Archive for the ‘travel adventures’ Category


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.


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.


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.




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.


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.







Eating Xianese if You Please

December 24, 2015

Posted by Kanga. Please do not reblog.

four story Chinese tower

Bell Tower, Xian China

We traveled by overnight train from Shanghai to Xian. I recommend this form of travel. A private sleeper with a private toilet cost less than the cheapest airfare. Worth it. Not the easiest sleep, but overall it is low stress.

We checked into our hotel. Hunted up some soup and dumplings. Then took a long nap.

two bowls of soup

Won ton soup – noodles, cilantro, seaweed, and tiny tiny shrimp

In the evening, we went on a food tour provided by Lost Plate Tours, which we highly recommend. There were two other couples with us on the evening tour and it was a lot of fun. We squeezed into two tuktuks and bounced all over town to eat some really fantastic foods off the tourist track. We ate like locals.

steaming basket of dumplings

After a good night’s sleep, we got up and did it again, going on the morning food tour. This time it was just DaddyBird and I with the guide. More fantastically delicious food.

round flaky pastry

We spent the afternoon walking back to the hotel. We happened upon a Daoist temple on the way.

Daoist temple

To see all the pictures:

Day One

Day Two

Day Three


Not Our Favorite Summer

July 22, 2015

Posted by Kanga. Please do not reblog.

Ocean, sail boats, coast line

This summer did not go according to plan. Only three of our many plans came successfully to fruition. DaddyBird was able to attend the university graduation of BabyBird. I was able to attend the ALA Annual Conference in San Francisco. We both (separately) were able to spend time with family. Other than that, all plans fell apart.

Early in June, we found out that we were going to have to move out of our apartment by July 31st. Since we had planned to be in California until July 21st, we decided that some change to our plans was needed to accomplish this feat. DaddyBird’s USA trip plans were significantly shortened. He returned to Shanghai two days before I was scheduled to leave.

The move was accomplished, but two days later DaddyBird was seriously injured while assembling and moving a large bookcase. He attempted to survive on his own, but on the third trip to the doctor, it was determined that surgery was necessary. Therefore, my trip was shortened by four days so that I could return before he was released from the hospital and be here to take care of him while he recuperates. He is healing well, although he wishes it would happen faster.

In addition to the inconvenience of having to move out of an apartment we were very happy with and the pain and frustration of being injured, we missed out on seeing friends and family members. I don’t start back to work until August 10th, so had hoped to get to do a little travel within China, but that won’t be possible either.

On the bright side, we easily found a new apartment, there are many shops and restaurants in the new neighborhood, and the apartment staff have been VERY helpful – taking care of DaddyBird in my absence and helping with transportation to and from the hospital. It is not all bad, but definitely not our favorite summer experience.


San Jose Tourist

July 9, 2015

Posted by Kanga. Please do not reblog.

Almost all of our summer plans have gone wrong. The last time we were in the States we were so tired from running errands, dealing with business, and shopping, we promised ourselves that next time we would just be tourists and do touristy things. So, despite all the disruptions to our plans, I am trying to do a few of those touristy things.

Starting with the San Jose Museum of Quilts and Textiles.

quilts hanging on a wall

The above quilts are kawandi, quilts made by African Siddi women who live in India. The quilts are made with a unique style that bypasses the initial sewing of the pieces together. They are stitched together as they are attached to the backing.

Hanging art quilt made with embroidery cut from tea towels and pillow cases

Another display focused on embroidery. My favorite pieces were made from found pieces of embroidery (from tea towels and pillow cases) that are reassembled into wall hangings. The designs were very familiar, although it interesting just how many jugs of moonshine there are.

a birds nest made out of glass

There was also a display of works made with glass, some of which were based on quilt arts. I have no idea what this bird’s nest had to do with quilting, but it was beautiful.

Bedouin weavings

A display of Bedouin weavings was quite familiar, too.

San Jose Art Museum building

Next museum – San Jose Art Museum

two pictures, an antique picture of a Native American man, a recreation of the photo showing an Indian woman

My favorite display was a series of pictures in which an antique picture of a Native American is recreated by the Indian artist. The collection was called “An Indian from India.”

two photographs

Another display of interest consisted of found photographs that show young Indian girls in all cases with a bouquet of flowers to the right and a mirror to the left positioned to show the back of the girl in the photo.

displayed color photographs of Indian girls

close up of one of the photographs

The amazing thing is that there are 83 of these. The artist who created the display did not take these photographs, they found them and assembled them. So, it seems strange that they are all posed exactly the same.

entire display of 83 photos