Adventures in China: Day 21

Day 21: Big Buddha

Today we went to see a giant Buddha statue!

Ok, so this title references a game you may or may not know. So excuse the inside joke if you are on the outside. So, the game “Big Booty” …. All I could think about was the words for this game, but instead of saying “big booty”, it was “big Buddha”. Awwwwwww big Buddha. Big Buddha, aww yeah. Big Buddha, big Buddha, big Buddha!

Ok, done. Moving on.

We rented a bus for the day, since 30 of us wanted to go. Phil stayed behind to rest. It was about an hour ride there, and you could start seeing the giant Buddha from miles away. It really was a ginormous Buddha!

 

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See how big it is from this far away?

The place was very much a tourist attraction, so that meant lots of people and higher prices. Here’s our group for the day:

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And here’s me with a monk.

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The park was HUGE, so we bought tickets for the tram service.

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Our first stop was a giant fountain. It had a rotating Buddha on top, a water show, music, and tons of people. This was a show that happened only at certain times, so we were lucky to get there while it was happening! Click here to watch:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hvN5cpBRYrw&feature=youtube_gdata_player

 

There was also this amazing wall mural off the side of this area.

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We were getting closer to the giant Buddha!

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Next stop was actually the Buddha. It was something like 88 meters high. That’s really high.

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We had to climb all those stairs! It reminded me of Montmarte in Paris.

 

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So his hands are significant in this pose. The top hand (right hand) means “I will help you with your problems” (roughly translated), and the bottom left hand is like a blessing of peace being offered to you.

 

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We could climb even higher. The view was amazing.

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On the way up and down the Buddha statue, you had to walk through a museum, of sorts. It had some neat statues in there as well.

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We boarded the tram again to go to yet another place. Here is what the little tram stops look like.

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Well, our next stop was a beautiful place. It was a very large building with various things inside. The first part was a temple of sorts, though. But very different from any other temple we’ve seen.

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We had to put on slipper covers over our shoes when we got it. It was exquisite inside!

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That Buddha is real gold, folks. Solid gold.

 

Back on the tram to head back to the bus.

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On our way back, we made a brief stop at this famous, large lake. Large is not accurate.

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More like an ocean-sized lake. It just went on and on forever! We stayed just long enough to get some fun pictures.

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And then we went back to the hotel for lunch and rest before the show.

I took a few more night shots of the river from a courtyard at the top of the theater. Just playing around with the different manual settings.

 

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We went back to the hotel, ate dinner, packed up our stuff. Normal stuff. We were going to go back to that bar for more Delirium Nocturnum, but we ended up just staying in.

Adventures in China: Day 20

Day 20: Wuxi

Today was another loooong day. We again traveled and had a show in the same day. Yuck. Phil left at 8am with the tech crew, and I left with everyone else at 10am. It was only a 1.5 hour bus ride though.

(these were taken from the bus window fyi)

We stayed at the Canal Grand Hotel. Sounds so fancy! It was ok. We got kinda spoiled in Wenzhou, so everything is kind of a disappointment now ;) But, much better than our last place.

And here’s our room. Sometimes we end up with a double instead of a single. Shrug.

It was a bit on the small side, especially the bathroom. But hey, it was clean and mold free! Here’s the view from our room.

 

We ate lunch, settled in, and then went for an exploratory walk. There wasn’t much on our street, except bars (great for later that night!). That name of the street was actually “Bar Street”. Lolz. So I just ended up taking a nap.

This city is on a river, and the theater is on the water front. We crossed over a bridge to get there, and the mammoth theater is very visible.

And here are pics from when I got there.

The show went on. I think I did my yoga and then read in the dressing room until showtime. Then I just helped out as usual. I kind of have a routine now. There are certain costume changes I help with. There are certain dances I try to do backstage, which makes the dancers laugh. I help hang up costumes after they are worn. I make faces at the dancers. I cheer for them. It’s fun. They’ve named me “Stage Mom”, which is cool except it makes me sound old. But they are the sweetest girls and guys, and really fun to be around.

After the show, we went outside to load the bus, and the theater is all lit up!

I heard this one is supposed to be a butterfly. The river is all lit up too!

