A Travellerspoint blog

John and Dean's China adventure

Xian-Terra Cotta Soldiers-ELECTION DAY

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Election day in the states. I called my Grandma to see if she voted and then called my parents. I just needed to know what was going on. Both said they voted and that they were tired of all the ads and were ready for it to be over. I started to feel a bit of excitement in the air. We had such a nice time last night with Sheryl taking about religion and politics. She is a very intelligent, deep and beautiful woman. She told us about her personal life and her struggles with caring for her family. She has had some tough times but has come through with deep insight. She shared so much, more than I can share here. I was impressed with her communication skills, she spoke excellent english.
We met her in the lobby and headed off to the Terra cotta soldiers. We talked the whole way there. She never once faced the front the car, she was constantly turned facing the back seat as we spoke about being in reaction and past, present, future, living in the now. It was one big kumbaya moment after the other. :-)
As for the Terra Cotta soldiers, we couldn't have been in a better place on Election day. The guide told us a great story about when Bill Clinton had come to visit and how profoundly moved he was when he saw the soldiers. This is the 8th Wonder of world. What a perfect place to be of all days. I'm a big Clinton fan and it just made me smile when he told us of his visit.
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When we left the hotel they hadn't called Penn or Florida yet. I knew if Obama won those two he would win. We waited until later before we heard that he had won Florida.... Still waiting... our guide had a friend who lived in Oklahoma, red state, she called him and he told us that Obama had won Pennsylvania. Now I just needed to hear the delegate count but my gut said it was over. By the time we got back to the city it was a couple of hours later. On our way to dinner we stopped for a famous foot massage. We sat in a room, just the two of us, two girls and a T.V. suspended from the ceiling. I couldn't resist grabbing the remote control and turning on the T.V. just as BBC was showing Obama the next President-Elect of USA. I was tearful, not just from the girl sticking that piece of wood in the bottom of my foot but to see the elation of everyone at the park in Chicago. I was so emotional, I couldn't believe it. It was a moment I will never forget. After dinner I stayed up and watched as much english T.V. as I could before turning the channel to a chinese station. Everyone was excited even the chinese people. I wished for that moment I was at home celebrating with all the other people who had been on this ride. It was a fantastic day and I am so grateful. Change is in the air.
Now I just needed to see it in print and I would be happy, any news paper would do.
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Posted by JohnVosler 00:34 Archived in China Tagged tourist_sites Comments (0)

John and Dean's China adventure

Xian

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P1010999.jpgThe flight from Beijing to Xian was easy. We walked out of baggage claim and the most beautiful chinese girl had a sign with our name on it. She was very reserved and dressed very stylish. There was definitely something going on here, more than meets the eye. It was going to be a long ride into the city and Dean was hungry, surprise, so she took us to the cafeteria at the airport and we had the buffet. When we finished eating she came back to get us and we walked to the car. Not very many words were spoken. We met Mr. Leo the driver and off we went.
When we arrived into the city we immediately went to the Tang-Dynasty City Wall. The wall was built in 1370 and surrounded the city. We rented bikes and away we went. It was a 9 mile square around the city. Dean was worried the we wouldn't get back in time to meet our guide and get to dinner, (it's all about the food) so he was peddling as fast as he could and I was trying to keep up and take a few pictures. All I could hear was "NO PICTURES" from in front of me.
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I was sweating so bad that my pants and shirt were soaked. ALL IN THE NAME OF BEING ON TIME.. I did manage to get a couple of shots before he came back to tell me "We're going to be late". Since he has no sense of direction he thought we had further to go. I tried to explain that we were half way there. It didn't seem to matter, I think Dean just needed a good work out and used this as good opportunity. Here are a few shots from the wall.
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We made it back in time and even had enough time to go to the hotel for a quick shower before dinner and the show. The show was amazing, with beautiful costumes and incredible sets.
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We sat at a table with a couple from Allentown PA. They live just down the street from where Dean grew up. We were all craving Yocco's hot dogs. It's a small world. Another couple from South Dakota sat in front of us. Afterwards we had the best dumplings. We sat with a guy from Mesa who was quite entertaining. He reminded me of an old friend from New York.
On the way back to the hotel, Sheryl our guide, started to open up. We talked about how the financial problems were causing people to do crazy things. She had interesting positions on politics and China. The three of us just hit it off. We continued talking about the election, which was the the next day. As we turned the corner to to hotel we saw a man on the edge of a bank building ready to jump. They had police on the ground and people on the roof. We all remembered that the commotion was there when we went to dinner we just hadn't looked up to see what it was. He had been up there for hours. We looked in the paper the next day but no sign of any jumper, no news is good news, except in china. :-)
Went to bed thinking about tomorrows election. It's strange not being home in front of the tube watching every second of it. I'd watched every debate, news conference, talk show, acceptance speech for the last 18 months and NOW I'm not even home to have closure. Anxiety was creeping in, I woke up early to watch BBC but that was like watching dry toast. Back to bed. Tomorrow will be here soon enough.

