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Thursday, December 8, 2011

December 10, 2011

Hello Everyone! Ni Hao! Lei Ho!

So it’s been an interesting week since my last post. My roommate Tucker returned from his US holiday on Sunday. So now I have someone else in the apartment besides my shadow!  This past weekend I really did not do too much, Ben came over Friday and stayed at the place all weekend so we pretty much just hung out and watched movies.  Then on Sunday Tucker came back like I said, so all three of us were in the apartment together for the first time since Tucker left. To celebrate his return we decided to go out for Sunday dinner together.  The restaurant we went to is called “The Jockey”, it is located in Happy Valley right next to the race course and is owned by an American. It is actually right next to Happy Valley Bar and Grill, the place I sometimes go after Lacrosse. 
Ben and I actually had the same thing; a blue cheese bacon burger. I thought it was overpriced for sure, the burger was not bad, but not worth $15 US. Tucker was actually so jet lagged that he barely took any bites of his meal! So after dinner we just went straight home and crashed for the night.
Actually on Saturday, Ben went out to lunch with his Father and a family friend so I spent some of the day running errands. I finally got a haircut, the first one I have ever got in Hong Kong! The place I went to came recommended from a few of the guys I met on Thanksgiving, they told me I had to ask for Ash to cut my hair.  So on Saturday morning I called up ‘Vickies Salon’ and booked an appointment for 2:00 pm.

 I planned on taking the tram from Causeway Bay to Wanchai where the salon is, however when I got to the tram stop, I realized I had no idea which tram I had to get on! So I ended up just taking a taxi and told the driver to take me to Wanchai Market, as I knew that it was near the Salon.  However, when I got out of the taxi I found Wanchai market but could not find the salon anywhere! So after walking around in circles for about 10 minutes I finally just called the salon, but that did not work at first because I could not understand much of what ‘Vickie’ was saying. I guess when I did not show up for a while, she realized I was still lost and had an English speaking worker of hers talk to me.  I finally found the place with help and only had to wait for about 10 minutes to get my haircut.
Overall, It was a pleasant experience because I thought my haircut looked nice and he service was superb. One thing that really stood out was that after receiving a haircut I always hate little hair particles all over me.
Even when they blow dry it off there are always some left itching. So at Vickie's they will rinse off your hair after the cut as well! Compared to the other places that I saw this was a terrific price as well, it only cost $136 HK and every other place cost around $200 or more!

After I was all done with 'Vickies' I decided to walk around the Wanchai market for a little while as I had never seen it and heard it was quite big.  I'm really glad I did as well because I ended up purchasing a couple items. The market is huge and just like the Wet Market we have in Causeway Bay, there is a section for fresh seafood and meats, except unlike in

Causeway this section in Wanchai is actually inside a building. The outside section of the market is composed of 3 adjoining streets and just like most of the markets in Hong Kong you can buy just about anything there. I ended up leaving with a bag of mixed candy, a huge bag of almonds and also a Santa Cap. I bought the candy because I knew it would get eaten between Ben and I, and the almonds were for work as I like to snack. If you buy them at the grocery store the price triples for far less. The Santa cap cost me $10 HKD and was basically a impulse buy, however their is a chance that I will be doing a Christmas bar hop on this coming Saturday so it could come to good use then. If not then I will wear it on Christmas as I open my gifts and video chat my family.

Some of the Fresh Seafood

Small portion of Wanchai Market

Taco Loco
When I decided I was done venturing around the market I started walking towards Central because I wanted to visit the H&M store and, see if their were any part-time openings. I figure I should get a part-time job to add a little extra cash flow for my everyday life.  When I finally arrived at the H&M store I  immediately became lost as it is humongous! The store is the only one in Hong Kong and it is 4 floors. You enter on the second floor and I had no idea where the mens section was so, of course I went all the way up to the fourth floor before I realized I needed to be on the bottom floor!  The place was super busy as it was a Saturday so when I finally got a hold of an employee I was disappointed to find out they only took applications online.  However, I went all the way to Central and I was not about to make the whole trip a failure so I decided to go grab a burrito at 'Taco Loco'. I find Central is a terrific place to just sit and people watch as there are so many people coming and going.  Taco Loco is located right in the heart of Soho and there are bars all around it, luckily as I was eating I had some entertainment as their was a large group of people doing a bar hop.  They were super drunk and dressed up in all different types of outfits, so I enjoyed my lunch and watched them.
Some of the people in the Barhop

Demonstration (not real thank god!)
After that adventure I met back up with Ben and we decided that we really wanted to play Call of Duty Modern Warfare 3 so we went and picked that up, we ended up beating the campaign by the end of the night.  However on our way to the store we saw this demonstration which I captured in the picture below.  It was people who were demonstrating against the Chinese Government for the way they treated the Falun Gong people. Apparently, it was a huge thing that I guess I just never heard about, but some of these people were tortured others killed and some even had their organs taken and sold for profit; which they are demonstrating here.

Monday was an exciting day for me this week as I finally was able to go pick up my custom suit which my parents bought me as a Christmas gift! It came out great and I really like the way it looks on me, but I will let you be the judge. My only issue with it is the fact that I asked for the inside liner to be a baby blue and they forgot so it ended up being just plain black. They ended up giving me $200 HKD off for the mistake so I let it slide.

Mr. Taco Truck Burrito's

Taco Loco was not the only Mexican place that I have ate at recently, in fact on Wednesday, Tucker and I decided to grab lunch together. He has this app on his iphone that you can search for any type of food around your location and it will give you results plus rating, pictures and reviews.  So we searched Mexican and found this place called 'The Taco Truck' and it was located in Quarry Bay which is 4 stops on the MTR away from Causeway Bay. Yesterday after work Tucker and I headed to Happy Valley to watch the horse races. It was a big event at the race track as it was the Cathay Pacific International Jockey Championship. They even had fireworks which Tucker and I watched from outside the track so we could get a nice view of the fireworks.  

At the track we met up with a couple of our English friends who live in our building on the 17th floor.  They are a good group of guys and all work as engineers here in Hong Kong. Out of all of us I think only one of us won any of our bets, so it was pretty much a losing night.
Yesterday (Thursday) was a pretty regular day, went through the motions at work got home and was pretty exhausted.  I did not go to the gym because I had to meet a couple friends in Wanchai at 8:00pm so, it would have been cutting it close.  Tucker decided he wanted to tag along so we took the tram to Wanchai together.  We met my friends at Mes Amis which is a popular bar in Wanchai, the reason we were meeting was because one of the kids I play Lacrosse with Jordan Wong, is leaving Hong Kong. Jordan is from Canada and plays lacrosse at Bellarmine University. He is a good kid and I will miss hanging out with him, he says he really wants to come back here after graduation so hopefully he does!  One of the other guys we met with Jordan West-Pratt is also from Canada, however he lives here with his wife and they both are teachers at one of the Hong Kong high schools.  He is a great guy and I am really glad that I was able to meet and become friends with him.  He has played professional box lacrosse, and when he and his wife were teaching in Berlin he had the opportunity to play for team Germany which is something really special.  Anyway we had a few drinks then Jordan Wong and his friends had to leave to go to their going away party, so Jordan West-Pratt sent him off with a bang by buying us all shots.  This shot he introduced us to was a custom shot that apparently one of his buddies came up with. Its called the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse and is a mix of Jack Daniels, Jim Beam, Johnny Walker and Jose Cuervo.  It sound terrible and to tell you the honest truth, it really isn't in fact its actually not bad.  From there Tucker and I grabbed some Ebeneezer's for dinner, and then took the tram back home.

