30 June 2008

A Great Weekend.

by Chris
This weekend was great mainly because I had absolutely nothing planned.
All week long whenever I walked past the couch i said stuff like "Yeah couch! You just wait til this weekend" and threw gang signs at it.
I did have one task this weekend though. It was to document a bachelor auction for charity at a local pizza place/bar called the Kro's Nest. I wasn't going to bid on any bachelor's, obviously, I was going because my roomate BD had generously offered to take part in the charity event to raise money for earthquake victims.
and it could give me endless amounts of material to make fun of him with.
The place was packed!
Even though I wanted to make fun of him, it was a very cool event that raised a boatload of money for charity and everyone had a great time. So big props go out to BD.
I did not take this picture, but it is very nice don't you think ?
The World Health Organization rates pollution in cities by measuring pollution, smog,and dust particles in the air and giving the city a rating. a rating of 20 or higher indicates problems.
New York - 27
Paris - 24

Beijing - 142

Ok, check out these pics...thats not fog folks, that smog. I took these pictures on Sunday.

I really dont care, its part of the charm of the place. Much like the fact that you could be living in a hut you built right next to a freakin skyscraper !

My other roomie Tom is going to buy a motorcycle with a sidecar when he gets back from Canada which is pretty cool...except that he's a madman and that he'll kill us both if I even get in the thing.

I'm suggesting something a little less reckless.

27 June 2008

I live in Beijing.

by Chris

I've been in Beijing for 12 days. I feel like I live here...except I've lost my wife !
This past weekend I played in my first lacrosse tournament in China. The biggest tournament of the year here is the Beijing Tournament with teams from Japan, Korea, Hong Kong, China and a team from California.
I played on a team of American ex-pats who live and work in China...team name : The LaxPats
It was very hot (mid-nineties) and very humid. Except for the fact that I almost died from heat stroke we did very well...in fact, we won the whole tournament.
On day two of the tournament, roommate BD and I were hungry and went looking for food in some building near the fields. We wandered into a hotel/conference center and ended up exploring the basement...until we found the employee dining room and kitchens. BD, being ever resourceful, just walked into the kitchen and started ordering food in Chinese.
Even more remarkable was the fact that they made it for us ! They arent open to the public and we certainly arent employees...a little confidence carries you a long way in China.

above, Chris eating his breakfast that BD willed into being. Fresh hot flat bread, eggs, some sort of shredded potato and a glass of soup with capers in it...freakin delicious.
There was a pool near the fields so our team decided that before the championship game we would have a dunk and a swim. It was hot.. I attribute the one hour we spent in the pool to our victory in the tournament. We had a few beers and cooled down as best we could.
The LaxPats relax and soak up the sun.

Other big news this week was that I got a rental bike!

She might not be the coolest bike, but she gets me to work in about 20 minutes.
The bike ride to work (and home) is an adventure every day, below is the start of the journey. I can't take pictures of the rest of the journey or I would be run over by a bus or the thousands of other bicyclists. This week I'll find a safe spot to pull over and take a picture of the morning traffic madness.

This is the building I work in. Its very nice and in the heart of the Central Business District.

Friday was the last day of our company intern, Justin, from California/Hong Kong. He sits right across from me so I'm gonna print this picture out and pretend he's still there.

I also made my inaugural trip to the Supermarket with roommate Tom. We went to a western style store, a french chain called Carrefuor.

The place is huge !

Good Christmas, a whole aisle of Dumplings ! Woooohooooo !

We've had dumplings every day since that trip...until we ran out.

Total number of dumplings eaten in one week : 182

I'm not even joking, my roomates and I can put away some dumplings, especially if we've had a few beers.

We boiled the dumplings then friend them in sesame oil...and had lots of dipping sauces.

The most popular sauce has been the brown vinegar/soy concoction we now call swinegar.

One day, I was looking for the salt in the kitchen.....I found it.

A big sack of MSG...lol

Ahhh China...what other wonders do you hold in store ?

Next update - My first trip to get a haircut and pics from my weekend exploration.

25 June 2008

Good day to you Sir!

Met a seal last weekend. He had a British accent.
He also had a mean nostril flare.


22 June 2008

China !

by Chris

Very sorry for the long lapse between posts, but Kelly has been catching up from her trip to Moldova (more posts coming soon) and I'm in China !

So much to tell, I don't even know where to begin. I guess I'll start from the beginning.

I arrived in Beijing last Tuesday morning and was met at the airport by my new co-workers/bosses/roommates Brian & Tom.

After a half day at the office including a lovely welcome lunch, Brian took me back to the apartment so I could get settled and rest.

Our apartment is very nice and in a nice, secure development near the CBD (central business district)

our courtyard (above)

For those of you who didn't know I came to Beijing to start working for Brian's new company which is developing new lacrosse equipment sale world wide.

