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Tag Archives: culture

Blyde River Canyon…A Bit Belated

19 Mar

The Beautiful Blyde River Canyon

As it always does…time has slipped through my fingers once again.  Not only have I not posted anything in regards to China lately, I haven’t posted  – well…anything at all!  So, I thought I would step back in time for a moment and finish sharing the tales our adventures in Africa this past October.  It was brought to my attention that I never wrote about the Blyde River Canyon or Mozambique.  Two places that definitely deserve recognition (and high praise…Nick Cage style).

Stealing a kiss at the top of God's Window on top of the Blyde River Canyon

From Camp Jabulani (where I left off…see the following link for details:  https://ablondeinbeijing.com/2011/12/27/its-all-about-the-elephants/) we traveled to the Cybele Forest Lodge and Spa – a Relais & Chateaux property nestled in the woods of northern South Africa.  The lodge is perched 3,000-feet above sea level amidst Mpumalanga’s forests, mountains and meadows between White River and Hazyview. Owners Rupert and Barbara Jeffries have transformed the original hunting lodge they bought in 1979 to a cosy, yet stylish retreat. There are twelve quaint cottages and ours had  the added advantage of our own heated swimming pool!  It was divine!

Brett standing in God's Window at Blyde River Canyon

During our two nights stay, we took all of our meals in our room at the dining table or poolside on the patio.  It was the ultimate in privacy.  We did leave the room…twice.  Once for a couple’s massage and once for a helicopter ride through the canyon, complete with a stop at God’s Window for a champagne picnic.  Needless to say, it was a very strenuous 48 hours.

Champagne picnic at the top of God's Window

Heli Silhouette

I honestly had never heard of the Blyde River Canyon (the 3rd largest in the world – not to mention that it is a GREEN canyon) until we began our research for the trip.  I am so glad that we made the decision to venture off the beat and path to see this side of South Africa.  It was completely unexpected, and is mostly highly recommended.  I don’t think it is possible to truly capture the beauty of this magical place with unprofessional photographer hands (like ours), but I  hope that our pictures capture enough of its essence to encourage you to visit.

One of many waterfalls falling through the Blyde River Canyon

Our fantastic pool. We did have to watch out for the monkeys though! Little thieves that they are...

Thank you Cybele Forest Lodge & Spa for such a rejuvenating stay!  Just writing and remembering has relaxed me…and well, distracted me from the hazardous pollution of Beijing.  Literally.  The “pollution-o-meter” recommends staying in today.  So – Blyde Blogging it is!

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Only in China: JAMMED!

21 Feb

While it was certainly not the first “JAM” I have spotted in China, it was one of the more intense.  It is also Reason Number 486:  Why I will not be driving a motor bike anytime soon.  Reasons 1 through 485….I am a terrible driver.  Period.

Royal Russia – Day 3

6 Feb

The majority of our 3rd day in Saint Petersburg was spent strolling through the room after room of the majestic Hermitage.   Of course we only saw a tiny fraction of the treasures that the Hermitage holds (it would take 365 days of touring for nine years to see every item in the collection) but what we did see was remarkable.  In actual fact, the building itself is outstanding even without its contents.

My wonderful husband intently studying one of the exhibits in the Hermitage.  I couldn’t stop myself from intently studying him!

Then…I suppose – he was studying me!

Snapping a photo of the above hallway – one of the more famous ones in the Winter Palace would have been nearly impossible in the summertime.  But again, we were rewarded for braving the cold and had much of the Hermitage to ourselves.  The only downside being that the Museum workers snapped at me for wearing high-heeled boots that made “too loud of a noise” when I walked.  Had others been around…I don’t think they could have singled me out!

Honestly, I don’t know the name or anything about the artist of this statue – but of all the things we saw that day, it was my absolute favorite.  Most likely because it reminded me of my two darling and very best friends – Mary Kay Bowden and Kimmy Willson.  Not that they look anything like the statue!  It just reminded me of our days as little girl ballerinas dancing together.

After hours of art and culture – we decided to treat ourselves to proper cocktails and appetizers at the Lobby Bar in the Grand Europe Hotel just off of the Nevsky Prospect.  Great company, great drinks, and great people watching.  The furs alone made my mouth water.  Sorry PETA.

We ended our night with a divine meal at Mix – the new Alain Ducasse restaurant in the W Hotel.  Once again we filled our bellies to the point of explosion!  Below are two images of our favorite dishes…

Our first courses were our favorites. LEFT: Brett's Chicory Ham and Black Truffle. RIGHT: My Soft Boiled Egg, Tender Lentils, and Toasted French Baguette.

Just as expected, day 3 in Saint Petersburg did not disappoint – but just like the 2 previous days, we were absolutely spent at the end of it.  There is so much history to learn, so much beauty to absorb, and so much food to eat that our brains and bellies needed to rest!

Up Next: Royal Russia – Day 4…Off to the Ballet!

A Portrait of China – REVEALED!

5 Feb

For some reason this post never actually POSTED! Sorry for the delay…

The one thing that I have not seen in almost 2 1/2 years of living in China is…

 Chinese People Making Out!

Congratulations!  Over 47% of you got it right!

Royal Russia – Day 1

3 Feb

After the airport debacle in Moscow, we decided to live it up Russian style.   Like a Tsar and his Tsarina, we would rule the town (in our minds anyway!) for the remainder of our trip.  Let them eat beluga!

