July 15-17

Aug. 10th, 2006 03:26 pm
rendiru: (great wall)
At this point I fell behind in my journal-keeping. The day after our concert was our departure from Xi'an to Jinan. My family was on the later flight once again. S, J and I walked down to the bank to restock our wallets while C had breakfast. We had a couple of street vendors glom onto us right outside the hotel, but once we shook them off we didn't have any more and could walk in peace.

The sidewalks weren't as crowded in Xi'an as in Beijing, but we still had to watch out for traffic using the wide sidewalk as an extra lane.

Leaving Xi'an )

July 16 )

Confucius )

We headed back to the hotel for a quick shower before attending a farewell dinner put on by the vice-mayor of Jinan in our honor. There were many government dignitaries there. There were a couple of glowing speeches from representatives from both sides of the Pacific, then dinner was served while local musicians provided our evening entertainment. We were tired when we got back to the hotel, but we left with such a warm impression of the people of Jinan.

July 14

Jul. 29th, 2006 10:16 pm
rendiru: (great wall)
Concert day! We began the day with a tour of a jade carving factory downtown. They showed us different grades of jade, with the finest being composed of translucent apple green and lavender. Stones that are less translucent are lesser quality. We didn't buy anything at that shop except for a pendant for J.

Wild Goose Pagoda )

That evening )
rendiru: (great wall)
I can't believe I forgot to write about this!

After the welcoming ceremony, we were taken to a restaurant for a dumpling feast. Dumplings are like holiday food in China - they are served on special occasions. Like all the meals we had that weren't buffet-style, this was served family-style, with the dishes placed on a lazy Susan in the middle of the table and people serving themselves as they wished. There were appetizers on the table, but most of us were eagerly anticipating the dumplings.

Each dumpling was made in a shape that indicated what was inside. Those filled with pork may have looked like a pig snout or had a curling tail shape. The walnut dumpling looked just like a walnut. There were dumplings filled with pumpkin, seafood, chicken, pork, beef, and veggies. They just kept coming and coming. They must have served us nearly 20 different kinds. We were happily sated when they cleared the table and brought out a covered dish suspended over a brazier. The fuel in the brazier looked waxy - I think it was Sterno or something like it. The dish contained soup. The server lit the fuel and came back after it was boiling to add miniature dumplings to it. The number of dumplings in your bowl indicated your luck. We were told not to worry if our bowl didn't get any dumplings, as this was just an indication that a person would have no problems. :-)

The heat from the burning fuel overcame on of our singers, who had to move to a cooler area to recover, and the fumes sent several of us away from the table with burning eyes. The presentation was fun - the flames leaping out of the sides of the brazier were entertaining - but I wish they could have used less irritating fuel.

July 13

Jul. 29th, 2006 04:56 pm
rendiru: (great wall)
This was another touring day. Our first stop was within the city to a factory where Terra Cotta Warrior souvenirs and lacquer furniture are made. Our group was taken to see the lacquering process first and ended up not seeing how the terra cotta figures are made at all. The lacquering process was interesting. They start with the bare wood, often pine, and cover it with ten coats of lacquer. They wrap the board tightly in linen and apply ten more coats of lacquer. From there, they may apply color or may inlay gems and stones before applying many more coats. It's a long process because each coat takes a day or so to dry.

We did a little shopping in the store there, of course. S and the boys each got a silk robe. I saw a lovely little silver and jade bracelet, but at US$6000 it was a little out of my range. :-)

The Terra Cotta Warriors Museum )

Free time? )
rendiru: (great wall)
July 8, 2006

C was up early even though he went to bed after J. He headed off to breakfast before the rest of our family was even up and about. The rest of us headed down to breakfast around 7:30, with C joining us for a light second round before we headed off to the buses for the day's touring. The breakfast was served buffet style, with American and Chinese options, so if you didn't want cereal, fruit, or eggs, you could have noodle, egg rolls, and fried rice. Actually, there were many more options, but it would be tedious to list them all, as I'm sure nobody wants to read endless lists of what we ate. ;-)

Traffic in Beijing )

Tien An Men Square )

Forbidden City )

Summer Palace )

We headed back to the hotel for dinner and collapsed onto our bed. Very carefully, of course, it wouldn't do to break anything and miss tomorrow's sight seeing.
rendiru: (great wall)
A year of anticipation led up to this day. My bags had been test packed, weighed, and repacked with more when I realized I had weight to spare. This would be my first international flight as well as my first time visiting a country in which I had no basic vocabulary in the local language. Not sure exactly what might be available if I forgot something, I packed everything I could think I might possibly need.

We left the house before 8 am in two cars to accommodate us and our luggage. My ILs dropped us off at CSUS, where we practice every Monday night from September to May, and where our director works. They hugged us goodbye, took a picture for us, and headed back to house-sit for the next two weeks.

I handn't had the heart to pick one of my nearly-ripe tomatoes before we left. It just wasn't quite there. What's the use in eating a home grown tomato if it's as bland as one bought at the store? I left them on the vine for the enjoyment of our ILs and looked forward to eating one of the many others that were sure to ripen while we were gone.

Bus trip, flight, and arrival, cut to spare your friends page )

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