Guilin, China: First Sleep on Mainland China!

I did a quick recap of Guilin, which included both cost and a huge bug that clearly was sent to murder me.  You can find that post here.

Arriving in Guilin, I was so excited.  I am finally really starting the mainland part of my trip to China.  Before leaving, I had done research so I knew how much a taxi would cost.  I was quoted a flat fee of $100 RMB, which is around $16 USD.  I took it.

If you go to Guilin and do not want to splurge for a taxi, have no fear.  You do not need to!  There is a shuttle bus that goes downtown for $20CNY ($3.25 USD)

The drive was ridiculously exciting to me.  I wanted to scream outside the cab window “Look at meeeeeeee.  I am in China!  By myself!  Wheeeeeeeee!”

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The ride to my hostel was about 45 minutes.  It kills me how cheap of a cab ride that is.  In my hometown of New York City, that would get me a couple of blocks in traffic.

I got to my hostel at around midnight.  I was staying at Green Forest Hostel.  I walked in and first thing, the cat that lives there hissed at me.  I think it may have been reacting to the dirty look I gave it.  Either way, I didn’t have any further altercations with it.

Checking in was easy, the young woman checking me in spoke English, no language barrier at all.

I was brought to my room, which has seen better days but who cares about dirty walls when you have freezing cold air conditioning?

Green Forest Hostel bed Guilin China

And yes, typical wet room – where you take a shower and everything gets soaking wet.  Added bonus, the room was up a step so I was constantly convinced I was going to slide and fall down the step and die.  I ended up using a towel as a runner to keep me from slipping and cracking my head open.  Housekeeping came in the next day and took it away from me and did not replace it.  I don’t know if this was an oversight or if I was being punished for misusing their towel.

Green Forest Hostel bathroom Guilin China

I paid extra for a view of the Li River.  I am the unluckiest person alive and got a view of these trees blocking my view of the river:

river view green forest hostel, guilin china

Still, I could not possibly have been happier to finally be here.

Hong Kong, China: Chi Lin Nunnery

Of course everyone should visit here because it is absolutely beautiful. I however, had an ulterior motive.  I had read that you can get your fortune told here and then take that knowledge off to Macau with you.  Since I was going to Macau later in the day, I was so excited to find out if I was going to become a bazillionaire.  Unfortunately, I had to wait and find out on my own since I could not figure out at all where exactly you can get your fortune told.

It wasn’t a wasted trip though.  Look how beautiful the grounds are.

This is the only time I actually saw blue sky in Hong Kong.  As an extra kick in the ass, this was the same day after I spent the morning taking pictures of nothing but gloom, fog and black skies at The Peak.  Sigh.

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Chi Lin Nunnery, Hong Kong, China

3.5 Ridiculously Easy Ways to Save Money on a Trip to Las Vegas

I am a Las Vegas addict who has spent years perfecting the best ways to get more for my money.   While I have written a ton of Las Vegas trip reports (which I am nowhere near done uploading on here), I realize that they are mostly written for Las Vegas addicts who already know the basic tips of stretching every penny.  Here are the 3.5 most basic ways for a first timer to Las Vegas to save money on their trip.

Note:  None of these are affiliate links.  They are all true tools that Las Vegas regulars use.

1: Buy an American Casino Guide.   You can see the coupon list here: American Casino Guide coupon list

If you plan on just sticking to the Strip, there are enough coupons in here to cover the cost.  But if you are going downtown?  You have hit the motherlode.   The free play alone covers the cost of the book.  The points for free buffets are easy to achieve.  Plus you get to be downtown, which is the greatest place ever.

These usually go on sale in late October for a discount early bird price.  They are good from the date you receive the book (usually late November.)   I got my 2014 guide in November 2013 and used it in 2013 and I will continue using it for my December 2014 trip.  I will also have the 2015 Guide with me, as those coupons will be valid once I receive them in November.

