Today I sit in the Hutong hostel, empty stomach and sun shining on me through the window. In an hour and 43 minutes we will be driving to the airport, in 4 and 58 minutes we will be sitting on a plane to Hanoi, Vietnam. Beijing has been wonderful and fancy large promenades and giant cities full of palaces built for one man; The Emperor. Yet now we have to farewell these palaces which seem so ubiquitous but are really quite rare. Its not that I am not super excited to finally go to Vietnam its just that I really like China. We had a great time here like when we took the 20 minute taxi ride to the summer palace. Everyone had corn.

Why
didn't we have corn and where was it coming from?

Cian loves corn, and he was so busy in his determined search for it to take in the detailed paintings of birds on every beam and marbel boats made for empresses who enjoyed watching boats being sailed. All he wanted was this corn. Of course3 we spent our whole visit looking around at the beauty of the Summer Palace but we also spent a hell of a long time looking for some corn. We just wanted one cob. We took on a detective like idea as we calculated how far each person hoing in to the corn was to determine how far the corn seller was away and in which direction they were coming from. And then we found her!!! A lady with beady eyes and a bag full of pale miserable looking corn. We bought one slightly hesitant (we had to buy one, it was a huge deal finding it) and took a bite. It was...


Well pretty gross, I mean seriously how can you make corn taste that bad?

Anyway, we got back and had a big yummy chinese lunch and the ill tasting corn was forgotten.

Today is our 2 month anniversary!!!! I can't believe how quick it has passed. 2 months ago I'd never set foot in Asia. Now I've probably travelled through it more than most.

Did I tell you about Tuesday dumpling night? It's really great. Everyone in the hostel comes together to make 100s (I'm not overexagurating) of dumpling and then eats ALL of them together and it was SO fun!!! Most of the dumplings turned out dishevelled miserable blobs made by Me and Maeve but even these were delicious...

So goodbye China, Happy 2-monthaversary and farewell,

the final question must be:

Which was more important? The Summer Palace or The Corn on the Cob?
 
 
Often the most interesting things are best watched and not performed. This is most likeley the case in the curious food zoo of Beijing. THis is where we ate last night. Live scorpions crawling in the air on the end of skewers, silk worms barbecued, black hairy turantulars, sheep penis, sheep testicles and snake were all on the menu and all on skewers. Rows and rows of stalls selling skewerd EVERYTHING lined the streets. Unfortunateley, although it was amazing to watch, eating the selection there proved less enjoyable. Stall keepers tried to rip off any westener who passed and all the (normal)  meat skewers were undercooked and mediocre. But watching Cian eat a silkworm satay and chicken heart was worth all the dissapointing food!!!

The grossest part was that he loved both silk worm and chicken heart.....
Ick. The day started marvelously with a traditional breakfast of dumplings and rice milk with fried churros style sticks for dipping. We spent the morning walking around the beuatiful lake Hui Ha Ha. Its actually name was  Huiha but dad pronounced it funny and it was hilarious. For lunch we shared an anorexic duck on the lakes edge while we watched live ducks swim by. And then toTHE TEMPLE OF HEAVEN which was great.

Beijing is proving to be wonderful....And  curious
 
 
Picture
Today we spent a very enjoyable time in the Venice of Shanghai; Zhu Jia Jiao. We had a great time in the pituresque and charming town full of ridiculous souvenirs, casual locals playing cards on the riverside and bridges over asian style Gondolas.
Picture
I think about sitting in the rickety boat, in the most charming Chinese water town. Its like the Venice of Shanghai, red lanterns swing over my head as we float. The cafe we had green tea in was casual and relaxed on the water edge with bridges dotted around us. The air smells of rice and oil cooking. Old shuttered windows open to little cafes. The morning was -other than walking around and soaking up the atmosphere- spent at the lovely old post office which was simple and traditional. Very old and interesting. I got Manet a shawl with peacocks on it. This place is very peacful. The old town is beautiful and full of antiques and old riverside shuttered shops houses, and  tea houses. We had a really great time walking around town and soaking up the most amazing atmosphere.

