Skies of China

Took a trip out to China. No, it wasn’t too adventurous. It’s a guided tour so we were always on the go. 

Beijing had no clouds, so the temple of heaven… Here you go. 

Moat near the Forbidden city. 

Skies around the Great Wall in Badaling.

I think I liked West Lake and the Tea plantations most.

But I was obsessed with the bridge in Huangshan. At night, the waters are so still and glassy, turning the bridge into something surreal. 

I kept taking many pictures!

I have more to share.

China is a big country and we somehow visited 6 cities. All in a 15 day tour. In the middle of winter. 

In truth, I would visit again during this time. One, we didn’t have to contend with smog. Two, no mosquitoes on the river allowing us to open the balcony door quite wide. Three, the crowds were few and far in between.  
But I do warn that the pearl factory, jade factory, silk factory, and even the tea plantations…. Don’t get taken in by the hype of the infomercials. Our tour guides were pretty nice. They tried to warn us, we just didn’t have enough information to go by that the warnings were sort of like information that got lost in the translation. 

We, Geo and I, bought tea for the story. But in reality we could have had the same tea for less. It is Long Jing Green Tea. The best green tea China has. However, we paid $100 for ours. It wasn’t what they said it was. This was supposedly the Imperial Dragon Well tea. The highly in demand spring tea. The ones picked by virgins only during March, April and May. Only around the area of Hangzhou (West Lake). In the particular village we were in… Mei Jia Wu village. Huh. 

I liked the taste of the tea. It’s clean and bright. Rather like genmacha. 

So I would have been okay with the $50 can. 

But that would have still been too much for it. Because we were there in November. And from what I was reading AFTER the trip, the spring Dragon Well tea was probably all sold out BEFORE it was even harvested. And fetches prices well over the $100 for a small portion. And if you consider how small the region of tea plantations near West Lake, plus factor in the bus loads that go through these plantations… (I counted maybe 20 while we were there)… Then you will understand why we were …well… Scammed… That’s the only word I can say. Buyer beware in China. You should know what you are buying. 

The trip was through Sinorama tours based out of Canada. 

Get a visa for mainland China! Security there is no joke! Your passport becomes your local ID! And its important that you have a valid Visa. 

And when going in winter, bring a mask for the face. Not only for the possible dust and pollution, buy to keep you nose and cheeks warm. Brought mine for the pollution and smog… It ended up being a sensation among our group. 

Bought this online fromChina. I thought I would see more of them being hawked. Nope. 

Ah, well. Maybe in a different city. 

Travelling to Italy in Winter – Wardrobe advice

We went to Rome, Florence, and Venice for 11 days total in January of this year. And I think that travelling in the winter has its perks. No lines!!!! Vatican? Go right on in. Uffizi? Go right on in. Doge’s palace? Come on in! Venice at dusk felt like we were on our own, like we owned the island. No crowds, no….dare I say??!?! – musty smell of teeming humanity.

The problem is dressing for the winter. You don’t want to look too touristy. Or too frumpy. Because it’s Italy, for heavens sake! And everything has to fit in one 21 inch carry on.

Because I didn’t plan as well as I should have, I ended up buying another luggage to haul my excess clothes and ummm….souvenirs.

So the following are my advice to dressing for the winter.

If you’re going in winter, it’s good to take layers.  Thin layers, not bulky sweaters.  Think 2-3 layers exclusive of jacket.

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Take one snow winter jacket (down filled).  If your current living place is not used to snowy winters, do me a favor and go to a city that is.  You will need a snow winter jacket.

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For some reason, this was the trend in Florence. Orange liner under that army jacket.

Bring a soft and warm muffler, scarf.  Something that will cover your cheeks and nose.

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Bring facial moisturizer.  Slather it on in the evening and morning (will help protect you from windburn). You might want to invest in a creamier moisturizer.

Two sock method keeps feet warm.

Or footed tights and warm socks. 

Tights.  Take skinny jeans that have just a little room to slip in tights.  You’ll thank me for it.

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Wish I found these before the trip! I brought fleece lined tights, though. Two of them.

The goal is to not allow any exposed skin, especially if your skin is sensitive to cold.  Wind burn can happen. 

Warm gloves.  It would probably be a good idea to get slightly larger gloves and one set that fits skin tight into it. 

