Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Lijiang - Day 1

Brian and I had a half day left in Beijing and it was pouring down rain, so we decided to go to shopping at the Silk Market before we headed to the airport due to it pouring down rain. The Silk Market is a big knock off market, but they also have really nice jewelry and nice Chinese-type gifts. We had a nice shopping trip except for the overly aggressive shop owners. Brian was able to get great gifts and I actually collected quite a few gifts to give as birthday gifts for my friends back in Chengdu (It is slim pickings for these types of things in the Du.).

We headed to the airport for our 3 1/2 hour flight to Lijiang. It was a fairly uneventful flight and we arrived safe and sound in Lijiang. It was much cooler in Lijiang that in Beijing and we were still dressed in our summer clothes. We took a taxi from the airport and were dropped off on the street with 5 bags between us and waited for someone to come and help us with our bags as we weren't exactly sure while we were being dropped off on the street. Two men came and gave us the business card of the hotel and grabbed our bags. It was about a 400 meter walk to the hotel and I was sure glad I didn't have to carry my bags on the old cobblestone street with a step here and there. We arrived at the hotel and were pleasantly surprised. The hotel was beautiful with gorgeous Chinese antique furniture and nice clean rooms. Brian took the room downstairs while I took the room upstairs for my family. Here is the view I saw from outside our room.


It was so beautiful! When I moved to China this is what I thought all of China would look like. Unfortunately that isn't the case.

Brian and I got settled and headed for a bite to eat while we waited for Jonny and the kids to arrive around 10 pm. We found this Belgian Cafe with fabulous Chinese food and sat and waited for Jonny to call. Jonny and I must have got our wires crossed because they were already at the hotel when we got back from dinner. The kids fell asleep on the plane just as they landed in Lijiang and slept all the way into town in the taxi.

Jonny had his hands full with the two kids, so they were kind enough to send a rickshaw to pick them up. Here is a picture of Angus sound asleep in the back of the rickshaw.


Mutianyu - The Great Wall of China

On Monday we rose early and headed out to the Great Wall at Mutianyu. The last time I had went to the wall we went to Badaling which is much more touristy and crowded. This time our friend Reed gave us some tips and pretty much planned our itinerary including driver! The other exciting part of our itinerary was that we were able to see the house that Bruce and Reed purchased in a village by the Great Wall! The house is under construction and they are adding a couple of rooms. Here are a few of the pictures of the house.


Here is a picture of the front corner of the house. I believe this is where the main entrance to the house will be.


This was the old main entrance, but they are keeping it and it will be part of the hallway.


This is a view of the Great Wall from the living room they are adding on.


This will be the master bedroom and loft area.

I was unable to get good pictures of the inside of the existing house. There will be a large kitchen, a guest room, and a guest bathroom in that area. It will be gorgeous when it is completed! I hope that I will be invited back to see the final product!

After our visit to the house we headed to The Schoolhouse which is owned by an American man who has lived in China for 22 years. He owns a house in the village of Mutianyu and is the person that has negotiated the house for Bruce and Reed. In the village he lives in there are many foreigners who also renovated houses. He bought an old schoolhouse and renovated it into a restaurant, a glass art studio, and a country store. Here are a few pictures from The Schoolhouse.



Here is where the kitchen located along with some meeting rooms and restrooms.


The glass studio and gift shop is located downstairs. While the restaurant is located on the upstairs patio.


Here was the view from our table at lunch.

After lunch we headed to the wall for some sightseeing. We were very fortunate to have really great weather for our day which was great for our views. We decided to take the ski lift up to the top and take the toboggan ride down to the bottom. I have to say it was much more impressive at this area of the wall then at Badaling. There wasn't as many tourists and the hike seemed to be much safer Here are some of our snapshots from our hike.









Brian and I posing at The Wall.

I tried to take pictures of Brian going down on the toboggan, but he went too quickly so I decided I would video the ride down. I have to say it was extremely entertaining.

Chinese Acrobats

After our visit to the Temple of Heaven, Hong Qiao Pearl Market, and our scrumptious lunch of Peking Duck we grabbed a taxi and headed for the Chinese Acrobats. I had only seen Chinese Acrobats in the Barnum & Bailey's Circus about 3 years ago and I thought they were good. I really thought they would be similar, but this was just incredible.

First of all every move they made I felt myself gripping my armrests as every bend made my body ache. I just can't believe how flexible these people are and how well choreographed everything was. The show as just over an hour, but worth every little penny we spent. I am sad to say the videos that I took of the evening need to be edited and I am not sure if I will be able to figure out how to fix them. I do have a little video below of the bicycle riders. All was just fantastic!

After the acrobats we headed to The Beijing Bookworm for a little snack and a drink and to make plans for our trip to the Great Wall the next day!

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Temple of Heaven-Beijing Duck

On Sunday Brian and I took it a bit easier and headed to the Temple of Heaven. I haven't been there before so it was a great surprise for both of us. The Temple of Heaven was built in 1420 A.D. during the Ming Dynasty to offer sacrifice to Heaven. As Chinese emperors called themselves 'The Son of Heaven' ,they dared not to build their own dwelling,’ Forbidden City' bigger than a dwelling for Heaven.

