How the Cookie Crumbles

An irreverant view of life after SIXTY-FIVE


To Yangshuo: Countryside

Image Courtesy of Sally Cronin

I had to catch my breath as we rushed through the zoo. Next on the agenda was a local flight to Guilin. We had to get our luggage checked and be ready to board by 11:10 a.m. for an hour flight. There were no unexpected surprises at the airport this time: no wands shrieked, nor gongs rang; no high-pitched voices nor thumping feet. Everyone had packed properly; no one wore heavy metal except for one tour member’s knee implant.

A boxed lunch was served on board again, but I don’t recall what had been on offer.

Upon landing, our new tour guide, thirty-something Lily, met us at the airport. She was an attractive young woman, dressed in cold weather fleece pants and jacket. She appeared reserved but approachable.

IMG_0615

Guilin Quick Facts

  • Population Guilin: 1 million, includes 5 urban districts. Total equals 4.7 million
  • Lots of Limestone mountains
  • Yao Mountain only earth mountain, also the highest
  • Small buildings only up to five storeys high
  • Lakes and two rivers
  • Have 4 seasons
  • Living standard is okay
  • Tourism main source of revenue
  • Tax-free for business
  • Minority regions, tax tree
  • Good transportation
  • Major fashion manufacturers: Shanghai & Kenton
  • Southern port of China

We were surrounded by limestone mountains from the airport to Guilin. What a sight to see.

Known for:

  • Specialty chili paste; local taste is hot
  • Herbal medicine
  • Fermented tofu
  • Persimmons, kumquats, oranges
  • Local wine (53% made from rice), named: Three Flower
  • Natural wine quarry
  • Local beer: Lee Cham
  • Hometown of local painting
  • Ocean pearls about 300 miles (km) from Guilin
  • 10 army bases present because close to Vietnam border
  • Rice has two crops a year. Ninety percent of rice farmers suffer rheumatism and arthritis

IMG_0603

Frolicking in a tea field. I couldn’t balance the hat on my head.

Tea Quick Facts:

  • Guilin area is known for Chinese Tea
  • Tea Institute does research on tea properties (founded in 1965 near Yao Mountain)
  • Same tea bush, different tea from different parts of the bush
  • Tea picking is in the morning
  • Osmanthus tree, a relative of cinnamon (use only flowers not bark for tea)
  • Flower tea: Jasmine, Osmanthus
  • Green tea has caffeine, radiation-resistant for people use computers for long hours
  • White tea regulated and produced in limited quantities for export
  • Oolong tea, you must have clay pot (color is red but like black tea) but different taste

Tea Disruption

  • Most popular tea? Depends on age group and type of job (social standing)
  • Tea for modern people: “Pu-Erh” tea compressed into a hard block
  • Puer tea (expensive) you cut off a piece to make tea
  • Puer tea: good for stomach, detox high cholesterol, blood pressure, diabetes, arthritis, rheumatism and good for losing weight

We were invited to a tea tasting after the tour. I wasn’t fond of most of it. One couple liked the Pu-Erh tea  and bought a box. It wasn’t cheap and looked like a block of tar.

.

~ * ~

Additional Information:

Tea farm outside Guilin:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y_Bzr8s45i8

How do they make it? Puer Tea Production:

 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N6mewXlWlmY

 ~ * ~

Next on September 22: To Yangshuo -Countryside

© 2017 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles

FYI: This is a re-blog of the best parts of my trip in 2014

* * * 

I am currently on an unplanned sabbatical. Please bear with me. I hope to return soon. 
Thank you for reading. I DO appreciate your kind and continued support more than I can express.

 

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Shanghai, Part 3 – The Old Bazaar and More

 

Image Courtesy of Sally Cronin

Chinese Saying

Keep your belongings in front of you. What’s in front belongs to you; what’s behind, belongs to someone else.

~ * ~

Whenever we left or entered the bus, our tour guide gave a reminder to check our personal belongings. At first, I felt we were being treated like children but soon realized how easy it is to become engrossed while surrounded by the distractions of China.

Old Shanghai Bazaar

What luck! Once again, we were given time to explore on our own. After the splendor of the financial district (The Bund), some in our group discovered another world a short distance away.  These are the real people we had little occasion to see. I thank RJ for sharing these wonderful pictures.

