A Travellerspoint blog

Tanzania - Entry 2 Safari and Zanzibar

Hyenas, Bushmen and Beaches!

Hi everyone!

We just arrived on the island of Zanzibar after 4 short plane flights in a plane the size of an SUV- we flew from the Serengeti Airport which consisted of no security, a bathroom and a coffee shop with instant coffee after spending last night sleeping in what Wild Spirit (our safari company) termed a "semi-luxury camping experience" that was so luxurious that it included our very own portable toilet seat. Last night was the last night of the safari and I guess they wanted us to go out with a bang so after spending three hours driving around the Serengeti looking for camp site number 6 (which was no where to be found because some intelligent park ranger decided it was time to change the numbers on the campsites around (why- I don't know) and so after painting over the numbers- they forgot to paint the new ones on... whatever the point of this camping description is not that it took us awhile to get to the campsite- we weren't that concerned about that.

What we were thrilled to find out is that there were black mambas there (on the way to the site we saw a Black Mamba (which is a very dangerous snake) and that the "armed guard" that we were promised (to protect us from the Black Mambas, lions, cheetahs, etc... we had also seen on our way to the campsite) just meant that somewhere in the Serengeti there was an armed ranger (meaning somewhere in the largest national park in Africa there just might be the same idiot who was smart enough to paint over the campsite numbers without replacing the numbers- who might be roaming around protecting us and the thousands of others in the park.

To make things even cooler- we decided to pay the extra bucks and get our "private bush camp experience" meaning that instead of having all the other campers to protect us from the animals- we were on our own, just Brett and I and our driver/guide and our cook. So during dinner, when Chef John (the nicest and the smelliest man in Tanzania) was bringing us our second course he pointed out a hyena at our campsite. I started to get a little scared by John (actually his name might be George- I'm not sure- after 6 days with him Brett claims his name is George but I'm still sticking to John)... so John wanted to reassure me that the hyenas weren't interested in our tent, they were interested in "the kitchen" where he was cooking... well buddy maybe it was just me but we were in a small campsite and there was no marked off kitchen area to seperate the hyenas from our campsite.

They kept telling me, "it's okay, ACUNAMATADA"- well maybe it was okay for them, but it was not okay for me.

To make a very long night short- Brett and I got no sleep because we could hear the hyenas outside of our tent all night long- they were so close that we could hear them breathe. I have never been so scared in my life- even though the animals don't usually attack- there was a leopard who ate a young Italian boy in the park last year and there was a lion that attacked a man in another park fairly recently also- supposedly it was a freak incident and supposedly the hyenas weren't dangerous but Chef John didn't fool me- I have seen the Lion King and the hyenas in that movie are not friendly!

At one point in the middle of the night I had to pee- I was ready to pee in a plastic bag in our tent but Brett wouldn't let me so I had to go outside the tent. On the way back inside- we couldn't get one of the zippers to close all the way which really just added to the excitement. In the end we woke up this morning feeling A-okay but I can guarantee you I will never go camping again in my life!

We can't complain though- it was a cool experience looking back and the rest of the nights were spent in really nice lodges- including one that was the most amazing place we had ever stayed- it was technically a tent (so we could hear all the nature outside and Massai people singing in the background) but it was two stories and had the most beautiful furniture and bathroom set-up (which looked like the hot tub from the Playboy mansion- you know the one on that show "The Girls Next Door")

ON TO THE INTERESTING STUFF

Our safari was AMAZING!!!! After spending one day in Arusha and visiting the Rwanda Tribunal which is taking place there now, we started our safari. The first day we went to Lake Manyara and saw some sexy animals including elephants, giraffes, etc... there is something incredible about seeing these animals in person. We were in a Land Rover with a whole at the top (like a convertible) so during the game drives we would stand on our seats and drive around until we saw an animal other than a gazelle and then we would stop and check out the animal for awhile and take pictures. It doesn't sound that great but it is really an incredible experience that I could go on and on about and tell you which animals we saw but that would make this email a bit boring so I'll skip that for when I see you in person. All I need to say about the game drives is 1) it was awesome; 2) I would recommend it to anyone; 3) we got lucky and saw a few rare things- including a lion stalking and killing a zebra right next to our car- literally the lion used our car to hide from the zebras so we were 2 feet away- I even opened the side window to take a picture which our guide said wasn't such a great idea because lions don't like to be disturbed while they are hunting; 4) we also got lucky and saw some Black Rhinos and Cheetahs- both of which are almost extinct- I could tell you why but I doubt you would care...


HUNTING WITH THE HAD-ZA-BE TRIBE

As a part of our safari- we had read in a book that you could go hunting with the Hadza tribe- the last hunter-gatherers left in Africa- it sounded cool in the book but I was a bit skeptical at first because I had remembered going to see the long-neck people in Thailand and although it was cool to see them and take their picture- they were sitting in a "village" that was made for tourists so it was really no different than encountering the freak-show at the zoo. Still- we decided we would try it out so we signed up to go hunting with the Hadza.


After driving 6 hours each way into the bush (we are talking the straight up sticks where all you see for hours is dirt roads and children with their goats and cows who chased our car for as long as they could- it was both beautiful and sad) we arrived at our campsite on Lake Eyasi. After setting up camp (well after watching our guides set up camp) we went to visit a tribe called "the Oggadoga"- I know it sounds fake but they were the real deal and visiting them was like a primer for visiting the Hadza the next day.

