lish (lishd) wrote,

china part 3: tattoos, cashews, & tea brews

the italics are from the itinerary, & my notes follow each section. photos are inline per day.

China Golden Route 10 DAYS
part 1: beijing | part 2: xi'an | part 3: shanghai | extras

D8 | Nov-10 (Sat): Shanghai (B/L/D)
Start your memorable tour of Shanghai by walking along the famous Bund, a mile-long stretch along the Huangpu River. Lined by the colonial architectures of European design, this area is the best place to capture the western influences of the old days. Continue to visit the Ming Dynasty Yuyuan Garden which is considered to be one of the four greatest Chinese gardens. A visit to a Silk Mill will be arranged during the tour. Our final stop will be the bustling shopping district - Nanjing Road. After dinner you may join an optional tour, a Night Cruise on the Huangpu River at your own expense.

the minya hotel in shanghai is beautiful. they have branded sugar, creamer, matches, shampoo, in the rooms. even the sand in the hallway ashtrays has their logo pressed into it regularly (& yes, it's weird that there's smoking indoors in china). the counters are larvikite! their gorgeous breakfast buffet opens as we arrive; i ask nicely & we're allowed to take a bit of food back to our rooms to eat after we wake. minya has the softest bed yet, nearly a pillowtop, & it doesn't take long to succumb to it.

the tour recommences at 1:30pm today to accomodate the delays from xi'an, & tina becomes our local guide. i never find out what Sniffles was doing all night on her own, but i hope she went out & had a little shanghai experience & didn't just languish in her room.

we wake around noon & snack on our breakfast while preparing for the day. i ask the front desk for a taxi card, but the guy at reception just repeats "taxi card" in a horrendous attempt at english, so i smile & walk away. (the same bad-repetition-of-english thing happened early this morning when i asked to take some breakfast to our room.) shanghai is a balmy 19C, & i can finally stop wearing the underlayer i stole from joe in beijing. we join the group & head first to lunch, where the highlights are a delicious eggplant dish, spicy chicken & potatoes, tomato soup (more like a tomato broth with egg; all the soups we've been served have been very mild & light), & scrambled eggs with a ketchup-like sauce. i'm not hungry for much, being one of the few to actually have had breakfast, but i always at least taste every dish on offer.

the bund is hands-down the worst part of the trip for me. it's like walking through a mall without shops - tons of hipsters & other youths wasting time with their cell phones, sitting around doing nothing. seems every fucking person on the bund wants a photo of me, & not ONE person asks, approaches us, or even smiles. i continually (& successfully) dodge cameras. the huangpu river looks filthy. people buy ice cream at a nearby vendor; häagen dazs is prevalent everywhere we've been. we stay for an hour which is an hour too long in my opinion, & i'm very glad to leave.

the next stop is the silk mill. tina calls it the silk shop, & with her accent this sounds like "sex shop". it takes joe & me several moments to figure out that we're not headed out to buy chinese dildos. at the mill, they show us the full process of silk making: the lifecycle of a silkworm from egg to adult, how the cocoons are unraveled for singles or stretched for doubles (the latter are too tangled to turn into thread), & eventually made into various materials. they have a huge storeroom with everything from bedding to to art to pajamas, dresses, & boxers. joe buys my birthday present, a wonderful 2500 weight silk comforter, for ridiculously cheap, & promises a duvet cover for it since i talk him out of the far-less-cheap silk covers at the mill. he also picks up an inexpensive pillow for himself (i prefer down feather) & is all excited about its loft.

nanjing road is mostly overpriced, & tina warns us about quality & cost. the whole area is kind of times-square-y. we see a chanel ad with a very uncomfortable looking brad pitt; you can almost see the "i have a lot of college educations to pay for" in his sad old eyes. young women ride by us on detachable light-up roller heels, trying to sell us a pair. i make the mistake of asking the price. it starts at 100¥ & goes down slightly as we try to walk away - i say TRY, because she follows us for several full city blocks & continues to aggressively proffer her wares. i love the idea, but have nowhere near enough balance to ride them.

dinner has an awesome barbecue-like eggplant dish, sweet & sour pork & cucumber, dumplings with broth & a meatball inside, sweet tofu with mushroom, & a fucking amazing herb omelet sliced into squares. tina tells us that south china has sweeter foods in general, & it's proving true.

