Tag Archives: Forest

Operation Tutu

operation_tutuJust had to share a very fun adventure with friends… Inspired by the Tutu Project that supports cancer patients on chemo, on a rainy day in June, a bunch of my friends got together at Bradley Lake in Puyallup in tutus. I was the lucky one chosen to capture it all on film. You can find at more about our ‘Operation Tutu’ on Facebook at¬†https://www.facebook.com/groups/OperationTutu/.

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Huangshan – Nine Dragon Waterfall

ninedragonUpon rising with the ever-honking buses and loud speaking maids outside our door, at 6am we were up and ready to blow the joint. Passing up the breakfast from yesterday, we decided to head out for Hangzhou and Mike added a scenic route on the roadway that found us at the Nine Dragon Waterfall trailhead. At the entry was a sign saying this was one of the seven most famous waterfalls in all of China. How could be pass up viewing that? All was good until we realized there was the dreaded ¬†S T A I R S … again. Oh, the kids were ready to hang it up. But I so wanted to see it so I convinced them to push on. I told them, “It ain’t over until the fat lady sings, and this fat lady is not singing!” It made them laugh and figure if Mom can make, they can.

We took the trail as far as it was open, which allowed us to see a good portion of the waterfall. All 984 feet of it. Very impressive. The water was clear and the air was fresh. What I loved was the ancient Buddhist Temple at the base of the big climb. Its days are numbered because on the other side of the river, they are erecting an¬†astounding, jaw dropping¬†new temple. Not even done, and it gave me goose bumps. By the looks of it, it will be completed this year. Oh, found another cute butt picture… This was of a little one not even old enough to walk on its own.

After leaving here we continued to Hangzhou and West Lake, our hotel was very nice, but the amount of people and the dreary weather left us going… what?! The sky was gray to the ground and never have seen so many people in my life. More than we saw in Beijing. It was unreal. So the next morning, we walked out to the lake and fought our way back to the van headed home to Suzhou. Obviously, Labor Day weekend was not a good time to visit West Lake. From what we heard, it never is. Hope you enjoy the photos…

Click on any image to enlarge. Or better yet… click on the first photo and scroll through them all.


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Our Very Own Cowboys…

Just wanted to share these photos of Zachary, Nathan and their two friends, Hunter and Wayne. They had sleepover together during our stay at home and Zachary wanted some old styled photos as cowboys. Didn’t they turn out great? We had one of them printed out 24″ x 36″ and it is here with us in China hanging on our living room wall.

Click on any image to enlarge. Or better yet… click on the first photo and scroll through them all.

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Beijing – The Great Wall at Mutianyu


The Great Wall

Over two thousand years old and thousands of miles long, the Great Wall is China’s, and one of the World’s, most captivating historic site. Stretching from the Yellow Sea to Central Asia, the wall was originally built under China’s first emperor, Qin Shi Huang to protect against the northern invaders; something it never did effectively. The Chinese had historically built walled cities and regions. The Great Wall was just a consolidation of these focusing on the more vulnerable lowland and valleys. Fearful of the threat from the north, Qin Shi Huang linked¬†the¬†various¬†regional¬†barriers to make the first, crude version of the Wanli Changcheng using over a million laborers. After the fall of the short-lived Qin dynasty, the wall continued to serve its defensive purpose until the the empire expanded under the Tang and the wall found¬†itself¬†several¬†hundred miles back from¬†the¬†front line. It wasn’t until the Ming dynasty the wall once again become a key importance. The original wall was built with rammed brick, the Ming dynasty began to bake bricks to rebuild the wall. Most of the sections of intact wall you can see around Beijing today, including Badaling, Mutianyu, Jiankou, Jinshanling and Simatai are Ming.

Here are some facts of the Great Wall…

  • The Wall is really, really long (no one knows quite how long, but at least 3,500 miles)
  • The Ming sections of the wall are around 23 feet high and almost as wide
  • There were once some 25,000 watchtowers

We decided to head towards Mutainyu for our visit. Since we were not in tourist season, we figured we would get a few stolen moments here on the Wall. Mutainyu offers more dramatic scenery and less crowds. The 1.5 mile stretch of wall is furnished with¬†watchtowers¬†and was first built as far back as the sixth century, rebuilt under the Ming and then extensively restored in¬†the¬†1980s. Walking the restored portion didn’t compare to the walk we took on the original wall out to a fallen watchtower. It was a very moving moment to stand on the old portion of the Wall knowing its history. We all felt it. The Great Wall is Mike’s favorite of all he has seen so far in China. He was in his element out there on the old wall. Adding a bonus to the Wall experience, there is a¬†toboggan¬†ride we took to get back down from the wall to the parking lot. What a hoot! Mike and Zachary were getting busted all the way down by guards screaming at them to slow down. Nathan hung with me for a short bit and then took off. I video’d my ride down…

