Saturday, December 17, 2011

Hong Kong

Going to Hong Kong TODAY! Can't wait!

But I miss my kids already.

Friday, December 16, 2011


I went to Zhouzhuang way back in October but I never got around to posting anything about it. I thought I would put up some pictures of this beautiful place before I leave China. It is an ancient Chinese canal city near Suzhou. We had a really good time here.

Christmas Decorating

We’ve tried to get into the Christmas spirit in China so we put gingerbread men on the windows. It isn’t quite the same as eating/smelling the gingerbread cookies my family puts on the Christmas tree all the time, but it makes our Chinese room feel a little more festive. And (un)fortunately this year I don’t have to spend the Christmas season getting the fat dog we live with (Ginny) to stop eating the legs off the gingerbread men on the tree.

We also made the Dayna and Ashley Christmas Playlist that we’ve played so many times that we had to take a break and go back to our original playlist. My favorite Christmas song this year is: “I’ll be home for Christmas.” It’s exciting that I’ll be back home so soon! But I’m going to miss China a lot.

I wish I had crafty skills or ideas like one girl in our group. I went into Madeline’s room the day after Thanksgiving and this is what I found:

Who knew a little yarn and paper could bring Christmas to China?

I really liked what President Utchdorf said in the Christmas devotional this year about the essence of Christmas being much more sturdy than the “minor things” we like to adorn Christmas with. Things like Christmas trees, decorations, gingerbread cookies, piles of presents, nativity sets.

“If we are only willing to open our hearts and minds to the spirit of Christmas, we will recognize wonderful things happening around us that will direct or redirect our attention to the sublime. It is usually something small—we read a verse of scripture; we hear a sacred carol and really listen, perhaps for the first time, to its words; or we witness a sincere expression of love. In one way or another, the Spirit touches our hearts, and we see that Christmas, in its essence, is much more sturdy and enduring than the many minor things of life we too often use to adorn it.” --President Utchdorf

Xi’an: The Terracotta Warriors

One of the big trips that we have been planning for the past couple months has been a trip to the province of Xi’an. This is where the Terracotta Warriors are and we were all really excited to see them.

Xi’an is in the north near Beijing so we had to get on a hard sleeper train. We left at 5:45pm and got in the next morning around 8 am. It was not one of the best nights of sleep I’ve had. Whenever the train reached a station, it would shudder and shake and thud to a stop. It felt like we were crashing into something which totally freaked us out the first time it happened. In Kelli and Lorilei’s compartment, the man sleeping on the bottom bed brought some interesting luggage:

Yes, those are crab legs sticking out of the sack. He pulled them out and let us all feel their long pointy legs.

What was funny was I was reading this book about China and it was talking about eating crabs which I was telling Katie about except she didn’t understand at first that it was in a book and she says, “Crabs? Where? There better not be any crabs on this train!” And then five minutes later we find 4 sackfuls of crabs one compartment over haha

The Terracotta Warriors were discovered in 1974 by peasants. They come from the Qing Dynasty. The first emperor of China, Qin Shi Huang, believed that if he had this army built protecting his grave then in the next world his enemies wouldn’t be able to defeat him. It took 36 years and 700,000 workers to construct the terracotta warriors, and every warrior has an individual expression. They were all painted at one point but the paint has worn off now. They’ve been excavating since 1974 and there is still a lot of work to do—each warrior has to be put back together piece by piece. Qin Shi Huang was also the Emperor who began building the Great Wall of China.

This is Pit One where most of the excavations have been done

This is the cavalry part of the army (the lesser, unimportant soldiers). In each pit the status of the soldiers gets higher.

You can see some soldiers still have missing heads and holes in their armor. It must have been amazing to see the Terracotta Warriors in their prime all those soldiers lined up in row after row, painted and in position.

This is a higher ranking office that would have been found in Pit 2 or 3. You can tell because of the folds on his skirt. His wooden bow has disintegrated but he is still in position.