We touched down in Saint Petersburg – after a quick and painless 1 1/2 hour flight from Moscow around lunchtime.  By 1PM we had already checked into our room at the wonderful Hotel Astoria.  Choosing a hotel is always a little difficult when there are several of interest to you, but I feel confident that we chose right!  The Grand Europe Hotel is too dated now and the new W Hotel is just well…too American.  Don’t get me wrong, I love America – but I wanted something a bit more authentic.  That said, it didn’t stop us from eating dinner one night at Mix, the new Alain Ducasse restaurant inside the W.  Delicious!

By 2:30PM, we were in the car with our tour guide for an afternoon of sight seeing.  This is when our love affair with Russia officially began.  Here is our journey through pictures:

In front of the Church of Resurrection – also known as Church on the Spilled Blood as it was built on the site of the mortal wounding of Emperor Alexander II who was assassinated there on March 1, 1881.

Brett studying the gorgeous mosaics that cover almost every inch of the inside of the church.  It took over 24 years to complete the church’s interior decor.

Standing on one of the many bridges of Saint Petersburg with the LOML (love of my life) –  Church on the Spilled Blood in the background.

The Peter and Paul Fortress - Saint Petersburg, Russia

Whispering my secret wish into this creatures ear.  According to Russian superstitions…it will now come true!  We shall see….

View of the Hermitage from across the frozen river

About to enjoy an amazing meal at Palkin – one of the top Russian cuisine restaurants in Saint Petersburg.  They pretty much had to roll us out after our meal…

I love to watch my husband study a menu.  His intensity is endearing and amusing at the same time.  This  dedication always results in an amazing meal experience, and this meal was no exception.

From the Herring & crème fraîche cocktail starter, to the vodka & caviar tasting with warm buttered blinis, to the cevette (mushroom) soup, to the homemade strawberry sorbet palette cleanser, to the Beef Stroganoff....

To the grand finale...a whole Sturgeon - filleted table side. Also, the wine carafe (and the wine in it of course)was fantastic!

At the end of our 4-hour plus meal…we were spent.  To bed we went to get our beauty rest for another full day of Royal Russia – starting with Catherine’s Palace in Pushkin, just outside of Saint Petersburg.

Stayed tuned for our full day of regal palaces!

 

A Portrait of China

16 Jan

I recently saw this painting in a restaurant here in Beijing.  Of all the chaos happening in this picture, can you guess which item or action I haven’t seen yet with my own two eyes???

Answer coming soon….

Classy Bride?

25 Sep

I don’t know if it was the carnival theme itself that made me forget that I was the “bride” or just the nature of being a Kentucky girl at heart that brought out my “trashy” side…but after looking through the photos, I realized that I may have had a few questionable moments at the Circus of Love.  I mean – there was a point when my mother’s amazing friend, Jeannetta, told me to put down “one” of my drinks.  Seriously…a double-fisting bride?  Who did I think my groom was? Edward Forty-Hands?

Taking a shot of Blanton's with my friend, Ellen. Clearly, she is also a Kentuckian!

 

Big Top Bourbon Tasting

 

Ouch! Caught "pink" handed with 2 drinks!

 

Cracking open a Pabst Blue Ribbon!

 

Why toast with champagne when you have PBR?

Images courtesy of Eden Ink Photography

Only in China

22 Sep

The only way in which my words can possibly complement the images below is by merely explaining verbatim the situation that is occurring in each one.  Not to suggest that you can’t see what it going on in the photos with your own eyes…but even after witnessing these actions with mine, I had a hard time believing it.

Picture This:  Bumper to bumper traffic across 12 lanes in pouring rain on the streets of downtown Beijing.  This makes the work of a New York City garbage man look like a cake walk.

Picture this:  A metal ladder balancing on a plastic bucket turned upside down, resting against live power lines.  Seriously.  You can’t make this up.  Also, look closely…no hard hats or any sort of protective gear.  Where is OSHA when you need them?

Nascar in China

13 Sep

Not so fast Nascar fans(pun intended).  While Formula 1 has a large audience here, the more American styles of car racing have a long way to go.  A recent event hosted by P1.cn (the chinese equivalent to Facebook except you have to be invited) proved that unlike in America, a racing event in China (with over a billion more people than the US mind you) cannot pull in 100,000+ screaming (okay…often drunk) fans and cause traffic jams for miles.  The fact the we were allowed to chill inside the flag box says a lot, but the picture of the empty stands below says it best.

We really did have such a great time though – 100,000 other fans or not.  Our friends Moya and David (who invited us) were a blast as always.  Plus, there was a VIP room with food, free drinks, and most importantly air conditioning to get a break from the Beijing heat.  And, as you will see below – we had fun playing in P1’s photo booths!

Moya Li and David Soffer Posing for the Camera

Morgan Hutchinson and Moya Li. Do you like how we both dressed for a racing event?

Me and My Wonderful Husband.

Blondes in Beijing!!

18 Jul
Two blondes in a sea of beautiful Beijing brunettes (both from South of the Mason-Dixon Line).   Unfortunately…I am the extremely short one (and according to the Beatles Cover Band that was playing that night, I am dressed as Aladdin).  Thanks Chinese Ringo.

Morgan Hutchinson & Sarah Wilson

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