More day-to-day scenes:

The Ritzier Bazaar 

While a few explored the vibrant open market, others followed Jackie, our tour guide, to a more upscale sector where anything from floral teas to pearls; jade to cameras; clothes to emporiums and brand name, and best-quality knock-offs were secreted. One daring couple opted to check out the underground market. I had no interest in shopping but decided to tag along for the adventure. Led through masses of humanity, avoiding elbows and bodies, we entered an alley, made a turn and afollowed a short path to a nondescript door. Jackie must have knocked to gain entry, but I don’t recall. Before leaving, he expalined our route back to the group’s meeting place. Poof. I blinked and he vanished.

© All Rights Reserved. Used by permission of RJ, a member of English 8.

© All Rights Reserved. Used by permission of RJ, a member of English 8.

We entered, were sized up, and drilled asked what was needed. I experienced a thrill of excitement and a chill of forebody. No one knew where we’d gone.

The room small and windowless, shelves on three walls displayed elegant purses, luggage, watches etc. Like a wolf waiting to pounce, the attendant pushed merchandise on the couple. A second man watched the proceedings. Nothing suited. How about this? Maybe you’d like that… The room shrank and grew smothering. Eyes to the door, my nerves hummed. Escape wasn’t easy. Like it or not, we were in for a hard sell. Special for you, I have … How about a fine watch. Ernesto bought a piece of luggage instead. Avid shoppers, he and his wife already needed another bag for their China purchases. We were free at last. Ernesto, husband of the well-travelled couple I’d shadowed, wasn’t impressed. “Might as well buy a real Rolex for the price they want.”

We hadn’t advanced further than a few paces when a young woman materialized from behind, promising another place, a better deal. She wouldn’t take no for an answer. We kept moving. The whole business became uncomfortable. Seeing us a waste of time, she took the hint, and melted into the crowd.

As everywhere else, knock-offs are illegal in China. If you are caught, off to the police station you go. Your tour group continues as scheduled and you have to find your way back to them on your own dime. Of course, you don’t get to keep your loot either.

Dinner Sunday night  

  • Tomato soup with egg
  • Rice with egg
  • Lightly breaded white fish
  • Mixed vegetables
  • Greens
  • Eggplant in a sauce
  • Beef in sauce
  • Sliced curry potatoes
  • Scrambled eggs
  • Sweet and sour chicken
  • Watermelon slices

Shanghai Quick Facts:

  • Home of the (open air) Bird’s Nest, capacity 80,000
  • Popular sports: ping pong, table tennis, basketball and soccer
  • World Financial Center, 2nd tallest in the world
  • Houses used to cost $1,000 / square foot; now up to $5,000 / square foot
  • Kindergarten parents pay about $1,000 per month
  • School free grades 1 to 9
  • Live-in maid service pays $1,000 per month
  • Twice-a-week service pays $10. per hour

~ * ~

Next on June 16, Shanghai, Part 4 – Silk Factory and More

 

© 2017 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles

FYI: This is a re-blog of the best parts of my trip in 2014.

~ * ~

I am currently on an unplanned sabbatical. Please bear with me. Hope to return soon. 
Thank you for reading and for your kind and continued support.



Shanghai, Part 2 – The Bund and Huangpu River

Image Courtesy of Sally Cronin

Away from the stalking (however polite) salespeople at the embroidery shop, we headed to a different lunch experience. The atmosphere had a cafeteria look and feel and the tables were communal and banquet-hall length.  The following links show better than I can tell.

 Mongolian BBQ:

http://www.panoramio.com/photo/105702458

 Preparation of BBQ:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mongolian_barbecue

Lunch finished, I visited the Ladies’ Room. Again the men’s and ladies’ washrooms were opposite each other. I recognized the door I wanted by a high-heeled shoe decorating it and the Men’s by a black smoking pipe. When I prepared to wash my hands later, I found myself at the sink between two Chinese men. Putting my hands beneath the tap, I expected it to turn itself on. Nothing. The man on my right snatched my hands into a firm but gentle clasp and placed them opposite the sensor’s eye. Afterward, my ever helpful minder noticed my indecision regarding the exit and with a gentle nudge, pointed me towards the nearest one. I imagined him shaking his head thinking I was a silly westerner.  