That's really it for now, I do have a big weekend which I am pretty excited about! On Saturday night we will be celebrating my friend Pramond's birthday at this club called "Prive".  Pramond actually rented out all of the tables at the VIP section in the club so it should be one hell of a time with friends! Then on Sunday I will be pretty busy working on a project during the day but at night I will have my second Lacrosse game with team Skyers, after the game Tucker and I talked to Jordan about getting together for a couple beers.  So I am looking forward to that as well.
All I have left to say is Go Patriots, Go Bruins! Until next time...Adios!

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

November 30, 2011

Lei Ho Everyone!

I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving with their family and friends!  I was invited to my boss Jessica's home for Thanksgiving.  We actually had our Thanksgiving dinner on Friday instead of Thursday because in Hong Kong they do not give any day's off for it, as it is not a common celebrated holiday.  Which, if you think about it makes sense, why would people in Hong Kong care at all about when the Native Americans and the Pilgrims came together and celebrated thanks.  Anyway, dinner was FANTASTIC, Jessica's boyfriend Scott is a wonderful cook and he made every dish that we would have back home and he made them very well. I have never been one to enjoy stuffing at all, however I actually ate and enjoyed his stuffing.  He bought a 15lb turkey and also a chicken and he cooked the Chicken inside of the Turkey and they both came out perfect, the meat was not dry at all! I would have to say my favorite dish was the mashed potato and the yams, the yams especially. He cooked them with brown sugar and put walnuts on top of them... delicious.  I brought a bottle of Glenmorangie scotch which Scott was very happy about and enjoyed it with me.  I also told Jessica I would bring an appetizer so I brought my signature Monday Night Football dip which, everyone devoured so that was nice.  In total their were about 15 people there and I was able to sit and have a conversation with just about all of them, all very nice people and people who I will actually probably see again.  Overall it was a terrific way to spend a Thanksgiving if I could not spend it with my family, Scott even had the NFL games playing!

Jessica and Scott giving the Turkey Taste Test!
After dinner we had some drinks and then most of us continued the night down in LKF. We all had a ton of fun and I got to know a bunch of these people really well.  I almost did not go out with them because, I was stuffed and did not know if I could do a night of drinking but, I am really glad I went as we all had a blast.
Aside from that I have not done anything really different than the past few weeks.  I have done quite a bit of networking, since my last post I have gone to a couple networking events and met quite a few people.  This city is literally networking on steroids, if you go to these events you would have to be blind and deaf to not walk away with at least 10 business cards. So that part is easy, from there its all on you to follow up.  I am finding you can really get a lot out of Hong Kong as long as you are willing to apply yourself and meet people.
On Sunday I actually had my first Lacrosse game with the "Skyers" (no idea what the name stands for or means) which is one of the teams that I will be playing for in the league they have here.  We won

14-1 so it was a good victory.  Most importantly I had a lot of fun, myself and one of the Jordans on the team who plays at Bellamarine actually did a "Ham and Cheese".  I swept over the top with the ball, pretended to do a fake flip to Jordan who then ran hard down the side and acted like he had the ball, when really I had it the whole time and just had to go drop it in the net, because the goalie was not looking.  After we went to this nearby bar called Happy Valley Bar and Grill and had a few beers and a burger, so it was a great way to end the weekend.

So now today is Wednesday and I actually just had dinner with someone I met at a networking event last week.  His name is Diederik Heinink from Holland and he has started his own Public Relations company out here in Hong Kong called C-People.  I actually met him through my old boss and friend Andrew Miller from Global Sage. Diederik has been a great guy to talk to though as he is very experienced in the Marketing/Communications industry, so I have received some solid advice from him. Another reason we had dinner tonight was because he wanted to see if I was interested in doing some contract social media work for his company, so we got together to discuss that and just social media in general. I am actually really interested in doing this contract type work on the side as it is really neat because you get to work with a lot of companies who otherwise I would have no connection.
So that is where I am at right now in my life here, busy busy busy.  I hope everyone at home is doing well, I look forward to hearing from all of you so don't be shy and email me if you have some time.  Also, I am very proud of my newest blog so if you have some time give it a read, also I would appreciate any comments or criticism that you might have on anything I have written.  One way that you can actually help me as readers is, if you read my blogs and find what you read interesting   than go ahead and share them with your social networks to help me reach people that I would not normally be able to.  The buttons below the posts such as the Facebook "Like" the Google +1 and the twitter tweet button are all very clickable so please CLICK! lol
Well until next time, adios and buenos noches!