there's an optional boat tour tonight that i have no interest in attending - i've been on a lot of boats, & it's always colder, windier, & more boring than one expects. though tomorrow is scheduled to be half a free day, i'm concerned that it'll be semi-scheduled like our zoo day in beijing, & i don't want to miss out. so joe & i decide to pursue my tattoo tonight. we ride with the group to the pier, & tina's friend (who joined us at nanjing road) helps me to call the studio - they have time now! she also shows me that our hotel room key has the taxi card information, so we're all set. i let tina know that we'll find our way back to the hotel ourselves; she graciously gives me her cell phone number just in case, & we part from the group.

there are multiple hawkers at the pier, & i think they're ALL selling laser pointers. these seem WAY stronger than the ones in the states, & the green & red beams can easily be seen on faraway skyscrapers. they have splitters on the front that can be twisted to make patterns dance like a kaleidoscope. my little graver boy is sold on a red one for 100¥, & is then followed by another hawker trying desperately to sell him a green one. for six blocks he chases us, slowly lowering his price from 100¥ to 80 to 50 & finally to 30¥. joe almost buys another just to make back some of his initial cost, but he doesn't have it in cash. i hail a cab & show the driver the taxi card i printed from the tattoo studio's website.

we'd been warned about several scams regarding taxis - that a driver will try to trick you into thinking he has a nice cab but then lead you to a shitty old car; that prices must be negotiated in advance or the cabbie will demand way more than is reasonable; that a driver will take you far outside of the city & leave you there without your money. so i'm on high alert in the car, & i use my translator to ask our driver how much it'll cost. he eventually gets the question & points at a 20¥ note from his billfold. i relax, & then notice that the car we're in has a meter, a picture of the driver & his license, & all the things you'd expect to find in a proper taxi. there's also a plastic box surrounding the driver; i wonder if we're supposed to sit in the front seat.

the fare comes to just 18¥. i give him the 20, thank him, & leave. we stop to photograph the astounding blue lights under the overpass, & try to get our bearings. we're a bit turned around, as the small map on the tattoo studio's print-out doesn't include the street we're on, but i eventually find a student-age girl who points us in the right direction. we were only a block away! i recognize shanghai tattoo's logo, & we go in.

we're met by dylan, who i'd conferred with in email. i now know he isn't just a pro with google translate - he's a full-on irishman, accent & all. it's a relief to avoid translation mishaps. the shop's co-owner, zhuo dan ting, is a really cute chinese punker with the only stretched earlobes i see on the entire trip. (she's at 1", & is wearing one acrylic checkerboard & one halftone cutout eyelet.) i realize that she's also the logo for the shop! ting is actually very talented, to the point that i didn't even have her on my list, figuring she'd be too busy for such a simple piece. despite it being saturday night, the shop is empty, & she takes me on.

ting makes the stencil by hand, & uses an oil to transfer it. that's new, but everything else is the normal process. i leave enough room for "france" to be first, ask her to reposition it once, & she begins. it only takes a minute or two, & my grandmother's handwriting of "China" is on my leg. (yes, it's a little off from the exact script, but i've long since accepted that's going to be the case - not only am i creating the words from individual letters, so it's already at least mildly inaccurate, but i'm doing walk-in appointments with artists outside of the US who won't necessarily even speak my language. having a bent loop or a wonk flourish doesn't bother me one whit - i did the best i could with the lettering, & so long as it's recognizably her handwriting then i'm happy.) i'm quickly bandaged, & ting thoughtfully gives me the roll of medical tape in case i need it.

i pay the quoted 700RMB (the formal term for yuan) while joe & dylan shoot the shit. dylan prints us maps to some underground-type things to do - a propaganda poster exhibition, & the only metal bar in shanghai. i ask him about a tour scam, which he confirms with extra details: a young chinese woman will walk up to a middle aged american man & ask to practice english with him. she'll blink coquettishly, he'll think hey, i'm still sexy, & follow her to a teahouse or bar. once there, the pretty girl disappears & out comes a burly dude who demands 10,000¥. dylan says this DOES happen - but when it does, "you're a fooking idiot & d'sarve it". i appreciate this attitude.