© 2014 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles

© 2014 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles (Our cruise ship)

After lunch we headed to The Bund, the financial district with the famous Shanghai World Financial Center (shaped like a bottle opener), and many other unique and grandiose structures. Jackie, our guide, purchased tickets for our afternoon cruise on the Huangpu River, which divides Shanghai in half and is about 70 miles long. We cruised among barges transporting sand, coal and lumber among others for a good hour or so.

© 2014 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles

© 2014 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles

© 2014 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles

It was Sunday and a long weekend (Tomb Sweeping Festival). The walkways and pedestrian areas were full of visitors. I understand during any good weather, The Bund is a popular place to spend the day with friends.

Click for stunning images of The Bund, The Huangpu River, and Nanpu Bridge

Sue didn’t want to sit outside on the top deck because she thought it would be too cool and windy. I followed her inside to the main floor and we were surprised to be alone. We grabbed a table in a snack area marked V.I.P. Ever observant, we then noticed a doorway leading to the cruise ship’s bow, enclosed with wraparound windows. We couldn’t believe our luck. No-one to bother us, cushy chairs and our own private ship. Within seconds an attendant came in and we were forced out and ended up outside anyway. To the untrained eye I suppose we didn’t have that V.I.P. aura.

IMG_0489

© 2014 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles

Sue didn’t want to sit outside on the top deck because she thought it would be too cool and windy. I followed her inside to the main floor and we were surprised to be alone. We grabbed a table in a snack area marked V.I.P. Ever observant, we then noticed a doorway leading to the cruise ship’s bow, enclosed with wraparound windows. We couldn’t believe our luck. No-one to bother us, cushy chairs and our own private ship. Within seconds an attendant came in and we were forced out and ended up outside anyway. To the untrained eye I suppose we didn’t have that V.I.P. aura. Insert Image #486, 487, 489, 498, (The Bund, the cruise, moi and our cruise ship) © 2014 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles

© 2014 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles

Shanghai Quick Facts:

  • Population 23 million
  • City is 6,800 square kilometers
  • Communist party began here in 1921
  • Home of silk
  • Beginning of silk road (trade: tea, pearls, jade)
  • During Hun dynasty, you could find a good horse here, an Arabian
  • 14 subway lines, over 500 kilometers long

~ * ~

Next on June 9, Shanghai, Part 3 – Old Bazaar and Other Shopping

© 2017 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles

FYI: This is a re-blog of the best parts of my trip in 2014.


Suzhou to Shanghai – Part 1

At home, my regular breakfast consists of a small container of yogurt, a hard-boiled egg, and coffee. From the first morning after our arrival in China, I ate breakfast as if it were my last meal. I even sampled more than one kind of roll although I rarely eat bread. An extravagant buffet breakfast is not easy to ignore, but I believe I burned all those calories during our days of walking and climbing and walking some more. I bet hoisting myself up into the bus consumed 1,000 calories, easy.

Sue checked her rash but it still had not improved and her legs and feet were still swollen. There was no pain and she was satisfied with that.

We started the day early to avoid crowds at Liu Garden, which Jackie, our guide, called The Lingering Garden. Upon entering the grounds, instructions about time and meeting location were dispatched immediately.

“If you need the Happy House, it is there.” Jackie waved in the direction of a low building. We squinted with pinched brows. What?

 “Happy House is toilet.” He checked the screen on his cell phone and was gone. We were on our own to wander as we wished. Again.

The garden was small, neat and clean. It seemed there’s no such thing as early. Paths and passages were tight in spots and we had to wait for a turn to pass. We rubbed elbows with lots of other visitors. Lorena lost us when she stopped for a photo opportunity. Not successful in finding us, she headed back to the parking lot where the buses were parked. She saw the French Group’s guide, who then called Jackie and he joined us up together again.

Back on the bus, we settled in for a two-hour ride to Shanghai passing the time napping or talking, sometimes asking Jackie questions.

Once again we were treated to a tourist wonderland of Cashmere / Pashmina factory shopping. The sweaters, shawls etc. didn’t interest me. I noticed the men’s pained faces as if they’d been lined up for a firing squad.

