Saturday, May 24, 2014

MY TRIP TO CHINA - A Tale of Two Cities - Beijing and Shanghai

Welcome!  As this five year old blog now morphs into a new stage of it's life, I am excited to start tinkering with new designs for it, introduce more photos, and now talk in detail about my experiences travelling.

We are going to start from the latest trip and work backwards (or forwards depending on where I go).  First on the block:  China!  I had the opportunity to go to China using the tour company China Spree (www.chinaspree.com)  I found the deal through Travel Zoo and quite the deal it was.  We paid extra to go during the season when the weather would be the best and in total only paid about $1,250 USD / per person.  So having booked the trip, and considering the price, the next concern was - what on earth was this trip going to be like for this little money. 

Well here is what it included: flights (LAX to Beijing, Beijing to Shanghai, Shanghai to Beijing, and Beijing back to LAX), hotel (four stars, amazing locations), tour guides, transportation, most of the meals, and all the admission costs to all of the major places.  How on earth the price was what it was is still beyond what I can figure out.  So what was the catch?  Were we going to have to take a flight with thirty different connections?  Was the tour bus going to be a rachety old school bus with chickens walking around inside?  Were the hotels going to be roach motels?  Or my favorite - were we going to arrive, only to get picked up by the tour operator, transferred to a remote location, only to have all of our expensive organs subtracted from our bodies and wake up in a bathtub full of ice?

Let's start from the top:


DAY 0 - Travel Day

Our flight flew out on Friday morning at 1:30am.  Perfect!  We were to fly Air China, leaving LAX and since it left from Terminal 2 instead of Tom Bradley, I have to say that I was very happy.  Anyone who has flown international out of LAX via Tom Bradley knows that you definitely have to show up 3 hours early as the line-ups can be huge.  Additionally, unlike domestic flights, it's not so simple as checking in 24 hours before and walking straight through security as you almost always have a suitcase to check.  Usually when you get to that terminal you will find hundreds of people standing in line with tonnes of boxes, suitcases etc. bringing goods back to their homeland and also making it quite a hassle to just show up and check in quickly.  Fortunately for us in Terminal 2, there was almost no line and we walked through security - from curb to terminal in only about 15 minutes! 

I had never flown Air China before but given how economical this whole trip was, had some slight doubts that it would be a nice or clean plane.  Boy was I wrong.  As seems to be customary with international travel, the plane was super clean, the interior looked brand new and very modern, and of course each seat had it's own personal entertainment system built into the headrest.  As I usually do, I selected seats towards the rear of the plane.  The reason I do this is because many times when boarding, those with seats towards the back are the first group called to board.  Not always, but sometimes.  

My Dad sat to my left, and a hefty gentleman from Bakersfield who drove a truck in the oil fields was sitting to my right.  He seemed quite social and had flown to China multiple times before as his wife lives there.  Apparently the US thought his marriage to her was a sham so they wouldn't grant her a green card, thereby forcing this guy to have to see his wife out in China.   After he showed me a few pictures of her on his phone however, I'm not surprised - she was a looker and he was.....well, anyway the plane was really nice!



Since I thought it would be nice to buy myself something for the trip, I decided for this long haul flight to invest in some noise-cancelling headphones.  As I was a noise-cancelling headphone virgin, I did some research and bought a relatively cheap pair via EBay (about $26 with good reviews).  Aside from being able to hear the movies much clearer without having to crank up the volume, I found them also helped with the engine noise - mind you things have changed and once the plan was cruising it was actually rather quiet in the cabin.

This was a direct flight to Beijing.  Surprisingly, it was only to be a 12 hour flight.  Based on my trip to Vietnam last year, I was budgeting one of those 19 hour jobs, but wow - this was a somewhat quick flight.  The movie selection on Air China was very limited in terms english movies but I ended up watching Rush, something else I can't remember and about half of The Butler.  The food on the plane....well, it sucked.  Normally I would say airplane food always sucks but if you've flown Singapore Airlines then you'll know that's not true!   But hey, I don't like eating much on long flights anyway so it was fine.  My rationale is that if you're in a seated position for that long and putting food in your body, you are setting yourself up for constipation.  Just a guess.

It was a smooth flight and the great part of those late flights is you sleep through most of it and when you wake up, you're almost at your destination.  There was a cute Chinese lady in the row next to us with a little baby.  Before I knew it Steve, the oil field truck driver was hitting on her.  As I would later found out, his rule is that it doesn't count as being married until he's inside of China so anything else is free game.  Can't argue with that.  He was a likeable character however being sat between a 280 - 300 pound guy doesn't give me much room to move!  

All in all, I was very happy with our flight and Air China as well as the air hostesses, stewardesses, eye candy, whatever you call them these days!!!  About 5:15am we touched down!  Steve and the lady next to him exchanged qq info (some sort of app where you chat via your phone, like whatsapp), I kicked myself for not having chatted with her before he did, and we cleared customs.  CHINA HERE I COME.

To be continued.....


Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Signs

There are always signs, you just have to open your eyes and listen. Yes, I said that correctly: "open your eyes and listen." Some may doubt the ability of us to shape our universe, or for our souls to perpetuate after the death of our body. What ever you believe to be true, ultimately is true. Therefore, I write this latest post to encourage you to believe in the things you want to be true. Avoid questioning or doubting that which you want.

My latest example involves my wonderful brother and kitten, Mr. T. As some of you who follow this blogAs science and physics indicate, matter can neither be created nor destroyed. Therefore life in the existence of what gives a body consciousness, cannot similarly be destroyed and cease to exist.
know, Mr. T passed away unexpectedly several years ago. We were very close and I felt he is a reflection of me. He died on a late Sunday morning. That whole week was a difficult one for me and my family. My greatest hope was that there was more after death. Whether it was heaven or something to do with our souls continuing to exist after our death, it did not matter. I just wanted to know that Mr. T was okay. Furthermore my mind could not process that a life and soul as kind as Mr. T's could simply cease to exist.

Two supernatural events occurred that week following the passing of Mr. T. Late one night I was listening to an audio book about how our pets' souls do go to heaven and how we see them in the afterlife and that they even visit us from time to time. While listening to this heart warming audio book, I saw a white ball of light rise to the right of me and disappear. No, I do not take drugs, nor was I tired. What was it? It was about the size of a small Christmas globe. Could it have been the sign I was looking for?

I received my divine confirmation and indisputable sign exactly one week later and probably to the minute Mr. T died. It was now Sunday. I regularly attend the Self-Realization Center at Lake Shrine, which has a service every Sunday in which they talk about something spiritual. Every week has a topic, and all topics have been laid out a year in advance. During the week, I had hoped they would talk about death or the afterlife so that I may find some comfort. Unfortunately, when I checked the schedule online, the subject had nothing to do with that.

My Mother and I showed up to listen to the speaker...and he announced that he would be talking about what happens when those we love die.  You may think I am making this up, but I am not!  This was not even a topic for any other week that they had rescheduled - the speaker had for some unknown explanation changed the subject to discuss death, what happens when we die, and how we can even still communicate to those we love who have died.  During the discussion, he even went through what it felt like to die.  I cried quite a bit during this process and felt Mr. T all around me.  I knew it was his sign in shifting the Universe around me to give me this comfort that he would forever be within my reach.

After that day, there was no doubt.  We produce the Universe around us with our thoughts.  Whether negative or positive, whether fantastic or sad, whether unbelievable or bland.  So choose your thoughts wisely, and never, ever, disbelieve that you are your own God.
  

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Don't Call It a Comeback, I've Been Here For Years.

So you may be wondering - where the hell did I go?  Well, I've been around.  And NO - I'm not back to this blog because of a breakup, believe it or not.  I actually just got back from a fantastic trip to China after not having gone on a real vacation in over a year and realized how therapeutic this blog is for me.  You see, when we get caught up in the everyday of life and work, it can begin to weigh down upon us and we need an escape.  For me, that escape is going on a trip somewhere and not worrying about clients or better yet, not having clients constantly asking me to fix their lives.  It can be draining and stressful.


You know how when you return from vacation you feel lighter?  You look 10 years younger?  Nothing can phase you and you come home with a great outlook on life.  However, if we are not careful upon our return, it doesn't take long for the stresses of life to quickly catch up to us and wipe that glow off of us.  Although I am very jetlagged, I like the fact that it is 3am, I am wide awake to be with myself, and you all, my loyal readers.

Today was supposed to be my first day back to work but I woke up at 4pm and while trying to catch up on a  million emails realized that I was falling back into a routine which had become old to me.  Compounded with an annoying client who wanted to vent to me via email and voicemails about his problems with the DMV, I *almost* found myself thinking negatively and writing something nasty back to the client.  It is at this point where I realized that this return from China is my chance to do things differently.
We can't change how people are, but we can change how we react to people. 
My goal is to keep my luster, my back-from-vacation glow.  It is mine to keep and to share!  But it is also mine to lose.  I urge everyone to work on maintaining your glow every day.  When you are in a good mood, it is your responsibility to not let others take that away from you.  Some call this glow a "halo" or "aura".  Jesus had an aura which people followed.  Many people who are leaders have certain magnetic auras as well.  Why do you think it is someone can be physically beautiful but not have anyone ever wanting to talk with them, meanwhile someone considered much less attractive (by superficial societal norms), can walk into a room and people flock to their presence?  The answer lies in their aura.

I am going to keep my aura by changing the channel when negative instances occur.  If a client calls that I know will affect my mood or my aura, I won't answer.  If I get an email which I know will stress me, I can choose to simply delete it or read it later.  Each one of you has the power to change the channel.  Your life is your personal TV set, and you happen to be in control of the remote!  

And on that note - I also want to announce that I am going to posting more pictures on this blog as well as talking much more about all of my travels.  I hope you'll enjoy it.  Once you hear how amazing Beijing and Shanghai are I am sure you'll want to pay them a little visit.

Until next time...and that time will be later this week as opposed to months from now.....