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2: Buy a membership at Las Vegas Advisor.  List of coupons is here: Las Vegas Advisor coupon list

Riding the Ferry from Macau to Shenzhen – First Steps on Mainland China!

Today is the big day!  The day I finally make it to mainland China!

I left my hotel room in Macau an hour later than I had wanted to because I was playing on the internet.  Stupid.

I took the free hotel shuttle to the Macau Ferry Terminal and caught the 12:30 ferry to the Shenzhen airport.  Or so I thought I did.

The trip was pretty simple. There is a monitor at the ferry terminal that shows gate numbers in English. You simply go to your gate and wait for the pairing of someone barking in Chinese, with everyone getting up. That is your cue that it is time to board the ferry. Easy!

Since Macau isn’t part of mainland China, they have a duty free shop inside.  I stocked up on cigarettes (I know, gross, right??)

The ferry to Shenzhen was way less crowded than the ferry from Hong Kong to Macau.  There was no assigned seating.  I got my own row, so I got see the window view!
view of sands from macau ferry to shenzhen china

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view from ferry from macau to shenzhen china ferry from macau to shenzhen china ferry from macau to shenzhen chinaGetting off the ferry at the Shenzhen airport was not as simple as I had thought.

First up, passport control.  I didn’t have a form I needed so to the back of the line I go.

From there, you go through customs.

I have never In my life declared any items, nor do I even really comprehend exactly what that means or why you need to do this. But on the ferry was a looped video about declaring items. Although this was not in English, It kept showing pictures of  cameras.  Given my difficulties with China, why take a chance.  I had a new fancy camera, a ton of cigarettes and cash from my casino winnings on me.

I attempted to go to the counter where you declare things, but just got waved away before I even got to the actual counter.

Next up, entering the terminal. A lot of Chinese men ran up and began yelling in my face in (I guess) Mandarin.  Honestly, my immediate thought was that they were calling me fat. That just goes to show how my brain works. Turns out they were taxi drivers. I figured this out when one approached me alone outside.  See, that makes more sense.

I was at the very small ferry terminal a good 20 minutes before I realized the ferry terminal is not also the airport. No wonder I couldn’t find the luggage storage.  Now that I finally figure out I am not at the airport, I realize I have to take a free shuttle bus to the airport.  Which of course, I  have missed since I thought I already was at the airport.  Sigh.

I wait outside under the English sign for the airport shuttle that I might have seen earlier had I not been looking around what I mistakenly thought was the airport, for luggage storage.  I melt. Shenzhen is hotter right now than Macau and Macau was HOT.  It is so hazy. I feel like I am going to pass out standing there but I don’t want to leave because I am where I need to be.

I just stand and sweat for a good half hour, waiting for the shuttle that aligns with the ferry after mine.  Everyone is staring at me.  I feel like it is less that I am Western, and more than I am dripping with sweat while refusing to walk inside and sit in air conditioning.

Finally I get to the airport for real.  I am surprised that it looks so modern.  Remember, this is my first time on mainland China and all I heard before arriving were horror stories.

shenzhen airport china

My original plans were to store my luggage and go see the Windows of the World, which is a pretty cool looking park type place where you can see miniature versions of all of China’s huge tourist places.

I got the luggage storage down but could not at all ever let it go about how I am starting about two hours later than I had intended. I have just enough time to go but I don’t like having JUST enough time, especially when I am an idiot.  It is amusing to me that I am less concerned with being in CHINA by myself without speaking the language, than I am with me being an idiot.

I decide to go find the bus to the metro.  Because having the metro at the airport would just be too easy.  I’ll give me credit for trying but after waiting for the bus for fifteen minutes dying burning, I decide maybe leaving may be a bad idea.  So I opted instead to go to Starbucks and type this out on my phone. You know, since my netbook is in luggage storage for no reason since I never left the airport.

As an added bonus, my phone is on the long list of things I own that I do not know how to work so I don’t even know if this will be saved when I am done.

