Beijing Day Five

Click below to see the most recent pics from day 4 and 5. People who know me know I don’t really bother editing, so I apologize for the duplicates and blurry pics. 


Day 5 started out with SUN!!! In fact, the sun was actually YELLOW!!! The rain had cleared away all the pollution and bright clear skies met me as I exited the hotel. I started with some street food (it’s so freaking good, why doesn’t LA have street food this good - oh right, health regulations - bummer). Then it was off for a long overdue visit to The Forbidden City. 

WOW. I took way to many pictures because everything was so beautiful, and I’m sure not one of them does any justice to this opulent palace. The Forbidden City is China’s version of Versailles, and I’m not quite sure which one I wanna live in more. I spent 5 hours there walking around and exploring the treasures, and didn’t even get to 1/3 of the grounds. Some of the highlights (that I took all those pics of) include, a carved 600 ton single marble block, thrones that I desperately wanted to sit on (but they wouldn’t let me), animal guardians carved into the tops of the pagodas, relics of the imperial clockworks, concubines quarters (I need to get me some of those) and gate after gate leading the way from north to south across the grounds. I actually got to walk on the same pathway leading through the palace that was once reserved only for the emperor himself. There’s something spectacular about physically touching history like this in a personal way. 

After The Forbidden City it was time to climb the winding steps up to the home of the Golden Buddha (no photos allowed) overlooking the entire Forbidden City for the quintessential photo. Sorry for all the duplicates, the position of the sun and the returning haze of pollution by the early afternoon made it a bit tricky. From there I got lost in the Hutongs (old windy streets of the original city) on my way to Ho Hai (the lake I walked around on Day 3). This time it was a hub of activity. I did a loop around the entire lake (a couple miles) and stopped for a beer and some more street food while enjoying my book overlooking the lake shimmering in the later afternoon sun. By this time the pollution had returned and the ubiquitous orange glow was spreading across the sky and touching the city. After stopping for a coffee, finishing my book and chatting with a few cool people on the lake, the sun had set and it was time to find my way home. I thought about catching a cab, but decided that it was a bad idea at rush hour and made my way across the city to the nearest (yet about 40 minutes away) subway station. 

Truly a perfect day in Beijing. T-shirt weather, pollution free air, stunning palaces, great conversation, a good book, and it’s not over yet. I’m meeting Max back at Sanlitun Village at 11pm for my second to last night out on the town. Maybe we’ll try that gay dance club again….. hopefully this time it’s open. :P

Stay tuned!! Tomorrow morning is The Antique market!! “Smart shoppers get there at 4am” - good thing I have no more money left to spend. I think 8am will do just fine.

Beijing Day Four

Well it was pouring on Day 4 so The Great Wall was out. It’s funny because Max says it’s only ever rained once since he’s been here. Turns out plan B was just as fun. :)
We started the day with Max meeting me in the lobby of my hotel just as I was finishing a dim sum breakfast. We headed off to Sanlitun Village to catch a matinee of Immortals (minus any sex scenes - you totally notice the odd cuts in random parts of the movie, it’s hilarious). When we got out we still had the whole day ahead of us so it was off to The Book Worm, this adorable little shop that smelled like Sundance. Cold, coffee, books, sponsored liquor and excitement. There was even an organized panel discussion going on while we were hanging out. We kicked it with some beers for a bit and read our books as the rain began to recede. 
After the book worm it was off to the silk market to pick up my suit. They killed it. I have to give major props to Greg for sending me off with a few great pictures for them to copy. They got every detail right (Ryan Gosling eat your heart our - I only paid $140 for mine!!). We managed to escape without spending another penny, despite the aggressive sales people. Max and I agree this place is amazing. From a marketing perspective its great to watch these pros use every trick in the book on unsuspecting tourists. Forget reading books, if you wanna study influence, spend a few days at The Silk Market. 
We then got a snack and headed over to Wangfujing. Otherwise known as The Night Market. You really need to check the pics to understand. They have everything you’ve never wanted to eat - on a stick. Grasshoppers, live scorpions, tarantulas, grubs, fish, worms, intestines, and much much more. We opted for dumplings. Much safer. Special thanks to Sonny and Sheri for telling me the best place for Peking Duck and Cha Su Bao on the block (we took pics with the big happy duck). :P
Exhausted, we headed back to my hotel, watched the chaos in the US on CNN. Chatted for a few hours and called it a night. It ended up being a perfect rainy day in Beijing, relaxing yet full, and lots of fun. 
More fun Chinese incongruities - ATMs are called Cash Recycling Machines, and instead of receipts they print “advice.” 

