A Travellerspoint blog

Oh the feeling of the sun on my face!!

sunny 70 °F
View Around the World in 87 Days on Arellaskye's travel map.

Hello-we have finally made it out of the fog/haze. Yesterday in Kunming it was beautiful. Kunming was actually a nice city with a walking area in the center-mellow feel and no Gucci or Prada. We had a nice afternoon there and dinner. Yo and I went on an adventure to the Carrefour (supermarket). My grandpa Ralph always said he and Grandma always went to the supermarket wherever they went to see what people were really like--well Kunming did not disappoint-it was big and busy. After oversleeping the alarm and not having the car we asked for at the hotel we managed to brave the crazy airport(last day of spring festival holiday-busiest travel week in China) we made it on the plane and to Dali. It is really beautiful here. We are staying at a small hotel that is just perfect-reminds me of Mexico. The sun is shining and we have a guide for the next 8 days so the adventures around food will be eased. They even brought a wooden bucket of rice at lunch(Adrians dream). We are napping and resting in the sun before we walk through old Dali. I will let the kids tell you about this mornings adventures but all I have to say is I feel so much better being out of the city. The next week will be great!!!

Posted by Arellaskye 22:51 Archived in China Comments (1)

What city are we in now?

A long night!

We had a long night with flight delays and such. Getting to Kunming at 2:50 am, our hotel at about 4am. When I woke up I and looked out the window I felt like "where am I". We are only here for the night now--originally we would have had the whole day but we are exhausted. At this point it seems like just another Chinese city-with lots of shopping and buildings. At first I was skeptical about our little touring/trekking adventure that we start tomorrow but now I am looking forward to it--a nice chance to get away from city after city. I did like Chengdu though. Our little street market area was really fun.
Speaking of street market our room seemed to be right on top of it and constantly smelled of, well of Chinese street market food. There was also this drumming sound that would happen randomly every few minutes--Yona said she felt like a comedian was out there with the "ba dum bum" after every joke. So as we were resting one day I opened the window (they were opaque so you could not see out) and I saw this:
The street food below my window!

The street food below my window!

No wonder it smelled!! Later we noticed the drum was a dumpling maker that would roll the dumplings then throw them off the drum type table onto an angled large pan with a flour like substance. The dumplings would roll to the bottom and then get picked up for cooking "ba dum bum!!!!"

We will be on our tour starting tomorrow so I am not sure how much internet we will have, but afterward we will be in Hong Kong with all the fixings of a city--including an Apple store to fix my computer!! Yeah!

Posted by sherpaBen 22:35 Comments (5)

Few photos from Chengdu--

check sidebar for more--

overcast 42 °F

P1000748

P1000748

P1000735.jpgmy only unblurry photo from panda visit!

my only unblurry photo from panda visit!

except for these panda booties all in a row

except for these panda booties all in a row

Moon Gate

Moon Gate

Spring Festival lanterns

Spring Festival lanterns

Posted by MamaYo 22:09 Archived in China Tagged tourist_sites Comments (5)

We miss you all!

overcast 44 °F

So good to see you guys on skype just now! We truly wish we were there!

Time is going by so quickly, days pass in a blink. There is so much to catch up on and we haven't had a moment to sit and write about all the latest adventures.
Our mission when we decided to visit Chengdu was to visit the giant panda preserve. Supposedly people could go inside the pens and play with the adolescent pandas--though when we got there we found it it would cost us over $500 dollars to put on hospital scrubs and go sit next to an old fat panda for a photo. Probably there was some special interaction deal for high end tours, but we couldn't communicate with anyone, so it wasn't going to happen for us. No biggie though because we did meet a couple of american teachers there with two boys aged 6 and 10. Posie and Adrian chatted and played with their kids the entire time we were at the preserve. The disappointment of not getting to hold baby pandas was easily replaced with the invitation to go to lunch together. The boys sat and played video games and Po spent the entire meal in the play area of the restaurant with Jonathon. It was good for them to interact with other kids. Ben and I also enjoyed sharing stories and getting advice from the ladies. Although we realized later it made us feel homesick and a bit lonely. We had been living in our little bubble of just us for three weeks, after lunch we felt out of sorts. I suppose it all the talk of home and our "other" lives that jerked us out of this alternate reality we have been living.

