Thursday, October 19, 2006

One Big Buddha!


On Monday morning Jeanette and I headed to Leshan to see my most favorite in China, Leshan Dafo. I was a little worried that the Buddha might be in the fog because of the overcast day. We were in luck, it ended up being a fantastic day to see this magnificent site. I really built this place up to Jeannette, so I was hoping she would really enjoy this beautiful part of China.


You just gotta kiss the Buddha!

This was my second trip to see Dafo, but this was the first time I was able to climb the stairs to the bottom of the Buddha. Here are a couple photos from on the way down the stairs.


The Buddha's hand.


We had quite a hike down to the Buddha's feet and then all the way back up again to the other side of his head. I couldn't remember which way to go next and we ended up a bit lost and then outside the park. The first time we went we had a gorgeous walk through the entire park to the other side where the Sleeping Buddha lays. I was quite disappointed by my misnavigation, but we did make it to the other side of the park and in to see the other sites.

There is a huge Buddha at the top of about 170 stairs that we didn't walk up the last time we were here, but Jeanette and I decided to venture up. Here were some pictures at the bottom of the stairs.


Here is this great little money game they seem to have at every Buddhist temple I have been to in China. There is a dragon in the bottom of the well filled with water and you have to try and get a coin in the dragon's mouth. Here is Jeanette giving it a go! Of course, more fans!


My that is some big incense you have!



We made it to the top of the stairs and we found this little shrine. Check out Jeanette's extra arms!



The head of the sleeping Buddha.



Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon! I love this pictures!!!


After a ton of walking up and down stairs we decided to take two rickshaws back to the car. Actually the 80 pound Chinese men driving the rickshaws decided that we would take separate rickshaws!

We had a fabulous and definitely tiring day! We headed back to Chengdu and relaxed for the remainder of the evening. We also gave the massage girls a call to ease our aches and pains.

Jeanette's week-end in Chengdu

Friday I took Jeanette out to Gemma's school for the Grand Opening Party. It was the schools first year in a proper building that was actually a school and enrollment was up almost 50%! She was able to see where Gemma spends her days, meet her teachers and yet again meet more expats.

On Saturday Jeanette and the family headed to San Xing Dui just outside of Chengdu. San Xing Dui is an archeological dig where they found over 400 pieces of jade artifacts that were unearth by a farmer. In 1986 several thousand pieces of gold, bronze, and jade artifacts were found. All of these pieces are believe to be from the Xia, Shang, and Zhou dynasties around 400-100 B.C. They found tons of masks with very large facial features which are not general characteristics of Chinese people. The pieces look like they could be from a Mayan or Incan empire from Central and South America.


Here is a large piece of jade found from the dig. It has previously been cut. They are not sure how the jade was cut because none of the artifacts found were cutting tools. They think that the cutting tools many have decomposed.


Here we are with the jade!

We hired an English speaking guide to give us a tour of the museum. The interesting part about the museum, which was very weird to me, was to me was that they have no idea what people lived in this area and what happened to their civilization. There were no human remains found. They only have speculation about what happened at San Xing Dui. So needless to say the our guide couldn't really answer our questions. I have been to quite a few museums in my life and this was so weird not to have a story to go along with the artifacts we were seeing. The actual dig was not open to the public yet, but it will open sometime next year.

After our museum tour we were walking back to our car and we saw a couple having their wedding photos taken. We generally have seen quite a few brides about China and we always ask if they will take a photo with Gemma and they always say yes!



Gemma and Jeanette squatting like the locals waiting for our golf cart to take us to the parking lot.


The little posers!

Saturday night we went to dinner at the Chengdu Bookworm and then on to the Shamrock to meet up with some of our friends at the Shamrock for drinks. I really enjoyed the evening out and I was so proud of Jeanette for being such a trooper and staying out until 11 pm!

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Jeanette Can Do Chengdu!

We returned late from Beijing and spent the next day recuperating from our travels in Beijing. We attend the CIWC luncheon, so that Jeanette could meet some of my friends and then we spent the rest of our time chillin' out.

In the evening I introduced Jeanette to our massages ladies that come to our house for a whole 30 rmb an hour (which is a whole $3.75 an hour). Basically that sent the tone for the rest of Jeanette's trip. We were going to see how many massages we could have before she went home.

