Sunday, September 14, 2014

A Walk in the Clouds

Today was Sunday here in Changsha. We took it really slow this morning and didn't venture forth until noon. Our hotel is walking distance to Mt. Yuelu so we decided to head there.

Mt. Yuelu has significance here for several reasons. It is the home of Yuelu Academy, one of the world's oldest university's, built in 976 AD. The mountain is also home to both a Taoist and Buddist temple. Finally, Mao Tse Tung spent time studying there. Mai's home village is very near Changsha and so many Chinese travel here to see it.

We had a nice, looooong hike on the mountain. Thankfully, there was a cable car to take us up a good portion of the mountain. It was really beautiful as we were literally walking in the clouds.

After we headed back for some pizza!









Saturday, September 13, 2014

Xi'an


We actually had a decent night sleep on the train. Upon arrival it seemed that our train station experience would be as crazy and horrific as the Beijing experience, then Peter arrived. Peter was an English speaking taxi driver sent from heaven to get us through Xi'an. 

We loaded our luggage in his minivan and headed to the hotel. On the way he mentioned he'd be willing to drive us out to the Terra Cotta warriors. We decided there was no time like the present and we changed courses.

On the way Peter took us to the workshop where they make replicas of the warriors and we were able to see each step of the process.



Arriving at the warriors we were able to meet one of the farmers who discovered them in 1974.

Then it was in to see the warriors. They are as impressive as we expected.


As impressive as the warriors are, the boys will tell you that the highlight of the trip was the apartment we stayed in for the night. It is called the Xian Warriors Apartment. Despite being nearly impossible to find, it was well worth it when we did. The owner, Clarence, literally wrote a book on the warriors. And his wife was adorably sweet. I'll let you experience it through pictures...

THE HEADBOARD

WALLS

THE SHOWER

IN THE LIVING ROOM

THE BATHROOM

SEE EVERYONE IN CHINA SMOKES...

ALSO IN THE BATHROOM

HOLDING UP THE BED

ALL THE DOORS WERE TRADITIONAL STYLE

BROOKS HAD FUN WITH THIS GUY

NANA'S LIVING ROOM

THERE WERE REAL WEAPONS AND THEY FIGURED OUT THAT THIS CROSS BOW WOULD FIRE PENCILS

THERE WAS EVEN A SAND BOX FOR EXCAVATING SMALL WARRIORS

Before bed the boys had a high-stakes Cheerios poker game.


Our room had a neat, traditional style room-sized bed.

We did decide that we needed to leave the hotel room and ventured out in the rain to do some sightseeing. Mom and I had explored the Muslim Quarter the night before where there is street after street and alleyways full of vendors selling everything you can imagine.

We walked everyone back through this area (the boys & Chris were not quite as facinated or comfortable with all the sights and smells). 

Then we headed over to the bell tower.


After, the boys stopped for Starbucks while mom and I revisited a calligraphy stall, then we headed to the drum tower where we got to watch a drum performance.




Our angel-driver Peter returned at 4 to drive us to the airport where we will fly to Changsha where we will meet Meili on Monday!




















Friday, September 12, 2014

Blaise the Celebrity and his sidekick Brooks.

Okay, so we'd been told to expect people to ask to take photos with us, etc. And we did expect that we might get more than the usual amount of attention due to the racial diversity in our family. BUT we were in no way prepared for what happened.

When I say that Blaise drew crowds, I mean crowds. Seriously, we're standing in China's most famous places and the crowds are gathered around the boys! Don't believe me? Here are the first few days... (And these are only after the crowds were small enough for me to get close again) Our tour group spent half the day waiting for the paparazzi to let them walk away!
IN TIANAMEN SQUARE
AT THE FORBIDDEN CITY

ON THE STREET

AT THE NATIONAL MUSEUM


AT THE TERRA COTTA WARRIORS

ON THE STREET IN CHANGSHA

ON THE TOP OF MT. YUELU


He decided to disguise himself... Didn't work.