Hieroglyphic Graffiti » 2007 » July

Friday July, 27 2007

Last One!

Filed under: General, China Trip 2007 — makani @ 1:52 pm

Ok, so I forgot some pictures in that first set of phots so here’s a second gallery.

Enjoy.

Friday July, 20 2007

The Lost Empire

Filed under: General — makani @ 3:41 pm

My dad sent me The Lost Empire as a joke for my birthday.  I thought I would share the fun with everyone.
The Lost Empire is about Monkey King and one Scholar’s journey through a replica of Ancient China.  It focuses around the idea that Journey to the West was a highly influential book.  Five Demons are trying to destroy the book and send Earth back into Ancient Times.

The main character, Nick, is a scholar of Chinese History who bought some Terracotta warriors and was helping someone plan an amusement park focused around them.  (He sold out because teaching doesn’t make enough money.)  He is met by the Goddess, Kuan Ying (it’s Kuan Yin, first of all, and second of all she’s from a “sisterhood” of goddesses that are like Buddhist nuns in the movie.  Ummm, what?  Kuan Yin was THE goddess of Mercy, not one of many.).

Kuan Ying tricks him by nearly getting hit by a truck (*eye roll*) and then telling him that she’s the offical he’s supposed to meet.  Nick, who has just become estranged from his wife, falls head over heels for her and then follows her into the First Emperor’s tomb.  It turns out that the First Emperor not only placed a replica of China in his tomb, but also Heaven with the Jade Emperor and all.  (It’s a very spacious tomb apparently…)

I’s also a love story, and a bad one too.  Nick learns that love overcomes everything and wields a writing brush spear to help Monkey, Pigsy, and Sandy retrieve the original copy of Journey to the West so that his world won’t be destroyed.

Let me start off by saying that the movie was bad but bad in a way that’s re-watchable.  It was funny.  It actually got a lot of things right about Journey to the West.  I was very much surprised.  They really did their research or else the person who wrote the script was very familiar with the story.  Monkey, Pigsy, and Sandy where all there, calling each other brother and using the term Shifu for Master.  (That’s very correct.  I was shocked.)

The dialog jumped between funny to good to eye rolling bad.  Most of the special effects were B movie quality and I don’t expect super CG or anything but for a movie made in 2001 they could’ve done better. I think they spent all their money on the bad CG tiger in the first part of the movie.  There were even unconvincing giant foam rocks.  I guess I shouldn’t be surprised, considering that it’s a Hallmark movie.

The acting was ok but their portrayal of Confucius was enough to set my teeth on edge.  The “Confucius says” jokes were funny at first but they got old fast.  Monkey King, Pigsy, Sandy, and the Jade Emperor, on the other hand, were all played very well and true to myth.  The Five Demons were excellent, especially their leader Master Fu.

On the plus side many of the gods and goddess in Heaven don’t care that earth is on the verge of being destroyed because no one is allowed to travel to earth (known as the world above) without the Jade Emperor’s permission. (The goddesses of Kuan Ying’s “order” are excused from this, of course.) Now, that’s how it is in Chinese Mythology!  So, it’s very believable that a bunch of immortals who have never even seen earth wouldn’t give a crap what happened to it.

There were some surprises that were good and the talking Terracotta warriors were a nice touch.    On the downside there were plot holes and loose ends that were never tied up.  Certain things were never explained and some things just plain don’t make sense.  (Why for example why would people who lived AFTER the First Emperor turn themselves into Demons and take up residence in his Tomb.  Also, why is Monkey King’s home there? And the biggest one of all, the movie claims that Journey to the West was written in the Qin Dynasty, it was written in the Ming about two thousand years later.)

Overall the movie was bad but watchable.  The love story was cheesy.  The special effects were laughable along with some of the dialog but the acting was mostly good. The research was, for the most part, well done.  I have no idea why the movie is called “The Lost Empire” after seeing the movie, it doesn’t make much sense.

This one is probably worth a rental if you’re familiar with Journey to the West but I wouldn’t buy it unless you like bad movies.

Wednesday July, 18 2007

Opera Pictures

Filed under: General, China Trip 2007 — makani @ 12:47 pm

I forgot the Opera pictures when I made our image gallery.

You can find those here!

Monday July, 16 2007

Photos!

