Bali

I couldn’t get a good photo of the pianist at the hotel bar, but he was incredible. So was the singer. Her name is Grace. She sang Bridge Over Troubled Water for us, as a request. I asked for it because it is great for piano. They both did great.

I love the song’s meaning. Isn’t that what we all need to be for our friends and we sometimes need our friends to be for us?

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Grace

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The bar’s ceiling

They had fire dancers and drummers at sunset. They were beautiful and fun, if a bit hard to capture in a photo.

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I’ll be taking more pictures of Bali. The resort has a botanical park with a carnivorous plant. I have to see that! There are also a lot of pretty flowers.

Neon nights and typhoon days in Kowloon and Hong Kong

There are a lot of high rises here in Hong Kong and Kowloon. We’re staying in one of them. Hong Kong is also along the edge of a typhoon that is slamming places south of here. There was a weather warning this morning, which we didn’t notice before wandering out into the wind. It wasn’t raining at the moment so we figured we’d explore a bit.

I enjoyed taking pictures of the nearly empty streets, and learning that my lens can get fogged up. I thought it was the display screen that was fogging, but eventually figured out it was the lens. The pictures are kind of interesting though, I thought.

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The storm has tapered off and now the streets below are filled with honking traffic and people with umbrellas. There are a few sirens now and again, too.

I spent the day pretty much holed up inside after getting drenched while out on the morning’s brief adventure. I have work to do on my writing, so it’s been a good day to get caught up. But I took a moment to photograph the International Commerce Center with its top in the clouds. It’s the tallest one here and now ranks as the 7th tallest in the world. Man reaches higher and higher with buildings, but I’ll take a pine tree any day. Apparently, if you go just a bit east of here on Hong Kong Island, you get to nature. That would be nice to explore, but probably not in the cards with this weather! Not that I’m complaining, it’s kind of exciting for a Californian to be in this much rain.

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The rain has stopped and I can see between the buildings to a far reach of Victoria Harbor.

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Yes, I love the zoom on my Panasonic. The picture above is really far away

And here’s what Hong Kong looks like at night, as viewed from Kowloon, across Victoria Harbor.

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If that looks like a TV floating in the sky…well, it is. It’s on top of a building, but somehow the building doesn’t show, so it looks like it’s floating. It’s in Kowloon, and that’s Kowloon in the foreground. The wall of lights in the distance is Hong Kong, across the harbor.

Tomorrow, by the time you read this, we should be out exploring things a bit more and capturing more photos of this teeming metropolis.

 

Great Wall of China at Mutianyu

Hello. I’m in Hong Kong now, so why am I posting about Beijing? Well…I couldn’t really post from China, because I couldn’t see my photos. I could create the post but could only see the little icon thing that displays when a photo won’t load. I think it was because of the additional bandwidth required for the internet blocking that happens in China. I don’t really know, but it’s great to be back to blogging!

We learned that we had extraordinarily good luck with “weather” our first two days in Beijing. Weather meaning pollution as well as mist and/or drizzle. Since this point in the Great Wall is 57 kilometers from the city, I’m not sure if the pollution reaches here, but I think these are pretty unusually good shots. I think we could see for around a hundred miles.

We took a private tour to the wall. My advice is, if you come to China to see the wall, pay the money for the private tour even if you need to stay one day less. And I recommend seeing the wall at Mutianyu, because it’s  a bit further and less crowded and there’s a chairlift or tram to the top, leaving very little walking. The least walking at the top is the chairlift which has the additional bonus of an optional toboggan ride back down to the bottom. You do need to use your stomach muscles to ride the toboggan, though. I was a tad tired at the end of the toboggan ride. I need to keep hitting the hotel gyms, but sometimes I slack off, and muscles go away quickly with me.

We learned about the Mutianyu site from a woman we met sitting on the rooftop patio at the hotel on the afternoon of our arrival. The closest one (Badaling) is great but very busy, according to the woman we talked to. The furthest one is a bit of a clawing scramble according to her. This one was purported to be the best combo of easy to climb up onto but also not too crowded.

Anyway, the Great Wall. Wow. It changed my perspective to see it. It’s awesome. When I first caught sight of it snaking over the mountains I think I screamed in the back seat of the car. Our tour guide, a wonderful, incredible person whom you must hire if you go, started cracking up when she heard my reaction. We climbed up there and it’s so beautiful but also sobering. I mean, they built it to keep out the marauding hordes. It’s a very concrete representation of how national defense has always been a need.

I had such a great experience in China that I get emotional thinking about it. I loved it. Maybe I’m emotional about it because I didn’t expect to like it. I was kind of gritting my teeth and going because my husband wanted to. I mean, I was kind of excited, but mostly worried.

First of all, I felt safe. Secondly, people were nice. We took the subway in Beijing and went really far, but I’ll talk about that another time. Today I want to show you my personal Nia Simone shots from this most photographed UNESCO World Heritage Site.

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A coffee in Jarnstorgsgatan, Gamla Stan, Stockholm, Sweden

I loved this little cafe. The fellow working there was so nice. I was going to get a mini eclair, but he recommended the mini cinnamon roll, saying it was traditionally Swedish and that his mother makes them. (Not the ones in the cafe, but ones like the ones in the cafe.)

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To translate a bit, Jarnstorgsgatan means Iron Square’s Street. It is in Gamla Stan, which is old Stockholm. This little square with all the cafes and restaurants is at the end of the street, or the beginning, depending on how you look at it.

Impressions of Moscow, Russia

I don’t know what this is, but I admired this a lot.

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Church of Christ the Savior

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Red Square Fortress

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St. Basil’s Cathedral

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A small Church on Varvarka Street just beyond Red Square

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This sign says Varvarka 2. I’m not sure what the letters below Varvarka say, perhaps Street. That’s a wild guess though. I have worked out that B stands for V and P stands for R. A and K are the same. :-)

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GUM department store next to Red Square. You can sit inside at a cafe and face right onto Red Square.

Red Square was closed, but we walked through a very chic store in GUM to a cafe that borders Red Square, where we could see what was going on. Many bleachers were set up.

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We came upon this street when looking long and hard for lunch. It is next to New Arbot.

The restaurant where we had lunch, and what I had for lunch.

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Zinger Grill

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Red Square was closed to tourists. They were setting up for a military parade.

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Marshall G.K. Zhukov Monuement in front of the Historical Museum of Red Square

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The market street

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The market street where we had lunch

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Monument of Dostoevsky

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Just a random building viewed from our hotel window

Just a random building viewed from our hotel window

Outside Red Square fortress

Outside Red Square fortress

Lots of flags on the bridges around Red Square

Lots of flags on the bridges around Red Square

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Many soldiers around Red Square

Many soldiers around Red Square

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Busses parked in front of Red Square, presumably to fill the bleachers with soldiers for the presentation.

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Outside the fortress

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Just a random building across the Moscow River across from Red Square

Just a random building across the Moscow River across from Red Square

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More fortress…didn’t get to go inside.