JoAnn Saccato’s first blog from China.

Hello everyone:

The following is the first of three blog entries from JoAnn Saccato, who recently ended her trip to China and Thailand. I apologize for not getting these posted sooner: I was engaged in trying to learn how to dictate to the computer this is one of my earliest attempts and so far is going well.

If it continues well this will prove to be much easier and faster than my previous method of communication. Thanks for bearing with me, and enjoy this, an additional note from the far east  (Mark says he’ll get “back on the horse” soon).

George

Good Morning and Happy Christmas to those that celebrate it,

Trip to doctor yesterday was successful–though i’m filled with antibiotics and steriods, which would be against my normal nature. The doctor assured me that it is quite different in the tropics with infections and this was the best course of action for the bronchitis i am suffering with.

Shenzen, China is a HUGE city that was born in the past twenty years. It is incredibly big and sprawled out with a population of about 14million. Sarah lives overlooking the bay and is just across the street from the international school she teaches fifth grade at. The first photo is a view from her top floor apartment. It was much colder than we had anticipated and is normal for the recent temperature ranges, but we bundled up with many layers. We also partook in a few massages that included hot foot baths (second pic). The pollution is not as bad as India, but still quite noticeable. It was the beginning of my throat/cough problems as was the case in India as well.

Sarah lives just down the street from a popular ex-pat coffee house (#3 pic) and we were able to meet many of her co-worker/friends. Sarah is enjoying the new kindle that her mom sent over…it’s really a handy tool for readers and travelers as you can store umpteen million books, as well as access online through an internal air card.

Much of our time in Shenzhen was spent doing city things like shopping and checking out the daily activities of the Chinese people. The culture seemed a little devoid of life to me as there was no integrated spiritual practices to speak of. They did just recently get in a new Walmart and it was quite the experience. I actually had to step outside after a time as i was overloaded and overstimulated. The fourth pic (3364) is of the immensity of the store as you view the check out aisles. What we don’t see in the states is the same meat (3366) and fish (3370) departments they have there!

We took a day trip into Hong Kong, which is a large metropolitan area as well. The gamut of life there from the outdoor markets to the she-she upscale fashion retail areas is pretty interesting to see. We traveled way into the hills on the outskirts of the metro area where Sarah runs (#7 – 3386). It affords some pretty spectacular views of the city. Since HK is only recently part of China, there were a few temples we saw including a Christian Church and Muslim Mosque. Sarah and Jim are seated outside the Mosque (#8 – 3436). We went to the art museum and enjoyed looking through the history, including this sculpture of Quan Yin (#9 3456).

It was a splendid relief to arrive into Bangkok. Another huge city (about 9 mil), though, we were greeted at the airport with Buddha’s lining the roads out of it, as well as a building with a huge neon lit “Nirvana” sign. Jim was impressed that nirvana was so conveniently located to the airport…’~) Jim noticed that the people are so happy here…i offered that it may be that 95% of Thailand is Buddhist…hmmm….sure feels comfy to me…

We spent a couple days in Bangkok looking at temples and taking a ride on the airtrain and local river transit systems. Pretty cool. We saw the largest reclining Buddha i’m aware of. (Burma boasts the largest in the world at 71 meteres long.) “The highly impressive gold plated reclining Buddha is 46 meters long and 15 meters high, and is designed to illustrate the passing of the Buddha into nirvana. The feet and the eyes are engraved with mother-of-pearl decoration, and the feet also show the 108 auspicious characteristics of the true Buddha…(http://www.into-asia.com/bangkok/attractions/watpho.php). Here’s a couple pix of Jim (#10 – 3587; #11 – 3591) to give you a sense of the immensity of the statue. Plus, this one of the head…pretty cool! (#12 – 3575)

We’ve settled into Krabi on the peninsula and are definitetly in the tropics! It’s humid and pinapples, mangoes, and all the rest that is tropical is here. We’re going to rent some scooters ($5/day) to explore the surrounding areas. I’ll be heading to Jake and Nene’s place tomorrow on an island (koh Jum) not far from here and stay a few days with them. (It is reminiscent of our trip to Hawaii when Jake came along for the sailing a couple of days and i respited with them while Ken and John sailed back from Kaui. I find it quite joyful that i get to connect with them.) I’m hoping to do some kayaking and snorkeling there. The food is incredibly wonderful and the Lonely Planet travel guide has been accurate in saying that eating from the street vendors far surpasses what you can find in the restaurants. I’m afraid my Thai food experience in the states will be hampered…

Hope all is well with everyone….in the flurry of travel it is hard to keep home in mind. But now that we’ve settled in for a few days, i’m thinking of you all….

Photo Link: http://picasaweb.google.com/JoAnna.Saccato/ChinaThailand?authkey=Gv1sRgCMj5_ZzxjuC2kQE&feat=directlink

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