Posted by JohnVosler 23:08 Archived in China Tagged tourist_sites Comments (0)

John and Dean's China adventure

The Summer Palace

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I started thinking about where I would want my summer palace to be. Then I remembered I live in what I would consider a summer palace. Maybe it does stretch over hundreds of acres or have a corridor that stretches 700 meters but I think it's a palace, but nothing compared to this. The views from the Tower of Buddhist Incense at the center of the Summer Palace were endless.
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Our last day in Beijing and I was started to think about where I wanted to settle down here in China. The Summer Palace did it to me. Were do I want to spend the next six weeks? I'd been to a few different cities all offering wonderful adventures but still hadn't decided. Things were still up in the air, I didn't know where we were going to live or who our next President would be. I just knew we were on our way to Xian to see the Terra Cotta Soldiers and then down the Yangtze river through the Three Gorges to the Dam. I was starting to feel a little full and ready to settle down.

Posted by JohnVosler 22:42 Archived in China Tagged tourist_sites Comments (0)

John and Dean's China adventure

The Great Wall Of China

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The Mutianyu Great Wall is about 45 minutes from Beijing. We took the cable car up to the top

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and came down in a sled named "speed".
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The land scape was covered in Pine trees that are 100 years old and a couple of dozen that are 300 years old. It was breath taking. Here are a few pictures of fall on the Wall
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At one point we had an entire section of the wall to ourselves, It was magical.
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I took so many pictures that I could fill this blog and photo gallery up, but instead I'll have to show them
to you personally. I promise I won't hold you captive to long.
Our driver, who we nicknamed Mario after Mario Andretti, made a care package of gum, coffee and a bag of nuts for the ride home. Did I mention he locked the keys in the car. It was hilarious when he started to kick the car as if to say it was the car's fault.
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After signing a note that I didn't feel well, we didn't have to go to another required stop, we arrived home, went to a great noodle house next door which we went to many time. GOOD FOOD is our friend. I will be back Beijing.

Posted by JohnVosler 21:05 Archived in China Tagged tourist_sites Comments (0)

John and Dean's China adventure

Beijing

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Another beautiful day in Beijing. Who would have guessed this was the clearest day we had had. Not a cloud or smog in the sky and the weather was cool and brisk. Beijing has been the biggest surprise on the trip so far, after hearing all the stories about how smoggy and dirty the city was I was thrilled that it was clean and pretty. The traffic is pretty bad especially during the am and evenings. It took us a long time coming back from the Summer Palace. We actually didn't make it back to the hotel in time to change for the the acrobat show that night, we drove directly to it, the traffic was so bad, LA bad. The show was okay but there was one act that was incredible. One bike 12 girls, amazing. No pictures allowed. 6 on each side of the bike balancing and peddling. Drove past the Ice Cube and the Bird's Nest at night. Beautifully light up. The driver pointed out which hotel Bush stayed in when he was visiting, then in his broken english said "Obama" with a smile. In just a few days we'll know who the next president is.

