A Travellerspoint blog

The Warriors of Xi'An

As a quick look back in time, Dave & I took a fast train from Beijing to Xi'an on Halloween, giving just enough time to celebrate the holiday with some photo opps.

On the train ride in we met a new friend Dong Dong who was absolutely delightful and as hungry to learn about the USA as we were to know about China. Dave & I visited the internationally famous Terracotta Warriors in Xi'an. Our new friend, a local, was amazed that we liked this sort of thing and was way more interested in learning about the USA & comparing car stats and costs with Dave. Most interestingly, he told us that 5 years ago he could not ever imagine having a car. He told us that while touring us around Xi'an and, ridiculously generously, buying us lunch & taking us to the airport. 5 years ago? That is fast growth!!

The Warriors were impressive, though mostly as a testament to one man's ego (who admittedly united a country) and his ability to manage 700,000 slaves.

Around the old city of Xi'an is a wall (reminding Dave of the Luca wall in Italy that his family knows so well) and there was a Samsung 5k & marathon that day on the Xi'an wall. Take a look at the air quality. Would you want to run on that day? The one runner I spoke with said she was required to run in the 5K as part of her university scholarship.

Lastly Dave, Dong Dong & I visited another tomb and saw an original pottery barn, as this Emperor wanted to make sure he had some pottery and cows, etc., to join him forevermore.

That's it for now. Soon we will have Vietnam posts!

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Posted by Equatorials 08:11 Archived in China Comments (1)

China's Answer to Old Sacramento

Or welcome to Ancient City Lijiang, China

sunny 55 °F

Ashley and I spent considerable time in China's version of Old Sacramento. Lijiang has an "old" part of town with cobblestone streets and old timey architecture for its buildings. It seems like it's designed for tourists as masses of Chinese tourist escape their home towns and check this place out.
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It was nice and comforting to not be the only tourists in this town. One other thing you will notice is missing is the smog. Being halfway to Tibet, the air is much cleaner and the sky is much bluer.
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It also has water running throughout the street in open trenches and small creeks. With the town full of folks on vacation, there are numerous drunk people in the streets at night, how they avoid the the open trenches.
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This part of Yunnan Province is dominated by the Naxi culture, who apparently like Yak meat. And eating other exotic items. This is the night market in Lijiang and here are a few of the special foods on offer.
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Ashley may be a vegetarian so she can't be dared into eating some of these animals. The grasshoppers were not so tasty after all. Kinda like eating shrimp shells.
Lijiang provided us also with a base of operations to explore further up into the mountains which I will write about in the next post.

PS I wanted to personally relate a story about some good Samaritans who took time out from their celebration to help us out:

One problem with it being an ancient town without letting taxis enter, and endlessly curving streets, is that it's pretty easy to get lost when you are new in town. When Ashley and I first arrived, we took the bus in from the airport to the old town, and went to try to find our hotel walking the streets armed with google maps. Since the google car can't map in this area, the maps were wholly inadequate. And because the bus stalled/broke down about 4 times from the airport to old town (30 km), we didn't reach the town until 11:30 pm. By then the shops are all closed up, and only drunken Chinese tourists are roaming the streets on the way back to their guesthouse or the next bar. Luckily, we ran into 4 students from Guangzhou (big Kobe Bryant fans, who knew?) who guided us through the ancient town using a Chinese version of google maps to our guesthouse.
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This photo of me looking completely lost is a recreation of that night's events, it was much darker at the time we were lost. So big thanks to 4 random students from Guangzhou!

Posted by Scatman 07:15 Archived in China Tagged city ancient yunnan lijiang Comments (1)

Strife on the Road

Dave & I have pure good luck on the road. Not much strife on the road actually but much missed strife.

Miss Strife 1: In NZ we had 1 rain day in our clockwise loop around the North & South Islands. Most other travelers who we met on the road travelled the opposite direction & had 1 non rainy day. Lucky!

Missed Strife 2: In Beijing we arrived just at the tale end of some of the worst pollution in 10 years & woke up to clear skies. (See previous entry.) We also ignorantly (& thus blissfully) stood at the location of a terrorist's car fire (killing 5, injuring another 40) just 22 hours after it happened. Where? See Dave doing his Mao-ism. We proceeded to go to a tour of the Forbidden City and then the Tian'ānmén Square flag lowering that night (where I took pictures of plain clothes policemen, which you may consider foreshadowing), still uneducated of the previous day's events near that locale.