Chengdu was a great city. The government is making a huge push to promote tourism and business there, so they are really working hard to beautify the city and upgrade the infrastructure. A new subway is set to open in a few months, and there are giant parks all over the city. I had noticed how clean it was--then one night we saw huge water trucks washing down all the foliage and streets!! That is why the trees looked so clean. Something we take for granted in our cities where we really have MINIMAL pollution is that the green is green--in Beijing I was appalled by how grimy even the plants were--In Chengdu the green leaves made a huge difference in the overall feeling of the city. They also have built 12 foot high walls around all the old parts of the city--here and there in the middle of blocks of high rise development are glimpses of the old city in one story compounds and clusters of shabby brick houses with clay tile roofs. These are not visible to the passerby unless you know what is there and look into the entrance gate. I suppose someday they will all be gone and replaced by shopping complexes....
I keep experiencing China in this way--layers upon layers of culture, with just glimpses of old China evident here and there. By old China I mean the China we have all experienced via movies--we haven't had much time out of big cities and I am really looking forward to the next 10 days when we do travel out into the country. I am exhausted from the confusion of old and new that we experience in the city. It looks new and modern and western on the surface, yet underneath is still a vastly foreign culture that we cannot begin to understand.
Even if we could speak the language, there is a history of filial piety that we can't relate to in our culture--It goes beyond the parent child relationship as we know it. I am talking about a kind of obedience and loyalty that the entire society is built upon. Really really fascinating to see it in the ways people relate to each other and assume status--or for example how they relate to us! I am often talking in the taxi and get ZERO response from the driver, but he will talk to Ben. Hmmmff.

Anyway we are ready in Kunming and ready to meet our hosts who will be taking us into the Bai Villages to where they teach english. These are MATRIARCHAL cultures here in the south province of Yunnan--so I think I will like it quite alot!

Love you all!

Posted by MamaYo 21:17 Archived in China Tagged family_travel Comments (3)

Giant Pandas or cute fuzzy blobs

rain 41 °F
View Around the World in 87 Days on Arellaskye's travel map.

Today we went to see the Giant Pandas. As all of you know they are on the endangered species list. The place we saw them was a reserve for them. We got there vverrrryyy early because after 10:00 am they all go to sleep "___" ! The first thing we saw was a big island with 4 pandas on it. They were just sitting there being pandas, I sorta felt like they were sitting there going " ya I no I am cute!" It was pretty cute! Then we went through and saw a varying array of pandas big and small. We actually ran into a family that had just moved here in august. We followed them because one of the women knew a ton about the reserve and the pandas. After going to the gift shop we all headed to this tex mex place that she suggested. I got a really good milk shake though. We headed back to the hotel after such a fun filled morning. We are having a siesta right now :)!

Love,
RaeRae

P.S
I miss all of you guys!

Dear friends that read my blog,
Love hearing from u guys please comment more cause Facebook doesn't work in china so I have no way of communicating to you guys :(.

Love'
Boomer (Arella)

Posted by Arellaskye 16:00 Archived in China Tagged family_travel Comments (6)

她是很逗人喜愛的!!!!

She's so cute!

52 °F

The five of us always draw attention--but no one gets more of a reaction than Posie. The other night a family asked if they could have a picture with her. She balked and I told her--don't ruin their picture please--but it wasn't her that was the issue. They had two little boys her age who were pulling away, freaking out that they had to stand with her for a photo. It was hysterical! Finally after at least 7 attempts, and me setting his camera on the correct setting, the boys stood there with the mom. Posa was sooo cute and good to wait there patiently.
your child photo mine?

your child photo mine?


Today I left the kids on a bench to go get one last round of the so tasty chicken skewers, they were content to wait whilst drinking fresh coconut milk.
Cuties

Cuties


They did look cute sitting there--someone else noticed, and by the time I returned, it was a full on mob scene with Posa at the middle! What are they saying? What is it? Has a little foreign girl never been seen here before? Through it all she is smiling and waving, rarely having to hide her head. This last crowd was a bit much for her though!P1000598

P1000598

What is it???

What is it???

Being here during the holiday is really wonderful. everyone has returned home to see family, so the streets are full of families walking around.
Street scene--Spring festival

Street scene--Spring festival

I love seeing the whole family together--grandkids, babies, and the old old grandma or great-grandma in a wheelchair getting pushed along. That old man sitting next to our table at the tea place really wanted to talk to me. He admired the kids, holding up three fingers and smiling, nodding yes. His hands reminded me so much of my gramps' hands. Nice old guys at the Tea House

Nice old guys at the Tea House

Everyone here is happy and obviously so very friendly. Nice city!

And this is what we wake up to in the center of our hotel.
in the hotel center courtyard

in the hotel center courtyard

Posted by MamaYo 02:12 Archived in China Tagged family_travel Comments (12)

If it's good eat it!!!

Our new motto!!!

