Tag Archives: Shopping

Guangxi Province – Li River

guangxi_li-riverThe weather here in Guangxi Province has been spectacular: Warm and in the 70s to low 80s the entire time. Even if there was rain, no umbrella was necessary because the rain was so warm and evaporated rapidly from our skin. We great underestimated how nice the weather was going to be and pack too heavy of clothes for most days. A late-afternoon shower was mandatory after our adventures due to all the massive amount of sweat we accumulated. I loved the heat and did not complain a bit. I just did not like the large moisture droplets constantly running down my back. But at least our long sleeves helped protect our bodies from having too much sun. Even though, our faces got a bit too much.

Today was a day I have dreamed about since we first decided to travel to China and we had watched all the documentaries we could on China: Floating down the Li River. There were a few trips offered: One was to take a boat to the town of Fuli, we shop for as long as we wanted and take the bus back to Yangshuo. The other was to have the boat take us to Fuli, stop for an half an hour and return via the same boat to Yangshuo. The last trip was to rent bicycles, have them put on the raft, stop at Fuli for an half an hour, continue down river to a village call LiuGong and then bicycle back to Fonglou. Of course, we chose the longest and most adventurous route possible. So Luna arranged to have our rented bicycles driven via a Tuk Tuk, three wheeled motorcycle, to the Li River in Yangshuo and a taxi driver took us. The boat was a big, blue plastic raft with a weed-whacker as an engine. It was such a blast!

Nathan, Zachary and I sat in the front with the bikes and Briana and Mike sat right behind us. It took about 45 minutes to get to the town of Fuli. Fuli is an ancient town known for it painted fans. As you can see in the photos below, I found a keeper. The lady who sold it to me said it was painted by her 80 year old grandfather. I also purchased a painting of the Li River, which was done by her father. Both are amazing pieces. I was so thrilled with them. (My living room is going to become a China art display by the time I get home between art I have purchased and my photos.)

A half an hour went by fast. Our boat driver found us and we returned to the boat and continued down the river for over an hour to the village of LiuGong. (The only challenge on the boat was making sure none of the water got in your mouth. Unfortunately, Nathan and Briana got a mouthful each and on the bike ride paid for it. Thankfully, we did carry lots of toilet paper and Pepto Bismol tablets. They were miserable.)

We did not expect to find much in LiuGong, so we weren’t shocked when we got there. Our driver did say the so-called restaurant at the dock was good, so we had a bite to eat before we headed out on the bikes. Lunch was good. But the conditions were deplorable. The water buffalo at the docking area was the one that charged Mike. He tried to touch it and it charged him. Thank goodness Mike is quick. Beside Nathan and Briana’s queasy tummies, the bike ride was so worth it! They even had a great time, despite it all. The countryside was jaw-droppingly beautiful and the people we passed along the way were so friendly…

Here are photos of the day

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Beijing – Qianmen Walking Street, Tiananmen Square & a glimpse of the Forbidden City


Chairman Mao’s Mausoleum – can you say monstrous?

Oh… did we have the plans to conquer Beijing on this day. (yes, sarcasm) We thought we had it all handled. Ha! What a joke! Quickly, in less than two hours, we discovered there was no way we would even see half of what we originally planned on this whole trip. There’s no getting around easily in Beijing. The traffic is atrocious, the buses have you fighting to find a place (forget fighting for seats, just plan on packing the walkways) and the mass people in Beijing for Spring Festival (Chinese New Year–the number one holiday of the year for China), our day that had plans on seeing Beijing’s Walking Street “Qianmen”, Temple of Heaven, Tiananmen Square and Forbidden City, turned into much less. Plus, the sear amount of stuff to see at each location is overwhelming. For example, one can easily spend three to four days going through the Forbidden City. The Qianmen walking street alone took us over three hours to walk only a few blocks.

Funny Note: I actually got my butt felt up by an old China man. I thought it was one of the kids, so did not turn around right away. It didn’t stop, so I turned around. And that little creep fled forward up the walkway and out the door. I was shocked. If I would have had not been so surprised, I would have belted him. But he was quick and I was speechless.

As you can tell in the photos, the weather was very cold out. We saw, for the first time, lakes so frozen over that people were skating and playing on them. It was pretty neat. Our first stop of the day was to walk Qianmen Street, also called the Five Archways Street. It has been the most prosperous street and market for hundreds of years in Beijing. I found a photo in the Zhengyangmen Museum of the street some years prior. It is included in the photos. Neat difference. Our next stop was to cross the street and head into the south gate which used to be part of the wall that used to surround old Beijing. No single portion of the wall, except for this gate exists today. It has all be torn down. In place of the walls are streets. Kinda sad after seeing Xi’an’s perfectly in place. These walls are so impressive.

Beijing is laid out perfectly North to South. You enter all the parks from the South and exit to the North. There are exits on the West and East and you can enter the North entrance. But it is a rough to view entering backwards. If you do ever make it here, take the time to enter from the South. It will pay off with the time loss always having to turn around to look where you have been. We discovered this on another day at the Temple of Heaven. After getting through the gate, we had to go through security to entering into Tiananmen. After nine-eleven in the US, China has fenced off the square and now you have to go through security. It is like TSA on steroids. As Americans, our entry was easy. We found out later, certain religious types are the ones they are concerned about. The kids witnessed one of the people causing the buzzer to go off and getting slammed into the wall and frisked.