Layers!!!!

If you’re shopping for jackets anyway, check for one with pockets INSIDE of the jacket.  Not OUTSIDE.  And make sure it should be large enough to hold your passport.  Make sure it’s zippered or buttoned.  A good antitheft device.  Nothing in the visible pockets outside of your jacket.  And it would probably be better if all of your pockets were zippered.  Since it won’t easily be detected under a scarf, wear a wallet that goes over your neck and hang in front of you. 

The skinniest bag you can find.  LOL!  Big enough to hold a few Euros, one of your credit cards, your cell phone, camera, extra batteries.  (And preferably one you can hide under your jacket.)

Beanies are a person’s best friend.  Even if you have a hood on your jacket.  A warm beanie to cover your head and ears are a major need.

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If you must only bring one pair of shoes, I would recommend your best broken in boots.  The tall one.  That layer of extra warmth is going to be needed.  And it looks cool.  It should be broken in because you’ll do a lot of walking!  I can’t tell you how much better the boots actually felt over the comfortable flats I had brought.  I shouldn’t have brought those flats at all.  LOL! 

Plus, during the day that I was walking, I did the double sock method.  Served me well.  Didn’t get blisters, even though I thought I had. 

Bring slippers.  One you can use to the restroom.  Summer flip flops are okay.  They’re going to get wet anyway.  The hotels we stayed in all had wood floors and marble floors.  Very cold to barefeet.  And if you’re going to take a shower, your socks won’t help.  

Always bring a reusable bag.  Canvas, plastic, etc.  You’ll need something to haul all those groceries or souvenirs around in.  Europe is reluctant to give you plastic bags for free.  Plus, in any situation, you’ll need a bag to haul picnic supplies.  It’s still a good idea to have your own.  Just in case.  (On a side note, I bought two in Firenze because…well, I didn’t bring any with me.)

Snow boots, cute ones, are fine in Europe in winter.

Thermal shirts have become cute nowadays! Bring several!

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And because you’ll love winter in Italy, start gathering a wardrobe for the next time you do go!

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And just note that in winter, the shops in Firenze closes early. 7, I believe. The shops on Ponte Vecchio started closing up shop at around 6, 6:30. Probably the only place you’d get grub at would be near the train terminal. The clothing shops are open a bit later though. Which is why I bought the water resistant, hooded down jacket at Zara’s along with a long knitted muffler.

What kept me warm in Rome didn’t help in Florence. And the night I bought the jacket was freezing cold. And when I got back home, the jacket did not see any action. My hometown has mild Mediterranean weather.

Bring as many underwear as the days of the trip. And bring just two more pairs of socks than the days of the trip… In case you need an extra layer more of socks.

Most people wash underwear and socks in the bathroom, but seriously? I hated the smell. 

Walk! You’ll feel warmer.

MISTAKES I MADE!!!
Since it was my first trip, I didn’t know what to expect. Brought flat shoes. Didn’t need it. Brought two cute skirts (someone told me we were going to a jazz club). Didn’t need it. Didn’t bring a beanie. BIG mistake!
The biggest mistake I made? Packing bulky sweaters.

Next time…. I will bring more thermal long sleeves. Hunting for cute ones, currently. Three thin sweaters, more fleece lined tights with feet, and only two skinny pants. I will definitely bring a beanie, though I don’t generally wear one at home. And I will bring my long knitted scarf. Even if it’s the only scarf I bring.

I brought a neck warmer and that saved my face more times than I can count. A thin tube of synthetic fleece material!

And I will wear contacts instead of glasses. So I don’t fog them up. 😁

Blank Space

Starting in a few hours, I will be in a retreat. No phones, no clocks, radios, no music!!!!!! Ugh!!!! But music is my church!!!! The singers my preacher!  Not even a place to write. For four days… I will be in a blank space….
What to do???? Fill up pages with snippets???? Poetry snippets??? Random thoughts??? Need pen and paper. MUST PACK!!!!!!😈😄😢

KPOP and me – Kim Hyunjoong

In Defense of the @$$
 

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I know a lot of netizens are angry and pissed at the guy.  I don’t doubt he’s an @$$.  Believe me, I already know.  But he’s a product of the society that he lives in.  The girl, too, is a product of the society she lives in.  Now, I understand
exactly how bad the girl must have it for him.  And so the cycle of DV is enacted again and again.
 
