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Delhi Days

July 23, 2016

Posted by Kanga. Please do not reblog.

crowded street

After our time in Ladakh, Leh, India, we returned to Delhi and spent six days. However, it was a mostly unproductive six days. It was extremely hot and humid, so we didn’t really want to go outside. When we did go outside, we encountered some very pushy people trying to tell us where to go and what to do. They were really like gum stuck to the bottom of our shoes and wasted a great deal of our time and all of our patience. We learned to make a plan while coming down in the elevator. We agreed exactly what direction we were going to go and what we were going to do, because stepping out of the building and looking around just made us a target for these “helpers.” Once we reached the metro entrance we were home free, because it would cost them money to follow us that far.

National Museum of Natural History fire damaged building

Our usual style of travel didn’t work well in Delhi. We do not prepare an itinerary or have a detailed plan for what we will do each day. This strategy had us standing outside the natural history museum that had clearly burnt down recently, among other goose chases.

striped squirrel on the trunk of a potted tree

We did succeed in going to Shankar’s International Doll Museum which was very interesting. 1000’s of dolls from all over the world. We also succeeded in going to a Bollywood movie in the cinema near our hotel. The other highlight, if you will, would be the animals. The northern palm squirrels (more the size of a chipmunk than a squirrel) were highly entertaining. We also discovered that an eagle was nesting in the tree just outside the window of the hotel restaurant.

eagle and nest in tree outside a restaurant window

There are an astonishing number of eagles in the city. I had noticed significant numbers of large birds circling high up and wondered what they were.

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Eating for me was more misery than pleasure, but I knew that going in. It was quite a challenge to look over a menu to find something that might be free of chili. I would make my best guess and then suffer the consequences. Happily the chicken alfredo pizza was good, but the smoked chicken and apricot sandwich at the airport was fiery hot. It was a crap shoot.

To see all the pictures, click here. (via Facebook)

To see all the pictures, click here. (via Google photos, for those who don’t Facebook)

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Ladakh – Leh – India

July 13, 2016

Posted by Kanga. Please do not reblog.

hotel patio with view of the Himalaya mountains

We spent five days in Leh, India which is in the Himalaya mountain range at an altitude of over 11,500 feet. Our first day was spent sleeping and trying to get over the altitude sickness. We woke up around 2 pm, walked to the nearest cafe to have lunch and then right back to the hotel to sleep some more. We were mostly okay by the second day, but were not ready for anything strenuous.

Leh is both beautiful, as you can see above, and rustic.

rough mud brick buildings

We took it easy, ate lots of good food…

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… saw plenty of cows, dogs, and donkeys …

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Why did we go to Leh? You might ask. We were invited by a dear friend to join her and her family to celebrate her birthday. It was a pretty spectacular place for a birthday party. Aside from the altitude sickness and the unseasonable warm weather, we enjoyed ourselves immensely.

You can see all the pictures here.

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More Big Bus Tour

July 7, 2016

Posted by Kanga. Please do not reblog.

makeshift restaurant in an alleyway

We got up late, so our first meal was more of a lunch. We picked this alleyway eatery just a block from our hotel. The waitress didn’t seem too happy about serving foreigners, but it worked out.

view from a ferry boat in Victoria Harbour

We crossed the harbor on the ferry in order to take yet another Big Bus tour, the blue line this time which traverses the Kowloon part of town.

long subterranean tunnel for pedestrians

A word about using the metro train system in Hong Kong — be prepared to walk, a lot. After finishing the blue line tour, we needed to get back to the other side of the harbor and foolishly thought it would be easier to take the metro than to walk back to the pier and take the ferry. Unfortunately, the metro system required a long long goose chase walk through underground tunnels. Would have been shorter to walk to the pier.

toy boxes, one of which is a Star Wart version of the Millennium Falcon

We also took the Big Bus night tour. We got off at the night market stop and walked through the night market. It was mostly disappointing and nothing we would want to buy. Although, the Star Wart Millennium Falcon was tempting (we also saw a Star Wnrt version). It would not fit in our suitcases, so we skipped it. We can probably find this in Shanghai anyway.

sweet and sour pork with pineapple and onions

So, after another metro ride back to the island side of Hong Kong, we stopped into a restaurant close to our hotel and had a third meal. This is the sweet and sour pork, which we technically did not order, but it was very good.

