Monday, December 12, 2005

Journey of Love - Helping Homeless Dogs in Taiwan

I came across this link via Google search today. I heard stories of people rescuing homeless dogs in Taiwan and provide them new homes in Germany. I am glad I finally found an equivalent program in USA. As many of you may not know, a majority of homeless dogs in Taiwan is put to sleep without even the chance to be adopted. I have seen and heard real-life stories about dogs (many are purebred, believe it or not) who got abandoned by their owners and ended up . Animal Rescue Team TAIWAN now offers an alternative to these unfortunate pets, and all they need is your help to fly with a dog from Taiwan to San Francisco, Los Angeles, or Seattle. All costs of flying the to-be-adopted dog are covered by the rescue society. Please forward this article and the link above to friends or family who may be traveling between Taiwan and USA. A suffering dog awaits your help and a new life!!!

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Las Cabos Mexico

Our Cabo Adventure
- by Lilei

Lilei usually has better ability to describe in reality better than I do.
Therefore, I asked Lilei to detail our recent trip to Los Cabos.

Day 1:
We arrive at San Jose Del Cabo airport. As soon as we clear customs, guys in official looking badges approach us and ask to look at our documents (tourist card -- which we have to keep until we leave Mexico or they charge $50 USD, and shuttle voucher to the hotel). One guy passes our stuff to another guy at an official looking counter. The "official" at the counter looks at our documents and tells us where and when to catch our shuttle and provides us with maps and a tourist magazine. He then proceeds to tell us that because of where we are staying, we are entitled to a free Sunset Cruise (believable), a free dinner (not so believable) and gift certificates (definitely not!). He says he's from the Hotel Association and would just need 75 (Mexican) minutes of our time. At this point, we know he's a timeshare rep, so we take our map and magazine and say "gracias". He then tries to ask us out for drinks and dancing that night, so we start walking away. As soon as we get outside, there are more "officials" taking the travel documents out of our hands trying to offer us "helpful" information. We take our documents back and look for our Grayline shuttle driver.
After finding our driver, we wait around for another half hour before leaving to pick up more people from the other terminals. On our way to dropping people off, the driver asks us if we want to pick up snacks and beer because it would take us an hour before we arrive at our hotel. We politely decline. Two and a half hours after landing, we finally arrive at Pueblo Bonito Pacifica ( in Cabo San Lucas. This is an absolutely amazing resort, which just opened in April. The landscaping is desert zen and there are no kids allowed, so it's very quiet. All the employees are extremely polite. The only downside is that it's so secluded that it takes a little effort to get anywhere. A taxi ride into town is $10. There is a shuttle that runs between its sister hotel (Pueblo Bonito Sunset) half a mile up the hill, but it only leaves once every hour. And once at the Sunset, another shuttle will take you to a sister hotel (Pueblo Bonito Rose) in downtown, but that doesn't leave for another 45 minutes. We decide to chill at the hotel for the rest of the day.

Day 2:
We've booked a "Waterfall and Canyon" hiking trip with Baja Wild ( Their shuttle arrives on time at 7AM. We pick up guests from other hotels and head to a bakery in San Jose del Cabo for breakfast. We make another stop at a small town called Santiago to pick up ice. The town is very quaint and pleasant. It feels more like Mexico as opposed to LA, which much of Cabo feels like. The hike itself turns out to be more strenuous than we expected. Instead of just dirt trails, it's mostly rocks going steeply up or steeply down. Marcos, one of our guides, is kind enough to carry our water for us. The hardest and most beautiful part of the hike is around the waterfall. We climb boulders along a small river until we reach the waterfall. At the waterfall, there are people diving from the top into the pool below. Luke, the other guide, meets us at this point to help us climb down from the waterfall to the pool (since none of us are willing to dive). There are parts where we each take turns sliding down the rocks, with Marcos holding onto us at the top and Luke catching us at the bottom. Once we reach the pool, others in the group go for a little diving from a large boulder, while Kathy and I rest our feet in the water. We climb a different way back up from the pool. There is a rope that is supposed to help people, but given the steepness it is better to use our hands on the rocks. We go for a little rock climbing. On our way back to Cabo San Lucas, the group stops by Tacqeria Rossy's in San Jose del Cabo for an afternoon bite. The fish tacos are so good and all the locals know it. Fish tacos are 10 pesos each; shrimp and scallops tacos are 18 pesos. (10 pesos = $1 USD) After we are dropped off at our hotel, we decide to check out the famous Mi Casa in town for dinner. We get a free taxi ride from a conceited lawyer who wants to show off to his girlfriend by saying to us "Don't ever say a lawyer wasn't nice to you." At the restaurant, the rose lady leaves us roses courtesy of an older Caucasian gentlemen with his Asian wife. Mi Casa is not cheap Mexican food, but it delicious! However, the flan is extremely disappointing. Don't ever order it.