However, this latest debacle of getting pregnant and saying it’s his kid and the daddy telling her to have the kid get a DNA test, etc.  I’m sorry, I’m really on his side.
 
Here’s why. 
First, I have to wonder why the eff she went to the media over a DV breakup which she didn’t press charges on. If you’re going to be dragged through the mud and raked over coals, you better be damned angry as eff. 
And once you express it out in the media, there should be no going back. 
Yeah, yeah, you love him, etc, etc.  But exposing that and yourself to the media is basically a free fall.  I wouldn’t have gone back to the bastard. 
Otherwise, I would have pressed charges quietly.  And if the media got a hold of it, good.  If not, then it’s on him, yeah?  And the chance we got back together wouldn’t be so…ugh…ugly.
He admitted to one incident of abuse.  When they were together.  Then they broke apart and that’s when she went to the police station and filed a complaint?  I’m a little wary about things like these. See, the old adage of ‘Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned’ is very appropriate here. This makes women hella scary.

He’s an @$$.  He admitted as much.
 
Then she got pregnant.  And she again went to the media because the pregnancy came after they again had broken up.  Then SHE won’t do a DNA test on the kid?  If it was really KHJ’s kid, I would have all the authentic papers and such ready so there is no question he’s responsible.  Why deny that?  You’ve gone that far, what’s this one step left?  And for her to refuse it, wow!  I would say she has something to hide and good for KHJ that he does not bow to the pressure especially if it’s not his responsibility in the first place. 
Because if I were in his shoes, I’d be asking that question. So go to an independent lab. Go to a reputable one. One that I can’t effing influence. I want one, too. A lab you, effing witch, and your effing lawyers can’t influence. That’s all!!!
What she’s doing is the oldest trick in the book. Holding on to him by using a kid. If I were her, I would say, “Eff you! Bastard! Kiss my goddamned ass!” Besides, she’s done the worst she could possibly do to the bastard! Labeled him as an abusive muddereffer!

I may not like what he did, but I’ll tell you now, I wouldn’t pay for the child either without a DNA test.  Especially if I even have an inkling that the child could possibly have been created while you and I were apart.

I wouldn’t have said nothing about this at all, either, because I am not one of his fans. And despite him being friends with Kim Jaejoong, I never liked him. But the girl, seriously… Get over it, girl! Either submit a DNA test already and end this stupid posturing because your stance keeps him in the limelight. And he just really needs to like… Fade away…

KPOP and me – VIXX and Le Sin Set

So, ever since Beautiful Liar landed on my lap… Er… Tablet… Jung Leo and Kim Ravi had been at my fingertips.

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VIXX is an addicting group to follow. Yes, I admit, I was drawn to Leo’s vocals and Ravi’s deep voice, but the boys are such fun to watch!!! VIXX TV, Plan V, One Fine Day… They’re…well…kids… Cute, handsome, worrisome, funny kids… Boys… LOL! In a big way. Then I started listening to their songs. Maybe that was a bad idea. Even more when I watched their videos. 😕 The problem isn’t that they’re bad… Nope, not at all. They become…ear worms. You just gotta listen.

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This is addicting. Cutesy image and all, but damn catchy. Makes me want to do that dance they have. LOL!!!

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They were younger than now. Little boys still. Hah!
Then last year they came out with the latest ear worm in my pod. Voodoo Doll.

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The video is dark. The concept dark.. The dance…. Holy cow!!! Ravi crawls out from the ground then seems to pick up Ken by some invisible rope and throws him over his head and Ken somehow lands on his feet! And they do this in the live stages as well! OMG! Not only do I like… I also got my Halloween costume idea for next year!!!!

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Yes , the cane… Yes the jacket… Their next offering was Error, with a cyborg kind of theme.

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It’s not as much an earworm as Voodoo Doll, yet. It’s getting there.  The songs they sing, though… My effing gawd!!!
Anyway, I’m blown away by these fresh men. They’re neophytes. Formed in 2012, I believe. Their company/agency’s first idol group. I think their seniors are known for singing ballads more.  They were formed in a survival style program called MyDol – a mash up of the words “My Idol”.

You can get to know them through YouTube videos.

