A Travellerspoint blog

Chinese Wisdom

He who opens his mouth while squatting is full of...

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I was given some important Chinese wisdom by a new friend yesterday. We were "squatting" side by side (a new and humbling experience for me) and of course I was talking. She told me that in ancient Chinese medicine it's bad luck to talk or open your mouth while in the bathroom.

I won't do it again! :P

Micah and I have started making video posts, but we aren't able to get them up while in China. We've been having trouble getting onto many websites, as they are blocked. You'll have to wait in suspense until we get to Hong Kong in a few weeks. In the meantime, here are a few pictures to enjoy!

-Joanie

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I'm not quite ready for "retirement" just yet!

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Have you ever received that Chinese Walmart email forward that goes around? It's all true!

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One of the many beautiful statues in the garden at The Forbidden City

Posted by bucketbath 08:21 Archived in China Comments (2)

Running through Tiananmen Square (Micah)

There's no excuse for not exercising while on the road and since I love running, I'll be trotting my way across Asia in fast forward (and posting the runs on our blog).

I have a nifty Garmin GPS watch that superimposes the run onto maps so you can see the satellite view of the path (and my pace and other pertinent details).

A few days ago, still staggering from jet lag, i peeled out of bed, strapped on my kicks and braved Beijing's smoggy streets.

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30 seconds into the run, as i ran north, 2 older men started running alongside (it was reassuring i wasn't the only runner in town, and that we were collectively aspiring toward black lung) but they couldn't keep up and I kept on moving.

The streets throughout Beijing are 6, 8, 10 lanes wide and have underpasses built beneath them - so not only was i getting a street run, but also Stairmaster workout.

I continued north, crossing the street, past vendors selling kites strung up a hundred feet into the air, boiled corn, dumplings, Chairman Mao curios, crowds of people (it was still super early) through the security checkpoint into Tiananmen Square (I won't bring up the history as i don't want this blog to be banned by China's great "Firewall"), past the imposing structure of Mao's tomb, north north north to the gates of the Forbidden City, where kings ruled for ages.

The gates were still closed so i cut west skirting it's pagoda'd western wall and ended up in a leafy street.

A platoon of soldiers were out for their morning run and i caught up to them, then passed them.

I continued south, past the National Performance Center, a modernist orb shaped like a hard boiled egg that's been sliced in half.

The sun was starting to break, thinking the air into a choking paste, but I kept going, returning through Tiananmen square, past the vendors and back to the hotel, where i walked a bit to cool down before entering.

Joanie and I are a total spectacle here (people regularly take pictures with us) and as i did my stretching in the streets, with clouds of dust blowing by people stopped stared.

Naturally i smiled and waved still slightly in disbelief i'm in and I went for a run in Beijing, China and glad that strong wind blowing the pollution around is keeping my post-run musk from my smiling spectators.

Check out the run below and be sure to click on the "Aerial view":

My Run

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Posted by bucketbath 18:02 Archived in China Comments (3)

"Vegetable Soup" (Joanie)

Adventures in eating

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View Asia on bucketbath's travel map.

Some people would say that Micah and I aren't the easiest people on the planet to feed. We keep kosher and on top of that I'm a health fanatic vegetarian. When you have a language barrier to maneuver, getting vegetables alone is quite a challenge. Every time we walk into a restaurant we pull out the guide book and point to the phrase that says, "I'm a Buddhist/vegetarian." Yesterday morning's breakfast seemed promising. We started off with Mmmmm'ing and Yummy'ing as we happily downed our vegetable dumplings with kimchi and slurped our vegetable soup. It was the most satisfying warm meal we had enjoyed since leaving NYC...that is, until Micah discovered the soup was swimming with tiny, baby shrimp! Our slurp spoons were promptly dropped and we resorted to supplementing the rest of breakfast with fried dough from the street.

We also discovered that opting for a vegetarian or kosher meal on the plane will get you served before everyone else. Although, you'll notice that the kosher meals are much more filling than the vegetarian options. Apparently vegetarians don't need as much to eat as everyone else?
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We are staying at the King Joy's Hostel just south of Tienanmen Square in Beijing for the next week. It took us a few days to recover from jet lag and switching our days and nights as there's a 12 hr time difference. Yesterday we explored the Forbidden City. We forgot to pack snacks and my hangry monster erupted around 5pm after a day of exploring. Poor Micah. We got through it though.

Food lessons learned so far: 1- Specify no fish or shellfish along with "I'm Buddhist/vegetarian". 2-Pack more snacks for Joanie. I'm sure there will be more to come.

We stocked up on snacks at the market last night. Let's see what today's adventure brings!
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Posted by bucketbath 17:22 Archived in China Comments (8)

Today's the Day (in more ways than one, Micah)

We're heading to JFK to catch our flight this afternoon - a few final details to sort out: repack our bags, send a few E-mails, eat.

And, I almost forgot to mention, chop my hair for Locks for Love.

Eeek! Who is this guy?

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And if you want a live update of our flight, check out below:

Follow our flight in real time.

