S: CHINA 2011
BC: â€œThe world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.â€ - St. Augustine
FC: China | 2011
1: Ni hao | July 27 - Aug. 6 | I spent my 2011 summer vacation in China. We had an amazing time exploring the cities of Beijing, Shanghai and Hangzhou. | Beijing | Hangzhou | Shanghai | Welcome to...
2: Rested after a night at the airport’s jimjilbang/spa.
3: The flight to Beijing was the bumpiest I have ever experienced. A group of students on the flight screamed as they bounced around in their seats. We stayed at a Holiday Inn that was built to accommodate tourists during the Olympics It was very clean and had a great continental breakfast. | KTX, Korea's high speed train
8: Zhongshan Park Beijing: a former imperial garden and now a public park.
12: The "Altar of Earth and Harvests" built in 1421. | Filled with cypress trees, some of which are more than 1,000 years old.
13: Zhongshan Park is a common name of Chinese parks in honor of Sun Yat-sen, known as Sun Zhongshan in Chinese. He is considered by many to be the "Father of modern China." A political leader, Dr. Sun Yat-Sen had a significant role in the overthrow of the Qing Dynasty. There are more than 40 Zhongshan parks in China.
15: Since we arrived in China, I wanted to be pulled by a rickshaw/bicycle. I was able to get a great deal from two guys who agreed to take us to Pearl Market. After a few blocks, the men stopped and pointed to the market across the street. I nicely said “All the way, please” as I gestured toward the building. I thought crossing a major road with traffic coming from all sides would be an excellent adventure. It was indeed. In Beijing, even worse in Shanghai, traffic laws are not really followed and pedestrians don't have the right of way. Luckily, on very busy roads, you'll find a bicycle and scooter lane so you're not worried about getting trampled as you walk on the sidewalk.
16: Pearl Market is an indoor market with every retail item you can imagine. While the authenticity of the goods is unclear, you can walk away with some great buys. | "I give you good price!" | “You want shoes?" | "Hey Lady! You want (insert item here)?” | "You like Louis Vuitton?" | "What you want?" | "You want purse?" | I was overwhelmed by the massive amount of merchandise and aggressive vendors - Rachel was even pulled by the arm a few times. It was an insanely fun shopping experience. I walked away with several sets of pearl earrings, three purses, a travel bag and more.
18: It's interesting how few subway cars they have for a city of 17 million people. I captured a photo during a quiet moment at the subway. When you enter the subway and some tourist attractions you need to run your bags through a security check point. Sometimes the staff weren't even watching the monitor as the bags passed through. It was HOT in China and it's very common for men to pull up their shirts so their bellies are showing. Unfortunately, the majority were older and overweight. A friend warned us before we left that we would need to dodge sweaty bare bellies in Beijing.
20: At the night food market, we saw whole baby sharks, seahorses, cockroaches, duck hearts and more. | We tried a bite of starfish that tasted like and had the grimy texture of dirt. | ,
22: Summer Palace
23: The Chinese name for the Summer Palace means garden of nurtured harmony.
35: Babies in China do not wear diapers. They have pants that have a slit from front to back and apparently give a signal to their parents when they need to go. We saw babies pee in planters, ashtrays in a mall, in dirt piles, and even by a trash can outside of the airplane terminal (not in it, by it).
37: The Forbidden City was built around 1410 and for almost five hundred years it served as the home for emperors and their households, as well as a ceremonial and political center to the Chinese government. It's rumored to have more than 9,000 rooms and is overwhelming to just walk around the grounds, let alone imagine people living there.
41: People loved taking photos with us.
44: The Ming Tomb, created during the Ming Dynasty, holds 13 emperors. Only one has been completely excavated and is open to the public, Ding Ling tomb. Excavating took place in the 1950s. They didn't have the technology to preserve many of the artifacts, so all the artifacts, including the skeletons of the Wanli Emperor and two empresses, deteriorated or were damaged.
45: The Great Wall of China
54: Jade symbolizes beauty, grace, perfection, power, loyalty and purity in Chinese culture. | Jade factory | Chinese proverb: "You can put a price on gold, but jade is priceless."
55: The roads in the mountain were not built to handle the heavy rain. Sherry, our guide, mentioned a woman died earlier in the week while walking down the street. | Silk Factory
56: We enjoyed two dinners at a restaurant across the street from our hotel that specializes in duck dishes. The first night, we ate on the patio and enjoyed watching a dog walk around with his duck friend.
57: Sanlitun Street- famous bar street. We met some foreigner English teachers and rode in an illegal cab - citizens from outside the city that give people rides in their cars for money - and bar hopped. Our walk back to the hotel was fun as we splashed through puddles, forgetting that hours before there was poop on these streets. Yes, poop. These shenanigans are probably the cause of Rachel and I coming down with colds.
58: Olympic Park 2008 Summer Olympics | Cube (the aquatic center)
59: The Nest (track and field)
60: Tiananmen Square
62: Shanghai | David & Will's
63: We stayed with Rachel's cousin's friend's friend, David. He was instantly hospitable and we knew it would be a comfortable stay with him and his roommate, Will. I felt a little like couch surfer since neither one of us knew anything about them.
64: The Bund
68: Yuyuan Gardens & Bazaar
69: The Yuyuan Gardens were founded by the Pan family, rich Ming dynasty officials. The gardens took 18 years (from 1559 to 1577) to create.
72: In our second attempt to find Yu Garden, we came across a beautiful park, underground mall and the Shanghai Urban Exhibition Center. To escape the heat, we went to the Exhibition Center.
73: The center had a very large rendering of the city, historic information about Shanghai and a panoramic room that showed a video of the city from a bird's eye-view.
74: 1. Acrobatic show in the downtown area. 2. Met a friend of Will's for lunch, Cassandra. We had Shabu-Shabu - originally a Japanese cuisine, it is popular around Asia. Order your choice of veggies, thinly sliced meat and cook it in a boiling broth at your table. | 1 | 2 | 3
75: 3. Tian Zi Fang art street - a mini Venice-like maze of narrow streets filled with artsy, eclectic shops and restaurants. We enjoyed gelato and hour-long messages. 4. On our way to Yu Garden, we found a little park where older women were power walking and jogging in tiny circles. | 4
76: One evening we had dinner with David and Will. We first met up with Will near his work on the other side of the Bund near Pearl Tower. He took us to the top of the Ritz Carlton to a bar called Flair. It was a gorgeous view of the city and our timing was perfect - we were able to see the view during the day, sunset and evening. We met David back at the apartment and the guys drove us to dinner on their scooters. Dinner was spent at a Yannan Restaurant which we learned was a region in China - each region has a different type of food their known for.
77: Nightcap on Will and David's rooftop.
86: Nicest hotel I have stayed in to date. | Hotel | Excited to eat - it had been 23 hours since our last meal. | Royal International Hotel
87: Room service | Loving the R&R | Comfy beds