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'15 Jan: Philippines
Mostly Manila plus a day trip to Tagaytay and the Taal Volcano and surrounding area.
'15 Jan: Singapore
So cleeean...
'15 Jan: Malaysia
Sometimes I surprise myself ...Kuala Lumpur... interesting!
'15 Feb: Myanmar
Oh my goodness, by road from Yangoon to Mandalay.
'15 Feb: Thailand, mostly Chiang Mai
Chiang Mai: the Chiang Mai Flower Festival Parade and elephants.
'15 Feb: Laos
Mostly Luang Prabang, a handsome and expectedly touristified UNESCO World Heritage town.
'15 Feb: Thailand, mostly Bangkok
A capital city.
'05 Dec: Suwon and Seoul in Korea
The real life of a young English teacher in Korea.
'05 Dec: HCMC / Saigon and Chau Doc
Ho Chi Minh City and the Mekong Delta.
'05 Dec: Cambodia-Phnom Penh, Angkor complex
Traveling the Mekong River, Phnom Phen and the fabulous complex of Angkor temples out of Siem Reap.
'05 Dec: Hanoi and Halong Bay
Christmas in Vietnam(!), gracious Hanoi, a cruise in Halong Bay, and The Rain.
'06 Jan: Hue and Hoi An and Nha Trang
An overnight train, a day tour of Hue, a drive past Danang and China Beach to Hoi An, and then more beach at Nha Trang.
'06 Jan: Dalat, HCMC again, Cao Dai and Cu Chi
An historic hill station, HCMC, and tours to the gaga Cao Dai Temple and a recreation of the tunnel system that determined the course of the American War.
'05 May: Beijing and The Great Wall of China
What's left of hutong life before it's entirely gone.
'05 May: Pingyao and Xi'an
A small town (by China standards) and a lavish local funeral and the staggering Army of Terracotta Warriors.
'05 May: yikes, Tibet
You just have to look at this. Really.
'05 Jun: Lijiang and Yangshuo
Minority people, Jade Dragon Cloud Mountain, and the fabulous Karst mountains.
'05 Jun: Shanghai, Suzhou, and Hangzhou
New and Old, snuggled right up.
'05 Jun: Japan
The lovely small temple town of Narita, the castle in Odowara, Yugawara with the dear and wonderful Kamihagi family, Takayama, and Matsumoto with its illustrious castle.
'00 Dec: Japan in the snow
Digi photos but I didn't write the story on time to remember.
'99 Sep: Bali, Yogyakarta, & Lombok
Impatiently scanned from an album.




Click HERE and all the pictures in this chapter will get big.

June 4-5 Shanghai

I had a heat crisis on the 4th and had to go back to the hotel early and just chill, so to speak, so for the 5th I got out at 5:30am, to see if that helped.

Here it is about 6am on The Bund, Shanghai's most famous promenade. 'On the near side of the river is Shangai's signature citscape, a long wall of colonial-era European buildings erected by foreign governments, trading houses, and expatriate millionaires mostly during the 1920s and 1930s.'

'And on the far side of the river, casting the shadow of Shanghai's future over its colonial past, are the modern towers of the city's remarkable economic boom.'

Reading about the history of Shanghai - I think it is among the most interesting stories I've heard here.

Following is a link to a few concise paragraphs from Lonely Planet's Shanghai history and there's plenty more to read about if that peaks your interest.

Kite flyers line The Bund early in the morning. And all along the way you find folks having a constitutional. When they passed by that group of runners all looked like retirees.

And there were numerious groups performing many styles of exercise... What a bunch of cuties!

More kite flyers.

I like how this old guy came up to give the kids some pointers and they were sweet about listening.

The cleaning crew.

This is here as an example. In the modern parts of Beijing, Xi'an, and Shanghai you cannot pitch a stick without hitting a US chain restaurant. The seemingly most popular? KFC. Ol' Colonel Sanders' face is far far more in evidence than that of our ol' Chairman Mao.

And of course look-down-look-up and there's a McDonalds. And these guys, Starbucks, lines 'em up everywhere, speaking to my theory that you mustn't get started since Starbucks is clearly addicting and the cost too, even here, makes you think it must be a controlled substance!

Ya know, you read about a place and you just never know.