Today’s spending:

I used the last of my HKD change on a lemon iced tea that was both too lemony and too tea-y.  Weird, right?

At Shenzhen airport I spent:

70 Yuan ($11.40) to store my luggage for no reason

36 Yuan ($5.86 USS) for a Frappucino

4 Yuan ($.65 USD) for a bottle of soda

35.50 Yuan ($4.75 USD) for McDonalds.

I find it weird that McDonalds has American music playing in China. I also loved that the second I walked in, the cashier pulled out a picture menu, before I even got to the counter. Shih shih.

Everytime you enter the airport, you are checked for explosives.

Some first impressions of mainland China, all made at the airport: that spitting thing is true. They all hack up a pound of phlegm and spit. This is actually something I am very used to because my neighborhood has morphed from all Italian to mostly Chinese. If I had followed through my plans of a blog post of all the signs in a ten block stretch from my apartment, you would already know this. But I didn’t so you don’t.

Every person I have spoken to so far has seemed way to excited to speak to me. Like almost giddy . I’m positive one was legitimately giggling. I wonder if at any point during this trip, I will stop feeling so self conscious and just accept that this is how people on mainland China react to Westerners.

I got more sunburned today, being outside really only when I was waiting for the airport shuttle, than I did in either Hong Kong or Macau. Imagine if I didn’t use 100 SPF sunscreen?

I still have 25 days left in China and I am already upset that my trip is almost over and I have to go back home. I really do not want to ever do that again.

When it was time to check into my flight, I was a bit nervous since this was the first flight I was going to be checking into in China.  China is a weird place.  If you are planning a trip to China, you will find yourself sending money to complete strangers in order for them to book your flights and train rides.  Sure you can check the validity beforehand.   But with who?   I went with gut instinct and other bloggers.  Flights were booked via http://www.travelchinaguide.com/  and trains were booked with http://www.china-diy-travel.com/en .

When I tried to check in, the kiosk let me get all the way to the end before deciding my ticket was not valid.  Oh no!  OH NO!  As I was standing there with my entire trip flashing before my eyes with all the public transport I relied on strangers to book for me, someone came up and told me the kiosks all were not working.  THANK YOU.

A quick trip to the airline counter got me my boarding pass. Whew.

Boarding a flight in China is a bit different than anywhere else I have been.  You do not get assigned  your seat until you check in.  None of this United States crap where they charge you insane amounts for the privilege of picking your own seat.  Also, every flight I took had a full meal served.  Even the flights that were under two hours.

I went to my gate to wait.  I was on display with everyone staring at me.  At some point, it became time to board.  There was no English so I just waited a bit and then went to get on, figuring I would get yelled at if I were trying to board too early.  I did not get yelled at so I was all set.

Next stop: Guilin!

Las Vegas Trip Report: Wednesday, August 27, 2008 – Back When the Imperial Palace Was Still the Imperial Palace

Note:  This is an older Las Vegas trip report that was written back in 2008.  Most of this information is now outdated and some places mentioned no longer exist.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008 – Day One of Eight

Today I worked and then went to the airport.  I made it there rather quickly and ended up with only about five minutes to kill in the airport.   Perfect.  My flight leaves at 5:30, but it’s about fifteen minutes after that when the pilot announces he has good news and bad news.  The bad news is that we are 21st in line to take off.  The good news is that there are planes behind us with longer waits and we are not one of those planes.  Oh yeah.  Still though, this actually is much less of a wait than I am accustomed to. I am used to it being hours after we are supposed to take off before they tell us we are 92873498237489237478923473289th in line.

I have the whole row to myself by the way.   This is my specialty.

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Flight was 4 hours and 51 minutes.   There was no Direct TV on this plane, although Delta does have Direct TV on some planes.  This was just an older plane.  There was however, the required screaming baby two rows ahead of me.   The parents didn’t seem to do much about it other than coo over how cute it was.   I imagine they were heavily medicated, or perhaps they were rendered deaf by the nonstop screams.

