Asia 2005: The Trojan Family and King Kong in Hong Kong

Dec 21, 2005
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Statues of Buddha in a Bangkok temple
Above: Statues of Buddha in a Bangkok temple.

After leaving Cambodia, I headed for Chiang Mai in Northern Thailand. I met a friend of my sister while I was there and he showed me some local restaurants and hang outs at night which were pretty fun. It was nice actually seeing the local life (be it through the eyes of a couple americans, a brit, an Aussie, and a couple burmese!). The real fun was driving around in the tuk-tuk taxi's all night after my friends moped got a flat tire!

During one of the days that I had there, I decided to head out of the city and go to an Elephant preserve about an hour away. It was awesome! They had a show with elephant musicians and elephant painters... Of course I had to buy an elephant painting - it was a true work of art! I also got to ride an elephant on a 30 minute course through the jungle! It was a lot bumpier than I had expected, but it was an elephant! Truly majestic is the best way to describe it. I can see why it was a prominent mode of transportation for royalty in many cultures.

After the elephant park, I headed a little further to a town called Lampang. It was my first experience in Southeast asia where there actually was almost no english anywhere. I finally felt like I was totally immersed in real culture. I went to a night market here and got dinner - pieces of pork on a stake (kind of like shish kabob but more of a long slab of meat) for about 12 cents each. Can't beat that price!

That night when I was out in Chiang Mai, a man was starring at me from across the room. Obviously a foreigner so I figured that he was just curious where I was from... THen he flashed me the fight on sign - I realized I was wearing my SC cap and that it was once again a reminder of how large the Trojan family actually is. He graduated from the business school a while back... But the Trojan family connections did not end there...

The next day I headed back to Bangkok for a night. After a quick trip to some of the market areas and the mall (which I will get into in a second) I went back to my hostel and was greeted by name by my new dormmates. They said that they saw the SC keychain on my bag, thought it was one of theirs and checked the label... Apparently there were 19 of us trojans staying at the hostel that night! The rest of them were the USC Volunteers heading down to help with the Tsunami relief... But once again it doesn't end there...

I go down stairs and run into someone that I had met earlier and start talking about the coincidence... Well the guy that she is talking to says "did you say SC? I graduated from Marshall back before it was called Marshall!" That made 21 of us Trojans all in a hostel in the middle of Bangkok, Thailand! Small world! Large Family!

Anyways that night was kind of interesting... I went to the mall to see what it was like and it turned out to be primarily "Coming Soon." One cafe however was having it's grand opening with a nice appetizer and drink event and fashion show. I figured it would be a good place to score some free food, so I took out my camera and started taking pictures of everything all the other photographers were taking pics of! Worked like a charm... kinda. I got free food and a couple of drinks and plenty of confused stares! But it was a lot of fun and the grand opening itself was a cool experience.

A couple days ago, I met my friend Chris in Hong Kong. This city was mainly just that - a big city... If any of you have ever been up to the revolving restaurant at the Bonaventure though, we managed to find the equivalent in Hong Kong and had a couple of drinks while watching an amazing panoramic view of the city changing by the second. It was beautiful.

The next day we spent a lot of time walking around and planning our tickets out for our next stops. We did however figure that we couldn't miss the opportunity to see King Kong in Hong Kong! The movie going experience was actually amazing! The preview commercials were by far better than anything we have seen in the US. Oh yeah and we also went and saw the Big Buddha and monastery on a mountain on Lantau island ;)

Now we are in Xi'an, China and will be going to see the Terra-cotta Army tomorrow. We got in last night and realized just how cold it was going to be here... Since I had been in more tropical weather up to this point, I had to make some quick purchases... This morning I bought a big jacket, a scarf, gloves, a beanie, and long underwear... all for under $35!

While Hong Kong was by far the most expensive place I have been, everything here in Xi'an is incredibly cheap... Today we ate some meat on a stick for about 50 cents for the meal and then two huge plates of dumplings for about $1 for dinner! We have found ourselves haggling for everything and realized that the new trick is just to decide what you want to pay, go a couple dollars lower, and then keep walking away until they come running after you! There was one souvenir that I wasn't completely even sure if I wanted and I just wanted to find out how much it was... I asked and found out that they wanted Y300 (about $36). They asked me to give my price... Since I wasn't really interested I just wrote Y20 (about $2.40)... When they got mad and acted insulted I walked away... The saleswoman kept following though giving lower and lower prices. I finally was half running around the market yelling / laughing "No," when she finally gave in and said Y20! For something I didn't even really know if I wanted, I couldn't say no after getting it down from $36 to $2.40! All the little shop keepers had a good laugh out of it though! I think it was a small victory for their little village...

Anyways... Tomorrow the Terra-cotta Army... Then off to Beijing and Tokyo.

Statues of Buddha in a Bangkok temple

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