The next day we attended a yoga class given by my friend Natasha. I have never been a fan of yoga, I think mainly because of my personality, but also because I have never felt the benefit of yoga. Natasha is the first instructor to make me sweat, sore and feel the benefit of yoga. Jeanette is also a yoga instructor back in the U.S. and wanted to get a little exercise it and also check out Natasha's teaching style.


After yoga and miss Gemma arriving home from school Jeannette, the kids and I headed to the Chengdu Panda Research Reserve. This is one of the places you read about in world news when there is a baby panda born in China or a panda at a zoo in the U.S., they are most likely from Chengdu. We walked and walked and walked the beautiful bamboo park in search of these mysterious creatures to the point where I was a little nervous thinking Jeanette had come all this way to see pandas and they were all sleeping or not on display for some reason or another. Luckily we persevered because we were able to see quite a few of them during feeding time.


Loving his bamboo!


Loving the pandas!


We found these 3 teenage pandas eating. We were so close to them it was incredible!





We saw the 6 baby pandas in the nursery, but we were unable to take pictures of them. Four of the babies were two sets of twin born from two sister pandas. These babies made world news was I was back in the U.S. this summer, so it was very cool to see them up close although they were behind class.


The other cool thing that you will probably start seeing the near future are these 5 creatures (click on the link, the article is very interesting) that are the mascots for the Beijing 2008 Olympics. They are actually pandas from the research base and their names are: Bei Jing Huan Ying Ni. These words in Chinese actually mean "Welcome to Beijing", pretty cool huh?

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Last Day in Beijing


On our last day in Beijing we decided to hit a famous Buddhist temples called Yonghe Gong. Owen accompanied us and once again took some spectacular photos. The temple was built from wood that was brought from Tibet and was a sanctuary for Tibetan monks who came to Beijing. It was one of the most beautiful Tibetan temples I have ever visited. Here are a few snapshots from the temple.



This is a very large prayer wheel.



I love this picture. This is Jeanette with a Tibetan Monk.



They had huge statues of different buddhas carved from wood.




After the temple Owen treated us to the most famous Beijing delicacy, Peking Duck. What a treat it was! They serve you the duck’s breast with the skin still on and obviously the duck was friend. You put it on Chinese pancakes and top it with cabbage, green onions, and plum sauce. It was scrummy!


Here is Owen our gracious host with his son Xavier who feel asleep on his way home from school.


Xavier, a little more awake!

We had a fabulous time in Beijing and saw a ton of amazing places. Beijing is a definite must see if you are ever in Asia. I can't wait to go back with Jonny and the kids for a week and try and see it all.

The Forbidden City


The first gate into the Forbidden City. Tiananmen Square is actually across the street from here.

Our next day was a big one, we headed to the Forbidden City. I am sure I can say this was the highlight of our trip! What an incredible place! First of all it is gigantic and second of all it is just beautiful! We were lucky to have Owen with us, who is a huge photography buff, so he took most of the pictures I have posted of the City. It is a must see for anyone visiting Beijing and I would suggest spending the entire day there. We were there for half a day and I think we could have spent a few more hours there. Some of the halls were converted into museums of ancient Chinese artifacts such as porcelain, compasses, teapots, etc. Some of the halls were empty while some were decorated with ornate gold everything. The Forbidden City is also under refurbishing for the Beijing 2008 Summer Olympics, so on of the main areas were covered with scaffolding and green tarplin, so we weren't able to see that.


We asked this guard if Jeanette could have her picture with him and he yelled "No Photo!". We snuck one in anyway!


Posing with Mao!


The gates had these enormous red doors that obsessively photographed. (Actually Owen took this one!)


Jeanette at the main entrance to the City.

jeanette_kim_forbidden_city_1 We are in the City!


Once again Jeanette had a fan club!


Here are more fantastic red doors! (Thanks Owen!)


Here are thethee colorful rafters in the City. I couldn't believe how beautiful they were.

Here are a ton of shots of the buildings within the city.









And some lions...



A hallway within the city.



Inside one of the buildings. I am not sure what they did in this building as there wasn't any signs up. To me it kind of looks like where the emperor would have had his throne or a possible place of worship.

After our trip to the City Owen needed to go and pick up Xavier from school while the mother-to-be was ready for some good ole' Western style food. We headed to the Bookworm because we are friendly with the owner who just opened shop in Chengdu and we weren't disappointed. Now I could go on forever about what a great concept the Bookworm really is: bar, cafe and bookstore/library. We had a lovely lunch and decided after all of our walking we were in need of massages again. We headed over to Dragonfly and had an hour more of pampering before we called it a night.