We landed at 8:15, early.  Go us!   I go outside and smoke and collect my luggage before getting in a shuttle to the Imperial Palace.  I am in my room at 9:50.  I had room # 1245, no Luv Tub like I had reserved, but I’m over it.  I forgot I am here for their Summerfest slot tournament so now I need to get up early to do that tomorrow.

My budget for day one is always only $100.   This is to prevent me from going nutso and staying out all night long and starting my trip off completely exhausted.   I go downstairs with what is left of my budget and play some quarter bonus video poker, short pay.  I turn a $20 back into a $20 and a $10 back into a $10.   No four of a kinds.

I move to an All That Glitters slot machine and she is just so done with me and gave me nothing.

I play a Pyramid of Kings slot machine and turn a $10 into $50.  I plan to bring this back to the room with me to add to tomorrows budget.   But then I see a new Monopoly slot machine – Up and Away.  I feed it the $50 and never get the bonus.   I played this game before in Atlantic City and it did the same thing to me.   You know how it goes.

And that’s the end of night one.

Macau, China: Final Gambling Chapter Featuring MGM Grand and the Venetian

So after spending a day doing touristy stuff, I earned my right to continue on being Gamblor!  My plan is to play $100 HKD (just under $13 USD) in each of the five casinos I plan on visiting.

Where better to start than in my own hotel?  Lisboa’s casino was offering $20 HKD free play to new sign ups.  This is about $2.50 USD.  I also got a free cookie and a little change purse.

Lisboa casino swag

I lost my $20 free play and my allotted $100 (and an extra $100 for good measure.)  I went to cash out my last few cents and found out I had played enough to earn $50 HKD in free play.  Lost that too.  BUMMER.  When I went to collect my change, there were two women working the cashier’s cage.  One was obsessed with me and you could just tell she was dying for me to go to her window.  She looked SO EXCITED to see me walking up.  So I decided to get some good karma by obliging her.  No one has ever been happier to speak to me in my entire life.

Back over to Wynn.  Surely I will win here, since I did last night, right?  Maybe.  I lost my $100 in a Code Red slot machine and put in a second.  Because I said I was only going to play $100 and now I am playing $200.  This got me $1000.  That is about $129 USD.  This means I can put in another $100.  Cashed this one out at $900.

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Over to MGM Grand.  Here I got a fish pin.  Oooooh!

MGM Grand Macau fish pinmgm  macau entrance

I played some stupid dolphin themed slot machine and never stopped losing until I stopped myself from playing.  I left down $400 HKD (again, because I was only supposed to play $100 here.)

This was the first place I found any video poker and I only found one bank.  I did not play it because my math told me each hand would be $10 USD.   No thank you.

After this, I retreated back to my room for a nap.  I stopped at a bakery inside my hotel for a croissant on my way up.  I was due $40 HKD in change and was given $20.  I point this out and the woman instantly hands me another $20 without even double checking I was telling the truth.  Either they are really into honesty here, or she was purposely trying to rip me off and knew she was caught.

I go back out later on, this time to the Venetian.   Macau is set up so every hotel/casino has free shuttles to and from the ferry terminal.  The way you are supposed to get around is to take a shuttle to the ferry terminal and hop on a free one to wherever it is you want to go.  Where I do not want to go is the ferry terminal.  It is hot, I am riding some winnings, I will splurge for a cab.

Let me tell you, the lines for cabs on a Monday in Macau are longer than lines for cabs in Las Vegas on a Saturday night fight night.  No joke.

The Macau Venetian is enormous.  ENORMOUS.  It was shocking and impressive.  It looks like the Vegas version, only on steroids.

Venetian Macau canalVenetian exterior Macau ChinaVenetian Tower Macau ChinaVenetian Rialto Bridge Macau ChinaVenetian Macau entranceVenetian ceiling art macauVenetian hallway MacauVenetian Canal Macao China

Signing up for a player’s card here got me a keychain.