So the Oggadoga tribe are blacksmiths- basically they get scraps of metal and mold them into bracets and arrows used for hunting which they trade with other tribes for food, etc... watching them work was amazing- as was watching their children- some of whom were 3 and 4 years old and playing with machetes and knives while the parents watched ambivalently. The entire time we were in Lake Eyasi we only saw one other group of tourists (which isn't surprizing given that most people come to Africa for the animals- not the tribes and it was so far into the bush)- so we purchased a braclet from the Oggadoga which was made from a lock- then they invited us into their house- a mud shack that was about ten by fifteen feet. In the mud house the entire family lived (about fifteen people- a man, his mother, his three wives, and his nine children some of which had their own children)- also all of their goats lived in the house in a room that was sealed off from where the family slept. Obviously all of them slept on the floor but the house was barely big enough to fit all of them even if they were just laying on the ground- so they must have been sleeping on top of each other.

In the kitchen one of the girls was grinding corn with an old fashioned stone and mortor set- she grabbed my hand and put her animal skins around my neck and had me start grinding the corn while all the women sang to us- man that was hard work! Right outside the house was a one day old goat that one of the kids was playing with- it was the cutest thing- it couldn't even stand up yet.So we stayed there for awhile then went back to our camp for the night.

The next morning we were awoken at 6am to go find the Hadza- we had two guides with us- our guide to translate from Swahili to English, and a local guide to translate from the Hadza's click-tounge language into Swahili. We arrived at the Hadza's house which consisted of a tent full of sticks (literally their "house" was a stick standing upright covered by a bunch of sticks and leaves)- their "house" made the Oggadoga's mud house look like the Taj Mahal- no joke!

Apparently the Hadza are the last hunter-gathers left in Africa- they are also a nomadic tribe and they only stay in one location for 2-3 weeks depending on where the food is, and despite government attempts to place them in permanent housing, they have stayed true to their culture (the gov once gave them land, a school and permanent housing which they shortly thereafter abandoned). They are also what we call IN-BRED meaning that they keep stuff in the family. But instead of just keeping it real and allowing brothers and sisters to marry- the Hadza also marry their own children, so I guess if a father has a child he might decide when the child is three- damn, she's hot, I think I'll marry her,,,, and on the other hand if the child is not the cutest thing one of his five wives has ever popped out- he might just let his son have her... Wierd!

Those who come to visit them are worried about Western influence being bad for the tribe but our guide assured us that "they don't know anything," that they have no idea how different our lives are from theirs and they just think we are a bunch of wierdos who want to come hunting with them because we are hungry just like they are. Apparently- when the bushmen go into town every so often to buy some cornmeal from money they obtained from tourists- they always get ripped off because they go into a store with their animal skins on and the locals know who they are and charge them five times as much- also they don't understand the concept of paying for something and getting the change so if they go into a store and give the employee 1000 shillings for something that costs 10 shillings- they don't want the change- because they know they still have money in their pocket and they don't know what to do with change anyways.

Isn't that mean? In the US when the Amish take a trip to Safeway to buy toilet paper, they get charged just the same as everyone else!!!!!!


Okay- so I need to get back to Zanzibar so let me try to explain the hunt- we spent about 4 hours walking around with the Hadza and their dog but they didn't find anything good (meaning no baboons, no giraffes, etc...) so they decided to hunt field mice- so the main man (the eldest of the bunch) found some field mice holes and starting digging them up with his hands while another Hadza stood at the other end of the hole- then they shot their poisonous arrows into the mouse hole. They did this until they had one mouse for each of the five men (apparently they don't share with the woman unless they get something good like a buffalo-)- at one point their dog got the mouse in his mouth but the Hadza made him spit it out again.

Witnessing their quest for breakfast was both an exciting and disgusting experience. After each of them had their mouse- we went to pay their God a visit (their God is this certain tree that is hollow on the inside- this is also where they bring the women to give birth)- all eight of us got inside this tree- (including Brett who had to be pushed and pulled in- I don't think he was thrilled about being gropped by a bunch of inbred bushmen who had just finished killing mice with their bare hands- but he was a good sport about it). Once inside the tree- they started to sing and dance- it was pitch black in there and a bit scary- I tried to make a video which ended up looking and sounding like the worst movie of all times- "The Blair Witch Project"

After praying we got out of the tree and the Hadza made a fire out of two sticks in thirty seconds flat- then they roasted their mice and wild potates. They were so kind as to offer us some and although we love that travel channel show "Bizzare Foods" we decided we would wait to eat breakfast until later. Watching them cook and eat the mice whole (well they ate it in sections- leaving the tasty tail for desert) was quite a spectacle and all I have to say about it is that my children will NEVER have pet mice because that image will be forever ingrained in my head everytime I see a mouse....


I have plenty of other great stories but this email is long enough- Africa is an AMAZING, beautiful, fun and unique experience- we are having the best time and best of all- this is the first place I've been where I am yet to see a Starbucks (there was even a Starbucks inside the Forbidden City in China)!


Take Care and come to Tanzania when you can!

Sarah and Brett

Posted by bjmorris14 11:45 Comments (0)

Tanzania - Entry 1 Arrival

Tanzania Part 1

Hello everyone,

Apparently I have to be quick because we are about to leave to start our safari but I just wanted to write about my first few days here. We had a really quick flight over here (just thirty hours or so and four plane flights- not including the one we just took to get to Arusha)- the amazing thing was that our luggage made it through four transfers and three different airlines (Delta to New York, Virgin to London, Air Kenya to Nairobi and Air Kenya to Dar es Salam) which was pretty cool considering the last two times we flew on Southwest from Oakland to San Diego they lost our luggage.

