Tag travel

“My Corona!”

It all began Jan 21st 2020. The day my dad passed and I was contacted in China of his death. I quickly made plans to return to California to make his arrangements being the successor trustee of the Hendler Trust.

I was able to book the next flight to LAX which was on Jan 23rd. We arrived in LA on the 24th. The next day LAX began careful screening for the coronavirus that had just been announced by the Chinese. People from China were quarantined or forced to return to China. We just made it hours before!

My return to China was scheduled for Feb 16, which was cancelled by Cathay Pacific. I rebooked the return for April 6th.

After the business of having final services for my Dad, we stayed in California until Mar 2nd, when we decided to drive to Texas where our friends graciously put us up to stay with them until my flight for Apr 6 was due.

This coronavirus has gotten worse by the day to the point of my flight being cancelled agin, with no option to rebook it. Travel all over the world has shut down and people no longer able to go anywhere. So at this point they are saying 4-6 months before restrictions can be lifted.

So here we are, no hope to return home in the foreseeable future. I will make updates to this story as we go.

March 28th 2020.

Cathay Pacific sent me email a week ago cancelling my new Apr 6th departure. Four days later, another email saying they changed my departure from Apr 6th to April 5th. Now today another email confirming my April 5th date, but once I get to HK, I will not be allowed into HK, nor can I transfer to my flight to Kunming! WTH???

I called Cathay Pacific and told them change my flight to May. They told me no more flights until at least June! So I rebooked June 2nd at this point. I will h,ave 2 more months stranded in the USA at least.

April 18,2020

We just rented a house in Laguna Beach for May 1st. So we will drive back to California and stay to hopefully return to China in June.

Now I have to contact the IRS since we did not received our stimulas check as expected. We should have got $2400 like most of my friends have already received.

May 20,2020

Living in Laguna since May 1st. Things are all closed around here, even the beaches! My return flight cancelled again, so I made a new booking for July 1. We will be forced to stay another month in the US, unless it also gets cancelled. I am trying to contact the Chinese Embassy in LA and see what they can do in my case to insure we can travel home on July 1st. This last few days has some businesses opening and also have limited beach access now. IRS never contacted me and I doubt I will ever see this stimulos check. We will be moving to another condo June 1st since this place want to double my rent for next month. California is in a sad state of affairs.

July 9,2020

We just relocated to Laguna Woods after receiving another email from Cathay Pacific cancelling our flight home again. This is the 3rd time it has been cancelled.

I rebooked our flight, this time for Oct 2. CP informed me that I will now have to pay an additional $2300 to rebook this ticket! However after having a talk with them, they decided to waive this fee and did rebook our flights.

All the while this is going on, I am watching the US move into violent civil war. Democrat led cities are moving to defund police and warn citizens that personal safety will be upon each individual to address. Our country is under attack by George Soros funded groups hell bent to destroy this country from within. I was lucky enough to find and purchase a military type weapon and arm myself to protect me until I can leave. It was a miracle I was able to get one. Guns and ammunition are almost non-existant in the US now. Millions are buying up anything they can get. Much like the toilet paper madness a few months earlier.

As we get closer to elections, I fear this violence will only intensify. I predict that right after elections, large scale violence will ensue.

I only wish I could get out of here and go back home.

Aug 30,2020

We just got our flight cancelled a few weeks ago again. So now I will have to reschedule again for December. By now this is all beginning to wear on us. No end in sight to go home. We miss our home and family. Not much elsa to say about it all.

Oct 22,2020

Our Dec flight has been cancelled since the HK to Kunming leg (Dragon Air) has gone bankrupt. Calling Cathay several times through Nov and they still have no solution. I was forced to find and sign a new rental lease to Mar 2021 now. We will move Dec 1 into our new location and continue to wait for a flight and Mia’s visa change to allow her back home.

Oct 14, 2021

I haven’t posted an update in a while just because there is not much to update. We continue to be stuck in the USA since China is still not issuing visas so we can return home. They say MAYBE by Mar 2022 that will change. I just resigned a new 6 months lease and we just continue to wait……..