Venetian key ring

I played some slots, but could not win at all.  I had originally planned to go across the street and try my luck at the casinos over there.

crown and hard rock macao

Crown Macau ChinaBut I could feel myself getting anxious for a win and I knew this might not end well.  So I actually managed to stop myself and get back in a cab back to my hotel.  I think I promised myself I could do a degenerate Atlantic City trip when I got back, in exchange for being anti-degenerate.  Spoiler alert:  I have since taken two degenerate Atlantic City trips.  Oops?

Back to Lisboa.  This place is so pretty.

casino lisboa macau china daytime

I tried to have dinner at their coffee shop. I am not sure what exactly I did wrong.  I walked in, got seated, got a menu and then nothing happened ever again.  There was a waitress who kept ignoring me.  She would keep walking by and never stop.  When I would say “excuse me” she would keep walking.  Mind you, there was only one other table in the whole place that had people sitting at it.  So after half an hour (literally, half an hour) I got up and went to my room and dined on a package of mixed nuts.  Not exactly the meal I had been hoping for, but it did help in keeping my Macau spending ridiculously low.

I was in bed pretty early to prepare for the next day: my first time ever stepping foot on mainland China.

Macau, China: Ruins of St Paul’s Church and Macau Fortress

Most people do Macau as a day trip from Hong Kong.  Being a gambler, I stayed and played for a few days.  But I did take a morning to play tourist. First up was Senado Square. This was a quick walk from my hotel – Lisboa.  Some street views on my way: Macau China streets Macau walk to Senado Square The May heat meant that when I went to take my first picture, the camera was physically hot.  Also, it meant my camera did this, which freaked me out a bit when I realized the fog was inside the camera, not just on the lens.This was my first trip ever with a fancy camera and it fogs up.  Great! Don’t worry, I did figure it out and was able to get some pictures after all.  WHEW!Macau China Senado Square fountain Continue reading

Macau China Senado SquareSt Dominics Church Macau China Macau Santa Casa da MisericórdiaFrom here, it is a short walk to the ruins of St. Paul’s Church. St Paul's ruins Macao China st pauls no people View from the top: top of ruins of st pauls cathedral macau china View from the back:ruins of st pauls macau china backsideNext up was Fortaleza do Monte,  or Macau Fort, conveniently located right next to St Paul’s.

Macau, China – Loving Hotel Lisboa and Gambling in Wynn Casino

I originally did a quick recap of Macau here.  Now it is time for me to finally begin posting more details.

When I left Hong Kong for Macau, my wish was to be in my Macau hotel room by 7:00, and in bed by 9:00, to gear up for a huge full day tomorrow.

To get from Hong Kong to Macau, you can take a ferry or a turbo jet.  This was all very easy to figure out. You buy a ticket and then you get your seat assigned by a sticker at the gate.  That $172 price = $22.19 in USD.

Ticket for Macau Ferry China

I wish I had gotten a window, but I wasn’t lucky enough.

Macau Ferry

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Arrival in Macau was a breeze, except there was no breeze, just burn and hot.

When you exit the ferry terminal, you walk through what Macau calls a “subway station.” There are no subways in Macau, it is just an underground walkway to the other side of the road.

Over there are the free shuttles to every hotel.

My hotel was the Grand Lisboa. I picked it because it is so beautiful and neony. This place is a huge clusterfuck. You also have to carry your bag up some steps where you are then greeted by a bellman to help you. Where were you a few stairs ago?

I ask for a smoking room (do not even say it) and this gets me an upgrade. Score!

I get to my room and instantly love it. It takes me a while if loving it before I think to look outside. Oh man, what a view!  I was so excited!

Hotel Lisboa Macau room view of Wynn Fountains China

The fountains are a fraction of the size of Bellagio, but Wynn as a whole is also pint sized compared to its Las Vegas counterpart.