Day 3:
We relax in downtown Cabo San Lucas for the day. At the Marina, we haggle our way to an $8/person water taxi to take us around the arch. Some local tourists get on and we pick up a few more from Lover's Beach on our way back. It's nice not to have other American tourists with us.
We have been entertaining the idea of renting a car and driving to Todos Santos. On our way to catch the shuttle back to our hotel, we pass by Payless Car Rental and they seem to offer the best rate, so we make a reservation for the next day.

Day 4:
To prepare for our car rental, we put $20 USD in envelopes in case we get pulled over by Mexican police. We heard they will randomly pull tourists over just to get bribes.
We wait over half an hour for Payless to pick us up, but they're a no show. We turn to plan B: take a bus to San Jose del Cabo. The taxi drops us off at the bus station in front of the mall. We only wait 5 minutes before a bus comes and it's only $2/person to go to San Jose del Cabo. There are only a couple of tourists on the bus with us. A local points us to the stop to get off of. San Jose del Cabo is much smaller and less touristy than Cabo San Lucas. We walk to the town square to look for the tamales lady that Marcos recommended, but we don't see her. It's a Sunday and everything seems to be closed. We hit the only place that is open, a French bakery and have lunch there. Pastries in Mexico are a lot less sweet than in the US and their sweetness seems to come from honey rather than sugar. It's yummy! By the way, the pastry chef who works there is yummy as well! He keeps looking at us while walking about and continues to watch us while kneading the dough behind the kitchen glass. We finally acknowledge his attention by making eye contact, smiling back and waving goodbye on our way out. We find out that Sunday in Mexico is church/family day. That's why everything is closed. We manage to find the main boulevard with open souvenir shops and do some shopping. We're low on pesos after shopping, so we make an ATM stop. Kathy uses her card, but selects the wrong account. Instead of giving her any type of warning message, the ATM chooses not to do anything and doesn't give her card back. I still have some cash left, so I become her ATM. For dinner we head to Tacqueria Rossy's for some fish tacos before taking the bus back. After the hotel shuttle drops us off at the Sunset, we figure we have enough energy to walk downhill to the Pacifica instead of waiting another 20 minutes for the other shuttle. The road is very, very dark, with minimal lighting coming from the small lights in the median. We assume it's safe enough since hotel security is at both ends of the road. After taking some funny hitchhiking pictures, we continue along the curve and notice a taxi (large white van), making a U-turn in front of us and pulling over on a dirt path that shoots off the main road. He stops and gets out of the car. We have no idea what he's doing because we can't see anything. We only know that we should walk faster. Kathy asks me if I remember my moves (I took self-defense recently). I tell her that there's two of us and one of him and we can take him if it comes down to it. So we scramble to our hotel, looking back to make sure he isn't following us.

Day 5:
We spend the entire day at the spa! The spa at the Rose is complete with sauna, Swiss shower, two large jacuzzis with waterfalls and a cold plunge. We both have hot stone massages and cactus body wraps. The massage is the best I've had yet!
This time we decide to wait for the shuttle to the Pacifica.

Day 6:
Back to reality!