 
 
It's been a long long while...

I want to start by apologizing about my lack of posts but internet in Japan is expensive and hard to find. (The land of technology, I know)

Today we arrived in Shanghai, and no I haven't been to the great wall of China or anything but I liked the pun; a long long wall- a long long while!!!

hehe...Anyway, Kyoto was great and I learnt alot about traditional Japan I also saw A LOT of temples and I've come to a couple of conclusions about them:

1. There is this temple of kannon which houses 1001 statues of kannon I can't remember what its called but in anycase it involves A LOT of temples.

2. Temples involve A LOT of incense.

3. Kyoto involves A LOT of temples (more than 4000!)

4. Involved people from all over the world  (A LOT of people) come to see Kyoto's Temples.

5. I'm all templed out....

We also got to see one of the most beautiful castles ever. It was absolutely stunning and is called Himeji Castle. It took awhile to get there but it was worth it for the view, the beautiful gardens and the smoothly waxeed yet honestly old floorboards. From its tall tall figure and multi-shaped window it ozed oriental-ancient style.

Walking around west Kyoto is like entering a completeley new little rural tourist town with no urban-ness? in site. We started with a walk through a zen style temples garden (No we didn't go inside the temple) Nanny with a cofee in hand. We took a break with some roasted hazelnuts and sent Nanny off on a rickshaw to meet us at another temple (I KNOW!). We didn't go inside but just walked around and admired the beautiful tree line path famous for the colours of its autumn maples before going to an old style tea room for delicious hot chocolate, And I bought a beautiful Japanese artwork...

A couple more adventures and an upside down golden bridge later we were in my 2nd favourite place of Japan (my first being Tokyo); Kinosaki.
The Onsen Town... What a perfect place where it is  totally expected that you walk around the freezing cold town anytime in nothing but a Yukata (light cotton bathrobe) and I mean nothing. You are expected to put on your pretty yukata and wooden thongs and clip clop from spa bath (onsen) to onsen. An onsen thougfh is much more than a spa its a beautiful art that cannot be explained in thjis attempt at a brief post. So while taking time to check out thecoastline of Japan we spent most of our time in Kinosaki naked in the public hot baths (women and men seperated) relaxing. All the water is natural spring water here but they give it extra heat so onsen's are HOT. aNYWAY i LOVED IT SO LOVELEY AND RELAXoops...ing.

The next stop was Osaka as in Gwen Stefani "Osaka, Tokyo...you harajuku giorl, damn you've got some wicked style..." where we stayed in a very fabcy hotel because a friend of ours works there and gets HUGE discounts. It was really fab, great views beautiful room, a chocolate christmas tree, designer shops to ooo and aaaaa at and dead center. The highlights of our short stay in Osaka for me was the shopping especially on the 2 mile undercover walkway shopping area which was filled with young crazy clothes and american village (the harajuku of osaka...YAY!!!!) and a night spent with Raymond (our friend) and his beautiful family. He took us to his home city Kobi where we got to experience a locals view of the place eating at an obscure yakatori bar we never would have visited and had REALLY delicious food. All chicken from heart to liver to neck to breast and  cabbage it was really delicious. Except the liver...yuck. (I didn't try heart) Then we tried our luck at the local public foot onsen. Where you sit on the street barefoot with your feet in the hot troughlike water spot (pretty spiffy) checking out the amazing mountainside view all before dessert at his loveley house with his really nice family. We had yummy cake and japanese sweets. It was a late night or should I say morning but it was well worth it for the super time we had.

I'll really miss Japan, I absoluteley loved it from the crazy young ladies with blonde hair and puffy harajuku skirts to the traditional ryokan hotels. I absoluteley love it. We're staying in Shanghai; a small backpackers with really good taste. The buildings a converted french cobncession building with modernised interior (my favourite thing) brick warehouse modernised) and the area is cool a beautiful temple. I'm slightly worried about nanny getting run over in the crazy free for all traffic but I'm really excited to get to know China. Internet is dirt cheap here; basically free so hopefully I'll be posting lots.....

LOve 
Niamh