Monday, August 16, 2010

Great Vacation? Or Greatest Vacation?

YOU DECIDE! :-)

So after eight months of working 12 hour days, I finally decided it was time to TAKE
SOME TIME OFF and go and see some of the natural wonders that South East Asia has to offer. Specifically Thailand.

And there is no way that I would be so selfish to experience this alone, so my great friend Kim Wienches who graduated with me from Elizabethtown college was my partner in crime during this epic Asian adventure.

There were soooo many amazing things that happened on this trip, that the form of this blog is going to have to take a list/narrative approach just to prevent me from going into an uncontrollable rant about how awesome everything was. Kim and I also wrote down the highlights of each day as they happened, so this post are merely the highlights of an otherwise indescribably journey.

July 31st, 2010

1. Kim Wienches arrived at around 10:30, Saturday night. You would think she would be tired from her 16 hour flight, no? Absolutely not! We go to my apartment, have a glass of very nice chardonnay to celebrate having 3 Etown Alumni in Southeast Asia together, and head out to the nightclub across the street from my apartment to experience some of that crazy Asian nightlife. The main difference between nightclubs in Asia and American nightclubs are the quantity of people. There are waaaay more people in Singapore clubs than back in the US, and about ½ as many people dancing. It's like standing on a crowded subway train, but with Justin Timberlake playing in the background. But all in all, it was good fun.

August 1st (Singapore)

1. What better way to experience a country and culture than to simply wander around aimlessly. We started in Little India (and if you know anything about Singapore, NEVER go to Little India on a Sunday. You’re literally swimming in a sea of brown). We played a game called “Find the no mustached man”….nobody won. Our trip then took us around the heart of Singapore. We saw a couple monuments that were pretty much labeled “Singapore hates Japan.” I got to impress Kim with my Chinese when we ate in Chinatown. Or I could have just been making it up, she wouldn't have known. :-)

2. Later in the day we got all dandied up and went to the Sentosa Casino. Singaporean casino’s are literally the exact opposite of any American casino’s. It was as quite as a library, the only drinks being served were coffee (the casino was actually making people more sober?!?!), and the biggest game was one that utilized the dice popper from board game “Trouble.” However, they still make about hundreds of millions of dollars in revenues a year...weird

3. After the Casino, we saw a giant statue of a 1/2 Lion, 1/2 mermaid and started walking to it. This is the national monument of Singapore called the Merlion. When we proceeded to go inside, we watched the movie of the "Mystery of the Merlion." We then proceeded to go to up into it's mouth and onto it's head, for a birds eye (or lion's eye?) view of Singapore at night.


August 2nd (Phuket, Thailand)

1. We flew out of Singapore very early in the morning and landed 90 minutes later in Phuket. Just to fill everyone in, Phuket is an Island (a little bigger than Manhattan island, with 1/10th the population) on the western border of Thailand.

2. Our first encounter with a Ladyboy (What Thailand is famous for) was the taxi booking agent at the airport. Just to fill everyone in again… here is the Webster definition of a “Ladyboy.” Lady-Boy: informal a transvestite or transsexual, esp one from the Far East. They’re socially acceptable in Thailand and they are everywhere!

3. I almost didn’t get through customs in the Phuket Airport because I got the one Trainee customs Agent spent 15 minutes staring at my passport. Fun.

4. Once in Phuket, we rented a large motorcycle for about $20.00 a day to take around the island.

5. While driving to the Giant Buddha on one of the mountain tops, we got caught in a monsoon and had to pull into a really shadiest gas station on this back road, aka: a man’s garage. We filled up from the gas pump aka: the one liter bottle filled with gasoline. And we both got some refreshing beverages, aka: neon green mango Thai Fanta.

6. After we saw the Giant Buddha, we drove to Wat Chalung which is the largest temple in Phuket. While here we saw all the things you would expect to find at a Buddhist temple…stray dogs, firecrackers, and postcards of elephants “getting it on.” But other than that it was a very gorgeous building with my great paintings and statues

7. After the very diverse temple, we drove to the cape of Phuket only to come across Kim’s worst fear. For everyone who doesn’t know, Kim is not a fan of birds. And who did we find at the cape, but a man with two giant sea eagles that you could take your picture with. Kim was not amused. Haha. We ended up going down the wrong path on the cape and had to scale a wall to get back to the parking lot.