In Dar es Salam we met up with two ex-sistas who are working there- it was fun to see them and catch them up on sorority gossip including vital stats like the fact that a ton of people became lawyers and one of us became a porn star- plus they set us up with a sweet hotel room in this place called Qbar- we really liked it- it was a full service hotel- meaning there were a ton of prostitutes at the bar in the lobby- which we found really interesting considering that the old white men sleeping with the prositutes must have been really intelligent considering they were in a country where 12% of the population has AIDS and probably about 75% of the prostitutes do.

We did feel better when we met up with my ex-sistas for the first time and they informed us that the good thing about our hotel was that "at least the prostitutes are the most beautiful in all of Dar."

Yesterday we took a small plane up here- and when we went to the airport in Dar we found that the security was TIGHT! I was so glad that I removed my shoes to go through the scanner (or whatever you call that)- considering that at no point did they ever even check our IDs before we got onto the flight....

Apparently I'm taking a long time to write this email so I gotta go for now......

More later when I have some interesting things to write

XOXO,

Sarah and Bretton

Posted by bjmorris14 11:42 Comments (0)

All China Entries (Condensed together)

China Emails

Here are my emails I wrote while I was in China. They are really long but if you're interested...

CHINA DAY 1

I was just about to start off this email writing about how great "the people" here are (u know how everytime you talk to someone about their trip they always tell you how nice the people are when really if you think about it the people were nice because they were getting paid to tour them around, feed them, etc... (maybe I'm just being cynical because I am EXHAUSTED but anyways).... we are in the internet cafe in our hotel where they have a WHOPPING 2 COMPUTERS and these idiots who run the show (two girls to run a shop with two computers) will only let us use 1 of the computers- so poor Margaux has to sit and wait for me because they want to sit on the other computer and PLAY THEIR VERSION OF CHINESE SOLITARE/DANCE PARTY USA- they are literally playing solitare with these dumb Chinese characters dancing around on their computer screens... it's ridiculous!!!

Okay a few things about China:

1) the ABSOLUTE best thing about China is not the sights but its BEING A TOURIST here! I swear to god there is no better place to be a tourist.... This is the same feeling I might get if I was a designer and had my first trip to Paris.... here not only do I feel like a tourist (I have a yellow name tag that I wear everyday) but I we (Margaux and I) are surrounded with 29 other 50-somethings- some of whom DO have fanny packs on... no joke! AND today we went to Tianamen Square and the first thing that happened is all these Chinese tourists ran up to Margaux and I and wanted to take pictures with US! It was SO funny- the tour guide said that these people are from villages and have never seen white people before so they are super juiced to take pictures with us so they can go show us off to their friends. Ummmmmmmm k.... so it was so fun walking around today because not only were Chinese people of all ages coming up wanting to take pictures with us- some of them would come up and hand us their baby and take our picture with them!

2) Another thing I was really happy to see was Chinese tourists going to all the Chinese sights because while I thought we were super cool wearing our yellow badges and following a yellow flag around all day- the Chinese tourists actually were in groups where all of them were wearing matching hats. I squear to god I could not stop laughing all day because there would be groups for example like one where there were 80 Chinese people of all ages wearing Red Nike caps- I was OBSESSED with them because they were the only group of people that didn't seem to give a rats about us--- so I tried to take pictures with them and they weren't even interested. It made me feel like crap but then I just figured it was probably because they were elderly and didn't think us Westerners were "cool" like all the teenagers coming up to us wanting to hang with us....

3) Last night Margaux and I ACCIDENTALLY GOT A MASSAGE- so we called the hotel massuse to ask if we could make an appointment for tommorrow but apparently nobody here really speaks english that well. So we hang up the phone and two minutes later this guy shows up at our door with two pink wash clothes and a tub of yellow lard looking stuff. We tried to get him to leave and told him to come back tommorrow but the language barrier wasn't really working for us so we just said "F IT" and decided to get a massage- it took a few more minutes for him to realize he couldn't massage both of us at once so he called up some woman to our room. Needless to say- the massage was a good way to spend 1 hour and $20 bucks

4) 4 STAR TOILETS- so today we came across a lot of toilets- all of them were the really cool kind where you have to squat into a hole in the ground. Once we got to the Summer Palace (which summer palace- I'm not sure because I wasn't paying attention because I was having too much fun laughing at everything and everyone around me) we found a "4 Star Toilet" literally- no joke- there was a sign outside this bathroom that said that the "Beijing Tourist Bureau" had rated it "4 stars"- once I went inside I couldn't really see why to be honest but it made me feel better knowing I was in a 4 star establishment. The only thing I was wondering was why that toilet was 4 stars and the one at the place we had dinner wasn't. The bathroom at our resturant for dinner should have been at least 4 stars- it was clean AND the toilet maid (lady who stands in the bathroom) was SO cute and SO nice she "did everything but wiped your butt for you" as one of our co-tourists put it. She literally walked into the bathroom with you- like into the actual stall and took off your purse, hung it up, closed the door, gave you soap, wiped your hands, etc... It was unbelievable.....