Beijing Days Two & Three

Beijing Days Two & Three

I got an early start on day two, and headed to Ho Hai to walk around the lake and check out the Hutongs (long winding streets that are what all of Beijing used to look like). Turns out it’s mostly an evening spot with restaurants and bars lining the lake and the hutongs shuttered up till later in the day. It was still a stunning mile or so walk around the lake, with people practicing Tai Chi and chinese puppies running around yapping at ducks. I decided if I was really gonna get my shopping on, I had to go to Silk Street. 
Silk Street is an exact replica (though much much smaller) of the malls across the border from Hong Kong in Shinzen. So I had practice on my side. You really have to bargain like your life depends on it. I bought a bag for Greg that started out at 3800 Kwai ($608) and ended after 30 minutes of haggling and walking away twice for 500 Kwai ($80). I also bought myself some sunglasses for about 6 bucks each a wallet for $15 bucks, and a custom suit for $140 (I could have gotten it for $100 but the sales girl confused me with her math!! :P). 
Later that night I met up with Max and his buddy Zach and we decided to go clubbing. After hitting 2 places that were not our cup of tea, we found a Steam-punked out club with killer bartenders and awesome music. We played Jenga with the bartenders and the locals and I learned a dice/drinking game. The pictures from that night are LEGIT, but unfortunately they’re all on my iPhone, which I left at the club. Even a return 30 minutes later and some very helpful staff yielded no results. I crawled into bed around 5am. 
Day Three - started with brunch at 10am downstairs at my hotel. I really scored with The Swisshotel Beijing. Nice rooms, and a great location right over a subway station. Then it was time to get lost. Not really that hard to do here, considering that nothing is in English and the city is monstrous. Found my way to Lucky Street, wherever that is, and decided to stop for a 2 hour massage for $80, a bit overpriced, but after loosing my iPhone I needed it. I kicked it around Sanlitun Village (upscale shopping neighborhood) grabbed some coffee and worked on my book. Now I’m back at the hotel, blogging away before I head back to silk street to try on my suit and have it altered, before meeting Max and friends near Peking University for some casual drinking tonight. Tomorrow is Max’s day off and we’re hitting The Great Wall!!!!
Some reflections on China - It’s really busy here. But not as busy as I was imagining. The whole place is so spread out, I have a feeling I’m having the same reaction that people have when they visit LA for the first time. It’s also pretty damn cold. However, the creepiest thing by far is the pollution. There are no shadows her because there is no direct sunlight. It’s 4pm and it’s been dark for hours, not quite night, but more like the whole city is on a very low dimmer switch. Visibility is 2 blocks at most, so working out where you are can be difficult. (the pics from my hotel room make it look like it’s brighter than it is because of my killer camera :P). 
The best thing so far is the street food. I just love the stuff, so much variety and all so cheap! I don’t know why anyone would ever eat in a nice restaurant. I have no idea what I’m eating of course, I just point at what other people are having and they laugh and hand it over. 
I love all the incongruities. Light switches go down instead of up to turn on. Public toilets are everywhere, but they are the squat kind. You pay for everything including drinks BEFORE they start to make it. There is no tipping at all (awesome). All doors say push, or pull, but they really all do both. I’ll keep em coming… in future posts. 
The city is building like they will never run out of money (they might not - they have all ours). This truly is the most architectural city I’ve ever seen. Every building is trying to be more creative than the one next door. Well, every new building that is. The old buildings sit in between, crumbling away, remnants of 80s concrete utilitarianism. Yet, construction continues around the clock. When I come back in 20 years, I’m sure the city will be unrecognizable. Then there’s the Communist Buildings. Like the Workers Stadium, or the CCTV building. Monuments to unlimited government resources and the pride of a people. I’m sure when I see the Olympic Village I’ll be floored. 
The social differences are very obvious as well. The place is DIRTY bordering on disgusting at points. People shit in the street, pee everywhere and spit like it was going out of style (I’m sure the pollution has something to do with that). Smoking is ubiquitous. Of course I only notice these things because I’m a judgmental American, if I grew up here, it would all be common place. 
Well if you’ve made it to the end of this you’re either my dad, or a close friend. So keep reading for more fun from The Middle Kingdom. Love and miss everyone!!! 

