserted. as soon as jon asked me to play a word game, i knew. the first word game was a warmup, spelling some sentence about subway sandwiches. i played along. the second game popped the question. and then he got down on a knee and started talking, and i didn't hear a single word he said b/c 1) i was drunk and 2) HOLY SHIT! i was so overwhelmed that i accidentally said yes, altho the original plan was to say no the first 2 times so that he'd have to do it thrice, like in all the good old fairytales. i did still have enough of my wits about me to say that he better ask me again tomorrow morning to see if i remember any of it. it's really not fair getting a girl drunk before you ask her to marry you. it's not. anyways, by this point, i figured he didn't have a ring, but then he pulled out the my little pony box. it was a unicorn with the ring taped around its horn. ah fairytales.

the next day, we signed up for a half day climbing course. yangshuo is supposed to have the best climbing in all of china (self-proclaimed by yangshuo-ians). thru a combination of pulling and tugging and hanging on for dear life, i managed to get to the top of some of these routes. the guy belaying (sp?) me must've been exhausted. like hauling a piano up the stairs. jon liked it enough to want to find some walls in hk.

and here is the other regional delicacy: field snails. the shells are stuffed with ground pork, so you have to really suck to get the snail meat out. it's a noisy, juicy mess, but also quite satisfying to hear that POP when the snail shoots into the back of your throat.

west street, where the backpackers come.


kickin it old school

we downloaded streetfighter II turbo on the wii, but we can't play it with the wii controllers...you need the SNES or N64 ones...luckily jon figured out that they plug into the same ports as our ddr pads, so now we're kicking ass on our feet. it's really much harder to do the combo moves, but i imagine it'll be a much better workout. my life is silly.


toscars 2008

the theme was "a night with the maharajah"...which is basically an invitation to dress up as an indian stereotype...luckily, i had a bengal tiger outfit ready to go. i'm actually pretty proud of our last minute costuming efforts. jon's family is in town, so we had to come up with costumes for 6. all we bought was a monster roll of bubble wrap and 2 things of aluminum foil. i figured ppl could be creative. boy, was i right.

jon's bro in law (matt) went as an elephant...he made the nose and ears out of duct tape and bubble wrap. jon's sister (sophie) went as my trainer...we made her a whip out of duct tape and bubble wrap. jon went as a gay porn star of the 70s...and his brother (james) went as his afro'd cross-dressing friend (we had 2 afros lying around from past costumes). matt's friend (klotz, but i like to call him clyde frog) went as a...dolphin carrier? we reinflated seymour the wise (the balloon dolphin jon gave me for our anniversary) and made him carry it (we were running out of time and creativity).

but honestly, i liked my costume best. sophie made me stripes out of black duct tape. i made my teeth out of aluminum foil, and we drew my face with eyeliner. the ears and tail are something left over from durians bling for worlds. AND the only reason i had orange pants was b/c jon bleached my grey patagonia pants until they rolled over and said uncle (he accidentally turned them pink by washing them with my red 5 ulty shorts...). i went thru the whole night growling and saying things like "tigers aren't known for their punctuality" and "tigers are notorious for their love of corn on the cob", etc, except, since i had a mouth full of foil, i ended up sounding more like scooby doo than tigger. surprisingly, no one called me tiger lily.

and the best part of all of this? we still have a HUGE roll of bubble wrap leftover!


lots of stuff later, but first, a question:

where do people find friends if they 1) don't play ultimate and 2) don't go to church?

ok, i lied, a second question:

is it a unique expectation of our generation to have friends? i mean, everyone wants to fit in, but does it seem like we have this special need for people with whom we can share ourselves more platonically and more honestly? is this an expectation set up by sitcoms like friends and sex and the city? that we'll have ppl we can sit around with in coffee shops and talk about deep issues or nothing at all? that these ppl will not only tolerate but love our shortcomings?

it seems to me, that in our parents' generation, love was the holy grail of relationships. people expected to have a terrific first kiss, a terrific first time, a terrific, loving husband/wife. our generation is more jaded about love...we know it doesn't always work out, that a lot of ppl end up settling or divorcing or whatever. relationships require work, and we're ok with that. but we don't expect friendships to require work. we expect to have great times naturally and easily. after all, it was easy as kids right? your best friend was the kid you saw the most (unless that kid beat you up or something). but wherever you lived, you found someone to hang out with...even if you didn't like that person very much, as long as they could pitch a baseball and swing a bat (my requirements). plus, i guess most kids don't have the strongest personalities anyways, so not much to clash with...all my memories of childhood friends are of things they DID not things that they THOUGHT. and in a school full of freaks, chances are there's someone freakier than you willing to tolerate you, right?

but as "adults" there are so many more layers to peal thru...not to mention the lack of a forum where you can meet ppl. is that why so many of us go binge drinking till who knows when? or why ppl generally spend months feeling lonely when they move to a new city (barring ulty players and churchgoers of course)? i've had a couple of conversations with a couple of nonulty and nonreligious ppl about this recently...i mean, not deep conversations, just about them feeling lonely and not knowing where to find enduring friendships...i guess i've just been really lucky. thank god for ultimate.


