Tag Archives: Year of the Tiger

Monkey Says “NO” to Wasabi Peas

11 May

Our Monkey with His Snack of Choice

Almost the entire country of China shut down for 2 weeks in February to celebrate the Year of the Tiger. So with the doors of NCGA (Brett’s work) closed for business, we had no other choice than to hop a flight to Bali.  (I hope the sarcasm in that sentence is as obvious as intended.)

Before I can go into any details of the trip, I must first tell you that Brett and I are both geographically challenged when it comes to the size of Asia.  We mistakenly assumed that our flight time from Beijing would be 4-5 hours, when in reality, it was 9 hours of air time plus an overnight stay in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.  Needless to say that when we finally arrived, we wanted nothing more than a cold beverage (avec bourbon) by the pool!

Our hotel, The Ayana Resort, is comprised of 78 freestanding, cliff-top villas.  Each villa has its own infinity edge pool overlooking the Indian Ocean.  Honestly, it is pretty ridiculous.  I should now take the time to selfishly thank all those involved in causing the  financial crisis, which allowed us to afford a vacation at this small piece of heaven on earth.  Best to look at the bright side of things, right?

Our villa was so secluded that at times we felt completely removed from all civilization.  Although I suppose the blaring Bose speakers, the Michelin Star quality room service, and the personal butler were pretty clear reminders. Sarcasm intended.   Those modern luxuries aside, the remoteness of our accommodations contributed greatly to our most favorite Balinese experience (or Balanean experience in Brett speak).

It was our very first day.  We were playing in the pool and my back was to the ocean.  With a very odd look on his face, Brett announced that a rather decent size monkey was rapidly approaching us.  As a monkey lover and one born in the year of the monkey, I was immediately filled with excitement.  Could it be?  Another monkey for my monkey pack?  (The Hangover movie reference) .  The truth is, the monkey was not trying to join my monkey pack.  In fact, he just wanted our food.  He initially went for a full bag of wasabi peas.  We assumed, after he spit them out faster than a Nolan Ryan fastball in his prime, he was not a fan.  Luckily for him (it was definitely a him) there was also a delicious bag of salt and vinegar potato chips nearby.  With a human like grip, he carried the bag to our cabana, reclined on the plush cushions, and proceeded to eat the entire bag…one chimp…I mean one chip at a time.

Visiting a Rice Paddy in Bali

While the wild monkey visit was a highlight for me, Bali had so much more to offer.  We visited amazing rice paddies, beautiful coffee plantations, and an entire wild monkey forest.

There are so many extraordinary resorts on the island of Bali; however, I strongly recommend Ayana.  The Spa on the Rocks is to die for, and the location on the island receives the most sunshine of any other spot.  Life is short.  Go to Bali.


BTW:  The monkey did visit us again.  On the 2nd visit, he realized that we did not have any accessible food. So…he peed all over Brett’s flip-flops, and left.  Good times.

Tasting Kopi Lawak Balinese Coffee

Feeding a Monkey in the Wild Monkey Forest

Ni hao!

1 Apr

Okay….so I have been in Beijing since December 28th.  Today is April 1st, and this is my first entry.  I have quite a bit of catch up to do.  A lot has happened in the last 3 months, but I am  going to start with one of my favorite nights to date since my arrival – February 13th – New Year’s Eve in China.

Around the 1st of February, I began to notice that fireworks shops were popping up on every other street corner.  It reminded me of driving though Tennessee the week before July 4th.  What I didn’t initially realize is that these shops were not just selling your basic bottle rockets, sparklers, and poppers.  These little shanties were peddling top of the line, Macy’s Fourth of July Firework Extravaganza style fireworks to average Chinese citizens.

Almost 2 weeks passed and February 13th arrived.  Brett and I were enjoying our Saturday morning with a marathon of Top Chefs (downloaded on Apple TV) when we noticed very loud booms starting to go off.  It was sporadic at first; however, as the day progressed the booms became closer and closer together.  By nightfall the booms were a constant, and we fully realized what was happening.  The Year of the Tiger celebration was in full force.  Of the 8 large windows in our apartment, we could see about 4 firework displays from each one.  Yes – that’s around 32 firework displays going off at any given point!   I am crazy for fireworks so this was truly the most amazing display of pyrotechnics I had ever seen.   We watched for hours – toasting to the Tiger and to our new adventure.  By 3 AM (after 8 hours of fire in the sky perfection) we were out of champagne and ready for bed.

We foolishly set our alarm for the next morning, which proved to be completely unnecessary, as the booming fireworks continued through the night and for the next 2 weeks of Spring Festival.  Growing up in Murray with the Fabulous Freedom Fest, I thought that we had patriotism and pride in our country down to perfection….clearly the Ole’ US of A needs to step it up a notch!

or….HAPPY NEW YEAR in Chinese!

Beijing Tip:  A great spot for watching the official Beijing Fireworks Show is from China Bar on the 65th floor of the Park Hyatt Hotel.  Be sure to make a reservation at a table by the window.

Park Hyatt Beijing
2 Jianguomenwai Street, Chaoyang District
People’s Republic of China
Tel: +86 10 8567 1234

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