Amy, who has been awesome enough to share her completely original Tonga-livin’ experiences here on Tonga Time … you know, things like climbing coconut trees (well, Toni gets credit for that — thanks Toni!) to making fresh coconut cream from scratch, to small, inconsequential tidbits like having a baby in Tonga!!!! … well, she’s taken her killer graphic design experience and turned it into a micro-business in the Friendly Islands!
If you get a chance, visit her new Tongan greeting cards website at Pua Designs. Just click her logo!
(Oh, in case it wasn’t clear, I was joking about the inconsequential nature of birthing a child. In Tonga. In the middle of the Pacific Ocean. With a bucket and adult diapers. Yup. I totally could do that…)
It has been a whirlwind since our move from Tianjin, China to here: Balikpapan, a port city on the east coast of Kalimantan (a/k/a “Borneo”) Indonesia. Folks here call it “Kal-Tim,” which is short for Kalimantan Timur (timur means east in Bahasa Indonesia).
First stop? Pasar Kebun Sayur — a huge market selling batik, Dyak handicrafts, produce, every sort of household good and clothing item a soul can think of and … delicious food, of course! Balikpapan’s specialty is seafood — lucky us! Continue reading →
Whenever we used to think of China, more often than not, we’d think of Shanghai. And when we thought of Shanghai, images of 1930′s glamour, junk boats, cosmopolitan streets and seedy opium dens straight out of a Clavell novel came to mind.
Turns out, Shanghai isn’t at all like that. It’s a modern, bustling city crammed with malls and then malls and then … more malls. If you love to shop, you’re in heaven. But if you were hoping for that mystical aura the name of Shanghai conjures, you may be disappointed.
That said, there is still plenty to see that does not include chain stores and tour packages. And even though Shanghai’s known for being pricey, these activities are budget friendly. Continue reading →
About a 40 minute car ride from the Huangya Pass Great Wall in Ji County (northern China, outside Beijing and north of Tianjin) lies a vast tomb complex called the Eastern Qing Tombs a/k/a “Qing Dongling.”
The Qing tombs are touted as the most complete and best preserved of China’s emperor mausoleums. Continue reading →
If I were a Looney Toons character, I would read the above title and promptly respond with, “Succotash!”
I would leave out the “Sufferin’” because anything containing “Hong Kong” and “On the Cheap” in one phrase is such a ludicrous combination that it wouldn’t deserve the dignity of those extra syllables.
Hong Kong is not cheap, I’d scoff silently instead. Everybody knows that. Even make-believe, personified cats.
These presentiments hardly bode well for a budget-traveling couple whose collective salary has been seriously compromised since spawning the bright idea of leaving our grown up jobs and working around the world. But that’s another story. This story is how to have a fun, spontaneous and really affordable day in Hong Kong! Continue reading →
Here’s one the first lessons of living in China: Nothing is ever spelled consistently.
For instance, Qingdao, a town on China’s eastern coast, about midway between Beijing and Shanghai, is the very same as the formerly spelled Tsingtao, pronounced “Chingdow” (with the the “d” giving a slight “t” sound). It is this same venerable town that was settled by the Germans in the late 1800s — hence the brewery — and hosts China’s largest beer festival every August. Continue reading →
Okay, I know this guy’s not Bill Murray. Or … I’m pretty sure.
But the thing is, this photo was taken almost ten years ago when Sam and I were living in Germany. We took a road trip to Budapest, Hungary, and while there, I fell completely beguiled by this gorgeous hotel and spa built in the early 1900s that was located on the Buda side of the Danube. Continue reading →
Shaxi Friday Market Mix ‘n Match: Woman in eclectic mix of modern and traditional Dress … love the socks!
Shaxi (“Shasee”) is a tiny, quaint town midway between Yunnan Province’s larger cities of Lijiang and Dali.
But it makes up in significance what it may lack in size.
It is here that the most complete, surviving trading center for the famed Tea Horse and Caravan Trail takes place every Friday in the form of Shaxi’s Friday Market.
It is believed that tea was first introduced to the world through this Tea Horse route, starting with tea harvested from China’s Yunnan Province and then packed into bricks and carried (along with salt) on the backs of mules to Tibet, then to Burma and India. Continue reading →
When our tour bus pulls into the Panshan Ski Resort at 8:30 in the morning, I peer out the frosty windows, unsure of what to expect.
Our “guide” walks down the isle, collects a 300 RMB deposit from each of us — (a surprise because we’ve already paid our admission fee) — then disappears for a few minutes into the resort grounds. When he returns, he hands us each a blue card and explains that we will use this card to rent our equipment (no extra fee for boots and skis, but jackets, pants, goggles and locker rental will cost extra). When we return our ski equipment in good condition, our guide explains, we’ll be refunded our money for anything not considered an “extra.” Continue reading →