Day 505 In Beijing: Flight To Cappadocia.


A few miles above Turkey.

A few miles above Turkey.


Jill had been to Cappadocia, on a previous trip to Turkey, and she wanted to share the experience with me on this trip.

Jill had set up pretty much everything about this trip and did an amazing job.

She has no interest in being a travel agent, but she could be one, if she wanted to and I am grateful that she took care of all the big, and little things, that came up.

As a psychotherapist, I definitely need a break and this trip was the perfect remedy for anything that was ailing me.

Jill had our tour company, Rock Valley Travel, set up most of our trip in Turkey and worked with them on the flights, trains, hotels, and everything else that we were going to do.

I think back to what she had to do, and with a very limited budget, and am constantly amazed at how easily Jill can get things done.

Jill is truly amazing.

We took the bus to one of the Istanbul airports, of which there are two, and waited for a few hours after checking in.

There are two airports in Istanbul, one for cheap flights and one for the long haul more expensive flights.

We were doing a 60 minute cheap flight, on Turkish Airlines, so we went to the cheap flight one.

That being said, our flight was on time and there was food.

Yes, there was food.

On a 60 minute flight there was a meal that was quite yummy.

It had a sandwich, eggplant salad, and chocolate mousse.

The total of this flight was about $85.00 USD.

I don’t think any of the US carriers do anything as nice as that and it was a very pleasant surprise.

Little known fact:  Turkish Airlines goes to more destinations than any other airline in the world.

We arrive in Cappadocia and were met by our driver, who was quite nice but spoke very little English, and a few other travelers waiting to get a ride to their hotel.

We drove in with him, about a 40 minute drive to Goreme, the town in Cappadoccia where we’d be staying, and I was blown away.


Day 504 In Beijing: Shave And A Haircut, 2 Bits, Part 2.


Putting the wax in my other ear.

Putting the wax in my other ear.


Jill and I wanted to give you an idea of what the haircut, shave, and ear waxing felt like.

Well, here you go.

The pictures, I think, were a lot of fun but there is nothing quite like video to show the excitement, and nervousness, that I was feeling as a guy took a razor to my throat.

It was definitely a good exposure therapy experience for me to give up control, trust in someone, and just see how my anxiety rose and fell during the hour I spent in his chair.

I can definitely state that my anxiety rose quite a bit when he first pulled the skin on my face back, in order to get a taunt piece of skin, and put the razor against it.

It then fell, almost immediately, when I realized I was safe and secure.

It did raise again, briefly, when he went over my Adam’s apple as that is part I sometimes cut a bit but he did a fantastic job and not a scratch.

The ear waxing really was a hilarious event and I was in a bit of pain but it was all worth it and I’d do it over again if I had the chance.

Which, being that we came back to Istanbul on the last day of our trip, I did have that chance and I took it.

I’ll be posting that adventure in a month or so.








Day 503 In Beijing: Shave And A Haircut, 2 Bits.


I was a bit nervous.

I was a bit nervous.


Jill and I returned home and I decided to get a haircut.

My hair wasn’t that long but I wanted to try and get a shave also as I’ve never had anyone shave my face before, and since this was a vacation, I thought I’d try something new.

The barber’s shop was right across the street from Andac’s apartment so we showed up and sat down.

He had been drinking coffee, at the little cafe near Andac’s apartment, and came right over.

His son was with him and they both came over.

Strangely enough, he sent his son away with some very serious instructions, just as we were about to begin.

Little did I realize that he was having his son get some more coffee as the barber served us either Turkish coffee, or tea, with my shave and a haircut.

Okay, I have to admit I know about 20 words in Turkish and none of them really have anything to do with shaves or haircuts.

I basically pantomimed the length of how short I wanted my hair cut and that I wanted a shave.

The barber, as you can see in many of the pictures, had a mischevious grin when he was working on me and only later, in the middle of the haircut, did I understand why.

He was going to give me an ear waxing.

Yes, an ear waxing.

Now, I’ve had waxing on my eyebrows and a few other places, but near IN MY EARS!

I was a bit reticent, to say the least.

However, as I was here to try new things, I decided I’d give it a go.

It took a few minutes for him to apply the wax to my ears, and also under my eyes, and he was smiling and laughing the whole time.

We were also as I was thinking, “This will make a great blog post.”

