Sunday, October 31, 2010

What's cooking?

For the past two weeks I have been in a bit of a baking frenzy.  I think I'm making up for lost time since the first 6 - 7 weeks we were back in China, I had an intestinal infection that would not go away.  With my body on the mend, I'm craving all of the things I had no appetite for ... all at once. 

These are an easy way to cure a cinnamon roll craving with about half the work.

Next, I moved on to some vanilla cupcakes ... these are actually more lemon than vanilla due to the lemon zest in them, but pretty tasty nonetheless. 

And, this week these chocolate lava muffins were pretty delicious even if they were a little light on the "lava" side of things.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Joining a 'Kommune'

On Thursday we had perhaps what will be our last nice day for the season and decided to take advantage of it by heading down to my favorite Taikang Lu for a patio brunch at Kommune.  I never get tired of wandering the beautiful alleyways of Taikang Lu and the bowls of coffee they serve up at Kommune are incredible!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Back to Class

I had my first of 20 Chinese lessons today.  Ironically enough, the school I am attending is called 'Miracle Mandarin.'  I am wondering if the name implies that it's a miracle if you learn Mandarin??

I decided that after living here over a year, I should at least try to learn a bit of the language and so spent two hours this morning being drilled on sounds and the dreaded tones. Ugh! Those are really, really hard for me to pick up ... but since depending on the tone, a word can have four different meanings, I guess they might be sort of important :)

Saturday, October 16, 2010

The Big One!

Seeing Mt. Everst (or Mt. Qomolangma) was such an incredible thing - I still can't really believe that we were actually there. It's nice to have pictures to prove it, if to no one else but myself.
Our first view was from the bus - we saw this big white peak emerge from the horizon and looked at each other, asking simultaneously "do you think that is IT?"  Within a few seconds, our guide had confirmed.  We had just caught a glimpse of the tallest mountain in the world! 

Getting to Everest Base Camp was a very long, windy, bumpy dirt road ... it took 4 hours to go the final 60 miles...

Seeing it this close was well worth the drive!

In our tent village.

We watched a magnificent sunset (while I froze my behind off - it was cold up there!).

Cozy in our tent for the evening -- it was dormitory style, so we had 5 roomies and also our Tibetan host who went around tucking each of us into our little bed for the night.  That's an image I will not forget for a while: Jason being tucked into bed by a Tibetan man :)

After sunrise the next morning. 

Friday, October 15, 2010

Faces of Tibet

Second to the stunning landscape of Tibet, my interest was completely engrossed in the people and how they lived their lives.  Unfortunately, our tour didn't exactly cover this aspect, but what I observed was a people group as beautiful as the the land they live in.  People who live simply, without ammenities and who work very hard.  It was harvest season and we saw endless fields of barley being harvested by hand as we flashed past in our bus.  Yak dung seemed to cover every surface, drying for winter use.

We saw women everywhere doing laundry by hand outside, in buckets like this or in the streams and rivers.  You can see Yak dung patties pasted on the wall to the left/behind them.  On the right is an inventive way to heat water ... using the sun!  We saw these solar tea kettles all over the place!

This small dwelling appeared to be someone's house :( 

A woman sitting outside one of the military check points, selling Yak cheese...

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Journey through the Himalayas

Much of our time in Tibet was spent either on a bus or a train ... we spent over 18 hours during two days on a bus going from Lhasa to Everest base camp and then turned around and headed back.  In many places, this would not be a fun vacation, but in a place so full of breathtaking beauty, all I could do was stare out the window with my jaw dropped.

Tibetan toilets did leave a little something to be desired.  This is the nicest one along the way ... if you exclude trees, bushes and small hills :)

Yamdrok Lake with Mt. Nojin Kangtsang (7191 meters / 23,592 feet) in the distance.  One of Tibet's three holiest lakes. 



Karo-la Glacier (5045 meters / 16,551 feet).

And .... drumroll ... the highest place I have stood (& probably ever will stand) on the earth. 
5,248 meters / 17,217 feet.

Bus troubles ... road work that meant we needed to walk a bit so the bus didn't bottom out going through this area.  Couldn't ask for a more beautiful place to go for a walk.

After all that breathtaking scenery during our week, we still hadn't had enough and took the 50 hour train ride back from Lhasa to Shanghai!  We had wonderful cabin-mates and minus all of the smokers on the train, had a really great ride.

 The tracks rising above the plateau ...

Our cabin-mate and new friend, Liu Ning. He & his uncle had just spent 3 weeks in Tibet taking photographs.