A runner with an appetite for adventure!

Yangshuo: The Chinese Countryside May 13, 2014

Filed under: China,Travel,Yangshou — Kelocity @ 6:38 am
Tags: , , ,

We slept well in Yangshuo and woke up to the sound of rain outside. Sigh. That seems to be the theme of the trip. We were a little bummed, but fueled up for a fun day regardless. More watermelon. Yes!

We loved that even in this small Chinese town (basically a village) they had a HUGE jumbotron in the center. It’s hard to tell from the photo, but it almost took up a whole block!IMG_1943

Rain.. we won’t let you get us down! We’re forging on! Broken umbrella and all! (Fun side story… we had to put a deposit down to borrow an umbrella from the hotel.. and once we got outside, we realized it was actually broken. The whole day we were paranoid they would think we broke it and we came up with all kinds of scheming ways to return it quickly, get our deposit back, and basically run away before they noticed. Whew, it worked!) haha

We walked to the edge of the town, to the Li River to see how pretty it was in person. Even in the fog and drizzle, it was really special.

Around 10am, we paid a visit to Dr. Lilyli. She’s famous in the town for having the best massages and acupuncture around. I think everyone on the tour got a massage or some kind of treatment while we were there. Irving and I both got 60 minute foot massages for a mere $17 US Dollars. IMG_1930


Our view during the massage! (haha) But all laughs aside, after traveling for more than a week, our legs were tired and the massage felt real good! And the $17 price tag felt even better!IMG_1955

Feeling refreshed after our hour of relaxation, we explored the town a little bit more. I found this store called “Retro Mail” and they had a concept I’ve never seen before… you can mail a postcard to the future!

You all know how much I LOVE the post office, I couldn’t resist. After visiting the store twice, and asking a few different people how it worked, we finally figured out how it worked… you buy a postcard and a stamp, and write a letter to yourself — or in our case, to Adele.





Then you look at the giant wall behind you. It’s actually a calendar… twelve rows, one for each month, and 31 slots across, one for each day. You put the letter in any box you want, and on that day next year, they will mail it for you.It’s kind of a social experiment because you’re banking on no one moving your envelope around. I placed mine in a box a couple of days earlier so it will be mailed almost exactly a year from now. I’ll let you know if it ever arrives!IMG_1974
Ponds of glass. So picturesque! I actually think the weather made it feel more dramatic. The colors popped more against the grey sky.IMG_1981


For lunch, we decided to check out another Western restaurant. We almost got some German food, but in the end, settled on Italian. 


We split three plates: Pasta, Garlic Bread and a Pizza. IMG_1991



Then we walked off all those carbs and went back to the river. Irving climbed down to the shoreline to snap a few pictures from down below. 

Then we joined back up with our group for an amazing afternoon… a class a Chinese Cooking School! (That will get it’s own post, next!)IMG_2009


After a few hours of cooking (and eating) we jumped on the bus to catch the Impression show in a nearby town. This was one of the optional excursions on the trip and it was– interesting. They handed out ponchos since it was still raining a bit and the show was outside. IMG_2066

The performance was choreographed by the same guy who designed the Beijing Olympic Opening ceremonies. The entire show takes place in a bay surrounded by the towering mountains around it.(Here’s an idea of what it looked like, even though my camera didn’t pick it up):

liusanjie 10027643tm

There were hundreds of performers who used light, fire, rafts, boats and silk to tell folk stories. Apparently it’s in a dialect that even the locals don’t understand, so really, it’s about the imagery.

I was skeptical going in, especially because Trip Advisor had hilarious reviews such as this:

It felt like a 5th grade concert you promised your friend you would attend.








This was my favorite part, when all of the performers, lit up with LED lights on their clothes, walked out on platforms across the water. There were so many of them, it was neat to watch live. IMG_2100


I wasn’t sure I’d really recommend this show, however looking back, I’m really glad we decided to go.


Let’s Go to Yangshuo! May 12, 2014

Filed under: China,Travel,Yangshuo — Kelocity @ 9:14 pm
Tags: , ,

On our last morning in Shanghai, we again had another amazing breakfast at our hotel (the Rendezvous Merry).