Strife Alert: On the next day (10/30) we had some real strife in getting to the Great Wall thanks to a cab driver who tried to ripped us off in his crappy old car. Dave made sure he did not get get the best of us while I ... slept. When we got out of the car we were pretty distressed to see several groups of hungry looking bears in tight quarters that tourists were feeding by tossing food (that the bears caught in their mouth) for a photo opp. No pictures here of the bears, up to 7, squashed in a zoo like cave front. Why no pics? Dave & I did not want to support this activity in any way.

Strife Alert: Our last day in Beijing the US Consulate declared the air to be unhealthy, leading to my donning the beauty of an air mask. After 1 hour of outside wear I could see the dirt on the white filter. Yuck! There was a trade off to wear it as people stared at me and plain clothes officers (who you can see in the flag lowering photo) laughed at me (next to their straight faced uniformed brethren) while Dave & I did things like go to the Police Museum (and saw things like dog IDs). While they laughed, I did things like remind myself that pollution masks make sense when 1 cannot see the sun (literally) and remember that the police are not the most sensitive bunch to women, as indicated by their recent microblog entry specifying driving tips for WOMEN:

http://m.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-china-24742034

Strife: Lastly, we have been in Hong Kong, having the total luxury of monitoring the typhoon that may have led to the death of 10,000 people in the Philippines, in one of the worst storms ever. Very unfortunate news, to say the least, leaving many without food & water, making Dave & I want to directly help if we can find a way.

Missed Strife 3: While Typhoon Haiyan hit Vietnam we are pretty sure it will not impact Vietnam excessively and that it will not impact our travel plans. We will scout out the country's damage when we land in Ho Chi Minh tomorrow.

Overall...

No strife for Dave & me: we are on a travel day & able to madly catch up on the internet, including our blog capturing our once in a life time trip. Thank you for reading.

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Posted by Equatorials 06:41 Archived in USA Comments (2)

Food Photos (Yup they're vegetarian but still 1 of a kind!)

After romping on the steep heights of the Great Wall of China near Beijing, Dave & I ate at the nicest restaurant thus far (might I say ever??). See our walk below (AKA exhaustive hike on 1 steep wall!) followed by pictures for a restaurant in which we were way underdressed and much too scruffy.

You may read the menu below but stand out items were the rice tea starter (no, those are not bugs!), dumplings kept warm over steaming water, steamed bamboo stalks (we were encouraged to smell the (odorless?) whiff as we unfurled the aluminum foil), the amazing pineapple-looking crispy veggie dim sum covered in almonds, and rice with avocado on an abalone plate. Went back to my familial historical roots again, quickly devouring the white almond pudding for dessert and wondering if it was Blue Diamond in nature. So glad Dave was a willing cohort in this meatless night. (I can't bare to ask him how much he misses cooking ribs all night for his 49ers games this season. It would not be a pretty answer!)

PS As for the inspiration of this blog entry; Here's looking at you Tabitha, and your foodie self!

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Posted by Equatorials 04:51 Archived in China Comments (2)

Glow worms (AKA moth larvae unmentionables)

Before sadly leaving delightful New Zealand on 10/21 Dave & I snuck in 2 last activities admiring the natural world: poop and funny walking birds.

First we went to the Waitomo Caves (see cave entrance below: no walking sticks were actually required) to see the much publicized Glow Worms. It wasn't until we were deep underground that our tour guide informed us that Glow Worms are actually moth larvae feces used to attract insects into the moth webs (see the pictures that look like strings). What do the glow worms look like? I don't have a picture (had not learned all the relevant Panasonic DMC-ZS30 camera settings then) but think green glowing dots against a black cave ceiling. (You can imagine what this looks like by seeing the photo I took from the cave of a pipe leading up to daylight.) Insects trapped in the cave fly to the glow worm's "light" thinking the glow is sunlight leading out of the cave. But no! It is a trick! They get stuck in the moth's stringy web.

Other fun pictures of stalactites (which hold on tight to the ceiling) and stalagmites (which might reach the ceiling) are below too.

Lastly, I suggest you YouTube kiwis (which I can't do myself here in China's firewall) to see these rare flightless nocturnal creatures' funny walk and ponder why New Zealanders choose to brand themselves as such. Dave & I saw kiwi birds but no pictures were allowed. Instead, check out NZ's uber fat pigeons, looking hungry at you.

Best regards,
Ashley

Posted by Equatorials 01:26 Archived in New Zealand Comments (0)

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