Filed under: General, China Trip 2007 — makani @ 3:40 pm

Ok folks, here’s the moment you’ve all been waiting for. Pictures from our trip.

Go here to see them.

Enjoy!

Wednesday July, 11 2007

Almost done with the pictures

Filed under: General — makani @ 4:44 pm

I am very close to done with the picture gallery of our trip.  I have to go through the created html and edit things before it’s ready to go up.  I’ll  be sure to post a link.

My garden still looks like hell and my allergies are really bad so the going is pretty slow.  Despite me “not working” at paying jobs in the summer all three of my jobs just pounced me next week.  It’s actually a full work week for me but at least I’ll be getting paid for all of it.

Wednesday July, 4 2007

Aloha Hawaii, Aloha Virginia

Filed under: General, China Trip 2007 — makani @ 3:53 pm

It seems that Aloha means both hello and goodbye. It also appears to be a life philosophy of zen like proportions. You learn something new everyday. Go practice random acts of Aloha! (It seems to relate mostly to driving habits. So be a kind driver!)

I am very sorry that this post is so late. A full 26 hours of traveling left myself and J feeling a bit like our luggage must’ve felt during that time. Tossed about, dropped onto hot tarmac and sent through an X-ray machine so many times it isn’t sure what life is like without a conveyor belt and men in uniforms with friendly German shepherds that ask about your liquids. (It’s been four days and I keep waiting for someone to come along and tell me that I can’t take my cup of tea with me on the plane.)

Now onto our last day in Hawaii. We went to see a black sand beach. Now black sand isn’t as it would seem by the name, sand. It’s broken, ground, and otherwise mangled lava that fell into the ocean. It happens when a volcano erupts on a nearby island and the lava falls into the sea in enough small lumps and is carried across to the other island. It is very soft and fine. It also washes up in such a way that if your standing on the beach when a wave comes in you’ll get black sand all over your legs and feet. (Or in my case all over your shorts because I misjudged the size of the incoming wave.)

It was high tide so we didn’t see much of the beach but I saw enough. It was pretty darn cool. There were piles of volcanic rock that had been tumbled smooth by the ocean and a small forest just behind the beach. On either side of the beach, sheltering it, were huge forested cliffs. It was very scenic. This is the kind of place you get on postcards with a little empty deck chair and “wish you were here” on the bottom.

Now, getting to this beach was another story. It was about a three hour drive from where we were staying. The drive was very scenic since we had to go over to the “dry” side of the island which is full of cactus. It’s very interesting that the rain seems to fall the most only on one side of the island. So one side is tropical and lush and the other is almost a desert. It makes for interesting driving conversation when the total Hawaiian island newbie looks out the window and says: “Hey! That’s a cactus! You have Cactus in Hawaii?” Everyone laughs and says, yes in fact they do have cactus on Hawaii. And cows and Banyan Trees. Cows with horns. I cross an ocean and I still can’t get away from the cows. There were cows in China too. Ok, no more about cows. Back to beaches.

Now to get to this beach you have to climb down a path that zig zags down the side of a cliff. It’s only about a 15 minute walk but it’s a very steep walk. Going down was difficult since I have short legs and paths are never built for people with short legs. It was hard but manageable. I tend to have the balance of a mountain goat so I could bound from rock to tree root in Teva sandals without much trouble. Going up was a different story. It was a very long, hard, steep walk to get back up. It still only took 15 minutes but it was hard going. I was reading “Lord of the Rings” on the plane and felt a little bit like Sam Gamgee (the fat one) trying to climb the cliff steps in Mordor. I was pretty winded by the time I got back to the top.

So we enjoyed the crashing waves on a black sand beach our last day and headed out to the airport at 7am the next day for our flight home. First flight goes from Hilo to Oakland. No problem. We get there and check our bags (which have to clear two separate inspections. There’s the normal one, and the agricultural one). The woman at the desk informs us that our seats were not reserved but since we are willing to sit in an exit row we have seats on this plane. She gives me a number to call to reserve the others. I call the number while J waits in line for the security check. The number proves to be just a maze of “press 1 if…” and a computer voice that supposedly understands numbers when you read to it. It didn’t understand me and thinks my “A”s are “K”s and just doesn’t want to see otherwise. I hung up and went to stand in line.