Jill kept taking pictures as she seemed to enjoy the torture I was about to undergo and I wasn’t that worried about what might happen.

As the wax dried, he continued to work on me and then, without much notice, he pulled the right ear wax out.

It was pretty darn surprising and a bit painful.

It wasn’t horrible but it was noticeable.

The barber kept laughing and seemed to be enjoying this silliness.

We kept drinking of coffee, enjoying the haircut, shave, wax, face massage and whatever else, until it was over.

It took about 1 hour, in total, and cost about $18 USD.

A heck of a deal for a heck of a good time.


Day 502 In Beijing: The Maiden’s Tower.


The Maiden's Tower.

The Maiden’s Tower.


Jill and I were cruising on the ferry back to Istanbul and enjoying the ride.

One of the joys of riding this ferry is that it passes by the Maiden’s Tower.

The Maiden’s Tower is a beautiful that pops right out of the bay and into the sky.

It isn’t very large, but it is quite impressive, all the same.

The story behind the tower is interesting enough, as it was built long ago and used as a military look out against invaders, and is now a restaurant and tourist destination.

Jill and I didn’t visit it, this trip, but we’ve both been there before and found it quite enjoyable.

The legend behind the Maiden’s Tower is quite intriguing.

Supposedly, an oracle told an emperor that his daughter would die from a poisonous snake on her 18th birthday.

The emperor, thinking he could outsmart fate, built this tower and kept her in it until she turned 18.

However, on her 18th birthday, he brought her a basket of delicious fruits in a beautiful basket.

When she reached in to get one of the fruits, an asp, which had been hiding in the basket, bit her and killed her.

A close up of the Maiden's Tower.

A close up of the Maiden’s Tower.

So, in case you think you can tempt fate, and ignore what an oracle’s prophecy, think again.

Day 501 In Beijing: Leaving The Prince Islands.



A shot of the rainbow over the port.

A shot of the rainbow over the port.


Jill and hopped back on to the ferry to return to Istanbul.

We wish we had decided to spend more than one night on Buyukada because it is so peaceful and quiet.

Our month long vacation to Turkey and Greece was going to be a busy one, seeing lots of friends and also going to many historic sites, and having some down time was essential.

I’d almost say that is the one thing that we didn’t factor in enough on this trip and next time we will do that.

It is funny how quickly a vacation can pass and how quickly you can forget everything you did and what happened.

That is one of the benefits of this daily blog: We can look back and see what we did and how we did it whenever we want.

I’m thinking of writing a book on our travels and documenting all the crazy things that have happened to us in this 1.5 years that we’ve been together.

For now, we just want to enjoy the trip back to Istanbul and let you ride along on the ferry with us.

There is something about floating along on the sea, and just letting the wind blow through your hair, that is magical and special.

The first one is from when we docked at an island before arriving at Buyukada and the second is from when we left Buyukada to go back to Istanbul.



Day 499 In Beijing: Trip To The Prince Islands: Sunset.




Jill and I miss sunsets over the bay since we left San Francisco.

There really is something truly magical about being near water and seeing the sun’s light reflect off of it.

In Beijing there are a few lakes but no large bodies of water like in San Francisco or Istanbul.

It just brings us back to ourselves and we notice how much more content and relaxed we become when we can sit on a beach and just let the water crash as it hits the shore.

I think that I’ll probably want to live somewhere near the ocean, after we leave Beijing, and will try to make sure that happens.

As we sat near the main port of Buyukada, we just watched the sunset and realized just how lucky we are to have met.

The chance that my older brother, Robert, knew about a job opening in China, and then I was able to get hired, and then met Jill 8 days before I moved here, and everything else, good, bad and in between that has happened to us, is truly incredible.

We are experiencing a lifestyle that most people don’t get to experience and seeing things that most people don’t get to see.

It takes a certain type of person to be an expat and from the ones I’ve met here, and on my other travels, it is a fun, interesting, and diverse group of people that constantly allows me to learn more about the world and everyone in it.

Now, just enjoy the sunset.


Day 495 In Beijing: Trip To Prince Islands, Part 4.


Another house in disrepair.

Another house in disrepair.


Jill and I wandered around the port area for most of the rest of the day.

It was very relaxing, calm and beautiful.

We really miss being near water, since we are so used to it living in San Francisco and the Bay Area for much of our lives, and this was wonderful.

We just walked, for a few hours, and took pictures of the people, the sights, and the scenery.

