Adventures in Asia

by Greg & Francie

Back in Seattle!

Well it feels like the 10 months has gone by super fast.  Yet, it is easy to sift back through the memories of each and every place we have been.  Two of our friends (Tracy and Roxana) threw us a welcome back/Halloween party which was a lot of fun.  A bunch of our friends stopped by to see us which was really nice. 

It seems quite strange to be back in Seattle.  My pockets seem to be suddenly full with things like a wallet, a cellphone, keys and other odd ball things like the post-it note that has my phone and address written down on it.  Today I was driving around, running some errands, and things seemed to be so similar to 10 months ago…well, everything IS feeling a little mundane which makes me all the more happy that we vacated Seattle for our little adventure. 

Just to let you know, we aren’t quite done with the blog yet.  We are going to try and post some videos (which were too hard to upload in a lot of countries), some top ten lists and maybe some thoughts on traveling for that extended periods of time.

I have to say, it was nice to get back and find out that 1) my car was working (thanks Ryan) and 2) our storage unit was not broken into. 

Stay tuned and thanks everyone for reading!

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October 29, 2007 Posted by | Misc, Travel, Urban | 4 Comments

How to spin a dog in a circle

1.  Obtain a wooden board at least 12″x6″ in size.

2.  Insert dog’s teeth (both top and bottom) into board.

3.  Pull on board until dog starts making “Grrrr” noises.  (note: if dog does not start making “grrr” noises and/or lets go of the board, dog may not be suitable for spinning in a circle).

4.  Holding board out in front of you, spin in place, slowly increasing speed until centrifigal force lifts dog completely off the ground. 

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October 17, 2007 Posted by | Misc, New Zealand, Pets, Photography, Travel | 1 Comment

Randall-tastic

As you know our friend Randall has been travelling with us these last few weeks in Bangkok and then Indonesia.  Say hello to Randall!

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Randall is an old friend of Greg’s and I didn’t know him too well before he came to meet up with us.  Since then I’ve gotten to know him and learned what an interesting guy he is (as well as a good travel companion).   One of the benefits of globe-trotting with Randall is that he is very sociable and does all the work of befriending locals and other travellers.  All Greg and I have to do to feel like we’re hanging out with a bunch of buddies is just show up at the bar!  Awesome.   He is also a trooper under duress.  Our recent beatdown trek at Mt. Rinjani could have ended in disaster if he had turned out to be a whiner or a big baby.

Another interesting fact that I’ve learned is that Randall has a special connection with monkeys, as you can see from these two photos:

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And finally, here is a shot for the ladies:

Randall on beach

Yay for Randall!

October 4, 2007 Posted by | Indonesia, Misc, SE Asia, Travel | , , | 1 Comment

Pull off tops

A few last tidbits from China…because, how could you ever forget China?

Throughout China they still use the ‘pull off’ tops on their soda cans.  I remember them as a kid from almost 20 years ago.  I thought they got rid of them because of the litter (people would throw them on the ground all the time).  Well, the good ‘ol Coca Cola company (and everyone else) failed to get rid of them in China!  Here is a nice reminder for everyone!

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September 12, 2007 Posted by | China, Misc, Travel | 2 Comments

Up 2

In case you haven’t noticed (and I doubt that is possible) I have won the last two scrabble games against the evil Francie. I would now like to formally thank Kim Mcrea for the Scrabble Dictionary she sent me for my birthday (via Gary in Shanghai) because it accounted for a 70 point swing which I dearly needed.

Francie and I are going to dinner at Dunya now, where I will attempt to make it three in a row. I am only 14 games down and I know, just know for sure, that you are all rooting for me.

September 9, 2007 Posted by | Misc, Travel | 5 Comments

You (yes you!) can give Microloans to entrepeneurs in Developing Countries!

This is the coolest site I’ve seen in awhile: www.kiva.org

It has profiles of businessmen and women in developing countries who are in need of microloans (or microcredit) to start a business or develop their business. You can loan as little as $25 (and get paid back!). What a cool way to help out people that are trying to improve the lives of themselves and their families.

In case you were wondering, the Microloan concept was put into use by Muhammad Yunus, founder of the Grameen Bank of Bangladesh, who used the loans to help poverty stricken women in Bangladesh start their own businesses. For this he won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2006. I happened to randomly catch a show on PBS a few years ago about his bank program and how successful it’s been in Bangladesh. One interesting thing about it is that the loan repayment rates are close to 100%. They partially credited it to the fact that the loans were only given out to women. 🙂

September 7, 2007 Posted by | Misc | Leave a comment

Article on China’s pollution

The New York Times had an article today on China’s pollution problem. It is a great read. This topic always comes up when we meet other travelers and it is truly scary. When Francie and I were in Beijing we quickly had cold like symptoms because of the air pollution.

Scary facts from the article:

Only 1% of the half billion Chinese people living in cities breath air considered ‘safe’.

Forbidden City

Two-thirds of China’s electricity comes from power plants fed by coal.

Pile of Coal for Christmas

It is easy to dismiss this as a Chinese problem only but one thing to remember about OUR contribution to this crisis is that many of the things we (westerners) buy are manufactured in China. China manufactures many of the goods we want and these non-environmental friendly factories contribute to a lot of the pollution. Of course, the Chinese can make factories more environmentally friendly but is the world ready to pay higher prices for their big screen TV?

I wish everyone could spend a week in Beijing. It really makes the environmental issues we face very real.

August 26, 2007 Posted by | China, Misc, Urban | Leave a comment

Travel Info: Songpan Visa Extension

Just a quick reminder that we will be horse trekking for the next three days and will be out of email contact.

SongPan VISA EXTENSION info

I wanted to verify for people that the Songpan PSB office does provide visa extensions. I also wanted to provide a little extra info.

Overall very quick and painless. It only took a total of about an hour (compared with the five or six days of Chengdu or XiAn) and there was no line. The PSB officer was very friendly.

We were required to have the following information and money (note we are Americans).

1. Passport
2. Photo copy of Passport ID page and China Visa page (or previous visa extension).
3. Stamped copy of the hotel registration form for where we were staying.
4. He specifically made us prove that we had the finances to support staying in China for a month. He wanted to see proof of $100 USD per day of the extension (it was unclear whether that was per person) but he had no problem when we showed him our 2 ATM cards, Visa credit card and AmEx. He did make us go and photo copy the cards and write the USD amount available per card. ONE NOTE: we overheard someone in Chengdu complaining that, they too, had to provide proof of finances. It was harder for them because they didn’t have a credit card and they had to spend a day getting the info together.
5. 760 RMB per person (1520 RMB total). That is just about 100 USD for each visa. We only paid something like 300 RMB per person in Xi’An last month. Again, dont forget our visa stuff is usually more expensive because we are from the USA.

China visa extension limit: One important piece of information the PSB officer told us was that, since we were getting our second visa extension, we would not be allowed another visa extension on this trip. I don’t think I have read about this limitation before but maybe I missed it. Or maybe this is just for Songpan. Dunno.

August 15, 2007 Posted by | China, Misc, Travel | 1 Comment

Seattle Decision

Francie and I have decided that we are going to buy a house in Seattle and replace all the normal toilets with squat toilets. We have grown very fond of them in China. Please plan accordingly for our dinner parties (read: don’t use bathroom for duration of visit).

August 14, 2007 Posted by | China, Misc, Travel | 4 Comments

Jackpot! A find in Xi’An

In the immortal words of James MacCauley…”aww yeah”.

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July 21, 2007 Posted by | Misc | 5 Comments