Monday, November 21, 2011

November 21, 2011

This is the artwork we bought for our wall, we call them the laughing brothers. Can you guess which is mine?
   So I guess its about time for a post in this blog, I am sorry if I have been somewhat ignoring it but, I have been pretty engaged in my new blog.  My new blog that I recently just created is called AdChatting, the reason that it really excites me, and I have been so involved in it is because, I actually bought the domain for it, so I own it!  This believe it or not has been something that I have been meaning to do for sometime. Advertising and marketing tactics are concepts that I am really interested in as they are ever changing and can be very different.  So on my blog all I do is take a look at different advertising and marketing strategies and discuss what is good and what is bad about them.  My hope is that professionals in these industries will use my blog to discuss these different advertising and marketing campaigns and tactics.  This will enable me to not only network and engage with these professionals, I will also be able to learn from them.
     Aside from buying my own domain name and starting my blog, a few other exciting things have happened to me in the past weeks.  Along with joining California Fitness gym, last week I went and got a phone plan from the service called 3 here.  The exciting part is not the phone plan, its the actual phone I got with my plan, the Iphone 4s!  This phone is everything its cracked up to be, its pretty damn awesome.  The siri technology is unreal, it's wicked smart and you can ask it just about anything including the meaning of life. If siri does not know the answer to your question, she will tell you and then ask you if you would like her to do and internet search for you which is cool... to me at least lol.  So to say the least I am really pumped about my new phone! Also on Saturday I went with my soon to be roommate Ben to a tailor to get fitted for a new suit.  The place he took me too, is a tailor that he and his Dad have been going to for years.  When I got there I could see why, as the quality was superb and the prices were really reasonable.  In the US you can spend thousands of dollars on a custom suit, here I was able to get the suit with an extra pair of pants for less than $450 dollars.  The service is fantastic as the first time you go, they measure you out, and let you pick all the color and style that you want for your suite. Then they bring you in for a fitting to make sure everything is the way it should be, after the fitting you can pick your suite up in days or, they will ship it to you anywhere; and I mean all the way back to the US anywhere if you want.  The suite and iphone 4s were gifts from my parents, as one would be my Birthday present and the other my Christmas present, so I want to say thank you Mom and Dad and I love you both tons, and... I would give both gifts back if I could spend Christmas and my Birthday at home with you guys. (But if not then I don't mind keeping them)
     During the week I have been on my own as no one is ever here except me but, on Friday's and Saturday's, Ben the kid who is moving in to our apartment has been hanging out with me, so that has been a nice change of pace.  This past Saturday we walked across the street to this bar called "Inside Out."  It's a fairly large bar and on the weekend it is always packed so its actually quite fun.  We went there for dinner on Saturday and to watch Ben's favorite "Futbol" aka soccer team Arsenal.  They won so Ben was pumped and I had a good meal and a bunch of cheap beers, so I enjoyed myself as well.  It is definitely a place that we will be going often as it is literally 2 minutes away counting the elevator ride. Too keep myself busy during the week after work, I have been working out everyday, blogging, cleaning my apartment and reading quite a bit on blogging and of course advertising!  On this past Sunday I ventured to "Gateway Grocery Store" in Shuen Wan, basically it is like a mini version of Costco or Sam's.  It's very small but they sell all American products in bulk, the problem is that items shuffle in and out of there so often that its hard to tell what items will be in the store and when.  It is also  quite expensive because, I only bought a few items and it cost me more than, I spend when I go shopping at the local grocery store.   So I do not think I will be going there very often unless I want to get something that I use a lot in bulk, such as Skippy Super Chunky Peanut Butter.  (I literally eat PB & J everyday during the week for lunch.)
     So this week is the week of Thanksgiving, and as I have mentioned in the past I will be going to my boss Jessica's and her boyfriend Scott's place to celebrate.  After much debate with myself, I have decided that I will bring my famous "Monday Night Football" dip over their house, along with a bottle of wine.  I think they will appreciate it, as most people who have tried it have really enjoyed it.  I am just happy to be going somewhere for Thanksgiving as it will help me not think about missing my family like crazy.  On top of that I will have a chance to meet some new people as they are having a bunch of other people over for dinner as well, so I am really looking forward to that.
     The last thing I want to talk about on this post is how freaking proud of my father I am.  My Dad is one of the most smartest and easy going people I have ever met.  If you know him, you know he is not one to take advantage of any one, or over stay his welcome, he is one who usually gives other people a hand, rather than receive any sort of help.  So in my opinion a time to recognize him is wel overdue! Well this past Sunday exactly that happened, my Dad was inducted into the Watertown Football Hall of Fame, (he actually graduated from Watertown where he was a stud safety!) He received the award due to the countless hours he has put in for over 20 years refereeing pop-warner, High School, and College Football.  Even with a full College schedule he has served on the Hartford board and the CT valley board as President.  Most of all he has been recognized for his love of the game, I honestly don't think I know anyone aside from Bill Belichick himself who has more passion for "America's game".  The best football team I have ever been on in my entire life was actually coached by him, we ran a no huddle offense with a direct snap to the running-back.  We had a whopping total of 7 plays, which we ran perfectly because we knew them inside out, we could go on two and draw the opposing defense offside every game.  We went undefeated the entire regular season and lost in the playoff's to who else WATERTOWN, because of a few plays that did not go our way.  What a great team that was, and some of the most fun playing football I ever had.  My Dad would have made a hell of a coach had he chosen that route upon graduation, he has it in his blood, not to mention he graduated from a school (Springfield College) that breeds coaches (Steve Spagnuola, Charley Casserly, Kevin Spencer, Dave Magazu, Mark Banker, Paul Ferrero and my former Lacrosse Coach John Klepacki who has received National Lax Coach of the year honors, just to name a few).  So today I tip my hat to you DAD, CONGRATULATIONS!

Also I would also like to mention that out of all the Moms in the world, I got really lucky of drawing the best.  I will tell you I miss my family a lot, and she has been her wonderful self sending me Halloween and Thanksgiving cards, letting me know she is thinking about me; which means so much to me.  Also my fantasy football team has won 3 in a row and is starting to get back on track so thats good news as well!
Till next time... ADIOS!

Me with the new Iphone 4s (jesus my nose is big!)

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

November 8, 2011

Hello all been a little while since I have posted, few updates for you all.  Unfortunately since my last post the Patriots have dropped two in a row making my two weeks not exactly ideal.  However I have been able to withstand these detrimental events by living in one of the most exciting cities in the world.  Since being here I have picked up cooking stir fry noodles for dinner.  It's pretty simple and always proves to be a pretty tasty dinner.  Right down the street we have something called the "Wet Market" and it is a huge market where they sell ton's of   fresh seafood and fruit and... they sell it really cheap.  So one day I bought a big bag of fresh shrimp and threw that in a stir fry for dinner.  A picture is below of that stir fry taken by my roommate Tucker is below!
This week I had to head back to the grocery store to pick up more groceries and I ended up buying some chicken breast to throw in this weeks batch of stir fry.  So as you can tell I have been eating a lot of stir fry for dinner.  Lunch has been a similar story as I have been eating Peanut Butter and Jelly almost everyday with an apple or an orange.
Sam actually left at about 9 yesterday so I have been by myself in Hong Kong for a full day now and its no big deal I am keeping myself busy with work, chores (cleaning, dishes, laundry), sending out resumes and of course the gym.  I have been going to the gym just about everyday since the end of last week.  Right now I have a free pass that I have been using, but tomorrow it expires so I will have to officially join.  They gym is called California Fitness and is not bad, they have a ton of machines and the only downside is that after work it is really busy but I always manage to get done what I need to.  It is the cheapest gym that I could find, but is still pricy at about $48 US a month.  However, it has a ton of upside as it is literally a 3 min walk from my house, when you go in they give you a gym towel and a larger shower towel which is awesome for me, because I sweat a ton.  The showers are great as they are all personal, and they have shampoo, conditioner and body wash dispensers in all of them.  Then when you are done showering they have a ton of mirrors with complimentary body lotion, qtips and blow dryers.  So I figure I can save a ton of money on water this month by showering at the gym!!! lol
Our friend Ben has committed to moving in with us, right now he lives with his Dad here in Hong Kong, however his Dad was just re-married and with Ben coming in very late on weekends he is ready for Ben to get his own place.  So Ben will be moving his stuff in throughout this month, staying here on and off, and will officially move in after Christmas.  He is taking his Dad by tomorrow to show him the place and then we are all going out for dinner as they invited me to come along.  More good news, my boss and her boyfriend are planning on having Thanksgiving at their flat and they invited me to come over as they are both Americans as well.  Jessica (my boss) said that her boyfriend Scott said I could come as long as I wore his Jets jersey, I told her I would consider it as long as no pics were taken and it was never spoken of again.  I am secretly planning on cursing it if he actually makes me put it on! Patriots Nation for Life!
Last Friday I had lunch with the man I consider my mentor out here in Hong Kong my old boss from Global Sage, Andrew Miller.  We had a good catch up and he gave me some pointers about my job search in the future and even said he would connect me with some of his close friends in the PR and advertising businesses.  So I have to put some stuff together to send him, which I am trying to do by the end of next week.  That was good to see him and some other people at the Global Sage office that I have not seen in a while.  I also video chatted with Pete on Sunday and was glad to hear that he will be making the trip out here either in February or January.  Lauren and Tara are planning on coming in January, so it might be more fun for him if he has them to hang with while my roommates and I are at work.  The only problem is the sleeping arrangements, we can only really fit one comfortably on our couch, so if he chooses to do that then we will have to find an air mattress or something.  However February might be an interesting time to come as well as it will be Chinese New Year and the city will be quite lively.
That brings us to this week, I have been really busy at work and have not had much time after work to do anything aside from send resumes, workout, eat and chat with Tara.  After all that I am usually wiped and head to bed around 11 or 11:30.  I have been hitting the gym pretty hard and have not been really spending any money aside from the groceries, so today after dinner I was having what I call a "Gloria Craving"meaning I was having a heavy crave for my mother and I's favorite dessert; ICE CREAM.  I was not able to say no so I caved and went and got myself a cup of chocolate frozen yogurt ("mmm that does sound good!!") there was strawberries, peaches and mango on it though so it was not entirely unhealthy.   I guess, the only other really good news I have is that I beat my league leader in Fantasy this week bringing my record to 3-6.  I have already decided that I will be staying up late this Sunday to watch the Patriots play the Jets, I am a little worried since the Patriots have been playing like the pre- Icebox little Giants!  I hope they can find a way to beat the crap out of them, that will make wearing that stupid Jets jersey so much easier.  Well thats it for now, I will once again leave you with some Cantonese phrases.
These are actually really hard to pronounce correctly, as apparently there are 6 different tones when speaking in the Cantonese language!