The Lama Temple was especially buzzing with energy. You could feel it being there. The The Maitreya Buddha stood 6 stories high and was carved from a single trunk of white sandal wood, it was divine. I didn't want to leave. Since we couldn't take pictures of the buddha I bought some postcards. I think its a "must see" when visiting Beijing. Of course some people tried to take pictures and a little man in a uniform came over and stopped them. I thought it was humorous the number of people that didn't read the signs or did but didn't care. My favorite is the no-smoking sign right above the head of these two Chinese guys chain smoking or even better was the lady taking a picture of the "no photography" sign. Enough of my odd observations. Off to the Temple of Heaven.
As we arrived we were reminded of how even the smallest people can make a lasting impression. One of my favorite pictures.
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The Temple of Heaven was vast in size and simple in design.
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We had lunch in a restaurant on the grounds. We sat in room with three other tables. Two of the tables had 6 or more people, one table had South Americans and the other had a mix of Europeans and Chinese tourists. The South American table was talking about the failed financial crisis in USA, and how it was effecting them back at home. They blamed it on Clinton and Bush for promoting home ownership with out regulation. Then they started talking about the election and it was as if E.F. Hutton started to talk, the room was quiet, and everyone was listening to them discuss who would be a better President. One lady from Peru thought the best choice was Obama while the other lady at her table, who spoke english with no accent, wanted Hillary but was now behind Obama. The European table remained very quiet, just glancing over at us and the South American table. The Chinese tourist at the table didn't pay any attention, they just ate with their heads down. By the end of lunch I said to the ladies as they left, "GO OBAMA" and they got so excited. Three more days and counting.....

We now have to do our obligatory factory tours. I didn't know this but when you are on a tour, even with just two people, they have to take you to a couple of factories. UGh! We first went to a Pearl factory, it wasn't to bad, kinda of interesting learning about river pearls. Then to a Jade factory. This was the nightmare of all nightmares. The Jade spokesperson was a robot, as if she was on auto pilot. It wouldn't have been to bad if our guide hadn't told us we were required to, or needed to be here forty minutes. I knew we were in trouble when Dean set his alarm on his watch. I decided to make the most of it by asking questions about the different kinds of Jade. WELL, she didn't have the patience to answer anything she just kept talking as if she was reading a cue card. So I tried a different approach, I asked her how long she had been working here and if she liked her job. This is where it got ugly. After dismissing me and every attempt I made to engage her, our guide, who is this tiny, sweet, funny, couldn't hurt a soul, let alone yell at someone and the Jade Factory Robot went at it. Thank god I didn't understand Chinese. I turn around to find Dean but all I see is the back of his and the drivers head as they leave very quickly for the factory shopping area. I was in shock on how bad she was, I mean bad. At one point it was as if she were talking to herself while looking out the door AND still pointing out something in ANOTHER room. Crazy! Enough of my tirade. I met Dean and the driver in the shop, we still had 28 minutes to kill. Cynthia our guide came over and said she took care of the situation, I could only image what happened. We shopped until Dean's alarm went off then out the door we went. We later learned that the robot girl had a lot of complaints and we were not alone. Then the big surprise...
another factory, this time it was a cloisinne factory, interesting right? We'll it was, here are few pictures.
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These are truly artists at work, each one so meticulous about their creation.
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Our spokespersons name was Jason and he was a 6'2 chinese man. Super guy and so knowledgeable. I wanting to tell him to stand up straight, because he was kind of hunched over, but after the last experience I'll just kept my mouth shut.
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Next The GREAT WALL.....

Posted by JohnVosler 18:56 Archived in China Tagged tourist_sites Comments (0)

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