Beijing Day One

So after missing my flight here, sitting in the airport for 9 hours over 2 days and a 14 hour flight, I’m finally in the Middle Kingdom!! 

The City is monstrous. The people are on a fast pace and there’s something to eat or buy on every street and every corner. I love it. :) Yesterday I checked into my hotel and met up with Max and some of his friends. After an awesome dinner, and checking out Max’s kick ass pad in the middle of party central (otherwise known as Sanlitun Village), we met up with some more friends for drinks. My body had no idea what time it is so around 1am Beijing time, I headed back to my hotel to crash out. 

I awoke today at 7am and am waiting for Max to meet me for breakfast before I head out shopping for the day. PS - to all my friends. It’s freaking cold here in November…. Just an FYI. :)

Prague Days Five & Six

Prague Days Five & Six


Prague Days Five and Six 

We were joined by some of their friends for a great Columbian meal and several hours of conversation before hopping on a tram to head out to a few bars for some more drinks.. that meant Absinthe shots for me! I love the stuff, tastes great and gets you f**^ed up!! Plus the whole ritual is fun. 

After that the girls recommended a good gay club for me to check out that I hadn't tried yet, and the Swedes decided to go with me for a drink since it was on the way to their next place, and they're way cool dudes. The place was HOPPIN. Packed with fun, hot people and playing great music. I said goodbye to the boys and spent the next few hours dancing and meeting people. Closing out the night again around 5am. Perfect last night on my trip. 

Sunday I got up early and packed, checked out of the hotel and went to The Globe for some drinks and breakfast. It was raining, so I spent a few hours there before getting called by the boys to meet up for lunch, and a recap of the previous nights debauchery. 

We walked across Prague to Bohemian Bagel, a KILLER resturant that I wish I had found at the begining of my trip. We even ran into one of our friends from dinner the night before. After a great lunch we walked around Prague Square and across the Charles Bridge before crossing back and hitting an Absinthe shop so I could bring home a bottle of the Green Fairy. I said a final goodbye to the boys and headed back to my hotel to write my last blog entry of my actual trip... if there's another it will simply be about my 2 days of travel home. I have to catch the night train to Frankfurt tonight and then my flight home tomorrow. 

Its been an amazing trip. I met a bunch of great people that I'm sure (thanks to Facebook) I'll keep in touch with. The Swedes are planning a trip to LA in the fall so it will be fun to show them around my neck of the woods. So many great and new experiences, it's sad to see it end. However, I will be happy to get back to my friends and my bed, my job and my family, all are missed. Thanks to everyone who stayed in touch with me, and read my blog, hope it wasn't too boring (I know on some of them I wrote a LOT of details :P). 

So alas, from Prague, goodbye.... 

Posted 6th April 2008 by Josh Gray-Emmer

Prague Night Two

Wow, what a freekn crazy night!! We started with drinks at a really cool bookstore/bar and then moved on to a killer pizza place for dinner. It was so cheap and so good I'll be back for sure. Then we moved on to the opening of Red Room. The owners were from the states and bought us all shots (MORE Finnish Fizu!). Then I said my good0-byes and took a cab over to Termix, a local gay dance club. The place was small but packed with good looking dudes... none of whom seemed to speak English.. After about an hour of not having fun I texted the gang. They were on their way to Mecca (A Czech mega club). I headed over.. and was SOOO glad I did. The crowd was mixed, the music was great and I danced till 6am. Needless to say I'll be sleeping in tomorrow...

Prague Days One & Two

I arrived in Prague and promptly met some Americans who helped guide me on the proper metro to get to my hotel. It was MUCH nice then I thought it would be. I hung out for a bit got my berings and decided to walk around the town. This place is simply amazing. I can't believe that all the buildings look the way they do. Everything is old and ornate. Even the most simple buildings are gorgeous. I picked up a few things I needed grabbed some dinner and a beer and headed back to the hotel. I got an e-mail from the Americans telling me to head over to a bar near my hotel, and when I google-mapped it, it was only a block away.. so of course, I had to go. There were only a few people there and the Americans weren't one of them, but I met some very nice British girls and Swedish boys and we all had a killer night. We even made plans to hang out the next day.