….Wats Ya Gonna Do????

New Years day and arrived in Siem Reap Cambodia. Left Kunming freezing weather, and 2 hours later landed to 90 degree sunshine.  Upon entering customs, the agents are jumping up and yelling to the Chinese tourists to come to their booth. It’s payday at the customs entry! They ask the passengers to pay them to stamp their entry visas, which the passengers do, or otherwise endure long “delays” getting through customs. But when they see western passengers, they  do not ask for “tea money”. Since Mia was with me, they dare not ask her either.
Once bags in hand, it’s off to our hotel, Sonalong Village Resort. We were picked up by tuk tuk from the hotel. Twenty minutes later we checked into our room. Mr. Hak, who is the owner, welcomed us and made you feel like an old friend returning for a visit. The resort location is just perfect in Siem Reap. It is on 27th  st. About 5 blocks from the town center’s Pub Street. Therefore the resort is quiet and peaceful while being a quick 10 minute walk to the Siem Reap happenings area. The room is large with a big private balcony.

I think minimum time to see the important temples would be 3 days. If you want to study them in detail, go for the 7 day ticket. Hiring a driver is a must. The temples are far apart from each other.

Everyone and their dog comes to these temples. Expect tremendous crowds everywhere. I hope you can appreciate my photos, sans people, which was a time consuming challenge.  Also timing is key. Get up a O’dark 30 and have a game plan worked out to focus on a temple. Surf around the net to get suggestions and strategies for this.

In any case, Angkor Wat is a “must see before you die”  thing. I have done a fair bit of traveling, and Angkor Wat is on the top of my list. I will be going back again.

Siem Reap is base camp for the temples. Pub Street is the happening area for eating, drinking and shopping. There are a lot of foreign owned bars and restaurants all about. Good food is plentiful and the drink prices are amazingly cheap. Angkor Beer is a must try, it is a very good brew. Native food can best be described as “Thai” cooking, without the zip. A bit dull for my taste without the spicy element.  Food prices are normal. Maybe a little on the high side, but otherwise ok.

Shopping is just an assortment of junk that can be found anywhere. Surprisingly,  items are priced on the high side. I suppose it has to do with the fact Angkor Wat is such a tourist draw. I did buy the Buddha head carving, It is hand carved from old temple wood and is a true art piece. It is 18″ high and 13″ across .  When I decided I wanted one, I found them in several shops for sale. They all were priced at about $180. I offered $50 and no one would even consider it. Eventually I did settle at $90. It took a long time and really was more than I wanted to pay. But it is a great piece of art.  I would suggest you plan on taking numerous photos as a fitting memento. You won’t run out of photo ops around this place!

All in all, hotels and drinks are a bargain. Food, tickets, souvenirs, hawkers are a bit over the top.  At any rate, this place shouldn’t be missed.

Wuyishan

1 hour flight out of Shenzhen brings you to Wuyishan City, Fujian Province. Famous for its natural conservation of a large number of ancient plant species, wild animals and reptiles, many of which are peculiar to China.The Bohea and the Oolong teas are grown in this region as well. Unforunatly for us southern China has been hit by continuous heavy rain so that some attractions and scenic areas are not available to tour or access.

Wuyishan Scenic Area, once trapped thousands of tourists, is now closed temporarily. So we head off about 1 hours drive to the village of He Ping. He Ping itself is one of the oldest communities in northern Fujian. While other towns its age or older have been partially restored, this town has remained basically untouched. The town dates from the Tang Dynasty (AD618-907) when it was a simple rice farming town. The name Heping is made up of two Chinese characters which mean ‘Rice Plain’. The village itself dates well beyond that. One of Chinas oldest Classical Learning Academy’s was first opened in Heping in AD926 during the Tang Dynasty by government official named Huang Qiao. Walking around here is like a trip back in time.Because of the weather, it was empty except for a few villagers. I enjoyed being the sole visiter here in this quiet village. You can almost imagine living in another time.

