December 10, 2011

Hong Kong, China

Last night, while boarding a plane in Hong Kong, we got mysteriously upgraded to business class and rerouted to a different boarding tunnel. At the door of the plane, the woman asked if we wanted to see the eclipse. She led us (and only us) outside onto the stairs so we could watch the moon go deep red. Thanks, universe, for putting me in Hong Kong, for the upgrade, and for the nice lady.

I didn't take this photo. Credit is on the bottom of the image.

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February 22, 2011

Hong Kong, China

I was invited to stop by CNN International on my way through Hong Kong.

 

February 21, 2011

Shanghai, China

On the Mag-Lev to Shanghai airport; the world's fastest train.

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The trip lasts just over 7 minutes. It takes 5 minutes to reach top speed, then pretty much immediately starts to break.

I'm gonna go out on a limb and speculate they're not covering their expenses on this operation, but it's a fun ride.

February 19, 2011

Beijing, China

Unwittingly stumbled into Beijing on the last night of the Chinese New Year celebrations. Once the sun goes down, this happens on every third street corner:

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There are no barriers or safety precautions of any kind. Cars weave around the explosions. Chunks of hot plaster rain down on the spectators. Ambulance sirens wail from all corners of the city as they rush, presumably, to pick up all the severed limbs and glue them back on.

October 20, 2008

Bali, Indonesia
Dumpling Stuffed With Ovary and Digestive Glands of Crab

They're still running the Tommy Lee Jones ad campaign in Tokyo.

His face reminds me of the surface of Mars.

Cool building in Shinjuku.

The Japanese are always thinking of new ways to streamline bathroom visits.

Visited the site of the Tokyo dancing clip from the last video.

Aside from that we just did a lot of shopping and eating. Got to go to Mandarake and Tokyu Hands. Ate about a dozen of those triangular-shaped seaweed and rice things.

On to Shanghai. Would you like some gigantic fruit cake?

Every year Shanghai's skyline looks more like a backdrop from the original Star Trek TV show.

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It's even crazier at night.

Their most recent addition is the Shanghai World Financial Center, which opened to the public about 6 weeks ago. At 470 meters, its observation deck is the highest of any building in the world (excluding towers like the CN in Toronto, and the Burj in Dubai which isn't quite finished yet).

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It also has the distinction of being the world's largest bottle opener.

This model shows the original concept, which included a giant alien bird thing at the top. They had to cut it for safety reasons.

The Financial Center towers over the adjacent Jin Mao, which was once the third tallest building in the world. It now looks diminished and bitter -- the Jeb Bush of skyscrapers.

The top part of the bottle opener has glass floors so you can look down at the bottom part of the bottle opener. Likewise, from the bottom part, you can look up at the top.

This is all much more horrifying than it sounds. To illustrate, behold the abject terror of this bratty little kid.

World's ballsiest window washers.

The area surrounding the Financial Center is littered with dozens of also-ran skyscrapers. They're all very nice, and all practically invisible next to the bottle opener and the totally ridiculous, sphere-adorned Oriental Pearl tower.

Pudong is the little peninsula with all the skyscrapers on it. We took a ferry across for about $0.17. It was a mad rush of scooters amongst the constant stream of barges along the Huang Pu river.

To get back we took the "tourist tunnel," which is a tram that runs underneath the river. It costs 50 times more, but it includes a light show and inflatable creatures that bang against the carriage, so that's some added value.

Visited the Yu Yuan gardens. Meh.

Smelled one of the worst odors I've ever come across in my life.

Melissa very nearly flash-vomited.

A stroll along the Bund.

The People's Heroes Memorial celebrates the two founding principles of modern Shanghai: tallness and concreteness.

Here's a tip: when naming your restaurant, avoid the word "waterborne".

Stayed at the Grand Hyatt. After an exhausting first day, we didn't even leave the hotel for the second day and instead made the most of its fantastic gym/pool/spa facility.

This is a new kind of travel for me. I could get used to doing it on occasion.

Took the Mag Lev train to the airport -- as in "magnetic levitation." It's the first commercial mag lev train in the world. It can reach a top speed of about 430kph, but ours topped off at 301kph.

The train only runs 30 kilometers, so it's a brisk 7 minute ride. You get up to speed, then you start slowing down. I can only assume it's more of a "tech demo" than anything else. A few months ago they announced a new line connecting Shanghai to Hangzhou about 150 km's away, so maybe that'll feel a bit more purposeful.

That's Nick, who we're traveling with.

Stopover in Singapore, then a flight to Bali. Got cozy with some strange man on a bench.

The digs on this leg were the best yet. A 6 bedroom villa.

Visited a temple.

 

Had lunch at a barbequed ribs place with a strong political bias.

Obama spent several years living in Indonesia during his youth.

Sat on the beach for a while, then Melissa and I got massages.

Roadside ribs plus sun plus heavy-duty massage did what steamed Chinese crab rectums failed to: Melissa puked her guts out.

The next day we went up into the highlands to see the terraced rice paddies.

Did some foraging.

And there's my staccato update. No rants, no ruminations. Just the facts...minus a few key details that I can't get into right now.