Tom from Canada, Brian from Texas

China is very different from any other place I have ever been, and I've been to a few places.

I especially get a kick out of their signs.

Our apartment is on the 11th floor, from which I can watch the older people do Tai Chi in the early morning.

Now to business ! After a month or so talking on the phone to Brian & Tom, I finally am here, able to roll up my sleeves and get to work.

I'm here to help develop a company strategy involving Europe, but i also get input into other areas like product development. Look at this, our new stick !

As soon as the final design tweaks are made, we'll be able to mass produce them and start getting them into the hands of some lacrosse players !

Working and getting to work are two different things. On day 3 I was sent to the local bike rental joint (pictured below) so that I could bike the 15-20 minutes to work with Brian.

I don't have any pictures of the bike route to work because it is an obstacle course of cars, people, mopeds, bikes etc...imagine biking to work in Manhattan, but with no rules of the road and twice as many people.

I've really been enjoying the food. I'm adventurous when it comes to tasting new things, and China is only happy to oblige.

We played in a big tournament this weekend (more on that later), which opened with a welcome dinner at a fancy Chinese restaraunt (as opposed to a dirty noodle place in an alley...more on that later as well)

Pictured above you can see all the tournament participants listening to the opening speeches and waiting for the food to come out.

Here comes the first course !

Ok lets see...some Fried Tongue, Stomach, Hoof or Claw, and some other who knows what.

Wooooohoooo second course, coming right up !

Some pork items, whole fish, fried this and that, and everyones favorite Donkey !

As you can see below, the young American Team from California was really, really into the menu.

Beijing is really interesting. They are building EVERYWHERE, including the wacky looking CCTV tower near my office pictured below...if you can see it through the permanent layer of smog that blankets Beijing.

Anyway, so far so good. I'm enjoying myself immensely. I promise to make regular blogposts now that I'm all settled.

So far the #1 thing about China is :

Going to lacrosse practice, having beer afterwards, then hitting dirty nasty noodle alley for some late night food...for $1...beer included

Chris, Brian and teammate Tong destroying some piping hot bowls of noodles

More to come soon.

15 June 2008

Walking in Wales

Knowing Christian James would be off tomorrow for a six week adventure to points east, we decided to have a romantic getaway this weekend. Took the ferry from Dun Laoghaire, just south of Dublin, to Holyhead, a little bitty island just off the coast of the Welsh mainland.
Arrivederci Dublin!! Aloha Wales!

This funky bridge greeted us as we stepped off the ferry.
Then these 4th century Roman ruins said 'Hey!'
We figured we were ahead of the game already...then we found our hotel. Here's the view out our room's window. Ooooh yeeeaaahhh.

No shortage of sheep as you can well imagine. These guys said 'bah.'

We meandered around sweet little lanes like this, came across a fabulous coastal walk and spent the afternoon exploring.

Get a load of this handsome fella. Get a load of the scenery. Don't they both just take your breath away?

As with many of our posts the pictures are too small to appreciate. I absolutely insist you click on this one to see it full size.

Dramatic - isn't it? Windswept, rocky heathland. Waves, cliffs, lighthouses, the potential for seals basking in the sun (no, we didn't see any...but we COULD have.)

Plenty of places to perch and enjoy the view.
The paths diverged and came together, they stretched, climbed and dipped, narrowed then spread out. Wildflowers, gorse, gigantic bumblebees, stacked stone walls. I swear I saw a fairy. Sigh. It was lovely. AND the weather cooperated!!

Plus there were plenty of cool, random, unexplained sights.

Moving on....

The Welsh lyke the lettyr Y yn all thyr wyrds.

Saturday was town exploration and coastal walk, Sunday was standing stones. Yippee!

Chris sits and contemplates the neolithic era...

..while I show standing stones how to stand proud.

All in all a successful trip. The ferry ride was fast and smooth, Holyhead provided plenty of entertainment for two days and now we are back and preparing for the big departure. Hope you all enjoyed a peek at Wales through our eyes, wish us luck in the weeks ahead.

Look for more Moldova posts (yeah, I got A LOT more to say about that) and plenty of China news soon we hope.

hugs and kisses,


13 June 2008

More trips !

Kelly & I are off to Wales this weekend via the superfast ferry (99 minutes) from Dun Laoghaire south of Dublin.

Our destination is Holyhead on the island of Anglesey... a small coastal port village in North Wales. We'll just explore the area and stay at a local inn before heading back on Sunday.

Maybe do some coastal walks and/or venture up into the hills. There are some Roman ruins in the area as well as some standing stones (stone age megaliths).

Then on Monday, I head off to CHINA !

Yes, I said China !
I'll be starting my new job at 1Lacrosse and spending the next 6 weeks in Beijing.

Lots of blog posts in the near future including more stories from Kelly's trip to Moldova.