|Temple of Heaven, Beijing, China. Photo credit: Carol Wenk|
- Home---wet and windy. A storm went through our area yesterday with lots of water and wind, more is predicted for today.
- China--- the weather in China was unseasonably warm while we were there last week. The air quality was poor, too. Anyone thinking it is a good idea to reduce regulations on air standards should travel to China first before changing them. Ugh.
|Don and I standing on the Sacred Way|
China: Yes. We just got back from China where we had the trip of our lives. This Tuesday edition of Sunday Salon is dedicated to our China trip.
|Ken and Carol on the Great Wall. Photo credit: Carol Wenk|
Invited: Our friends Ken and Carol invited us to go on the trip, as Carol could take a week off work in November. I'd been wanting to take a big trip, my first of retirement, so we jumped at the chance. We've been friends for over forty years and traveled easily together.
|Kevin, our Beijing guide, and Ken in the Forbidden City|
Tourists: We paid for guides to take us around Beijing and Xi'an, the two cities we visited in China. They were worth every penny we paid for them. We went to most of the famous tourist sites: The Summer Palace, Tienanmen Square, The Forbidden City, The Great Wall, The Terracotta Warriors, The Temple of Heaven. We saw the tomb of the last emperor of the Ming Dynasty, the Lama Temple, and walked on the city wall of Xi'an. We saw the pandas at the zoo.We rode in a rickshaw, and ate Peking Duck. We also squeezed in some not so touristy things like a visit to the 798 Art Zone, and witness to a spontaneous dance in the park in Xi'an, and a ride on the bullet train. What a trip!
|We were all obsessed with the lines and colors of the architecture. Here is a building on the grounds of the Summer Palace.|
|A roof detail from the Forbidden City|
|We were surprised by the lines of people waiting to see the tomb of Mao in Tienanmen Square. Our guide estimated 250,000 people were in line at 8:30 AM, some would be waiting in line four hours (at least).|
|All the pandas we saw (there were eight in the zoo) were asleep. This one at least was facing forward.|
|The Red Panda, or lesser panda, is also a native of China and he was active.|
|We spent an hour away from the crowds at a tea tasting. Fun.|
|The terracotta warriors blew us away.|
We weren't expecting: There were some things about China that we expected: fabulous historic sites, The Great Wall, pollution. But there were other things we didn't expect: the vast number of bicycles, squater toilets (my least favorite part of the trip), and the darling children. DRIVING in traffic (I'm still in recovery from this harrowing experience.)
|We stumbled upon this huge pile of bikes in the 798 Art Zone. We don't know if it was intended to be art or just a pile of bikes waiting to be redistributed around the city|
|Our guide service also provided a driver. In Xi'an our driver had a little shrine in his car.|
|Food vendors sold roasted corn and sweet potatoes everywhere. Here I am tasting haw, a candied fruit. Obviously I bit off more than I could easily chew.|
|Darling children in cute outfits were everywhere with proud parents. Photo credit: A. Bennett|
Quiet moments: There are at least 22 million people living in Beijing and another 9 million in Xi'an. It is hard to get away from the crowds but we managed to have a few moments while in China. When we walked down the Sacred Way we were about the only people there. While visiting the Forbidden City, Kevin took us down a side alley to a small courtyard which at one time was the home of the Emperor's favorite concubine, few other people were there. And who doesn't love a serene moment with swans (at the zoo.)
|Quiet courtyard in the Forbidden City. Ken is exiting a small museum.|
|The four of us on the Sacred Way, near the Ming tombs|
|A brief serene moment among the chaos at the zoo.|
Look what we stumbled upon: We came upon a film project in the Art Zone and a spontaneous dance in the park across from the hotel in Xi'an.
|Don and I make weird art.|
|Dancing in the park in Xi'an with the Giant Wild Goose Pagoda in the background. A delight.|
Books read during the long flights and train trips:
- Girl Code: Gaming, Going Viral, and Getting It Done by Andrea Gonzales (e-book)
- Uprooted: The Japanese American Experience During WWII by Albert Marrin (e-book)
- Brooklyn by Colm Toibin (print)
- Queer, There, and Everywhere: 23 People Who Changed the World by Sarah Prager (e-book)
International Dateline: I've heard about it but finally experienced it first hand. Heading west we lost a day. We left Seattle on Friday afternoon and arrived in China on Saturday night. That was strange but heading east was weirder. We left China on Sunday around noon and arrived in Seattle at 6:30 AM Sunday...the longest day of our lives.
Trip of a lifetime: one more image from China, a place of mysteries and delights.
|A view from the Forbidden City. So lovely.|
Home: We are home. There is no place like home. Thank you to our neighbor Susie for taking care of the cats. We had to visit Ian and his parents right away. Ian is growing so fast. At two months he is still the great delight of our lives.
|An artsy rendition of our little guy. Photo credit: R. Adams|
Unless otherwise noted, photo credits belong to Don Bennett.