Hotel Lisboa really overdoes it with the toiletries.  Look at all this!
toiletries muchDon’t forget the slippers, robe or sewing kit!  Or the umbrella.

Hotel Lisboa Macau China slippers and robe

Hotel Lisboa Macau closet slippers sewing kit umbrella and shoe shine

The room was really cool.  It had a Jacuzzi and this awesome old school radio thing that actually contained the light switches for the entire room.

old school radio light controlsHotel Lisboa Macau shower and jacuzzi Macao china

Also, the minibar was free!  Not too much of a selection but it was replaced daily.

Hotel Lisboa Macau free minibar China

If you are concerned with germs in a public pool, no fear here.  You are required to shower first:
pool letter

In addition to Wynn being right outside, I also had a view of Taipa Bridge:

Hotel Lisboa Macau room view of Taipa bridge china

I tried to play a bit in Lisboa’s casino but it was really confusing. I felt like I was going to get in trouble the entire time I was in there. I never found anything I wanted to play and then I did end up getting escorted out by security for accidentally wandering into an employee room.  Oops?

I take a shower and go out with my camera.  It cannot fit all of Lisboa into a frame because it is a mammoth. I tried walking all around to get different angles, nothing.

Lisboa Macau China

I get frustrated and hot and gross so I give up and go over to Wynn, using the “subway” to cross underneath the street.

Macau subway ChinaMacau Subway underground

Wynn sign:Wynn sign Macao ChinaWynn sign reflecting on lake Macau China

Macau Tower lurking in the background:

macao tower

Wynn has a fountain show. It is weird because it is basically on ground level, like you could sit on the edge of the lake if you chose to.

Wynn Lisboa night fountains Macau ChinaWynn Macau China fountain show Wynn Macau China fountain show Wynn Macau China, fountain show

The Wynn Macau interior looks exactly like Wynn Las Vegas, just on a way smaller scale.

Wynn carpet Macao ChinaWynn hallway Macau China

I decide to play in Wynn.  Like Lisboa’s casino, I felt like I was going to get in trouble.  The casinos here are really quiet and the employees hawk you as you walk around.  I settled in on some machine and put in $200 HKD, which is about $25 USD.  For some reason, the machines take HKD instead of Macau’s own Patacas.

I sat there and watched my credits rise higher and higher as I played.  I was sure I was up high, but I was scared I was doing the math wrong because I have never been this lucky on a slot machine before.  Once one of the scarily serious employees came over to ask me if she could get me anything, I felt like maybe I was doing the math right and I was a winner.  So I cashed out and looked at my currency chart.  Whoa.  This is $900 USD!
Wynn winI have never hit that on a slot machine before.  I am in shock.  This also means that I don’t have to go to the ATM for a very long time into my trip.   HAPPY HAPPY HAPPY!

By now I am completely exhausted from my long day and I decide to use that as an excuse to get out NOW with my winnings and go to bed.

Hong Kong, China: Encountering a Feces Coated Woman on My Way to the Peak Tram

Today I am up very early.  My plans are to take the Peak Tram to see some really cool views of Hong Kong,  come back and shower (since I will need to, all I do here is sweat) and then go to the Chi Lin Nunnery.

Of course, the weather hates me.   It rained while I was on the subway (thank you for that) and then everything was so foggy.

I walked through a little park on my way to the Peak Tram. I took some pictures that did not come out because my camera was all fogged up.  Some woman comes racing after me.  She speaks to me in perfect English, asking me if I would please delete the photos because she thinks she may have been in them and does not want to be in them.  Sure, I do this.  She is double checking, asking me to show her they were deleted and I don’t even register anything at first.  Then she walks away and I realize that (a) this place REEKS of shit and (b) that stench is coming from this woman who is wearing a black and white skirt that is completely covered in smeared shit.

