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23 Search Results for "lantern"

  • Belize - japanese lantern flow Belize - japanese lantern flower at the zoo

    • From: amichka
    • Description:
    • 8 months ago
    • Views: 205
  • Mexico - Puerto Penasco lanter Mexico - Puerto Penasco lantern

    • From: amichka
    • Description:
    • 2 years ago
    • Views: 304
    • Not yet rated
  • Green Lantern Green Lantern

    • From: VJ Traveler
    • Description:
      This one is a surprise and one of a kind. You feel like a quarter going down one of those twisted slots in a coin bank. Warning: I did see shoes and puke on the ground below this ride.
    • 3 years ago
    • Views: 333
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  • Clarke Gable Clarke Gable

    • From: painted lady
    • Description:

      Clark Gable...was here in Astoria 1922. When you look more into it you will find that he really did start his acting career on stage here. After leaving his home and father Gable signed on with a traveling theatrical group... Gable and another young man rode the rails ending up in Bend, Oregon. He took any kind of work he could because he had no contacts or anything lined up to support himself. Franz Dorfler of Silverton Oregon met Gable at the Red Lantern Theater in Portland during the tryouts for the Astoria Stock Company. In July, to get to Astoria from Portland, they took the sternwheeler Bailey Gazert. Astoria was described as a "bustling, booming, hell-raising town."

      Many local residents have told stories for years about "Billy Gable" and his short sojourn in Astoria. Bill Van Dusen's uncle, Dr. Van Dusen had an unpaid bill to William Clark Gable hanging in his office until his office was stripped after his death. Claire Lovell reported a photograph of Clark Gable that was displayed in the Ball Studio window that was supposedely taken by Richard Ball himself. In his book about Warrenton, local resident Lyle Anderson, mentioned Gable's acting at a theater company in Astoria.

    • 3 years ago
    • Views: 313
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  • Tate London: Japanese Lantern Tate London: Japanese Lantern Festival

    • From: schuindt
    • Description:

      It was by chance that we were at Tate Museum London when this Japanese Floating Lantern Festival was happening. We were luck to see them assembling and lifting all the lanterns...an amazing moment!!

    • 3 years ago
    • Views: 252
  • The Dance The Dance

    • From: leaveyourdailyhell
    • Description:

      Traditional dance ceremony to inaugurate the annual "Giant Lantern Festival" in San Fernando, Pamanga, The Philippines, December 2010. Visit leaveyourdailyhell.com to see more and to read my travel writing.

    • 4 years ago
    • Views: 302
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  • Overlooking Prague Overlooking Prague

    • From: egyptianheidi
    • Description:

      Taken as I was climbing the steps to Prague's castle,I loved the ornate lanterns with the city in the background!

    • 4 years ago
    • Views: 283
    • Not yet rated
  • lantern shop in Hoi An, Vietna lantern shop in Hoi An, Vietnam

    • From: kohlea01
    • Description:
    • 4 years ago
    • Views: 177
    • Not yet rated
  • Jack O Lantern Spectacular 201 Jack O Lantern Spectacular 2010

    • From: rebelyell18
    • Description:

      Rhode Island's Roger Williams Park Zoo hosts the Jack O Lantern Spectacular each year.  There are so many intricate and detailed carved pumpkins and even more typical carvings scattered all over. 

    • 4 years ago
    • Views: 506
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  • Lantern Festival in Kyoto Lantern Festival in Kyoto

    • From: ErinNorthington
    • Description:

      A young masked girl is carted through the festival.

    • 4 years ago
    • Views: 279
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  • National Pride National Pride

    • From: thelastmangoinparis
    • Description:

      The Chinese flag is hung in shop windows and displayed on every lamp post and street corner of China in celebration of Nationals Day.  On October 1, 1949, the Chinese Communist Party led by Mao ZeDong offically celebrated the begining of the "New China" in Tiananmen Square in Beijing.  For the first week of October, the entire country celebrates the holiday by displaying the flah and red lanterns across China.

    • 4 years ago
    • Views: 331
  • Seeing Red Seeing Red

    • From: thelastmangoinparis
    • Description:

      Red Chinese Knots and Red Lanterns decorate streets, sideways, windows and shops around China in celebration of National Day.