I pictured this famous tea house described as in the middle of a lake, to be in the middle of an actual lake, but no, and the gardens associated with it, I pictured ok, that's a nice garden, but no. The tea house was interesting and modest while the garden was interesting and vast.

An ancient gingko baloba tree.

Looks like Chinatown USA. It's called Old Town here and is what you'd expect with the tea house and garden being the focal points and the surrounding streets refurbished into a tourist area with historical presentations, shops, and restaurants.

At least three times a day someone will take my arm to join their group photo or thrust their baby up to give me a kiss while someone snaps a pic. I am of course an excellent choice for such requests since I snuggle up real good and generate gales of giggles and 'sank yous'.

In various combinations these girls took my picture about five times.

An entirely modern Shanghai shopping palace. You could be in Dallas or Copenhagen. No difference At All. Except maybe only slightly more chopsticks in use in the food court, but That's It.

This is a different place, more like the garment district than a modern Mall. I have a shot like this from almost every city and town. I forgot to check in the Mall. Dang. I was about to conclude that every mannequin in China had a Western face.

Shanghai is an amazing place I think from a couple of days of taxis, buses, and a lot of walking. One thing, there is a very high percentage of English in the signs so for the most part you know what you're looking at.

And it was the 100% case that if I stopped to study my map someone would come up and offer to help. Every Single Time. I quit looking just for kicks because I felt bad about bothering people!

The big downtown construction projects are all pretty much finished in the late 90s and now new building is happening across the river. For this reason, unlike in Beijing where downtown is one giant effort to create the most possible dust, here the air quality seems to be better. I should check that out though since I just made it up!

I also ran across many streets in the old hutong style like Beijing's but 'inside' the traffic pattern, as well as semi-modern housing blocks like this one, and then the huge apartment towers too. It's a complicated place!

June 6-7 Suzhou and Hangzhou

I left my BigBag in Shanghai and with just a few things took the train to Suzhou, then to Hangzhou for the night, and then back. Suzhou is about an hour away in one direction and Hangzhou is about three hours in another. All the train tickets cost less than breakfast at the Peace Hotel.

When you're walking along the way, minding your own business, and you see a crowd of people chowin' down and at the same place you see a line at a window, then you want to be in that line. Yummy!

Suzhou is famous for its dozens of magnificent gardens. I'm just not getting a feel for it in the pictures. I couldn't get it at that huge garden in Shanghai either.

These are not gardens in the Victoria Gardens sense. Mostly the garden is filled with buildings, pavillions, colonnades, and walls, sometimes with little space between them, where you stand or sit inside and admire a small view framed by a feature of the building.

There are also inticate stone paths that lead from place to place, the more circuitous the better, plus water features, arching bridges, rock formations, and mirrored surfaces abound.

As these gardens were originally built as private residences the buildings were used for living spaces, study halls, meeting rooms, etc. This is looking through a back window.

This garden is known for its big trees. I liked this one especially. It was more peaceful than most since it seems to be absent from group itineraries, the trees make it shady and cool, and the rustle of the leaves is very soothing.

Lunch. A bowl of noodles soaked in chilies and chili oil. On the menu this dish showed a 'one pepper' in the scale of zero to three. Pheww!

That smoosh is from the train's window. I'm on to Hangzhou!

At this restaurant they were playing English language music, a quite lovely country-jazz-ish singer-songwriter. It was nice here - big comfy padded chairs with a great view of the street.

Hangzhou is famous for this lake. It was very overcast and even rained some. All around the lake are good views, lawns and benches, restaurants and hotels, etc.

Then there are causeways that cross the lake, leading to islands with more gardens, pavillions, boat rides, and food of course.

A pavillion for the dancers!

Views...

...and tree-shaded lanes for a refreshing stroll.

Lassie, Lassie, did Timmy fall in the well?!?

A kid in a costume. Irresistible.

June 8 Shanghai

I tried to fix the dragon wall photo...

This was my last day in China and I wandered around, went across the river to Pudong, stopped to eat about seven times, saw Star Wars, strolled down Nanjing Lu, and not once did I remove the camera from its case. How curious!

Tomorrow I pack-up and am off to Japan for a week. Were it not that summer is coming on strong and everywhere every day is hotter than the previous, I'm sure I could happily stay in China for another month!

A view in Yu Garden.
Click HERE and all the pictures in this chapter will get big.


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