friendly people everywhere.
beautiful children.
our hosts in the Hutong Tour of Beijing.
fabulous artwork, architeture and historical relics everywhere.
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Jack toasting our group at the farewell dinner in Shanghai. He graciously gave us all gifts and stuck around to answer our questions and give us shopping suggestions and took very excellent care of us throughout the 9 days together. Thank you Jack Yuan from X'ian.
Sophie and Mette and I and others still had some time for more food and trying "Babyface" Bar until they moved to a hostel. Bye Sophie!
And Mette and Gavin and Sophie were going to continue to explore the nightlife. See ya.
Marcel, Bao-Hien, Jack, Chiew-Dong, Jason and me at the Nanjing Hotel. Bye bye Shanghai. Great trip. I'd highly recommend looking up Intrepid Travel and checking out any destination of interest.
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Finally we made it to Shanghai where we did a walking orientation by day, and a river cruise at night. Yangze delta and Shanghai metropolis.
Fun in Shanghai included no small amount of karaoke and uproariously entertaining the locals.
This reminded me of the #1 Ladies Detective Agency in Botswana.
I had to walk alot to burn off all the delicious dumplings.
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We spent time in Suzchou at the #1 Silk Mill learning about how the cocoons are pulled and made into silk.

And then later in Shanghai we saw a very thrilling traditional Chinese acrobatic performance.
Chiew-Dong and Bao-Hien giving you the peace sign. Great sisters.
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Suzhou - silk factory and gondola

Then in Suzchou we went on a gondola ride which was very peaceful and pleasant. The canals were serene with birds chirping and the gondola captain crooning. In the evening we went to some beautiful gardens with many buildings to visit with traditional opera, dance, theatre.
Roses in bloom.
People doing what people do. Cooking, laundry, sellling things, whatever.
very scenic and cool.
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ipod fun in the train. Chiew-Dong turned me onto Vietnamese music.
We all went to KFC at least once. Here's Jack and Gavin.
And here's Jason and Marcel, S. Africans living in London for now.
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Couple more shots of the warriors and remains of their chariots

and thousands of horses well preserved, but when the enemies broke down the roof and found this inaminate defense they burned and smashed it up pretty well. nothing made of wood lasted, just the terra cotta statues.
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Next we went on our first overnight train ride to X'ian to see the terracotta warriors and to explore the Xian old city wall. This photo shows Gavin on top left, Jason on rt. The train bunks were more comfortable than the hotel beds in Beijing!

The Terra cotta warriors is an amazing archeological site that reveals thousands of soldiers made to protect the Emperor's Tomb. He basically enslaved thousands to build these. No two faces or stances are alike.

We stopped at a group facility for teens with developmental disabilities called Xian Huiling where we were served a spicy soup and steamed rice. Several of the clients sang and danced for us and then we had the option to support their arts and crafts endeavors.

and then later in Xian we all rented bikes and rode all the way around the old city on the wall. The sun was shining, temps in high 60's or low 70's, very pleasant and fun.

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This is Sophie Meisner and Mette Schoenfeld from Denmark. They are on a long trip during a "gap year" and have already explored alot of the world. After leaving Shanghai they head to Vietnam for a month, and in July expect to be on the west coast of the US. We shared a picnic on the Great Wall. One laugh was my discovery of dried mangos which I shared, and later found out they were dried sweet potatoes. Oh well. Later in the trip we had alot of fun eating and shopping and sightseeing.

The trip afforded an excellent taste of many provincial food styles including hot pot (above) where each person has boiling pot and puts the prepared veggies, meats and noodles in themselves.

In Beijing we had a dumpling extravaganza, no kidding, with wonderful stuff and a flaming pot at the end. I was too tired after all that food to go to the special evening entertainment. Oh well, good to relax in the room and get to bed early.
Jack is very enthusiastic about regional foods. He always chose delictable things for us to try and share.
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Here is Jack. He always provided alot of insight into what we were seeing, and also
infused humor into everything. Jack
studied history of China and English and
takes Intrepid and other travel groups
around. We would have struggled
horribly with tickets, trains and generally
navigating China without him. As friendly
and wonderful as the people are, they are
not very well set up yet for non Chinese-
speaking visitors.
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You could hear every language on earth spoken on the wall. It is truly one of the great man-made wonders of the world. I don't know how many millions of people died in its construction.
And here's where the Mongolian barbarians were coming from.

It was definitely a highlight of the trip, especially after climbing back down and falling asleep on the bus.
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