5) 5 STAR RESTURANTS- tonight before we got off "the bus" our tour guide "Frank" a man who told us today when we asked "do young people usually come on this tour" he said "No. It's mostly seniors..." told us that quote un-quote; "TOMMORROW NIGHT WE ARE GOING TO A FIVE STAR RESTURANT, I'M NOT KIDDING!!!" and he said it TWICE- so when he asked if we had any questions after the tour- I wanted to reiterate how many stars the resturant was....

Okay so there is one computer here, 5 tourists waiting to use it (including this woman who is here with her husband and two kids and it looks like they are about to join a cult when they leave this tour---- literally- I mean the family looks like the people from Heavan's Gate (I would know because Brett and I watched a special on it last week--
PLUS this woman's son is on the tour and he decided to assume the role of flag bearer so he waves the flag all day- it's annoying...)---- so I gotta go....

More fun later (I have a million and two more funny things that happened today but no time to tell them)- all I have to say is that if you want to go somewhere to laugh harder than you've ever laughed before- this is the place to do it!!!!

XOXO,
Sarah
'
PS- today we also saw the Forbidden City, and some other things but it's hard to remember what we saw when all I can remember is the people I came into contact with who seemed just as happy to see us as we were to see them- I guess its because normally I go places and want to take pictures of the people even if they don't want to be photographed (like once a lady in Morrocco threw rocks at me for taking pictures of her walking her goat) BUT here the LOVE IS RECIPROCATED TEN TIMES OVER- it's like they want to take pictures with us more than we want to take pictures with them. It makes us feel good and it's just so damn funny!!!

CHINA DAY 3

Hi Everyone!

We are in this town in the middle of NOWHERE in China (supposedly we are in a "mountain" town but I see nothing here yet.... We are having so much fun- it has been very interesting so far. We went to the Great Wall the other day but it was SOOOOO cold and foggy we couldn't see the enormity of it. It was SO cold in Beijing but here in the mountains I'm fine in a t-shirt. In Beijing Margaux asked me what I was going to where oneday and I said, "oh just leggings, jeans, a t-shirt (short sleeve_), two sweaters, a sweatshirt, a scarf, ear muffs, and a hat" and she replied "JUST?" Seriously we were freezing so we bought these HUGE communist hats (the ones with the long furry ears and the red star) and wore them everywhere- it kept us warm and made for some good photo ops...

So we are touring around with 30 people- most of them are old enough to carry sweet and low AND equal with them everywhere (and all have grandkids)- except the one family (who I thought was a cult in the beginning of the trip but who I now really like- BUT their kids (ages 9 and 11) SWEAR that Margaux and I are gay- which doesn't bother us but is just plain funny! They asked their dad, "what is the realationship of those girls," and the Dad said that we were "just friends" and then the kid said "are you sure," and apparently even when their dad told them we have boyfriends the kids didn't believe him so last night at dinner the mother made a point to have an entire conversation about our boyfriends in front of the kids. It was funny. Actually some other woman also asked us if we were "just friends" at the beginning of the trip. Probably because we are the only young ones except one 29 year old guy that is here with his parents but he really doesnt' count because he reads a lot of comic books.

There is SO much construction in China (especially in Bejing for the olympics next year) it is UNBELIEVABLE!!! I have NEVER seen anything like it- I mean every block there is construction of everything- highrises, etc... We went to the Summer Palace which was suppose to be a big attraction but the main part of it was under construction so they put up a banner infront of it of what it normally looks like (a picture of it) and when our tour guides told us to walk around and take pictures we decided it would be a better idea to take some pictures of the people here who are not exactly what you would call "FASHION FORWARD"- I'm not sure what my favorite outfit has been so far but I think it might have been a woman wearing a Burberry face mask (you know the kind they used on 9--11) to keep the dirt out)- which is just plain funny. I'm sure it was REAL!!!

Speaking of knockoffs- China is the BEST for buying everything- I got some really cute tennis shoes for $5, I-pods for $15 (made exactly the same and they work) and best of all fake purses! This woman on our trip contacted this guy who has a factory in Bejing where he manufactures fake purses (every brand- Gucci, LV, etc,..., and all of them look perfectly real)- so he came to our hotel and we had a purse party- I even got a Louis Vuitton dog bag that is so cute!!!! Olivia will love it!

The language barrier here is quite a problem- the worst part about it is that in the hotels they pretend to speak english so for example when we asked where the internet was, instead of saying they didn't understand us, they just said "no, we don't have it" and that is their response for everything- even stuff that they do have. Thankfully, Margaux's boyfriend Jesse bought her a small translation book on Mandarin- some of it has come inreally handy. There is an entire section in there on how to get a Chinese person into bed/marry you... including really useful phrases such as "it's my first time," and "EASY TIGER"- my personal favorite.

Today we stopped by a beautiful park where there happened to be a "english corner" where students in this small town (where they get almost no tourists) come every sunday to practice their english- so as you can imagine- they were THRILLED to see us. One girl was talking to this guy in our group who is 60 but looks really young to me and she asked him, "is this group all senior citizens?" He was a little offended so he took her over to us because she wanted to talk to some "young Americans.."

We also spoke to this guy who was a Chemistry PhD who has had articles published in the American Scientific Journal of Polymer Science about the fact that silicon rubber does not cause cancer- we thought his study was for the purpose of people who had silicon breast implants BUT apparently we were wrong because when we started to ask about that his face turned BRIGHT RED!

