This time last
year, we had just returned from our two-week adventure in China. Although a
year has passed and we’ve been to other countries since, that visit still looms
For one thing, I’m
writing a novel set in many of the places we explored while there. For another,
I’ve written a series of travel stories. Look for both to be published later
writing, what did we do during our weeks exploring China? Figuring out where to
begin can be as complicated as a Chinese puzzle box.
We began our time in Beijing. We strolled Tiananmen Square,
the largest square in the world. We explored the Forbidden City and visited the
Imperial Palace. We danced and sang with the locals at the Summer Palace. A
rickshaw ride through the Hutong brought us face to face with world-renowned
Cricket Leo and lunch with his family (of people, birds, animals, and insects).
And Beijing Zoo gave us a glimpse of the giant pandas.
Then we explored the original
capitol of unified China, Xi’an, and
it’s 5,000 year history. We marveled at the thick, 9-mile city wall, climbed
the Drum and Bell towers, rang the prayer bell at Wild Goose Pagoda in Jianfu
Temple, and took a crazy motorized rickshaw ride through heavy traffic going
the wrong way into bus-filled round-a-bouts.
The Terra Cotta Army protecting China’s first emperor was impressive,
being one of the greatest archeological finds of the 20th century.
We even met one of the four peasants who discovered the warriors while digging
Suzhou, the Venice of the East, saw us cruising along canals
villages and admiring stone bridges and trees that touched the surface of the
water. We walked ancient streets and took in the beautiful Lingering Garden. We
even visited a farmer’s market with all sorts of livestock, from frogs and
snakes to fish and goose. And we met a winemaker and sampled the rice wine of
his 100-year old winery.
In Hangzhou, we cruised the West Lake, admired the Su Causeway and
waterlogged pillars, and enjoyed some time at a tea plantation where we picked
and tasted our own Longjing tea, watch it roasted in hot woks, and enjoyed a
tea ceremony with the dragon-well tea so exclusive that it was once made only
for the Emperor.
Shanghai surprises rounded out our trip with a skyline so amazing
that it looked like something out of a futuristic movie. At the river, you
could see the old European buildings at the Bund on one side, and the Pearl
tower and futuristic skyscrapers in Pudong on the other. A ceremony was going
on when we visited the Jade Buddha Temple. We hovered on the MagLev, climbed
the JinMao Tower to stand next to the partially completed “second tallest
building in the world,” explored Yu Gardens and Bazaar, explored the twisted
side streets of the French Concession, enjoyed the Shanghai Museum, and even
watched an ERA performance of Chinese acrobats.
What more did we do? A lot.
We walked the Great Wall, one of the
seven manmade wonders of the world. We visited a freshwater pearl factory, jade
museum, silk factory, silk embroidery institute, Imperial Pharmacy of traditional
Chinese medicine, and enjoyed lectures from experts on all of these.
My China-based travel stories
are written, but I’m waiting to submit them after I finish my novel set in
these and other exotic locations.
Dead and Buried
is being published by Blue Heron Book Works later in 2015.
Labels: china, dead and buried, story, travel