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And if you’re looking for something new, give these guys a whirl. I don’t think they’ll disappoint.

PS… None of the photos are mine. So, credit to internet uploads and such. Not in South Korea… Not in Japan. So…. Just to let you know.

KPOP and Me – TVX2

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I was reading through my former entries and found one that addressed the insanity of netizens that said something negative about JYJ’s The Return of the King concert. I belive I said something like at least they didn’t go one step higher and called the concert The Return of the Gods. LOL!
So when this came out… I should have posted it earlier. Oh well…. such as it is,  this gave me a good laugh.
So, listen up CJES Ent., and all you people connected to JYJ’s production staff.

When the three comes back together, put out an album. And because dragons are the symbols of Asian gods, let the title be RISEN DRAGONS or RISING DRAGONS.  In the same context, AESIR RISING, RISEN AESIR, AOSSI (pronounced Essi) RISING… should also be considered.  The Aos-si were the original fairy folk of English folk tales. Believed to be beautiful beyond compare.
The AESIR are the patheon gods of the Vikings. These people were the original rebels, pioneers,  mutineers… They didn’t let the vastness of the sea stop them from discovering new worlds. Or conquering new people. Much, I think, like JYJ has done. So, here’s hoping their people are scanning this and I get to see my Aesir rising after three years.
You hear that, Jaejoongie, Yuchunnie, Junsu? You have three years to come up with some mighty fine creations.

A Spill of things TVX2

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So, I was reading through the list of Yunho’s songs on his new album,  U-KNOW Y.
I couldn’t help but laugh when I read that one of the titles was “Tattoos and High Heels.”  Well because I know of a certain tattooed person with a height complex.  Not that the person is very short, but the person is rather shorter than… erm… Yunho and his current partner.  Just saying. 
Now, looking for translations to this song has not been forthcoming yet.  And I have no idea what it’s saying.  I don’t think that he’s the one who wrote the lyrics either so I can’t gauge his… content.  But the title totally made me laugh.  Totally.  July 8th as well… Is there a significance?  How about SOMEONE’s 100th day?    Let’s not get SOOO obvious, right?
Ah.  And considering that Jaejoong had put out a mini album before titled Y as if asking a question.  Is this Yunho’s answer… U-KNOW Y.  The thing is, when it was just Jaejoong’s mini album.  We wondered if Y meant “Yunho”.  Because after all, he had first put out “I”. I’m not the only one thinking this either. I’ve seen the pictures of Y and U Know Y juxtaposed next to each other.

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So, since we’re on it.  Viki has uploaded episodes of “I Order You”.  While the character that Yunho plays is a jerk (and he plays the jerk well enough), I can’t help but think… “What do people see in this guy?”  I mean face wise.  Something about his face is NOT handsome!  And he’s gained weight, which is why some of the comments were about watching his ‘man-boobs’ more than watching the show.  I noticed that he was more… pudgy in the MV teasers for his first song “Burning Down.”
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I think this is his most comfortable role yet… still though, he’s unable to distinguish between when his character is supposedly acting.  His character is brusque, cold, abrupt that even his subordinates slink away after a certain look from him.  But yet, there are moments when he’s sweet (because he’s acting nice).  Now, the problem is that usually when someone does this, there is a tell… a small knowing smirk and not a genuine smile.  So, this part, innocent Yunho probably does not know of and cannot properly convey.  Lady killer he probably is not, despite the tabloids.    Jang Dong Gun could play this role real well, I think. 
However!!!!!  The girl’s reactions in this show covers up this subtle acting foible.   And she does great because the reactions are over the top!  And that’s what keeps me watching.

Although, I swear, I don’t understand why a lot of people say he’s good looking.  At a certain angle, I guess, but when you’re faced with him like that… I don’t know.  He’s just not…  Daniel Day Kim.  Or even Kim Woo Bin. I think that Yunho looks handsome in profile. Full on front and center… Ummm…
The eyes… Yunho’s eyes when he smiles genuinely… Yes.
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I think it’s personal preference.  I don’t think JYP is good looking either.  Too much alcohol and tobacco has totally ruined that… 

There are plenty of HANDSOME South Korean actors.  Jang Dong Gun is one.  Lee Phillips also.  And some of their leading men are just… boys next door, good looking sort of, pretty ordinary, run-of-the-mill cute.  Just not devastatingly handsome.   
I’m not even poking at the idols because they’re mostly younger generation.  I’m waiting until they fill out and become men.  Although the boys of 2PM could possibly be contenders there.  Kim Woo Bin is definitely HANDSOME, hands down! 

