unique experiences

Shanghai Silly: Potato Chips

When I was kid I remember the strange potato chip flavours coming out. Grape seems to be the one I recall and wanted to try the most. Funny I don’t remember if I ever tried them – maybe I was to chicken. 🙂

When we first arrived in Shanghai that memory came back as we walked down the aisle of chips. I tried lime, a sweetish more like key lime pie and ice tea, a lemony flavour. They did have grape or blueberry and I assumed it was ‘normal’, but the next time we went to shop they no longer carried that flavour. This time I was going to be sure to try them and I missed out. Another time I bought Cheetos and was surprised by the unusual flavour. I can’t read Chinese, but on closer inspection I realised I bought steak Cheetos. 😦 I don’t know if it was the flavour or not what I expected, but I wasn’t a fan and never bought them again. Recently I saw another kind of cheesies had something on top that looked like cheese. Mmmm cheesies with extra cheese on top. Nope it was vanilla icing like. Bizarre.

funny chip flavours

funny chip flavours

We usually stick to our old standards now. John likes the plain Lays, which are not as salty or greasy as home. Large bags are a third the size of home, but the flavour is great. I like the cheese Pringles. We bought some at home, but again the greasier and saltier flavour are not as good.

While out shopping I decided to snap a few photos of some of the new flavours that came out recently. Maybe they were just for Chinese New Year, or will be more long-term if they are a hit. My new favourite is Thai Green Curry. They are lime and a hint of coconut…. sounds strange, but it is good. Before that I discovered chocolate and sea salt. It is sweeter than usual chips, but nice too. The chocolate is light and just enough. I tried the numb and spicy hot-pot, but it was something I would not eat again. That and the sour plum melon is too Chinese for me. It has this spice that is in many dishes here and I don’t like it. The pepper and chicken were OK, but I prefer my favs thanks.

My favs in the middle and 2 new ones to try.

My favs in the middle and 2 new ones to try.

Chips are not too expensive; about the same price as home. The small bags run 3.80 RMB, which is around .75c Canadian and the larger bags are 5.20 RMB or $1.00. The tins are 8.00 RMB about $1.50.

What is your favourite chip flavour? Do you ever try any of the new flavours that come out?

 

Categories: China, Culture, everyday occurances, strange adventures, Tourist in My Own Town, unique experiences | Tags: , , , , , , ,

Ephemeral -Shanghai Silly

Time and life is fleeting… As Ferris Bueller said “If you don’t stop and look around once and awhile – you will miss it.”  Our time in Shanghai has become ephemeral, fleeting and lasting for a short time. Sure it has been almost 5 years, but now we are down to months. Three more months. As I reflect and look around I try to soak up those sounds, smells and sights that I want to remember. What will I see and do for the last time? What do I want to hold onto? Counting down the days is bitter-sweet. I am excited to go home and start a new adventure, but want to savour the last days here too. Enjoy it while I can.

As you know there is always things in Shanghai that you may never see anywhere else. That awe and wonder is what made the little daily things fun. It kept us sane as we would laugh and say “Now that will make a good post!”. I didn’t want to lose that feeling, but after a few years many things became normal and part of the every day. Somethings still stood out and once I finally invested in a smart phone I was able to capture more of those fleeting moments that only could be seen to believed.

What do you notice about this picture?

What do you notice about this picture?

One day I was out walking and it was a beautiful sunny day. At the light we waited for it to turn green, so we could cross. A large truck did not advance when the light changed and as we stood waiting I realised the driver had his shoes off and feet on the dash. Ok…

I thought I had seen it all, but napping at the intersection coming off a major highway? NOW I have seen it all.

I thought I had seen it all, but napping at the intersection coming off a major highway? NOW I have seen it all.

as I crossed the street I noticed in fact he was sleeping at the intersection! Now that was worthy of going back and snapping a pic. Another Shanghai Silly, ephemeral…

What is the funniest thing you have seen at an intersection?

Stay tuned… and check out WP for other interpretations.