One of the prettiest theaters at night, in my opinion.

Well, as I mentioned earlier, we were staying on Bar Street. So after dinner … duh. Rebecca, Kelli (the two singers), Phil and I headed out a little before the main group. We scoped out the choices, and finally settled on one that had the best vibe, and also was where the locals were hanging out (always a good sign!). Boy, did we choose right! They had a fantastic selection of beer, including …

!!!.

Also, Hoegaarden on tap. A HUGE glass of it. For 50 yuan.

We were happy campers.

About 45 minutes later the rest of the group showed up, plus some locals.

We had a great time! It had been a long day, but also a hard show for Phil sound-wise. There were a lot of things that happened that were out of his control. Like the cello just not coming through the house the whole first half (no fault of his). Like the stage literally bouncing from the dancers, causing the platforms that the band was set up on to bounce. And also the grand piano was bouncing. Everyone just needed a little carefree silliness after that show :)

 

Adventures in China: Day 19

Day 19: Jianjiagang

Today, we travel to the city of Jianjiagang (jon gee uh gong), and have a show in the same day. Can we say ugh? Ugh. For the tech crew, that meant leaving early in a van. I went with since it would be roomier than the bus. It was only a 2 hour drive. I looked out the window while at a red light and saw a bunch of guys on scooters. It was like a Harley gang, but … with scooters. I took a pic. There are just as many of these driving around as there are cars.

 

We arrive at the theater.

 

The crew starts setting up. Here is the house.

 

I help for a little bit, but then go exploring in the lobby.

 

And then explore outside. It was different than the previous ones.

 

I eat lunch with them, and then I take a taxi to the hotel. The rest of the group had already arrived and checked in. We were staying at the Magnotel. Weird name.

 

I checked in. Here is the lovely view from our room (/sarcasm).

There was nothing impressive about this hotel. At all.

Then I went walking around for a few hours. We were only staying in this city for the day, so this was my only time to explore. There was a shopping street close by so that was at least nice place to walk around.

 

The show went on that night, we came back, ate dinner (which was not very good), and tried to sleep. The beds were horribly hard, and construction noise and cars blaring their horns kept waking us up all night. Very frustrating, especially with another crazy day ahead of us tomorrow. And that was Jianjiagang.

 

Adventures in China: Day 18

Day 18: Tianning Temple with Phil

Phil was tired, but I dragged him out to see the temple anyway :) Since I didn’t make it there the day before, I wanted to go today. So here we are insides the gates …

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It was 20 Y to see the grounds, and it was another 60 Y to go into the temple. I really wanted to go in but a) Phil so tired and not up for climbing stairs and b) 160 Y adds up to about ~$25 so we passed. We just walked around, enjoyed the scenery and the cooler weather.

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We ran into Paul enjoying the grounds, too.

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On our walk home, we stopped to look at a church building.

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As you can see, it’s very European looking, and definitely out of place here. But actually, this city is very European looking. Not nearly as many high rises. It was a nice change.

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I went to the theater that night for the show. I wanted to at least see the theater.

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I didn’t take any of the lobby or house, as neither were noteworthy.

At dinner that night we made a new friend

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Mmmm, tasty. Jk, we didn’t actually eat it. Benny, who is from Hong Kong, ate a bunch. He also loves the shrimp with the eyes and legs (well, you do peel those off). We told him we thought it was gross and he couldn’t believe it. We said us Americans don’t like our meat to resemble the actual animal we are eating. We prefer them cut up and to be in ignorance lol.

Tomorrow is a travel day so we hit the hay right after dinner.

Adventures in China: Day 17

Day 17: Tianning Temple

Phil went to the theater, and I wasn’t feeling very social. Even I, Miss Social Butterfly, needs a little alone time now and then. I headed out of the hotel towards the temple. There were some great shops along the way where I was able to get a lot of souvenirs. Changzhou is known for their beautiful wooden combs.

The temple is so huge that I didn’t need directions. I just started walking towards it. I arrive at the entrance is just about 10 minutes. It was so nice that I didn’t need to take a taxi. The weather was nice and cool too. A perfect day for walking around!