The following morning I got up and walked around town before meeting the British girls on the Charles Bridge to go explore Prague Castle. On the way we stopped for lunch and drinks. The castle was fantastic and the views from the castle were spectacular. I took so many pics because I was just so blown away. Having the girls around made exploring Prague a bit more fun for today. We had some ice-cream on the way back to out hotels and made plans to meet later tonight.

Helsinki Last Few Days

My last few days in Helsinki were a blast. On Friday night we all had dinner together then went over to Kai's place for drinks and some madness (see the pics) before heading out to Red Room where we stayed till late. On the way home there were even snow angels, and Jarvi snow-69 angels (my favorite kind).

The Fins made me a traditional salmon dinner on my last night there with all the fixins.. I'll have to bring the recipe back to the states. Other than that, I went out every night. On the Saturday before I left I went out to DTM and partied till the club closed. Then I met some peeps and walked about 20 minutes to an after-party. When I left around 6am I accidentally left my camera there. I hadn't gotten the name or numbers of anyone at the party and I certainly didn't know where I had been. I was crushed. Lasse drove me to the club, and I remembered the direction we had walked and a few key features about the place and the street and we were able to locate the building. We even broke in and left a note on the right apartment. 30 minutes later Marko called and said he had my camera... Only in Finland! Great people, beautiful scenery, relaxing and fun!

Helsinki Days Two, Three and Four

Helsinki Days Two, Three and Four

I've been behind on my blog here in Finland so I decided to combine the last few days into one entry. This place is gorgeous. It's been pretty snowy so I've spent a lot of time inside, in coffee shops and bars. Ville has graciously allowed me to stay at his place while he stays at his girlfriend's. This is saving me a ton of money, which is a lifesaver as I come to the end of my trip. The Fins are on the Euro, and it's quite expensive for pretty much everything here. So far Hong Kong has been the best place for my dollar, which was certainly not what I had expected starting this trip.

My adventures to Sweden and St. Petersburg were thwarted by expensive Visas an plane tickets respectively, so those trips will have to wait till next time. So far my time here in Finland has been very relaxing. I've been exploring the city quite a bit and getting a ton of exercize as I walk miles a day in the snow (which promptly undo with beer every night).

Some of the highlights have been dinners here. On the first night in Helsinki I went with Ville to a classic Finnish restaurant and had reindeer and potatoes. It was very good. So far there has been almost no native food on this trip I haven't liked. I need to remember to be more adventurous with my eating habits when I return to LA. Last night Anna, Ville and I cooked a pasta dinner at Ville's pad before he and I trekked through the snow to see Juno (over rated at best).

Other than that we've been exploring a lot of small neighborhood bars. I've been to DTM (the biggest gay bar here) twice, but both times during the day, when I was pretty much the only person there. The architecture is stunning and you'll notice a lot of shot of it in my pics. I wish LA had more buildings like these. Tonight I plan on partying for sure, and Friday I'm going out with Ville and all his friends. Thats it for now!

Posted 27th March 2008 by Josh Gray-Emmer

Helsinki Day One

Helsinki Day One

Four hours after I got to the hotel, the wakeup call came in.. I had 45 minutes to pack up my stuff, shower and get to the train for Hethrow Airport. Lucky, I made it and 6 hours later I touched down in Helsinki. It was snowing outside and I could feel the cold as I entered the terminal. Ville, Lasse and Juri, picked me up and we grabbed Toomas before heading to the store to buy supplies (beer and food and beer and beer) for the night at the cabin.

After that it was a quick hour car ride to The Jarvi cabin in the woods of Finland. I guess almost all families in Finland (a country of less then 6M people) has one of these.... it was a really cool very relaxing place surrounded by trees on a stunning frozen lake lit by the moon. After some whiskey and a few beers we headed over to the sauna house right on the lake where we loaded the firewood into the sauna and took an axe and punched a hole in the lake for water for the sauna... and I learned.. to JUMP IN. These Finish boys are freekn crazy. However, you only live once.

We went back in the house to play UNO (the drinking version of course) and wait for the sauna to get hot.. 45 minutes later, I was the looser (thank god, I was gonna need the whiskey warmth to handle the FREEZING LAKE). We headed back to the sauna house, stripped neked and got in the burning hot room, chatting and laughing. As they poured water on the hot rocks the room burned warming every inch or me inside and out... I was gonna need that too.