Before we left the factory, a museum stop on the schedule was voted down in favor of more shopping time at the bazaar in the afternoon. Jackie suggested this was a great place for picking up knock-offs which are illegal everywhere. The men’s faces drooped.

Silk Embroidery Shop:

This work is amazing embroidery anyone shall ever see. Some work is done in 1/64th thickness of a silk strand. Hard to imagine. I wonder if the workers have good compensation when they go blind. Even with my nose an inch from the finished product, I could have sworn these were paintings. Some were three dimensional; the fur on some animals was ultra realistic and breathtaking. I couldn’t help reaching for it.

© 2014 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles

                                              © 2014 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles

© 2014 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles

                                                © 2014 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles

The following  is the best link I could find for silk embroidery display (Some Jade images are included)

https://www.flickr.com/photos/45909111@N00/sets/72157607927737804/

Chinese Saying:

He (or she) has a jade face (means: is good looking)

Jade is highly valued, therefore this is the highest compliment you can pay someone.

 ~ * ~

Next on June 2, Shanghai, Part 2  Huangpu River and the Bund

© 2017 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles

FYI: This is a re-blog of the best parts of my trip in 2014.


Suzhou: Part 2 – Old Town Market

Image Courtesy of Sally Cronin

Our first stop in Suzhou, a quaint, little town with a population of 3.8 million, was at the Old Town Market. The bus parked, we followed close behind Jackie to a busy crossroad where he pointed to either side of the busy street. On one side we could visit the old town market. On the opposite side was a more modern, touristy shopping area. At last, we were allowed to roam as we chose for a couple of hours. We were to meet at a designated area at 6:00 p.m.

I joined up with Bonnie and Russ and we headed to the market and a whole different world: open stalls, sidewalk displays; elbow room only and brisk exchanges of money and goods. No health concerns were in evidence. We saw small squirmy fish; large fish in shallow tubs of (cloudy) water; frogs; eel; cut-up pig parts with skin on and live chickens, As well, there were shoes, fabrics, and all types of outdated (to us) clothing. If you were hungry hot food was available as well as unrecognizable vegetables. These people were poor.

© 2014 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles

© 2014 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles

We walked through the market and crossed over an old bridge to the other side of the canal. Talk about being thrown back to another time: a world of bicycles and mopeds, old shops, dank houses with peeling paint hanging over the river, some with neither a stoop nor steps. I imagined someone opening the back door and falling into the water. Oopsie. The water wasn’t clear and inviting.

 

IMG_0458 IMG_0459

© 2014 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles

                                               © 2014 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles

IMG_0465

Small river boats were kept busy as one after another appeared.

© 2014 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles

                                                   © 2014 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles

We wandered into a shop and found paintings and hangings of the same bridge we’d crossed, as well as many recreations of past times at this location. With a little time to spare, we wandered across the road to the newer, touristy section but it was of little appeal.

Pizza Pizza, McDonald’s, KFC are not plentiful but not unusual. I had to take a picture of this, though, my first sighting.

© 2014 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles

                                               © 2014 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles

On our way to the bus and the hotel, I realized how much we’d covered this day, including the flight. My stomach rumbled and my feet wanted a rest. Thirty minutes late, we food was ready.

Dinner: 

  • Breaded and fried chicken
  • Scrambled eggs and white kind of fish
  • Breaded pork
  • French fries
  • Cauliflower with bacon and young beans
  • Green vegetable (mystery)
  • Rice with fried egg
  • Soup with tomato
  • Watermelon for dessert
  • Tea and the usual drinks
© 2014 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles

                                                © 2014 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles

© 2014 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles

                                             © 2014 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles

Our hotel was gorgeous and the room attractive, but the shower leaked. The sink and toilet were Koehler brand and I noticed either the door or the door frame in the bathroom were not plumb.

© 2014 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles

                                             © 2014 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles

© 2014 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles

                                               © 2014 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles

Chinese saying:

Chinese will eat anything with legs except a table; anything that flies, except a plane, and everything that swims, except a boat.

 ~ * ~

Next on May 26 –  Suzhou to Shanghai, Part 1

© 2017 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles

FYI: This is a re-blog of the best parts of my trip in 2014.

 


Suzhou: Part 1 – Jade Tour and a Flight

The day began at 5:00 a.m. and not on a good note. Sue hadn’t slept well and we had no hot water for showers. I didn’t bother, but Sue did. My hair needed washing so I stuck it underneath the tap. Brr. Cold.