Today’s delicious plate featured noodles, snap pease, a roll with jam and copious amounts of watermelon. (Keep in mind, this breakfast buffet was huge and I had lots and lots of options. But these noodles and peas were just SO good I had to have them for breakfast!)

Irving capped his breakfast off with little ‘wedding cake’ bites. With chopsticks. Why not?


Our Shanghai local guide, Lisa, came with our group to the airport to see us off to our next destination. Bye Lisa!

We had another short, uneventful flight on Eastern China Airlines (complete with a full meal served to those who wanted it — not us). But people said it was good. IMG_1878


Our next destination was Yangshuo, located in the Chinese countryside.This was as far “west” as we went in China, and yet on the map, it’s still totally on the East. It’s a huge country, obviously.

When you think of iconic China… this is it. The rivers, the rice patties, the mountains. Stunning.IMG_1892



The rice patties were so beautiful. One after another. Our plane actually landed in Guilin and then we had a two hour bus ride to Yangshuo. We loved the drive so we could take in the gorgeous landscapes there (on yet another rainy day, by the way!)IMG_1902

I love the layers of mountains in the background. Row after row.IMG_1913

We were told to NOT rent a raft on the river. It looks innocent and fun, but apparently people die on them every year. But they were fun to photograph. IMG_1915

Our hotel for this leg of the trip was the New Century Hotel in downtown Yangshuo. The town is small enough that you can walk across it in about 15 minutes, so there aren’t a lot of options for lodging. But it was actually quite comfortable and clean.



The hotel lobby and breakfast area were bright and airy. Love the parasols hanging from the ceiling!IMG_1920

After we settled in, our tour guide took us on a walking tour of the town to get a lay of the land. Everywhere you looked there was something pretty to see. IMG_1925

It used to be a sleepy, quiet, nothing town, but in the 1980s and 90s it became flooded with backpackers and now there’s even a street called “West Street” where lots of Europeans have opened up shops and restaurants. Lots of German restaurants serving Hofbrau beer!IMG_1928
After seeing what our options were for dinner (and learning which restaurants not to eat at — thank god for a tour guide who knows these things!) we sat down with a group for some Indian Food. The owner is friends with our guide!

Some of our tour friends! So many great people on this tour!IMG_1935
Everyone had really amazing Indian food, but I just snacked on some naan… I was holding out for Pizza! IMG_1934
Once they were done eating, Irving came and sat with me at a Pizza joint next door called The Alley. IMG_1936

Why does pizza taste so good when you’re on the road? Hit the spot!IMG_1938

Tomorrow we have another full day to enjoy Yangshuo… and spoiler alert…more rain!


Samplings of Shanghai May 10, 2014

Filed under: China,Shanghai,Travel — Kelocity @ 11:59 am
Tags: , ,

The breakfast we had in Shanghai…. oh, it was good. SO GOOD. A mix of East and West. Nothing like starting your day with sautéed snap peas, cabbage and noodles! With a side of donuts, watermelon and potatoes. Seriously, why doesn’t the western world start their day with veggies?! I need to start doing that more, I felt great all day!

We started our day at the Tian Hou Silk factory. Another one of those ‘forced shopping excursions’ that I really wish they’d take out of these itineraries. (My only complaint, Contiki!)IMG_1596

They gave us a demonstration about how they make silk (from silk worms all the way to the final product). IMG_1597
Now, let’s go see some of Shanghai! (PS. we were so impressed that they use real bamboo as scaffolding on all their construction sites around China! Impessive!)



Papa Johns!IMG_1603

Linda, our local guide, led us to the old section of Shanghai where we explored Yu Garden. (Follow that giraffe!)IMG_1607

The gardens were stunning (even in the rain!) So picturesque! IMG_1609









We paid a small fee to go further inside the gardens, and it was SO worth it! We wandered around, got lost, kept walking and enjoyed all the hidden gems inside. It really felt relaxing and zen!IMG_1621

Nerd Alert!IMG_1623

Isn’t it crazy this oasis exists in the middle of the world’s biggest city?IMG_1625








Seriously one beautiful thing after another!IMG_1643












I love this picture. Orange on the top, Orange on the bottom! This was a tour group from Denmark, they matched the fish!IMG_1696

I kept feeling like I was on Amazing Race. If there was a clue hidden in there, we’d never be able to find it! It’s a maze!IMG_1698



After getting frustrated briefly because we couldn’t find our way out (haha! I’d never survive one episode on Amazing Race!) we finally did and took shelter in a Starbucks to wait out the rain until we could get back on the bus. I greatly enjoyed my overpriced american coffee.


