(click on the pictures to see them fullsize and the link below to see a full picture album)
Two posts with ZERO comments? Ouch. Well, we'll assume people are still reading this site and post anyway. We'll try to update more often too. This way everyone can not-comment more frequently. =)
Every first week of October in China is National Day. One of the three golden weeks in China where the entire country has a holiday from work. There aren't many personal vacation days in the Chinese work culture, so these Golden Weeks are the time to travel for EVERYONE.
We (Me, Daisy and 6 other friends) decided on a hidden treasure of an island off the eastern coast of Malaysia called "Tioman Island." It is listed by Time Magazine as one of the ten most beautiful islands in the world. One of the reasons it can preserve its beauty is because it takes some real travel and determination to get there. For us, that meant a 6 hour flight (connecting) to Kuala Lumpur(KL), the capitol city of Malaysia, a 5 hour sleep in a hotel, a 6 hour, early morning busride from KL to the port city of Mersing, where we would catch a 2 hour ferry ride to Tioman Island. It took over 24 hours from the time we left Shanghai to the time we finally stepped foot on the Island.
Our plan for the week was to get away from the hectic city life and spend time just resting and relaxing while appreciating all of this natural beauty. Tioman is a small island that is mostly jungle. There are about 8 beach areas along the shore, which is where small, family owned chalets and restaurants have been set up to host visitors. The only real way to travel from beach to beach is via boat. The island is known for its Scuba and snorkeling. Many areas of live coral, crazy looking fish, reef sharks, sea turtles, etc. Monkeys and Komodo Dragons roam the island as well. We all had our share of fresh fish on the beach, soaking in the warm ocean waters and really had an amazing time.
One of the biggest impressions I have from our trip was the attitude of the local island people towards money. Coming from China, we're conditioned to always be on guard for people trying to take advantage or scam us out of some money. On Tioman, it was the total opposite. Because there really wasn't much on the island, there was almost no point in becoming rich. This resulted in a very relaxed attitude towards money there. They made what they needed to in order to maintain their lifestyle, and they were satisfied with that. We were in a few situations where we asked if there was a charge for something and the answer was "It's up to you. If you want to pay, you can pay, if not, its ok." Then we'd ask "How much?" and again, they'd shrug and smile and say "It's up to you." Even when there WAS a price on something, it was never asked for or negotiated up front. They just said, "Go ahead, take it, pay us whenever." Granted, we were staying at the chalet on a secluded island so we weren't going anywhere, but there wasn't an urgency to guard or hoard money. It was such a pleasant and comforting feeling to be around.
If you'd like to hear more about our trip, feel free to ask us anytime, or you can just take a look at the pictures here: MALAYSIA '09
As I type this, plans are underway for a big Halloween party at my company. I'm setting up a Haunted House in one of our meeting rooms and we're inviting friends, family and clients to come the night before Halloween. Halloween hasn't reached the status that it has in America yet, but every year, it's being embraced more and more by the Chinese as a time to dress up and just have fun. I'll be sure to update you next on what Halloween is like in China.
Daisy and I have also begun our plans for our trip home for the holidays. We'll be coming home a week before Christmas and plan on staying until about a week after New Year, so we hope to have plenty of time to see everyone. We love living out here in Shanghai, but we definitely miss everyone back home and we're both really looking forward to coming back for bit.
Hmm, Yankees and Phillies? What's a Met fan to do? I think I'm actually leaning towards the Phillies. Few things are more annoying than a gloating Yankee fan. hahaha. I know I'm inviting the Mets fan abuse. BRING IT ON. (besides, we were injured all year, not our fault.)
Response to comments:
....let the silence be deafening....