Sunday, July 25, 2010
Adventures in China with Travelmom -part one
Just arrived home from a trip to Beijing, China. All I can say is it was a trip of a lifetime and I am still spinning - I think there is a good chance that is jet lag though. I want to share my high-lights and my low-lights with you all - because life is one big journey and our lives are part of "the story." Think how boring our stories would be without the occasional dissonance or tension we call conflict that requires us to face our fears and rise above. That is, after all, the crucial element in any good story. So sit back, enjoy and let me take you on a little trip across the world - this is my story.
I have mentioned in previous posts that I have been working to put together a travel abroad study program for students at our little Christian and Classical school. I was given an opportunity to join a group of teachers at a training location which happened to be in Beijing. This trip is hosted by EF tours and made available to teachers who are developing international travel tours for the first time at their school. It is a fabulous opportunity and I didn't have to think too long before I said - "I'll go!"
I will try to resist the urge to bore you with the minutia - such as the pickled duck eggs for breakfast (no thanks, cornflakes will be fine). (breakfast item)
Our first official excursion was to the Summer Palace in western Beijing. The Summer palace was a retreat for China's imperial elite. Construction of the palace began in 1750 under the Qing Dynasty. Apparently Emperor Qianlong erected the Summer palace in honor of his mother's birthday.
I got a mug and a dvd my son wanted to see last year for my birthday.
The palace sits on 300 hectares of land (not sure what a hectare is but I am told it is big). Apparently this is equivalent to 727 acres; not too shabby for a birthday present. Empress Dowager CiXi reigned as she moved from a highranking Imperial concubine to Empress of China and essentially looted China's navy to cover her decorating budget.
In 1998 UNESCO declared the palace a World Heritage Site, which essentially ensures that billions of people will be there the day you go to visit.
Long open air corridors run throughout the grounds of the Summer palace. Beautiful murals depicting scenes of everyday life in China are painted on the beams and the woodwork of the pavilions and corridors. The vibrant colors reflect the land of China with its strange and unsettling dichotomy that can be seen around every turn in this ancient land.
For 10 yuan (1.5 dollars) we boarded a dragon boat and rode to the other side of the palace grounds. Stone bridges with carved dragons link one area to the next.
The Tower of Buddhist Incense overlooks the grounds and stands guard over this beautiful place in the heart of Beijing.
One of the things I noticed immediately upon our arrival was the air quality. 1.9 billion souls call China home. I remember when the world's population was 4 billion, so I find myself a bit undone when I consider this figure. I'm mainly undone because I realize I'm old enough to have experienced a doubling of the world's population in my lifetime. Sorry, I digress...
Air pollution in China is bad. Actually, it's apocryphal. Images from Daniel spring to mind here. I am hopeful that it is not always this bad - that on occasion the sun is not blotted from the sky - but I have no evidence of this based on my visit. I will probably try to colorize the sky in my photos - so if you see blue sky in my China photos it is because it is faked. It is my story and I like to tell it my way.
This concludes day one of my China trip. I will add more later. Right now I need to wash my underwear and I desperately need to get some sleep. It is tomorrow in China and I left today which is very confusing and makes my mind hurt. All I know is I spent 12 hours on a flight from Beijing to San Francisco and took another plane from San Franciso to Seattle and then drove 3 hours from Seattle to Wenatchee. I haven't slept since the night before we left Beijing and the audio didn't work on my 12 hour plane ride and I missed seeing Valentine's Day and The Bounty Hunter with Jennifer Anniston and I am still upset about that. The airline gave me a slip of paper that said they were sorry and they were going to make it up to me.
Stay tuned for more Adventures in China part two... you won't want to miss this one! It involves me, humiliation, heat rash and a kidnapping incident. Check in tomorrow for more adventures with travelmom.