This was our only full day in Shanghai, and we had some free time in the afternoon, so we came up with a plan to hit as much as we could. First stop was the Oriental Pearl (the TV Tower) where we visited the Shanghai Museum. It seemed more geared towards kids, but we walked through quickly and learned a few things about the history of the city.

The life-like animated people reminded us of the museum we visited in Iceland… ironically enough, also located in a building called “The Pearl”!IMG_1724

haha, they even had a display highlighting a Soy Sauce and Pickle Shop. IMG_1726



Haha, Irving’s on TV! So I guess the museum is actually geared towards kids— and HUSBANDS. He loved it!

When we were done, we grabbed a quick bite to eat (chocolate croissants from a french bakery nearby), and jumped on the subway for our next adventure… riding the Maglev!




The Maglev is the fastest train in the world! It takes passengers from downtown Shanghai to the airport in just EIGHT minutes! It tops out at 431km/hour (or 267 miles/hour). We bought a ticket to ride it to the airport and back!




Here we go! IMG_1772

It was fun to watch the numbers tick up the faster we went! (I have a video coming soon of it in motion!)



This is what the world looks like when you ride! (ok, maybe not quite so dramatic. It actually didn’t feel as fast as it actually was. It was a smooth ride!)IMG_1780

We were beaten down by all the rain, and hungry and tired by this point… We made another unfortunate decision to grab some Micky D’s fries to tide us over.


I think this is my favorite picture of the whole trip. I am THAT tourist. Always with a tour book and a map in my hand. Irving thinks he’s funny taking a picture of me looking like a tourist… but he’s the one with the backpack and huge camera around his neck taking said picture. We make a great team. IMG_1813

We made our way back to our hotel on our own (I had our hotel names written out in Chinese before we left on the trip, so I could easily ask for directions everywhere we went!) We changed quickly and then headed out for the evening! We had tickets to see the Shanghai Acrobats that night, and we grabbed dinner at restaurants around there first. 

A nice salad for me (to balance out those fries!)

And a burger for the husband. IMG_1819

And then it was time for the show! We loved it! It was a less polished version of a Cirque du Solei show, but that actually made it more exciting to watch. The performers missed their marks a couple of times, but that made you realize how real it was. It made us respect the art a little bit more because you see how hard it is! A fun night for sure!

The show started 12 minutes AHEAD of time, so half the audience wasn’t even seated yet when it began! I’ve never seen that happen before. haha There were all kinds of strange social norms we noticed in China. That’s what makes traveling so fun, observing cultures in different environments. It was a fun night.

As soon as the show was over, we knew we wanted to try to catch the Shanghai Light Show on the water. It was cutting it close, but we decided to risk taking public transportation down there thinking it might be faster than taking our tour bus + cab there. It was a fun experiment, but we got there at the same time as everyone else, so it was a draw. We later found out the show had ended a half hour earlier, we wouldn’t have made it anyways. Bummer!!! IMG_1821


And it was still raining and foggy, it just wasn’t meant to be this time. We took in some of the sights anyways before heading off to bed. IMG_1837




I’ll be back again someday, Shanghai. Leave those lights on for me!


Shanghai from the Sky

Filed under: China,Shanghai,Travel — Kelocity @ 4:02 am
Tags: , ,




Shanghai is the most densely populated city in China. And it has the largest total population out of any city in the world! In other words, there are lots of people and lots of buildings.

And continuing our streak, we were welcomed there with cloudy skies and rain.

We literally got off our plane, jumped on a bus, got out at the base of the Jin Mao tower and took the elevator up to the 88th floor! Seeing a new city from that high up was really neat. Despite the foggy skies, you could get a sense at how massive the city is.

