sticks out like a sore thumb

So, I've been a little lax in giving you *any* sort of info about our trip. And it's not beause I don't want to...I'm just...well...you know. Busy. But here is a starting point of brief lessons I learned while on the other side of the world:

(1) First of all, you must come to terms, the moment you step off the plane, with the fact that *everything* smells. And you will never really be able to describe it or identify it. But there is a stench. And it will haunt you long after you've returned home to you ordinary normal tide-scented lifestyle.

(2) When a restaurant advertises an "english menu", it's best to go there for dinner when you're slightly tired and *very hungry*, lest you end up crying in hysteria because the menu translations are SO. UNBELIVEABLY. FUNNY. So funny, in fact, that you actually negotiate to buy the menu as a souvenir.

(3) Drum troupes with circular dances and red shakey pom poms are the new rock'n'roll.

(4) Yes, the PLA soldiers *will* mumble "HELLO" to you under their breath while holding crazy machine guns.

(5) Yes, I am a girl. No, you can't continue to look at me as if you have never seen one before now. Have I mentioned how especially attractive it is when you try to undress me with your eyes? Oops! I must have forgotten.

(6) If I never hear another person trying to suck the phlegm out of their throat again it will be like I've gone to some sort of alternate universe that is also sunny all of the time.

(7) The best fruit will be from the dirtiest looking fruit stand. The fruit that keeps you cooped up in your hotel room for a few days will probably come from the grocers.

(8) No, that small child really *is* defecating in the streets. Watch where you step!

(9) When the street vendors try to sell you ba-na-na, and you buy a few, only to realize that they are not, in fact, bananas fried in some sort of cakey dough, and are, in fact, something kind of like beignets, don't correct the street vendor. He will turn, cackle, and make fun of your body parts. And he will still sell them as ba-na-na.

Oh! And if you're interested, you can check out the rest of my photos from China over in my flickr account. The photo above was taken in the Gobi desert. Trees! Plus millions of acres of sand and sand alone. Be prepared, though - clocking in at 600+ photos means you'll have to sit still for a while to see them all.