there are tons of shops nearby, & joe & i walk all around for a couple of hours. for fun, he checks his balance on an ATM - it's displayed in yuan & states there is nothing available, heh. there are a million tiny boutique clothing stores, some with rather cool boots & jackets. joe gets a cappuccino for 28¥ at a café that would be comfortable in seattle, & resists a local bookstore with a large travel section. i get scolded for photographing an amusing label at a mini-mart. we pass a scary tattoo shop in a dark alley, & i'm again glad i found shanghai tattoo. we eventually make it to a larger area with streets reminiscent of nanjing road, & walk through the subway (sponsored by POWER TANK).

we visit each of the little mini-marts we pass; joe buys a 150ml Lipovitan energy drink in a glass bottle & a 250ml Red Bull Vitamin Functional Drink. (the latter has a pull tab, isn't carbonated, & tastes lke a red bully apple juice - not bad.) i pick up some rio lychee mints & the most amazing ice cream bar ever. i don't often eat ice cream, but this one is too interesting to pass up - it has thin, crunchy dark chocolate with crispy bits on the outside, french vanilla then vanilla ice cream layers, & the center has large, crispy chocolate spheres surrounded by solid chocolate. it's a textural delight well worth the 12¥, & the best part is that it's not very sweet - the same bar in the US would be packed with sugar & taste very one-dimensional.

it's so pleasant to walk wherever we want without having to meet the tour group at a certain time or even keep track of where we are, as we just need to get to a main road for a taxi & show the hotel's keycard to get back. i finish my ice cream & we do just that; i flag another bright, metered taxi, & we have a long ride back to the hotel. it's a bit disconcerting to watch the meter tick up to near 60¥ over a half hour or so, & i have to keep reminding myself that this is an incredibly cheap cab ride in USD.

this hotel room has fancy touch-panels instead of switches; though they worked fine when we arrived, the bathroom no longer wants to light up. a system reboot doesn't help. hm, pee in the dark or try to explain the problem to reception... eh, the hall light is plenty. i briefly wash my new tattoo & go to bed.

D9 | Nov-11 (Sun): Shanghai (B)
After breakfast, visit the Shanghai Museum to see ancient Chinese art, furniture and jade. The rest of the day is free for individual pursuits. You may use the time to do some last minute souvenir and gift shopping or further explore the city at your own leisure.

we aren't sure when the coach leaves in the morning, but the earliest has been 8:30am, so i wash my tattoo & we head down for breakfast at 7:45 to be safe. the breakfast buffet is the best yet, featuring seasoned artichoke, scrambled eggs with garlic shoots, fresh orange & red tomatoes, eggy bread pudding with raisins, steamed sweet potato with a delicious seaweed pesto, fruit bread (packed with raisins & cranberries), & dumplings filled with sweet yellow paste (pumpkin, we think). there are also green tea cookies with nuts, & packets of white *&* brown sugar on the tables.

we sit with Deal-Seeker, who lets us know the bus is leaving at 9:30am. she also informs us she has tattooed eyeliner & lipstick in addition to her eyebrows! you never know who has ink, heh. on the coach, lots of folks are interested in seeing my tattoo, & i show them a picture so i don't have to depants. i love the memorial idea i came up with all the more that each addition is so simple - it won't affect my trip even if i get it the first day. & it sounds like we missed all of nothing on the boat last night.

tina gives us three options for the day - option A contains the two remaining itinerary items & then a ride back to the hotel. option B is the same but also has a ride to a local shopping spot. option C has a full day of things to do, but requires that we each pay in 80¥ for tickets (wait for it) & 20¥ for gas. there is some brief dissension, but i start being loud about how option C is AWESOME & we ALL WANT IT, PICK C, C IS WHAT YOU WANT. &, as is my way, i win everyone over.

planning on the fly, tina asks if anyone likes tea. most people affirm, & New York says he likes lipton tea. tina doesn't hear him, so it's extra funny when she starts mocking people who drink lipton. she calls them "teabag drinkers", not tea drinkers, & says no chinese person would ever drink tea from a bag. she also notes that they call it "eating" tea, & that you shouldn't spit out the leaves that strain through into your green tea.

the first stop is to the shanghai museum. it's got limited free admission, so there's a bit of a queue. we see a panhandler walk down the line; joe gives him a bunch of change & i contribute an abundance of 1 jiao coins (.1 yuan). i kind of want to buy the red squid kite being sold on the street because it looks like it has dreadlocks, but it'd be demolished in seattle wind. there's security to enter the museum - they x-ray our cameras & bags & we pass through a metal detector. we're allowed to bring in bottled liquids if we'll drink some in front of security to prove it's not a bomb - i find this amusing.