Well we finally found our groove today in Chengdu--of course we are staying at the Bhudda Zen Hotel. As you read from Yo we had a little issue at the Xi'an airport but we made it through without much hassle. So we got in late last night and immediately my first impression of Chengdu was it looked clean. Of course there was the Prada and Ferrari like everywhere else but it looked more like Tokyo. We ended up turning into a small old traditional style part of the city and the taxi driver got out and asked a where our hotel was and proceeded to literally run me through these little streets to our hotel--the cars don't fit! Adrian and I awoke to a restaurant opening across from our room-the cooks banging out the pots. After a slow morning of schoolwork and travel planning we decided to head out. Yo and I were holding so much stress from Xi'an and Beijing we almost seemed to dread the idea of venturing out having to eat at some point. To our surprise there was a mass of people out and a street festival in our little walking street area. There were food stalls everywhere and Adrian was saying he was hungry since he had stopped eating 3 days ago. So he and I decided to try some meat skewers!!! Now we weren't quite sure what meat it was. We did know that they were holding them down in boiling oil, then grilling them and slathering them with red hot pepper spices. This meat was definitely cooked and pretty good. We had broken the ice on the street food and the skewer stations were plentiful. Eventually we found one with nice flat chicken skewers and they were good!! 4 skewers for 20 yuan (about $2.50). As we walked further we found some sweets and giant pomelos. We made camp at an outdoor tea house, cut up the pomelo and each took turns going back to get more chicken skewers. We were eating tasty food and we were happy!!!!! The people watching was fun and the people watching us was even more fun--someone else can tell about that. This is what I imagined China would be-- I am happy we found it!!! It was fun and relaxed!!
Adrian eats again!!

Adrian eats again!!

Posted by sherpaBen 00:50 Comments (1)

Xian--

overcast 32 °F

Starbucks--our solace for heat and mochas!

Starbucks--our solace for heat and mochas!


It was a strange time in Xian. The apartment was rather surreal with over 120 warriors everywhere--
The warrior Apt.

The warrior Apt.

They are life-sized peering out of the walls at us in all the rooms, and also the little warriors all in a row supporting the furniture everywhere.

This is what I will remember about Xian too--

Building boom everywhere you look

Building boom everywhere you look

uugghh

uugghh

I wasn't kidding abou the air!

I wasn't kidding abou the air!

this doesn't help

this doesn't help

The pollution was unbelievable and the city felt grimy and gross everywhere we went. All this contributed to us feeling out of sorts the entire time we were there. Of course the topper was going to the airport and discovering that I booked all our tickets thinking of the 12hr time clock. So we missed our plane that was at 7:55 AM not PM. But as ever (BIG THANKS!) there was a way out that worked perfectly--this time in the form of a young man who spoke perfect english and was able to sort out the tickets and get us on the next flight.
Despite Xian, the city, being unattractive, we found all our needs magically taken care of...for example--We had read all about this famous dumpling house (and even seen it on a travel show), but when we went out for dinner we asked Clarence for a rec. The restaurant he suggested was closed, though we didn't figure this out until passing up and down the street asking five different people. So we ventured off for another option that someone had vaguely pointed the direction of...We were on the verge of that intense moment we keep revisiting, just before dinnertime, when everyone gets really edgy. I noticed a brightly lit window upstairs and said that's where we are going. It was delicious right up until the "tooth". We noticed the name on the plates was De Fa Cheng--the exact dumpling place we had wanted to try!
Again navigating to the public buses for the trip to see the Terracotta warriors was a breeze--"the bus should be around here someplace across from the train station. We need bus #306"--(while looking down at map) (looking up at sign of bus right next to us) "And here it is....!!" Same at the museum--I read about how easy it is to have a guide show you around....there we are trying to gather ourselves together in front of the ticket line and a sweet woman offers her services--Nisha. She whisked us around all the crowds and into the cleanest toilets and showed us the best places for photos.
And then there is the idea that I thought I had planned so well. We would go to get pizza for an early dinner and then take the leftover with us to the airport. Great idea except that we get dropped off in the middle of the a busy side district to find the restaurant boarded up. Adrian is retching from car sickness and cigarette smoke, freaking out with a migrian headache. Now what to do???? We pick a direction and start walking--100 meters later, we again are at that breaking point, and look up to see a big "PIZZA" sign above our heads. This is wonderful! Thank you thank you thank you!!!
I'm doing my best to describe something that I wish I had a word for--I guess it's just our angels looking out for us! We really needed that guidance in Xian.
I posted some photos from the warriors museum in my gallery if you want to see it--
Here are a few from the Hangyaling Museum--another giant burial site from around 200BC
http://www.hylae.com/en/brief.asp
pottery

pottery

Chariot wheel

Chariot wheel

excavated pit

excavated pit

mini servants for the afterlife 1/3 life size

mini servants for the afterlife 1/3 life size


It was really exceptional that the museum was built underground right on top of the sacrificial pits so that we were standing above them on glass walkways. We could see the excavation in process--

The kids are doing quite well on an itinerary of visiting temples and graveyards!