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Well, I go to purchase my ticket to get in, and there was no one there. The security guards told me (through gestures) that she was eating lunch. I waited around for 5 minutes, and then decided I’d come back later. The temple was surrounded by a park, so I went to that instead. Here are the park rules. The English translations over here are not always correct, and sometimes downright hilarious. This one was actually a pretty decent translation, but still a little quirky :)

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Heehee.

The park was STUNNING! Seriously, one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever seen. I took so many pictures, and I’m just going to post them all! Well, not quite all.

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Here are a few more funny signs.

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You got that? No sparkling, ok?

I came back to the hotel, ate lunch, and took a nap. I decided to stay at the hotel tonight instead of going to the show. I just needed some down time. Everyone is here to work, and I’ve been keeping to their work schedule. But I’m on vacation, and don’t have to follow that if I don’t want :) But usually being at the theater is fun.

After dinner, we hang out for awhile in the lobby being silly. it’s such a fun group of people!

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Then a group of us walk down the street to a bar we had seen earlier that day. It wasn’t all that great, but we relaxed for a bit.

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They had a pool table and foosball, too.

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Then we called it a night.

Adventures in China: Day 16

Day 16: All aboard the Polar Express!

Ok, not really. But today we do travel to Changzhou by train. And we didn’t have to leave the hotel until 1pm. Yay!

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As you can see, we are pretty rested.

I snapped a few last pictures of the city as we drove to the train station. Nothing special, but it gives you an idea of what the average city in China looks like.

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Due to construction, we had to take a detour on and unpaved road, under underpasses being built. It was a little crazy.

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We arrive at the train station. It’s HUGE!

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We board the train. It’s very nice, and very roomy. Soooo much better than the bus or even a plane, which is great because we are on this sucker for 6 + hours O.o

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All in all, we take up 46 seats.

The train is moving at 100-110 mph, but it totally doesn’t feel like it. Such a smooth ride. Here’s what it looks like from the outside:

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Beautiful scenery along the way …

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We pass so many little cities, or towns even, that are under construction. The entire country is under construction.

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Larry was telling me that there there was a halt in construction after the 1950’s. It wasn’t until the 80’s and 90’s that a bit of new stuff began to pop up, and currently they are in a construction boom. So in every city there are old buildings, many decrepit looking, and then brand new buildings right next to each other. And then buildings under construction everywhere. And by buildings, I mean highrises.

Anyway, we arrive at our hotel, and it’s pretty nice. Like 4 star quality. I guess I didn’t take any pics of it. Oops. But there was a lovely bride and groom taking pics in the lobby. There dresses are just so stunning here, I can’t help taking a pic :)

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The view from our room was awesome. We could see Tianning Temple, which is among the must-see sights here.

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We eat dinner, and then we head to bed. Phil has a long day tomorrow at the theater, and traveling really takes it out of us!

Adventures in China: Day 15

Day 15: Find a Penny, Pick Her Up …

9am we met in the lobby with the group that wanted to go see Jiangxin Island. The previous day, some of the dancers had met a Chinese woman, named Penny. She spoke very good English! She agreed to be our tour guide for the day.

First up was a taxi ride to the ferry port. Already the view of the island is stunning.

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Penny insisted on group pictures at every turn. Here is the whole group for the day

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We board the ferry. More group pics.

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We get closer to the island. It wasn’t a long ride. Like 5 minutes haha.

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(See the tree growing out the top?)

The view of the city we left behind was pretty, too.

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Another group pic at the welcome sign. Just girls this time.

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Neat doors (I’m collecting pictures of them to make a montage when I get home).

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Pretty pagodas …

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Another girl pic

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One of us that’s just too cute to leave out.

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And one of us in a red phone booth (random!) to go along with our red phone booth pic in London.

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Beautiful pathways

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A small lake and bridge …

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Stone structures …

 

Silliness …

 

Paintings on walls …

 

A lily pond

 

Zigzag bridge (those seem to be in every park)

Another pagoda. This one was just an entryway type thing to along the path. There were two artists camped under there offering portrait services. If we hadn’t of been with a large group, I would’ve had them paint ours :)

We finally reached our destination. The thing we had been working towards this whole time. I mean, the place was beautiful and all, but nothing beats …

A roller coaster. On an Island. In China.