Here’s the famous TV tower! IMG_1480



From the 88th floor observation deck, you can look down at one of the hotel lobbies. Wikipedia tells me that it’s the second tallest atrium in the world (the first being the Burj Al Arab… which I’ve been to, by the way!) #KelleysUselessTravelFactsIMG_1491

The Jin Mao tower also houses the worlds tallest post office! (Ya’ll know how much I love the post office!) I mailed Adele a postcard from this mailbox and it came just a few days after I got home!IMG_1497




From up above, we snapped this picture of the waterfront on the other side… little did we know those are viewing platforms along the water to view the light show across the water… more on that in another post.IMG_1509




I guess the locals refer to this building as a bottle opener. I kind of agree!


Shine brite, city lights!IMG_1540



No filter… the sky really was this midnight blue!IMG_1545



I love how they light up this city! This bridge we were on was lit up purple and it threw the most beautiful hue onto the houses below.IMG_1559
We’ve had a pretty busy day, and by now, we were hungry! (Especially since we declined the airplane food a few hours earlier!) Our dinner venue had a quick little show that we caught the end of.


Noodles, rice and vegetables. Served with tea. Always tea.


How Shanghai hotel was niiiiiice! We had awesome hotels everywhere we went in China. Our stays were all very comfortable.IMG_1578


And this hotel wins for best room amenities too. That’s crazy! IMG_1591


Xian: Singing in the Rain May 9, 2014

Filed under: China,Travel,Xian — Kelocity @ 2:38 pm
Tags: , ,


On our last day in Xi’An we had another lackluster breakfast…. bread, jam, bok choy, watermelon and hash browns. haha our tour guide had psyched us up for the hash browns. Best part of breakfast for sure. hahaIMG_1381

Some more modern Terra Cotta Warriors for ya. The art was super cute! Oh, if the Emperor could see this now!



This morning was supposed to be an included bike ride around the city walls (it’s about eight miles all the way around). It’s one of the best preserved city walls in the world and I wanted to ride on it! And not only that, we arranged to have a tandem bike to do it! But when woke up, it was pouring out… there would be no bike ride. =(

Little did we know this would be the first of SEVEN rainy days on the trip. We must have gotten lucky. Boo!




Most people saw the rain and went back to bed (they went clubbing the night before, remember? lol) But we convinced our tour guide to at least walk us to the wall so we could see what we could. IMG_1394

Rain and all… it was worth it. And because of the bad weather, we had the walls all to ourselves! IMG_1395



I can imagine on a good day, the wall is bustling with people, but today, it was just me and my umbrella. IMG_1398

See that tower off in the distance in the photo below? That was the gorgeous bell tower we saw lit up the night before. IMG_1400





Awe, these are the bikes we were supposed to be riding. Hi bikes! Sad!IMG_1408


At least this family of ducks enjoyed the rain!IMG_1417




After our rainy excursion was complete, we went back to the hotel to join our group and head out to explore the markets. It seemed like it would have been a great place to wander and look around, but the rain made this so hard to enjoy. IMG_1438


We gave it an effort and walked a few blocks, and then ended up back with our group at McDonalds to stay dry. Irving and I have only had McDonalds twice in the past 10-15 years or so. Once was in Russia when there were no other options (I ordered fries) and once here in Xi’An. We split some fries and apple pies. I am not proud. IMG_1443
But this ice cream sundae I went back for… that was another story. SO GOOD!IMG_1444

Then it was time to hit the airport for our flight to Shanghai! I wish our time in Xi’An was a little sunnier, but we loved what we saw. Maybe we’ll come back someday, would love to! Bye Ken! Thank you!

PS: How does Xi’An have Dunkin Donuts and Los Angeles doesn’t? Seriously WHY?IMG_1447

Flight to Shanghai! Now Boarding!IMG_1450


We had an easy flight on China Eastern airlines. It was about 2 hours. All domestic flights in China serve a full meal (we didn’t take one though). Apparently some other flights are so short, they serve the meals after you board, and then you have to hold them on your lap during takeoff. haha I wish I could have seen that happen. IMG_1452

Here we go! Landing in Shanghai! Feels so adventurous and exotic!IMG_1458

Oh good, my bag made it! hahaIMG_1463


Shanghai awaits us!


%d bloggers like this: