Video: A Trip to Asia, Part 3

Here is the third video in the series of recordings I am assembling from my trip to China. In this one you see the city of Xi’an at night and day including a short segment of me biking along the wall surrounding the city at the end.

I’m one or two posts from wrapping up this series. Let me know what you think of the production thus far.

Memorial Day Getaway

The Lodge at Torrey Pines TB and I spent Memorial Day weekend in San Diego. Neither of us had ever been to San Diego and she was able to find a last-minute discounted package on Expedia, Wednesday evening, with us leaving Seattle on Saturday morning, returning later today.

The only downside of the package is it required us to fly Alaska Airlines—we’re both United Airlines Mileage Plus members. The flight down was fine, however, and we had the miles applied to our American Airlines frequent flyer accounts which we seldom use. The package includes a rental car from Advantage whose car inventory and customer service is what one would expect from a discount rental car service. Our economy class, bright red, Chevy Aveo has “speck” written all over it but it does a great job zipping us around the city while keeping our fuel costs down—regular unleaded is $4.25/gallon in San Diego…yikes!

The Lodge at Torrey Pines - View from 317 We are staying in La Jolla [pronounced ‘HOY-a’], north of San Diego, at the legendary Lodge at Torrey Pines. The Lodge just happens to sit on the Torrey Pines golf course where the 2008 U.S. Open Championship will be played June 9-15. In fact, our room, 317, overlooks the 18th hole. We had the, umm, privilege to see and hear the grounds crew building the spectator stands and getting the green in championship condition. Frankly, I find it silly how much time and money is wasted on golf course maintenance. Regardless, course care is as much art as it is science.

Sea World San Diego The service at the Lodge at Torrey Pines and the accommodations are both excellent. The food situation could be better—given our limited diet there aren’t many options available at the Scottish-themed restaurants on premise—but the Village of La Jolla is just a short drive away. We drove down to the Village for lunch on Saturday at The Spot. We liked their “build your own burger” menu especially since they had garden and turkey patties. We returned to the Village on Monday for brunch at Brocktown Villa and had their famous “Coast Toast” French toast. The French toast had great flavor but it was too soggy in the middle for me.

Shamu (Corky) - Sea World in San Diego We also joined thousands of parents and their children at Sea World. We used our two-day passes to visit on Sunday evening and Monday morning. We did the Shamu thing and spent way too much on food. Parents, beware. Don’t take your kids to Sea World. It’s not worth the money and they begin fleecing you the moment you enter the paid parking lot.

We spent most of Memorial Day visiting several tourist sites around San Diego including Old Town, the Gas Lamp Quarter and Coronado. We also just sat on the water watching the boats, bikers and other tourists enjoy the sunny, cool day.

Gas Lamp Quarter Memorial Day was capped off with massages back at the hotel. Today, before returning to Seattle, we are going to visit Torrey Pines State Reserve and the San Diego Zoo.

Despite all the tourist activities, it has been a surprisingly relaxing trip so far; exactly what we both needed. The days have been cool but sunny, the gas prices have kept the crowds relatively small and traffic non-existent.

I would count San Diego among the cities I would revisit in the future though I’m not sure what we would come back to do. We will have already done the tourist thing and we don’t have any family in the area.

Video: A Trip to Asia, Part 2

Here is the second short video in the series of recordings I am assembling from my trip to China. This one covers arriving in Xi’an from Beijing and includes a couple brief history lessons about Xi’an captured during our time with the tour guide just after our arrival.

This one is longer and may stop to buffer several times depending on your connection speed.

Video: A Trip to Asia, Part 1

Here is the first short video from my trip to China. It contains a few highlights showing my travel from Seattle to Beijing and glimpses of a couple locations in Beijing.

Hover your mouse pointer over the bottom of the video to bring the controls into view. You can go into full screen mode by clicking the button farthest to the right. The video is jittery—the entry-level Flip Ultra video camera I took on the trip does not have any image stabilization.

Let me know what you think and stay tuned for more videos…

Deep Zoom: China & Korea Photo Gallery

I wanted to share the pictures from my first trip to China (Beijing, Xi’an, Shanghai) and Korea (Seoul). I decided to employ the latest hotness in Web-based, high-resolution image visualization: Silverlight Deep Zoom. It is something you have to see to fully appreciate. Here’s what you need to do to get started:

  1. Install Silverlight 2 (currently in Beta but it’s safe and will auto-update).
  2. Return to this page and hit F5 to refresh.

The above steps only need to be done once. If you see the images below, you already have Silverlight installed.

  1. Pan around the image by click-dragging (like Live/Google Maps).
  2. If your mouse has a wheel: Use the wheel to zoom in/out for more/less detail.
  3. If your mouse does not have a wheel: Left-click to zoom in, hold down Shift then left-click to zoom out.

I hope you enjoy the photos and Deep Zoom. Let me know what you think.