Here’s Becca, my roller coaster buddy, and me as we reach the top.

Here’s the view from us there.

And here’s the first big drop and loopdy-doop.

Yup, I took pics with my camera during the ride, but it was such a crazy ride that this was the only decent pic I managed to snap.

 

After we got off, there was this ridiculously cute group of Asian kids posing for pictures.

The moms were relentless. I think those kids stood there for like 20 minutes for pictures. Well, then I had an idea …

Come join me! The moms were instantly all over that business. But some of the kids were not happy. You can see it in the pic.

Do you see those moms pushing their kids towards me? So hilarious. One kid instantly burst into tears. I think it was my sunglasses. They don’t really wear those here (or at least that’s what I like to tell myself). So I took them off and then a few brave ones came over.

Then more …

Finally, they started to settle and pose …

And the girl next to me was so adorable. She just stood there, close to me, the whole time, smiling and holding her peace sign. The little boy wasn’t so sure about me, though.

Aren’t they adorbz?

 

We wandered back to the entrance a different way. More beauty.

 

Ok, so over here there are wedding dress models everywhere! There are always out in scenic spots with professional photographers. Their dresses are gorgeous! This one in particular, which is why I’m showing you. She’s especially gorgeous, too.

 

Whew! What a morning. Yup, we were back at the hotel for lunch. There was still plenty of time left for adventures. We ate lunch, and then Penny took Lena and me shopping! She lives here, and so she knew all the good spots for each type of item we were looking for.

She took us here for a hat.

I wanted one like hers.

She took a few more places – got Phil a shirt, got me some shoes (omg I’ve bought so many shoes here!!!). Then back to the hotel for the bus to the show. What a fun, full day! Penny definitely brought us good luck ;) I have her email, and plan to stay in touch with her.

Oh, and here’s the view from our hotel window. I forgot that in the post about our hotel room

 

Adventures in China: Day 14

Day 14: Blogging and Shopping

After breakfast, Phil headed to the theater. I had blog posts to catch up on. Well, pictures to upload into them. I keep up pretty well with the typing of them. I had to be in the lobby for wifi, so I settled down in this beautiful little set-up:

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After lunch, Lena, Alan, Shak and I went out shopping. We went to a place called Wuma street, which means five horse street. I don’t know why. I didn’t see any horses.

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The boys went off to the men’s stores, and we went on our merry way to the girlie shops. We got some good finds :) Call was at 4:30, so we only had about 2 hours to shop. Sigh.

On to the theater!

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We think it looks like an accordion. Or an armadillo.

The theater was beautiful.

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I went and bugged Phil in the booth.

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And I was even able to help him out! He couldn’t hear the house very well from the booth, so he stood out in the house and told me what to adjust.

Sorry for the creepy eyes. I was actually dancing.

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Paul brought me my camera later, and this is what Phil got for asking him.

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But it’s a pretty cool shot :) Paul is the drummer, and a pretty funny guy. He makes us laugh all the time!

I went outside once it was dark to take more pictures. Usually they light up the building after dark.

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There was a pretty view of city buildings, as well.

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After the show, and then dinner, we went out to a place called Blue Shell. Their selection of non-Chinese beer was impressive!

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Ellie and I dressed up, for once. I got to wear my new dress and shoes from Dongguan :)

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At first, it was just our usual group.

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Then, all of the dancers showed up!

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(This isn’t even the whole group. Some were outside, some in the back room,)

What a party! It was super fun. However, Phil was exhausted from the day so we headed home at about 1am. I know. But everyone else stayed out until 3am or later. Craaaazy! We wanted to get up early and go see some sights, so we played it safe :)

Adventures in China: Day 13

Day 13: Travel to Wenzhou

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A quick trip to the airport (What? Leaving from airport in the city we’re actually in?!?), and we’re off to Wenzhou.

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Just an hour-ish flight. We load the bus, and because of construction, take about an hour to get to our hotel. It’s like driving from Vail to Oro Valley with construction along I-10. But pretty buildings to see along the way.