Posted by bucketbath 13:33 Comments (5)

One Foot Out the Door (Micah)

Adventures in deconstruction: Five years stuffed into 3 hours.

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Joanie's packing skills persevered yet again. After a week of deciding what to keep, what to sell, stuffing everything into boxes, recruiting friends and strangers to save all the stuff (clothes/records/kitchen supplies, etc) we don't want from the trash - we're all moved out.

Our new home (for everything but our travel gear and my record collection - which is house sitting at a friend's apartment in Brooklyn) is a 5' x 10' storage unit in Ridgewood, Queens. I doubted the space was big enough for everything (you accumulate a lot of crap living in one place for 5 years) but Joanie the Tetris Master packed it all in in 3 hours with enough room leftover for a the bed and dresser we gave away earlier in the day.

The loft - pre move.

The loft - pre move.

One final look at our denuded loft.

One final look at our denuded loft.

Just a few more things to accomplish before our China Eastern Airways flight on Sunday: 一路平安 (bon voyage) party at the Williamsburg Beer Garden, call everyone to say I'll talk to you on Skype, get our anti malarial pills, take a deep breath and embrace the unknown.

I'm looking forward to the blank slate ahead of us. The pit in the stomach after arriving in a new city, no reservation (disclaimer: we do have the 1st night reserved in Beijing, but that's it the entire trip), not knowing where we're headed or where exactly we'll end up.

It's human, elemental survival: struggling to find ourselves amidst the swirl of the new, unknown, explored, but not by us. There's a new person on the other side of this abyss, the most beautiful, alluring, humbling place one could be and i look forward to meeting him (and her).

Two more days.

China here we come.

Posted by bucketbath 13:14 Archived in USA Comments (0)

Downsizing for a Bucket Bath (Joanie)

From a duplex loft to a 30 L backpack

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Packed and ready to go

Packed and ready to go

====News Alert!====
Micah and I have both quit our jobs (in my case MANY jobs), the lease on the loft is up, and we are backpacking across southeast Asia for 7 1/2 months. In 1 week, we are going to be boarding a plane to Beijing and in April 2012, we are planning to fly home from New Delhi, India!

We've been planning this trip for months and it's hard to believe that soon we'll be jet setting across the ocean to explore a new continent. It doesn't feel like reality yet. What are we thinking? We are busy New Yorkers! I have a business and 4 other part time gigs. We have friends and a social life and an amazing loft to come home to at night. The entire world is a subway ride away. But as most NY'ers know,(NY artists anyway) living here is a love/hate relationship. I, personally, have been experiencing a little bit of "struggling artist" burn out and am ready to experience life at a different pace for awhile. I'm even more excited that Micah and I can do this together!

The thought of picking up and moving has been a little stressful, but downsizing has been less complicated than I thought. Luckily, I went through the experience of ridding myself of about 70% of my personal belongings during my last move less than a year ago. Most of my life is still in boxes and I haven't missed a majority of it. I'm ready to shed completely and start with a fresh slate. The biggest challenge has been figuring out exactly what I'll need to pack into my 30 L backpack and not carry more than absolutely necessary.

The whole concept of living out of a bag on my back reminds me of a turtle shell. Yes, it's nearly 8 months, but do I really need a full wardrobe, accessories and an armory of sudoku books? I'm beginning to realize that this turtle is probably only going to be concerned about being able to maintain an acceptable level of personal hygiene every day. Thus the name of our blog: Bucket Bath. That's code for exciting, unpredictable adventure...much like trying to bathe in a bucket!

I have agonized and revised shopping lists for months on what to pack in my "shell", without having to compromise too much fashion sense. I know, I'm showing my true girl colors right now, but I refuse to be the American traveler in the T-shirt, cargo pants, Chacos sandals and a bucket hat. Wait! I now own cargo pants and Chacos...but I'm NOT wearing a bucket hat! (The day I made the Chacos purchase in EMS was a very humbling experience.)

I'm happy to say, my packing is finished, and my trusty, new "home" is sitting in the corner ready to go. :) It's actually been ready to go for 3 weeks now. Girl Alert!-I even started putting outfit options together and cataloging photos so I have options to choose from while on the road. I'm amazed at how many combinations you can make out of 2 pairs of pants, a pair of leggings, a t-shirt, 2 tanks, a tunic, 2 dresses, and a long sleeved shirt! I have 25 combinations so far. Lucky magazine, eat your heart out! (Micah is slapping his forehead right now) Micah hasn't even started packing. It's ok. I'll graciously help him strategically choose outfits when the time comes. (Again with the forehead slap)

We're excited to go, but sad to leave all of our friends and family for the next few months. We're hoping to keep you connected to our lives as we document our "Bucket Baths" across southeast Asia - fully clothed, of course. Please keep us updated on your home adventures. We've started this blog to keep in touch. Please leave us comments. Send us emails. Send us an address and you may even get a postcard! Stay tuned for what I'm sure will be humorous video posts as well.

-Joanie

Posted by bucketbath 20:50 Archived in USA Tagged travel packing nyc beijing bath asia southeast bucket moving clothing Comments (5)

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