    • 4 years ago
    • Views: 228
    • Not yet rated
  • Crowded Window Crowded Window

  • Lantern Festival Lantern Festival

    • From: ErinNorthington
    • Description:

      The Lantern Festival in Kyoto (March) is beautiful! Tea lights, sculptures, lanterns everywhere.

    • 4 years ago
    • Views: 397
  • Japanese Lantern and Jefferson Japanese Lantern and Jefferson Memorial

    • From: gmgtorr
    • Description:

      This photo was taken during the 2009 Cherry Blossom Festival in Washington, D.C.

    • 4 years ago
    • Views: 509
    • Not yet rated
  • Traditional buildings and bron Traditional buildings and bronze lantern in forbidden city

    • From: davidhr
    • Description:

      Traditional buildings and bronze lantern in Forbidden City, Beijing, China

    • 4 years ago
    • Views: 222
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  • Japanese lanterns in Nara Japanese lanterns in Nara

    • From: joe8211943
    • Description:

      In Nara there are thousands of lanterns.

    • 4 years ago
    • Views: 309
  • Lanterns in Osaka Lanterns in Osaka

    • From: LaVieEnCharmCity
    • Description:

      Taken in December 2008 in Osaka, Japan.

    • 5 years ago
    • Views: 479
  • Kah-pun-kha for Thailand! Kah-pun-kha for Thailand!

    • From: Cristiana
    • Description:

      Kah-pun-kha ....Thailand

      January 2007

      Think of it this way…

      There are trips that are amazing. They are fun, beautiful and you eat great food, etc.. But then there are trips, that along with all of the usual great trip things, they also fill you up with such emotional/spiritual (whatever you wanna call it) inspiration that you feel like your heart is full of everything that is good and this feeling will carry you for awhile. On the easy side, this kind of trip will be forever in your mind and heart as spectacular… on the harder side, it makes them that much more complicated to describe to others. And you want to do it justice. So, having said all that, let me begin...

      Our trip to Thailand was spectacular.

      After a hellacious plane ride from Lagos to Addis Ababa (Ethiopia) to Bangkok (Nigerians don’t believe in orderly lines much) we finally got to our hotel in the heart of the Sukumvit area of downtown Bangkok. We immediately took to the street. We were like children in a candy land… beautiful flower stalls, fresh strawberries wrapped to look like roses, street food that was delicious, polite people, tuk tuks (open transport vehicles that look like a glorified motorcycle side car), parks, TREES!.... It was almost overwhelming for the four of us, but we managed to make it to lunch and while the children practiced saying thank you in Thai (pronounced kah-pun-kah) Ryder and I enjoyed our first (of what would be many) Singha beers.

      We met up with the Marks Family and headed to the train station to catch a night train to Surat Thani. We got stuck in a go-slow to end all go-slows and ended up having to literally run to make the train (turned out to be a common theme of the trip). The night train was an experience in itself. We were in the second class sleeping births and they were way better than I expected! Comfy seats that open up to decent beds with little curtains for privacy. And cold buckets of Singha, of course! The kids loved the bathrooms. An open hole on the floor that required you to have great aim in order to relieve yourself right on to the track. Then a quick bus ride to the ferry and a not so quick ferry ride (four hours instead of two and a whole lotta seasickness) we finally made it to Koh Samui.

      Samui is what other beachy islands aspire to be when they grow up. Our hotel was right on the beach and the kids frolicked on the sand while the adults divided our time between massages ($9 for an hour and a half), umbrella drinks, great conversation, running on the beach and Backgammon. We went to see the Big Buddha, a 15 meter high beauty. At night we would just walk along the ocean and meander up to any of the many great restaurants. They all have big metal boats out with fresh seafood. We would just pick what we wanted and tell them how to cook it. Usually the word succulent made it into the description… While we ate the children were entertained by the strolling fire twirlers, snake charmers, musicians, and the best of all the lanterns! They are these large paper lanterns that the Thai people release into the night sky. You make wishes, write them on the lanterns and light the wick. As they fill up with hot air they slowly float up into the night sky, carrying your wishes to the heavens.

      After Samui we headed for the tree houses in Khao Sok National park. These are beautiful wooden houses perched high up in the trees along a small river. From our front stoop we saw monkeys swimming across the river while the kids climbed on the rocks and swung from the rope swing into the water. Christmas morning we opened presents and then on to the best present of all… elephant treks! The kids were ecstatic (ok, the parents too)! The rides were about an hour and a half long through pristine green forests of gum trees. The elephants are docile animals that poop a whole lot. After we fed them bananas (those trunks are pretty powerful!) and went blissfully back to the tree house.