my favorite part is definitely the bells of marquis su of jin. (i accidentally reflect in the glass for my video, so i'll leave a screenshot & you can hear the song here. i photograph an ancient duck sculpture; apparently ducks have not changed significantly since 25AD. we see lots of tiny chinese seals from before 475BC, & i spot a statue with stretched earlobes & one with meatlegs (snapped stretched lobes, eesh). i enjoy showing people on the tour that i'm not the only one in all of china with stretched lobes! on the way out, we see the same panhandler working the crowd - he starts to approach, recognizes us, nods, & doesn't ask us for more. it's sure not like this at home!

we drive to the ming dynasty yuyuan garden, & it's lovely. Photo Lady continues her severe documentation of all things willing to sit still for .5 seconds. there are tons of koi swimming about, & both a "big" & a "huge rockery"; i make joe rock out in direct proportion. there's a dragon on top of one building, which i also have joe pose as, & tina gives us dragon trivia: only the 5-toed dragon is real, but only the emperor can use it to decorate, so other people would use 3- or 4-toed dragons instead. on the way out of the garden, a local woman stares hard at me & joe, & i hear her exclaim to her friend, "chinese chinese dreads ah ka chinese!" she looks shocked, but i can only laugh.

lunch wasn't included today (for real, not like in beijing), but tina says the most famous crab dumpling shop is nearby, & we can join her if we like. WELL, YEAH. the nanxiang mantou dian restaurant has three levels, increasingly lavish as you go up. the first level is something like 15¥ & gets you some dumplings to go; the second level costs more, has better food, & is sit-down; & the third is a lovely 8-course meal. we climb all the steps to the top & find a very long line. so it'll be either 80¥ to wait in line, which we don't have the time to do, or we can each pay 150¥ to skip the line & be seated immediately in a private dining area. what to do?!

so we lounge in our private dining area & are brought course after course of dumplings. none actually have any discernible crab meat, but they're apparently flavored by crab roe? i don't care, they're delicious. two sets of 3-piece dumplings each have a meatball & broth inside them; the steamed bun with soup is giant & full of broth, served with a straw in it. the mushroom soup is fantastic & contains many exotic mushrooms, like stinkhorn, snow fungus, & morel. my very favorite is the "cake with salty cashew nut" - it's fishy & salty & sweet & everything i want in my mouth at that moment. (you can see it behind the menu - it has a black sesame seed top.) tina jokes that she knows how to spend money! we barely make our commit time back to the group, & when we do we find that others went off to eat at mcdonald's or starbucks. wtf, people, why would you do that?

New York & Picky ditch to hang out with some friends in the area, & we board the coach to our next option C destination: the maglev train. on the way, we drive through a tunnel (notable only because tina's accent makes it unbearably cute: "turnel"!), & Cheerleader B collects our email addresses for photo swapping & such. Super Happy Asian Cutie seems especially happy about this. the maglev train (magnetic levitation) is the new bullet train, & the trip to the airport & back is just for fun. there's some minor security to pass through & tina picks up our tickets. joe zens out in the "ordinary section" (not really a nicer way to say economy, haha) while we wait a few minutes, & we're off at 300km/h (187mph). we make the 30km trip in under 7 minutes, flip back through security, & ride back at 430km/h (267mph)! i'm sure we look like giant stupid tourists, making an airport commute for the lulz (& making a video of it, to boot), but it's actually pretty awesome.

we hit a little shopping area next, & joe buys an ice-blended "ultimate mocha" at the coffee bean & tea leaf. apparently this is a worldwide chain i've never heard of, & the drink's really tasty. we run into a chinese guy from minneapolis who says we have sick dreads, & he tells us the weed is "yellow" here. i tell him i'm straight edge, & he says he is too when he's here, because you can actually be shot for having or smoking pot in china. okay then!

we drive back to the bazaar, where the yuyuan garden is located. tina has set up another tea ceremony, & we get to sample the jasmine craft (fresh & fragrant), ginseng oolong (a semi-fermented mild tea), & pu'er tea (fully fermented & complex). pu'er tea is sold in small compressed bricks or large pressed plates, & there are vintages of it like wine, some hundreds of years old. we're shown how to brew fermented tea in the eastern style: you first "wash" the tea, by steeping it for just ten seconds, which rinses away any dust & starts to uncompress the brick. this first cup is "wasted". the next cup is brewed for ten to twenty seconds, & the time is slowly increased as the leaves are reused again & again.