After a few days we returned to Shenzhen for a look see. We booked into the Shangri-La Hotel. Truly a world class operation. One of the pics show a TV shot. In the room I saw my old friend General Li on the national TV channel. How cool!
The weather being so wet, our time was spent doing a little shopping. And what is Shenzhen famous for? Clothes and electronics. In fact it is the largest electronics shopping center in Asia. Hong Kong gets all it’s products from here! This is home to the Apple iPhone. In fact, most everything is made here. There is a street downtown lined with mega malls that are nothing but computer, phones, and anything electronic. I bought a few things that you can preview in the pictures and also on my gadgets page. Prices for clothes and electronics are extremely low. I was in heaven.

Shenzhen is a new modern city 30 minutes from Hong Kong. What was a tiny fishing village on the border of Hong Kong in 1970 is now a buzzing metropolis of over eight million people! Already containing 20 buildings at over 200 meters tall, including the Shun Hing Square (the 8th tallest building in the world). A 2010 study conducted by Forbes magazine ranks Shenzhen’s population density as the 5th highest in the world. In 2006, the Dapeng Peninsula, the location of Shenzhen’s best beaches, was nominated by the China National Geographic Magazine as one of the most beautiful coastlines in China. We plan to return in the near future for a closer look at this city and make a jump into Maccau as well.

Finally we spent a few nights in Guanzhou. I didn’t care for this city. It is huge, noisy, and dirty. Besides great food and the tallest TV tower in the world, I can’t say much about this place. I reconize it does hold an historical value, but frankly I didn’t see much reason to spend any time here. Still, the Chinchilla for sale there was cute…..

Thailand-Land of Red Shirts

April 12th 2010-

I have just returned from Bangkok after spending the past week there. As you all know, I travel to Thailand quite regularly. This trip was certainly a lot different to most with the government overthrow reaching it’s apex of violence in downtown Bangkok.
While I have a fair understanding of what is going on, it is regreattable PM Abhisit is incapalble of directing his govt to ending this conflict.  The lives of 21 people killed on Saturday lies squarely on his hands. From a visitor’s view, I can strongly recommend that you avoid travel to Thailand now and probably in the long term.  I never felt any personal danger from either the red shirts or the govt forces. They are doing their best to leave “citizens” alone. Having said that, this does not alter the fact that this conflict impacts your ability to do anything in Bangkok. The danger lies in finding yourself in the middle of one of their violent instances. The red shirts move around the city to different locations, so this violence is not limited to any particular area.
From my experience this past week, Thailand is a total waste of time and money now.  Most everything is closed. Not only the major shopping centers, but many restaurants, bars, shops and public transportation. If you want to go anywhere, taxi drivers will not use meters and charge you 2 to 3 times more for a fare. On top of which, they won’t even take you to many places as they have to avoid the red shirt zones which are all in the places you want to go anyway.
The personal dangers are very real. I had taken the BTS skytrain across the city to go to the Emporuim shopping center on Saturday morning. When I left there and came back outside, the BTS was shut down, stranding me a long way from anywhere. All the taxis were off, so no way to get anywhere but just stand around in the sweltering heat. Finally,  I paid blood money to a motocycle driver to take me over to MBK center.  I got there not knowing I was now within 1 block of the fighting. My first clue was seeing  people around  bashed up and bleeding. I ran over the the Asia Hotel and ducked inside the lobby to regroup and figure out the best escape plan. My point is you can get killed or injured easily  just getting caught in the middle of a skirmish. All around me were police laying around doing nothing while military troops were fighting a few blocks away. I had no clue and could have easily walked into the middle of it all by mistake. The police should have at least been blocking and warning people not to go that way. They had no function but to sit in the shade and play with their phones or sleep, a favorite pastime of Thai people.
For this first time in years, the Songram water festival is cancelled. The people here are NOT smiling. Thailand is no longer the “Land of Smiles”.
If this were to all end today, Thailand will not return to normal for a long time to come. My advice would be to spend your travel money elsewhere for the next year or so. There are plenty of alternatives, Malaysia, Viet Nam, Cambodia, Indonisia just to name a few. Thailand is broken……. get over it.