Yesterday we were suppose to go to the temple of heavan but we told the group that we didn't need to go because we wanted to spend some time in the Temple of Gucci- so we went shopping instead in this mall which had a fish market on the basement floor- which was great because it made the entire mall stink of fish- so while we were buying our knock-off i-pods we got to enjoy the pleasant aroma of live turtles and shrimp....

Everyone on the trip is really nice except this woman Loretta who is here with her husband (who thinks she is GREAT because she got a fake Gucci purse on the street which had GUCCI written in PEN on the purse- it looked SUPER authentic and she would NOT stop raving about it). You can tell they must have a perfect marriage because they have been together for ten years and when quizzed on the bus the other day he did not know her birthday or her middle name. Plus- instead of going to the temple of heavan, they went to KFC (my least favorite place on the planet)...

OKAY, lunch time!!!! Hope life is good in the US!

XOXO,
Sarah

WHY WE'RE GLAD WE DIDN'T GROW UP IN CHINA

Before I start this email I just want to give a disclaimer from the last one- sorry for the bad spellings (I know that SWEAR doesn't have a Q but honestly I just don't care enough to edit these emails)....

So out of the many countries that we've visited, there are always some that you come back from wishing that you could really move over there and be a part of (like Brazil or Spain)- I'm not saying I don't like China, I'm just saying THANK GOD I don't have to live here permanently. Here's why:

1) SARS and other pollutants- so today when we checked into our new hotel on top of all the regular luxuries (tea, shoe shiners, pickeled snacks,,,,) there was something we hadn't seen before- a SARS protector mask. No joke. Our hotel room "comes" with one- it;s one of those full bodied suits with a breathing thing like from that movie about the monkey disease outbreak and it's in our hotel room. If there is one item you could put in a room that might scare people from coming back- this may be the item. I mean I know that SARS is a possibility but its not like I need to sleep next to a reminder. (oh yeah and it's not free either- if there is an outbreak (or if you just want to open the box for fun which is something my brother would do if he were here- (u have to pay an extra $50 which is A LOT here!


2) THE BATHROOM SITCH is really shitty from when you are old enough to squat. Instead of having kids in diapers- all their clothing has a slit in the crotch so the kids can literally just squat and go whenever wherever. Not to be judgmental but I think it's disgusting. Isn't that unsanitary? Kerry (public health expert)??? Then as you get older you have other things to deal with- like the lack of toilet paper. Is the toilet paper thing really just an american thing? In our last hotel- which was really nice- they gave each room what they liked to call a "ROLL"- which consisted of literally 20 squares of toilet paper. I don't know about you but Margaux and I can go through that in about one sitting so we kept having to call housekeeping and have them bring up another "roll"- why they couldn't bring us up to is really beyond me. It's like we were staying at a Hilton but they wanted to stinge us on the TP.

Later in life the bathroom situation can only get worse. I mean it's one thing having to squat (for those who don't know the toilets are holes in the ground, no toilet seats...) at 25 but some of the members of our group (actually every one except us and the comic book boy) are almost triple our age and it's not so easy for them to get all the way down if you know what I mean

3) The number "8" is SO lucky that if you want a license plate with the number "8" on it- the plate will cost more than the car itself. And if you want a car with more than one eight on your license plate you might have to pay the price of a BMW in the US (so not cheap).... I just want to hold a forum for the Chinese people and let them know that superstision (okay I cant spell for crap but who cares) doesnt work. My mother has been "knocking on wood" for the past 50 years and it doesn't seem to have done much if you ask me- but at least you can knock on wood for free. (or if you don't have wood- you can knock on paper- my mom called me the other day while I was driving over the Golden Gate Bridge and asked me to knock on paper cause I was in the car.) I love my mom but it was pretty funny!

4) The FOOD- so I know that saying "different strokes for different folks" but let's be honest here- the food is SICK! Okay so there were a few items that Margaux and I could tolerate but for the most part everything is bland and greasy. Whoever said the food is bad in London needs to take a plane to Bejing and test out their local "cuisine." People eat veggis in the US to be "healthy" but here they are dosed in oil. I did come up with a new DIET scheme while I was here- they sell these pickled chicken feet in the market so I was thinking that instead of eating, people who want to diet should just buy a pickled chicken foot and put it in their pocket and everytime they think they're hungry they can just whip out the foot and they will lose their appetite instantaneously. And if that effect eventually starts to wear off they can just pick up a bottle of the local Chinese "lucky" vodka which is real pickled snake and tarancula INSIDE the vodka bottle (and everyone here drinks it for good luck).... Seriously I'm going to write a book about this when I get home.

OH and let's not even talk about "Chinese wine"- after a few days here we wanted a glass of wine and for once they were offering some at dinner. So we got a glass and guess what it tastes like (watered down grape juice no joke)- I mean I know we are lucky to be from California but the Chinese can copy EVERYTHING else (okay I know the climate is different but still)- if they can make me a knock-off of a $2000 purse just right down to the inseam- and they can make a fake ipod that works and looks just the same and comes with the same wrapping- why can't they make Chinese wine that AT LEAST tastes like FRANZIA in a box. Any ideas???

(but again let's be honest, despite how bad it tastes Margaux and I are sitting here right now with a bottle of GREATWALL blend (and we have five more in our room)... one of which was able to help us deal with a long dinner next to the kid that keeps investigating whether or not we are gay.