My one wish was to see some snow on the Great Wall. I was told to dream on by everyone because it rarely snows. It is just very cold. BUT, I did not stop wishing and upon arrival, we found that a light snow had fallen earlier in the morning and I got my wish. The snow helped the photos show the Wall better and it was just so darn neat! Here is Nathan playing at the steepest part of the wall…

Here are our photos.

Click on any image to enlarge. Or better yet… click on the first photo and scroll through them all

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Sichuan Province – Mt Emei and City of Emeistan


Kids in front of the stone saying “Mt Emei”

For the weekend, we decided to leave Chengdu and adventure up in the mountains. Our plan was to head to Mt Emei for a hike, return to the city of Emeistan to stay the night, get up the next morning and go to LeShan to see the largest, pre-modern statue of Buddha ever made and then make a mad dash to the airport to return home to Suzhou. In order to do this, we hired a driver, suggested to us from our hotel, who took us everywhere we needed for the weekend. He also arranged for us to attended the Sichuan opera after our hike in Emeistan. (Sichuan Opera specializes on the quick changing masks. The kids were very tired and did not want to attend, but was thoroughly re-energized and loved the opera due to it color and lively presentation.)

Mt Emei has been considered holy by both the Taoists and Buddhists since the Eastern Han dynasty. We originally thought this was a single mountain climb up to one temple and it took over three days to complete. How wrong we were. Come to find out, it has various peaks, with many temples that have short routes that can be easily taken in a day. If one wanted to see it all, every route would require three days to hike. For a day, we easily saw three temples and wild monkeys and went to our hotel very sore from all the up and down staircases.

Many of the temples are dedicated to the Bodhisattva of Universal Benevolence who was said to have ascended the mountain in the 6th century on top of six tusked elephant. Mt Emei is also full of plant species: 3200 plant species, which is over 10% of China’s total¬†botanical¬†life. The most visible of the animal life is the aggressive monkeys, Tibetan Macaque, who freaked our guide out so much he would not continue on the walk when they came into view. We did of course. You can see the video with Briana’s excited OMG! MONKEY talk.

We took a cable car up over many tea fields to a pathway that led to the amazing temple of Wannian–the oldest surviving building on Mt Emei dating to 1611 that houses the famed golden statue of Puxian on the White Elephant with Six Tusks. From there we walked down to a Bailong Cave (the cave is so small you blink and you might miss it as you can see in the photos) and its temple where couples hang prayers for their upcoming marriage and just outside this temple is a 1000 year old tree said to be planted by an emperor. From there we walked down to Qingyin Pavilion, up a trail to see the monkeys and practically ran to get back to the last bus leaving Mt Emei for the night.

We all had¬†incredibly¬†shaky legs from stairs and a lot of my pictures, you are not seeing them here, showed how much I weebled and wobbled. A lot of photos were throw aways. Nathan was the smart one who purchased a bamboo stick from an older lady for 3RMB. The stick was helpful with walking and Mike used it to protect us from the monkeys. Mike was so heroic fighting off the monkeys with Nathan’s stick. He made sure no monkey could get to his kids or me.¬†Of course, he had met a gal a bit down the trail who had shared that she was just attacked and bitten by a monkey. With the guide refusing to continue the trail to view the monkeys, Mike was ready for anything.

It was pretty funny once we reached our four star hotel. Hah! We got one room that had two twin beds. Five people… two twin beds… add in we could barely get around the beds. To make it through the night we put the bed together and sleep with one person on the end and four lined up. It was a tight squeeze but if any family can do it. It’s us. The opera was a good chance for us to get out of that tiny room. We would have not survived well if we would have been there all night.

I would like to share something about a symbol you will see throughout China. It is the swastika. The swastika has been a symbol of good luck for thousands of years. It stands for good fortune and prosperity. It is found in all the temples and is placed on a lot of the buddhas. So don’t be shocked when you see the buddha with it on his chest.

Here’s Briana screaming over the monkeys. This video just makes us laugh and laugh…

Hope you like the photos.

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