8. We had lunch while watching a Thai Kickboxing practice. Those guys are tiny but I have no doubt they could kick my butt.

9. We saw a little naked boy getting the tradition Thai bath from his parents. It was a hose on the street.

10. We were offered a massage from a sign that was simply labeled “Many kinds of Massage.”

11. That night we went out and had a drink at a little….”Outdoor Kiosk” is I guess is how I would label it, and played some Thai Jenga, which is a lot more challenging than US Jenga.

PHEW! Day 1 done!

August 3rd, (Ko Phi Phi, Thailand)

1. 1. We woke up early and took a 2 hour ferry ride out of Phuket to this tiny Island called Ko Phi Phi. (Google it, it’s gorgeous)

2. Our bellhop was a man in a sleeveless shirt who met us at the pier with a giant metal cart for my tiny backpack and Kim’s purse.

3. Our hotel was a little Bungalow that was right off the beach.

4. We immediately went to the beach and rented a kayak and some snorkels. We kayaked for about 1 hour out to Monkey beach (WHERE THERE WERE NO MONKEYS, false advertising), and spent another couple hours snorkeling in some of the clearest water I’ve ever been in.

5. Somewhere around this time, the best phrase of the trip came about. “I’ve got coral in my bikini bottoms.” …Thanks Kim…thanks.

6. We got back to the shore and had a couple drinks on the beach in the most confusing beach bar I’ve ever seen. It was a Bob Marley themed bar, which only played music by The Police; it was full of2 week old kittens running around the floor; it only served Italian food; and to top it all off, there was a table of typical loud Irish guys who only ordered Shmirnoff Ices! If that sentence doesn’t blow your mind, I don’t know what will. Also while on the beach, there was a freak storm. We were sitting there in the sun and within about 10 seconds, a huge wall of wind hit the beach, started blowing towels and chairs around, the sky turned black in 30 seconds, and all the boats almost immediately disappeared out of the cove. It was really strange. I took a video of it and posted it on my flickr.

7. The original plan to go out that night, but Kim was covered in bug bites and I looked like an embarrassed tomato from being so sunburn. We were so tired that even the bass music thumping outside on the beach till 5 am couldn’t keep us awake.

August 4th, (Phuket, Thailand)

1. It was another early morning as we met the ferry and took the two hour trek back to Phuket for another fun filled day of exploring the island on our motorcycle.

2. The one thing Kim wanted to do in Thailand was ride an elephant, and today her wish came true. We found an elephant trekking camp, and rode an elephant through the jungle with our little Thai elephant handler sitting on the elephants head and guiding it by going “UNG, and AGH!” Then, halfway through our excursion through the jungle, the little guy got off, told Kim to climb onto the head, and then just walked far behind us as we did a near vertical decent back down the mountain!!! Kim Wienches…Elephant rider!

3. Later we found out what the heck rubber tapping was, after seeing signs all along the island to "Come see the rubber tapping show!" It’s basically milking a rubber tree like how you milk a tree for sap for syrup. Not as exciting as it sounds....not that it sounds that exciting to begin with.

4. For our last night in Phuket, we went and played some Dinosaur Mini-golf that had the easiest holes, but some of the most elaborate special effects I’ve ever seen in a miniature golf course.(I won, 51-50) ;-) Then we went to an extremely nice outdoor restaurant that my company sells wine to called “On the Rocks.” The restaurant rests on the rocks on the edge of the beach. We had a terrific dinner as we watched the waves and could see the entire 5 mile Phuket shoreline at night.

August 5th, (Bangkok, Thailand)

1. The third and final stop on our vacation was Bangkok: Capital of Thailand.

2. We left early in the morning again and took a 45 min plane ride to Bangkok followed by a one hour ride into the city to our hotel from who we think was the city’s twitchiest cab driver in all of Thailand.