D, J’s Uncle, had given me something called Bonine for travel sickness. I will now swear by this new drug. I will never travel without it. The flight from Hilo to Oakland went about as smoothly as flights can go. Very, very nice after the crippling airsickness I’d experienced before.

I called United again while J waited for our luggage to appear. After about 30 minutes (I’m not exaggerating, I timed it) I FINALLY got a human and couldn’t hear a damn thing because it was so loud in the airport. I’m told that our seats will be assigned at the gate because there are no seats. I’m confused. I’m also confused because the person on the other end mixed up my flight days and I thought for awhile that I wasn’t going to fly out of San Fransisco until the next day. After some confused and panicked shouting we straightened things out somewhat, but still confused, I gave up thanked whoever it was and went back over to collect our bags with J.

We collect our bags (which have arrived safely) and we head out of the airport and to a bus which will take us to the Bart train. (Bart=T and for those of you not from the Boston area, Bart = subway) Now in order to find this out I had to consult an information desk with a severe lack of information and a very kind airport employee. We paid $3 each for the bus and sat down with our bags stowed for the ride. Sadly onto the bus staggered a woman who was either very drunk or very high. The jury is out on which she was and she may have been both. She liked to scream: Aiyi! at random intervals and stamp her feet. J and I had already been on a plane for five hours and were unamused.

We endured and arrived at the subway where we grabbed our bags and fled. I navigated the ticket system and was actually 80 cents short on our rail tickets. (A fact I didn’t find out until the end of the ride.) No matter, we got to the platform and I was content in my knowledge that we wanted to get on what on them map appeared to be the blue line. The trains in San Fransisco are not color coded. A voice comes over a loud speaker and tells you were the train is going once it pulls up. We found another young man going to the airport who lived in San Fransisco and decided to follow him.

The very drunk lady showed up again with her traveling companion (who I felt very sorry for) but luckily they got on a different train. We boarded our train for a 20 minute train ride. Now the Bart system is very well planned I’m sure and subways, as a rule, like planes are very loud. However, the part seemed to be designed to make the loudest possible sound while going through tunnels. It was so loud I had to cover my ears. It was terrible!

We arrive at the Airport station with our ears ringing and I am forced to add more money to our tickets so they’ll let us out. (It turned out to be $5.80 each. Add that to $3 each and you get $17.60 for the privilege of getting from one airport to the other in order to make a connecting flight. I hate flying.)

We get into the airport and go through security again. At this point I know the drill so well I’m instructing the people around me by example. We check in and get our tickets and are told once again that our seats will be assigned at the gate. I’m confused and stressing at this point but we go a Subway (the sandwich shop) for some dinner and then head to our gate. It changes part way through our wait and I only find out when I approach the desk to try and get our seats assigned.

We move to the proper gate and wait. Now we find out that our flight, which is a red eye, has been oversold. I’m in panic mode now because the next flight leaves at 9am the next day and we have a connecting flight in Dulles. I chew on my nails for awhile as they start boarding people. They were offering one free round trip ticket anywhere in the Continental US, a seat on the flight at 9am the next day and lodging in a hotel if people would give up their seats. Thankfully we got seats and were boarded. I now started to worry about our luggage. Had it made it onto the plane or was it was it waiting somewhere in a the airport innards for the next flight?

The flight went well but we got no sleep at all. It was another five hour flight at max from 10:25 to 6:25 (don’t you love time zones? we lost three hours there). We landed in Dullas and staggered around to find the proper terminal for our connecting flight and got some breakfast. We boarded our connecting flight to Roanoke with no trouble. In a startling difference this plane was only half full. Oddly enough our seats weren’t together but the flight was so empty the man next to J moved his seat and I jumped into his. Easily done. That flight was only an hour and we arrived in Roanoke with no trouble. Our luggage arrived too! I guess it didn’t have to worry about finding room on the plane.

So safe and sound we landed in Virgina on July 1. I’m sorry to have kept you all waiting for this last post but we left Hawaii on June 31st. We were a bit bushed after all the flying and hauling luggage through airports and the like.

In short our month long travel was great fun. I saw things I never thought I would be able to see and I have the pictures to prove it. I will work on getting those pictures off my camera and onto a website for everyone to see. I can’t promise it will be fast. I have in my estimate 1500 pictures to get off my camera, onto my computer, and then resized and all that. I’ll make a post when I have that URL.

It’s been a long but wonderful month. Thanks for reading!

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