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I go back to take more photos, the woman is nowhere in sight.  She comes flying out of nowhere, asking me to delete them again.  I now notice her eyes are completely covered in dried eye goobers.  She is trying to rationalize with me, I keep showing her “LOOK – YOU ARE NOT IN THESE PICTURES”  She won’t let up. I tell her I will delete them again “because you are fucking annoying me now” and that she can stand behind me, opposite view of the camera, when I take them for the third time.  She tries to convince me to not take pictures at all.   She tells me “I have an anxiety problem.”  I tell her “Yes, I can see that”  and instantly regret saying that instead of “no SHIT.”

I explain to her that I have now gone above and beyond anything I should be doing for her, I am going to take these pictures, you can stand behind me, I am trying to work with you, you need to give a little here.

She agrees to let me count until ten while she runs out of the park so I can take my pictures.  The weather made them come out like this:

IMG_0247

Because of course.

What a completely aggravating morning.

I continue onto The Peak Tram.

Peak Tram Entrance Hong Kong ChinaHong Kong Peak TramPeak Tram station Hong Kong China

The Peak Hong Kong China

From here, the weather is really ruining my photo opportunities.

The Peak Hong Kong China

I pay extra for the Sky Terrace.  This was not worth it.  There are plenty of restaurants up there with similar views. And I mean chain restaurants like Bubba Gump Shrimp and Burger King, both of which have got to be cheaper than the ticket.

It is so foggy up here that my camera thinks I am trying to take pictures of nothing and it won’t even work.  I decide to stick it out for a little while to see if the fog goes away. It then starts raining, because why not?  Finally I got to see the view, even if just barely.

the peak fog hong kong chinaSigh.

Here are a couple more pictures that make me glad I purposely bought a fancy camera for this trip!

The Peak Hong Kong China

The Peak Hong Kong China

I Have Been Nominated for a Liebster Award Not Once, Not Twice, but THREE Times!

liebster

So what is a Liebster Award?  The basic rules are simple.

1.  Thank the blogger who has nominated you.  Easy peasy!  Thank you so much to: Ashley and Alex at http://inpursuitofadventure.org/, Simone and Jay at http://jslivingthedream.com/ and Emily at http://thecosytraveller.co.uk/  It means a lot to me that you thought of me.

2.  Answer the questions.

3.  Nominate five other bloggers (I have seen this number range anywhere from five to eleven)

4.  Ask them ten questions.

I am going to keep this simple and nominate five people.  In no particular order…

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Jen at The Trusted Traveler  Not only does she have a cool blog, she also has a cool name!

Megan over at meganstarr.com   Megan is currently living in Norway, which would make me love her blog enough just based on that.  But she has also traveled to Siberia and Central Asia, HUGE wish list items of mine.

Lucy from http://ontheluce.com/  Lucy describes her travel style as “grown up backpacking with a touch of luxury” which is something that I identify with strongly.

Will from Going Awesome Places  This is a blog with very useful information such as reviews, car rental codes and so much more.

Irene and Stefano from http://freelancersontheroad.com/  These two recreated their lives and grew a business that allows them to travel freely.  Very inspiring.

First I am going to do the part about me me me me meeeeeeeee where I answer questions.  Since I was nominated three times, I am going to narrow them down because I don’t think anyone wants to read thirty questions about me.

Afterwards, I will post questions for my nominees.

ME:

What is your best hidden secret? (For travel, accommodations, whatever….) Not exactly hidden, but if anyone is planning to go to Las Vegas ever in their life, they should start playing the MyVegas game on Facebook. You earn points (for free) and get rewards like free rooms and shows in Las Vegas. It sounds like spam or a scam, but it really isn’t.