      After two days there we took a 45-minute boat ride on these long wooden boat with a big Chevy engine to one of the world’s most beautiful places, Cheow Laan Lake. Limestone cliffs and a hundred different shades of green. Small alcoves and monkeys jumping from tree to tree. Caves and hornbills soaring above us. It was a magical place where the sun streamed through the clouds in way that inspired our ancestors to believe in a higher being. To put it into perspective, Ken took at least 80 pictures during the 45-minute ride and all of us agreed that it was probably one of the top three most beautiful places any of us had ever been.

      We arrived at the lake houses and the words “very freaking rustic” came to mind! They were literally bamboo huts sitting on top of bamboo poles covered with rattan mats. The outhouse was at one end the dinning hut at the other. We spent our days canoeing, exploring caves, learning how to play Cribbage, talking about the big things and consuming 70 beers (yes, they kept a tally sheet for us).

      Ok, so here is the irony… the Lake Houses were the most rustic accommodations we had (Nai’a fell halfway through the floor of our hut) but we also all agreed that it was the most wonderful part. At night, while I was going to the bathroom (which really means just hanging my behind out the back door of our hut) I saw more stars than I have ever seen in my life. They were all being reflected off of the lake so I was literally surrounded by stars. See what I mean about feeling fulfilled?

      Next up was Phuket. For those of you who do not know, Phuket was one of the hardest hit by the Tsunami two years ago. They have done an amazing job of rebuilding. But if you bring it up with anyone local, they are sure to have stories of sadness and loss. There is an island off the coast of Phuket, Phi Phi Island where the mortality rate was 99%. A day before we arrived they had a memorial service and 5,000 lantern were released honoring all of those who lost their life.

      Phuket is the tourist Thailand that can be fun. But can also get on your nerves with its overabundance of banana boats and overpriced jet ski rentals. One amazing moment I had was sitting on the beach and hearing at least 10 different languages being spoken. And not just the usual French and German you always hear when you travel. We also discovered the perfect little Italian place, run by real Italians that became one of our favorite places to eat.

      Ryder and I stole a night to ourselves and went to see Thai boxing. It was a love it or hate it kinda thing and we loved it. Great music, cheap beer and men beating the crap out of each other… what more could you want? They use their feet and knees a lot and we saw two guys even get knocked out. Something not to be missed, if you are into that sort of thing (Thai, you would have loved it!)

      On January 2nd we were off to catch a plane to Bangkok. Um yeah, not so easy. Our transport to the airport was late, like really late, the traffic was bad, like really bad and so we made it to the airport with exactly 19 minutes before the plane was to take off. We (4 adults, 4 children) run to the counter and try to get our boarding passes. They laugh at us and tell us no way. We go back to the main counter and try to get on the next flight out, they laugh at us and tell us no way. All booked. We go to three other airlines, they all laugh at us and say that this is high season after all, and ALL of their flights are booked for the next two days. We are all on the verge on a nervous breakdown by now. I happen to look up at the TV thing and it says LAST CALL for our flight because we still have a whole 3 minutes until take-off. On a whim, I run back to the check-in counter and use ALL of my persuasive charms (“I know you are going to be able to help me” with a few sniff sniffs) and the man agrees to help us. So now we are literally sprinting through the airport, dragging four kids behind us trying to make the plane. We run on just as the doors are closing. You know those annoying people you hate because they are late, make the plane late and then run on, all sweating and stinky and loud? Yup, that was us! But, we made it and we were off to Bangkok.

      We spent our last three days exploring Bangkok. A real highlight was when our friend Jena discovered was a river cruise up the Chao Praya River, the “River of Kings”. It takes you past all the cool stuff in the city and you can get off and on as many times as you want. But you gotta be quick because the embarking/disembarking event is done at lightening speed. And I will just admit right now that we did miss one boat because I was trying to count out the change for our Singhas. We saw The Grand Palace (even had to rent clothes because my shoulders were showing and the guys had on shorts!) We saw the Emerald Buddha, which is beautiful and actually made out of Jade. But my favorite Buddha was the huge reclining Buddha at Wat Pro. The kids were great during all of our cultural stuff too.