joe & i buy a large container of pu'er bricks for 300¥, & i bargain to also receive a packet of green tea, a porcelain strainer cup (like this but a better pattern - the strainer lifts out of it & is placed in the lid to dry), & a small double-walled glass cup (used for the tea ceremony; i really liked them) for free. the woman at the counter looks us over & says, "you are lovers? you are a match," & it tickles me.

we wander the bazaar, which is full of tiny, brightly-lit shops. many of them sell chop marks & trinkets, watercolor kits & such. in a toy & game store, we find some pretty horrendous mousepads with the wrist rests molded to look like tits & ass; i photograph joe with them & escape quickly as we're starting to pick up a teenage entourage. we also receive deadpan stares through a jewelry store, though the last employee we pass is different: he grins, touches both of his nostrils individually & then his septum, & gives me a thumbs-up. i grin in return. in the snack shop next door, a woman approaches me speaking energetic mandarin & pointing at my dreads - i'm pretty sure she's asking if they're extensions. i point at my roots & then the tips, & she understands they're all real, baby. joe has just enough time to buy a bag of those sweet dried tomatoes we like, & we meet back up with the group for the last time.

it's full night when we cross the nanpu bridge; it's lined with LEDs that cycle in color, & i'm able to get a better photo than i did on the way back from last night's tattooing. (here's a great pro shot of it.) we say goodbye to everyone on the bus, hug White Ponytail & Adopted Grandma in the lobby, then chat in the hallway with No Pork, Harmless, Cheerleader B & Apologetic Guy (who i believe has only interacted with me through a series of muffled apologies for bumping into me, taking my seat, et cetera). No Pork is charged with getting New York's & Picky's email addresses as they aren't back yet & they're all on the same airport run tomorrow. (i'm sad we don't get to say goodbye to them, as it's been great fun giving shit with impunity to other east coasters.) Kind Face sticks her head out of her room to arrange an impromptu dinner, but joe & i bow out as we're still full of crab dumplings & are skipping right to dessert.

there are a bunch of small stores across the street from the hotel, so we troop over. there's a yuan store (even cheaper than a dollar store! poisonous unregulated chinese nailpolish for 3¥, sign me up), a comic book store, a gaming store (closed for the night, but there's an original-box PS2 in the window!), & a mini-mart. we raid the mini-mart to stock up on snacks & run through our remaining yuan. pocky is just $1.10 a box - it sells for $4 here - & we buy several flavors. joe locates the hot pepper sauce he liked at dinner, & i pick up some! blueberry xylitol mints that for some reason have a mirror under the lid. joe doesn't have enough yuan for his purchases & they won't take visa, so i put my items on the counter, too. i have 100¥ in my hand, & the mints are kind of expensive... but the register reads 98.12¥! we cheer & the chickie behind the register cheers with us. good thing joe still had some change so i could get another ice cream bar from the case next door - same brand as last night, though last night's was better. this one has tiny pineapple bits & less chocolate, & it's still pretty damned delicious. (i wonder if uwajimaya carries asian ice cream? doubt it ;_;)

we're scheduled for our ride to the airport at 5:30am since the flight is at 8:30, so we pack up most of our stuff tonight. i check out the rad chinese receipt from the mini-mart, & see that the cashier did us a solid - the 98.12¥ price was before taxes - the actual total came to 101.30¥. oops. i have a little more yuan in my pocket, but it's only about 52 cents difference in USD, so i don't bother walking back.

the flight to china was non-stop, but we have a quick layover tomorrow, so my sleep schedule math says to have a few hours tonight, stay awake on the first flight, & sleep on the second. we're set to arrive home at about 7am PT, so staying awake all day will flip us back to pacific time. i buzz reception to order a wake-up call for 4:15am, & we lay down to nap for a few hours with the lights on.