Posted by MamaYo 00:37 Archived in China Tagged family_travel Comments (4)

Homemade Twinkie..... I think so!!!

semi-overcast 37 °F
View Around the World in 87 Days on Arellaskye's travel map.

Today we slept in quite a long time :) ! We got out of the house around 11 am. We went to get a cab and on the way we say a vendor selling mini sponge cakes and cream puff things, which we found out after trying them where homemade Twinkies! So after that we got in a cab and headed on a long drive to a mausoleum. Once we got there we were taken around by a tour guide who explained everything. At this mausoleum there were 81 sacrificial pits. We saw 10. We saw them through a glass floor. It was quite cool to walk right over them. Thought nothing in the pits were life sized many things had great detail and were preserved very well. I found out the each pit had a different meaning in the after life. We saw a lot of food storage pits and cooking pits. The one that I liked the most was one with thousands of mini pottery animals. They were all lined up in groups, perfectly! It was sssssssooooooo cool to see the carefulness that they took when assembling the pits. After we went back to the apartment and pack our bags and left. We got to the airport and found out that our tickets were for 7:55 am not pm because they were on the 24 hour clock. Whoops! We were fortunate and got the next flight out at 9:05 pm. Lucky us!

<3

Rae Rae

Posted by Arellaskye 16:00 Archived in China Tagged air_travel Comments (3)

New Years in Biejing→Xi'an

storm 30 °F
View Around the World in 87 Days on Arellaskye's travel map.

Today it is new years day! At mid night it was a mad house! As my dad stated it sounded like war! I actually got a video of the sound and some fire works. It was crazy and amazing at the same time! I was actually reading with ear plugs in until my dad came and got us up to watch them. I never knew how a "war" sounded till then '__' ! The commotion kept my brother up very late but I slept soundly despite the noise. Once I woke up it was thrown into the pack we need to leave wave. So after a few hours we got out and on the plane. We arrived into a thick layer of pollution covering Xi'an. It was nasty! The landscape looked something like the world in the book The Giver! Grey is the only word i can describe it by. With the occasional hint of color! Once we got to the city it was sorta decorated. But once we hit the street for dinner it really lit up! We had to walk through the night market. Food on either side of us! It smelled delicious. I was about ready to ditch the dumpling idea and just get food there! Well that didn't happen but we got some okay dumplings until i found a "tooth" in one of mine! That was the end of dinner! Happy Valentines Day everybody back home!

<3
Arella

Posted by Arellaskye 16:00 Archived in China Tagged family_travel Comments (4)

An apartment full of people--and a horse!!

Hello from the coldest apartment in China. We are freezing our butts off with about a dozen full sized warrior statues and a horse. Not quite our type of decor but definitely one we will remember. Along with the warriors we have brick and tile floors nice and iced keeping this place cool--no need to put beer in the fridge here--makes me homesick for the hydronic heat. Anyway we had a great night here and look forward to our next couple days here.

And one more comment about last night--Yo said someone commented about video footage at which I felt so guilty that I did not do it, but then upon hours of deep contemplation and my preparation for hairy cairy I realized that it was not the site of the fireworks-of course they were cool but nothing that I hadn't or better yet you hadn't seen before--it was the sound(Adrian agreed wholeheartedly). The warlike popping that was rising and rising to a frenzied crescendo. Unlike anything I have experienced in my life and it continued for what seemed like forever. And our building had a steel block type thing around the whole place making looking out the window like jail so it would not have been that effective of a video anyway.

Here I give you a picture of my new friend--he seems to have lost his hand!!!
P1000390.jpg

Freaky Huh?

Posted by sherpaBen 06:45 Comments (3)

Whew--saved the photos and made it to our next destination!

snow 30 °F

Hi all!