Then it was time. They opened the door and we all headed, butt neked across the snow onto the icy lake and over to the watery hole of doom. I slipped several times getting covered in snow before taking my turn jumping into the frozen water and screaming like a girl... but I was proud of myself for doing it.. and once back in the sauna it felt great.

After a few more trips into the snow (I cant believe I was actually hanging out with 4 hot Finish dudes naked in the snow... random), we headed back into the house, where we warmed up and Ville cooked sausages over the fire for us for dinner. Sometime after that I passed out, and the boys took pics of me..... Truely a great, relaxing, and VERY Finnish day.

Posted 24th March 2008 by Josh Gray-Emmer

Costa Rica Day Seven

Sunday -

I woke up around noon and went for another round with my super hottie Tico boy. We spent the next hour making out and getting our lazy asses out of bed. Finally I said good bye to him and went to check in with the girls. They were not happy campers. It seems that their room had been infested with tiny sugar ants (at least they were the non-biting kind). This was not how they planned on spending their night or their' last several days in Costa Rica. We agreed that we would ride back the two hours to Los Suanos even though it would mean only getting an hour of sun, if nothing else, to just have a nice place to stay. While Tim made the call to see about arranging our stay we went out to wander around the town of Santa Ana where we were staying. Found a nice place for lunch and headed back. Unfortunately there was no longer any available rooms at the resort. Tim recommended a place for us in San Jose called The Alta. We checked it out online and after saying our goodbyes we headed over. It was gorgeous. So nice and only 55 a piece for the night. We dropped our stuff off and Steph and I went crazy taking pictures of the place. It really is nice, it looks like an old mansion and we were convinced that it was over 50 years old, until one of the staff told us it was build 10 years ago to look aged. They had us fooled for sure. We hung by the pool and the girls worked out. It was one of the best sunsets I've seen since we got here. After going back to the room we got dressed and went to the resturant in the hotel for our final meal in costa. It was also the best. Great ambience and even better food. We talked for several hours and headed back to the room.... and that my friends is where this trip comes to an end. We'll head to the airport tomorrow morning at 8am and be back in LA by the early evening. It's been a great trip. I'm really sorry it has to come to an end.

Posted 9th December 2007 by Josh Gray-Emmer

Costa Rica Day Six

Saturday -

We got up at 7am to catch our 8am Shuttle with Tim to San Jose where we plan on spending the rest of our vacation. We asked Tim to set us up at a place that was nice, clean and cheap. At first appearance, the place seemed really great. Granted the rooms were small.. but hell the price was right. Twenty bucks. We hung out for a bit, met Dr. Bob, the owner of the hotel and the Tex Mex Restaurant. He was quite a character and a lot of fun. He really seemed to enjoy the pace of Costa Rica. One thing we learned there... Costa Ricans don't have addresses... Really! No street names, no addresses. People tell you where to go and how to get there using landmarks and meters from the landmarks. If you don't know an area.. You're screwed. We would find
this a problem later when trying to figure out how we would get back to the hotel after an evening of partying.

After checking in we ventured into San Jose to do some shopping and explore the city. We started in the Central Market which seemed to be a poor-man's version of The Third Street Promenade. We walked for a
few blocks and were basically unimpressed with the shopping. So we found a local bar which as it turned out was a taste of the USA. It was called The Nashville Bar and we took a moment to have a beer before moving down the side streets for some more local cultural shopping. We found some fantastic art and some GREAT wooden lathe turned bowls, a native traditional export here. We made our way back to the center of town and stopped at the Central Bank where the underground vaults house the National Collection of Costa Rican Gold. It was amazing, level after level of fantastic pieces of pre-Columbian gold, some pieces of which were over 2000 years old. When we got up from the vaults it was raining so we hopped in the car and made our way back to the hotel.. but not before stopping in a small college town along the way. In Costa Rica, I learned that because they have no military, they can spend more of the national budget on education, and everyone here goes to school and anyone who chooses goes to a great college and for free. The bars near the town were great, everyone was young, the beers were large and cheap and the people were friendly and mostly English speaking.