3. As you have read, this had been a pretty epic vacation so far, so today was our recovery/relax day. We got to the hotel, went to 7/11 and got caught in another tsunami with the world’s cruddiest umbrella’s, and played cards in our room till we worked up enough energy to go have dinner.

4. For dinner, we went to a nice Thai style restaurant that was supposed to have a traditional Thai culture dance routine. Turns out the dance was a somewhat depressed girl with two fans slowly spinning in a circle for 20 minutes. Entertaining nonetheless. And the traditional Thai cuisine was what made the restaurant great.

August 6th, (Bangkok)

1. Kim and I got up around 7 am and met a van outside of our hotel that drove us about 2 hours outside of the city to the traditional fruit and vegetable floating market. We took a boat down the canal through the market and it was a truly unprecedented experience.

2. We then walked along the canal looking at all the stalls of people selling things to tourists and Kim had her first negotiating experience trying to buy some Tiger Balm. You should have seen her, she was cut throat, bargaining the price lower and lower, until the woman nearly gave her the balm for free haha, jk. The woman grabbed Kim and started giving her a message as innocent Kim walked by. Kim proceeded to try and get away and in the struggle, the woman dropped and broke the glass jar of balm. Kim’s philanthropic heart took over and she immediately purchased another jar for the woman’s obviously overpriced asking price. Hope that is some amazing tiger balm :)

3. On the way back to Bangkok, the van stopped at an Elephant/Monkey center and we saw a monkey show where we were literally the only people in the audience besides an Indian couple. The show was about 10% entertaining, 90% cruel.

4. Afterwards we went to the Antique and Woodcarving center of Thailand and saw some of the most ornate, decorative wood pieces and furniture we have ever seen. There were life size wooden elephants that were carved out of a single piece of wood!!!

5. Kim and I then stopped at the largest emerald & ruby store/refinement center in Thailand…or the world…can’t remember. Needless to say, we saw some BIG shiny stones.

6. After we got back to Bangkok, we got dropped off at Khao San road, which is the big tourist street in Bangkok. Kim tried flexing her negotiating arm again and got a nice pair of sunglasses for pretty cheap.

7. Following that, we got in a taxi and sat in traffic for about 45 minutes and moved only about 10 feet. So we decided to pay two guys on motorcycles to take us back to the hotel. These two guys apparently must have been daredevils by night because we were speeding through Thai traffic , weaving between cars and racing Tuk-Tuks (a motorcycle with a carriage on the back). I’ve bungee jumped, went deep sea fishing for sharks, dove off cliffs in Mexico, but this was without a doubt one of the scariest moments of my life.

8. Say what you will about ladyboys, but one thing that they can really do is put on a fantastic Broadway Caberet Show. I'll let you check out the videos on my flickr page and decide for yourself. Just remember that THEY ARE ALL GUYS!!!! I had to keep reminding myself too, so don't worry.

9. Later that night, Kim and I went out and experienced a little of the nightlife that Bangkok has become infamous for. You can ask me about the details of that in person as this blog is family friendly.

August 7th, (Bangkok)

1. It was the last day of the trip and coincidentally the first day where we could actually sleep in. Well deserved.

2. Later, Kim and I took a taxi to the largest river running through Bangkok. Once here, we paid a woman with a boat to take us up the river stopping at a couple of the largest temples in Thailand and ending at the Grand Palace.

3. After exploring the Grand Palace and the museum of royal artifacts we left and Kim was so confident with her bargaining now, that she bought a fan off a woman on the street for practically nothing. Kim also finally convinced me to take a Tuk-Tuk back to the hotel. Fun fact, people over 6 feet tall, DO NOT fit in Tuk Tuks.

4. For our last meal, Kim and I made reservations at the seafood restaurant on the 78th floor of the tallest building in Thailand. The great food was only heightened by the random Thai Clown, Thai Charlie Chaplin, and Thai ‘Stomp’ walking around.

5. Afterwards, we went up to the ‘space’ bar on the top floor and I beat Kim in yet another game, darts. We then went up even higher to the 360 degree revolving platform on the outside of the top of the skyscraper and witnessed a breathtaking view of Bangkok at night. The perfect ending, to a perfect vacation, with a perfect Etown friend.