Then there are the pretty men.  Pretty.  Not Handsome.  Jang Geun Suk is pretty.  G-Dragon for all his brass is pretty.  TOP is Handsome, but still… young… nothing like James Bond (think Pierce Brosnan).  Seungri… he’s the boy next door.  Taeyang is the boy next door that is handsome beyond belief.  He could be the one that makes all the girls in the youth group sigh.  But he’s an approachable handsome. 
 
Jung Yunho… sometimes, he is handsome… depending on who takes the pictures. 
I hate to say it but he was much more handsome juxtaposed against a pretty member… and it’s not Changmin.
 
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Now, Changmin… hmmm… He’s not handsome either.  He WAS cute.  He’s grown into someone… ummm… I don’t know… He’s grown cold.  There is a certain coldness in Changmin that wasn’t there before.  And it hasn’t dissipated.  The mischief is still there and the know it all attitude.  But when he stands alone or even with Yunho, there is a certain coldness in his demeanor.  And not even his beloved hyung Yunho can take it away.  Now this role in “I Order You” Changmin would be able to pull off the subtleties more so than Yunho has.  Either way, it’s a learning experience for Yunho. 
I think that Changmin is a much better actor than Jung Yunho.  Although Changmin can’t really dance as fluidly as Yunho. 
 
Am I obsessed with Jung Yunho?  Yes.  And Kim Jaejoong. 
 
Maybe if they came out like Nate Berkhus and Jeremy Brent I wouldn’t be so obsessed.  However, I see something that others are telling me is not true.  Huh.  So, I keep watching them for signs of… well… letting go… and I haven’t seen it.  Not yet.  Even if they get married for eff’s sakes to girls.  I don’t think I’ll see the kind of… oneness… of wholeness… as I’ve seen when YunJae was together. 
 
I know I criticize Yunho a lot.  Perhaps because I see the potential.  And I’m waiting.  And waiting.  What am I waiting for?  Who knows!  I’ll know it when I see it.  It’s not that I even hate the boy.  It’s not that.  Maybe I’m a… tsundere.  Ha ha ha!  I’m teasing the man I happen to like to the point that he cries.  LOL!  Yunho’s crying face does garner loads of love, after all.  I just didn’t like the context in which they dropped religiously in TNWM’s journal.  BUT really, that was the writer’s fault and not Yunho who was just doing as he was bid.  I hope.  🙂
 
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The thing is, I like Kim Jaejoong.  Him, I don’t criticize as much.  Then again… what can I criticize about him?  He’s seriously a pretty man.  With Triangle… oooh… he became… WOW!!!!  So, Kim Jaejoong I treasure.  After all, his voice, angry or sad is just too… emotionally expressive.  It draws you in. 
 
Jung Yunho, I tease. 
 
If he improves, Yeay!!!!  And if he doesn’t, I’m sure I’ll be that much more disappointed.  I really do have high hopes for Jung Yunho.  I really am a tsundere to this boy, ain’t I? 
 
The news states that Changmin will be enlisting soon before the end of the year, so that after two years, there will be a comeback of the two.  Do you really believe that? 
 
I don’t know.  I don’t think so.  Two years is a long time.  When is their contracts up?  Did they sign up again?  I’m wondering.  TVXQ is SM’s current cash cow.  EXO for all their hype isn’t as lucrative as TVXQ even in their reincarnated state as a duo.  But with both of them gone in the military, EXO will start filling up the gap.  There is just one thing.  There are not as many teenyboppers as there was once in SK and Japan.  China is lucrative, but with EXO’s Chinese members dwindling… well…
 
The economics of K-POP is incredible.  And requires the cooperation of the country’s political machines.
 
In the meantime, while I’m waiting for all of them to come back as 5, I’ll go and polish up my shooting skills.  I have yet to take the bow and arrow out of the box.  LOL!  Now, where do I go and get some hay bales for targets?  And because I’m evil like that, I’ll need a necessary target.  Whose face should I put up? 
 
Park Shin Hye.  Don’t ask me why.