Raughley Goes to China: Mists of the Orient

I know, I’m terrible.  It’s been over a month since I’ve written anything!  I have a slew of excuses prepared, rest assured!

1. I have been devoting a lot of my creative energies to the Official Blog of Teach and Learn with Georgia!

2. The weather has been getting better!  Last weekend I sprang out of bed and just decided to go for a walk!  I wound up meandering for 2 hours along Nariqala fortress and Old Tbilisi.  It was a lovely sunny day and armed with the Judge John Hodgman podcast and a burst of energy, I even managed to get a little sun!

3. I came into some money and decided to finally buy myself an amp for my bass and I’ve spent more time playing it!

4. I’m getting back into back into reading!  Hooray!

5. Angela’s boyfriend came to visit!  Plus I’ve got new friends that I spend some time with!

6. I lose myself in Star Wars: The Old Republic during my rare bouts of utterly free time!

7. Haven came to visit for an excellent holiday weekend!

Anyway, none of these excuses are really worth a damn, but I thought I’d give a shout out to self-acknowledgement of my delinquency.

The point is, here I am!  Writing!

Flashback to late January, when I was visiting Cristen and Marissa in Hong Kong!

Marissa and I decided on taking a nice big adventure, one day.  We rode the train out past Disneyland and found ourselves at the far end of the Hong Kong subway system.  After taking a bus further up and around the hill, we arrived at a quaint little touristy town composed of shops and incongruously placed gondolas from cable cars all around the world.  Seemed like an odd thing to display, but given the presence of a (temporarily closed) cable car, gives it some meaning.  I suppose.

The town was completely shrouded in an epic, majestic mist that gave the entire locale an air of mystery (and of water vapor).

I don't think I can possibly use the word "fog" when I'm referring to the mists of the Orient.

We wandered around the touristy town atop the hill for a little while, taking in the sights of the buddhist prayer tree, the Dragon pavilion, and more!

Buddhist prayer tree
Why yes, I am the king of the dragons!

I don’t know how lion dances work, but I think they might be a new years thing.  Then again, they could be an all-the-time thing.  Either way, I was in Hong Kong for Chinese New Year and we got to see lots of Lion/Dragon dances!  None in the major parade, but a bunch at the malls and in random streets!

We saw a bunch of lion-dancers practicing in an alleyway one day. But THIS day we saw the real deal!
There was even a live band who played the cymbals and drums in order to give the lions something to dance to.
Immediately after this photo was taken, I was eaten by a lion.
People were "feeding" charitable donations to the lions.
The yellow lion was a good deal less intimidating.
So close to home!

We finally (as the above photo teased) made it to the Big Buddha!  The mist made it all the more awesome and we hiked to the top for a quick lookaround.

The "Big Buddha" is so-called because it's enormous! Largest seated bronze Buddha in the world, in fact!
Buddha is surrounded by supplicant lesser-Buddhas. Each of them is presenting him with some kind of offering. I'm not very up on my Buddhism, but I really liked these statues!
There were vegetarian meals available underneath the Buddha!
At a nearby temple, worshipers could purchase incense for prayer. This was also the most enormous incense I've ever seen.
And so, as I run out of steam, and become ever hungrier, I leave you with this epic Dragon pillar. Haven, I hope that I met the challenge of publishing this before you got back to Chicago!
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