April 27th, 2008

Skiing, Steven's Pass

Greetings from Beijing

Mom and I in front of the Forbidden City.
Mom and I in front of the Temple of Heaven.
Mom and I at the Great Wall of China.
Mom and I at the Summer Palace.
At the beginning of April, my mom came to visit me in China. Yay!!!

Actually, it really wasn't a vacation as much as an extended shopping trip with something worth seeing sprinkled here and there. In Shanghai, we made several trips to the fabric market and to the silk store. Best of all, I finally had someone to go to great restaurants with. We went to Jean-George (amazing) and M on the Bund (no need to ever go back).

Of course, the big part of the trip was Beijing. We spent three days touring around the city with a private tour guide and driver. I love this tour company. Over the four days, we saw:
  • Tiananmen Square: Well known location next to the seat of the government.
  • The Forbidden City: Also known as the summer palace. This is where the emperor lived--it was forbidden for the common people to enter.
  • Another Silk Factory: More silk to purchase.
  • The Temple of Heaven: We got to stand on the Heavenly Center Stone.
  • A Tea House: It was a very fast tea ceremony, but only so we would have more time to buy tea.
  • Peking Opera House: We had extra time, so we looked at the ancient opera house without having to watch an opera.
  • Acrobat Show: It was the second acrobat show I saw within a week. The acrobat show in Shanghai was a bit better.
  • A Cloisonné Factory: Yes, more stuff to buy.
  • The Ming Tomb: More buildings.
  • A Jade Factory: Amazingly, my mom resisted the urge to buy something.
  • The Sacred Way: A nice leisurely jaunt with statues to look at along the way. This is where funeral processions for emperors happened.
  • The Great Wall: We went to the Ju Yong Guan section. It was a nice hike.
  • A Chinese Pharmacy: We got foot massages, and someone looked at our tongues.
  • Guo Han Hotel: We had Peking Duck, which isn't all that good in my opinion.
  • The Summer Palace: Great place! This is the place I'd recommend seeing.
  • The Drum Tower: And with a concert!
  • Rickshaw ride of the Hutong neighborhood: I finally got to ride a rickshaw (though it wasn't quite what I imagined). We also got to visit a Chinese family to learn about their life.

And now for the pollution report: the entire time I was in Beijing, I had a sore throat. I thought it was a cold, but it didn't work like a cold. By the time I left Beijing, I was planning to go to a hospital because I couldn't swallow. As soon as I left, it went away. So... good luck Olympic athletes, you'll need it. Please don't die.

Skiing, Steven's Pass

The 17,000 Mile Trip

Kate and Gilbert (with Brandon) at their wedding reception. I'm here in the United States for another visit. The challenge of this trip is definitely to see as many friends as possibly can within two weeks.

The first reason for the trip was a wedding at Cornell. Congratulations Kate and Gilbert. It was fantastically fun getting to see all of my friends from college. I'm also impressed with how Kate and Gilbert made the wedding there own--I'm not sure I'll hear video game music at anyone else's music.

Mallory and Brandon on top of Mt. Philo. After the reunion wedding, I drove east to see my college roommate then pressed on to Vermont to see Mallory. Vermont is awesome... everyone should visit! The days in Vermont were incredibly relaxing. For Mallory's birthday, we "hiked" up Mt. Philo and emailed Justin and Maggie from the top. It was great celebrating together.

Then for my birthday, I bid farewell to Mallory (for a few days) and flew back to Redmond. So I had a 27-hour birthday. Justin and Maggie threw an ice cream party for me, with some homemade ice cream.

And Thursday was really cool. As I started my search for a new job, I discovered I'm actually good at networking. The day kept getting better. I'm setup for another great week before the next wedding, when I'll be able to say Congratulations Josh and Dana. Then I go back to China for the last stretch of my fellowship assignment.

Skiing, Steven's Pass

Happy Birthday Konna!

Konna wondering why she is not being offered a treat.Today is a wonderful day. It is Cornell University's 143rd birthday. Shockingly, that's not the most important birthday... it's Konna's birthday.

I credit her good health to Zesto's ice cream. There's on in Seattle on the corner of NW 15th and 65th NW in Ballard in case you want to discover this miracle food. Apparently, she was also allowed to sit on a couch for her birthday.

In her old age, she no longer smiles at cameras because they are not food. Still, she is the the cutest thing ever. After last year's scare, I'm ever so thankful to still have Konna around.

I'm still trying to convince my sister to assign Konna to the seat next to me at her wedding reception.