Thursday, March 28, 2013

Hong Kong: Tian Tan Buddah and Po Lin Monastery

After showing our friends around Shanghai, we jetted off to Hong Kong for a few days. With images of a crystal clear sky and 360 views of Hong Kong in my head, we headed to Lantau Island to visit Tian Tan Buddah and Po Lin Monastery.

Unfortunately for us, the cable car to the top of the mountain was under construction. Whomp whomp. This meant that instead of a calm ride up the mountain, we had to endure a 45 minute trip in a bus which bumped along while constantly hugging the guardrails.

Once at the top of the mountain, we were greeted by the 115 foot (34 meter) tall bronze statue, completed in 1993.




And after a whopping 240 step climb, we found ourselves at the top. 



The day was much colder than expected, so we hurried along to Po Lin Monastery which sits at the base of Tian Tan Buddah. Founded in 1906, the monastery continues to serve as an international Buddhist retreat even today.



While a visit to the Big Buddah and Monastery is technically free, I would encourage you to pay the small fee to enter the three floors beneath the Buddah. Mostly because your entry ticket entitles you to hot tea and vegetarian snacks upon arrival at the Monastery. And yes, one of those snacks just happened to be my beloved bōluó bāo.


To visit these attractions, ride the subway to Tung Chung metro station. From there, you can choose to ride the cable car to the top or take the New Lantau Bus 23 to Ngong Ping. Either will probably be mildly terrifying.

Monday, March 25, 2013


I'm not a big fan of heights. Surprising, since I once jumped out of a perfectly good airplane. But whenever friends come to visit, I find myself visiting a ridiculously tall high rise, all in the name of tourism.

Last week, my best friend and her husband came to visit. I've known B for over 20 years, since we first met doing awkward pirouettes in dance class (okay, I was the awkward one, B was graceful even back then). She and her husband were eager to see some Shanghai sights from up above so we headed to the ever popular observation decks at the Shanghai World Financial Center.

When the SWFC (affectionately known as the bottle opener) was built in 2007, it was the second tallest building in the world and the tallest in Mainland China.


We opted for passes which allowed us to visit floors 94, 97, and 100, because if you are going to spend money to scare yourself senseless, you might as well go all out.



This is the nervous smile of someone who wants their husband to just snap the darn photo already. Why? Because not only was I over 1500 feet high (457 meters), but there also happened to be glass under my feet. I've broken a few too many windows in my life to really trust the durability of a glass floor under the weight of this food loving gal.


So I mostly stayed on silver beams instead.


But my husband clearly had no problem with his future obituary reading, "Matthew tragically passed away after falling 100 floors to his death when the glass floor he was standing on collapsed".


Wednesday, March 20, 2013

4am Observations

What does every girl (or gay) want after coming home from the bars, late at night?

A teddy bear off the roof of a car, of course.


Monday, March 18, 2013


A few years ago, CNN Travel named Shanghai the greatest city in the world. And their number one reason for bestowing this honor to my beloved city was the ability to have pretty much anything delivered to your door. For someone who prefers the company of my cat to other humans most days, delivery is key.

In order to cement in your minds just how awesome delivery is (or perhaps highlight how lazy I really am), here are a few of the things I have had delivered over the past month.


Cow Manure

An Air Purifier


Take Out

I know, this last one is lame since you can get takeout delivered pretty much anywhere. Except in the middle of the countryside. Growing up, we couldn't even get the pizza guy to come to our house. But I've also had cat litter, groceries, laundry, theatre tickets, and countless other goodies hand delivered to my door. Which is rather nice when the air quality is poor and you're feeling lazy, two things which have plagued me recently. Well, the whole air quality thing is a recent issue anyhow. I'm not so sure about the lazy.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Poker Face

Saturday was a balmy 84 degrees F (or 28 C) and the parks were filled with children playing, couples licking each others' faces, and old men gambling away their money. I think spring is here.


Saturday, March 9, 2013

Xi'An: Han Tombs

I took a course on Egyptian civilization in college and became obsessed with Egyptian history, especially the burial procedures. I mean, what's more interesting than removing a brain through your nostril? For my birthday one year, I even forced Matthew to take me to the King Tut exhibit in Philadelphia. But I still dreamed of visiting the pyramids and seeing the tombs for myself, filled with treasures once believed to be needed in the afterlife. While I haven't made it to Egypt yet, I did recently get to enter an Emperor's tomb, and it just so happened to be in China.

About 20 km outside of Xi'an sits the Yangling Mausoleum of the Han Dynasty. Built in 153 AD for Liu Qi and his empress,  the tomb covers an area of 20 square kilometers (4,942 acres) and is comprised of the emperor's tomb, empress' tomb, burial pits, a ceremonial site, human sacrifice graveyard and criminals' cemetery. I'm sure your ancestral burial plot also has those last two items.

While you can't enter the actual tomb (boo), you can explore the outer pits at China's first underground museum. The tomb contains around 50,000 doll-sized terracotta figures depicting humans and animals for use in the afterlife. The museums sits on the excavation site and has a glass floor so that you can look down on the ongoing excavations.






Even without any mention of brain removal, the Han Tombs are definetly worth a visit if you travel to Xi'An.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Chinese New Year Eats

Sunday marked the fifteenth and final day of Chinese New Year. Thank God. Because that meant the fireworks were finally over. 

It also meant an excuse to eat one of my favorite Chinese desserts, tāng yuán or glutinous rice dumplings. The reason for this is because tāng yuán in Chinese has a similar pronunciation with tuán yuán which means reunion. So people eat them on the last day of Chinese New Year to wish happiness upon their families. Sweet, no? I wish English had similar word/food associations. Cake really only sounds like cankles. Not exactly something I want to wish upon others (well, okay, maybe a few people).

We received a quick lesson on preparing tāng yuán from our Mandarin tutor. I'm lazy so I bought frozen yuán zi filled with sesame paste as well as the fermented rice wine or jiù niàng. Apparently you can make both of these items from scratch. Perhaps next time? Baby steps, people.


To cook tāng yuán, you simply fill the bottom of a pot with about two inches of water and bring it to a boil. Then you drop in the yuán zi. The small balls will float as they cook which takes only a few minutes. You then add 1/2 cup of the fermented rice wine. Stir in some goji berries, a little sugar, and you've successfully created a delicious batch of jiù niàng yuán zi. And if you screw it up, you've probably cursed your family for an entire year. 



Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...