      We left the kids with a Thai nanny and went to night markets and walked the famous Khao San road (the crazy one in the beginning of Leo Dicaprio’s movie The Beach). The street food was amazing, crispy veggies stir fried right before your eyes and grilled corn dripping with butter. We ate fried crickets and grasshoppers (crunchy, teriyaki tasting)! We even ventured over to the Patpong district, where they present you with a menu of “interesting adult entertainment” you can watch.

      All too soon, it was over and we were on the plane back to Lagos. But like I said, it was one of those truly amazing trip that fills your spiritual bank account. We all loved it. And like good little adventurers, we were planning our next adventure on our way home from this one. We are thinking of perhaps Tanzania and Zanzibar.

    • Blog post
    • 5 years ago
    • Views: 1575

    • From: patrickmurphy
    • Description:


      "Toto, I don't think we're in Kansas anymore." This was my first thought after exiting the train station in Guangzhou, my first city in mainland China which is a few hours north of Hong Kong. China does not put it's best foot forward with Guangzhou. It is a large city (4 million) with bustling traffic, some uninspiring architecture, and alot of smog. I must admit that it was a bit intimidating at first (especially given the reality that there are zero signs in English...as expected). However, after figuring out the currency, tackling the subway and making it to my hostel okay, I then had enough time to get situated and learn that the people were friendly and that there's nothing to worry about so I took the opportunity to get myself oriented for a day and do some travel planning.

      I've been fortunate to have had enough time to cover a lot of ground and traveled to some fascinating sites in the countryside, small cities, and large cities. Traveling this time of year in China is very cold which precluded me from doing more hiking to some of the famous peaks such as Huang Shan or Tai Shan or to visit more of the hillside villages, but the good thing, I guess, was that there are no tourists this time of year. I'd say that about 98 percent of the time I was the only non-Chinese person to be found wherever I happened to be, whether it was amongst the 15,000 people in the train or the bus stations, or at restaurants, hotels, the various historic sites, or on the street. I can say that China is a very, very safe place in which to travel, as I did not have a hint of any trouble anywhere.

      There are many versions of China. The rural areas are as rural as it gets, with farming families living in very simple wood-frame, mud, or concrete structures and where fields are still plowed with horses or water buffalo. Bicycles and scooters are still the main form of transportation in these areas. The rural highways are really something to be experienced...all vying for the same road space are buses, cars, scooters, three-wheeled motorized carts, horses pulling wagons stacked fifteen feet high with agricultural products or building supplies, and hordes of bicycles (including kids being towed on their bikes by grabbing onto the back of cement trucks or tractors). There are some stunningly beautiful landscapes, such as the areas around Yangshou and Guilin, along with areas of serious environmental destruction due to mass grading for new bridges and/or road projects that obliderate entire hillsides, factories spewing black soot into the air, and garbage dumps on hillsides overflowing directly into rivers. China is also as modern as it gets with Shanghai's bright lights, new bullet train connecting it's two modern airports (240 mph), and attractive modern skyscrapers. In between, there are many plain, uninspiring industrial cities (just what you envision when thinking of some of the older communist-era cities), along with many wonderful hillside villages, ancient historic cities, and world heritage sites. One thing in common with all of these different areas visited is the people...they are wonderful.


      China has managed to turn the Red Curtain into a Red Carpet. After six-plus weeks traveling here, I have been absolutely blown-away by the warmth and helpfulness of the Chinese people. I cannot say enough good things about them, especially the staff at restaurants and the hotels/hostels who were especially friendly and helpful. No matter where I went, the children were always the first to offer a cheerful "Hello!" or "Ni Hao!" (hello in Chinese), along with a wave and followed by a giggle or two. The elderly, who tend to speak no English, also were quick with a wave, a smile, and/or a "Ni hao". Sales people in doorsways would constantly yell out a "Hello" or "Hello, welcome to China!", along with a wide smile. I was constantly approached by people on the street, in train or bus stations, or restaurants who wanted to know where I was from, how long I had been in China, where I had visited and what I thought of China, and asking what life in America is like. Similar to other countries, I discovered that some were eventually only trying to sell something or trying to get me to sign up for a tour...which I have come to expect. The vast majority, however, were genuinely interested in just talking, learning about me and America, and learning what I was doing in China. The fact that I was taking time to visit their country absolutely thrilled them (the best "ice-breaker" was definitely bringing up the name of Yao Ming, the Chinese basketball player now playing in the NBA. Faces would light-up when I mentioned his name and when I complimented his play and his like-able personality.)