While we were there we got to witness a funny sight. It was a small street and someone had parked about a foot away from the curb. A bus headed down the street and got stuck. People at bars on both sides watched and cheered as onlookers tried to guide the bus down, getting it more and more stuck between the vehicles. Finally, a group of guys simply picked up the car and moved it a foot over so the bus could pass. We had a few slices of pizza for dinner and made our way back to the hotel where I passed out for a quick 2 hour cat nap. When I awoke at 10:30pm it was time to get showered and get out! After spending a half hour figuring out how we were gonna get back to the hotel we all departed. Tim agreed to come with us but at the door of Club Oh, we were stopped because Tim didn't have his ID on him. I looked inside to see if it was worth staying.... one look and I was hooked. I said goodbye to Tim and the girls and went inside -

Inside the club was hopping. Very mixed in traditional Latin style the music was discotheque electronica. I was confused at the bar at first, when I tried to pay the non-english speaking bartender said no... I thought he liked me... how flattering. 6 Drinks later I figured out it's open bar there. WOW. Wish we had that in LA. The boys were hot. I had a blast dancing with quite a few... made out with 2 and took the hottest one home. :P It was amazing. I was sorry to have to bring him back to the smallest place we stayed over our vacation, but he didn't seem to mind at all and wow was it hot.

Posted 8th December 2007 by Josh Gray-Emmer

Costa Rica Day Five

Friday -

We got up at 10:30am and made a quick breakfast before Steph and I got picked up to check out the resort. We got to see all the possible places to stay and talked with the staff about bringing some of our
clients to Costa Rica. Its a great team at Los Suenos and I hope we can make something work out for them. Then it was off to the spa. For the rest of the day we relaxed, enjoyed massages and I even got a manicure and pedicure. Then we met up with Tim and had some delicious Italian food overlooking the Marina. After dropping Noel at the condo we watched the sunset and went back to the condo to pack and get ready
for the evening.

Stephanie's eye was hurting so Noel and I went with Tim to The Jungle for a few drinks.. we took it easy and were out and home by 1am. It was funny, Tim got drunk and one of his co-workers came out of the closet to him that night and Tim tried to hook us up. Alas, I was already in bed and the friend wasn't really my type.

Posted 7th December 2007 by Josh Gray-Emmer

Costa Rica Day Four

Thursday -

Thursday we got up early again and caught a ride to our catamaran a few hours away waiting to take us to Tortuga Island. It was a brisk 2 hours boat ride and all of us turned nicely pink in the hot sun along the way. Then we arrived at a gorgeous island in the middle of the ocean where the turtles lay their eggs. Its a protected island and in the off season when the turtles are away, tourists are allowed on the other side of the island. There was an entire community set up on the beach for us. Complete with a dining villa and lounge chairs. We promptly signed up for snorkeling and hopped on a boat to another small island a few minutes boat ride away. Not quite Hawaii, but still beautiful fish of all colors. The tour guide happened to have a bag of fish food and they came flocking. After swimming around for a bit, we made our way back to the island for lunch and a few hours of laying out. On the boat ride home it started to rain and when it got hard we all rushed inside. There was dancing and Noel even threw down some Merenge with the captain. We had a great time and ended up meeting some fantastic people on the trip. Once again we all passed out on the ride back to the Jaco. We stopped in town for some sushi and made our way back to the resort for some rest before an evening out. This time we were determined to make it into town.... and we did. The Jungle Club provided a backdrop for our evening of drinking and debotchery... Noel even met a boy ;) In bed by 4am, definitely sleeping in tomorrow.

Posted 6th December 2007 by Josh Gray-Emmer

Costa Rica Day Three

Wednesday -

The 6am wake up call wasn't too bad because we didn't party the night before. We made breakfast together downed some coffee and before we knew it our driver was there. It was a 1 and a half hour drive through
the jungle to the National Park. Along the way we had to pass over two "Oh My God" bridges... that means well... have a look at the pics and you'll understand. Its the real version of the rickety old bridge at Universal Studios. When we arrived we started our 2 hour tour through the jungle and along the beach. It was stunning. At the end of the first part we stopped at a protected cove in the middle of the park where people were lying on the beach soaking in the sun. So we joined then for an hour, playing in the water and fighting off the raccoons who seemed to just wander up and down the beach checking out the people and trying to steal food. After our break we hiked another 45 minutes out of the park to our tour bus and were off to lunch. The
food here is great but the places we're eating at seem pretty americanized, I guess its about giving the tourists what they're familiar with, but we're for sure gonna have to find some authentic food before we go.

On our way back we stopped along the roadside for some local shopping and the girls picked up some dresses and sarongs. All of us passed out on the ride home... When we got back, Steph and I hopped right into the pool and swam for a bit before heading back to the condo to throw some hotdogs on the grill. Basicly we just drank, chilled and veged out for the rest of the night. Enjoying the beautiful resort and the Costa Rican weather.