 

 

Categories: China, Chinese Adventures, Tourist in My Own Town, unique experiences, Weekly Photo Challenge | Tags: , , , , , ,

Shanghai Sillies: Pack & Go

When we first arrived in Shanghai, nearly 5 years ago, we would stop and stare gob-smacked at these men on bikes piled high with all kinds of materials from wood, to plastic containers to Styrofoam. Our guess is they recycle it. What do you think they could be using all that Styrofoam for? Still it quite a sight with the balancing act they must have to perform to get it from A to B.

I never managed to catch the tallest piles on film (or digital media for you <30’s) then they became quite rare. A local person told me the police had started to crack down on such packing. Slowly over the last few months they started to pop up again.

Wide load

Wide load

 

This poor fellow pulled over to the side of a busy road as a passer-by helped tuck something back into place. The pause gave me enough time to get the camera ready to snap a few pics.

 

On the Road Again

On the Road Again

 

Have you see anything silly lately?

Stay tuned…

Categories: Chinese Adventures, strange adventures, Tourist in My Own Town, unique experiences | Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

Blood Moon Eclipse -Dreamy

In Shanghai we are located on a river delta and a sea. Most days are cloudy or very humid/damp depending on season. This leads to few clear days. Odds were stacked against us to view the eclipse and blood moon that would be visible October 8th. Fingers crossed and dreaming of a clear sky I peeked out before dusk to see low laying clouds. Looked like the special event would be lost.

Once it got dark and at the required time (6:55 PM local time) I went out to look at the moon. Nothing. The moon was not  in the usual southerly location. Darn clouds… As I turned to go back inside something caught my eye and low and behold it was a bright orange disk in the Eastern portion of the sky.

View from the balcony over our apartment compound

View from the balcony over our apartment compound

I raced back inside to grab the camera and captured a few shots of the orange moon from our 14th floor balcony. Every 15 minutes or so, I went back out to watch as things transitioned from the full orange moon to the eclipse. I hope you enjoy. Despite using a tripod, night setting and full zoom many shots came out with some blur. These are a sample of the best shots.

Blood Moon with first hint of the eclipse

Blood Moon with first hint of the eclipse

We dream about many things for the future, our lives and for our friends and family. Some pictures have a dreamy atmosphere. Sometimes dreams are simple like doing something well or capturing a spectacular eclipse 😉 . who knows if I will every get to witness such an event again. Check out Word Press for other interpretations of Dreamy.

The eclipse -Shanghai Oct. 8, 2014

The eclipse -Shanghai Oct. 8, 2014

Stay tuned…

Categories: unique experiences, Weekly Photo Challenge | Tags: , , , , , , ,

Last Night

Last night a peaceful protest in Hong Kong turned into something much bigger which may make change for the future. Demonstrations started with hundred then thousands of young people, mostly university age students. The reason for their assembly to try to influence the changes that may take away some of the freedoms of the people. From what we can gather, Hong Kong which returned to China in 1997, has been allowed freedoms and government to act somewhat independently from the rest of China. News came that this may start to change. 2017 a new process would allow people to vote, but the candidates would be hand picked by the capital, no longer a freedom from local residents to pick their own candidates. The young people took to the streets last night and peacefully blocked roads in the financial district of Hong Kong. The police tried to disperse the crowds by using tear gas, but the people stood strong.

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From reports only a few were hurt and the and the crowds remained calm despite the police presence. This says a lot about the people. They are staying put, but without violence, disruption, chaos or rioting.

The crowd around Admiralty -HK financial district

The crowd around Admiralty -HK financial district

Today we were in the area and went to see for ourselves. At first it looked like a handful of people on closed roads. Someone pointed us further down the road and on the other side of an overpass we were startled by the crowds still there. Signs were posted on cardboard, on roads and barriers. Thousands of young students dressed in black with yellow ribbons of support with eye goggles and face masks sat peacefully on phones or chatting to friends. A few people spoke to the crowd and people quietly applauded. Talking to some of the young demonstrators you can see how passionate they are. They want to fight for freedom, show civil disobedience, but peacefully resist. One young girl quickly explained to me the reason for the crowd and why they had gathered. She stumbled over her English and kept apologising for the errors. She ended with I just want to help. I am here to help the people. She offered me a wet towel and when I refused she insisted.