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And here’s our hotel!

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We walk in and … HOLY MOLY! It’s crazy nice! 5 star hotel nice.

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We go up to our room and …

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And, wait for it …

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THERE’S A BATHTUB!!!!!!!!!!!!

Omg, heaven.

We eat dinner, and then I promptly enjoy that piece of heaven, wrap myself in one of their soft robes, crawl into our king size bed with silky sheets, and fall asleep.

Adventures in China: Day 12

Day 12: A Day With the Girls

Breakfast at the hotel, buffet style. I just stuck to some American basics. And boiled peanuts.

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Reminded me of Dad, who introduced us to boiled peanuts in Hawaii :)

Phil left for a long day at the theater, so I made plans with some of the dancers.

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Lena is in the middle, and Devonna is on the right. We headed out on a pretty walk to run some errands. We needed an ATM, a suitcase, hairspray, hairnets, eyelash glue (for their shows), and of course anything cute we found along the way.

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This is a really pretty city. Different from all the others. There are still buildings and high rises everywhere, cars, smog, people. But it feels a little more spread out. Like L.A. or something.

Then we took a taxi to Lord Bao’s Park. This place was so beautiful!! It had …

A temple as the centerpiece …

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Cool doors …

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Pretty flowers …

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A lake …

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And … paddleboats!!

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We took a spin around the lake. It was so peaceful and beautiful, yet right in the middle of the city.

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The architecture around the lake was very quaint and traditional.

The bridges were my favorite.

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The greenery was stunning.

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The view of the temple was much better.

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We encountered various other structures along the way.

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We had a great time!

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Our orange life vests were so fashionable, too.

After that little excursion, we wandered back to the main street. We could’ve gone into the temple, but we would’ve been rushed, and sometimes you’re just not in a museum-type mood, you know? We were in a let’s-eat mood! We found a bakery with some promising things.

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It was good, especially the desserts!

Call was at 4:00 in the lobby, so we went back. The first view of the theater, from the bus, was interesting …

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Even more interesting from the front.

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But, they had a water show!!!

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The lobby was gorgeous, as always.

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Show went on as usual, then packing up the stage, then loading the bus. Here we are, tired and sweaty.

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We ate dinner, and all of us were ready to go out tonight. We didn’t have to be up early the next morning. HOORAY!! We headed out on what turned into quite an adventure! We had to take 3 cabs because there were 12 of us. All three drivers had the address to an Expat bar, called Madison Bar. None of the drivers could find it, we all got separated. We had them just drop us off at a coffee shop to ask for directions. We found some guys just chillin’ and asked if we could take our picture with them.

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Heehee.

Well, no luck here, so we hailed another cab, he drove around looking for it, but had the brains to make some calls. The bar was closed, so that’s why no one could find it. He then started taking us back to our hotel, so we thought. Someone yelled “Holiday Inn” from the other cab. But then we happened to see Ben and Ashely walking the street (who were in a totally different cab), and we got dropped off there. They were going to the Holiday Inn in the middle of town. It had an Expat bar called “Charlie’s Bar”, as in Charlie Chaplin. It was kind of a trip how we somehow all ended up together. Well, Ben’s cell phone helped too. I guess someone in the other cab had the driver call Ben’s Chinese cell and we somehow all ended up at the same place. It was fun!

We still had a few blocks to walk, and we stumbled upon a market in the middle of a street. We refer to it now as “The Chinese Black Market” because a) it was like midnight and it was in full swing and b) Ian (the cellist) found a 1,000 mW laser pointer. It wasn’t really a black market, but it was definitely a good place to shop!!

Ok, on to Charlie’s Bar.

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We were the only ones there! The bartender spoke a little bit of English, and the prices were very high. As in, they were Western prices. You know, like $5 for a bottle of beer, instead of the 50 cents we’ve been paying ;) Phil and I split a bottle of chilled white wine from China. It was delicous!

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Group pic time! This is all of the band, 1 singer, 2 dancers (The director and her assistant for the tour).

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It was actually very ambient lighting in there. Here’s what it really looked like:

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They had a foosball table, too!

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And that was Charlie’s bar.

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Goodnight.