D10 | Nov-12 (Mon): Shanghai - Hometown (B)
The tour guide will transfer you to the airport for your onward or home-bound flight.

yeah! so! joe wakes up at 5am & we pop out of bed with no idea how we missed the 4:15am wake-up call... until the phone rings at FIVE fifteen. thanks guys!@ it's a good thing joe happened to wake up, as we have just enough time to finish packing, steal the fancy bath foam, & get down to the lobby. (my tattoo is happy & needs no special attention.) we meet up with PermaSmile and Friendly Single Woman, both flying back to or through seattle, & tina is there too. i didn't expect her to get up for us, & i'm glad to see her again (& have the help at the counter in case something's canceled again). since the breakfast buffet doesn't start until 6:30, tina considerately asks the hotel to box up a bit of food for us, & we're each given an apple, a tiny chocolate muffin, a slice of pound cake, & a yogurt (smartly packed with a small straw) in a plastic box.

though we were given money exchange receipts in beijing which guarantee the 6.1 rate for small amounts, it's more fun to spend the remaining yuan in my pocket than to swap 'em back for $3 or whatever. we check out the little airport shops, & i find some things i haven't tasted - mentos in fresh cola, grape/pineapple/green apple (which are weird - they have a thick shell & are a bit gooey inside - they might be considered "sour"?), & raspberry/strawberry/...honeyed apple? (it looks like a picture of a rose petal & i can't find a single thing about it on google, but the color & i suppose the flavor match the honeyed apple descriptions. damn, now i want to buy lychee & umi online.) i use up all of my yuan, except some dimes they won't take (those pesky 1 jiao coins) & my tiny .5¥ bill that i'm keeping as a bookmark, & pay the remainder on visa.

i hog the only working power outlet until we board our plane. we're served another decent airplane lunch preceded by the usual delightful hot towel. a couple of hours pass & we touch down in japan, at tokyo narita airport. we have only a short layover, as my desire to push our flight out a day & extend the trip is squelched - it'd cost $900 to make the change, pout. after i'm searched at security (they even put me in slippers so they could double x-ray my docs), we have enough time to explore a few airport shops. it's a kit kat extravaganza - joe & i buy green tea kit kat (uji matcha), green tea with sakura kit kat (sakura matcha), & dark chocolate kit kat in the stark black box. confirming the rumors, indeed the chocolate is better than in american kit kat.

while waiting to board, i recharge my netbook to continue the travellogue & keep an eye on Friendly Single Woman's luggage for her. she returns with a regular milk chocolate kit kat in thanks, unknowingly completing the foursome of available wafer treats. joe lopes off to look for other snacks; shortly after he leaves, i'm called to the gate's front desk to find that joe left the damned comforter on the plane! it's a good job i wrote our names on it & that i'm the only lish on the passenger manifest, sheesh. i berate him for trying to leave my birthday present behind, but he's bearing more japanese snacks (sweet breaded crunchy peanut things, & a variety bag by "tirol choco" which is like a bag of hershey's miniatures except not crap), so how mad could i be?

the plane gets up to 88mph for takeoff back to the future, to arrive in seattle two hours before we left china. it's another tastier-than-a-lean-cuisine dinner, & we're apparently on the chocoholic's flight, as dinner includes chocolate cake, there's an overnight brownie & milk, & breakfast has a miniature chocolate croissant. (joe, for whom chocolate causes sneezing, donates his croissant to me. ^_^) the bathroom has paper cups but signs that there isn't any drinking water; that goes right along with the numerous bathroom ashtrays that can't be used. i'm not able to sleep as much as i'd like, but i get a couple hours. we arrive at seattle early, wait on the tarmac a while, & collect our luggage without incident. my massage therapist, who had borrowed joe's car all week, picks us up just as PermaSmile is passing. she's on the way so we give her a ride, & make it home around 9am.

joe immediately passes out, but i stay up until after noon. my body insists on a few hours of napping, but i'm easily back on pacific time after that. later i find that "bob's burgers" this week also mentions shanghai - was there this much china before we went? it's everywhere!

i must say, joe's husbandry of lish was exceptional on this trip. he's always very good to me, but was particularly attentive on this trip. joe kept me as warm as possible & didn't make me carry things. he was on-time & stopped me from being super early to things (which wastes time). plus he was super fun, as always, during times of spontaneity - i'm great with planning, but poor at going off-schedule. in short: A+, would buy again.

so there's china! i'm sure i'll have some other tidbits to post in the coming months as i remember yet further details, but yeah, i can't fucking wait to see where groupon wants to send us next year. & perhaps some folks from this trip will want to join us again - they were all very cool people (even you, Picky :D ) who i'd enjoy seeing again.


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