5) The Teeth- so my dad is really into giving out FREE dental work to people in need (which is a really nice nobel thing to do)... - some of whom are people that he is sympathetic for (greasy hippy guitar players) that don't really hit my empathy button the way that looking at some of the Chinese teeth do. Here if they have teeth they are lucky (aka they paid a lot for their 8s)...

ON A DIFFERENT NOTE- today Margaux and I got our first planned massage (instead of having a guy show up at our door who didn't understand "no thanks" we went to a massage place and got a 90 minute massage for $15 (which was a lot for here I think because our tour took us there- so that means they got a cut and were ripping us off...) but it was great- other than the fact that parts of it were really hard- like POUNDING on our feet- (we could hear people from our group literally screaming in the next room).

TIPS FOR TRAVELING TO CHINA:

1) bring protein bars so that you don't have to eat this junk...- we are DYING for some right now-

2) bring cash (ATM cards are hard to find- like every one in fifty works for us) but DON'T BRING TRAVELER'S CHECKS!!!!!!! All these idiots in our group thought it would be really cool to bring traveler's checks (not realizing that although they were cool in '69 does not mean they are cool today)---- the Chinese people aren't into traveler's checks the same way they are into taking pictures with us so don't bother. There is NO WHERE to turn them in.


OK these emails are long I know- and you might not want to read this much. Does anyone actually read them all the way through? Hmm....at least I know my mom does!

AMAZING CHINA

hi everyone,

We are on the last leg of our trip.... we just arrived in Shanghai this morning. This trip has been AMAZING and there is no way in heck you could beat the price (the plane ticket alone was $800 and all we paid was $1000 for tour, entrances to sites, guides, transportation, four star hotels, three meals a day, etc...) The hotels have been REALLY nice- the one we are in right now is a lot like the W only they are probably paying around $30 per night for it. The bathroom is all glass and there is one of those aquariums you can see through in the lobby. Sweet!

So the last few days have been soooooo much fun. We spent one day in Confuscious' hometown- saw his mansion, forest (which was SO beautiful, etc....) and even met his 75th descendant grandson who is a painter there. It was so cool to be there because although it is a touristy town, it was only chinese tourists there- no other American tour cos go there so we were one of a kind. We had fun wondering around and I think the highlight of my day was making a purchase I will never forget- I got a pair of slippers with mops on the bottoms- no joke so that you can mop the floor while you dance around the kitchen. The bottom mop part is even velcroed on so that you can remove them to wash them.

The day after that was EVEN better (yesterday)- we went to Mt Taishan- a mountain where we took a long cable car ride to the top and again it was all Chinese tourists but NO american ones other than our group. When we got to the top we got a button made (you know a pin)- the LARGEST size they had= so about 10 inches in diameter around= and it had a picture of me, Margaux, our parents on the trip (Joyce and Sandy- who are 70ish and SO cool- Joyce is the one who contacted the fake purse mfr in Beijing- she is one happenin grandma-) AND some random Chinese guy- so then all day Margaux and I wore the pins on our shirts (they took up about 1/2 of our shirts... And the great thing is that I would never wear that anywhere else (well thats not really true but still) because it was the tackiest thing I have ever seen- but there is no tackier culture than the Chinese (outside of Shanghai that is)- I mean the style her is just about as opposite of classy as you get. I'm sure you can imagine...

Then the fun began- I learned how to say "this is my father" (Wa ba ba) in Chinese) and "I am half Chinese" (sounds like Wa sho chooore) so I walked up to all the chinese tourists, pointed at the Chinese guy in the family picture in the pin on my shirt and then said "this is my father, I am half Chinese" in chinese. It was SO funny to see the looks on their faces.... needless to say most of them didn't believe me but I did make a bunch of friends. Then we found out that for 5 yuan (about fifty cents)- you can have a picture taken and laminated on the mountain- so Margaux and I kept picking out our favorite Chinese tourists and inviting them to join us for a photo (one guy had a red band around his head so we bought the same band and had him take a picture with us- he was so happy about it that we bought him a copy of the picture and then he bought us each a bracelet. It was sweet...)

Next we learned some new phrases such as "I love you" in Chinese and I really wanted to practice so we just kept walking up to random people- and saying "I love you" (everyone- men, women, kids, etc...)- they were laughing at us so hard. Well, after practcing our new phrases about 1000 times each on every Chinese person who walked by I have a pretty fluid Chinese vocabulary. Here is what I can say:

Hello
Thank you
So-so
I love you
This is my father
I am half Chinese

It was a ton of fun until I thought I had learned how to say "this is my small dog" and said that to about 100 people while I showed them pictures of my dog- then when I got back on the bus I realized what I had actually been saying is "I am a small dog." Whoops! But seriously, who cares, it's not like I am ever going to see these people again and the Chinese people seemed to really like us (especially one guy who called me a monkey (because I was trying to talk to him and if I didn;'t know a word I would just act it out like sharades)....

At the train station we decided to give away copies of our magazines to the Chinese- so we got all these GREAT pictures of these poor Chinese people (I mean impoverished) reading our copies of US WEEKLY: Hollywoood Drug Addiction edition. Classic pictures!

Still, the highlight of our day was a trip to the zoo, after we watched them feed the tiigers (who were were inches away from) and watched a gal in our group get sprayed by a tiger, we went ROLLER SKATING with the Chinese teens!! It was SO fun- I mean old fashioned roller skates. They were all grabbing us and skating around in groups of 4 or 5 all holding hands. It was so funny. The entire day was funny.

