we arrived safely in Guilin at about 6am, and we were immediately accosted by several travel agents telling us to buy tour packages or sleep in a certain hotel.  since we didn’t really have a set plan in place, we just went with it and ended up getting a surprisingly nice hotel room considering the cost {100 CNY or about $16}.  we also booked a tour through yangshuo and guilin to see the beautiful mountains and caves that are abundant in this area of china. 

one downside of the tour was that both on the way to and from our final destination we stopped several times to hear marketing pitches from local vendors.  one in particular liked to talk really loud and blew cigarette smoke in our faces.  not a big fan of that.  but we saw the karst mountains and the dragon caves, which were incredible.  when we finally got back to our hotel, we were too exhausted to go out {not to mention a little unsure of our surroundings and maybe a little scared?} so we just stayed in a watched a cheap dvd we bought off a street vendor.

p.s. – the shower had absolutely no hot water…so yeah. good thing china is so stinking hot, so it didn’t take much to warm back up.
p.p.s. - chinese people are so funny.  instead of keeping the caves looking natural, they decide to light it up with bright colorful lights.  


hong kong day #3.

today we finally made it to victoria’s peak!  it was well-worth the wait.  i had been checking the weather every day to see if it was clear enough and finally today it was.  we took some great pictures:

and then we headed to the mainland china border at shenzhen.  i really liked the food that we ate for linner.  my first impression of the chinese:  they smoke a lot, and wherever they please.  they also like to spit a lot and don’t care if it’s in your direction.  and the babies have little open butt flaps in their clothing so they don’t need diapers.  {aka they squat wherever they please}  oh china, i don’t know if i could ever get used to you. 

then we got on a sleeper bus.  {what, are we crazy?  yes, yes we are.}  the sleeper bus was a completely crazy decision and also so funny and fun.  i actually think i preferred it to the train we could have ridden on.  we had a bed and pillows, were able to watch two movies that played on the bus, and tylenol p.m. on our side.  as long as you didn’t think too much about how many people had slept on that same bed as you, it wasn’t too bad.  there was an hour-long stretch of extremely bumpy road, but other than that, i slept surprisingly well under the circumstances.  i'll just leave you in suspense for what happened after that….


hong kong day #2

breakfast today was amazing.  we had a tradition taiwanese breakfast of hot soy milk and a fried donut-type thing.  oh.my.word.  {sidenote:  the next day we tried to find this place again, and couldn’t.  sad day.}

if you could walk through one of the hong kong markets in the morning, you would be awestruck with the poor handling of meats.  {i haven’t gotten sick after four and a half weeks in asia, thank goodness}.  nevertheless, the markets are so fun to walk through.  everything is different than in america, which makes it so exciting.

after breakfast and the market, we made our way out to the temple.  {one thing we have learned on this trip:  i am directionally challenged.  i could walk five minutes in one direction and be instantly lost.  john, on the other hand, remembered where to go to get to the temple from four years ago when he was here.  if he weren’t here, i swear i would have spent many hours wandering aimlessly through the streets of hong kong.}

don’t you just love our lds temples?

at the temple, we met missionaries and we asked them for recommendations of what we should go see.  they told us to take a trip out to monkey mountain.  since john and i love monkeys, {did I just admit to that?  look here for more evidence} we definitely wanted to go.  so, we hopped on a train with literally no idea where our final destination was.  after a lot of asking bus drivers if their route included monkey mountain, one of them spoke english and got us headed in the right direction.  so, we went to monkey mountain and hiked for an hour and fed the monkeys and got bitten by a trillion mosquitoes.  we even saw a brand new baby monkey!  she was so tiny and still covered in a little bit of monkey amniotic fluid. {sorry for those of you who aren’t nursing students….}


and for lunch, we had soup that “was hotter than the fire of a thousand suns,” as john put it.  i’ll put it like this.  put this soup in your freezer for about ten hours.  take it out, eat it, and it will still burn everything going down.  they let you choose how spicy you want your soup, and i stupidly chose “very spicy”.  “very spicy” in america is very different than “very spicy” in hong kong.  “very spicy” in hong kong means you might as well take a razor to your tongue, because that’s what it felt like. 

after the monkeys we went up to mong kok specifically to get dong gua cha.  we wouldn’t really admit that that’s why we were there, but that’s totally why we were there.  when i get back to the states, i am going to make john take me to that taiwanese restaurant every single day so i can get it.  otherwise, i will go into withdrawals and potentially die.


and then we fell asleep in our hotel room for about three hours, woke up groggily, and decided that we had to see the skyline at night, or we would be sad to have missed it.  so despite pure exhaustion, we headed back out to get a glimpse of that hong kong skyline:


and we had honey-glazed pork for dinner.  folks.  hong-kong style.  


hong kong day #1.

they drive on the wrong side of the road in hong kong.

well, okay.  not wrong, just opposite.  but it feels wrong since i’ve almost been hit by a car like twenty times today.  good thing i have john to pull me out of harms way with herculean strength, because i would otherwise be roadkill right now. 

this morning we woke up, and walked around and around our hotel searching aimlessly for a breakfast place.  john would have asked someone for a recommendation, but people in hong kong unreasonably speakcantonese.  {what is that?  and for the record, it sounds like the language that jabba-the-hut’s little rat speaks in return of the jedi}.  but, we finally did find a breakfast place, and they had ovaltine.  which I’ve never had before.  i’m just glad to have discovered it, because i really can’t imagine a world without it anymore.  {just as i’m typing this john is telling me that ovaltine is the “nesquick of the 50’s.  and i’m all, what’s wrong with that?}

the star ferry was one of my favorites in hong kong.  you can see the whole skyline from the ferry:

and i also tried my first dragonfruit:

our first sight on the list of things to see was victoria’s peak.  we took the subway over to the island, however, you couldn’t see the tops of the buildings because it was so cloudy, let alone the peak.  so instead, we focused our efforts on seeing a lot of hong kong island via foot.  {like, ten miles of walking or so}.  we also searched about three hours for a dim sum place, coming up quite shorthanded because the one we went to didn’t push the fun little carts around.  but it was still quite delicious:

then we saw the temple street night market, the jade market, and the ladies market in mong kok.  i have sick bargaining skills and got a woman to go down from 3,600 HKD to 100 HKD {like $14} on a jade bracelet.  i know, you’re impressed.

by this point, we were exhausted.  but it was only five pm and we still had a lot of the night to explore.  we took a break in the park and ate an egg tart, and i may have cried a little from exhaustion.  but we soldiered on!

we walked all the way down nathan road, tried to find a ferry to macau, {we didn’t end up going to macau, because it’s not really our scene.  but we definitely considered it so we could say that we went. whatever.} and bought a hey tang that ended up having tea in it, taking one sip, and throwing it away.  i’m so glad i married someone righteous who was willing to throw that hey tang away with me.