We’d been instructed to leave our luggage outside the door before 7:45 a.m. As Sue pushed hers against the wall I rolled mine over the thresh-hold and—slam—locked us out. Down to the front desk and back up again. We were relieved to return with the assistant manager and her life-saving master key. Our purses with passports and money were still there. Whew. We reported the cold water situation to save the next visitors the headache.

© 2014 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles

© 2014 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles (Taken from 10th floor on our way to breakfast)

The pieces carved out of jade were fascinating; the workmanship astonishing with delicate and intricate detail but too expensive for me. I don’t need jade jewelry either and certainly don’t have room for anymore dust collectors. I’m trying to down-size collectibles. Bonnie and Russ bought a tricky jade piece featuring five (or seven) balls, one inside the other, which were all movable, but do not come apart.

© 2014 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles

© 2014 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles (Jade carving)

        Click for stupendous photos of  Jade Carvings in Ancient China

We headed to the airport after the Jade romp to catch our one-hour-and-forty-five-minute fight to Souzhou. At securit,y two suitcases from our group set off alarms. Jim had one of the problem suitcases and Russ the other. Scanning revealed 15 or so ‘A’ batteries stored in his luggage were the culprits. The last flight he’d been told to store them there. This time, they were pulled out and he was advised to them into his carry-on. I’m not sure what problem Jim had. A screaming baby must have fallen asleep. We finally boarded at 12:30 p.m., taxied and lifted skyward.

Lunch was served on the plane. The Stewart threw (not dropped) the boxed meal onto my table. He moved so fast, some noodles spilled into my lap and he didn’t even notice. Not a good day for him either. Other than the spilled noodles, I don’t remember eating.

Upon landing, I reached for my carry-on in the overhead. By accident, my hand landed not on top of the seat in front of mine, but on the head of the man who sat there. What a fuss he made. You’d think I’d assaulted him. The Chinese language, when the speaker talks loudly sounds enraged to me. I used my most soothing voice to apologize. He didn’t need to understand the words. Wouldn’t you know, I had him on my radar all the way into the airport. While Chinese people appear to invade your space in a crowd and fill any available space, they do not touch anyone around them.

© 2014 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles

© 2014 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles

We were met by, Jackie, a new guide, a tall, attractive man of thirty-eight with an easy going style and a great command of English. The bus ride to Souzhou took a couple of hours. The city is known as The Garden City or Venice of the East because of its many canals.

~ * ~

Next on May 19 – Suzhou: Part 2 – Old Town Market (lots of pictures).

© 2017 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles

FYI: This is a re-blog of the best parts of my trip in 2014.

 


Xian, Part 1 – Old City Wall (and more)

Before leaving for the day’s tour, I exchanged $100.00 Canadian to 547 Yuan and paid no commission. A Bank of China specific area was available at the reception desk. The man was pleased with my brand new polymer Canadian bills unlike the ones I’d converted at a machine in a previous hotel. The machine didn’t like polymer bills. Too slippery?

Our first stop of the day was at the old Xian City wall, which stands 12 meters high (13.1234 yards). A lot of stairs to climb to the top surface (15 meters or 16.4042 yards wide). We saw pedestrians and bikers, but it wasn’t crowded at all. Due to the short time allocated to look around, we didn’t walk far. There wasn’t much to see on top where we’d entered anyway.

© 2014 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles

© 2014 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles (On top of the wall)

 © 2014 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles

                        © 2014 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles (On top of the wall – bikes for hire)

On one side we looked down on modern buildings and the other a market in progress. Buyers and sellers moved in and out at a brisk pace. The location made me think of a wide alley. Old buildings had been removed and continued to be knocked down.

© 2014 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles

© 2014 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles (bright weather for market day)

 © 2014 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles

                              © 2014 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles (brisk shopping and selling)

Next we visited the Shaanxi History Museum: thousands of artifacts, too many people, and stifling.

© 2014 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles

                                  © 2014 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles (entrance in museum)
© 2014 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles

© 2014 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles (magnificent wall)

Steve, our tour guide, felt ill and stopped at a pharmacy for something to settle his stomach. Instead of leaving us for the day, as I’m sure he might have preferred, he soldiered on, lime-white faced.