one of numerous signs to get the message across

one of numerous signs to get the message across

Some shops were open, but many closed, but the people were not interested in doing any harm. It overwhelmed me to see the support, passion and how they cared for their city. As visitors many thanked us for coming and showing support. We were offered food, water, cold packs and wet towels to keep us comfortable in the heat. A young man gave us a face mask in case of more tear gas and said if we need anything speak to any of the ‘cooling stations’ which were well stocked with food, toilet paper, cases and cases of water. An elderly woman came with a trolley and in a styrofoam box she passed out hot meals to the students consisting of rice and breaded pork. Men and women in business suits came out on their lunch hour. To many people it was a photo op of selfies, but deep down you could see the care and concern that the future may hold. A young business man said he watched it all unfold from his office building and stated how proud he was of the people banding together, but how they remained calm and in control. As we walked along people apologised for bumping into you, offered you whatever they had. All these people demonstrating would cause quiet the mess, but there was no garbage strewn about. A young protester was carrying a garbage bag and picking up the small amounts of litter that were left behind. Again I was overwhelmed.

peaceful civil disobedience

peaceful civil disobedience

Whenever you think protest in a foreign country, or any country, your first instinct should be turn away. We felt safe and everyone wanted to share their message. The genuine thanks for our support, smiles and shaking our hands was like being welcomed into someone’s home. The feeling of acceptance and appreciation was unlike anything I would expect. The diverse groups of people coming together made us realise that this could be a part of history, life changing for many.

Last night as the police tear gassed the crowds the protesters quickly handed umbrellas out to those closest to the police. They covered themselves in plastic wrap, wore face masks and opened the umbrellas to protect themselves.

“The Umbrella Revolution” Last night as the police tear gassed the crowds the protesters quickly handed umbrellas out to those closest to the police. They covered themselves in plastic wrap, wore face masks and opened the umbrellas to protect themselves.

WP challenge for this week was NIGHT. This was a pretty historic night…

OK so my pictures weren’t taken at night and we only watched it on the TV because we had just arrived in HK oblivious to the news until after we checked in. It has carried on all day today and I am sure again into the night…

Stay tuned.

Categories: Culture, History, strange adventures, Uncategorized, unique experiences, Weekly Photo Challenge | Tags: , , , ,

Where’s the Beach?

Returning to Shanghai we went through Dubai this year. We have done the long lay over before and explored the city in a few hours. This year we decided to extend our stay to 3 days and get out to the sand dunes. We booked a desert safari with a company called  Desert Safari Dubai. Everything was easily arranged through email and they were very quick to respond and helpful. We did not have to pay in advance, but the driver once we were on the tour. After we had our hotel booked I gave them the name and address and they were even kind enough to call when we arrived to confirm pick up times and ensure we were still interested.

Sand drifting across the road

Sand drifting across the road

There were a few options and we decided on the night tour. We were picked up from our hotel about 4PM and stopped at one other hotel to get 3 more guests.  We drove out of the city and slowly we were surrounded by sand. The sand acted like snow as it drifted over the road and swirled,  rippled and collected in mini dunes. I wondered how did they remove larger piles that covered the road? The pattern of sand ripples reminded me of zebra stripes. The sand was a dark red-orange colour and started to stretch as far as the eye could see. Small scrubby bushes dotted the landscape in places too.  The city was out of sight and we were now surrounded by sand as far as the eye could see.

 

 

We stopped as a small shop where we could buy supplies and have a quick washroom break. Some of the 4 wheel drive

bouncing across the dunes... which way is up?

bouncing across the dunes… which way is up?

trucks started to let the air out of their tires; easier to make traction. Our driver waited until we arrived at the start of the dunes. Tires ready and all of us strapped in we set off in small groups of 2. Tires spun, we slid sideways down steep dunes and we bumped and rocked over the ridges. It was like a roller coaster ride and as my stomach lurched and I let out little yelps and screams I tried to find something to hold onto. I was in the middle and I looked up to see roll bars. I grasped those tightly, although they did make me a little uneasy thinking we could roll over. Being in the middle seat I had an unobstructed view of the ride. Going up then quickly down steep slopes made you feel funny because you couldn’t see ground beneath you. It gave me the feeling of going over a cliff. The driver kept close to the vehicle in front of us and I thought for sure we would crash at some point. Once I got into the rhythm my mind settled and I enjoyed the ride.