August 8th

1. Happy B-day to me!

2. Kim flew back to the USA at 6:30 am and I flew back to Singapore at 8:00 am.

If you want, you can take a look at my flickr page to see the pictures of the trip, the temples, and the Thais Here

OH…! One last thing! The Great Durian Mystery: Kim and I noticed there were signs all over South East Asia banning eating Durians (a large fruit) in public places, elevators, near elephants. We even tried to buy one at the floating market and the old woman on the boat refused to sell it to us. The plot thickened! We finally got our hands on one in an alleyway on the last day and solved this nail biting mystery of why you’re not allowed to eat them anywhere…..they taste bad and smell 10 times worse than the taste. If a Cantaloupe and a stink bomb had a baby, it would be a Durian.

Mystery Solved, Vacation Complete. See everyone in December :-)

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Singapore Stories

Hi, remember me. In case you don't, my name is Ezra. I used to live in China, now I live in Singapore. I work for a large international wine company. I like long walks on the beach, curling up to the fireplace with a good book, and forgetting to update my blog. Sorry. But I'm back now.

"What's New?" you say? Well, I'm glad you asked that. Lots in fact.

It has been two and a half months since I moved to Singapore, but it only seems like two and a half days. Time has really been flying recently, but I'm attributing that to how, almost comically, busy I have been recently. When you work everyday from 8:30 - 7:00, pretty much the only thing I'm up for at the end of the day is a sandwich and a nap (which usually turns into me just sleeping all the way until the following morning.)

Singapore itself though is a great place.
The weather is spectacular, as long as the temperature stays below 90, the humidity stays below 80%. However, that hardly happens so I make sure to put on my daily three layers of deodorant.
One general consensus that I got from people before I got here, was that Singapore was pretty boring. And.....I would have to agree and disagree with them. There are a good number of things to do here which include going to Sentosa Beach, walking around Little India or Chinatown, bargaining for cheap electronics at Sim Lim Market, or going to the zoo or Universal Studios. Most of the things (minus the exploring), usually cost money, and a lot of it. So those who are looking to save and not go broke, myself included, usually stay in. That, coupled with my long hours, have prevented me from doing too much the last 2.5 months. Long story short, I'm bored.

The only thing breaking up the monotonous 8:30-7:00 work schedule are the occasional business trips. I went to South Korea two weeks ago to give a presentation to the Wine & Cheese of Seoul in front of about 200 people.

Next week I'm traveling to Bangkok and Phuket in Thailand to train the sales team about how they can sell wine. What they should emphasize when pushing red and whites, who they should be targeting, etc.

I've also been taking a wine class to break up the daily routine. So by the time I'm back to the USA in 5 months time, I'm practically going to be a wine sommelier. Not too bad, considering 6 months ago, all I knew was, "Wine in a box tastes good."

I've posted a bunch of pictures from my Iphone on my flickr... Also.. I have an Iphone now, and it's awesome!

I'm gonna try and keep up more now that I actually know that my grandfather reads and enjoys these. :-)

Things Ezra has learned...
  1. Crossing guards dress funny in Korea. Like a cross between a cowboy and a baton twirler.
  2. Don't jog early in the morning on the mountain behind my apartment, that's when the monkeys are out.
  3. Nothing good ever came out of eating "Broccoli Chips"
  4. Never go into Little India on a Sunday. It is literally a sea of brown people.
  5. Living alone is overrated
  6. Carrot Cake in Singapore - There are no carrots, and it's not even close to a cake
  7. I never thought in my life I would miss Taco Bell...but I do
Talk to you soon.

Love,
Ezra

Monday, May 17, 2010

Long time no type.

From South Korea to Singapore, I've done quite a bit more traveling in the past 3-4 weeks.

First, I went to Seoul in South Korea 3 weeks ago to meet with my distributor and work out their marketing plan. Unfortunately, I only spent less than 24 hours in the country, so I really didn't get any time to experience the culture. However, since this was a new place, I still took in a ton of new things and observed a lot of things that were different than China.

