Friday, August 31, 2001

sorry for the lack of updates. my cousin aaron is 12 now and into online games-- so i have to sneak in some internet time when he is away-- so far hong kong has been nice. the weather hasn't been too bad (although, i seem to have a streak of bringing typhoons with me) and i've gotten some much needed relaxation in.

i was able to meet with a business contact on thursday and that turned out to be a very fulfilling evening. we talked at length about working in asia and the different opportunities that might be open to me should i decide to move. it was cool to hear it from a person who was an expatriate and who enjoyed the lifestyle. after dinner we hit a local bar, which sort of catered to the high-tech, internet crowd. jah. the bar was cool enough with lots of need design and materials that were used to construct it.

it just happened to be by chance but we stumbled across a networking session. the business card distribution was fast and furious-- with me, the lone job hunting american, in the middle. although i didn't walk away with a job-- i did have a great time and got to meet some great folks.

sorry for slacking on the beijing stories-- but you'll probably have to wait until i get home for those. i think that i am going to be leaving hong kong early next week and i should be home in my own bed by the middle of next week--- just in time to watch the material girl herself, madonna!

*writer says a couple of quick prayers to no one in particular in the hopes that airplane delays or oversleeping will not cause him to miss the all-important concert*

alright kids... more coming soon. thanks for reading-- thanks for the great comments. thanks for the terrific emails-- and of course, thanks for being great friends!

Wednesday, August 29, 2001

i've arrived in hong kong after a busy day of traveling but something seems distinctly missing. maybe it is the travel companions long departed or the dimly-lit hotel rooms that i'm used to frequenting now. my family's home in hong kong is truly impressive with two dynamic views of hong kong island-- but hong kong seems to be completely different world from china.

not better, not worse... just different. spending time with my family here will be a lot of fun but this phase of my trip should prove to be very different from the "independent" activities of the past two weeks.

stay tuned for some good stories from my trip today and my interesting last evening in beijing. i'll try not to let you down with my stories. oh, we just finished watching the hong kong version of the weakest link. pretty funny watching the chinese folks constanly giving "eagerness" as their reason for screwing up answers. ok... more updates soon-- with no smoky residue or second hand smoke!

Monday, August 27, 2001

oh goodness... i just heard that aaliyah died in a plane crash. what a tragedy.... she was just starting to reach the upper level of music and film superstardom. she will be missed.
oh, if anybody wants a postcard... better send me your address NOW! =p
hey kids... my last full day in beijing! last night was another mixed bag as we failed to get tickets for the Chinese National Team's basketball game during the World University Games. we ended up walking around Beijing University for a couple of hours just checking out the campus. it was totally neat to walk though a typical university campus but to be surrounded by buildings that were distinictively chinese. very cool indeed. we ended up getting tickets for a basketball game for tonight but for a pair of countries that we've never heard of-- it appears the Chinese and American games have been sold out months in advance.

we actually ended up catching a recorded version of last night's china game with canada after we had arrived home last night. although the chinese team has got some talent and a lot of size they are missing that killer instinct and at times some basketball fundementals. i should teach them that 'wedge your butt' move that i've mastered over the past 26 years....

anyways, today is my last day in beijing and my prime opportunity to pick up gifts and trinkets from china. i exchanged a little bit of money yesterday just in case i go overboard. i have to admit that i really haven't been spending much time looking around for gifts. so i have an excuse for all of you who are going to be pissed off with me when i come back with coins for you. =p hey, just think-- this log is a gift that keeps on giving!

yesterday i also had a meeting with the folks from they were working on a cool merge of city guide and ticketing for beijing and shanghai. sort of reminded me of someplace i used to work. then again-- they only had 2 phone agents and practically all of their tickets are sold on a COD basis. ticketing in china is definitely different...

alright that is the end of this log entry. time to go and fend off all of the silk pajama dealers and all of the little old ladies selling maps and "pissing boy ceramics". time to bargain hard for t-shirts and hats-- hopefully, i won't have to make any merchants cry over the haggling. until hong kong everyone....

Sunday, August 26, 2001

good morning to you from beijing. i just purchased my plane ticket to hong kong for wednesday so it looks like my days in china are numbered. yesterday was a good day spent relaxing and checking out some of the finer things in beijing. we went to the temple of heaven in the morning which was the location where the emperor would go to open the winter and spring seasons. the temple was the location where he prayed to heaven to make sure the harvests were fruitful. very cool stuff. because the area was smaller than the imperial palace or the great wall-- the tourist trap nature of the place was a bit more evident.

in the evening we attended a decent dance performance called 'heaven & earth'. although the show wasn't great it was fun to see the beijing social scene come out to support its own event. we got a free upgrade to our seats-- to the 7th row, center... so that was kind of nice.

today, i've got a meeting with a web ticketing company out here. i think it will be very interesting to see how they run their operation. hopefully both i and the company will be able to learn from one another. alright. hope everybody stateside had a great weekend! talk with you all soon.

