Monday, May 26, 2014

Happy Memorial Day

Skipping the flag post this year but this IS one of the few days we fly the flag.  People sacrifice a lot for that little piece of fabric.

This year has been pretty good for travel but not so much in our RV.  In February we did take the RV to San Diego.  However then in March we flew up to the Pacific Northwest for a relative's birthday.  In April we flew to China for a two week tour.  Finally in May we have driven back to San Diego to attend the internment of a family friend.  Lots of coming and going! 

China was amazing, absolutely amazing.  Because of the slight language problem, we wanted to go on a tour where we would have our hands held the whole way.  We chose a tour sponsored by the Viking River Cruise group.  We flew into Shanghai where we spent two days.  Then flew to Wuhan where we boarded a river cruise boat for a five day trip up the river.  We got off at Chongquig and flew to Xian where the Terra Cotta Army was discovered.  Finally we flew to Beijing for the last couple days of sightseeing.  The trip was exhausting but amazing.  It also taught us a few things about our desires for future travel but more of that later.

Shanghai was amazing; a city for international trade for many years.  It is also a very Chinese place. These are typical apartments as seen from our bus.  We spent a lot of time on buses!

We got off the bus to walk through a market area to a garden.  What would I see but......

The garden we visited belonged to a very important official a few centuries ago.  He had five acres and this was one of the gate houses.  The bridge leading to it isn't straight because evil spirits can't make the turns.  Today it is a coffee house.

We flew a couple hours and then spent another hour or two on another bus.  This time we were getting on a river cruising boat.  It was set up for 200+ people; we had around 180 on board.  When we would stop somewhere it would take seven buses to cart us all around!  We got off in one city and there were some local craft tied up nearby.  I can't decide to call this an inboard or an outboard.  Heavy for sure though!

Cruising along you could see people working on the banks of the river.  I've got no idea at all what they were doing!

We often read about the amount of coal China uses.  There was sure a lot of it going up the river!  These boats were anchored near a city.  Some have the long boom in front to unload the boat; some need help.  

We saw the Three Gorges Dam; an absolutely huge thing.  There was some bad feeling about it because many people had to be uprooted from towns their families had inhabited for generations.  The violent flooding of the river downstream convinced the government to go ahead with the project.  The electrical power that will be generated was probably a big factor too.  Did I mention we were really happy to have our raingear along?


We flew to Xian to visit The Terra Cotta Army.  It was buried to provide troops for the afterlife.  The photos don't do it justice; this is the first dig.  It is several football fields large and is only one of three that are known.  There were some mistakes made (unspecified) when the original dig was done that compromised the find.  Therefore the government is being very careful about going for the other two pits. 

Many of the statues are broken into shards so the workers are gluing them back together and holding them together with stretch wrap until the glue sets up.  They have plenty more to work on!

We flew to Beijing and were bussed out to the Great Wall.  It was really kind of amazing.  Where we were it was actually very steep! 

There were lots of Chinese people out walking; it was a Saturday so maybe that was part of the reason.  The wall is something like 3,900 miles (6,200km) long.  This portion was restored; I'm not sure about other parts.  There were people from small towns that were kind of interested to see foreigners.  A couple guys wanted their photo taken with me and my wife and I understand that a blonde woman from our tour who was also about six feet tall (1.8m) was VERY popular!  There were police and Army around but they were on the approaches to the wall rather than on the wall itself.


While in Beijing of course we visited Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City.  It was especially interesting to me that we foreigners just walked through a gate to get into the Square but the Chinese had to go through an inspection and some were turned away.  There were plenty of soldiers and police around but they didn't want you taking their photos.  This day was kind of unusual in that we walked over 4 miles (6.4km) while wandering around and before getting back on our bus. 


We had to visit the zoo and see the pandas.  Some were inside but this guy was locked outside.  He mostly wanted to get in and was pacing back and forth.

No visit to China would be complete without a comment on the traffic:  OMG!!!  I took a series of photos of this intersection from our hotel window.  It is a regular 4 way intersection with traffic lights and everything.  BUT, there are so many problems in this photo I don't understand how they every get anywhere.  People turning left are bad enough but the car doing the u-turn?  The bikes and motorscooters going through lanes of traffic?  The poeple going left from the right lane?  Jeez!

It was a fantastic trip but will probably be our last 'tour'.  It was just too regimented for us.  We wanted to be helped about and we were but we missed out on China; we just saw the American Bubble that surrounded us.  But we did learn a lot from our guide.  Maybe in the future we'll use guides from time to time.  We'll see.  Thanks for stopping by!

1 comment:

Croft Randle said...

What a great trip, Don! There is so much to see there with or without a tour that it would take months to see even part of it.

I share your feelings on guided tours and would feel much better on my own, immersed in the local community. The language barrier is always present but always seems to take care of itself.

Good for you for going!