If I had to describe South Korea, it seems to be a Japanese mindset in a Chinese infrastructure. They are similar to Japan in the sense that, when they work, they reallllly work. They put in long hours, are extremely professional, and never do anything half fast. But when they go out at night and be social, they realllly go out. The women are some of the most attractive I've seen in Asia, as they spend so much money on beauty items.

The reason I say they're like China is because their biggest city looks nothing more than a giant town. It's an old, very large city, that is spending tons of money to put up sky scrapers and really force themselves into the next century. Even though right beside this skyscraper, is a building that was built in 1920 and falling apart.

Now onto the next huge thing that's happened...I MOVED TO SINGAPORE!!!

The Concha Y Toro company has been in China for about 10 years. But we decided to move to Singapore for a lot of reasons that I'm not going to go into now. It just fits better into our long term plan.

So how would I describe Singapore...? It's a giant shopping mall. Singapore has hundreds upon hundreds of shopping malls. And not the cheap kind of shopping mall that you find in China either, but the expensive kind that would find emptying your wallet without you even noticing.

The people are extremely friendly however. The break down is about 60% Singaporean, 30% Indian, 10% white. But EVERYONE SPEAKS ENGLISH!!!! Hardly anyone speaks Chinese. The hardest part is now having to watch what I say because everyone can understand me now. I could walk around China saying "I'm a pretty little princess" and no one would care or understand....not the same case here. Learned that the hard way.

Things Ezra has learned...
  1. Take pictures before you update a blog post (Soon to come, I promise)
  2. Korean barbecue is taking meat and some other stuff and wrapping in in lettuce like a weird carnivore, vegetarian hybrid taco.
  3. Buildings in Korea are so brightly colored that it looks like an artists color wheel threw up on the city.
  4. I've talked to every taxi cab driver I've rode with in Singapore, and they give the best advice.
  5. I move in into my new apartment on Wednesday. Can't wait to decorate.....that sounded a little weird.
  6. The largest wine fair in the world is coming next week in Hong Kong. I've been working on this for the last 2 months almost non-stop. Don't worry, I'll take lots of pictures so the see the fruits of my labor. Or wines of my labor....? That was dumb, I know.
Talk to you all soon!

Love,
Ezra
4.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Chengdu-de!

So on the plus side, after about 8 months in China, I finally got out of Shanghai to another part of the country. On the down side, I was so busy during the 4 days in Chengdu, I didn’t get a chance to really see much of the city (Apart from the 100 foot statue of Mao hailing a Taxi). Guess I’ll just give you all a recap of what I actually did do in Chengdu.
The reason that I went to Chengdu was because of work. Every year there is this HUGE festival called the Sugar and Spirits fair. And basically any company that has even the slightest connection to food and beverage is there trying to promote their product. The reason I went to this fair was because my Chinese distribution company, Summergate Inc, had a booth there and wanted a representative of Concha Y Toro to help them meet and sign new wholesalers, wine shop owners, and other retailers.

Some of the highlights of the fair included…
  1. The Press Conference- I never thought I would be important enough to be a part of a press conference. I was in a large room with about 30-40 members of Chinese TV stations, wine magazines, and newspapers, as well as about 100-150 people of the general public. I talked about the history of Concha Y Toro, CYT’s partnership with China, and how the earthquake in Chile is going to affect CYT in the future. I even had to answer some questions! Fortunately I had a translator, so I didn’t have to fumble through trying to answer in Chinese. (even though I can now…fumble being the key word).
  2. Dinner with the Wholesalers-One of the nights we had a big dinner at the Shangri-la with the hopeful new wholesalers. It felt like speed dating. Between every course, the wine representatives, including myself, had to stand up, move to a new table, and meet about 20 new people. Unlike speed dating however, I didn’t get any numbers, and most of my dates were old Chinese men. (So I guess I should be grateful I didn’t get any numbers)
  3. TV Interview- At one point during the festival, one of the news stations from Chengdu TV came up to the Summergate stand. They asked me to open a bottle of wine, pour three glasses, and toast the camera; all while telling the legend of our most famous wine Casillero Del Diablo. I’ve never been so nervous in my life!!! But I told the story, poured the wine, toasted the camera, and controlled my bladder. Later, I found out it ended up being a commercial that promoted the Sugar and Spirit fair on pretty much every Chengdu TV station. Awesome.
Now, if that wasn’t enough to make me feel like a celebrity, then simply being in Chengdu accomplished that. I don’t know what it was, but they must have a serious shortage of white guys in Chengdu, or tall ones at least. As I walked around the hundreds of thousands of people at the festival, I must have had my picture taken with at minimum, 500 Chinese people. I eventually ended up just carrying a bottle of my wine around for free publicity for our company. All in all, an amazing experience.

