Tuesday, December 17, 2013


Esther and I went to the Philippines this November for our first extended trip without Jordan.  Her parents watched him for 9 days while we got some much needed rest.  Jordan did great without us, sleeping, eating and playing normally.  We checked in everyday at first, but soon realized he was going to be fine.  While we missed him fantastically, we were able to relax.

We spent three days at the Manila Spirits Ultimate Frisbee Tournament.  On Friday, our men's team from China dominated everyone and won our second straight title.  I played with Bear Ninja Cowboy for coed on Saturday and Sunday.  We were plagued with heat stroke and, in one case, debilitating alcohol poisoning, so we didn't have as many guys as we needed.  We underperformed, but had a great time.

Monday morning, Esther and I set off for Boracay.  We had both been there before, separately, and our experience this time was much different.  You know how people talk about going to a beautiful island and just sitting on the beach and relaxing? ...but then they end up busy everyday and they come home needing a vacation from their vacation?  Well for our trip, we literally did nothing, everyday, and it was amazing.  People really should do less more often.

For our weeklong stay, most days followed the same basic blueprint.  We get up lazily and maybe lie around in the hammock on our bungalow’s balcony sipping coffee.  If we don't grab banana-bacon pancakes at our resort, we probably head off to Real Coffee for pesto and tuna omelets.
View from Real Coffee
After breakfast we'd walk along the beach and explore the rocks, maybe stop at Jonah's for Boracay's legendary fruit shake.

 We almost always ended up at White House Resort in the afternoon for happy hour.  Most of the frisbee players from the tournament end up there and we spend the day drinking, chatting, swimming, playing frisbee, and napping.  It's perfect.

Our last day there, we ended up taking a sailboat out to watch the sunset.  The water was so clear we saw straight down to the ocean floor, even a few kilometers out. It was a gorgeous night, and we sailed for 45 minutes as the colors changed until the sky filled with stars. 

After dinner, we'd head out for a few cocktails. With no particular place in mind, we wandered along the beach and listened to the dozen different bands playing at the beach bars. When we found one we liked, we kicked off our sandals and listened to live music, sat in the sand and sipped cold drinks.

Our friends went cliff jumping and island hopping, etc.  We were just happy to be together, on vacation, and on a beautiful island.  It was truly the most relaxing vacation i've ever had.


Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Fall Costume Roundup

It's now time to highlight costumes from this years tournaments and halloween.  Oddly enough, i was never really into halloween living in the US.  For someone without the arts and crafts dexterity to actually make a costume, it was a stressful holiday for me.  Four years in a row, i dressed as Hugh Kevfner, basically just buying a few new accessories to add to a burgundy smoking jacket/robe.

Moving to China, however, i've embraced any situation that allows me to dress up.  This is usually frisbee-related, but i've been known to dress up for random birthday parties and also on tuesdays.  I guess there's something about being a foreigner that makes it even more fun to be weird in public.  Since we get stared at all the time anyway, might as well walk around dressed like a penguin too.  Cheap tailored clothing opens up a lot of options as well.

First up, the Beijing Tournament.  The party theme was "Empires" and my team (Jiangnan) tossed around a lot of decent ideas.  We considered the Roman Empire (togas), the Greek Empire (spartan warriors), The Empire Strikes Back (anything star wars), and even Umpires. Ultimately though, we settled on the simple, yet brilliant, Empire Penguins.  We ordered 15 costumes on the internet and we won the party award with authority.

My favorite part of the night was when 15 penguins landed in Sanlitun and waddled our way to the party.  We flocked in formation and found random Chinese pedestrians to flock around.  Once the leader penguin identified a target, they would squawk in his/her/their general direction to alert the flock.  Then, we would come together and mass squawk the target(s).  We did this for about 15 minutes.  Old guys were great and usually played along with us, and solo girls were hilarious because they just couldn't deal and curled up/played dead.  
The flock preparing for tequila shots
Next up, Hong Kong.  I reunited to play with my Big Brother brethren for the first time all year. The party theme was  Big Ass Spaceships in Outer Space.  There was little debate what our costume would be:
Men In Black
We won that party award too.  Joe and Alicia didn't get the memo about not smiling here, but it's still an awesome photo, complete with one alien on the ground.

Then there was the Hangzhou Halloween Hangover Hat, our local tournament.  Our theme was just a Halloween party, so i decided to go as a mummy.  Esther and I were waiting for a taxi and this old lady walks up and whispers to Esther, "What wrong with him? Is he injured?"

The theme for Manila Spirits was gender swap.  Our guys dressed as housewives and the girls as businessmen.  This one is actually not so fantastic.

For actual Halloween, I had a show at Pirate Cafe and the manager requested i reprise my Captain Jack Sparrow costume (thanks again, Jehan).

Jordan dressed up as a bee, and while esther didn't dress up, we just said she was a bee keeper.

All-in-all, it was a successful fall of costuming.


Thursday, November 21, 2013


For the remainder of their stay, we just hung around, ate, played games, took walks, and chilled with j-dizzle. There were a few breaks in the action when i had two days of back-to-back shows.  The first one was with Red Rainbows, a fun band i sometimes join for concerts. I played the cajon (box drum) in front of a crowd of curious locals and amped-up kids. The show was for a newly opened karaoke club.
We are huge with the 4-7 aged demographic.
The next night i had a show at Pirate Cafe, a very cool bar in the mountains south of Westlake. It's a real no-foolin' pirate ship, sails and all!

We eventually got to do some local touristy stuff when Alex and Madaline came down from Beijing for a few days. Of course, we had to explore Westlake a bit. The amazing thing about Westlake is, even during the national holiday, when every tourist location is overrun, you can still find a clean, empty patch of grass to enjoy.
Posing with the best worst outfit of the day. 
The next day we checked out Jiuxi Shiba Jian, or Nine Creeks and Eighteen Gullies, a beautiful walk through tea fields which ends in Longjing Tea Village.

 Hangzhou also enjoyed the worst floods in 60 years.


Saturday, November 9, 2013


Doing my best to get caught up on blogging, so i need to start by rewinding to September. By far the most notable was the Reitz Rents coming to visit.  They stayed in our spare bedroom for a month and joined in Jorkevstherdan's daily routine.  They've been to China twice before so we didn't feel the need for much tourism, which was actually really nice.  We only took one major trip, and that was to Naked Retreats, a beautiful mountain escape about 45 minutes from Hangzhou.

The rad pad:
View from our ridge-top villa balcony.

 The people in the pad:
Another day we went to Xiaoshan to visit Esther's parents. We spent the day at the lake and had dinner with the extended family.
The Reitz Rents and the Esther P's exchanged many smiles and nods and "Hello's" and "Ni hao's" and "Xiexie's" and that was actually about the extent of their conversations.  On this particular occasion, Dad forgot his fork and was forced to struggle with chopsticks.  Esther's family kept watching him, staring, trying to comprehend how someone couldn't effortlessly pick up a single grain of rice.  I asked them all to try using chopsticks with their left hand.  

After they fumbled around and dropped food all over the place for a minute, I explained that's what it's like for people who don't use chopsticks everyday.  
Esther even got a day of vacation when i took the Rents and Jordan to Wuzhen, a traditional water town.

More pictures to come in a day or two... i hope!