At night we took a train to Shanghai (nine hours but luckily Margaux had Ambien which made for a really pleasurable sleep. We shared a cabin with our new family (Joyce and Sandy) and we put up our pin (of all of us) on the table next to the toilet paper- it was our family portrait. Joyce said that it was every man on the trip's dream to share a cabin on the train with us so her hubby was really excited about it (which was also really good to know- considering all the guys on our tour other than comic book guy who is SO socially awkward and he's not even nice- we tried to be nice but he's too wierd... anyways all the other "guys" qualify for AARP (the senior discount).... FYI.

We just got to Shanghai and are so excited to explore- we are about to go to a chinese acrobat show tonight and then check out some of the nightlife which should be interesting. It feels great to be here- the people are not all dressed like they just walked out of the seediest hotel in Las Vegas and this city has a more European feel - still we had the BEST TIME EVER in those small towns and would not give it up for anything!!

Gotta go out ,.....

LOVE,
Sarah

WU-MART AND SADDAM

So after a long day of laughs we heard through the grapevine that our hotel was in a way better location than we originally thought- we are located right smack down next to Wu - mart. I'm not joking.

And I have one thing to say about it (okay not one, about one hundred but whatever...)- Margaux and I just spent THREE HOURS in WU MART last night. (we stayed until she was getting kicked out- because Margaux thought it was a TOTAL necessity to go down each aisle three times- she said it was so that "we didn't miss anything"... ok Margaux.... like what? The rice cakes?

and FYI WU MART has a soundtrack- they play Happy Birthday on repeat- in Chinese, then in English over and over. It was a BLAST!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Originally we were planning on hitting up the town last night but once we found out about the scene in Wu-mart we didn't need to go out anymore- Wu -mart was enough entertainment for an entire evening and we didnt' get enough- we are going back today.

So after a long day of laughs we heard through the grapevine that our hotel was in a way better location than we originally thought- we are located right smack down next to Wu - mart. I'm not joking.

And I have one thing to say about it (okay not one, about one hundred but whatever...)- Margaux and I just spent THREE HOURS in WU MART last night. (we stayed until she was getting kicked out- because Margaux thought it was a TOTAL necessity to go down each aisle three times- she said it was so that "we didn't miss anything"... ok Margaux.... like what? The rice cakes?

and FYI WU MART has a soundtrack- they play Happy Birthday on repeat- in Chinese, then in English over and over. It was a BLAST!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Originally we were planning on hitting up the town last night but once we found out about the scene in Wu-mart we didn't need to go out anymore- Wu -mart was enough entertainment for an entire evening and we didnt' get enough- we are going back today.

Yesterday we were walking down the busiest shopping street in Shanghai when all of a sudden I came across a beautiful sight- a real live advertisement set-up with a man in a king size bed with a bed side table next to him with a McDonald's breakfast meal on the table. In the background they were playing "ba ba ba ba ba... I'm loving it!" over and over. I really wanted to hop in bed with him for a photo op (just kidding) but instead I started my own photo shoot and he kept doing different poses in the bed- adjusting his arms above his head, etc... Why the rest of the people in Shanghai walked right on by like it wasn't no thang is really a shocker to Margaux and I!

When we got home to our hotel- we thought the fun was over- that is until we turned on the tv to check out what the hotel had on demand on PAY PER VIEW- when we got to the "english" language section of pay per view they were playing some movies I have ALWAYS been wanting to see- such as "Seoul Raiders," "Naked States," and other must-sees but then when we scrolled down to selection number 5 we were in for a real treat- they were renting out the assasination of Saddam Hussein (maybe I can't spell that right but who cares). And you know how on the screen it shows the cover of the movie just like it would be if u rented it on video- this one had a picture of Saddam with a knife to his throat.

In the end it took me about an extra half hour to get to sleep because I couldn't stop laughing to myself thinking about the picture of Saddam with a knife to his throat.

Posted by bjmorris14 09:11 Comments (0)

China - Entry 6

Wu-mart and Saddam

So after a long day of laughs we heard through the grapevine that our hotel was in a way better location than we originally thought- we are located right smack down next to Wu-mart. I'm not joking.

And I have one thing to say about it (okay not one, about one hundred but whatever...)- Margaux and I just spent THREE HOURS in WU MART last night. (we stayed until she was getting kicked out- because Margaux thought it was a TOTAL necessity to go down each aisle three times- she said it was so that "we didn't miss anything"... ok Margaux.... like what? The rice cakes?

and FYI WU MART has a soundtrack- they play Happy Birthday on repeat- in Chinese, then in English over and over. It was a BLAST!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Originally we were planning on hitting up the town last night but once we found out about the scene in Wu-mart we didn't need to go out anymore- Wu-mart was enough entertainment for an entire evening and we didnt' get enough- we are going back today.

When we got home to our hotel- we thought the fun was over- that is until we turned on the tv to check out what the hotel had on demand on PAY PER VIEW- when we got to the "english" language section of pay per view they were playing some movies I have ALWAYS been wanting to see- such as "Seoul Raiders," "Naked States," and other must-sees but then when we scrolled down to selection number 5 we were in for a real treat- they were renting out the assasination of Saddam Hussein (maybe I can't spell that right but who cares). And you know how on the screen it shows the cover of the movie just like it would be if u rented it on video- this one had a picture of Saddam with a knife to his throat.

