Sunday, February 28, 2010

Thousands of Warriors

We took a local tourist bus from Xi'an to the Terracotta site, bought our ticket, took the rather long walk through a maze of vendors selling all kinds trinkets, said "no" to the numerous offers for a hired guide, and finally entered Pit 1. The original area of discovery. It was truly amazing.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

The Walled City of Xi'an

After Beijing, Jason's parents headed to Japan to visit family while we flew to Xi'an - the gateway for the Terracotta Warriors. What I didn't know was what a cool city Xi'an would turn out to be!

image from here

We had such a fun time exploring this city! It is one of the ancient capital's of China and still has a complete, intact city wall surrounding it. The wall is open to pedestrians and you can even rent bikes to ride the 7 miles around it. We loved the feeling of the old city contained within the walls, especially the muslim quarter's night market & snack street - we literally ate our way down it, trying out all kinds of foods that I had never seen before. So delicious! We also got to watch as hundreds of lanterns were released into the night sky each night ... and I was able to snap a few shots of some beautiful people.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

People Connections

It is always interesting to me how if you are able to spend time with people in a place you travel to, the time is often more memorable. While in Beijing, we were delighted to be able to visit with some friends & acquaintances of Jason's parents who made our brief time in Beijing richer.

We got to stop in for a quick visit with the beautiful Burns family - Isaiah & Elijah are 5 months old and pretty darn cute!

One of the things I will remember most about our trip to Beijing was our stop at Shepherd's Field Orphanage to visit Spokan-ites Clay & Jewel Floch who oversee this special place. The orphanage cares for children with special needs and is like no other orphanage I have ever heard about. The children live in a beautiful "home" type situation with a one caregiver to every 2 to 3 children. They were clean, happy and playing together in a well-lit, lovely home.

As many of you know, I've never really been a "kid-person." I coo over and play with other people's children because I know it is what I should do. With the birth of my first nephew 7 years ago and the arrival of 3 more since then, my heart has been pierced with the love it is possible to have for children and I've found myself warming up to children more. Evenso, walking into a room of special needs children is intimidating for me. I wonder to myself, what type of interaction can I have with the boy who's head is twice as big as it should be or will the autistic child have a bad episode if I touch him?

Pushing my fears aside, I plop myself down on the spongy play mat and smile at one of the boys. He smiles back and start showing me how well he can spin a toy. We play catch for a long time together. Later, I find myself inspecting small bits of string with the autistic boy and my lap is filled with young girls showing off their finger nail polish. When it comes time to say goodbye, I expect the children to be clingy and disappointed. Instead, they cheerily wave, smile and say "Zai-Jian," then return to their toys and friends.

Their faces will by in my memory for a very long time.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Climbing the Great Wall

Our day at the Wall was awesome!!!! It was simply incredible to be able to walk all over, exploring this amazing place. A few other bonuses, after we'd expected it to be a cold & windy day, we had great weather; and, we arrived early to find only 3 other tourists there! Being alone at a tourist site like this was a rare gift that we took full advantage of!

We went to the Mutianyu section of the wall which is about an hour drive from Beijing, on our arrival we bought tickets for a ski lift ride to the top of the mountain which included a tobogan run down when we were done! Not what I'd expected to find, but was really fun!