Friday is our last day and will be mainly packing and getting to the airport. So, to sum up our Hong Kong experience and advice:

  • Come when it is cooler, not in the miserable summer months.
  • Be prepared to walk and walk and walk, sometimes at a steep angle.
  • The Big Bus red and green line tours are worth it, but skip the blue line and the night tour.
  • Eating can be very expensive unless you head for the alleys and eat at the scroungy looking places where locals are eating.
  • The Butterfly Hotel on Wellington is a good choice.

See all the pictures here.

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Big Bus Tour

July 6, 2016

Posted by Kanga. Please do not reblog.

bamboo steam baskets full of dim sum buns

We started our day with breakfast at a dim sum restaurant just down the street from our hotel. A tasty and a fun adventure. About half-way through our meal a family sat down at our table. It was a local family with a teen daughter and her caucasian friend. It was fun to watch them tell her how to make tea. As you can see from the picture above, we were given a teapot. This is not the local way. The covered dish (gaiwan) in the upper left corner of the picture is used to make tea. It is filled with loose tea leaves and water. The first tea is poured out as it is thought to be too bitter (and possibly other ceremonial reasons). The father showed her exactly how to hold the gaiwan with the lid tipped to pour the tea into her cup. The first tea is poured out into the larger bowl (center top of the picture) and then the waiter has to come back to pour more hot water into the gaiwan. The waiters at this restaurant were quick and sloppy, so it wasn’t long until the table was wet.

Hong Kong Observation Wheel

Next we went down to the waterfront to get on the Big Red Bus tour. As you can see it was a sunny day. Later it was the exact opposite.

Hong Kong Observation Wheel and heavy rain

We took the Green Line route first which took us to the opposite side of the island to Repulse Bay, Stanley, and Aberdeen. We got off at Stanley to do some touristy shopping and have a little snack. When we got back on the bus, the lower level was full, so we had to go up to the top deck (which is uncovered and not air conditioned. It was extremely hot while we were at Stanley (I have a sunburn to prove it), so we weren’t too happy to be going up top. However, it started to rain, no, I mean RAIN, as soon as we got up there. That took the temperature right down, which was nice. It did make it difficult to see much or take pictures, though.

vehicle windshield obscured by rain

At the end of this tour, we took a short break and then got on the Red Line bus for more.

You can see all the pictures here. I hope you like looking at sky scrapers.

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More Hong Kong

July 4, 2016

Posted by Kanga. Please do not reblog.

two plates of breakfast food

One of the things that is rare outside the U.S. is a good American breakfast restaurant. Flying Pan is the best we have found, so far — Open 24/7, serving a wide variety of breakfast options, and tasty food. The service on the graveyard shift wasn’t exactly swift, but not terrible.

From there we went in search of the textile market, which involved traveling by metro to the other side of the bay. Apparently, the “textile market” is not a building with shops inside, as we have experienced in Shanghai. All we found were shops along the street and stalls in the street, so it was a hot and sweaty experience. Paul was looking for shirt material, but did not find anything that fit his criteria. I was a bit disappointed with what we found, until we found the one shop that had some marvelous brocades.

brocade fabric

I took the piece on the right to the shop owner and asked “how much?” thinking it might be expensive. He said $16 Hong Kong dollars per yard. After he clarified that it was 16 not 60, I asked him to measure what was on the roll (which was near the end). It was 4 yards, so I took it all. $16 HKD is approximately $2 USD. I wanted the black, too, which was the same price. Score! Qipao dresses to come.

We stopped into a little restaurant for a snack of dim sum, then got back on the metro to join the evening commute crowd.

very crowded hallway

See all the pictures here.

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Hong Kong

July 3, 2016

Posted by Kanga. Please do not reblog.

street in Hong Kong surrounded by skyscrapters

We are in Hong Kong on a six day layover on our way to India. It is hot and humid, but we will venture out anyway and do our usual, casual wandering.

Hong Kong is on very mountainous land, so the streets are steep and every inch of land is valuable. The city is a forest of skyscrapers and all the alley ways are being used as retail space.

escalator and stairs

The coolest thing is the elevated escalator and stairs that makes it easy to get up the hill. This is only a block away from our hotel. During morning commute time, the escalator runs down the hill so that people can get to work. The rest of the day it runs up the hill. We walked down the hill on the street level and I thought “ugh, all these steps have to be retraced up the hill to get back to the hotel.” No! It was quick and easy to get back.

