We flew from Toronto to Hong Kong with a crazy 6 hr layover, and then on to Beijing.

By the time we landed in Beijing, and processed thru customs, and got our luggage, it had been a brutal long day. And oh boy. here's a travel tip: most lounges pay for access if you don't get it with a ticket, and it can be worth the 35 bucks. Seriously. DOOO EEET. Especially on waits longer than a couple hours.

Hong Kong is pretty and I think it's on the "see, more than just the airport list." Cathay took spectacular care of us, exec class is freaking swanky. What a way to travel. ( alas, the ticket prices preclude this from ever likely happening to us again!)

HK airport is bloody fucking HUGE. But its not the busiest. That goes to hartsfield jackson in atlanta, and I have no doubt of that.


We were met in Beijing by our guide, Kim, who's this wee slip of a girl, in jeans and sneakers and she rocked it for us.

I got viciously motionsick in the car ride to the hotel, so much that it was only sheer force of will that kept me from horking in rush hour traffic. Beijing traffic is...well...vaguely homicidal. They switch lanes with a furiousness that doesn't really speed things up, only jams it more but no ones willing to pick a lane. So the lurch and weave, and travel thud...very very green nico.

Slept it off, and the next day we went to Summer Palace, Tianamen, and forbidden city all in one swoop. Gorgeous, massive, sprawling things. There's something so odd of being in tianamen with an iphone. Yes, they don't have complete freedom, but as one guide said later, they're becoming more tolerant, by increments. Contrast this with reports of protesters in the US getting a headcracking for simply protesting, or people being arrested for closing bank accounts and suddenly that "rights!! we has em they don't!" becomes a great deal more muddy. They're becoming freer while we are not, it feels.

The one child policy is still in effect but as people become more affluent, affording the penalty is becoming common. ( our guide in shanghai was a third child!)

Anyway. The summer palace is freaking beautiful, and the Forbidden city is utterly MASSSSSSSSIVE beyond what I had been led to picture and Tianamen is this sprawling plaza. Its not much to look at, as is, but it is interesting.

Traffic, in beijing also means pedestrians, bikes and mopeds are in huge abundance and here's the trick, if you're a pedestrian, don't scurry. Walk NORMALLY. The traffic will move around you. If you run, the equation is off and then you get smucked. It took a great deal of thought to not react like a terrified white girl, but by the end of the trip we were crossing traffic like the native borns. It just stops bothering you at some point. Tho thru the trip we had more than a few moments in the car that white knuckled the guides too.:D

Great Wall: A LONG DRIVE. 3 hours. One traffic accident and the road would gum for miles. Its a busy highway. We skipped the long lines at Badaling by Kim knowing someone who could call in the police escort so we got that. Friends had to do the long line as they travelled independent. Heh.

Its brutally windy this time of year so we went up to the left side of the badaling wall to the third tower or so, its insane steep and slick too but its the less congested side. In retrospect, I think we should have floored it to Simitai or Mutianyu instead. ah well. I walked on the great wall.

Day three, we were off to Xi'an, where I'll do the next entry shortly.

We headed off today to the Bund, and Pudong, via the cheesy bund tourist tunnel. (we have video). Wandered around the base of the orient pearl tv tower. Our guidebook suggested an offbeat "sex culture" museum but lo! They have not factchecked it in some time and it has moved far to another oart of the city. Arfhh.

Wandered thru the Super Brand Mall, got lunch. Off to the shanghai world financial tower and in planning, the 100th floor viewing deck.

The elevator ride and lead up was ghastly unnerving and while i didnt fear safety, my utter fear of oddly, being in ultra highrises got me. I got to 94 in near full on panic mode. Its complicated. I dont like feeling 'trapped' in a highrise and by floor 55-60 i was ready to mash a button and kick in the door. Crowded elevator, with floor and meters rocketing up. I damn near lost it.

R went to 100 and i stayed at 94.

Then we went to the fakes market, haggled down for a gorgeous bag, tho i suspect we could have gone a notch lower. It started at 850¥and we got them down to 600¥ (around 100 bucks).

People would run after us to pester for a sale. Yargh. But we are improving on the haggle.

Then home.

And i do love the bag. So im rather pleased.

Its a completely insane city but i kind of dig it. But will be glad to be home, its also been exhausting.

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One perk to the great firewall: no dramaz from dramaboy. Im still wanting to punch him for his attacking me on fb.

We decided this trip to try again for a kid. Jokes of "made in china". If it didnt work, life and timing means we'd try anew in january. Im fairly sure it didnt work tho. And im not entirely convinced i want to try again but if this 4th go ends like others we will actively pursue adoption or surrogacy or something.

Novel is at 52k.

We are going to the shanghai world financial tower observation deck. Its astoundingly tall yeeps.

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I will add that chinese air security screeners are far more dignified than the fucking tsa. I had to get patted down, 3 buckle boots will do that, and uts like being politely frisked by butterflies, not the degrading mauling and humiliation of the usa. I always felt the tsa aaproach was to demean people and now im convinced. No less safe, but less feeling of violation! Yay!

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Oct. 20th, 2011 10:30 pm

In shanghai, went to an acrobatics show, the bund, the textiles market. We have a bit more shopping, we ordered custom winter coats, mine a dark grey frock coat sort with a candyapple pink lining, and a sized up copy of a wrap dress i have. Going to hit the fakes market for a handbag too. Feel the need for something in orange. Could so easily get more tailoring! R ordered a coat ( both of ours in wool not polyester-wool!) and two pairs of pants. Cost total: 300 bucks. Sweet. We possibly could have gone lower but we were tired. I went simple, but damn i could see returning at some point to get a haul done. Finding stuff that fits is such a devil.

We found a walmart here. Same brands. Same prices. Make of that what thou wilst. :)

Subway here is decent to navigate. My poor daypack has been xrayed so many times its near to glowing.

I really dig shanghai tho. Of all the cities so far....

I would def learn some mandarin first before a new visit!

We leave monday, and we have some sightseeing yet and an exec level jr suite which is fucking stupid swanky. Love it.

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Oct. 18th, 2011 10:50 pm

Still alive. In shanghai. Beijing was old/new chaos. Great wall. Forbidden city. Summer palace. Decent hotel. Horrendous traffic. Xi'an was old city barrelling into new, terracotta warriors and the muslim street. Hotel was meh. Shanghai gorgeous modern western/eastern.

And standing in tianemen square with an iphone, we think us westerners are in fir a spanking from china and europe if we dont quit goofing off. Best start learning mandarin, i think. :).

6 days here and then home. Its been pretty mindblowing so far. Love it.

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