Take me to (if you were talking to a cabbie) - Dai orr huieee
where is the MTR Station - Kay tik jom hi bean?

Saturday, October 29, 2011

October 30, 2011

Sorry for posting again today and overwhelming you all, lol.  Honestly I just had to post this video because Tucker showed it to me and it is absolutely ridiculous.  I mean so Asian but freaking hilarious, I know most of you will laugh your a***s off at this so ENJOY.

October 30, 2011

Hello everyone!
I have been back in Hong Kong for three weeks now and I can't believe it, it has gone by so fast.  I decided it was time to post because it has been way too long.  So right now its 12:30 pm on Sunday of Halloween weekend and I am just lying in my bed right now.  So I figured it would be a good time to reflect on the past three weeks.
First and foremost work has been pretty good, everyone at my office is super friendly and welcoming to me.  I have been invited to join them for lunch multiple times and have already had drinks and dinner with the rest of the Global marketing team, right after work.  Basically everyday my job is to monitor our global page social media sites and interact and communicate with consumers.  I also work on coming up with branding ideas such as contests and promotions and I have run advertising campaigns via our social networks.  So really its a pretty fun job, My parent company EF is a humungous company that has 6 divisions, including where I work Englishtown and even the worlds largest Graduate program.  The graduate program owns a University called Hult University which has undergraduate and graduate programs.  The graduate program is actually something I am considering because its a 40% discount for EF employees.  They have a Masters in International Marketing which would be perfect for me.  The best part of it is the fact that they have a rotating campus system, so if you do the graduate program you get to study on three of Hults campuses.  They have campuses everywhere including, San Francisco, Boston, Shanghai, Hong Kong, London and a few more I believe. So that is something I am considering right now.

Aside from work everything is good as well, my apartment is great and really in an ideal location.  I can literally get to anything I want by walking 5 minutes, its perfect.  I wake up at 8 everyday and leave my apartment at 8:50 to get to work at 9.  I am actually the only one in my house who is working right now, because Tucker does not start his job at Credit Suisse until December and Sam is still waiting on his Visa.
The three weekends that I have had here so far have been insane and a ton of fun.  The first weekend it was Tuckers birthday so we went out with all his friends and our buddy Pramond got a table and tons of bottles for us to drink which was sick because, anything free is awesome.
The second weekend we went to a birthday party for this kid Jason Li who before his party I had never met once.  Really great kid and a really sick party.  He rented out this whole club with all these rooms, he had everything from Poker (the Chips had his name on them) karaoke, beer pong, dance floor, it was pretty sick. This past weekend we did a normal LKF night and just bar and club hopped around.  Then this weekend has been pretty great too.  On Friday Tucker, Sam, Ben and myself all went to a massage place and got legit massages where they actually walk on your back so that was cool. So last night we headed to LKF for Halloween and it was INSANE, you could barely move in the street there were so many people.  The street was decorated with Halloween decorations hanging from buildings, also every bar was decorated.  It reminded me of going to Salem, MA  except everything was in a tighter area.
However before we headed to LKF last night, we did our Saturday ritual and played soccer for two hours at the Indian club.  I literally suck because I can't control the ball at all, but its fun and a great workout.  After that we showered up at my place and went to this bar across the street called Inside Out to pre-game have some dinner and also watch this "big" soccer match between Chelsea who Tucker likes and Arsenal who Ben likes.  It was a very exciting game for soccer because there was an unusual amount of scoring as the game ended 5-3 Arsenal.  Ben was all excited and said it was a huge victory because Arsenal never wins at Chelsea.  So the night was a ton of fun, I really wish I had a camera so I could have taken pictures of the last couple weeks.
I get my first paycheck tomorrow, so I have a couple to do's:
1) Pay Rent & Utilities
2)Get a smartphone so I can take pictures
3)Get a gym membership (I am missing not working out everyday, and when the gym is literally across the street there is no excuse.)

So thats it for now I hope everyone had a great Halloween weekend and I will sign off by teaching you all a few Cantonese phrases.
Note these are not the correct spelling of the Cantonese words, I just spell them like that so I know how to pronounce them.

Lay Sick Joe Fa Mei - Have you had your meals yet? (this is a formal greeting)
Gay Deem Ah-        What time is it?
Gay Cheen Ah-        How much is it?
Kay Tik Hi bean-     Where is the MTR? (MTR is the train here)
Chee So Hi Bean-    Where is the Bathroom?

Till next time everyone!

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Since Hong Kong

Whats UP! Long time no talk, it's been a while since I have written an entry, as I have been home in good old South Windsor, CT and my life has not been very exciting.
Since I have been home, the thing I have really done the most is GOLF.  Its been great I have been golfing a few times each week since I have been home.  I would say overall I am golfing much better than I was before Hong Kong, however I am still slicing badly and its literally killing me.  I can hit my irons well and semi-consistenly, however every time I hit my freaking driver I slice it into the next universe.  I am literally on the verge of snapping my driver, haha.  The problem is that my driving is ruining the rest of my game.  I can play my irons well enough and I can put very well, however my driving is just putting me at such a disadvantage that I am not improving my scores by much.  So I really want to learn how to get my drive going so I can start to improve my game a lot more.
The other main thing I have done since being home is selling my car.  I ended up selling my Jeep to my good friend Derek Healy's younger brother Nick.  I found out that without damage my car could possibly be sold anywhere from $7,500 to $9,500 US dollars.  I ended up walking away with $5,200 which I was very happy with as I sold it right away and easily with about $2,500 worth of damage on it. So that is good news so now I don't have to worry about selling it, and my Dad does not have to pay insurance on it.
Aside from that not much has been going on, I have golfed and caught up with my friends from school and Grandma and Grandpa and Michael twice.  Another fun time I had with my Mom, Lauren and Michael was the day last week when we went tubing down the Farmington River together, it was a ton of fun and a great time for us all to spend time together.
The newest update that I have going on is that I just secured a a flooring job to put in a three car garage for a family friend.  It is going to be a good job to finish before I head home and a good way to make some extra cash for Hong Kong.  Also it is going to come out great and look terrific for them.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Beijing Trip with Tara! (in a nutshell)