 

The sand reacted like snow as we slid and spun tires the only difference the heat and colour. After a 30 minute adventurous drive we stopped to get photos of the dunes. A large dune loomed in front of us and others quickly climbed to the top. We scrambled up and soon sank to our knees in soft sand. I was afraid to lose my shoes, so I continued the climb barefoot. The sand was warm and soft, surprisingly not too hot. We made it to the top for breathtaking views. Funny how the sun glinted off random car parts, broken pieces, and a few bumpers. I am guessing the roll bars did come in handy. The air was hot, not humid, and the winds felt like the heat that hits you when you open the oven at 400f. A nice pool or ocean would be great right about now 😉 Actually the heat didn’t bother me and I didn’t find it too uncomfortable. I dressed in a thin cotton blouse and light modest shorts, so I was fine.  The sun was getting low in the sky, so we needed to continue on our journey.

ripples in the sand

ripples in the sand

A short drive brought us to a camp. The camp was where we would have our dinner and activities. The time was short so we had to decide quickly which ones to do before the food would be served. We could do quads and sandboarding for an extra charge, camel ride, henna tattoo or just relax and have a drink at the bar. We decided on the camel ride and henna tattoos. The quad ride was just a small circular circuit without dunes, so it didn’t seem as fun. The camel also went in a small circle, but with the amount of guests it made sense to do something easy so everyone could have a chance. Our camel was quite happy, but Anita’s quickly got annoyed with John and growled at him as he tried to pet it. Lucky he had a cover on his mouth, or I am sure John would have been wearing the dreaded camel spit! The ride itself was uneventful, although scary when the camel needs to kneel for you to get off. It was well worth it because how often do you get the chance to ride a camel? As we got the henna done dinner was served. Dancers entertained the crowds with traditional belly dancing and another style with men spinning.

Where's the Beach?

Where’s the Beach?

 

Dinner included soft drinks coffee and water, all that you could drink. The food was delicious with a variety of salads, meats and vegetables. It was very filling and you could return for more. The chicken and chicken kabob was great, although I passed on the lamb and fish. Once the dancing was complete it was time to return to our vehicle and back to the city. Again we had a quick stop to reinflate the tires and quickly rinse off some of the sand from the vehicles. The hour drive back to the city went fast and we were dropped back at our hotel. This was a memorable trip and I am so glad we had the opportunity. It was so much fun. I just can’t seem to express how much we all enjoyed it in words.

The sand dunes were quite large. Climbing the steep slope as you sink isn't easy, but fun! Reminded me of playing in deep snow as a kid.

The sand dunes were quite large. Climbing the steep slope as you sink isn’t easy, but fun! Reminded me of playing in deep snow as a kid.

After a short break I am back posting this week, but I am not sure if I will keep to my usual weekly posting schedule. It has also been hard to get on-line daily to respond or check out your posts. I must leave the house at 6:50 AM every day which leaves me a mere 10 minutes online, as opposed to last year when I was picked up later and had 30 minutes. I haven’t been energetic enough to get up any earlier, so I apologise for being ‘lazy’ .

Check out WP for more adventure posts

Stay tuned…

Categories: travel, unique experiences | Tags: , , , , , ,

An Ordinary Day

Last week while taking a drive down a country road we passed by this old one room schoolhouse. You never know what history lurks around every corner, nestled in an ordinary place on an ordinary day.

 

Old One Room School House.

Old One Room School House.

 

What unexpected sight did you come across recently?

