Archive for China
Our trip to the Yellow Mountains which we just completed covered several days and thousands of feet of climbing.Â Well, not technical climbing anyway but walking up and down stone steps, quite steep at times, for a real workout.Â Like in many mountains, the mornings were clearer than the late mornings to afternoons when the cloud cover came in pretty thick.Â The best pictures with the clearest sky’s were in the early mornings.Â The second morning there we got up at 05:20 to hurry to see the sun rise over the Yellow Mountain peaks.Â By 9:30 the clouds had rolled in and the views of the valley below were all but obliterated.
Over the three days that we were in the Yellow Mountain district a total of 550 pictures were taken, a few of them really nice.Â All of them can be viewed at flickr but sift through quickly to find the good ones.
After all of the climbing my calves were feeling it while others in our party were really laid up lame for days afterward.Â Our little “Goat” was the realy climber of the group scampering up the climbs waiting for us at the top.
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Qingdao China is a wonderfully modern city on the Eastern coast an hours flight north of Shanghai.Â The city is super clean with new roads and fantastic architecture.Â It is really amazing how modern this city is.Â From our travels throughout the greater Qingdao district it is evident to see that the rush for modernization here is China is in full tilt forward.Â This probably stems from years of push by the Qingdao government stressing the overall development of the city and urban planning, ecological construction and residential buildings construction. All of the old shanty buildings have been removed in the downtown district and in the outlying areas this work is continuing.Â I have a couple of pictures demonstrating this well.Â As a result of this effort over the past 20 years, the city was awarded the honorary title of â€œNational Model City for Environmental Protectionâ€ in 2000 by the National Chinese Government. The city gained first prize for the â€œChina Living Environment Awardâ€ in 2002, becoming one of the cities with the best environmental conditions in China.
Looking around to find the history of this district has revealed several interesting tidbits.Â Qingdao is the birthplace of Taoism.Â I will have to look this up to sharpen my memory of this religion but if I recall correctly Taoism is founded on the idea of non aggression.Â That is what I remember anyway from my reading during the seeking years of the 60′s.Â The philosophy of the Dao or Taoist is more of a way of life than a religion and has long roots in the local traditions here in Qingdao.Â Its a way of getting along in the world without putting yourself forward.Â Shrinking to make yourself strong or something like that.
Second historical occurrence has to do with the German invasion and occupation of the City during the early 1900′s.Â The Japanese have invaded and occupied Qingdao in both World Wars I and II finally being removed after 1945. Â There is a hugely famous May 4th Celebration of the cities liberation. The German influence has remained however.Â There is a German community that has remained founding a beer factory no less.Â The Tsindtao brand has world wide distribution and locally honored.Â Its pretty good especially the Gold label stuff.Â Tsingtao is produced with spring water from Laoshan, a mountain area to the North of Qingdao and famous throughout China for it purity.Â Every year there is an International Beer Festival here in Qingdao lasting two weeks at the end of September.Â We were lucky enough to get to visit the Beer Festival with Jennifer’s cousin Miao Miao (pronounced Meeooow Meeeooow like a cat crying for milk.Â Serious!) along with her husband. She holds a very high position in the National Government in the Tax division.Â The local IRS?Â Her driver drove us all over the Qingdao district for two days.Â Thank you Miao Miao, you are the “Bomb”.Â That means you are great!Â Wonderful meeting her and her family.Â I will always remember her “Gan bei” which translated means “dry the cup”.
While we were visiting the city of Qingdao we were fortunate enough to take a trip up the coast to the Laoshan mountain via Miao Miao’s driver.Â We drove up the spectacular coast and ended up taking a gondola ride up to about mid way to the top of the Laoshan mountain.Â From there we hiked up another couple of hundred feet to a very old Taoist temple remembering that this is the birthplace of this religion/philosophy.Â The grounds of the temple were simply amazing.Â Several of the trees growing there have been alive for thousands of years.Â There was one Camilia Japonica that towered above us with an inscription dating to a planting 414 years ago.Â The days sunlight finally broke through allowing me to take some really nice pictures of the temple grounds and woods which can be viewed at flickr.
Qingdao was home to the 2008 Olympics hosted by the Chinese featuring their wonderful harbor for the sailing competitions.Â Qingdao is a very sports involved city having a very active soccer program.Â Everyday from out hotel balcony we could witness the runners and joggers up and down the sandy beaches.Â Swimming in the netted off area in from of our hotel was a very large swimming area measuring about a half mile of open water by one mile along the beach.Â Qingdao is a wonderful place to visit.Â So far of all of the cities in China where I would want to live Qingdao ranks at the top of every list.