What was your worst accommodations while traveling?  Oh hey…full review here: Most Disgusting Hotel Room I Have Slept In

blood bed  travelodge, Downtown Orlando, Floridablood bed travelodge, Downtown Orlando, Floridablood bed travelodge, Downtown Orlando, Florida

What is your biggest “Oh F***k” moment while traveling?  I have had a lot. From waking up on travel day and discovering I didn’t book the flight I was taking that day, to showing up to a hotel and being told “your reservation is for tomorrow” to the time I forgot my credit card at home, when I needed it to leave security holds at the seven hotels I was staying at on a trip in Las Vegas…or the time I reached into my bag to pull out my passport to show at the 348936734th security check in Tibet, only to find out it was sitting in a puddle of what was once a full bottle of hand sanitizer.  I am so upset that I lost stamps because the sanitizer removed them from the pages.

What has travel taught you?  It sounds so cheesy, but there is not anything that I cannot do. I was talking to someone this past weekend about how I want to go back to Tibet.  But this time I want to go to Kham, and how it is harder to do because it’s not set up for tourism.  So information isn’t readily available, etc.  It hit me as I was talking that this does not even intimidate me.  Like I want to go there and this is how you go about that so you just do it.

Are you a planner?  Very much so. I am still employed full time so in order to see as much as possible on vacation time, planning is key.  There are people who are very lax with plans and say things like “I don’t want to be chained to an itinerary”  Well…you aren’t.  You don’t have to go THERE if you want to stay HERE just because you typed it out on a piece of paper titled “My Itinerary”  I would just rather not waste my time making plans while on the road because my time on the road will end sooner because I have to go back to work.

Where will you visit next?  Unfortunately, this question comes timed as I am leaving for Atlantic City. OOOH LOOK AT ME! I AM GOING TO NEW JERSEY!   Then from there I go to Philadelphia.  A trip less than two hours away from my apartment!  But I am going away again in two weeks.  Once again, to New Jersey…sigh.  I am so sorry.

Do you collect anything on your travels?  Nope. I used to be a maniac who would come home with tons of souvenirs. But after time, I would just find them when I was cleaning out my closet. I am at a point where I prefer putting that money towards activities or future trips.

What’s your favorite picture from your last destination?  Mount Everest!

mount everest reflection

Where’s the best place you’ve ever visited?  TIBET.  I started writing about the thoughts and feelings this place gave me when I was there.  But trying to edit it makes me so sad that I am no longer there.  I felt so at peace there, and I feel that nowhere.

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What’s your best blogging tip?  Do not try too hard.  It shows.

Is there anything that you absolutely have  to take with you on your travels?  My cute little stuffed Westie.  One time, a Las Vegas hotel did this to him:

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What do you miss when you’re away from home?   Absolutely nothing.  This makes coming home so depressing because there is not one thing here that I am happy to get back to.

What’s one thing you would tell your 16-year-old self?  Oh god.  No.  Sixteen year old me was a train wreck.  Picture Long Island back in 1987, HUGE spiked metal hair and animal print spandex, spending after school hours sitting in my next door neighbor’s painted-black bedroom, lighting black candles, drinking stolen bottles of whiskey, listening to David Bowie (her choice) and Rainbow (my choice) while carving band names into our arms with thumb tacks.  I have absolutely no interest in telling that person anything.  Honestly, she scares me too much to even approach her.

Now for the questions for my nominees:

1.  From start to finish, how long does it take you to create a new post?

2.  Do you ever start crafting a story in your head about a place before you have even been there?

3.  Do you have any set idea in your head of where you would like to live permanently “someday” or are you still searching?

4.  Have you ever bought a plane ticket based on spinning a globe and pointing blindly?

5.  Do you actually enjoy long bus rides / train rides?  Or are they just a necessity to get from one place to another?

6.  When you return home, how long does it take you to unpack?

7.  Name one huge sacrifice you have made to travel?

8.  Bloggers know that blogging is a LOT of work.  Do you ever feel overwhelmed and want to quit?

9. (Stealing inspiration from my favorite question above) What is the most disgusting hotel you have slept in?

10.  Post a picture of the greatest place you have ever been.