Monday, October 15, 2012

Bali

Bali was so amazing! We had a really wonderful time.

We flew to Bali from Singapore and spent 3 nights in our own private villa. It was 2,000 square feet including the pool. That is bigger than my house!





Our first evening in Bali we went to a really fun restaurant in the area our hotel was in. The restaurant even had a magician that would come around to each table and do magic tricks. I had possibly the best grilled shrimp I have ever had.


The next day we spent 3 hours of bliss at the spa. Then we headed to the beach.



Matt surprised me by having dinner in our villa. They even filled our pool with rose petals! Dinner was amazing and beautiful.



The next morning we went to an elephant sanctuary. We got to ride an elephant! So fun!




Thursday morning we took a boat to an island about an hour away - Lembongan. It was absolutely beautiful. No cars are allowed on the island. It was really small. There are a few open-backed trucks to get the tourists  to their hotels. And lots of motorbikes to get around.

On the boat transfer. I just think the background is beautiful in this picture.

This was the view from our beach hut. If you think I'm
joking I'm being dead serious. It was paradise.


Matt relaxing in the infinity pool.

Our beach hut.


Matt has amazing motorbike-driving-skills :)

Temple we found while exploring the island.

Hanging out at Dream Beach.

Watching the beautiful sunset from Devil's rock.


Saturday morning we decided to do some snorkeling. It cost $35 USD for both of us for about 3 hours at 3 different snorkeling sites. This was our boat. Ha. Seriously. Great snorkeling.


We had a great trip!

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Singapore

For Chinese National Holiday we headed out of town and spent two nights in Singapore. Apparently everyone else in Xiamen was leaving town Saturday morning also. It took us over an hour to get to the airport (usually a 20 minute tax ride!). After successfully making our 4 hour flight, we landed in beautiful Singapore.

The first night after checking into our hotel we went to Little India. I'll be honest, there wasn't a lot to see there. But we had a really delicious dinner. The server was so nice and sat down with us and talked to us for awhile and helped us order our delicious meal. If I ever went back to Singapore, I would definitely go back to that restaurant!


Not a good picture. But this is Matt with the
random statue in front of the restaurant.
The next day we headed out and did some sightseeing. We did some shopping at a mall that had a really fancy food court. We couldn't resist eating one of the food court stands making kabobs with a machine. It was asparagus wrapped in bacon. First, one of the employees would put all the ingredients on a skewer then onto the machine. Then the employee put it on the machine which cooked the meat, dipped it in the sauce, then cooked it again. Delicious!

The fancy kabob machine.

Delicious finished product!
Next up we headed over to the Sand's Casino. Fancy! They scanned our passports to get into the casino part. Matt told me Singaporean citizens have to pay money to even get inside the casino. We also walked around the malls.

Inside the hotel mall. The boats and water reminded me
of the Venetian.

The Sands Hotel. There is a pool on top.
Then we headed over to the Gardens by the Bay (not pictured). It was super hot though so we didn't stay long. We also walked around to see the city skyline.

Me in front of the Singapore Flyer. We decided
not to go on it because it didn't really look that
big compared to the tall buildings.

The famous buildings nicknamed the durian (a stinky fruit in  Asia).

Part of the city skyline.
Then we headed over to Chinatown for a quick look. Guess we missed our home? Looked just like China! Lots of cheap stuff to buy and we didn't have to barter which was nice for a change.


For our evening activity we headed over to the Chinese Gardens which had a lantern celebration going on for  the mid-autumn festival. The lanterns they had set up were beautiful! Some were just fun to look at, others depicted famous stories like the 3 Pigs or the Princess and the Frog. Then in front they would have an explanation of the story. My favorite was the Princess and the Frog translation. They said the story goes that the Princess gets mad at the Frog for following her around. The Princess throws the Frog against the wall and he turns into a Prince in front of her eyes! Hilarious. Very different from the Disney version.

Swans on the water.

A decorated bridge.

Us with our lanterns. They were lit by candles so only lasted
about 10 minutes. But fun anyway!
We had a great time in Singapore! Up next...Bali!