We walked through the entrance and found a bunch of men writing Chinese calligraphy with water and a sponge-type brush. It was quite interesting.


The Calligraphers


Here we are getting ready to go through the first entrance. There were four different entrances we needed tickets for.

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Here I am in front of one of the temples.


One of the gates.


A picture of the temple through a gate.


Another temple.


A picture of the roof inside the temple.


The interior of the temple.


Beautiful red doors! If you haven't noticed by now I have a fascination with these gorgeous Chinese-style doors.


We met some Buddhist monks from the Sichuan (the province where we live) area of Tibet. Brian was so excited to get his picture taken with the Lama.


We also had pictures taken with his monks.

After our trip to the Temple of Heaven we headed to the Hong Qiao Pearl Market for some retail therapy, or so we thought. We were greeted with " Hello Lady, wanna buy a (fill in the blank)" Brian was quite shocked by the aggressiveness of the sale people. Not only do they try to get you to look at their goods, but they will physically grab you and pull you over to their stalls. I have to say I actually enjoyed the expression on Brian's face when this was happening. Luckily no one was injured, Brian or the salespeople. We did do pretty well in the shopping department. We both were able to get new backpacks for a much reduced price. We also did quite a bit of jewelry shopping. I am just so impressed with the costume jewelry here in China. I guess that is why I never used to wear jewelry in the US because of how expensive they were.

After our very mentally strenuous shopping excursion we headed to have lunch at a place that specialized in Peking Duck. I absolutely love this very famous dish! They serve it with Chinese pancakes, cucumbers, a type of green onion and hoisen sauce. You make yourself a little Chinese taco and it is extremely delicious.


Here is our duck being cut for us!

After our fine lunch we headed to the hotel to relax before our evening out with the Chinese Acrobats!

Jingshan Park-Forbidden City-Tian'anmen Square

On our first day in Beijing we headed to Jingshan Park. It is a beautiful park just north of the Forbidden City. We had gorgeous weather and blue skies, which is not very common in China's big cities.

We walked around the park and there were lots of people around playing musical instruments and dancing. There were other people playing cards and young people playing hackysack. Everyone was happy and having a great time. We stopped and watch some dancers that were really having a nice time. I have a little video clip for your enjoyment!

We walked around the park, which was really beautiful. Jingshan Park is a beautiful imperial park and in former times belonged only to the emperors in the Yuan, Ming and Qing Dynasties (1271-1911). For their enjoyment they used to climb the hill, admire the scenery and eat and drink in the park.

Brian thought he should dress accordingly.


Here is Brian with the Forbidden City in the background.


A temple in the park.


The gorgeous peony garden! They are one of my favorite flowers!

After the park we headed to the Forbidden City for tour. We hired a guide to accompany us through the city. It was well worth the money and very entertaining. Here are some of our photos.







Me and Brian



Brian with his new favorite beer "Yan Jing" and our guide David Yang. (Yes, you can walk around these tourist attractions and drink beer!)




Brian and me with our guide David


Outside the Forbidden City and the big painting of Chairman Mao.

We headed to lunch at a place recommended by my friend Irini. It was a place called Din Tai Feng which served dumplings. These weren't just any dumplings, but dumplings with soup inside them. She told me that her husband and she called them "dumplings from heaven". She was lying, they were heavenly!!!

After our beautiful lunch we headed to Tian'anmen Square. We were a bit disappointed as there isn't much to see there. Brian got his first chance to bargin on something. There was a guy selling Mao watches and I made the mistake of saying hello to him. The guy would not leave us alone. Brian ended up buying the watch at the end of it and making a new friend.


Brian and the watch guy!


A picture from the Square looking over at the Forbidden City.

More to come!!!

Gingar has landed!

Last Friday I headed to Beijing to meet up with our dear friend Brian. He was coming over for a two week visit with us. The night before I left Brian had already left for China and left me a message letting me know that his flight was delayed by about 3 hours. We had timed our flights out perfectly, so I was going to have to wait at the airport for 3-4 hours. I quickly emailed our friend Reed who moved to Beijing last spring and she invited me to check out her work, Dulwich College.

It was really great to see Reed and I was so impressed by Dulwich College (British International School in Beijing). She gave me a tour around the school and also introduced me to the founder of the school. We headed to Reed's house and we were able to catch up. Her husband Bruce came home and let me use their car to go back to the airport to pick Brian up.

I thought I was late and that Brian would be lost in the airport somewhere, but it took him about an hour to get his luggage and get through customs.


Here he is, the weary traveler!

Bruce and Reed had invited us to dinner and we accepted. We went back to pick them up and then on to a very yummy Chinese restaurant. We ordered so much food and it was absolutely delicious!


Here we are with Reed and Bruce.

Brian faded quickly and we said our good-byes and headed to our hotel.

Hope to have more of our adventure posted later!