In the end it took me about an extra half hour to get to sleep because I couldn't stop laughing to myself thinking about the picture of Saddam with a knife to his throat.

Posted by bjmorris14 09:11 Comments (0)

China - Entry 5 Shanghai

Amazing China

hi everyone,

We are on the last leg of our trip.... we just arrived in Shanghai this morning. This trip has been AMAZING and there is no way in heck you could beat the price (the plane ticket alone was $800 and all we paid was $1000 for tour, entrances to sites, guides, transportation, four star hotels, three meals a day, etc...) The hotels have been REALLY nice- the one we are in right now is a lot like the W only they are probably paying around $30 per night for it. The bathroom is all glass and there is one of those aquariums you can see through in the lobby. Sweet!

So the last few days have been soooooo much fun. We spent one day in Confuscious' hometown- saw his mansion, forest (which was SO beautiful, etc....) and even met his 75th descendant grandson who is a painter there. It was so cool to be there because although it is a touristy town, it was only chinese tourists there- no other American tour cos go there so we were one of a kind. We had fun wondering around and I think the highlight of my day was making a purchase I will never forget- I got a pair of slippers with mops on the bottoms- no joke so that you can mop the floor while you dance around the kitchen. The bottom mop part is even velcroed on so that you can remove them to wash them.

The day after that was EVEN better (yesterday)- we went to Mt Taishan- a mountain where we took a long cable car ride to the top and again it was all Chinese tourists but NO american ones other than our group. When we got to the top we got a button made (you know a pin)- the LARGEST size they had= so about 10 inches in diameter around= and it had a picture of me, Margaux, our parents on the trip (Joyce and Sandy- who are 70ish and SO cool- Joyce is the one who contacted the fake purse mfr in Beijing- she is one happenin grandma-) AND some random Chinese guy- so then all day Margaux and I wore the pins on our shirts (they took up about 1/2 of our shirts... And the great thing is that I would never wear that anywhere else (well thats not really true but still) because it was the tackiest thing I have ever seen- but there is no tackier culture than the Chinese (outside of Shanghai that is)- I mean the style her is just about as opposite of classy as you get. I'm sure you can imagine...

Then the fun began- I learned how to say "this is my father" (Wa ba ba) in Chinese) and "I am half Chinese" (sounds like Wa sho chooore) so I walked up to all the chinese tourists, pointed at the Chinese guy in the family picture in the pin on my shirt and then said "this is my father, I am half Chinese" in chinese. It was SO funny to see the looks on their faces.... needless to say most of them didn't believe me but I did make a bunch of friends. Then we found out that for 5 yuan (about fifty cents)- you can have a picture taken and laminated on the mountain- so Margaux and I kept picking out our favorite Chinese tourists and inviting them to join us for a photo (one guy had a red band around his head so we bought the same band and had him take a picture with us- he was so happy about it that we bought him a copy of the picture and then he bought us each a bracelet. It was sweet...)

Next we learned some new phrases such as "I love you" in Chinese and I really wanted to practice so we just kept walking up to random people- and saying "I love you" (everyone- men, women, kids, etc...)- they were laughing at us so hard. Well, after practcing our new phrases about 1000 times each on every Chinese person who walked by I have a pretty fluid Chinese vocabulary. Here is what I can say:

Hello
Thank you
So-so
I love you
This is my father
I am half Chinese

It was a ton of fun until I thought I had learned how to say "this is my small dog" and said that to about 100 people while I showed them pictures of my dog- then when I got back on the bus I realized what I had actually been saying is "I am a small dog." Whoops! But seriously, who cares, it's not like I am ever going to see these people again and the Chinese people seemed to really like us (especially one guy who called me a monkey (because I was trying to talk to him and if I didn;'t know a word I would just act it out like sharades)....

At the train station we decided to give away copies of our magazines to the Chinese- so we got all these GREAT pictures of these poor Chinese people (I mean impoverished) reading our copies of US WEEKLY: Hollywoood Drug Addiction edition. Classic pictures!

Still, the highlight of our day was a trip to the zoo, after we watched them feed the tiigers (who were were inches away from) and watched a gal in our group get sprayed by a tiger, we went ROLLER SKATING with the Chinese teens!! It was SO fun- I mean old fashioned roller skates. They were all grabbing us and skating around in groups of 4 or 5 all holding hands. It was so funny. The entire day was funny.

At night we took a train to Shanghai (nine hours but luckily Margaux had Ambien which made for a really pleasurable sleep. We shared a cabin with our new family (Joyce and Sandy) and we put up our pin (of all of us) on the table next to the toilet paper- it was our family portrait. Joyce said that it was every man on the trip's dream to share a cabin on the train with us so her hubby was really excited about it (which was also really good to know- considering all the guys on our tour other than comic book guy who is SO socially awkward and he's not even nice- we tried to be nice but he's too wierd... anyways all the other "guys" qualify for AARP (the senior discount).... FYI.

We just got to Shanghai and are so excited to explore- we are about to go to a chinese acrobat show tonight and then check out some of the nightlife which should be interesting. It feels great to be here- the people are not all dressed like they just walked out of the seediest hotel in Las Vegas and this city has a more European feel - still we had the BEST TIME EVER in those small towns and would not give it up for anything!!

Gotta go out ,.....

LOVE,
Sarah

Posted by bjmorris14 09:03 Comments (0)

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