We haven’t done anything particularly touristy, yet. Just went in search of a pharmacy to shop for things we cannot find in Shanghai, ate food, and sweated a lot.

See the pictures here.

 

 

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Up a Lazy River

April 24, 2016

Posted by Kanga. Please do not reblog.

For spring break we chose to cruise on the Yangtze River. This early in the year the boats only run between Chongching and Yichang, not all the way to Shanghai. We chose to take a train to Yichang and then take the boat cruise from Yichang up to Chongching. We would still have a few days left, so we took a train from Chongching to Chengdu before returning to Shanghai by train.

I was looking forward to just sitting on a boat and watching China go by. It turned out not to be quite that relaxing. Breakfast was at 7:15 every morning, so no lazy sleeping in. There was at least one or two excursions each day, some lasting 3-4 hours. Therefore, a lot less sitting on the balcony with a book and watching the world go by than I had envisioned.

We arrived in Yichang on Saturday and had most of Sunday to look around before heading to the boat that evening. We went out fairly late on Saturday evening looking for food. Most of the shops around our hotel had closed up already and we were beginning to lose hope, when we discovered a group of about 5 street food carts on a side street.

street food carts

 

Lovely dumpling soup and freshly fried rice were the result.

two bowls of dumpling soup

 

The next day we just walked out of the hotel to explore the neighborhood. There was a  park across the street, so we wandered through it enjoying the sights.

shady park, replica of the Great Wall of China

We wandered through an antiques market.

flipping through an old comic book

Then we went in search of lunch. Central China is known for it’s spicy food, so we did amazingly well in choosing dishes. Only one was unbearably hot.

cooked greens and a green salad

Then it was time to walk back to the hotel, pack up, and catch a taxi to the boat dock.

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We settled in and then wandered around the boat checking out the facilities. It is very nicely appointed. Just a nice hotel on water.

Over the next three days we went on excursions involving a bus trip to the Three Gorges Dam, a boat trip up a tributary (Daning River), and climb a hill to see the Fengdu Ghost City. All of which were interesting, but a little tiring.

We were the only caucasian/English speaking passengers. The staff spoke enough English to make sure we knew what was happening and they always made sure we went with the local excursion guide who could speak to us in English. At meals, they gave us our own table and our waiter took good care of us. So, we didn’t make any lifelong or cruise-long friends. Being introverts, we enjoyed the privacy that our language gap afforded us.

Overall, we enjoyed it and were sorry to have to leave the boat on Thursday morning. The cruise was too short, so we are planning on doing it again during a summer season when we can do the full length of the river from Shanghai to Chongching. We will skip some of the excursions, especially those we have already done. It is nice to see interesting sites, but we would be happy with just some pleasant down time.

Yangtze River

We did not linger in Chongching. We took a taxi to the train station and then took a train to Chengdu. We were both getting over a long lasting upper respiratory infection, so feeling a bit worn out and tired. Therefore, we didn’t do very much in Chengdu except take naps between meals.

vegetable soup, cooked greens, spicy pork dish

We had some fun at this restaurant because, clearly, they do not get many caucasian tourists. The chef came out to take a selfie with Daddybird. He came back a little later with a bottle of beer and glasses to drink several toasts with us. The wait staff crowded around all trying to help us choose dishes from the menu which was all in Chinese with no pictures. Another customer who knew a little English was pulled in to help translate.

flaky meat pastries and other snack foods

The next day we went to Kuanzhaisiangzi Alleys which is a historical residential area that has been “revitalized” into a tourist area. Lots of shops, restaurants, and food stalls.

On Sunday we went on a food tour with Lost Plate Tours (same company for the tour we took in Xian). It is a great way to find local specialties that you might not encounter or know to look for otherwise.

food stall

On Monday, it was back onto a train for a 14 hour trip back to Shanghai. We love traveling by train. It is less stressful than air travel even though it takes longer. Much less hassle getting through security and onto a train. We pay extra for first class which is less expensive than flying and more comfortable. The view out the window can be amazing.

small farming community nestled among mountains with a modern highway above

All in all, it was a good vacation and we would do it again.

To see all the pictures:

813 photos and 112 photos.

 

 

 

 

 

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