A Travellerspoint blog

June 2012

China June30

Lesser three Gorges

overcast 86 °F

We arrived as Wushan and at 9:30am departed the ship for another smaller vessel to view the Misty Gorge area and the 2000 year old hanging coffin - a royal child that was buried high in the wall of the gorge. I was pretty spectacular scenery. Back to the ship for lunch and a quiet afternoon cruising down the river.

This evening right after dinner, we transited the 5 locks of the three gorges dam. It takes about to four hours to do. They really pack the boats in, and it is quite interesting, if not as interested as the Panama Canal, because of the age of those locks.

No pictures today, and the internet system, although reasonably fast, wouldn't accept large files.

Posted by rpickett 20:11 Archived in China Comments (0)

China June 29

Shibaozhai Pagoda

sunny 90 °F

After a great relaxing morning cruising down the Yangtze, we tied up at Shibaozhai to visit the ancient pagoda and temple. The river was very foggy this morning, but it burned off at the heat built and it was quite nice if not quite hot and humid by the time we moored. The 99 wooden steps to get to the top of the pagoda were worth it, and there were some spectacular views. The Pagoda was added so that the monks could get to the top of the mountain, without having to be hoisted up by chains, which was the norm before its construction. After the hot, sweaty but enjoyable walk, it was back to the ship for a shower, some quite time and our only Chinese dinner of the cruise.
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Posted by rpickett 15:37 Archived in China Tagged pagoda shibaozhai Comments (0)

China June 28

The Terracotta Warriors

semi-overcast 87 °F

There are no words to describe the Terracotta Warriors. The site is far more impressive than I imagined. More than 2000 years old, the warriors remained buried until the 1970's when a farmer looking to dig a well found some fragments and sent them to the state. The state figured out there age and paid the farmer about 45 Yuan for his efforts - about a months wages. Today, it is truly the 8th wonder of the world. Through the use of ground sonar, they have found three different pits and are slowly both excavating and putting the warriors back together, as the whole display was destroyed and set on fire by invaders during the fall of the dynasty. This process is ongoing and will take perhaps another hundred years to complete. The Emperor's tomb remains untouched, but the local guide has said there is talk of a dig in a portion of it.

After spending three hours at the site, we headed to the airport for our flight to Chongqing and boarding the Viking Emerald. The flight was a little late due to ground control. I got the feeling that the Chinese air traffic control system is pretty outdated due to the long interval between take-offs.

For some reason, I expected Chongqing to be a smaller river city - I was wrong - 35 million people. After a while you become overwhelmed by the shear number of people and the number of apartments that it takes to house that many people. There were a number of apartments under construction in all the three cities that we have visited, but none seemed to have anyone working on them. Maybe they are just reserve housing???

Got to the ship about 7:30, dinner, underway at 9:15 and then to bed. Ready for a morning off.DSC_0250_1_.jpg

Posted by rpickett 20:13 Archived in China Tagged terracotta warriors Comments (0)

China June 27

Hutongs and the Silk Factory

semi-overcast 86 °F

Another cloudy and smoggy day in Beijing, but we can see some sun. Today our first adventure is to the old Beijing Hutongs (narrow ancient alleys) which to westerners is a semi-slum, but is being protected by the state for it's historical significance. We took a pedicab ride around the district and then visited a lady's house to have some tea and ask her any questions. The was also a purchasing opportunity, as her niece was an exceptionally talented artist, featured in one of the Olympic magazines, who paints beautiful scenes inside of very small glassware. It was really impressive.
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After this we headed off to a government silk rug factory, where we learned about how Chinese silk rugs are manufactured. It seems sort of touristy, and it is, but if you are into oriental rugs it was fascinating. There were silk on cotton rugs that were about 600 knots up to the fine artistic rugs that where 1800 knots and cost many thousands of dollars. I resisted the temptation to buy, although they were offering free shipping!

From there to the airport for a China East fight to Xi'an. Nothing remarkable except the security procedures to get into the secure area were much more strict than those in the USA. I had to empty out my entire camera bag and my collection of chargers and adapters before they would let me through.

We arrived in Xi'an and headed to the Westin Hotel for dinner and sleep before the Terracotta Warriors tomorrow.

As I am on the river at the moment, I will only add a few pictures since I am tethering with my cell phone.

Posted by rpickett 19:50 Archived in China Tagged beijing Comments (0)

China June June 26

The Great Wall, Ming Tomb complex and Jade factory

rain 85 °F

In spite of some rain, fog, smog and incredible traffic, we made our way about an our from our hotel to the Great Wall of China. There are several tourist entry points along the wall, and we went to the one that the Chinese government takes the Presidents to, starting the Nixon in 1972. In spite of the poor visibility, the Wall was magnificent. Built on high ground anyway, it's hard to imagine an invading intruder getting up the hills to the wall, let alone scaling the wall.
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We then headed to a jade factory for a tour and then lunch - a standard Chinese Lazy Susan offering. It was fresh and tasty and we tried some of the Chinese Rice wine, which is about 100 proof!
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These type of stops are usually a little touristy, but the shop at the particular facility was amazing - some really spectacular artistry
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We then headed off the the Ming Tombs. There are 13 Ming Emperors buried there, one has been excavated by and archeology team, but there isn't much to see. What is worth seeing is the sacred road that leads to the tombs. It is a spot where you walk to become one with your ancestors if you were the Emperer.
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We finished up the day with a traditional Chinese roasted duck dinner. It was pretty good, but I would have liked to have had more duck. This was followed by traditional Chinese opera, which was colorful but not really my cup of tea.
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Some more sightseeing this morning and then a 90 minute flight to Xi'an this afternoon.

Posted by rpickett 14:28 Archived in China Tagged beijing Comments (0)

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