 Our third stop in was the factory where the Terracotta Warriors were made. Reproductions of the originals (we will visit next week) are made by way of molds. No two faces are alike. The dedication to fine detail is incredible.

Warrior Wannabe

                             © 2014 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles (A tourist warrior wannabe)

© 2014 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles

                             © 2014 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles (Life-size, headless and eerie)

Lunch:

  • Eggs and tomatoes
  • Beef with onion
  • Rice
  • Vegetable soup with spinach(?)
  • Noodles
  • Spicy chicken with celery and hot peppers
  • Tofu
  • Cubed potatoes with caramel
  • Sweet and sour fish
  • Mystery meat on a stick (delicious)
© 2014 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles

© 2014 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles (Sorry this is fuzzy. Too much beer?  lol

Xian Quick Facts:

  • Total population of China 1.4 billion
  • 200,000,000 Chinese still living in poverty
  • Floating population, living in country-side live on $2.00 a day and scavenge cardboard, paper etc.
  • Some farmers built rooms out of scrap on their property to accommodate the scavengers
  • Scavengers collectively work together to afford a room like this
  • If you own an apartment, your kids inherit it after you die. Cannot sell for profit.
  • If you are a real estate developer, or magistrate, you’ll manage to sell it
  • $300,000 USD + four-unit apartments were given to farmers moved off their land (so the story goes)
  • Some farmers did so well in new environment (new location), they became millionaires (so the story goes)
  • First day of Sweeping Festival begun (April 5-7)
  • Now more people are cremated
  • Traditionally one day for Sweeping Festival bit extended by government for travel to grave sites of dead relatives and loved ones.
  • http://traditions.cultural-china.com/en/14Traditions278.html
  • Cars with 7 or less passengers go free because of Sweeping Festival
  • Vehicles with more than 7, still have to pay toll
  • 6 billion trips are taken around the country during holidays and New Years
  • Our bus driver’s father is a millionaire farmer. Why is his son driving a bus?

~* ~

Next on May 5th, Xian, Part 2 – Terracotta Warriors (at last)

© 2017 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles

FYI: This is a re-blog of the best parts of my trip in 2014.


Shaolin: Kung Fu Training and Shaolin Temple

Image Courtesy of Sally Cronin

Already I was confused regarding the day. My iPad said Thursday but its calendar highlighted Wednesday. My laptop also showed Wednesday. Sheesh, different time zone. The reason for my disorientation was our itinerary had been flipped and I could not keep the changes straight.

This is where we slept the previous night. Pretty swanky hotel, but we saw no other guests.

© All Rights Reserved. Used by permission of RJ, a member of English 8.

© All Rights Reserved. Used by permission of RJ, a member of English 8.

From the hotel, we drove to the Shaolin School of Kung Fu. Our guide, Lisa, told us the attendees were 95% boys with 5% girls. I saw no girls.

Lisa wore the same clothes as the day before: red track pants and a red quilted jacket. Too warm for the humid weather.The forecast for the day: 20 degrees.

© All Rights Reserved by Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles

© All Rights Reserved by Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles

© All Rights Reserved by Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles

© All Rights Reserved by Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles

We sat inside for a thirty-minute-plus Kung Fu performance. The place was run down inside and out, needed paint and refurbishing. I took a couple of videos but deleted them because they were too blurry.

The little guy in white, the youngest but a rapidly advancing pupil, demonstrated clutching a bowl-shaped object to his midriff by muscle control. To prove authenticity, a pole inserted through a hole in the object (was it a bell?) allowed two young men to lift it shoulder length and carry the boy as he hung firmly attached, belly-up.

© All Rights Reserved by Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles

© All Rights Reserved by Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z4-s8TBB6dw  (4.49 min) A peak at Kung Fu training.