August 6, 2011-  Hey everyone it’s both Tara and Billy here, from  Beijing!  Tara started her journey about 30 hours ago in Boston.  From Boston, she flew into Newark and had a 2 hour layover, she took off for Beijing at 12:05 pm and landed in Beijing 1:00pm.  She tells me she wanted to kill herself at the 8 hour mark, because time was barely moving.  I took off from Hong Kong at 10:30 am and landed in Beijing at 1:30.  After making it through immigration and arriving at Baggage claim I saw Tara’s smiling face standing and waiting for me.  I was so happy to see her as I missed her so much!  I hugged her for 2 minutes straight before heading over to my baggage claim.  My bags came super quick; they were literally two of the first 10 on the belt.  Once we both had our luggage we walked through immigration and started our search for our translator/tour guide. 
We finally found him near the exit holding up a sign that said Ms. Tara Marcheterre.  His name is Abel, and he is very friendly and really the perfect personality to be a tour guide.  I actually thought he was gay, lol just because he was wearing a fedora and seemed a little flamboyant, however he ended up talking about his wife so I am really just an idiot.  He and our driver Mr. Yen took us to the Tour Beijing headquarters so we could pay the rest of our bill for the week.  We got to the office and met with Tony the manager, he talked to us about how our week would go, we paid him in American dollars and then headed with Abel and Mr. Yen to our hotel. 
After helping us check us in, Abel and Mr. Yen left us to ourselves for the rest of the day.  We got settled into our room and then went out for a walk to first find an ATM an then get some dinner.  One thing I noticed right away is that unlike Hong Kong, Beijing is not very English speaking friendly.  All the menu’s at the restaurants we looked at, except for one had no English on them, they would make up for it by putting a picture of the entrĂ©e.  After choosing a restaurant to dine, Tara took one look at the menu and said to me “why don’t you just order for us!” that made me laugh, haha.  So we ordered a bottle of the popular Beijing red wine called Great Wall and 4 other plates, fried rice, beef fried dumplings, steamed shrimp dumplings, and veggies with mini shrimp.  We had a couple communication problems with our waitress during our meal, for example I tried ordering Tara a bottle of water and she brought us a cup of hot water, so I had to get up and go point to the bottle of water.  However she was a cute girl and she worked her butt off to serve us as best as she could.  From there we just walked back to the hotel and decided to crash for the night as Tara was wiped and we had to meet Abel in the Hotel lobby at 8:30 am to start our first full day in Beijing.

August 7, 2011-  Ni Hao!   Today we had a very busy day and saw many attractions.  We started out our day by having a buffet style breakfast in the hotel; that is very different from a modern Western breakfast.  Some of the things that you can find in this breakfast buffet are rice, noodles, dim sum, hard-boiled eggs, cereal, toast and even salad. 
After breakfast we met Abel and Mr. Yen in the lobby at 8:30 am.  From the hotel we headed to our first destination of the day, Tiananmen Square.  When we arrived at the square we got out and walked around slowly in aww as we saw how many people were there.  The place was absolutely packed; there were tons of locals and tours there. I noticed there were many guys walking around carrying large sticks with different color flags at the top.  I asked Abel why they were carrying them and he told me that it was for the tour groups that they were leading around.  He also told me that it is a law that if he is leading a large group tour he must carry one of those around with him.  After we took a couple pictures at the Square we walked across the main road via a under tunnel to the Forbidden City.  I don’t know what you know about the Forbidden City but the thing is massive, as in it would probably take a day or two to walk through the entire thing.  From the front entrance facing Tiananmen Square you can see on the front entrance a huge picture of Mao Zedong. Who was the founder of the People’s Republic of China.  However when you get up and close to the entrance you realize that the picture is actually a oil painting and not a picture at all, it is really incredible detail.  We walked through the Forbidden City and learned much from Abel.  One of the interesting things that we learned was that there are usually always multiple entrances to the ancient buildings; the middle stairways and entrances were always reserved for the Emperor and the Emperor alone.  The Empress was allowed to cross the middle entrance to the Forbidden City at one point in her lifetime and one time only and that was on their wedding day.  Also we learned the Emperor would only have one Empress but have many Concubines, and that Yellow is the royal color so the Emperor would often be clothed in yellow as well as the roofs of the palace would be painted yellow.  Another thing that we learned was when you commonly see two lion statues outside doors, even though they look exactly the same, one is a male and the other is a female.  The way to tell the difference is that the male under his front paw has a ball symbolizing power while the female has a baby lion, meaning nurturing and she takes care of the family.  Also we learned the difference in some of the dragon statues and what they mean.  For instance you may have seen a Chinese statue of a Dragon inside a turtle shell this is actually the eldest of the baby dragons, he always likes to carry heavy things so on his back he has the turtle shell and also will carry stones on top of his shell for building.  Also this eldest baby dragon and the stork both symbolize longevity.  One more of the things we learned was that on the doors in the Forbidden City there are rows of spikes that are 9 by 9 because the emperor believed 9 to be a power number as it the highest number in a group.  (I guess in terms of 1-9, then 10-19, 20-29 etc.)  So that was interesting and only a few of the many things that Abel taught us.  One part of the Forbidden City that both Tara and I liked was the imperial garden, it was very beautiful, and is only the place in the City with a lot of trees, because the fear that assassins could easily hide in trees.  In the Forbidden City the trees are either labeled with red signs or green signs, the red signs mean the trees are over 300 years old, green signs mean they are over 100 and younger than 300 yrs old.
From the Forbidden City we went and had a nice lunch, which Abel set up and ordered for us, we both enjoyed the pork dish best (which is weird for me b/c I don’t really like pork).  After lunch we went to see the Hutong’s (which means very narrow road) we road around this very tight neighborhood on a rickshaw or a man peddling a bike with a seat for two in the back.  During our rickshaw ride we were able to enter and tour a local home, the set up was very interesting where the boys of the family stayed on the right side as that was symbolizing power and importance and the females would stay on the left.
After our rickshaw tour of the Hutong’s, Abel led us to one of the many ancient towers left in Beijing, called the drum tower.  We had to walk up very very steep steps to reach the top, however it was very worthwhile because the birds eye view of the city was amazing.  Before we left the drum tower, Abel had a surprise for us, a drum performance, it was amazing and Tara and I were both so glad we were able to see it.  We actually videotaped some of it and will post in online when we get back in the states.  After the drum tower we took a drive home and went the long way so Abel could point out the area he lived and the street he lived on, he told us how he used to be a bar tender and how he knows about every store and bar around his home.  He and Mr. Yen dropped us off at the hotel so we could take a shower and get changed for the Kung Fu Show and dinner.  When we were ready we headed down stairs and met them in the lobby.  Tara was looking extra beautiful as she was wearing this long black dress, I noticed how much attention she was catching from the locals who stare at white girls bodies from a mile away and even turn back to look at them walk away, they also do this in Hong Kong, its unreal how obvious and rude it is, ah well.
The Kung Fu show was awesome, it was not just an exhibition of Kung Fu but also a story of a young Kung Fu master and his rise from childhood through the stages of being a monk and eventually mastering Kung Fu.  It is a must see show as all the actors are real Kung Fu disciples and very talented including the very young boys.    However there were points when both Tara and myself were falling asleep, just because of how tired we were from walking around all day.  From the Kung Fu show we headed to our first of two Peking Duck dinners this week.  It was delicious and even Tara loved it which surprised me as I thought she wouldn’t enjoy eating duck.  They actually come to your table and cut the duck up in front of you which is really neat and an art.  The way you eat the duck is also very interesting.
First you grab what they call a pancake, which is pretty much a soft taco but much thinner, then you take some duck and dip it in the special sauce and put it in the pancake.  Then you take some of the sliced cucumber and onions and pile those on and wrap it all up into a roll, then enjoy!  It is actually unreal good, the duck meat is spectacular and very tender, I even started improvising and adding some of the rice to the wrap/roll.  Along with the duck they gave us a plate of rice mixed with scrambled egg, peas and corn, some pork and veggie, some beef with carrots, soup, and then some watermelon for dessert.  One thing Tara and I both noticed is that they ordered us way too much food for every meal; we would have been fine with just the duck and rice.  So obviously there were a ton of leftovers that we felt terrible wasting but we have nowhere to take leftovers.  Also, Abel and Mr. Yen never ate with us at any of our meals, even though we invited them, so we felt kind of bad, we don’t want them to think we don’t want them around.  Anyway dinner was delicious and we saw a ton throughout the day, so it was very successful.  When they dropped us off Abel and Mr. Yen said they would be here at 8:00 am to pick us up for the Great Wall.  Even though it was only about 9 at that point we were exhausted and had an early start to another long day coming so we got to our room and crashed hard!

