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I don't usually use Alaskankangaroo to link to my other writing on the Web, leaving that to my writer's site--bethgreenwrites.com. 

But I thought it might be interesting for readers here to take a look at the travel article I've written about Foshan, the Chinese city that Dan and I have lived in for most of our time in China.

You can find the link to my article on eChinacities.com here: http://www.echinacities.com/guangzhou/city-life/guangzhou-s-beautiful-neighbour-foshan-city.html

We first came to Foshan in 2006, fresh and new to Asia.  We left for awhile but came back in 2011 to remeet old friends and rediscover the city. And has it changed! Foshan In the past six years Foshan has grown, modernized and beautified.  Take a look at the article, and browse through some of my old blogs about it on Travelpod.com, to learn more about this fascinating, changing city.

 
The guest blog mentioned in our last post has turned into a regular gig blogging over at Novel Adventurers. Beth will now be writing about books and travel at http://noveladventurers.blogspot.com/ every other Wednesday. 

But that's not the only day to stop by--the Novel Adventurers are a group of talented, intrepid writers who share stories of their travels every weekday.  The group includes experts on South America, India, Iran, Italy and more!

Today she starts her regular blogs with a piece on a detective book series set in Thailand. When Dan and Beth were living on Koh Tao the year before last, Beth devoured these books by John Burdett about Bangkok detective Sonchai Jitpleecheep.  Go on over to the blog to check out the full story.


Happy Reading!
 
Today, AlaskanKangaroo's Beth blogs over on Novel Adventurers (http://noveladventurers.blogspot.com/) about a festival that we came across by accident when traveling through the minority villages of southern Guizhou Province, back in 2009. 

If you've got time, take a look both at Beth's post, and also at the other posts written by the site's bloggers. They're all novelists who love travel--and, of course, adventure--and they tell great stories there every weekday.

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Scaring away spirits with firecrackers.
 
Valentine's Day is another one of those holidays that is not celebrated, yet still celebrated in Asia.

While the atmosphere doesn't reach the Western onslaught of pink hearts and candy, it's still possible to see blushing couples carrying bouquets of roses and to find big heart-shaped boxes of chocolates.

Dan and I decided we'd have a day out in Guangzhou, which is a short distance from Foshan, to celebrate our eighth Valentine's Day together.

We started the day with the lunch buffet at FOODS, at the Ritz-Carlton.  Okay, backtracking a little, we started with Bloody Mary's in the lounge and then the meal.  Mostly, we planned it because it was fun to say that we were "luncheoning at the Ritz, dahling" in fakey British accents and the lunch buffet cost about 250 RMB (about 40 USD) each, which was in our price range.  However, while of course bringing up the Ritz in random conversation for weeks is priceless, the buffet was fantastic. The only better one I can think of was in Las Vegas for my birthday in 2010, but we'd been drinking all day and my memory of that one might not be accurate.

The best part of the buffet, surprisingly, was the desserts. Usually at buffets you find one or two good things and then you're so stuffed by the end that the desserts are unnecessary.  Not this buffet. We liked everything we tried, and we tried almost everything. The ox tongue wasn't a favorite, mostly because we misunderstood and were expecting it just to be beef.  But the desserts, man oh man, the desserts. They made hot chocolate cakes a la mode, served up cold guava soup and had amazing tiramisu.

Also, at the end, you could take a complimentary box of gummy candies.  Outstanding.

After such an awesome lunch, we didn't do much for the afternoon. We'd found a good deal on a hotel on Agoda.com, which is my favorite booking site at the moment, and watched TV and digested until the evening, when we took a walk around the Zhujiang New Town area and the Canton Tower and had dinner and drinks at The Brew.

Not a traditional Valentine's Day, but what an amazing buffet!
 
[Editor's note: Please welcome Dan, the usually silent "kangaroo" part of "Alaskankangaroo," as he guest posts on his excursion to watch the last local Chinese Basketball Association game of the season.]


By Dan P.



Tonight I went to watch the final local game of the basketball season, the Foshan Long Lions versus the Qing Dao Double Stars.

While I am not a huge basketball fan, when I was a boy we would watch the local team, the Perth Wildcats, on TV. and I would get excited over the games I watched. During these games, I learnt the rules and some of the strategies of how to play basketball. So, when I saw a poster in the CITS travel agency window advertising the local Foshan Team, the Long Lions (lit. Dragon Lions), I knew I had to go and enjoy my first live game of basketball.

Tonight's game was close until the end, with the Long Lions winning in the game 107 - 101. There were a couple of calls that made the audience erupt in jeers and feet stomping! There were even a few slam dunks. The fans all beat their plastic clappers together, which was entertaining to watch too.

While televised basketball, especially NBA, is popular all over China, I asked a lot of people I knew if they had gone to see the Long Lions play live and they said they hadn't. This is probably because the team isn't at the top of the ladder. However the game I saw was exciting and fun.

There were even cheerleaders! Yes, little dancing princesses in pink bikinis twirling pom poms! The cheerleaders were ready to entertain at every break and time out—though the music was a little dated and uninspired. Also, everyone standing up for the Chinese national anthem at the beginning of the game was great! I like it when I see people being proud of their country.

The season's over now, but next season, you can get tickets from Qionghua Da Ju Yuan,( 佛山琼花大剧院 ) it's on Zumiao Lu. Just ask for lan qiu piao - basketball tickets. I got third row seats for 180 RMB. VIP tickets, complete with player's sweat, are 500RMB each and basic tickets in the back somewhere start from 60 RMB.


I think everyone should go see the Foshan Long Lions, and take their friends with them! We should support the local team, and even if you are only mildly interested in basketball, it's a live sporting opportunity afterall and it's the CBA—just as important here as the NBA is in the USA. You just never know. You may get to watch the next Yao Ming or Jeremy Lin in action.


Long Lions 加油 jia you! Long Lions 加油 jia you!

 
Just when the West thinks it's all over for the holidays until next year (with the exception of a card for Valentine's Day or a good Halloween party), Asia is gearing up for Lunar New Year. Called by various names like Spring Festival or Chinese New Year, this holiday signals renewal, rebirth and another chance at a lucky year. This Monday will begin the Year of the Dragon, and, as usual, decorators nation-wide (well, probably continent-wide) are going nuts for Dragons. 

I've found the debate in the China Daily newspaper over whether Chinese dragons should be fierce or cute to be very interesting. Here's some more links if you'd like to check them out.http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/cndy/2012-01/18/content_14465416.htm, and  http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-china-16422945

Also, near our apartment, the city has set up its yearly Flower Street, where entrepreneurs and school groups man booths to sell flowers and trinkets to people before the New Year. Prices were high when we checked out the street on Thursday.  If there are any left, we may go back when the street is winding up on Monday and buy some jonquils and chyrsanthemums for half price.

Happy Chinese New Year! 新年快乐!


 
I often see some strange English translations around town. When I have the camera with me, I take a picture of it:
 
 
This year has just zoomed by, while we tried to be stationary here in Foshan, China.

I hope all our readers also had a great 2011.

Happy Travels!
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Hello everyone!

Yes, the rumors are true. Alaskan Kangaroo has made it back, full circle, to China.

While the Big Trip through SE Asia and family living rooms has eaten its final pad thai, we are still living life in 'travel mode' although now it's on a neighborhood level and not a national one. 

I promise to get some more stories up soon...my goodness I haven't even posted the one I wrote about our trip to Vegas in December, or our 23-hour mad stopover in Tokyo, or the 100 beers on tap in Portland...until then, Happy Chinese New Year!