China - 2008

Tang Dynasty Dinner Show

Beijing, Xian & Chongqing

September 18 - 19

On Thursday, September 18th, we went to Old Beijing where we took a rickshaw ride through a hutong.  Much of the population of Beijing has relocated from the hutongs to apartments and condos, but a significant number of people still live in the traditional way.  The home we visited was owned by a widow, who with her husband had raised a son and daughter in their very small house in a grouping of several homes with a common courtyard.  She served us tea and described life in the hutong.  Our guide, Yang, translated when we asked her questions.  There was plumbing in the kitchen but no toilet, so she and all who live in the hutongs have to go to a public restroom about a minute away.  Markets are nearby and residents usually go out every day for their groceries.  From the hutong we went to a silk carpet workshop, where we learned about Chinese carpets.  More knots per square inch makes a finer carpet, and a small one (about 2’ by 3’) can take about 20 months to complete.  They were very expensive and beautiful.  We left the workshop and ate box lunches on the bus on the way to the Beijing airport.  Security was tight, and many people were being wanded.  We had been warned that they might take some liquids at airports in China, and they did take Jay’s small (legal) bottle of shampoo with no explanation.  We boarded a China Eastern jet and flew to Xian (pronounced She-on).  The flight was about 1 1/2 hours long and right on time.  We went directly from the airport to the Tang Dynasty Dinner Show, which was performed in a lovely theater.  It was a thoroughly entertaining evening, with beautiful dancers, costumes and sets.  The Chinese food was also very good.  Our guide Yang has been most helpful about special food requests, and Terry has been able to have glutin-free foods at most of our meals.  We went directly from the show to the Shangri-La hotel in Xian.  It is a very nice hotel, but we were only there about 12 hours and left at 8:30 on Friday, September 19th to visit the Terra Cotta Army Museum.  One of the farmers who accidentally found one of the soldiers’ heads in 1974 while digging a well was in the museum autographing books.  The terra cotta soldiers were made about 2000 years ago to accompany Emperor Qin Shi Huang to the hereafter.  The soldiers are an amazing sight, with an estimated 8,000 of them existing in various pits.  The emperor’s tomb, in another location, has not been excavated.  His concubines and many other humans were buried alive in his tomb.  We had lunch at the museum, then left for the airport for our one hour flight to Chongqing.  We experienced our first flight delay on this trip, but it was only a half hour..  From the airport we were taken directly to the river boat, the Viking Century Sun.  The boat was a welcome sight for all of us, as the tour has been very demanding.  We are all looking forward to relaxing and enjoying the cruise portion of this trip.  The Century Sun is very nice with a capacity of about 300, but there are only about 260 passengers on this cruise.  We had a very nice first dinner at a table for ten, so the whole group was together.  We enjoyed having Paul and Jack with us and hope to see them for most meals.  Our main server, Cicy, is a bubbly young Chinese lady with a great sense of humor.  We explored the boat after dinner for a short time.  There are only six decks so it is very easy to find your way around.  In the last few days we have gone from a city of over 20 million people (Beijing) to a city of over 8 million (Xian) and are now in the largest city in the world if you count total area.  Chongqing has over 30 million people, more than the population of Canada.  Beijing is the current capitol of China, Xian was an ancient capitol and Chongqing was the capitol during WWII when it was called Chungking.

Hutong visit

Hutong visit

Hutong visit - our guide Yang

Hutong visit - our hostess

Hutong visit

Hutong visit - living room

Hutong visit - courtyard

Hutong market

Hutong visit - ladies knitting

Leaving hutong

Beijing

Silk Carpet Workshop

Tang Dynasty Dinner Show

Tang Dynasty Dinner Show

Tang Dynasty Dinner Show

Tang Dynasty Dinner Show

Shangri-La Hotel, Xian

Doorman, Shangri-La Hotel

Highway sweeper

Terra Cotta Museum

Our local guide Paul in Terra Cotta Museum

Terra Cotta Army - Pit 1

Terra Cotta Army - Pit 1

Terra Cotta Army - Pit 1

Terra Cotta Army - Pit 2

Chongqing from bus

Chongqing from Century Sun cruise ship

Chongqing from Century Sun cruise ship

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