What just happened?

Do you ever have one those moments where you go to do something and then you get distracted and end up doing something else? I sat down almost two hours ago to write a blog about Kuala Lmpur and New Years and some how ended up upgrading my blogs and changing its appearance. “How did that just happen?,” crossed my mind. Well to give you a tiny insight into to the way my brain works, here’s how it happened…

I was trying to find an old post and couldn’t. Then I saw one of my friends has a cool little copyright symbol at the bottom of her blog site. So I started googling. I wanted to change the way my blog looked. It’s not super user-friendly.  Okay…let’s be honest, it’s not super user-friendly for me when I’m tired and trying to find something. Ha ha! And if I can’t find what I’m looking for I doubt anyone else can. I decided I needed to change the “theme” as it’s called. And down the robbit hole I went. Oh man, so many options! So I had to preview almost all of them (Sorry, if you follow me and it spammed or email. Everytime I opened one up it would say “published.” I’m hoping that it didn’t happen!). Finally, I found one I liked. Then my special ed teacher brain started spinning “What if someone has a visual processing issue? I need to make sure the colors aren’t too harsh.” Cue another 20 minutes wasted on color choice. The copyright thing was a bit frustrating but after watching a couple of YouTube videos and reading a blog or two I figured it out! (Hooray!)

Now did I have to upgrade my blog for all of that? Nope. In this process I was reading about the different types of blogs WordPress offers and I found one where I can post videos. On more than one occasion I’ve wanted to post a video to emphasize something about Asia and haven’t been able too. Now I can and I can’t wait!

So in short, that’s how I waisted two hours, wrote a blog I wasn’t planning on, and have now pushed my KL blog to another day.  It’s no wonder it takes me on average two hours to write a blog post!

BLOGGING IS NOT SOMETHING I’M NECESSARILY GOOD AT AND AUTOCORRECT AND I HAVE A LOVE/HATE RELATIONSHIP, SO PLEASE IGNORE ANY TYPOS, MISSPELLED WORDS, OR ALL TOGETHER WRONG WORDS. 😉

 

A “Great” way to spend a layover

I’ve been little behind with my blogging… opps! So sorry I’m about to hit you with two or three in a row.

I flew one from Germnay on Christmas day. Flying on Christmas is cheap, but kinda sucks. No, the airline did not do anything cool because it was Christmas. However, I had 16 hour layover in Beijing and I was definitely going to leave the airport. But how? It’s China. From what I’ve been told not a lot of people speak English and because they don’t use the Roman alphabet their signs are impossible to figure out. So I set out google. It’s the one part of my winter break trip I actually researched. I read various blogs and emailed several different tour companies. The standard visa into China, for Americans, is a 10 year visa and it cost $200, however if you are there under 72 hours and have an ongoing ticket you can apply for a free visa. This seemed like that better option for my bank account. I was able to book a drive and an English-speaking tour guy who would take me to the Great Wall, Tiananmen Square, and the Forbidden City.  I was stoked!

When I flew through Beijing on my way to Paris there was a huge line for this visa. I figured it was because it was later in the day (I guy I work with was on that same flight and he said it took him four hours to get through the line). I figured I’d have better luck because my flight would arrive at 4:45 am. My luck ended up being not much better.

I recommend that if you ever decided to try out this 72 hour visa you have patience. Buckets and buckets of patience. It’s a long somewhat chaotic process but don’t worry your tour guy will not leave you! (Something I was stressed about).

IMG_9322

So I arrive at 4:45am and went straight to the line. There are two different forms you have to fill out. One is at the counter next to the line and the second you have to ask the person processing the visas for. Interrupt him/her or they will never give it to you. There were maybe 7 people in front of me, however they were holding 5-6 passports each. I didn’t think anything of this assuming one person was processing a whole family of passports. Time dragged on. An hour passed and we still hadn’t moved much because there was ONE person processing all the requests. There must have been 150 people behind me (no joke). As it started to creep towards two hours things went down hill fast. First they ran out of the appropriate paperwork. People began forming a line next to the actually line just to get the paperwork. This would have been fine, however the people in front of me needed to get their families in line when it was their turn. This started causing a lot of issues. Accusations of cutting began to fly around, cussing happened, and a third line on the other side of the real line formed where other people decided to just start cutting in. What was once a nice orderly line turned in to a mob of people pushing. It was awful! When my paperwork was finally process I had to push and shove people to get out of the line.