Interesting Links to Qingdao information
Jennifer her brother and lovely wife Xiao Hui and I will be traveling to Kunming China in the morning from Shanghai. The several hour plan trip will end in the Southern provence of Yunnan which boarders Viet Nam and Burma. Cool territory. The city of Kunming was one of the origanal “Silk Road” towns in southern China. The following is a discription I found on the net at TravelChinaGuide.com/
Kunming, capital of Yunnan Province, with a history of more than 2400 years, owes its importance to the fact that it was the gateway to the celebrated Silk Road that facilitated trade with Tibet, Sichuan, Myanmar and India. Today the city is the political, economical and cultural center of Yunnan and the provincial center for transport, science and technology and consequently has become the most popular center for tourism in Southwest China.
Kunming enjoys a pleasant climate and does its best to live up to its title of ‘the City of Eternal Spring’. Whenever you are planning to go, the temperature is always pleasant. With its convenient transport links in and out of the city, Kunming welcomes and sees off tens of thousands of tourists every day.
For first-time tourists Kunming city center is an attraction with its two squares and five interlaced roads – Jinma Biji Square, Dongfeng Square, Dongfeng Lu, Jinbi Lu, Zhengyi Lu, Renmin Lu and Qingnian Lu, among which Jinbi Square has the most eye-catching architecture. Qingnian Lu, Zhengyi Lu, and Renmin Lu are the main commercial areas in Kunming; the most popular pedestrian streets are Nanping Jie, Jingxing Huaniao Shichang, and Jinma Biji Fang.
Kunming is the focal point of Yunnan minority culture. Some 26 ethnic minorities such as Yi, Bai, Miao, Dai, Hani and more inhabit the region. Each group has its own featured festivals such as the Torch festival of Yi people, the Golden Temple Fair and so on. The hugely successful 1999 International Horticultural Exposition enhanced Kunming’s influence in the world resulting in a snowball effect upon tourism as more and more foreigners come to discover this enchanting part of China.
Its alluring highland scenery, bewitching karst landform, varied and exotic habitats and customs and places of historical interest can be found at major scenic spots such as Dianchi Lake, Stone Forest , the Village of Ethnic Culture, Grand View Pavilion, etc.
Kunming has more than one hundred star rated hotels and a variety of a thousand or so guest houses. These provide tourists a wide choice of somewhere to relax after whole day’s tour.
Kunming is also renowned for many delicious local dishes; the most famous ones are Across Bridge Rice Noodle and Xuanwei Ham. You can enjoy them both at local famous restaurants or the night market. In the night markets you will find many pubs, bars and cafes that serve good quality meals.
Lastly, do not forget to buy some locally produced souvenirs for your friends or family when you visit Kunming, such as ivory or wood carvings, minority tie dyings. You will find a variety of stores to meet your specified requirements.
We leave in the morning. Today we will be doing a little shopping here in Shanghai at the “undergound market”. Oooooh that sounds like fun. Here we get to wander amoung the thieves bandets and counterfiters of the Chinese underground. Well its not all that exciting really but we will see a lot of knock off stuff. Currently the market for the knock offs is down from what it was a few years ago due to the Central Government cracking down on the trade since China is now a member of World Trade organization and the copy write stuff…you know the story. The bottom line is that some of the knock off stuff is still available like the Guci purses and Rolex watches but much less than a few years ago. We just go to look. Mainly we pick up non name brand shirts underwear and socks for a good price. The quality of the clothing here in China is getting better every year.
Hangzhou China is the green tea capital of the world and the capital of Zhejiang province. . Maybe that is too much to say. Maybe another way to think of Hangzhou and green tea is to consider the Napa Valley and fine wine. Some of the greatest wines are now harvested and produced in Napa Valley north of San Francisco. In the same way the green tea know as Dragon Well or Longin comes from the Hangzhou valley. We were fortunate enough this trip to China to take a few days and revisit this enchanted place. Two hours by train and 180 kilometers later after leaving Shanghai we were greeted at the train station by Jennifer’s cousin Fung Fung. We spent the next three days and two nights entertained and dined to Hangzhou’s finest.
We took a trip to visit the Temple overlooking the Hangzhou West Lake were we again lit incense in gratitude for a great year and future bounty as well as to petition for health and recovery for Jo Ni Ni. Jennifer’s Uncle Jo Ni Ni at age 86 is again in the hospital for a recurrence of a bladder cancer that he has struggled with for the past 10 years. The Hangzhou valley proper is hidden among the hills and requires a trip up a winding road.
The day we visited the higher mountains the muggy air felt oppressive near the lake but up at the tea Chateau we have frequented in the past the air was cool and fresh. Chickens with their wings cut wander though the tea fields fattening themselves and running quickly lest the pot catch them. Our lunch at the Tea Chateau found one of them in a broth that was incredible. They say chickens fed among the tea bushes of Hangzhou are the tenderest and most delicious. I can not dispute this. Our lunch was finished with an outside fresh pot of Longin tea sweet and fragrant. I have to say that the last time we visited was nearer the spring and the fresh crop so the tea now in late fall is not as fragrant but still refreshingly wonderful. We are bringing back a few kilos of fresh Dragon Well from the Hangzhou valley. All of the pictures can be viewed at flickr.