August 8, 2011-  Ni Hao! Today was a very exciting day for both Tara and I, as we got to hike on the Great Wall of China! It was an unreal experience that I have been anticipating since 6th grade in Mrs. Brazel’s class, when we learned about ancient China, Egypt and Rome.  The trip to the Great Wall was about 2 hours outside of the downtown City, along the way however there were many statues and other sites to see, and Abel explained each one to us.  We also saw many farmers selling peaches, plums, watermelon, and other fruits and nuts along the road.  Abel explained to us that the province we were in was a very large farm province.  The section of the Great Wall that we viewed was the Mutianyu section.  Abel told us that we chose the right section to view as it was his favorite as well, he also explained that it is less well known and far less busy than the Badaling section, which he said was walking shoulder to shoulder.  He said the reason for this is that the Mutianyu is not well known to even locals as it is more recently opened and more known to tour guides.  Another section that was usually available as well, however was currently closed, was the Simitai section.  Abel said the Chinese government has said that when it reopens it will be very modern with hotels and all sorts of attractions, so that is something to look for. 
Once we got to the place where we would start our ascent to the Great Wall, we were shocked to find that we would actually be taking a chair lift up the mountain to the Great Wall.  This was a little bit of a disappointment to me, because I thought we were going to go for a hike, which I thought would be some nice outdoor time.  However we took the chairlift up and the best part I think is when you first catch a glimpse of the Great Wall, because from that point you really can’t take your eyes off it.  You just start following it all across the tops of the mountains, and it is really something special.  Much of it is restored, however you can tell what is restoration and what is original as the original bricks are a faded yellow type color.  While on top of the Great wall looking over the side is a really neat site as you can see for miles and see how far it stretches, because all along the tops of the mountains you can make out little watchtowers.  Tara and I obviously took some amazing pictures, which we can’t wait to post when we get home, since once again social networks are not allowed here in China.  Also while up on top of the Wall, Abel gave us some history lessons and made the trip that much more interesting, he explained how you can tell what side is inside the Great Wall and what is the outside (The outside wall actually has a brick higher in most areas, also every now on then on the inside of the wall there are steps and doorways that lead to paths down the mountains, which the soldiers used to get supplies).  Also while up on top of one of the watchtowers I was sure to take a “Viva La Stool” picture, which I hope will make it up on Barstool Sports.
Now I don’t want to say it was the best part but, the way down the hill was definitely a great part of the day.  You see there are actually three ways to get from the Great Wall back down to the bottom of the mountain.  You can either walk, ride a chairlift back, or you can take a 1 person toboggan down on a slide.  We obviously chose the toboggan, and boy was it worth it, those things are so much fun!!! You control it by using the lever in between your legs, you pull back to slow down and push forward to speed up, I actually took a video of my ride down the mountain and will definitely be posting that soon as I am able to.  After the Great Wall we headed to lunch at a very nice establishment that was quite beautiful and peaceful inside as it had a garden in the middle and was very nicely decorated.  The food was great, so it was another success.
After lunch I asked Abel to ask Mr. Yen to stop the car at a roadside farmer so I could buy some fresh organic peaches.  He obliged and pulled over at a roadside stand that had a very nice selection of fruit.  I chose some really nice peaches and Tara picked out some Plums, the farmer was a friendly guy who was very entertaining as well.  He also had 4 very cute kittens at is stand that were very cute and made us laugh when one of them managed to climb up and stare eating the farmers lunch!
After we had our fruit we started another hour and a half drive to the Ming tombs.  This is a burial ground for 13 Emperors of China.  The road to the Tombs was a very long and windy one, as we were driving around the mountains the entire drive.  Abel explained that the Province where the tombs were located was known for it’s mining particularly Jade.  Because of the sheer size of the Ming Tomb area we only viewed one of the tombs on this visit.  It was humongous and belonged to the Third Ming Dynasty Emperor Yongle.  He actually chose the spot for tombs as well and the entire area was built up to his specifications and met the Feng Shui specifications of balance (you learn quickly that making sure there is balance and meeting Feng Shui principles and having balance is very important in China).  His own tomb area was absolutely massive and was had multiple buildings and areas, just so he would be comfortable in the after life.  I think the most interesting thing of all was that at the back of his tomb area behind one of the buildings is a large hill area with many old trees on it labeled with red and greed tags.  It literally just looks like a woody hill, however it is actually where he is buried.  The hill is man made and underneath all the dirt is a maze of pathways and somewhere the great Emperor lies.  So that was something that was really surprising and interesting to learn. 
From the Ming tombs Abel and Mr. Yen took us to a Jade manufacturer, where we had a introduction to Jade and how it is mined.  It was another very interesting lesson as we learned how to tell the difference between real and fake Jade items, however before learning these techniques we were asked to view six items and try to find the two real ones.  I actually did it correctly on my first try and was complimented by our guide.  From there they took us to the Jade shop to see if there were any items that interested us, there were some very impressive items such as the family ball which is all cut from one piece of Jade, but is turned into separate pieces locked inside of each other.  However there was only item that interested me that I ended up purchasing, it was the youngest of the baby dragons, called Pi Xiu or (Pee show).  As I said it is the 9th and youngest baby dragon, he is used for good luck and is said to only crave the taste of gold and silver or money.  He is said if properly placed at the office (facing the door right side of desk) in terms of Feng Shui to go out and get money for his master and keep it from flowing away.  So I purchased myself a very colorful 100% Jade Pi Xiu dragon for my new desk in Hong Kong!
After we were all done viewing the Jade store, we started our ride back to our hotel.  However when we arrived in downtown Beijing, Abel told us that he had another surprise for us.  We pulled into a very large building that was very busy at the time.  We found out that we would be getting a lesson on Chinese medicine and a free foot massage!  This was perfect as we had done a ton of walking on the Great Wall.  The lesson on Chinese medicine was very interesting; we were even able to be examined by Chinese doctors who do a very different type of examination.  They take your age, look at your skin complexion, your nails and then take your pulse on each wrist with three fingers.  It is actually quite amazing how they do it, I had known that Tara’s lower back has been hurting her for sometime, and after examining her the doctor asked her if she had been having lower back pains!! Pretty amazing stuff! Anyway it was a very neat experience, that I am really glad we were able to try, plus the foot massage was incredible.  After we got back to the hotel we showered up and I took Tara to Hot Pot dinner at a restaurant right next to our hotel.  I had hot pot twice in Hong Kong so I wanted Tara to experience it.  She enjoyed it just like I did, however one of the soup bases we got was sooo spicy that at one point neither of us could eat anything, because our mouths were on fire.  After dinner we just walked back to the hotel and hit the hay, to get some rest for the next day.