Quick Facts:

  • Shaolin Home of Shaolin School of Kung Fu
  • Established 495 A.D.
  • 10,000 students
  • Ages 3 to 18 (complete education here, equivalent to finishing high-school)
  • 95% boys / 5% girls
  • Half-day school / half-day Kung Fu training
  • This is a private school (parents pay for room, board, and tuition)
  • One month holiday in February during Chinese New Year
  • Parents can come to visit on weekends
  • Costs (10,000 Yuan) under $2,000 U.S. per year
  • Attending this school is good for finding a job later
  • Can open own Kung Fu school in other countries instead of finding a job
  • Famous personalities from this school: Bruce Lee and Jackie Chan

Pagoda Forest / Shaolin Temple

A short distance away we visited the Pagoda Forest. Rain drizzled as we walked around. Young girls giggled and stared, and begged to have their picture taken with the foreigners (‘the big noses’).

© All Rights Reserved by Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles

© All Rights Reserved by Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pagoda_Forest_at_Shaolin_Temple

This is what the tombs look like. The size depended on the monk’s life achievement and the number of  financial contributors.

© All Rights Reserved by Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles

© All Rights Reserved by Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles

© All Rights Reserved. Used by permission of RJ, a member of English 8.

© All Rights Reserved. Used by permission of RJ, a member of English 8.

Quick Facts: 

  • Graveyard with 248 tombs for important monks
  • Depending on life’s accomplishments = size of tomb
  • Depending on number of supporters (donations) = size of tomb
  • Tombs built during an eminent monk’s lifetime, not after death, and added to till he died

Some highlights at the Temple

© All Rights Reserved. Used by permission of RJ, a member of English 8.

© All Rights Reserved. Used by permission of RJ, a member of English 8. (The well is picture below)

© All Rights Reserved. Used by permission of RJ, a member of English 8.

© All Rights Reserved. Used by permission of RJ, a member of English 8.  (This is the preserved well.)

Protectors of the Temple

© All Rights Reserved. Used by permission of RJ, a member of English 8.

© All Rights Reserved. Used by permission of RJ, a member of English 8.

© All Rights Reserved. Used by permission of RJ, a member of English 8.

© All Rights Reserved. Used by permission of RJ, a member of English 8.

An Altar

© All Rights Reserved. Used by permission of RJ, a member of English 8.

© All Rights Reserved. Used by permission of RJ, a member of English 8.

~ *~

Next on April 28:  Xian

© 2017 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles

FYI: This is a re-blog of the best parts of my trip in 2014.


Luoyang, Part 2: Longmen Caves

Image Courtesy of Sally Cronin

We were supposed to visit the Terra Cotta Warriors, but our schedule had been switched.  Our new guide, Lisa, met us at the airport in red sweats and a quilted  jacket. It was warm (forecast 25° Celsius). Our luggage loaded on the bus, we headed for the mysterious Longmen Caves.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3QdYUkvT19g  (length 4.37 min)

OR

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nf_ZzgwxrmI  (length 30.12 min)

We walked a long way from the bus to the grottoes. The day was humid with a hint of rain. I wore flip-flops until we got off the plane. Yes, those cheap dollar store kind to wear in the hotels, proof of how little I’ve traveled. We had slippers at every hotel. Duh. Had I known I’d be wearing them out, I’d have packed my fashionable pair. I switched to my runners on the bus. Soon my blistered and bandaged toes, although wrapped in three bandages each, growled and complained.

Bridge at Long Corridor © by permission of RJ, a member of English 8

Bridge at Long Corridor
© by permission of RJ, a member of English 8

The area we walked was a long and wide to accommodate hoards of people. It was a well-maintained park setting with flowers, trees, surprisingly pristine, alongside the River Yi. Again we saw no wrappers or garbage anywhere. No empty water bottles lay around either. Recycle containers were everywhere and well-used.

River Yi at Longmen Caves © by permission of RJ, a member of English 8

River Yi at Longmen Caves
© by permission of RJ, a member of English 8

So much destruction had occurred to the caves and carvings over time: vandalism, smashed faces, missing heads and time/weather-wear. Stolen pieces had been mysteriously secreted to museums in various parts of the world, but are slowly being returned.

Our tickets to Longmen Caves allowed a choice between a postcard and a pack of peony seeds. I chose the latter as a souvenir because peonies are the city flower. There is a natural rock in this area that looks like it’s covered in peonies.

Peony Stone © by permission of RJ, a member of English 8

Peony Stone
© by permission of RJ, a member of English 8

I hadn’t planned to climb to the top as my feet balked at the hundreds of stairs (thousands?), but curiosity changed my mind. When would I have the opportunity to see for myself what I’d traveled so far to see? Going up wasn’t too bad. I don’t think anyone noticed how I gripped the railing with both hands. Coming down was another matter. Heights and I are not on friendly terms.

© Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles A few caves

© Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles
A few caves

Would you guess the biggest Buddha is 17 meters tall?

© by permission of RJ, a member of English 8

© by permission of RJ, a member of English 8

This is a close-up of the largest Buddha, Losana, or Mona Lisa so-called by the locals because of the smile.

© by permission of RJ, a member of English 8

© by permission of RJ, a member of English 8

Below the many stairs are shops with tourist trinkets of all kinds and postcards etc.

© Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles

© Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles

By the time I’d walked, photographed, snooped in the shops and sat to rest my feet, my tummy reminded me it was starving. The humidity continued and the rain stayed away. Soon everyone gathered together. There was no more to see. Dinner awaited somewhere. I hoped we didn’t have far or long to go.

~ * ~

For an in-depth history, you may like to check http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Longmen_Grottoes

 

Next on April 14th, Luoyang, Part 3 – Dinner and Stories

© 2017 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles

FYI: This is a re-blog of the best parts of my trip in 2014.


Luoyang, Part 1 – Domestic Flight

Image Courtesy of Sally Cronin

So far, our English 8 Gang has traveled from Toronto to Chicago to Beijing, approximately 7,041 miles (give or take). This does not include the bus trips in the three days since our arrival in Beijing to Tiananmen Square; Forbidden City; Temple of Heaven; The Great Wall; Ming Tombs, Summer Palace, and old Beijing Hutong.

IMG_0792

The night before we scrambled to assemble our suitcases and sort out what we’d need for the morning and left our bags in the hallway for pickup as instructed. It seemed odd the next morning when the bags were in the lobby–sitting there looking abandoned and crammed together for protection. We could have brought them down when we met in the lobby after breakfast. What a headache for nothing. No tour was planned for the morning.

Bikes galore

                                                                            Bikes galore

We were off for the first of our domestic flights to Luoyang. Robert, our guide, came with us to the luggage drop-off and as far as Security, which made it easier to find our way through the airport.

Someone brought up tipping (the tour guide) at dinner the night before but no conclusion had been reached. A new tour guide waited in Luoyang. Before Robert said goodbye, there was a scramble to cross his palm with Chinese money.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Luoyang_Beijiao_Airport

I stood behind Sue at the Security Check and was yelled at to step back behind the yellow line. Scared me silly. Okay, unnerved me because I don’t understand Chinese. When my turn came, the (young) clerk looked so stern, I was nervous, but I also felt she was milking it. You know, a power trip? I waited while she took her time before returning my passport and boarding pass. Once through, the body scanning wand went off. What’s going on? Deep breath. The problem:  my purchased-in-Canada-made-in-China earrings.

Russ waited in line behind his wife who cleared in no time though she has knee replacements. She carries a letter in the event the Gong Show starts. We waited and waited for him in consternation. Finally, we watched him being escorted to another Security Desk. When his carry-on had been x-rayed, they couldn’t figure out what set off the alarm. Turned out, he had a camera charger which wasn’t labeled with voltage information (there is a maximum allowed) and it had to be turned in. The security guard, who escorted him, laughed silently. I saw his animated face and shaking shoulders. Even the fellow at the desk, taking possession of the charger, was apologetic, but rules were rules.

Our arrival at the airport was 10:00 a.m., too early for 12:30 boarding. Take-off was 1:00. Would you believe we were given a meal on such a short flight (about an hour and a half)? Then again, it was time for a mid-day meal. The boxed lunch consisted of rice with scrambled egg mixed in and a piece of chopped ham; a dried fruit bun; coffee; water, and cookies. A lot of Chinese were on our flight. One guy, I watched across the aisle, wolfed down his food as if he were starving.

We arrived around 2:30 p.m. I estimated we’d flown 420 miles on a ticket worth about $143.00 USD. We did not pay this. Our trip was all inclusive.

Another new home

                                                                   Another new home

 

Lots of fantastic pictures next time.

Next on April 7, Luoyang, Part 2 – Longmen Caves

© 2017 Tess @ How the Cookie Crumbles

FYI: This is a re-blog of the best parts of my trip in 2014.