I would like to hope that my experience isn’t typical. I have my doubts about that. There was one person processing paperwork and it took a lot of time. People were frustrated. A gentleman told me Shanghai is much better as they have multiple people processing the paperwork. After that line you have to go the actually immigration line to get your passport stamped. This didn’t take long.

It was definitely worth the wait and stress of the whole process. Just prepare your self to be there for a while.

My tour guide, Alice, (along with at least 15 other tour guides) was waiting for me at a Starbucks in the arrival area which was really easy to find. She took be to our car and we were off to the Great Wall. On the way she gave me a brief history of the wall and soon decided I looked too tired let me take a nap instead. (Actually, I was car sick from being over tired but didn’t want to make the driver feel bad). we went to the Mutianyu part of the wall. It was rebuilt in the 80s and you can still see parts of the original wall. We arrive and took a chair lift up to the top. You can take stairs but it was freezing and I was exhausted so I opted for the easier option. When we got to the top there was barely anyone there. It was so nice!

IMG_9326

IMG_9331
Gondola ride up
IMG_9335
Enter a caption

image2

IMG_9413

IMG_9381
We walked to four of the tours

IMG_9418 2

IMG_9429
So.many.stairs
IMG_9437
Every now and again I have moments where I’m glad I’m short!
IMG_9468
Toboggan track you take to get down
image5
You don’t have to take the toboggan down, but it’s the most fun!

After the seeing the Great Wall we headed to Tiananmen Square (“the Square of the Gate of Heavenly Peace’).  Tiananmen square is the largest public square in the world. I was surprise with all the security around the square. Because I was with a tour guide I was able to bypass all the lines!

IMG_9470
Mausoleum of Mae Zedong
IMG_9472
The Great Hall of the People
IMG_9475
The Gate of Heavenly Peace
IMG_9478 2
National Museum of China
IMG_9483
The Great Hall of the People from farther away

IMG_9488IMG_9487

We then walked under the road via a tunnel and were at the Forbidden City. The Forbidden City was a palace complex for the Chinese Emperors and is now a museum. It’s beautiful and has several palaces with in it which get smaller the farther in you go. The front was repainted for the Olympics so the colors were much brighter. My tour guided pointed out how so much of it was built around the idea of feng shui.

IMG_9498

IMG_9493
There were lions everywhere
IMG_9503
About to enter
IMG_9515
The first palace with the Emperors throne.
IMG_9518
The ceilings were amazing
IMG_9522
The complex was so big that you could spend hours just walking around it

IMG_9528IMG_9535IMG_9542 2IMG_9543

IMG_9526

IMG_9552
You weren’t allowed to walk on these, but leading up to every palace were different sets of stairs and walk ways. The middle one was reserved for the Emperor. They were amazing! I can’t even imagine how long they took to carve!
IMG_9558
Emperor’s throne
IMG_9571
 This belonged to one of the Emperor concubines. The Emperors wife could not give him a son so when he died the aire to the throne was the concubines son.
IMG_9573
Inside the palace
IMG_9578
A dragon lion
IMG_9579
You weren’t allowed to go up there but that building over looked the gardens.
IMG_9588
The back gate
IMG_9590
A pagoda outside the palace walls
IMG_9601
I know this picture is blurry. These yellow bikes were everywhere. You “rent” them and leave them where ever you want when you’re done. I think my guide said it was 1 YEN an hour. 

 

IMG_9596
This was my guide, Alice. She was fantastic! Great English, very knowledge able, and kept offering to take my picture with out me asking! If your going to China I recommend looking her up!

IMG_0226

IMG_9606

IMG_9610
Good-bye, China!

This was probably one of the best layovers I’ve ever experienced. I highly recommend booking a driver and tour guide! China seemed like it would be hard to navigate on ones own and the Great Wall is about an hour outside the city. It was a great way to end my trip to Europe and a neat way to spend my Christmas!

