Friday, June 29, 2012

Guilin and Yangshuo

After X'ian we hopped on a plane to Guilin.  All of us had recovered from sickness but Simon.  Poor guy really had the worst of it.  We took the first day in Guilin to rest and recover.  The second day we did a little venturing out and Simon finally regained his strength.  


Sun and Moon Towers

This is outside one of the hills that we climbed for a view of Guilin.
            


Reed Flute Cave



                                      

From Guilin we headed to the small city of Yangshuo.  I love these backpacker towns that we visit.  This area is famous for the karst topgraphy, and looks like nothing else we have ever seen.  The pictures don't really do it justice, but just help remind us of how beautiful the place is.

Moon Hill
We climbed to the top of the hill with the kids on our shoulders.  It was well worth the climb.
                                       

Auburn at the top of Moon Hill




The next day we took a bamboo raft ride down the Yulong river.  We opted for the shorter ride for the sake of the kids, and it ended up being just the right amount of time.  We went in the morning to avoid the large tourist boats, and we were rewarded with a peaceful ride.


We stopped about halfway through to take a break (really just for people to try and sell us stuff we don't need).  Conley and Auburn quickly found rocks to through in the water, which has become a favorite past time of theirs.  We rode on a boat that looks like this.

That afternoon, Simon hiked up another peak for a view of the river, while the rest of us took naps.
Dragon's Backbone
We spent one day going to the rice terraces in Longsheng.  They are nicknamed the Dragon's backbone because the hills look like scales of a dragon.



                                      




We spent another day hiking.  We hiked for about four hours that day.  Luckily it was flat and the kids did a lot of walking.  We followed the river and had a delightful day.




This is us eating and hanging out before we headed back to Guilin for the next part of our adventure.




Saturday, June 23, 2012

X'ian

We took a night train from Datong to X'ian.  When we woke up in X'ian it was my birthday!  We decided to head straight to the Terracotta Warriors and it was a great choice for many reasons.  First, because it was my birthday, and I think that is a pretty awesome way to spend it and second, because the next day Simon, Auburn and I got the flu.

The Terracotta Warriors
This is one of the main attractions that we wanted to see in China and we were not disappointed.  The Terracotta Warriors were built to protect Emperor in his afterlife.  There are three pits with an current estimate of 8,000 soliders and 520 horses.

All of the faces of the warriors are different.  They were originally all holding spears or swords and were painted different colors.

A happy little traveller


This is the first and biggest pit.  These pits were discovered by farmers in 1974 while they were digging a well for water.  These guys were buried for over 2,000 years. 

One of the two bronze chariots

The warriors are dressed differently according to their rank.
This is Pit three, the command center, with the highest ranking officials.




They are still being excavated.  After a quick google search I just found out that 120 more soldiers were found, like last week.  I read that they may have 6,000 more to excavate. 

Here you could see where they are reconstructing pieces found.


This was a highlight on our trip for us.



The day after the Terracotta Warriors was, well... slow.  We were all a little under the weather. We went to the History Museum in the morning.  After a nice loooong nap, we went for a little walk around the city.

Bell Tower


Big Goose Pagoda

The next morning we got a plane to Guilin.  It was either that or take a 28 hour train ride.  I was grateful that my husband was willing to find a good deal on a flight so we could fly.



Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Chengde, Tianjin and Datong

Chengde
After Beijing we headed to Chengde for a couple days.  It is about a four-five hour train ride outside of Beijing.  Chengde was the summer getaway for the royal family.  There is a huge mountain resort and then the Eight Outer Temples around it that are all considered part of this resort.  




Putuo Zongcheng Palace
This was built to resemble the Potala Palce in Tibet which was the home of the Dalai Lama until he fled to India.  It was built for the Emperor's birthday, what a gift.




Sledgehammer Peak
The taxi driver dropped us off and pointed to the ticket office.  When we got there we thought we were paying for entrance to a temple.  Apparently we bought tickets for the funicular that takes you up to Sledgehammer Peak.  We were thinking about hiking up to it anyway.  We took the funicular up and hiked down.  We eventually found the temple that we wanted to go to after a couple hour detour.  Misunderstandings happened like that occasionally.  Like not realizing that you had order food until it was brought to you, yeah that happened.  

Auburn and her buddy Ryan at the Pule Temple.  This is where we were trying to get to before our little adventure.  We hiked around back and got the best view of the temple.

playing and chilling at the hotel

a wooden pagoda 

Auburn turning the prayer wheel at the Puning Temple.  
A Chinese girl showed her that you turn all of them as you walk by.  


The Puning Temple
This houses the world's largest wooden sculpture of Buddha.  There were no pictures allowed inside, but it was pretty awesome.  My children really enjoy pointing out Buddha when they see him. 

                                      





After Chengde, we headed to Tianjin on one of the Chinese bullet trains.  It took an amazing thirty minutes.  Auburn was happy to ride on the fastest train in the world.

                                    

This was the display on the train.  It would show the changing speeds.  
This was the highest point that it got to, pretty impressive.  
(roughly 184mph)


Conley wasn't feeling well as we left for Tianjin.  When we arrived at the hotel the poor little guy had a fever.  I stayed back at the hotel with him, while the rest of the gang headed to another game.  Conley fell asleep super early and I was grateful for the one English channel on TV.  Auburn had a great time at the soccer game with Daddy and Ryan.  She sat right between them and apparently was a delight the entire evening.  She kept asking for more games during the trip.




Datong
Datong was kind of audible of the trip.  We finished Beijing a little fast than we thought and were able to get train tickets bought.  So we headed there on a night train.  We hit two of the main sites here. 
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Yungang Grottes
There are some 51,000 Buddhas carved into the caves and recesses here.  Apparently some of the damages occurred to the cave during the cultural revolution.








                                      



Conley was still getting over his sickness.  We didn't get very many smiles out of him for a few days.  He was kind enough to share it with all of us.  Ryan was the next and then the rest of us got it in X'ian.  It wasn't stomach related, just a nasty flu.  He did enjoy this place enough to give it a thumbs up.


The Hanging Monastery
Before we headed to the Monastery, we said goodbye to Ryan.  He was headed back to the states.  We had a blast with him and appreciate his patience with travelling with two small kids.

This Monastery has 40 rooms and is lodged on the side of a cliff.  It is really in the middle of nowhere.  It was kind of fun to do something off the beaten path.  

                                       

The kids and I waving at Daddy.  
(Yes, I am very strong to hold both of them at the same.)





After the Hanging Monastery we had to catch an overnight train to X'ian.  We had some false information about the buses returning back to Datong, coupled with bus driver who stopped for everyone, and a traffic accident we barely made our train.  It was incredible stressful, but it was a huge blessing that we made it.  This is the only train that goes where we were going and we had to catch it because we a flight in the next city.  We slept on three trains during our trip.  Auburn still talks about how fun it was.  It was not the most restful sleep of our vacation, but not a bad way to travel while the kids are sleeping.