Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Longqing Gorge Ice Festival

At the end of the Spring Festival Week (Chinese New Year) our branch at church organized a trip to Longqing Gorge for the ice festival. There is a much bigger festival father north but this was more local. On the bus ride to the gorge we passed the Great Wall. This was my first sight of the wall. We plan to attend it later so there will be more pictures to follow.
Upon on entering we stopped to study the map so we knew what was ahead.
After entering past a park like area there was a stage set up with traditional performers.
Below the dam a building temporary was set up to house the sculptures and protect them from the weather.
Since it is the year of the Dragon, many of the sculptures featured dragons
Here are Mike and I each next to different dragons.
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Inside this dragon was the longest escalator. It takes you to the top of the dam.
Here I am at the top of the dam after riding the long escalator.
As night approached the hills around were lit up to look like the great wall.
Even though the bus took a wrong turn on the way home it was a great day.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Chinese New Year

A couple of days after we arrived in Beijing was the Chinese New Year celebration. This lasts an entire week long and practically the whole town closes down. This is a major celebration for the Chinese people. It is a time to visit with family much like we do for Christmas but for an entire week. Every night they set of fireworks. Some are just regular firecrackers and other are the actual fire works. It sounded like a war zone some times with so many firecrackers going off every night.

Monday, January 23 was the actual New Years Day. Mike and I decided to visit a local festival that one of the waiters suggested to us. We went to Ditan Park, which is where the Temple of the Earth is located. This must be a really beautiful place in the spring and summer, because it was very nice in winter.

We decided to try the subway system to get to the park. Since we do not intend to get a car we wanted to try available options for public transpotation. The subway is really cheap. Only about 30 cents for a one way trip anywhere. We have been told that it gets very crowded during rush hour on regular work days. But this day wasn't too bad. This is Mike waiting for the train to come.After we reached our stop we got tickets and entered the grounds. This is a picture of the entrance to the park. This was out first time to really encounter crowd.
The entire place was decorated for the holiday. This is a picture of the sidewalk after we entered. Because it was so crowded you went with the flow of the people. There really was not much choice on where to go at first. You simply went where everyone else went.
We finally got out of the main crowd and entered the actual temple area. The Temple of Earth was constructed in 1530 during the Ming Dynasty. "Emperors of the Ming, and then later the Qing dynasties used the Temple for sacrifices which were used to appease the gods, who in turn would help the nation. These sacrifices took place at the Temple of Earth during the summer solstice. Some of the things that sacrifices were done for include good harvest, a strong stqable nation, and good weather. This is the central altar today. During the festival people enter to burn incense and offer prayers.
As we continued through the park you can see how beautifully it was decorated everywhere. This is the approach to the booths selling souvenirs and also to get to the street food areas.
I stopped here to get this picture of the row of street food. I have not idea what I was seeing, but I knew there were some very unusual food there.
We ended up stopping at this booth. Mike had to try this squid on a stick.
He really enjoyed it while it was hot. As it was a very cold day it cooled down fairly quickly.
After a fun day and we took the subway back to the hotel. It was a couple blocks walk from the subway stop to the hotel. So we stopped at FatBurger for dinner. Since I didn't eat at the festival, I was quite hungry. The food was great and it was a great ending to a very fun day.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Defining A Classy Hotel

After having stayed in many different types of hotels. I have decided that this hotel in China has got to be the classiest yet. Now what is the definition of a classy hotel. Well I have decided that the bathroom is the deciding factor.

The bathroom in this hotel is amazing. There is a TV imbedded in the mirror. You can watch TV while shaving, brushing your teeth, combing your hair, or anything you want.

As nice as the mirror is the crowing jewel in this bathroom is the toilet.

Now you ask what can make a toilet fancy. Well I will tell you. It is completely electronic. When you aproach it the lid automatically raises up.

But things didn't stop there.

This toilet has a built in cleansing system. This can be adjusted on how and where it washes. Thn when l clean, there is an air dryer. When you are one and walk away it flushes automatically and closes the lid.

Of course I must not forget one of the best parts. It has a heated seat.

This has to be a classy hotel to have such a modern bathroom. I must look into getting one of these when I retire.

Probably the funniest part was the first time I learned that the toilet if totally automated. We had just arrived and it was dinner time. After traveling for so long I decided to change clothes before going to dinner. Just when I pulled my shirt off, the toilet seat raised. I jumped and Mike laughed. It really was quite an introduction to this luxury.

Friday, January 27, 2012


Mid January, we began the process of packing our things. We were moving to Beijing China. We had 4 different catagories to separate our things into. 1 - what was going in our suitcases with us to China; 2 - what was going in the air shipment to China; 3 - what was going to China in a surface shipment; and 4 - what was being left for storage in Saudi Arabia.

We only had a couple of days together to agree on the division of our stuff. Mike had to leave for a business trip to China and would only be back a couple of days before the actual move.