Tiananmen Square has Chairman Mao’s Mausoleum. Zhengyangmen–a museum, the square, statues and a marker placed in the middle of the square in honor of the people that is heavily guarded. Our friend told us he used to go with friends and play cards on the steps before nine-eleven. No more. Also, Mao’s outrageously huge mausoleum is heavily guarded. No access was allowed during the festival. As we were standing on the south-side of the mausoleum, we were approached by a man who told us Zhengyangmen was opened to foreigners today only. He told us there are few days where it is open to anybody that is not Chinese. So we took him up on helping us gain entry and we went in. I found a gold mine of art that was for sale. Mike did a fabulous job, as usual, at negotiating for four pieces of art that represent the four seasons of the year. They started at 6000RMB and he got them for 1000RMB. They are beautiful. Can’t wait to hang them when I get home. In this building we found some neat old photos which I have included a few in the gallery below. Otherwise, the building was nice but nothing super impressive. The art was the winner though.

Once done here, we left and headed to the north-side of the mausoleum to see the infamous Tiananmen Square. It wasn’t as big as I thought it was going to be. I was told it was a sea of brick. Nope. I guess too many darn people to feel that. I do see why it was once used for demonstrations. It’s in the center of everything. All the major sites in Beijing surround it. From the north-side you can see the gate that leads into the Forbidden City, or as they call it the Palace Museum. We had not time left to enter, so we took a photo of the south entry and walked the street to the west up to the north exit of Forbidden City with the hopes of entering the Jingshan Park. Interesting walk. We were told on the left of the street is where all the important people of China live. We didn’t see anybody per se. But it was still fun trying to see past the gates and try to catch a glimpse. By the time we reached the north exit of Forbidden City, the park we’re heading to closed for the night. So we headed back to the Orchid for a good dinner and a full night of sleep. Enjoy the photos.

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Suzhou – PingJiang Street

PingJiang is the only cobblestoned walking street in Suzhou. It meanders next to the PingJiang River. There are lots of little shops, tea shops and an old environment hard to find in the bustling city of Suzhou. Mike took a video of a barge on the river. I was just amazed at the muck in the boat, knowing it was put in by hand and would be removed the same way. Yuck!

Here are some photos Mike also took that day.

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Suzhou – Chinese Market Looking for Lanterns

Some of you have been asking to see more of the Chinese. Here are some photos Mike took of a little strictly Chinese only market. We went here looking for Chinese lanterns to take home. It was a tough place to find and even tougher to negotiate since no one spoke any English. Fun, though. We always enjoy seeing how others live. The market was about three blocks, had no closed walls and each shop was covered with a plastic roof. The market was very dirty and smelly. We did find good popcorn to munch on and lots of Christmas and Chinese New Year decorations.

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Sichuan Province – Chengdu at Jinli Street


I took this photo of Starbucks on Jinli Street. One of my favorites…

We were fortunate enough to be able to tag along with Mike, for a week, to a LPG Gas Convention in Chengdu, in the Sichuan Province near Tibet. Chengdu is a compact, modern city with approximately 10 million residents. We were told the city is surrounded by mountains. We did not see any, due to the heavy fog, until we headed out to Mt Emei and Le Shan later in the week where we were in the mountains. We were also informed the area doesn’t receive more than 30 days of sun a year due to the clouds; made for a dreary looking city, but elegant, mystical mountains.

Since Mike was there on business, the kids and I were able to attend a few dinners with the ALGAS crew. A few others from Seattle were there too. Thanks for Sean and John, the kids felt right at home. By far, Sichuan food is the best food in all of China, so far. Darn good, spicy, yummy food! Nathan, our finicky eater, found a bean curd dish in spicy red peppers he just loves. Mike and I were so shocked at how hot our kids could ingest the food. They loved it. Our favorite restaurant was a hot pot style Sichuan place. The kids fell in love with Beef Cheeks and large water-chestnuts. In the photos below, the first photo is all of us eating at this restaurant.

The remainder of the photos are from a walking street we found in Chengdu called Jinli Street. They call it an ancient street. It is styled that way, but is clearly newly built. I have to say it was a special place to visit and shop. I wish I knew more about China when I was there. Had I known better, I would have done more shopping since this was the only place I have found full of authentic artists. We also like having a warm Starbucks latte as we perused the shops. There’s never a place in China that doesn’t have a Starbucks in it. They’re everywhere! Even in the Forbidden City in Beijing.

As we were leaving we passed by two guys dressed up as deities. In the photos, the one on the right is God of Wealth and the one of the left, we have no idea who he was. These guys were being very still and grabbing people as they passed by. The boys were chickens, but 100RMB, of my money, got Zachary motivated enough to go up to them and pose for a picture. Nathan shortly followed when he saw that Zachary did it.

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