Stay tuned…

Categories: History, Tourist in My Own Town, unique experiences | Tags: , , , , ,

Double Take -Extra Photo Challenge

Look what I found in the refrigerator this morning. I had to do a double take. As I rubbed my tired, bleary eyes I could swear some eyes were looking back at me!!!  Certainly not what I expected. It was a little something ‘extra’.

What is that???

What is that???

 

My class went to a large vegetable farm this week and we picked some carrots, cucumbers, tomatoes, green peppers and eggplant. They were delicious in my salad. I hadn’t used all the green pepper and this is what is left.

 

This week’s photo challenge from WordPress is asking for ‘extra extra’. Something in a photo that gives it a little extra, something unexpected and only you could capture. It was quite a challenging theme, but I think this fits the bill. Could I ever find something like this again? Could I cut another pepper in just the right way? Probably not. Funny because I usually place the pepper upside-down on a plate, but for some reason this time I didn’t. I may have never noticed the cool pattern if I had.

 

What does it look like to you? Add your suggestions in the comments below.

 

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On a side note don’t forget my Tourist in Your Own Town theme. The challenge for June is Festivals and Events. Click here to see an example and get inspired.

Stay tuned…

Categories: strange adventure, Tourist in My Own Town, unique experiences, Weekly Photo Challenge | Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Awe and Wonder: Ta Prohm

Have you ever watched the movie Laura Croft: Tomb Raider? If you have then a must stop is the Tomb Raider Temple, as it is often referred to, within the Angkor Wat area in Cambodia. Its official name is Ta Phohm, but due to the movie’s success and popularity rarely is it referred to in that way. I think I had seen the movie years ago and all memories and expectations from it were lost. Others come because it is one of the temples where the large trees still cover the walls and give it a lost/explorer type atmosphere as you wander through the combination of recently preserved walkways and parts that still lay in ruins.

Just inside the main entrance our first glimpse of the incredible man vs nature in Ta Prohm

Just inside the main entrance our first glimpse of the incredible man vs nature in Ta Prohm

This was the one temple I was most looking forward to. The photos and stories I had seen and heard made it sound mystical and magical. As we approached the temple along a wide sandy path I wasn’t disappointed. The small stone temple complex with some crumbling stone masonry around gave it an incredible atmosphere. Unfortunately it was under restoration and over run by tourists, so the atmosphere was quickly lost.

Close up of the massive trees that have over taken and caused some of distruction to the ancient temples

Close up of the massive trees that have over taken and caused some of destruction to the ancient temples

Soon as you enter the main area a large cloud of dust greets you. A main temple is surrounded by scaffolds and small cranes as workers reconstruct the fallen. Stone masons carve and add designs into the stone by hand to recover the lost motifs and images. Restoration is important since the large trees that reach up high have taken their toll on the delicate stones balanced to form walls, paths and pillars. The tongue and grove and indents that fit each piece together like a puzzle is no match for the large roots that snake under the foundations, over walls and through roof tops. Ta Prohm has many areas that have collapsed and fallen over time. I found it surprising how piles of stone were casually strewn about and covered with mosses. The fallen walls, arches and columns a result of time and nature.

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We came here after a morning of the elusive sunrise at Angkor Wat. It is a short drive around the Angkor complex. It was getting close to noon, so the sun was bright and high in the sky. It is recommended, to make the most of your photos, as the best time to visit due to the thick foliage that causes darkness and shadow at other times of the day. Numerous tourists and tour groups swarmed the most photogenic areas.  I patiently had to wait to get a photo in numerous areas only to be frustrated as I was jostled by the crowds or someone would walk into your shot without as much as an apology when it was finally my turn. The crowds made the temple less enjoyable and it certainly lost its mystique.

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I wandered the many passages and paths that were like a maze within the complex itself. Many passages were narrow and shallow making me wonder how small the former Khmer people were. I got lost as I went inside and out from darkness to light, only to find my way when I encountered the small Buddha statues dressed in a variety of ways. Each Buddha was decorated slightly different helping me recall my route. The smell of intense in the air would tell me I was getting close to such a small altar with a local person passing you incense sticks for good luck, but then requesting a donation after doing so.