Posted 5th December 2007 by Josh Gray-Emmer

Costa Rica Day Two

Tuesday -
Waking up at 9am seemed too early despite the 8+ hours of sleep we all got. After a quick breakfast we were picked up by a van and taken deep into the jungle where a friendly bunch of Tikos met us, got us suited up and ready for the Canapy Tour! After a brisk and stunning 15 minute hike through the jungle passing waterfalls and huge trees we arrived at the first treetop bridge.... hands on the bar, sit down, and your off! Zipping across the jungle and break-neck speeds was fantastic and a LOT of fun. Our guides were funny and hot.. a great combo when your doing something that might seem a little dangerous. After 11 zip lines
and a rope swing across the jungle for 2 hours we arrived back at basecamp... it was entirely too soon and I think the pictures give you a small taste of just how much fun we had. We said our goodbyes and headed back to Jaco for some lunch. Things in this small Costa Rican ocean town are freekn pricey. I think we were all expecting to pay centeral american prices.. tuns out with the weak dollar (thanks Bush) everything's pretty much american prices. After a few more beers at our favorite bar on the beach and a quick walk along the water we headed back to the resort to change into our swim suits and hit the

Steph and I walked around to the main pools at the Marriot part of the resort and passed out in the sun for two hours. Thank goodness for clouds and sun screen or we'd be baked. Then we came back and hopped in the golf cart and headed down the road out of the resort to the grocery store.. it was a nutty trip traveling the pot hole filled road in the cart and the store was farther than we thought. However, we were successful and now we're about to grill some steaks before going out for another night on the town... more later!!

Tim came back to the condo to join us for our night on the town with news that we would be picked up at 7am the following morning for our tour of Manual Antonio National Park. With that in mind, and having
already had a full day we decided to forget about the party and get some sleep, but not before having a wonderful bbq and dinner together and a few more beers. :)

Posted 4th December 2007 by Josh Gray-Emmer

Costa Rica Day One

Monday -

After having a few beers at the airport I slept like a baby on the place and arrived five and a half hours later in beautiful San Jose Costa Rica. Customs and Imigration were a since and we met our driver
Gustavo right outside. He threw our luggage in the van and we started on our 2 hour trip to Los Suenos. Allong the way we stopped to check out the stunning views from the top of a mountain and paused for a few
minutes to grab some fresh fruit from a local stand on the side of the road. Our driver was fantastic, he pointed everything there was to see out along the way... We even stopped to catch a glimpse of some crocs
kickn it in a river. You can see by the pictures how close we actually were to them, they seemed to care less about us and the other hundred tourests gawkig at them.

When we arrived at the resort I was blown away, the grounds are stunning, and you can see how the staff of 150 daily landscapers is kept busy. We were greeted at the office and given a golf cart to get around the monsterous resort, and sent to our condo. With our own pool and jaccuzi, not to mention full kitchen and living area, it's like a home away from home for the rest of our stay. After unpacking and
relaxing for an hour we met Tim Williams the director of PR for the resort and he took us into town (Jaco) to meet the locals and have some lunch. We ate at this gorgeous place on the beach and watched the
waves roll in as we all had local fresh caught fish.. as you can see from the pics it was beauiful and equally as delicious. After lunch we walked around and explored the main strip of Jaco and stopped for a
few drinks at a local bar (also on the beach of course).

After walking the entire length of Jaco we caught a cab and headed back to the resort to get some swimming in just in time for sunset. Tim left for a bit and we headed back to the room to shower and catch
some much needed rest before going out for the night. None of us really got a chance to nap before it was time to head out again to Jaco to get some dinner. The taxi dropped us at the great little place
I'm sure we'll go back to called The Taco Bar. It had the most scrumptious fish tacos and swings to sit on while we ate.

Our plan was to hit the local discotecs and party all night but we were done with dinner at 9 and it was still way to early, the town was deserted. We went back to the bar on the beach from earlier and had a few drinks and watched the lightning strike, it light up the entire ocean and the night sky. After killing the next hour at the bar we went back to to clubs to see if anyone was partying yet... alas.. 10pm is still too early for the Tikas (except for the hooker bar which was poppn)!! We bade farewell to Tim and headed back to the condo. Having
been up since 6am we were out by midnight... what a great first day.