We had a pretty easy trip to Xian after the morning panic about the computer crashing. We arrived into a brown, hazy yuck of fog? Pollution? It's the scariest looking air I've ever breathed. We are staying in an apartment that a local family rents out and they also picked us up at the airport about 30 Km from town. He had a large white van that easily fit all of us and our luggage. Clarence speaks perfect english so we were able to ask him many questions about Xian on the long long slow drive into town. His van topped out at 40Km/hr which is what--32 MPH? We were getting passed on all sides--cars whizzing around us, just like we were driving 32 on the freeway!
The apartment is in a wonderful location right next to the Muslim Quarter and street market as well as being within the old city walls that were built in 600 AD. It is nice to have a home space again after being in a hotel. I only wish that the heat worked in here! The radiators are on full and we are still needing to wear jackets to be warm. Ben joked that it might be warmer outside...it was, and it was snowing.
We headed out for some food and immediately fell in love with the exotic foreign feeling of this town. The wonderful odors of all the meat kabobs cooking in the street coulda been a factor!
P1000394

P1000394

P1000398

P1000398

P1000400

P1000400


The dumplings were tasty right up until Arella choked out, "A TOOTH!" And spit out on the table something that darn well looks like a tooth. The tooth

The tooth

I laughed and laughed and then my tummy did a flip flop too. I tried to down play the event but unfortunately my next dumpling had a "tooth" too. That was the end of the meal.

As we left the Bell Tower Square, we saw giant flaming red globes rising in the air--families were chasing them down the square trying to get them aloft. We couldn't resist and had to try one. We have a video to show sometime...
The sight of all those graceful red balloons glowing as they rose into the night sky was so memorable...

Posted by MamaYo 06:39 Archived in China Tagged family_travel Comments (4)

NUTS!!!!!!

Pure Insanity!!!!!

I am speechless--it is out of control!!!!! I will never watch fireworks the same way again! I will feel ashamed to light my measly fireworks display--even the West End should be ashamed!!!

Posted by sherpaBen 08:22 Comments (3)

Fever Pitch!!!

Run For Cover!!!!

It is 2 minutes to midnight--it is out of control outside--I can smell the gun powder and sulpher in the room--these people are out of their minds--by the way Yo and Po are fast asleep next to me how can they do it!!!!

Posted by sherpaBen 07:57 Comments (1)

The New Years That Isn't....But!!!!

Well I even remember saying "It would be cool to be there for Chinese New Year!" Of course the only real exposure to the Chinese New Year for me has bee the parades in San Francisco--so I thought it would be a big festive, party, parade like atmosphere here--well it isn't. Actually we have learned that the New Year is more like thanksgiving and everybody goes home to their families. Since Beijing has so many people not from here the city actually shuts down. As for the prior blog by Adrian I am feeling better--nothing like doing the bad mutton 2 step half the night. So today we took it easy and walked around Tiananmen Square and looked around--and in turn got looked at a lot. What we realized was all the families that were walking around there probably were from other places than Beijing and on vacation--maybe not so used to looking at a gaggle of American tourists. Lots of shops and what not are closed, restaurants are closed and the city seems quite quiet...BUT not literally-The lighting of fireworks started a few days ago here and there, then this morning it intensified to a constant and now at 10pm it sounds like the Tet offensive out there. It is out of control!!! We found out first hand--- We ate dinner at a restaurant a couple of miles away and could not find a taxi so we took the subway. Since we hadn't before and had no map with us we sort of guessed where we should be and made it to a stop about a 1/2 mile from our hotel--this is when it got interesting...since we did not know our direction Yo stopped a group of Dutch people and asked if they had a map--they did and we plotted a course toward home. Now we are walking down some side streets and there are fireworks going of everywhere - that is all you can hear. There are piles of firework debris and huge cakes(multiple shot firework boxes that we call cop callers back home) in the middle of the street. Cakes in street

Cakes in street


As we made our way down the block we found a firework shop and of course bought a few firecracker packs(500 a pack) and some roman candles--how could we not. Then we made it a little further and there were a couple of guys lighting the cakes as mentioned before. In addition to the box that is shooting fireworks 150 ft in the air they would light a 1000 firecrackers at the same time-meanwhile cabs are driving past the box and buses are stopping--insanity at its finest with no regard for public safety at all-did I mention there are cops at every corner while this is happening and guys stationed with fire extinguishers here and there. This made my firework displays on the 4th of July seem tame--next year I will light 1000 firecrackers while the big stuff is going off--I had to come to where the pros are working to figure this one out!!!! Needless to say we will not be sleeping sound tonight!
Fireworks

Fireworks


Happy New Year!!

Happy New Year!!

Also for your viewing pleasure I present my few pictures from the center of the Chinese government. I mostly took them for my friend Phil who has a fascination with communism and all that goes with it!!!
Guard standing century at the national flag with picture of Chairman Mao, captain of the red team!!!

Guard standing century at the national flag with picture of Chairman Mao, captain of the red team!!!


Important looking government building and Yo

Important looking government building and Yo


Monument to Peoples Heros- Whats a government square without a big phallic symbol in it!!

Monument to Peoples Heros- Whats a government square without a big phallic symbol in it!!

Posted by sherpaBen 02:17 Comments (3)

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