S: China July 2011
FC: China July 2011
2: DAY 1: July 6 On our first full day in Beijing, we visited the Tian An Men Square, one of the largest squares in the world, and we entered the Forbidden City, the Chinese Imperial Palace from the Ming Dynasty. | Later we explored the Temple of Heaven, or the "Altar of Heaven." This was a temple visited by the Emperors of the Ming and Qing Dynasties for prayer.
3: The "lazy Susan" is commonly used in Chinese restaurants to pass and share food easily. Black mushrooms are a common ingredient in many dishes in China. Delicious! In the evening, we went to the Peking Opera, a traditional performance popular during the Qing Dynasty. | k
4: DAY 2: July 7 Today we visited the Panda Pavilion and the Summer Palace, also known as the "Gardens of Nurtured Harmony." Located on Kunming Lake, the Palace is on the World Heritage List as it is declared "a masterpiece of Chinese landscape garden design."
5: Later, we took cable cars up to and then slid down from the Great Wall of China, which began its construction in the 5th century to protect the northern borders of the Chinese Empires from invaders.
6: DAY 3: July 8 Today we flew to Xian, the ancient capital of 11 dynasties. We visited the Shaanxi Provincial Museum, which displayed many paintings, pottery, coins, and bronze, silver, and gold objects. Here, we got a sneak peek of the Terracotta Warriors.
7: Tonight we enjoyed the Tang Dynasty Dinner Theater. The performance was filled with creative, colorful costumes and dance, with music played on ancient and traditional Chinese instruments.
8: DAY 4: July 9 Today we visited the Terracotta Warriors site in Xian, dating from the 3rd century B.C. All the pottery Warriors and Horses were made using local clay, with great attention paid to detail -- from their hairstyles to the tread on their shoes. Each Warrior and Horse was baked in a kiln, and then each was painted with colorful detail. The Terra-cotta Warriors and Horses are life-size and were fashioned with ancient, high technology.
9: Later we visited the Wild Goose Pagoda and learned about the 8 signs of Buddha. For dinner we enjoyed a delicious dumpling banquet. We tried many types of dumplings which were filled with different meat, veggie, and tofu combinations. | Double happiness!
10: DAY 5: July 10 Today we explored the Ancient City Wall. We rode a trolley cart around a portion of the Wall, which stretches around the old city of Xian. It was built during the 14th century Ming Dynasty to protect the city.
11: Today we also visited the Han Yang Ling Museum before our flight to Shanghai. The Mausoleum of Han Yang Ling was finished in 126 B.C. It consists of many clay warriors and animals, thus giving us a peek into life during the Western Han Dynasty (206 B.C. - 23 A.D.).
12: DAY 6: July 11 On our first day in Shanghai, we participated in an art workshop and learned about Chinese brushstroke and watercolor. Later we visited the Yu Yuan Gardens, first established in 1559 by Pan Yunduan who spent 20 years building it to please his father, a high-ranking official in the Ming Dynasty.
13: We also walked along the Bridge of Nine Turns and later shopped around the area. | In the evening, we attended the performance of the world-renowned Shanghai Acrobatics. There we witnessed amazing acts of strength, balance, and coordination.
14: DAY 7: July 12 Today we had the opportunity to admire the beautiful Shanghai skyline. We also went to the Jade Buddha Museum and the Museum of Art & History. Here were learned about the different styles of Chinese calligraphy and painting.
15: In the evening, Dr. Chang walked us to a high-rise hotel where we could see the view of the city at dusk. Then he treated us to traditional and to exotic Chinese dishes, which included lotus root and eel.
16: DAY 8: July 13 Today we flew to Guilin, a picturesque city with unforgettable landscapes and hidden treasures. For our first venture out, we hiked up a small mountain to the beautiful Reed Flute Caves. Here we saw a light show that showed off the natural beauty of the caves by using unique and colorful lighting.
17: We also went to Elephant Trunk Hill, a symbol of the city of Guilin. The rock actually looks like an elephant drinking water... if you use your imagination! We also went to the pagodas in Guilin at Lake Shanhu. In the evening, we got to see two men Cormorant fishing, which is a traditional fishing method that dates back to around 960 AD.
18: DAY 9: July 14 Today we cruised down the Li River through the Guilin Mountains to Yangshuo Village. In the afternoon, Dr. Chang gave us a lesson in landscape painting, and then we had some time to paint the natural scenery outside our hotel.
19: Liu Sanjie Show | We experienced this famous theater performance in the biggest natural stage in the world. The first show debuted in 2004. Over 600 local farmers, fishermen, and children perform in the show, making it an unforgettable and unique experience for the audience.
20: DAY 10: July 15 Today we drove back to Guilin. We made a stop at a local art gallery, where we watched an artist paint without brushes, using only his hands.
21: We also had some time today to sketch landscapes and to take photos of the beautiful surroundings Guilin has to offer. | The lotus flower is commonly found in Asia. In Buddhist symbolism, this beautiful flower represents purity of body, speech, and mind.
22: DAY 11: July 16 Today we took a flight to Guangzhou and had a lovely Cantonese dim sum meal. Dim sum dishes are generally quite sweet. We tried some new foods... even foods that were congealed!
23: Guangzou is historically known as Canton or Kwangchow, and it is the capital and largest city of the Guangdong province in China. After lunch we explored the city and then took the train into Hong Kong.
24: DAY 12: July 17 On our first day in Hong Kong, we saw the skyline of the city from Victoria Peak. We also took a water taxi around Repulse Bay to see the Aberdeen Floating Village, where hundreds of people live on their boats year-round. | We strolled around and shopped at Stanley Market, a traditional open-air market that is now a tourist attraction. Many silk garments, toys, ornaments, souvenirs, paintings, and Chinese arts and crafts are sold here.
25: Later in the evening, the 8 of us headed out to explore the city without any guides. We took the ferry to see the longest escalator in the world; it actually runs for 3 miles!
26: DAY 13: July 18 On our last day in Hong Kong, we visited the Yuen Po Street Bird and Flower Market where many exotic and traditional flowers and birds are sold. | We had our final dinner at the Peak Tower Sky Terrace for a meal of our choice and an incredible view of Hong Kong.
27: During the day today, we used the subways, taxis, and glass-bottomed cable cars to see the Big Buddha (the Tian Tan Buddha) in Ngong Ping on Lantau Island. The Big Buddha, located near Po Lin Monastery, is proof of the harmonious relationship between men and nature, people and religion.