Saturday, August 25, 2001

back in beijing... and thanks to all of you loyal readers who send me emails! (arv, jt, ian, jeanny, mon-- you guys rock!) today and yesterday were a mixed bag in china. some things were very very cool like seeing the terra cotta warriors in xi'an and washing my own laundry by hand... others weren't as cool--- most notably losing my wallet on a bus. =( doh!

for those of you who don't know me that well... i hate to lose things. i often obsess over a misplaced set of keys or a pen that i am trying to find. i had realized that my wallet slipped out of my shorts probably 5 minutes after departing the bus. thankfully, i never keep any money in my wallet-- so the only damage that was done is that i'll not have access to my credit cards until i get home. that and i'll probably have to stand in line at the dmv to get a new driver's license. it could have been much much worse. i usually keep my passport and money on me-- or in my backpack so i wasn't too upset about the loss.

today was a much better day. we flew in from xi'an this morning and relaxed for a bit in our hotel room in beijing before checking out some of the neat shopping districts. i'm still working on my 'chinese' bargaining skills but hopefully i'll be able to get some good deals before i return home. so far i've spent about 600 bucks in 12 days in china including a pair of plane tickets and a pair of train tickets. not too shabby but i've still got to pick up all of those gifts!

i think tomorrow we are going to a theatre performance in beijing which should be very cool. hopefully we'll also get to attend some of the world university games that are also taking place in town. i can't think of anything better than seeing yao ming and the rest of the chinese national team in person.

alright... that is it for now. still have lots of emails to write and its after midnight in a smokey internet cafe. oh, just an fyi-- i'm not married yet and i haven't really talked to any cute natives. sorry for letting you all down. the closest that i've gotten to a wife were the prostitutes in xi'an that were constantly calling our hotel room. it got so 'bad' that i had to unplug the room phone. =) see ya.

Thursday, August 23, 2001

another day, another internet cafe. not that i'm getting many emails of note from my stateside friends. =(. thanks iv & mon for your emails! my travel companion, hammer, is going to be in china for about a year so he gets a lot of email. while all i get is spam and notes from my mom! =p

today was a travel day as we arrived in the city of xi'an. known for its terracotta warriors, the city isn't really a big hub like shanghai or beijing. as we walked around the city walls today (a huge wall surrounding the entire city) we got a lot of looks from the locals. thankfully, our hotel is on a major street and i should be able to buy some fresh clothes today. (there are nooooo washing machines in this country it seems-- and at this point i've refused to wash my socks or underwear by hand.)

no, i haven't been recycling-- i've just been making due. if i don't buy some new garments i might have to take the problem-- and the bar soap into my own hands. doh! tonight we had dinner at a muslim chinese joint. i really don't know much about muslims in china but there seems to be a pretty significant population. tomorrow we'll see the warriors and we'll return to the capital city of beijing on saturday morning.

although i've been missing my friends and family, this trip overseas has allowed me to see the beauty and differences between the us and china. on our train ride to xi'an we had a chinese native in our cabin and we spent most of the night discussing politics, economics, and our respective countries. although our ability to communicate was impaired, it was an insightful and educational evening. (for the sake of record, darryl's sentence structure was better than mine... but my vocabulary tended to be better than his---- hammer just asked all the difficult questions, while d & i tried to translate them into chinese.)

i'm not saying that i want to move to china but my eyes have been opened to a whole new world that i had little to no understanding of previously. ok.... that is as good a place to end this log as there is going to be. hope all of you have a great thursday! mine's is all done!

Wednesday, August 22, 2001

ok, so the computers in this computer center are still totally crap. i'm off to another town today though so i don't know when i'll have internet access again. today was a killer day. me and my friends woke up early and got on a bus ride to the great wall and the ming tombs. although the bus was packed to the gills and we were all really sleepy-- the thrill of visiting the great wall clearly had us excited.

now the wall was a site to be seen. we visited the 'tourist-friendly' baidaling site which is technically the closest to beijing. although it was overrun by tourists and merchants we were able to get away from the crowd with our ascent up the wall. the magnificence of the wall cannot be overstated. the steep stairs and severe grades were a challenge to walk along but made the journey to the 'end' of our section very worthwhile. there is something about visiting a monument like the great wall that reinstitates your faith in man and his abilities.

now don't get me wrong-- lots of people died to build the wall and fortunes may have been blown to create the structure-- but it was so truly awesome. trust me, if you are thinking about a place to spend your next vacation---the wall is worth the airfare.

tonight i'm going to be taking another all night train to Xi'an home of the terra-cotta warriors. should be lots of fun. more updates soon. oh, forgot to mention it yesterday. had scorpions along with my duck for dinner. yum yum!