 

Blogging is not something I’m necessarily good at and autocorrect and I have a love/hate relationship, so please ignore any typos, misspelled words, or all together wrong words. 😉

Once upon a time, I lived in a postcard. Visiting Garmisch

Garmisch- Partenkirchen, Germany. “Huh?” is the reaction get from most people when I talk about the cute little town at the foot of the German Alps that I called home for 13 months. It’s the reaction I got from most people when they asked where I was going for Christmas. I like that most people don’t know about Garmisch. It’s like a hidden secret. Garmisch will always have a sweet spot in my heart. This summer will mark 10 years…. 10 years… holy cow a decade, since I moved their. It’s a move that I can honestly say changed the course my life was on. I made life long friends, got to experience new countries, and ultimately decided not to live in California when I returned. (A decision that surprisingly made it so I ended up in Vietnam. But, that’s a whole different post that I’ll write someday.)  I know there were moments where I struggled living there (walking 2 miles to work at 6 am in the dark and snow), but I look back on that time in my life with so much fondness. When I visit and we drive in from Munich and finally see the mountains, it feels like coming home.

My dear friend Jason still lives in Garmisch and when I visit I stay with him. He’s like an annoy big brother who gives great bear hugs! 😉 There is a comfort that comes from being around old friends and it’s so nice.

He picked me up and we went to Tollwood. It’s a big holiday festival held in Munich. It’s fun just walking around looking at all the different venders. I only remembered to take a picture at the last-minute while we were eating.

IMG_9197
Inisde one of the food tents

He had the first day I was there off so we hopped on the train and headed to Innsbruck, Austria to explore their Christmas markets. I feel like Innsbruck does not get the recognition it deserves for how beautiful it is. It’s gorgeous!

 

(Side note, Shelley, if you’re reading this…. I did not get locked in a cafe bathroom this time! ha ha!) 

IMG_9202
A snowy morning view from Jason’s apartment. I swear there are mountains back there somewhere 😉
IMG_9204
First view of the Zugsptize
IMG_9211
View from the train 
IMG_9215
Innsbruck
IMG_9217
Innsbruck
IMG_9218
And the Christmas Market begins!
IMG_9222
Breath taking views

IMG_9223

IMG_9224 2
Giant deep-fried swirly potato on a stick and some gluehwein
IMG_9225
I look tiny next to Jason

And speaking of gorgeous, Garmisch isn’t too bad to look at either!  It snowed the first day I was there, rained the second, and was sunny the third and fourth.

IMG_9227

IMG_9231
I love this church
IMG_9239
I’m pretty sure I drank my weight in chai teas.
IMG_9240
Friday farmer’s market. Something I never got to go to when I lived there because of work.

IMG_9244

 

On day three I decided to take the train to Munich to go to the Christmas markets. (If you haven’t guessed, I love Christmas markets!) I had this bright idea to wear my sneakers. I could give my feet a break from the snow boots and there was no snow in Munich. Seemed like a great idea! Until I stepped outside! The rain had left a nice layer of ice on all the side walks. Needles to say I walked very slowly to the trains station! (And yes, I know I should have gone back in and changed my shoes. I was being stubborn. ha ha!)

IMG_9251
This view never gets old.

IMG_9252

IMG_9256
The view when you exit the S-baun station!

IMG_9257IMG_9258

IMG_9259
Stairs in one of the sub ways stations. Clever advertising Ritter Sport chocolate!

When I got back to Garmisch Jason and I went to eat in Old Partenkichen.

IMG_9262

On my last full day I decided to just walk around Garmisch because it was so nice out. Not too cold and very sunny. I ended up walking all the way to Old Partenkichen and back  (roughly 6-7 miles round trip from Jason’s) weaving my way through cute little streets.

IMG_9266

IMG_9268 5
The sky was so blue!
IMG_9272
Paintings on the Chirstmas market stalls

IMG_9274IMG_9275

IMG_9279
Old Partenkirchen is so cute!

IMG_9280IMG_9281IMG_9282IMG_9283IMG_9284IMG_9285IMG_9286IMG_9287IMG_9292

 

Seriously, it’s like being in a postcard!

Leaving was hard! It was not easy getting on the plane that day and it was Christmas on top of it. I made sure we had time for a pancake breakfast because that is my families Christmas tradition so at least it felt a little like Christmas It was such a nice visit! And a great way to end my time in Europe! Thanks again for having me, Jason!

(My next blog will be about my awesome layover, which helped make flying on Christmas Day a little easier).

Blogging is not something I’m necessarily good at and autocorrect and I have a love/hate relationship, so please ignore any typos, misspelled words, or all together wrong words. 😉