      I spent most of my time speaking with the under-40 crowd, most of which can speak some English and were always eager to talk. The University students, many of whom were English majors, flocked to me to have the opportunity to practice their English and discuss a variety of topics, the most popular being U.S. culture and politics. I discovered that most were very knowledgeable about the U.S. (our history, the Declaration of Independence, U.S. presidents, and the upcoming election). They had so many questions about the prospect of the first-ever woman or black president, which really interested them. They also spoke freely with me about their life in China and what political and social changes they were hopeful for. These were some of the most interesting discussions I have ever had...anywhere. With my trusty Lonely Planet travel guide and my small Chinese phrasebook, I was able to get by with respect to ordering food, getting a place to sleep, and finding my way from point A to B. Any attempt of mine to speak some Chinese was greatly appreciated by the locals. At such times when there was a language stalemate, I would resort to paper and pen and/or a game of charades to communicate what I needed. There were many, many laughs in these situations. The fact that one does not know a certain language should not get in the way of one visiting a foreign country. It takes some work at times, but it all works out in the end!

      THE FOOD

      Many people, as well as some travel books, attempt to steer one away from eating from street vendors. If I followed this advice, I would have missed out on some of the best (and most interesting) meals of my life over the years. If the locals are gathered around a food stand, hop in line and enjoy. From homemade ice cream or empanadas on the beaches in Baja, to home-made ceviche in Peru, to barbecued grasshoppers with hot chili powder in Thailand, treating oneself to these culinary delights is what travel is all about. The same holds true for China.

      Along the streets, alleys, and night markets were boiling pots of soup, dumplings, and steamed meat buns; smoking woks and frying pans serving up vegetables, omelets, and various meats; and 55-gallon metal drums on small wagons on the back of bicycles that were converted to mini ovens cooking up wonderful sweet potatoes or piping hot, fresh bread. The best outdoor food markets visited were in the Muslim Quarter in Xi'an, the night market in Kaifeng, and the daily markets tucked away in the hutong neighborhoods in Beijing. I went on a feeding frenzy at these markets. Half the time I had no idea what I was eating (or how to find out what I was eating), but it was all good. Most of the time I would resort to looking, pointing, paying, and enjoying. My favorite was a little food stand in Kaifeng which served fresh sesame bread sliced in half and packed with three different types of hot noodles, along with some vegetables, tofu, and smothered with a bean paste and hot chili powder for about 30 cents...and it was delicious! The various restaurants serve up some fine traditional Chinese plates and were always very good, but it is the street foodstands and markets that should not be missed when visiting China.


      One cannot discuss China without touching upon the transportation system, which is extensive, efficient, and affordable (it has to be in order to move 1.3 billion people around a very large country!). It can also be chaotic. Much like traveling in South America, surviving travel in China requires a great deal of patience and a good sense of humor. Ticket lines and waiting lines for trains and buses can be ridiculously long, things are loud, and (obviously) everything is foreign so one needs to be able to accept being out of ones comfort zone a bit. If one can do this, no problem. The hardest thing for me was purchasing a ticket for a bus or a train (although just trying to cross a street without getting run over was a close second). Sometimes a hotel or hostel was able to take care of the ticket purchase for me (for a small commission), but most of the time it took waiting in line at the bus or train station, which can be quite the experience! I would jot down what I needed on a piece of paper in the best Chinese that I could and then try my best in broken Chinese to state what I needed (a ticket), to where, and at what time. This worked okay until I would get a question back at me, at which point I was clueless at to what was being said. There were a couple of instances where someone in line who knew some English saw me floundering and offered some friendly assistance. More times than not, however, I ended up guessing and buying a "mystery ticket", not sure what I really purchased until it had been handed to me. Luckily, every ticket purchased ended up being the correct one and I was able to get from point A to point B with no major complications.

      The other comical event to witness is the entering/exiting of the mass of people from the local buses and subways. There is no such thing as a "line" or "queuing" in much of China....if there is any kind of an opening someone is going to grab it. You can read all about it, but until you've actually witnessed and experienced it, it can't be truly appreciated. The best analogy I can use is that of a rugby scrum, where large groups would push, shove, and elbow their way into (or out of) the doorways, along with people being lifted and pulled through the back windows when the driver is not looking. The old ladies were the worst with the elbows (or, I guess, the best depending on how you look at it). They could throw elbows better than anyone and it amazed me how successful they were forcing their way onto the buses or trains. I am curious as to why roller-derby is not more a popular sport here given the flurry of elbows and shoulders flying about.