Tuesday, August 21, 2001

urgh... this computer is soooo slow. ok, so this internet cafe is a bit cheaper.. and it is half a block from our hotel but this web connection is awful! today was a rough day in beijing compared with yesterday's trip to the forbidden city. our goal today was to take care of the travel arrangements for our trip to Xi'an and we tried to get to the train station first thing so that we could enjoy the Summer Palace and another temple.

the problem was that all of us needed to exchange some USD for some Chinese yuan. sounds easy enough, right? we thought it did too. we spent all morning trying to find a bank that would do the currency exchange for us. what a total hassle. unlike shanghai where you could exchange money on each and every block on certain banks in beijing would help us. by the time we took care of that and got our tickets it was about 1:30. after a decent lunch we decided to try to visit the palace still. we took a looooooooooooong walk in the steaming hot china sun and finally made our way to a boat tour that travels to the palace.

which meant more walking. after spending a good 3 hours checking out a marvelous palace we decided to be decadent and have our peking duck at the famous peking duck house in town (they have pics of george #1 and barb eating here as well as fidel-- but not together!) but the bus ride that took place afterwards was the bus ride from hell. literally i stood on the bus for about 30 minutes completely packed together like sardines. now i wonder why my legs are throbbing! thankfully dinner was wonderful. the duck was sooooooooooo tasty that it was to die for but it was pretty expensive. we ended up paying about $125 US for three people. i think the meal was worth it but there was some squabbling among people on how/how much we were going to order. not good.

oh well. my half an hour of internet time is almost up. got an early start tomorrow morning-- got to head the great wall. now that should be exciting! take care and talk with you all soon.

Monday, August 20, 2001

sorry... got to keep this post short. the half and hour that me and darryl are sharing at the web cafe is almost up. made it alive to beijing where the taxis are safer and the streets are safe for pedestrians. not quite as exciting or fashionable as shanghai though. went to visit the forbidden city today... very exciting to witness the palace of the chinese dynasties.

gotta run... feeling much better thankfully... more updates soon!

Saturday, August 18, 2001

hey kids... another update from shanghai. ok, first things first... my streak of not using the squat toilet in china is officially over. i bit the bullet and used one at a bookstore yesterday. our time in shanghai has been very fruitful so far. we've had a chance to check out all of the major districts and we've been exploring things outside of the guidebook too. the people here are generally very friendly and the town seems to be under constant construction. every street is covered with people arm to arm and the bicycles and taxis are everywhere. (a scooter almost hit me yesterday--- i think that traffic lights are a completely optional tool here for drivers)

the hotel that we are staying in is very nice. it seems to be very popular among the foriegn crown and it is very very livable. we have cable tv and i've been watching the seattle mariners play every morning. it looks like we get the japanese channel that covers ichiro's every move. i've also been watching some basketall with the chinese national team in the asian championships. yao ming and wang zhi-zhi are looking solid. i guess the television has made the transition easier so far. we have hbo in english and i've been catching up on my music videos.

the funny thing about shanghai (and beijing) is that both cities are literally covered in advertising. there is a main street here in which every lightpost is covered with pepsi signs. there are also huge billboards with faye wong selling pepsi too. i don't mind that at all. if anybody knowing this knows faye-- send me an email and i'll send you my address and my eternal thanks! =p

otherwise things are pretty good in china. i've caught a bit of a stomach bug but i should be ok. my inability to order has sort of been a hassle but we've been hitting a lot of food courts which has made things a bit easier. today i visited the second tallest building in the world and saw a new aaron kwok movie. after i get off this computer i'll probably get a bite to eat and check out a music club. the excitement never seems to end in shanghai. that and the constant construction. i'd imagine that if i visited this place next week things would look vastly different.

the weather has become more tolerable. my dry skin is nowhere to be seen and i think that one girl (at a hair salon) thought i was cute. either that or she thought i was a completely dumb looking gringo. =) alright kids... that it for now. see you all soon! when i talk with you all next i should be in beijing, china-- home of the 2008 olympic games!