Things Ezra has learned…
  1. Chileans type out laughing “jajajaja” Just typing that makes me laugh…hahaha. Sorry, jajaja
  2. I’ve been working with non-USA people too long. I actually said “Ciao” and didn’t think twice about it. I never realized how many people outside of the US use that word.
  3. I officially have a Chinese metabolism. I drank the tap water and didn’t get sick.
  4. I’m the equivalent of Brad Pitt, Tom Cruise, Hugh Jackman, and a pair of stilts when I go to Chengdu. That city is one huge ego boost for me.
  5. Never tell a Chengdu restaurant owner you want his hottest dish….I couldn’t feel my lips for about 4 hours and I think I lost a little hearing in my left ear….
  6. Domestic flights in China are horrible if you’re over 5 ½ feet tall. My knees were up by my chin.
  7. It’s official, I’m moving to Singapore in 3 weeks. Singapore is basically a clean, western, and more boring version of China….from what I’ve heard. Anywhoo, I’m excited!
Until Sometime soon!

Love,
Ezra

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

My Earth Shattering Chilean Experience…


February 24th: Arrive in Chile for a once in a lifetime opportunity to train with the number three wine company in the world, taste wines with 3rd generation wine growers, and accompany my Japanese clients on a cruise up and down the Chilean coast line.
February 26th: Experience a once in a century earthquake that topples buildings, destroys bridges and roads, causes tsunamis around the world, obliterates vineyards, and ruins Ezra’s plans to do all of the things previously mentioned.
So I got to experience my very first earthquake last week, and this will probably be the strongest earthquake I’ll ever experience. Not only did it ruin my trip, but it also ruined every other earthquake for me because I know none of them will be as good as my first…. That sounded less weird in my head….
Anyway, before I talk about my Chilean experience devoid of earthquake, let me first describe what an 8.8 behemoth feels like, for those of you who have never had the pleasure. It was 3:30 am and I was sleeping in my amazingly soft, not-rock-hard-Chinese bed. When all of the sudden, I was woken up by my bed vibrating. Now, I consider myself a pretty smart guy, but I had never experienced something that would cause my bed to shake spontaneously in the middle of the night. So I deduced what anyone would deduce when they’re sleeping in a strange hotel bed….it’s a plug-in vibrating bed. I wish I was joking, but after a few seconds of looking for the cord, I realized that the whole room was undulating. It wasn’t too bad as I was on the ninth floor, right at the center of the building’s height; the perfect distance from the ground to reduce vibrations but not high enough where the building would sway a significant amount like the Gilligan’s boat on a three hour tour.

But, the quake was strong enough to cause some lamps to fall over, my ceiling and wall’s plaster to crack and dump white molding on me, and cause an extremely loud rumbling sound for about 3 minutes. After it was over, the bellhop came to make sure I was ok, tested the power, and gave me the go ahead to go back to bed….so I did. It wasn’t until the next morning that I learned about the devastation throughout the whole country. So I hope you join me in keeping those less fortunate than I in your hearts and prayers. The aftershocks are still occurring noticeably 3-4 times a day for the last week and a half.
But, other than the Earthquake, CHILE IS AMAZING. The weather is gorgeous, the air is the cleanest I’ve ever breathed, the view of the Andes Mountains bordering the city is phenomenal, and the women aren’t too bad to look at either. ;-) Overall, there is so much culture and beauty here that I wish I could spend more time to travel around…but I go back to China this coming Friday. Oh well, guess this is just another place to visit when I become a millionaire.