      After my first stop in Guangzhou, I took a nine-hour bus ride northeast to the city of Guilin (population 700,000, which is a "small city" according to the locals). I spent three days here and although my guide book doesn't give it that great of a write-up, I enjoyed it. It is a clean, modern city with very friendly people along with some interesting sites to visit (including Wang Cheng, a 14th century palace with nearby Solitary Beauty Peak, as well as Seven Star Park). There is also a great public park in the middle of town which consists of a couple of lakes with nice walking paths around the perimeter and restaurants and shops along the path. At night, the pathways, trees, and bridges have ornamental lighting of yellow, green and and light purple and is very popular for casual strolls or night boat trips. The landscape around the city is spectacular with huge eroded limestone peaks in the shape of camel humps...or when a group of them are lined up together, the locals refer to the peaks as "the dragon's back."

      While in town, I attended a performance at the local theater which included a combination of dance, song and acrobatics with the theme focusing on the daily life of the various minority ethnic groups in the region. The stage props represented life in the rice fields, caves, and river, and the incredible backdrop of the Dragon's Back hillsides. The traditional costumes were also excellent. I was told that some of the acrobats who performed will be part of the open ceremony at the Olympics. If this is a taste of what is to come at the Olympic ceremonies with respect to costumes, song, and acrobatics, the world is in for a great treat! There was also a public participation segment of the performance in which four people were plucked out of the audience and brought on stage to participate in one of the dances...one of which was yours truly (I don't know if I was selected randomly or if it was because I was the only Anglo in the entire audience of a couple hundred people). Anyway, I was presented with a traditional Chinese ornament around my neck and then brought on stage with 30 or 40 elegant and graceful Chinese women (life can be rough at times) in traditional dress for about 2 minutes of a basic dance. I made it without stumbling or making an idiot of myself.

      Yangshou From Guilin,

      I then headed south to the the city of Yangshou. On the way, I went on a half-day boat cruise on Li River which snakes its way through some of the most stunning scenery of limestone peaks that are found throughout the region. Although it drizzled some, the low clouds helped to create an eerie feel along the river with some of the peaks being half hidden. The beautiful city of Yangshou (pop. 300,000) is also surrounded by the tall limestone peaks in every direction and had the most spectacular scenery of all. This is a wonderful city that has a "village" feel to it with pedestrian-only streets and great little restaurants and shops.

      The Li River passes right by the town as well as another river just outside of town. I spent four days here exploring the town and its surroundings which included I renting a bike ($1.20 for the day) and riding out into the countryside following a dirt road along the river for a five or six hours. Although I ended up getting lost for much of the ride, that turned out to be the best thing that could have happened. Time after time I'd choose the wrong fork in the road (no English signs) only to end up on dirt trails which eventually led me to agricultural fields and rice paddies...with nothing but a farmer, his dog, and a couple of water buffalo. I was always greeted with a smile and then pointed in the direction back to the main dirt road. My wanderings also brought me through some tiny little villages where I was greeted by warmly by the adults as well as the little kids who were off playing with sticks or kicking a flat soccer ball around...and having the time of their lives doing so. On Christmas Eve, a Canadian woman (also traveling the world) and I attended the famous light and dance show on the Li River which literally involves hundreds and hundreds of performers. The light show is directed by the famous Chinese film director who is in charge of the Olympic ceremonies. It was a great show.


      From Yangshou, I took a bus four hours north to the small hillside village of Ping'an (pop. 500) which is famous for it's terraced rice fields known as the Dragon's Backbone. From the end of the roadway, it's a 15-minute hike up a narrow path to the village, where the only mode of transportation is your own two feet or a mule. The village's attractive wood structures are scattered across the hillside and connected by a series of dirt pathways. From the village, a handful of trails make their way up and over the hills to other small villages, one of which known for the women having the longest hair in the world. There were only four other travelers in the village at night (two from Germany, one from Spain, and one from Argentina). We enjoyed each others' company in the small cafe at dinner and then drank tea (and a couple beers) with the family who runs the hotel/cafe (the two daughters spoke very good English). I wasn't able to really see much of the terraced rice fields due to the low clouds which were draped over the hillsides then entire time, but it was great wandering through village along the hillside pathways.