Thursday, August 16, 2001

yo.. yo... yo.... i'm in china! i am sitting specifically in an internet cafe in shanghai spending about 75 cents for an hour of internet access. (in order to be accurate... i had to look for this place for about an hour and a half so it isn't that big of a bargain!)

the trip is going excellently so far. although the weather in shanghai has been around the 90's i haven't wilted yet. there are so many people here that it is pretty awe-inspiring. (the funny thing is that they are all chinese... i probably don't need to mention that there is lots of spitting into the streets and no one knows how to follow traffic regulations but i will)

so far i haven't gone shopping yet but there seem to be lots of values to be had in china. most meals are costing me less than $2-- so i should have lots of money left over for stylish chinese threads-- either that or maybe i can get some knock-off gear for home! =p thankfully, my mandarin is coming back to me. although my brain needs some time to process what i'm hearing around me-- i think i'm picking things up faster and faster. most of the people who i'm speaking with understand my "gil-bonics" version of mandarin and that is comforting. i actually had a water vendor think i was a native. dude... are you telling me that i'm looking that bunk in these clothes? =p

so far the traveling hasn't been too rough. didn't get much sleep on the flight to beijing but i made up for it on a sleeper train to shanghai. i think that the residual jet lag effects are gone now too. so far i've been able to see lots of the shanghai sites--- this place is like new york-- all the lights... all the people.. all the fashion... all the commerce. its pretty wild stuff.

this is my third night in china and i haven't had to use a squat toliet yet.... will wonders never cease? alright, that is it for now. miss all of you guys lots-- hope everyone is doing well back home. send me a note if you want. if you want a postcard you better email me soon! until next time....

Sunday, August 12, 2001

ok.. well this is my first time to china but i just wanted to sound like the notorious big....
this is it kids.... i'm going going back back to china china...

heh heh heh. keep checking for updates. =)

Wednesday, August 08, 2001

hey kids. so its settled... i am leaving for china and hong kong on sunday. have i packed yet, no way jose! i have been busy getting ready though-- if turning off all of my email subscriptions and reading my guidebooks counts. made some massive changes to my resume today which i am quite happy with. that is some positive news.

my emails to different contacts in asia have been well received. i might actually find myself in a meeting or two while in asia. for those of you who i haven't told, i'm probably going to be visiting beijing, shanghai and hong kong during my 3+ week stay in asia. i have a friend who is currently living in beijing and another friend who will be arriving a couple of days later than me. my uncle and aunt live in hong kong so that will be the part of the trip where i get to visit posh places and live like a king. =)

i'm hoping to be able to update this log from the road. i guess i'll apologize in advance to my friends for being so impersonal with responses but hey-- why send a telegram when you can post it to the bulletin board. if anyone has any tips for visiting china or friends that i should call on let me know.

alright... that is enough for now. i'm going to see a sneak preview of american pie 2 tonight... my money says that the sequel is going to pale in comparison... talk with you more soon!

Monday, August 06, 2001

enjoy this blog while you can folks... i think i'm going to be heading off on a vacation and putting this blog on hold for a little while. if everything goes as scheduled, i'll probably be heading to beijing and hong kong for a couple of weeks. now don't start jumping out of the window... this trip isn't a permanent move... yet...

i guess i'm heading to asia to enjoy my summer vacation...and to see whether i could work in asia for a couple of years. (dealing with the weather, homesickness, lack of hbo, etc.) does anybody need me to pick up anything for them in china? better send me a note now to place your orders!

Sunday, August 05, 2001

ok... thanks for your patience. i think i need to stop sleeping in. is it me or does everybody have a hard time getting to bed after staying out late? i never used to have a problem falling asleep after a long night of clubbing but recently i can't seem to get to sleep which is very bad news if you are getting home after 2 o'clock or so.

this was definitely the case last night. (btw, thanks to gwen for a great housewarming party yesterday.) i got home at about 3 after getting a bite to eat with arvin and understanding that i wouldn't fall asleep right away i sent some emails and was online for a bit. when i got to bed at 4... i ended up up for another hour. this, my friends, is a definite problem.

i think i need to start shutting down my mental processes earlier. i'm not sure of the effect of the alcohol on my sleep but i know that my brain isn't shutting itself off in a hurry. i ran into a bunch of people that i knew in high school and folks i met in college. these were totally random meetings because they didn't even know gwen, who was throwing the party. makes you think about the funny ways that the world works.

alright. i think i'm going to go and grab more zzzz's. next time i'll fill you guys in on my big trip!
hey kids... i just added an archive to the site so now you can read my older rantings.... let me know what you think!
testing one... two... three...

Thursday, August 02, 2001

two words to start of today's blog: yoga sucks. yes, i have trying my hand at yoga. (you can continue to choke on your poppy-seed bagel now). do you guys remember the yoga show that used to be on pbs early in the mornings? well, it never looked as hard on tv as it does in real life. *smile*

most of the stretching exercises aren't too bad-- but there are a couple of modified "push-up" positions that are truly brutal. i guess my upper body isn't all that developed but i'm having a lot of problems when it comes to those moves. thankfully, i'm taking the course at 24 hr fitness so the other people aren't experts in yoga, either. i think it has been good for me though-- i've been able to increase my flexibility and also learn some handy meditation skills. (hey, if nba players can do it-- its good enough for me!)

went to see the new movie, made, yesterday. not as good as swingers... what a shame. alright-- more for you later.