Beijing Day 6 and 7 - AND More Photos

Day 6 started at noon, and that was only because I forced myself out of bed. I had to go back to the Silk Market to see a girl about a bag. When I got there, I raided some free W-fi over coffee and headed into the madness. I went straight to my target and informed her I was back. After some chit-chat I was shown to the basement, where I was confronted with the mother load of “replica” items. 3 hours late. I left with some outrageous deals, soon to be seen by many in the form of holiday gifts.

I had some lunch at the shops outside the Market, and walked into the chilling cold to find a cab. Now it turns out that my last day, though clear and crisp, was also destined to be the coldest. Under 30 degrees it turned out. I waited 30 minutes hunting for a cab, looking over my shoulder at the warm but oppressively crowded subway just 100 yards away. My arms, however were weighed down with $20,000 (had they been real) in goods. I dreaded the idea of cramming into a subway, despite the tiny chance (though I had no real idea) of a Sunday respite from the usual crowds. 

After chasing down a cab and getting in before the woman inside had even gotten out, I headed home to shower, change and meet up with Max. It was our final night and Sarah and Zach met us out for a bite to eat and some beers. It was a perfect end to an amazing trip. 

The following morning Max met me for breakfast and I headed to the airport on the express. I traveled back in time, leaving at 2pm on Sunday and driving back at 10:30am the same day in LA. I was shocked to see that I had brought the rain and cold with me. Oh well. I am so grateful to live a life that affords me the opportunity to take trips like this. 

Check my Facebook for the final set of pics!

Beijing Days Six & Seven

Beijing Days Six & Seven

Day 6 started at noon, and that was only because I forced myself out of bed. I had to go back to the Silk Market to see a girl about a bag. When I got there, I raided some free W-fi over coffee and headed into the madness. I went straight to my target and informed her I was back. After some chit-chat I was shown to the basement, where I was confronted with the mother load of “replica” items. 3 hours late. I left with some outrageous deals, soon to be seen by many in the form of holiday gifts.

I had some lunch at the shops outside the Market, and walked into the chilling cold to find a cab. Now it turns out that my last day, though clear and crisp, was also destined to be the coldest. Under 30 degrees it turned out. I waited 30 minutes hunting for a cab, looking over my shoulder at the warm but oppressively crowded subway just 100 yards away. My arms, however were weighed down with $20,000 (had they been real) in goods. I dreaded the idea of cramming into a subway, despite the tiny chance (though I had no real idea) of a Sunday respite from the usual crowds. 

After chasing down a cab and getting in before the woman inside had even gotten out, I headed home to shower, change and meet up with Max. It was our final night and Sarah and Zach met us out for a bite to eat and some beers. It was a perfect end to an amazing trip. 

The following morning Max met me for breakfast and I headed to the airport on the express. I traveled back in time, leaving at 2pm on Sunday and driving back at 10:30am the same day in LA. I was shocked to see that I had brought the rain and cold with me. Oh well. I am so grateful to live a life that affords me the opportunity to take trips like this. 

Check my Facebook for the final set of pics!

Day 5 - Part 2

Around 11pm I met up with Max and hung out as we gathered up our group. Then it was off to The Workers Stadium for some clubbing! We started at a hot dog stand… just walk down the steps and push the button and the wall in the back opens to reveal a fantastic little bar hidden underground (See our video to watch us pretend we’re entering the club again). 

We started with a few drinks and lots of rambunctious conversation. Then we noticed that the bartender was a very sexy young man from The Abercrombie and Fitch Chinese Training video that Max and Sarwa (one of his coworkers who was with us) had to watch before coming to the country. I observed that he was being hit on by two attractive male patrons. We made a few body language based hypotheses, and then a few drinks later, it was time to test them out. I saw an in and took it. Game. Set. Match. 

30 minutes later we left with the hotter one in tow to a gay bar down the block. Unfortunately, at 3am it was pretty dead. One drink and it was time to get back over to Latte (the place I left my phone at a few days earlier). There, Max and I got out the dice, and the drinking games began! We danced the night away till 6am, and I mean DANCED. I think I lost 5lbs on the dance floor. Max’s friends Sarwa and Sarah can really cut a rug. Our gay-boy-in-tow got bored and headed home around 5. Oh well!! :P I wasn’t gonna leave when the dancing was that good! After some street food I managed to get in bed just as the sun was coming up across the west. Another amazing night in Beijing!