August 9, 2011- Hi everyone, this is our fourth day in Hong Kong and it was another eventful day for us.  We started our day off with hotel breakfast at 8 and met Abel and Mr. Yen in the lobby at 8:30 am.  Our first destination was the Beijing Capital Museum.  It was a really interesting museum, it had 6 levels and like most museums each floor was a different topic.  We saw everything from how China has evolved through the years, to its different art works such as its ceramic pottery and its Jade showcases.  Some of the porcelain pottery that we saw was actually quite amazing as it is all one piece however it was an outside shell with an inner vase, really beautiful artwork.  Another one that was really neat to see was an ancient glass snuff bottle.  The bottle had an outside shell and an inside holder and the artist actually painted it from the outside in by using a very thin bamboo stick. 
After spending a couple hours at the Museum we went to lunch where once again Abel ordered us way too much food and we left full and satisfied.
From the restaurant we headed to the summer palace where the Emperors and their families would go to spend leisure time.  It was much nicer then the Forbidden City as it is all around a man made lake.  One of the Emperors Qianlong actually created the walkway in 1750 and it is a world record for the longest walk outdoor walkway, which he created for his mother, so she could enjoy the scenery during rain, thunderstorms and snow storms..  The walkway is 728 meters long from the Gate of Inviting the Moon to the Shizhang Pavilion.  It is really a quite beautiful walk as it is covered in paintings and illustrations and not to mention the scenery in the palace around it.  Another thing we did at the summer palace was take a motorized Dragon Boat across the man made lake which Tara really enjoyed.  Abel told us that the lake is still used to farm pearls today by some pearl farmers.
From the Summer Palace, Abel took us to a Pearl tour where we learned all about Pearls, from how they are farmed, to the different species and how to tell the difference from real to fake pearls.  So that was a really interesting crash course in which I learned that Oysters that are less than 12 years old do not produce pearls that are worth anything, and that while fresh water oysters produce multiple pearls, their saltwater cousins only produce 1 pearl each, this is why they are so much more valuable.  After our course on pearls we were left to look around their shop and browse and shop their store.
When we finally left the Pearl company we had another 1.5 hour drive back to the Northern end of the city where we got to see the 2008 Beijing Olympic Village.  We did not go inside any of the stadiums as Abel told us they look just like any other stadium and the real value was seeing them from the outside.  So we viewed the Birds Nest, which is the huge stadium that many of you probably remember seeing on TV, and we saw the water bubble where all the water events took place.  We also got to see the hotel where all the Olympic athletes from all over the world stayed, and ironically it is a 5 Star Hotel called “The 7 Star Hotel”.  However there is no rating above 5 stars for hotels, so we thought that was funny, the hotel itself was massive and very oddly shaped, we got some good pictures of it which you should be able to view.
Before going to dinner we decided to go to another tea ceremony at a different company then we had done on day two, this one was called Mr. Tea. It was very similar to the last one but just as enjoyable, because we were able to taste some new teas that we did not get to have the last time.  Abel told us how he is a tea master and his teapot at home has been passed down for generations and worth a lot.  He gave us some extra knowledge about tea that even our tea ceremony master did not know!  I suggested that he should start selling tea as a distributor to all these different tea companies, so he could make the big bucks based on his knowledge, he actually liked that idea a lot.  We did not buy anything from the tea shops since we both had already bought some tea at the last tea store.  From the tea ceremony we headed to dinner, which was the Peking duck again, however this time it was at a different restaurant and just as tasty as last time.  However this time Abel ordered us different side dishes, which were terrific as well.  (I honestly can’t say I have had a bad meal yet here!) After dinner our itinerary took us to the acrobatic show, which Tara was very excited for, I myself did not know what to expect.  When we got to the place where the show was Abel showed us our seats and asked us if we would mind if Mr. Yen would drop him off at home since his house was nearby and our hotel was far away.  We told him we did not mind, because Mr. Yen would be coming back to watch the show and drive us home.  The show was FANTASTIC! I mean it was really awesome and the talent that everyone in the show had was amazing.  I am not going to go through the entire thing but I will my favorite part was when about 15 of these ladies in the show all got onto 1 bicycle at the same time and were riding it around the stage.  If you are in Beijing at any time in your life, this is a must see show!  After the show we just met up with Mr. Yen and headed back to the hotel for the night.  It was a great day of sights that ended with a spectacular showing of talent from those young acrobats!

August 10, 2011-  Today was another busy day for us as we saw some more historical sights.  We started off our day by going to a Buddhist Temple up in the mountains on the outskirts of Beijing.  The temple was called the Jietai Temple, which is one of China’s most famous ancient Buddhist Temples.  Tara’s pronunciation of this temple is funny as she calls it the “Jedi Temple” straight out of Star Wars.  This was actually one of my favorite spots that we have seen on the trip, because I found it very peaceful.  It reminded me of the Buddhist Temple that we visited with Dream Careers in Hong Kong, except it was even better because there was no city surrounding it.  The view from the Temple was amazing as it was ascending the mountain and below was a valley filled with buildings and factories.    We had lunch in the valley at a place the driver for this other tour group we met new.  The other tour group was an Australian couple in their late 60’s by the name of Graham and Zandy.  They are really nice people and we have seen them throughout our entire trip as they have ended up at many of the same locations at the same time as us.  However Abel told us that it we could not have lunch together as the companies policy was that each private tour must have their own food.  I think it was to ensure that the customer is not getting screwed.  However we did have lunch with Abel and Mr. Yen for the first time on our trip.  We had quite a few dishes for lunch but the main one was a fish dish.  The fish was a very large freshwater fish that Abel did not know the English name of, but it was a very popular dish for the district we were in.  Before cooking it, they even brought it in so that we could inspect it to ensure it was fresh and up to par.  When it came out it was sizzling on the pan and they put a hot coal underneath it to keep it hot while it was at the table.  I thought it was absolutely delicious, and it satisfied my craving for fresh fish.  The only issue is that they cooked it without fileting it so, there were a lot of little bones to eat around. 
After lunch we went to two more locations before heading home.  The first was the site where the Peking man was discovered.  The 6,000 year old fossils and remains were first found by a Swiss Paleontologist.  The site was something I really enjoyed, as we were able to literally able to walk into caves that these ancient beings once occupied.  It was something that was quite memorable, and sort of surreal.  There were about 7 cave sites that we visited, and aside from human remains there were also saber tooth tiger, heyna, Wooly Rhino,  and other ancient animal remains found. 
From the fossil areas we made our way to the Marco Polo Bridge.  This is the oldest bridge in China and must be one of the oldest in the world.  On the bridge there are over 800 lion statues.  There is a thing section in the middle about 10 bricks wide that is still there and was part of the original walkway of the bridge.  This bridge is where Chinese forces met Japanese forces and today you can still see affects of the battle as there are bullet marks on the bridge.
From the bridge we headed back to the hotel and made plans with Graham and Zandy to have dinner together at 7:00 pm.    After showering up and taking a nap we met them in the hotel lobby and headed out to search for a restaurant to have dinner.  We found a nice Chinese restaurant and ordered a couple entrees, my favorite, which was some spicy sausage.  Through dinner and two bottles of red wine I got to know Graham really well while Tara got to know Zandy.  They even gave us an open invite to visit them in Australia at any time.  They were really nice people and I am really glad we got to meet them.