Things Ezra has learned…

1. Skype phone calls are much cheaper then calling cards and usually even clearer
2. I don’t want to go back to China, but am going to instead stow away in Chile.
3. Chileans are the fastest Spanish speakers in the world as well as have the longest working hours.
4. Mullets are extremely trendy here. Everyone is business in the front, party in the back.
5. Pisco (Chile’s most famous drink)– Vodka distilled from grapes is delicious. Should have brought two suitcases.
6. Chileans are just as short as Chinese people, and stare just as much. Glad my height makes me stick out no matter what continent I’m on.

YEAR OF THE TIGER!!!!

Xin Nian Kuai Le (Happy New Year)

I had a real misconception about Chinese New Year. I always thought that is was similar to the Calendar New Year, except just a couple months off. You know, everyone stays up till midnight, lights a sparkler, gives a kiss, and goes to bed. Maybe a dragon-train thrown in there somewhere. Boy was I wrong! Chinese New Year is so huge that it takes a whole week to fit in all the festivities and fireworks.

Basically, it starts on February 14th, so Valentines Day will always have its holiday-butt kicked by Chinese New Year. And the butt kicking doesn’t stop there, for the next seven days, it sounds like you’re in WWII. I wish I was exaggerating, but people set off fireworks everywhere for about 7 straight days. My favorite part is that no safety measures are taken. They’ll light them off in the streets between two skyscrapers. God forbid you’re on the 25th floor with your window open because you’re going to have a shower of red sparks come flying into your bedroom. I actually saw a cab swerve around a bottle rocket going off.

My Fireworks Experience…

I lit off a bunch of other people’s fireworks, but unfortunately none of my own. Not that I didn’t try to go out and buy the ‘biggest and baddest’ Chinese fireworks I could find. My friend and I went down this really shady street (Not aware at the time you could buy them in the grocery store) to try and find some fireworks. We finally found this store with big ones, small ones, decorated ones, plain ones, and every sort of one you could imagine. I personally have been saving up for this and spent about $150.00 US dollars on merchandise. I mean, how many times do you get to legally set off fireworks in the country that actually invented them!?!? So I didn’t feel guilty at all. We bought ones ranging from about a foot in length to ones that were 5 feet tall. We were practically drooling with anticipation in the cab ride back to our apartment. So when we finally arrived, we made sure we had a safe perimeter (about 6 feet), took out our lighter, lid the biggest one, ran for cover, and……nothing. Well, not nothing, it was smoking a little bit. And you know the saying, where there's smoke, there's fire....works. Needless to say, we stayed crouched behind our trashcan for about 5 minutes because neither one of us wanted to approach it to see why it was only smoking. After a while we decided it was just defective. So we lit one of the smaller ones, and it too just kinda smoked a little. Turns out, I bought $150.00 dollars worth of PRAYERSTICKS!!!! You light these guys and they smoke for hours and hours and you prayers go up to heaven with the smoke. The bigger the prayer stick, the bigger your prayer. Now, I’m not saying I have anything against prayer sticks, it just would have been nice if my prayers went up in a shower of sparks followed by an loud explosion.

Things Ezra Has Learned…

1. Prayer sticks make great gifts for people back in the states.

2. Prayer sticks are quite handy in the bathroom after …….You know what.

3. Shop owners stop trying to rip you off during Chinese New Year and give you great deals

4. It is extremely unlucky to get married during the New Year

5. How to do Tai Chi thanks to some little old lady in the park

6. Chinese Muslim Shop owners have the best noodle restaurants in the city, I’ve tried three different places and they’re all amazing…

Until Chile....

Love,

Ezra

Monday, March 1, 2010

I'm Fine


Just letting everybody know, I was in Santiago, Chile when the 8.8 earthquake struck a couple days ago.

Fortunately I was in one of the nicer areas of the city where the buildings were properly built to withstand this sort of thing. We also still have water and electricity in my little corner of Santiago. Others aren't as lucky.

For the time being I am going to be staying here in Chile until we get things situated with our company but as far as I'm concerned, the sooner I'm back in China, the better.

I will blog about Chinese New Year very soon as well as my pre-earthquake experience in Chile. But right now, most of my time is being devoted to work and recovery.

Things Ezra has learned...

1. Earthquakes are not as much fun as I thought they would be....

Love,
Ezra