My trip to China is the farthest I have traveled.
I was super excited to go to China.
I am partial to Chinese and Japanese art and have several pieces. If I didn’t know better, I might wonder if I had Chinese or Japanese ancestors.
When I arrived in Beijing, the city was getting ready to host the 2008 Summer Olympics.
I saw the National Stadium, later dubbed the ‘Bird Cage’, from the bus window as we drove by.
I got a more ‘up close and personal’ look at the thousand year old Forbidden City, the largest palace in the world.
Tiananmen Square was what I was most excited to see in Beijing.
During a revolt in 1989, a young man stood in front of an army tank to stop its advance.
A picture was taken of his bravery and became world famous.
The picture is known as Tank Man.
You don’t drink the water in China.
At meals they served Chinese beer as the ‘safe’ beverage.
Of course I saw and walked on The Great Wall.
How could you visit China and not see the famous Great Wall, the longest man made structure in the world.
I bought my only China memento, a Family Ball, at a jade factory.
It’s a carved ball within a carved ball, within a carved ball, within a carved ball; all carved from one piece of jade!
It was fascinating to watch the carvers.
All jade in China is nephrite jade. It’s real jade but less hard and less expensive that jadeite.
I dropped my Family Ball and it broke into several pieces (yes, I said ugly words).
With patience, determination and Elmers glue I reconstructed it!
You can’t even tell it was ever broken.
If an heir spots a break, they will know that it wasn’t there when it was purchased.
The most memorable, impressive site I saw in China was
the Terra Cotta Warriors built 2200 years ago.
They were built by the same emperor that built The Great Wall.
There are 8000 life size terra cotta soldiers and each one is different.
They were discovered in 1974 when locals were digging a well.
At almost every meal, fish was served.
I don’t have a taste for fish, especially when it’s staring at me!
I learned to eat a large ‘western’ breakfast at the hotel before leaving for the day.
A fellow traveler once took a pair of chop sticks from a restaurant as a souvenir.
The restaurant owner followed her out demanding the return of his chopsticks!
Can chop sticks be that expensive?
The pandas in Panda Garden were adorable!
I never got used to the toilet facilities found away from the hotels.
A hole in the ground is all that’s available.
You have to practically undress when you’re wearing jeans!
The cruise on the Yangtze River was awesome.
The only way to describe the scenery is ‘other worldly’.
Shanghai was another huge, bustling, interesting city.
When leaving the hotel I always carried the hotel’s business card.
Not speaking the language and not a chance of interpreting signs, it’s the only way to get yourself back to the hotel if you get lost.
I never had a clue how silk was made. Never even thought about it.
My visit to a silk factory was fascinating.
Basically, silk worms are fed mulberry leaves until they’re mature and ready to spin a cocoon.
Inside the cocoon, they’re busily wrapping themselves in a very long, continuous silk strand.
At the right time the cocoons are lowered into boiling water to kill the worm.
The silk strand is then pulled from the cocoon and sent to be dried, dyed and woven into silk fabric.
Hong Kong next; my last stop in China.
Hong Kong was a British outpost for over 150 years. The British influence was strong.
In 1997, Hong Kong was returned to China with China’s promise to allow Hong Kong’s autonomy until 2046.
Uh oh. China has recently been reneging on their promise.
Today, protests in Hong Kong are common.
When I was in China, I seriously considered extending my trip and going on to nearby Japan.
Then I thought, ‘but how much different could Japan be from China’ and decided against it.
I have since learned that Japan is wildly different from China.
Oh well, that just means that now I can start planning a trip to Japan.
– Sue Williams