ajkle;aghakd (in memory of yelena's blog)

the past couple of weekends have been some sort of fantastic. we didn't have the gumption to figure out a trip over easter weekend, so we decided to eat the HKD6000 that we would've spent instead. i had to cover the desk on friday, which meant coming in in frisbee clothes at 10am, going to the gym at 1, having lunch till 3 (at union bar...pretty good burgers), coming back, answering a few emails, and vamoosing at 6pm. and for all that, i get a day in lieu. i love working holidays.

that night, we splurged at stonegrill, a steak place that serves up it's meat raw on a 400 degree C slab of rock. jon's wagyu was slightly disappointing given the price (the most expensive thing on the menu, incidentally), but my superprime (whatever that means) was fantastic. plus some of the best scalloped potatoes i've ever tasted. i've never liked steak before, but man, this stuff was good. jon says we should go again...provided we don't order the wagyu, it shouldn't break the budget.

saturday, we hiked the twins and watched charlie wilson's war, dinnered at chili fagara, a small szechuan place that was too hot for me. jon liked it fine tho...i think we have different types of spicy tolerance...i can take mexican spicy till the cows come home, but szechuan spicy is beyond me. i will say that the mapo tofu there is the best i've had in hk.

sunday, we brunched at caramba, a swanky mexican place that doesn't carry ketchup and charges $22 for extra salsa! normally, these are enough to condemn any restaurant in my book, but mexican is hard to find in hk. plus, they serve a pretty mean breakfast burrito. then disc, then to kristin+grante's for guitarhero. also, they were leaving for cambodia the next morning, so we had the (always pleasurable) duty of cleaning out their fridge--homemade lasagna and cheesecake, come to mama.

monday, we went on a 45km bike ride, from tai mei tuk to shatin. tai mei tuk is a pretty busy little place. it sits next to a reservoir that they drowned a village to make, but the reservoir is no longer used b/c they get their water from china now. the bike etiquette is crazy. ppl ride really slowly and swerve all over the place. i almost killed a kid who was coming into a turn on the wrong side of the track...we were in a tunnel, both going downhill, so i couldn't see him at all. why would you ride into incoming traffic like that? and while riding across the reservoir, we saw a man with a bloodied head being lifted into an ambulance. another man had caught a really big fish (like the length of my arm) (unrelated incidents).

the masses thinned as we got farther from tai mei tuk. most of the riding was quite pleasurable, and relatively flat. a nice outing in the countryside with the sun shining and the air clear (we were pretty far from the city). i favored passersby with my rendition of doe a deer (a female deer!)...i only sing the verse where they shout the notes (RAY! a drop of golden sun...MEE! a name...). in shatin, we found a track that didn't kick us out when pulled out a disc (most places are all "no flying saucers!"), so it made a nice destination for the bike ride.

bike riding is a private affair. i felt like all the ppl who were going a different pace than i was were in a different dimension. you can do all these things you wouldn't normally do b/c in a second, ZOOM! you were outta there (or zoom! they were outta there)! you didn't have to share the time, so you couldn't possibly offend anyone (right?).

oh! and they also rented out these family death carts. they're 4-wheeled contraptions where the 2 ppl in the back pedal, and the rest of the ppl sit in a basket-like seat in the front. the front also tends to be wider than the back, and i think there's a steering wheel, but the driving wheels move independantly so if the two peddlers pedal at different speeds, then the cart turns independantly of the steering wheel...and if front wheels happen to be misaligned then the cart tips over. b/c they're hard to maneuver, these carts tend to crash...and most often, ppl place their babies and grannies in the front basket, and of course, no helmets. i can't believe it.

and then last weekend, instead of going to the sevens (the drunkest weekend in hk), jon and i dragonboated, brunched in stanley, climbed the twins in record time (58 min for him, 68 min for me), got massaged at sunny's paradise (not sketchy, i swear, but i'm peeved that the boys have TWO plunge pools and the girls only have saunas), watched HORTON HEARS A WHO (!!!), and had dinner at crystal jade. Horton Hears a Who is a fantastic movie. i was a bit worried going into it that i had outgrown non-disney animated movies, but yay, i haven't. fav quote: "i said what i meant, i meant what i said, an elephant's faithful 100 percent!". i'm gonna find a way to work it into a cheer, b/c seriously, have you heard a more cheerful thing? the animation will blow your mind too. the level of detail in the water, in the forest, etc...wow.

recently, we've discovered the pleasures of corned beef. so cheap, yet so delicious. fry it up with some scrambled eggs and onions, slather it with some horseradish sauce, and voila.

this weekend, we embark for yangshuo, which is supposed to be a backpackers paradise near guilin, famed for limestone "forests" and climbing/biking. hope the weather holds. hk is grey and bleary...back to winter.