I found John again after getting separated in the large crowd earlier and we retraced our steps to leave. Outside the inner passages we walked along part of corridor one which was recently restored the other still crumbled and fallen. Few people ventured this way and it was much more enjoyable and serene. From here we could see the many walls that were set like mazes making me wonder what other secrets and passages we left unexplored. I wished to return to Ta Prohm again, hopefully without the crowds.

Luckily after long waits or hidden areas within the large temple maze I was able to get some incredible shots I was hoping for.

Luckily after long waits or hidden areas within the large temple maze I was able to get some incredible shots I was hoping for.

Stay tuned…. more temples from Cambodia

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Angkor Wat Awe and Wonder

The morning started at 4:30 AM with a wake up call. Today was an early start to make sunrise at the ancient temples of Angkor Wat. Quickly we dressed for the early morning chill and ran downstairs to the lobby to meet our driver and guide for the day, Rak. Sleepily we climbed into the car and drove off into the darkness. We drove round twists and turns with the sound of the tuk tuk motors filling the air as we passed them in our car. We came to a large ticket area to buy our 3 day passes ($20 USD for 1 day and $40 for 3), get  our photo taken to be placed on the ticket. The large crowds were quickly handled and within minutes we were back in the car and getting instructions as to where to go once we were dropped off at the gate. It was pitch dark with no street lights, luckily I brought a small portable flashlight. Rak pointed the direction and we were off with the crowds over ancient cobbled stone and we picked our way in the darkness following the simple beam of light. Suddenly a slight outline of the temple loomed in front of us. It was right there the entire time. My breath caught in my throat, as awe washed over me. I had imagined it far from the road, but it was right in front of us the whole time hidden in the inky blackness. We continued on up some stairs feeling our way in the dark. On the other side we could clearly see the temple and where the reflecting pond was to get the best photos.

The large crowd of people spread out along the pond, so it was difficult to get a good place to view the sunrise and see its reflection in the said pond. I pushed through the crowds looking for a better place. On the opposite side a smaller pond was less crowded, so we moved there and waited for the sun. The temples were now outlined by the ever lightening sky. Unfortunately after the early morning start the low hanging mist and cloud along the horizon blocked out the sunrise leaving a bland, dull sky. It was disappointing we missed the glorious colours and sunrise, especailly since the sky appeared clear when we left, oh well the temples were still there, so we set off to explore.

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Two smaller structures were near the reflecting ponds, so we started there. We then went to the main temple area. It is 3 levels and each one is a steep climb. In some places wooden staircases and railings were added to make the climb easier. Few people were around, so we were able to explore and take photos with ease. A large crowd had gathered in one area and suddenly everyone jumped up and a rope barrier was moved to allow the crowds to climb to the highest level. Take note that Angkor Wat is a temple and you must be respectful, so no short shorts or uncovered shoulders are allowed. If you do not follow this request you will not be allowed to enter. As far as I know a scarf isn’t enough to cover your arms and shoulders. It must be a proper top. The day we visited it remained cool, so it wasn’t a problem for us. You should also note the ticket you purchased will be requested to be presented at numerous locations even within the same temple complex. It is a paper ticket, so keep it safe. We clambered up the steep stairs and the view was worth it. The view over the grounds and surrounding area was stunning. The sun was finally making a brief appearance and it highlighted all the carvings and bas reliefs that covered the walls. The amount of workmanship in this temple and the carvings that covered every wall, celing and doorway was amazing. Some told stories while others showed gods, or intricate sdesigns. The detail was fantastic and some carvings were shallow and worn over time while others were deep.

detailed carvings covered every surface

detailed carvings covered every surface

The pillars represented mountains and look like lotus buds

IMG_6059View from the Top

Intricate carvings

Intricate carvings

Leaving the temple we followed the same route we took before sunrise. We were surprised how large the moat was surrounding the temple complex, like a river,  and how close we were to  the edge picking our way through the darkness. The uneven large stone bridge was massive. Along the way we could spot the restoration work that has been taking place to preserve this incredible landmark and World Heritage sight.

view towards the main gate

view towards the main gate

Stay tuned… more temples and Siem Reap to come.

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