The Terracotta Warriors are a World Heritage Site which was exciting to put on the list of World Heritage Sites that I have been to. Currently I have visited: (China)The Great Wall of China, The Terracotta Warriors, Mount Huang Shan, the Summer Palace, ancient Anhui village, West Lake Hangzhou. (Britain) Stonehenge, Blenheim Palace, City of Bath, Westminster Abbey, Tower of London, Kew Gardens, Durham Castle, Old and New Town of Edinburgh. (USA)Mesa Verde, Yellowstone, Statue of Liberty.

There is also a very, very old Muslim Mosque in Xi'an. It was built when Islam was still a young religion isn't that awesome? And who would have thought we have found that in China. The prayer room has the Koran written in the wall in Arabic (on the top) and Chinese (on the bottom) of the wall. The picture isn't very good because we weren't allowed to go into the actual room, so I had to take the picture from the door frame.

We made friends with these hilarious Muslim monks. This one was our favorite.

They welcomed us in, took our picture, taught us phrases in all these different languages, and showed us money from all over the world.

One of the coolest part of visiting this Mosque was that we were able to stay and watch the monks gather for the evening call to prayer. It was really cool to watch. This is a clock of the times for the evening call to prayer all over the world.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Chinese Signs

One of my favorite parts of China has been the amusing signs we find where ever we go. Here's a little gallery:

Changzhou Walmart Shopping Area (this was one of our first encounters with Chinese signs)

Nanjing Zoo

All of us being........ civilized

Ti’ananmen Square, Beijing. In a tunnel under the street heading toward the Forbidden City.

Changzhou Amusement Park

Changzhou Dinosaur Amusement Park

Changzhou City Park

While hiking Huang Shan ( Yellow Mountain)

Tourist Gift Shop on the way home from Huang Shan

I think we should start giving out free sugar in America too :)

A spa in Suzhou. We decided this probably wasn't the right spa for us. Usually I prefer humans giving me a massage.

No knitting on the bus?

Changzhou's Tianning Temple

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Beijing Part III: Xian Shan and the Ming Tombs

I guess I had to go to Beijing to find Fall. It was beautiful at Xian Shan—which was a park slash mountain. Dayna’s foot was hurting her so we skipped the mountain hike and wandered around taking pictures and smelling the leaves. It felt like being in the canyon back home.

We also found an old Buddist Temple with cool archways, that many Chinese tourists wanted to take pictures with us under.

Ming Tombs

Getting to the Ming Tombs was an adventure by itself. After getting to the subway station where we were supposed to catch a bus to the Ming tombs, the customer service desk told us two completely different instructions for getting there. So we decided to look for one of the buses we had written down from an internet site. Finally a Chinese couple pointed us to the right bus, it took a couple tries to get to the right bus stop. Then after we had been traveling on the bus for 30 or more minutes the girl who was taking money for the bus fare slipped us a note that said that the bus had changed routes and that we needed to get off the bus at the next stop and get on another one. It was very strange, but we did what she said. And after another 20 minute ride on the bus we got to the Ming Tombs—about 2 ½ hours later. Dayna was a little tired.....

Or maybe we were all a little tired ?

We are at a famous ancient Chinese site and it’s the chairs and tables that we find fascinating……

We also found this sign quite amusing:

The Ming Tombs are the burial site of one Emperor and Empress of the Ming Dynasty. For some reason they leave piles of money to pay their respects. Dayna tried to logically explain to me that the dead Emperors and Empresses actually don’t need this money and that she could put it good use. I was a good roommate and restrained her slipping under the little bar..... But she did have a good point.

Her argument became even stronger when we saw a ten dollar bill and she made the point that the dead emperor definitely didn't need American money in China, but we could buy a Cafe Rio salad with that ten dollar bill or a lot of chocolate. But don't worry sadly that ten dollar bill is still resting on the emperor's grave.

They left money for the royalty’s thrones too:

These are the replicas of the tombs. The actual tombs are rotted.

As always, beautiful Chinese children everywhere