Friday, September 28, 2012

Mystery Vacation Part II

Sunday morning we woke up and had oranges, bread, and Coke Zero for breakfast. The Coke Zero was the only think we had to drink (no water even!)...so don't judge.

Then we hopped on the bus and were told we were going to go see a rock. It ended up being a whole park, with a giant rock balancing on another rock (the highlight), a Buddhist temple, a city wall, and a sea cave. We were given a couple of hours to wander on our own.

The famous rock.

Behind us is the famous rock.

Ashley getting her fortune told at the Buddhist temple.

On the wall.

Beautiful view!
It was so hot outside! We almost melted. Although it was pretty there, we were really glad when we got on the bus again.

Then we headed to lunch. Since we were by the ocean, we had more seafood. It was pretty good.

You always have to de-head and peel your own shrimp in China.
I've gotten used to it.

Here is a picture of my plate at one point during the meal. The
left part had my garbage shells. The right was my fish to
skin and eat. It was quite good.

Another fish. He had a giant mouth. You just peel off the skin and eat away!
Then we had some time to walk around the small town (and get stared at, I don't think they get many foreign visitors there).

Then we got back on the bus and we headed back to Xiamen.

It was a great trip!

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Mystery Vacation Part I

This past weekend we went on a mystery vacation! Okay, it really wasn't a mystery vacation but I wanted to call it that. I think that if the agenda is in Chinese, that means most of it is a mystery to me! We went with a busload of people from Matt's office. We met up Saturday morning and headed to Dongshan Island, which is about a two hour drive. Dongshan Island is supposedly Fujian provinces' Hawaii.

We arrived and Daniel and Ashley, and Matt and I were put up in a hotel, while the rest of the employees were put up in what they referred to as beach huts. Apparently the hotel was supposed to be nicer than the huts. Well, the rooms looked like they could have been part of a murder mystery. The walls were filthy, the carpet stained everywhere. Pretty sketchy. The picture just doesn't do it justice.


Thankfully, they decided to move us into one of the huts which turned out to be actually called a luxury villa. It did seem very luxurious compared to the hotel room! Each villa had 3 bedrooms and 3 bathrooms. We shared the villa with Daniel and Ashley.



Then we were told to meet on the bus for lunch. And we drove...across the street! I still don't understand why we had to get on the bus. But then again, I don't understand a lot of what goes on in China.

We had a delicious seafood lunch at a restaurant next to the beach. Lunch included rice, craw fish, fish, more fish, shrimp, clams, and squid. Yes, including the black ink sack.



Then we played on the beach for awhile and took a bunch of pictures. We also played some "team building" games, which were fun relay races in the sand. We played hula hoop racing (jumping through the hula hoop like a jump rope as you run), three-legged races, and link-arms-back-to-back-with-a-partner-while-you-run-sideways-with-a-balloon-between-your-backs. Needless to say Matt and I popped the balloon on that one. We had a lot of fun (but our team lost, dang it).




Then my friend Selena decided she wanted to go on a wave runner. She had only been on once before and was a terrible driver :) After a very close call involving a group of swimmers, we switched the driving to me and had a much better experience. Yes, I didn't have my swimsuit so just went in my clothes.


Then Selena and Christine wanted to go swimming. Since we were more or less already wet, we just went in with our clothes on!


Did I mention that they didn't know how to swim? Hence the life jackets.


After we all dried off, we had a beach BBQ. So fun, and delicious food!


I had to include this picture. This is a fresh mandarin orange! I love mandarin oranges! It was even better to taste the real thing!

We ended the evening by playing a dice game that is played in China this time of year. Prizes included scratch-and-win tickets, toothpaste, and Walmart gift cards. Matt and I made out like bandits with 3 winning scratch-and-win tickets that were winners (5 kuai each - less than $1. Needless to say we gave them to our friends because we didn't know how to redeem them), 1 package of toothpaste, and the equivalent of about $85 in Walmart gift cards!! Some fireworks were set off, then we went to bed.

Matt excited about our winnings.
Stay tuned for part 2 of our mystery getaway!