      Shanghai (pop. 15 million) is a huge city with a mass of people, bright flashing lights, chic billboards, a modern subway system (including the bullet train), and bold and attractive modern architecture. The city is bisected by the Huangpu River, along which is "the Bund", the famous financial street from yesteryear and a walkway which provides fantastic views of the main business district (Padang area) across the River (including the very recognizable Jinmao Tower). Despite the mass of people and traffic, I found Shanghai to be very safe and comfortable in my five days there....I really enjoyed it. I visited the very interesting Shanghai museum, the French Concession area, and the Old Town area with its classic Chinese architecture (including the historic Yuyuan Gardens). I also visited the Urban Planning Exhibition Hall which is a very attractive five-story building devoted entirely to city planning (if you can believe it). I debated whether or not to go in (being that it is a work-related subject), but curiosity got the best of me and I bought a ticket. The exhibit is actually one of Shanghai's most-popular tourist sights and includes everything you want to know about the history of the city and what is planned for the next 20 years. The most popular exhibit is the huge 3-D model of the city that takes up an entire floor of the building. It is pretty impressive as you walk around its raised platform.

      On my second day in town, I was befriended by two pleasant, bright young ladies...one lives in Shanghai with the other visiting her. For two days, they showed me around the city, which included the local restaurants, city sites, and some shopping (yes, Chinese women like to shop just as much as American women). We also went to a great acrobat show at one of the many performing arts centers in town which was simply amazing and included included a late night/early morning of karaoke, which was quite amusing. They had a ton of questions about life in America and were very up-front about talking about modern life in China, including politics. They expressed their frustration with the limitations on professional career opportunities for women. They had alot of respect for the U.S. political system (elections), the laws/rights protecting individuals, and the opportunities to succeed, regardless whether or not you happen to be a man or a women..or born poor. I am to have a hopeful that they someday may have the opportunity to experience this as China's political system continues to change for the better.


      From Shanghai, I took an 11-hour overnight train (very comfortable) to Beijing (pop. 15 million), which of course is the site of the Olympics this summer. The wrecking ball is alive and well in Beijing, as there are construction cranes everywhere and new apartment buildings (most of which are very plain looking) replacing the older neighborhood flats. Some of the construction is directly related to the upcoming Olympics, but most of it I'm told is just the continuation of the construction boom that started years ago. The Olympic venues are still "active construction sites", so I was not able to view any of them close up. During my six days in Beijing, the weather was dry, very smoggy, and pretty cold (daytime temps in the twenties and in the teens at night). I broke down and bought a heavier jacket for a whopping $28. Within two days all of the buttons had fallen off, but it served its purpose. I made it to the most of the must-see sites in Beijing, including the Forbidden City, Tiananmen Square, the Temple of Heaven, Jingshan Par, the Lama Temple. and many days of walking through the small alleys of the older neighborhoods known as the Hutong. The Forbidden City and Temple of Heaven contain amazing buildings and temples and art work and were really special.

      Tiananmen Square is massive (it is the largest square in the world which can accommodate up to a million people). The square is bordered by the Forbidden City, China Museum, the Congress Building and two large gates. In the middle is Chairman Mao's mausoleum, as well as a number of monuments .While strolling across the square, it was hard to no think about the events of 1989 and what the future holds. I have to believe that there will be more major political and social changes taking place in China over the next 5 to 7 years. There are simply too many young people who know too much of the world and social issues, coupled with their hunger for more professional job opportunties for change not to occur.

      To visit the Great Wall (one of the New Seven Wonder's of the World...my third so far on the trip!), I took a bus 45 minutes outside of town to the segment of The Wall at Badaling (there are different segments of the wall spread throughout the area...Badaling is the most visited). Due to the frigid temperatures, the crowd at The Wall was not bad. I was amazed by the width of the wall (easily wide enough for a large bus)and the terrain it was built across....it meanders up steep cliffs and down steep gullies, with lots and lots of steps.) President Nixon said it best when he uttered "this is a great wall." It certainly is.

      The rest of Beijing didn't do that much for me as the majority of architecture and streetscape is very plain and uninviting. Maybe the new construction associated with the Olympics will provide a jump-start for more appealing buildings in the years to come, as Beijing could use it.