Here the guys are packing the truck.
Here the truck is loaded and ready to leave with our storage crates.
On January 18th we left Saudi Arabia for China. Due to time zones we arrived the afternoon of the 19th in Beijing China. This is the site from our hotel room. I had heard that Beijing was known for its smog. I got a big introduction to just how bad that smog was.
Never to fear though, because the sun does shine in China. The next day was a beautiful day and has continued to be sunny since.
We are settled in the hotel, looking for an apartment and ready to begin our new adventure.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

AFRICA - Nov 13, 2010

This morning we left Nairobi to go on the actual safari part of our trip. This is the jeep and driver that we had for the first few days of the trip. Because we would be traveling with 6 people in this jeep and be gone for 6 days we had to travel light. We left our main luggage in storage at the hotel and packed a duffel to take for the remainder of the trip.
One thing about Nairobi is the traffic. It was terrible. It moved very slowly, they had progressed in ownership of cars faster than the road projects could keep up. Certain times of the day and areas of the city it seemed to not be moving at all. There were no sidewalks, just dirt or mud where the people walked and set up businesses. These next two pictures give you an idea of how it was all over town.
As we left Nairobi the landscape was beautiful. there were lots of nurseries and interesting trees everywhere. There was beautiful landscaping everywhere. The central part of Kenya is all at high altitude and the weather is very pleasant. Where the soil is good the people grow everything....vegetables, coffee, tea, cacao, bananas, pineapples. There are tons of floral greenhouses ( it is the second largest exporter of flowers globally). Where the soil is not good for growing they use it for grazing animals.

From Nairobi we headed to Abedare National Park. We stopped at the country club for lunch and to leave our luggage again. We were to spend the night in a place called The Ark(which I will talk about next post). The Ark has very small rooms and we were told we could only take a backpack with the few essentials for overnight with us. So it was arranged for us to leave our bags at the country club.
The view of the valley from here was amazing, and the landscaping was beautiful.
Here we saw our first "pumba" warthogs. This mother and babies were right beside the road. Of course we saw many more later in the trip.
After lunch, we boarded our jeeps and headed to "The Ark" for a chance to see animals at night.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

AFRICA - Fri. Nov. 12, 2010 Part 2

After lunch we visited Kazuri. the word means "small and beautiful" in Swahili. It began as a tiny workshop experimenting in making handmade beads. It started with two African women but the founder realized that there were many other single mothers and women in the villages around Nairobi that needed work. So it grew to quite a large workforce. It is mostly a charitable organization that supplies work for these women in the villages.
All the beads are made by hand in this workshop.
Here are two of the women working on making beads. The women were all very happy and seemed to love their work.
This woman was putting the wires of hand made beads in a kiln to be fired.
Off to the side was a smaller workshop that make Potteryware. They make and hand paint dishes and vases and all sorts of pottery. These people were very friendly and welcoming of our visit.Next we went to the David Sheldrake Elephant Orphanage. This place rescues baby elephants that have been orphaned for whatever reason and raises them to return to the wild. They have keepers that stay with the elephants 24/7, that includes sleeping with them. Each day they are fed from a bottle in addition to foraging for food. We got the opportunity to feed them.

They take about a quart bottle of milk and guzzle it down in about 10 seconds. Then they want more. They are so cute, very friendly, but quite large for babies. Most of the ones we fed were about 1 year old. They try to return them to the wild as soon as they are able to take care of themselves.

Here is a picture of the bottles ready to feed the elephants when they come in.
This is one of our group feeding an elephant. They really come after the bottles.
Here I am petting one while it was being fed. They have fairly tough skin with very stiff bristly hair.
After they finish the bottles they begin to forage on the bushes around them.
They also made it possible to adopt baby elephants. When you adopt they send you updates on its progress towards release and also pictures that you can enjoy of your elephant. This helps with the cost of running this organization.

Then we returned to the hotel for the evening and to prepare for leaving on safari the next day. This was to be our last night in a regular hotel until we returned to Nairobi. Here are a couple of pictures of the hotel we stayed at and the grounds. Everything was very lush and beautiful.

This tree had a cactus intertwined with it that Mike was completely fascinated with.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011


Finally I am starting my Africa trip. It was an amazing trip and we enjoyed ourselves very much. I had wanted to go on Safari in Africa since I was a little girl, so I was very excited to take this trip.

We arrived in Nairobi, Kenya on November 11, 2010, check into our hotel and got a briefing as to what to expect for the rest of our trip. The next day Friday, November 12, 2010 was a free day. There was an optional tour offered of Nairobi that we decided to take. We are really glad that we did as we saw things we would not have seen on our own.

The pictures from this day are ones that Mike took. Unfortunately, or rather stupidly, I erased the entire first days pictures from my camera. We are glad that we each had a camera so that we at least had the pictures that Mike took.

The first thing on our tour of Nairobi was to the Rothchild Giraffe shelter and breeding farm. These giraffes are one of 3 types of giraffes but they are the only ones that are endangered. The Rothchild family set up this farm to try to save these beautiful animals.

When we arrived there were a number of school groups there on field trips. They were so cute and so well behaved. when they walked they held onto each other so as not to get separated. As you can see in this first picture we also took Flat Stanley along for the trip thanks to our grandson, Kenny.
There was a platform where you could feed the giraffes. They were so soft and so gentle. It was really fun to see them up close.
After we left the giraffe farm, we went to visit the Karen Blixen home. This is the author of the book "Our of Africa". She is an English lady who went to Africa with her husband to start a coffee plantation. The home was beautiful as were the grounds.
Following the home we went to a restaurant associated with the coffee plantation and had a delightful lunch.

Tomorrow I will tell about the afternoon where we feed baby elephants and visited a bead factory.