August 11, 2011-  Tara and I visited the Beijing Zoo today which is the national zoo of China.  All I have to say about it is that, it was the worst zoo I have ever been to in my entire life and Tara and I were both supremely disappointed.  The zoo was so dirty and for being the National Zoo of China was not even close to what we expected.  The Chinese people really don’t care about anything else in the world but themselves as not only do their factories pollute but they also litter without care.  There was trash everywhere in the zoo and no one except for Tara and I seemed to care.  It made me really angry to see how disgusting the zoo was.  I can’t believe that other countries or activist groups allow the Chinese people to treat the animals in the zoo the way they do.  Aside from trash all around the zoo, there was a ton of trash in the animal enclosures, which was as I said very angering and saddening.  I wonder what could posses people to throw garbage into animal enclosures and how this could be allowed.  Also why the heck the people who manage and operate the zoo allow all the garbage to go left and why the glass has so much build up that you can barely see into their areas.  Aside from garbage and dirt the enclosures were also very sad to see as many of the animals had only cement to walk on.  The aquarium was better as at least it was clean and people seemed to respect it.  The water show was about the only thing Tara and I enjoyed all day. Even though we could not understand a single thing that was said the sea lion and the dolphins that performed were awesome. 

August 12, 2011-  For our last full day together Tara and I decided to spend the day at the silk market.  The silk market is a six story building, each level has a different type of product that is sold.  This place is legit a woman’s dream, there are so many areas to shop.  Tara and I spent six freaking hours at this place and about two and a half of them were on the purse floor.  Tara ended up with 3 purses for herself one of which I bought here for her birthday.  We shopped and bargained all day, we both became bargaining pros as the most we spent on any item all day was about $55 American dollars.  It is a really popular tourist spot and the location where we saw the largest number of white people at once. The second location where we saw a lot of white people together was McDonalds.  By the end of the day I was very tired of shopping but I did enjoy the day with Tara.  I ended up with a rip off Bally briefcase and wallet, plus a pair of black dress shoes to wear to my new job.   We had dinner at an all you can eat buffet on the top floor and headed back to the hotel to start packing after we were done.

August 13, 2011-  On our last day in Beijing we woke up at 9 and went downstairs to get breakfast, and then got picked up by Abel and Mr. Yen.  We packed up the car and headed to the Temple of Heaven our last site to see in Beijing.  The Temple of Heaven was beautiful like many of the sites we saw in Beijing.  Tara enjoyed it a ton and said that it was her favorite place we had been to.  It was really neat, apparently it opens up very early in the morning and many locals go there to enjoy the park.  They also get together and sing and dance Karaoke style in the park.  We also saw a bunch of people playing a game that was really similar to hacky sack except instead of the hacky sack they used a weighted and feathered contraption.  Tara purchased one for the kids she babysits to play with.  From there we went to our final lunch in Beijing and ate the last Chinese meal that I want to eat for a while! Lol
After lunch Abel and Mr. Yen drove us to the airport and dropped us off at our terminal.  We thanked them and said goodbye and headed into the airport.  When we got inside it was about 2:15ish and our flight was not until 6:25 so not only were we not taking off for a while but, we could not even check into our flight until 3:30.  So we ended up just sitting down and alternating between chatting and playing  chess on my computer and The Price is Right on Tara’s computer.  At 3:30 we headed over to check in and were able to do so together.  We then went through the immigration departure process, which, I must say was the fastest in Beijing than any of the other airports I had been to.  When we finally got through immigration and customs we still had some time to kill so we decided to do some Duty Free shopping, where I ended up getting a 15 year old bottle of scotch for my Dad and Tara got some tasty candies for her Grandfather.  We both were somewhat hungry and new the plane food was going to be nasty so we decided to split a small Pizza Hut pepperoni pizza in the airport before taking off.  Before boarding the plane we actually had to do another customs like search where they look over you passport again and actually search your carry-ons right inside the gate bridge.  As we got settled into our seats and everyone else was doing the same, we saw quite a few very interesting and sketchy things go on around us.  This one idiot was making a big fuss about someone putting their baggage in the same compartment as his and he was saying he didn’t have enough room.  Then he ended up giving it away to someone he knew who was not on the plane yet, so he was like reserving it, even though hew as like 20 rows back.  He was a very annoying guy and I really wanted to hit him as he was constantly walking around on the flight and just acting weird.  Another odd thing that happened before we even took off, was this white kid literally puked a ton over himself and the space in front of him.  He said he had motion sickness but we hadn’t even moved yet.  The flight attendants were so disgusted and you could tell they were not happy to clean it up; they were wearing gloves and masks and making really funny faces.  However it was miserable as it really stunk after that even though the flight attendants sprayed something. 
The flight was really long and I barely slept at all so I ended up watching Hannah, Thor,  Source Code and 2 episodes of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, and Curb Your Enthusiasm each.  The meals were better than the way there which was good, we had chicken and potato, with salad, bread and cheese cake for our hot meal.  Then for a breakfast snack we had a banana and a really hard cinnamon bun, which neither of us ate.  Our last meal was some sliced fruit, which was the best of all three. 
After landing in Washington DC, Tara and I were able to spend some more time together as we waited in the very long US process of Immigration and then US customs, and then rechecking our bags.  I luckily did not get searched, not that it would have mattered I just did not want to put all my crap back together.  When this process was over, Tara and I finally had to part ways as our terminals were on the exact opposite ends.  She got lucky because her United Flight took off on time, mine ended up getting delayed from 10:02 till 12:15.  Apparently they realized that our airplane was missing a door latch and they could not get the part so we had to wait for a new airplane to take us to Bradley.  At least there was free WIFI to keep me busy, it was awesome to finally be able to go on Twitter and Facebook again. 
The flight was really short, thank god and after getting off of it in Bradley I got to see my families smiling faces, Mike, Mom and Dad had all come to pick me up.  We got my luggage then headed home where my Mom had Vinnies Pizza, Chocolate Chip Cookies and Mud Pie waiting for me! AWESOME
Even the drive home was made interesting though because on the highway in front of us this guy blew out his back left tire and refused to pull over for some reason.  He just kept driving on it, until he blew out his front left tire as well and his car started to fall apart.  He was swerving all over the place and made it very unsafe for anyone to pass him. On that note I was done with traveling for the day.  I was very relieved to get home and give my family their souvenirs and tell them about my trip, as well as devouring some delicious pizza!