      Harbin (Haerbin)

      Acting on a tip from someone on the train, I bought a ticket for an 11-hour train ride from Beijing to the City of Harbin (pop. 4 million) in the northeastern corner of China...on the edge of Siberia!!! The city has a strong Russian influence in its design, with churches and buildings having turrets and spires. Let me tell you, it is really, really friggin' cold in Harbin in January!!! The daytime highs was 0 F and at nighttime it got down to -15 F...along with a light breeze that was punishingly (is that a word?) cold. Human beings are simply not meant to live in such conditions. It was easily the coldest I have ever been and only helped to re-confirm what I've always known...that I am definitely a warm/hot weather person. So, why then did I come to such a frigid place? The answer: for the annual Ice Lantern Festival which is held each January. The festival features some pretty amazing ice and snow sculptures in the city's downtown park and across the river (which is frozen solid) at another large, scenic park. At nighttime the ice sculptures are illuminated with multi-colored lights. Along the river, there is also ice skating, hockey, sledding, and other outdoor activities. Even with the brutally cold weather, it was worth a visit to experience life in such extreme conditions. I tip my hat to those folks that can endure this for an entire winter.


      After making it back to Beijing for a few more days after Harbin, I boarded a train for a 6-hour trip to Pingyao (pop. 40,000) which is one of the most well-preserved walled cities in China (one of China's many Unesco World Heritage Sites). The 30-foot high earthen and stone walls, along with its many watchtowers is quite impressive. Inside the walls are narrow, maze-like streets with nice little restaurants, shops, hostels, temples, and homes. Being off-season, it was very, very relaxing and I really enjoyed just wandering the streets, as well as my stay at a great little hostel with wonderful staff.

      Xi'an / Terracotta Warriors

      Xi'an is another walled city and one of China's oldest settlements, dating way back to the days of the Silk Road. It snowed the entire time that is was there, so I only saw a fairly small portion of the city, including the impressive Drum Tower in the center of the city, a portion of the ancient city walls and watchtowers, and the Muslim Quarter (including the Great Mosque). Like most folks, the primary reason for my visit to Xi'an was to visit the nearby Army of Terracotta Warriors. The life-size sculpted figures are situated in three large pits, with Pit 1 being the most impressive with over 6,000 warrrior figures. The scale of the site is astounding and the level of detail given to each figure is just incredible (apparently, no two warriors have the same face). It was a mind-boggling site to see.

      Luoyang / Longmen Caves

      I made a one-day stop in Luoyang (pop. 1.5 million) to visit the nearby Longmen Caves, another Unesco World Heritage Site. The combination of caves and carved out niches are situated along both sides of the limestone cliffs above the Yi River and include carvings of Buddha and other figures, ranging in size from a couple of inches high to over 50 feet high. The carvings were completed somewhere around 500 to 700 A.D. and, according to the information provided with my entrance ticket, include over 100,000 carved images in over 2,400 hillside caves/niches. It's an incredible piece of work which just kept going and going and going as I walked along the river banks.


      I made a brief stop in Kaifeng (pop. 600,000), which is another ancient, walled city. Due to the weather (heavy snow), I didn't get a chance to see much of the city's sites, but I did get a chance to enjoy the aforementioned night market with an incredible array of food!


      With a population exceeding 5 million, I found the core of Suzhou to be a very attractive town with nicely landscaped streets lined with Sycamore trees with new and old buildings with traditional Chinese architecture. Similar to my stay in Kaifeng, there was heavy snow for the two days I was there, so I didn't check out the numerous gardens the city is famous for (gardens really aren't my thing), but I did get to check out the network of small canals and trails/alleys that are scattered throughout the city which were very pretty in the snow. I made it out of China just as the heavy snow was beginning (China is experiencing the most snowfall in 50 years). Had I stayed one more day in Nanjing, I would have likely been stuck there for a good week to 10 days, as the trains and buses are not running at the moment and hundreds of thousands are now stranded in bus stations and train stations. This is very sad, given that a billion people are now traveling across the country for the next 2 weeks for Chinese New Year, which is the only time many folks get to see their families all year. With the sweeping changes occurring in China at the moment, coupled with the excitement and national pride associated with the upcoming Olympics, now is a fantastic time to visit China. It is highly, highly recommended (maybe not in winter, though).

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