Honestly, we couldn’t have asked for more and it was just another fantastic memory that we will have from this trip.

One of the great benefits of being hired to work in China is that we get to travel to so many places and see so many different cultures.

So far, in just over one year, we’ve been to Malaysia twice, Singapore twice, Shanghai, Xian, Tianjin, Turkey, Greece, and Mongolia.  Add in all the places we’ve visited in Beijing and it has been a very eventful year to say the least considering Jill and I met only 8 days before I moved to Beijing and she had no intention of moving away from San Francisco until she met me.

I truly love ports, and the small boats, that are all over these little islands and would love to learn how to sail someday as that would give us another way to find freedom and visit places that others don’t get to very often.

I was thinking of doing that, but then was hired for my job, and that has been put on hold.

Who knows, maybe when I get back to the states, I will follow through with it and become a sailor.

Just one more thing to add to the bucket list.


Day 494 In Beijing: Trip To Prince Islands, Part 3.


One of my favorite houses on Buyukada.

One of my favorite houses on Buyukada.

Jill and I decided to walk around the town and get a bit of exercise.

When I say a bit, I mean a lot.

Buyukada is mostly hills and some of them are quite steep.

It was also July in the Mediterranean and you can guess what the heat and humidity felt like.

We got nice and sweaty and it was worth every drop.

The houses, and the views, were amazing.

We actually stopped, many times, just to watch the horse drawn carriages, and their owners, cruising past us.

Some were at full gallop and others were just leisurely cruising and taking their time.

We were a bit jealous of the people that were sitting in the carriages because we were sweating away but not too much because it gave us time to look at the houses, and the flora, as we took our time and rested.

At one point, we crested the top of the hill and started going down.

It was also quite steep and we thought it would be nice to go for a swim.

Sadly, we didn’t have our swimsuits but we noticed a man made beach at the bottom of the hill and roadway.

We went in, asked if we could wade in the sea in our shorts, and they realized we didn’t have suits so they offered to sell us suits.

I’ve never liked Jill’s swimsuit (she can tell you more about it) and she found a super cute blue one and I bought some decent shorts.

All in all, it cost us about 20 bucks for two nice swim suits.

And then we jumped in the water and it was like jumping into perfection.



Day 493 In Beijing: Trip To Prince Islands, Part 2.


A horse drawn carriage in front of one of the beautiful houses.

A horse drawn carriage in front of one of the beautiful houses.

Jill and I arrived at Buyukada and and checked into our room.

It was about a 3 minute walk from the port and we have a wonderful view of the rooftops, the walking street below our balcony, and the Sea of Marmara.

We loved that they had set up the bed with red roses petals and made a very cute heart design on it.

They also had a complimentary bottle of wine and a fruit and cheese plate for us in our room when we arrived.

It was a perfect way to start our island getaway and “vacation” from our vacation.

We love Istanbul but there is so much construction going on that it is quite loud.

There are also lots of cars, and with lots of cars, you get lots of horns honking.

We both grew up in small towns and forget how wonderful peace and quiet is when we don’t have it for so long.

Well, Buyukada is about as peaceful and quiet as they come.

Why?  Because cars are not allowed on the island.

It is all horse drawn carriages and a few electric vehicles.

It is wonderful because it is so quiet other than the click-clacking of hooves on stone roads.

They have paved some of the “main” roads (which are two lanes so still not very big) that circle the island but many of the streets in the town are just cobblestone.

It is truly wonderful.

We walked by the horse drawn carriage station and took a few pictures but decided to wait until tomorrow because we wanted to hang out and just take in this little town.

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Day 492 In Beijing: Trip To Prince Islands, Part 1.


I love capturing peoples' emotions and personalities.

I love capturing peoples’ emotions and personalities.


After leaving the funicular, Jill and I hopped on the ferry to Princes’ Island.

Buyukada was the specific island we wanted to visit and it was a about a two hour ferry ride.

We were hoping to get a good seat, outside, and be able to enjoy the trip.

For the first few minutes, since it was so hot, we decided to stay inside and watched through the windows.

However, we love the fresh air (something that is desperately missed living in Beijing) and decided to go out in the sunshine and do some real people, and scenery, watching.

We absolutely made the right choice and we are very thankful we did.

Each step in life is a step towards adventure or a step towards complacency.

We choose adventure.


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