As mentioned in last week’s photo-gallery based post, I recently had the blessing of vacationing on the beautiful arid island of Aruba. The trip was made all the better by the company: my husband, my best friend, and her fiancé.
For my readers contemplating their own Caribbean getaway, I wanted to offer reflections on what made our Aruba trip a successful escape: Continue reading “All About Aruba: 5 Hints for Making the Most of Your Trip”
Me, working it as a Terra Cotta Warrior(ess?)
Remains of a raided pit.
Note the white markers on all the warrior bits–the world’s most troublesome jigsaw puzzle.
The famous Kneeling Archer–the only survivor of the rebels’ raid.
Officers behind what was originally a chariot.
Another view of the Warrior “hospital.”
Reconstructed warriors and horses in action.
Warriors as far as the eye can see.
Warrior “recovery” room.
Having lived in China for over a year now, I’ve nabbed a few opportunities to venture out exploring from my home base of Chengdu. I have under my belt multiple visits to the glittering capital of Beijing; I’ve stopped in Guangzhou, an important southern port city. My husband and I visited Jiuzhaiguo and its breathtaking nature park; we made our way up to Harbin, a Chinese city located near the Russian and North Korean borders (a phenomenal trip that included visiting the world’s largest ice festival, as well as snow fox and baby tiger-snuggling moments).
See?! Baby tiger!
But of all the Chinese spots I’ve been blessed to see, perhaps the most pleasantly surprising was Xi’an. Continue reading “Terra Cotta Men & Mercury Poisoning”
View from the cable car to the top of the Wall.
Autumn at the Great Wall–a do!
Great Wall in Autumn.
Hey, hey, the gang’s all here.
Misty mountains for miles.
The view from the top of guard tower 21.
Prayer ribbons beside guard tower 23.
A clear division where the refurbishing stops.
Great Wall, au naturel.
Husband and me, atop authentic Great Wall.
A less “manicured” guard tower.
Guard tower 24, the last on our tour.
The view from one of the steeper sections. Note the crenelated wall is nearly vertical.
Because I just couldn’t help myself.
According to China’s late Chairman Mao, “Bù dào cháng chéng fēi hǎo hàn.”
Or, in our own tongue:
“He who has not been to the Great Wall is not a true man.”
This sentiment is one of a few about which Mr. Mao and I disagree. But I will give the man this: The Great Wall (aka: cháng chéng) truly is one of China’s must-see sites.
Believe it or not, this was actually a point of debate a few months back. As I worked with my parents to plan their 10-day trip to visit my husband and me in China, it became quickly apparent that we wouldn’t be able to pay homage to all China’s premier tourist locales. Since both my dad and I are surfers, we seriously considered jettisoning Beijing in favor of Hainan Island, the Hawaii of China:
But in the end, we went the traditional China route. And I’m so glad we did. Continue reading “Great Wall, Great Experience”
Note the qí páo in the center–traditional design, modern fabric.
The genius at the heart of it all, my tailor, on right.
Fabric bolts, as far as the eye can see.
More fabric swatches. Something must be done with that lavender tweed….
Sample pieces–I scored a charming plaid coat off this rack just a few weeks ago.
Someone’s ruby-red winter coat, come to life between the tailor’s hands.
The changing room on the left is actually a luxury in Chinese tailor shops.
Her silks, wrapped up tight and stored away for the winter.
Her winter-weight fabrics, ready to be made into something spectacular.
A (very) small sampling of my tailor loot.
Two Chinese silk dresses, one western, one qí páo.
Western-style designs, left two using Chinese silks.
Given the haul I collected on my trip to the Hongqiao pearl market, you may be surprised to learn that my main Chinese vice is not pearls (though probably only because I’m not living in Beijing). In fact, custom tailoring snags that title–as my poor, bursting-at-the-seams closet can attest.
It isn’t that I’ve never spent time with a tailor before. As someone whose height tops out at 5 foot-nothing, I’ve paid my fair share of visits to have pants, dresses, and blazers nipped up along hem, sleeve, and shoulder.
But prior to my move to China, that’s all tailoring meant to me–someone to trim normal-adult-sized clothes down to fit my oompa-loompa-sized body. Post China-move, I see the tailor in a whole new light. Continue reading “Tailors, Qí Páo & Silks… Oh My!”
Incense censers in the temple adjacent to the buddha’s head.
A head-level view of the buddha and his hand-carved curls.
Let’s see that serene buddha smile!
A view from chest-level.
Religious grotto set into the mountainside staircase leading to the buddha’s feet.
Religious grotto #2.
That is a seriously sizable hand….
See the monk grottos across the way?
A view from the feet up.
No big deal–that’s just a mountain-sized buddha.
By far my favorite Chinese sign thus far; a nice touch in the ladies restroom!
Poetic tablets near the buddha.
Horse carving at the nearby tomb museum.
Ancient tomb-side cave carvings.
Year of the Tiger, anyone?
Hill-top temple near the buddha.
Temple incense censer.
The secret no one tells you about living adventurously is this: sometimes you get lazy.
Living in China, I have at my fingertips some incredible opportunities to explore, to experience new things. Some days I’m great at availing myself of them; when last I attended hot pot (for more on this unique eating experience, peruse here), I said, “Hey, when in Rome” and tried the cow tendon and throat our Chinese friends had ordered up. I was actually disappointed when all the duck kidney got snapped up before I could give it a go.
Other days, however, I become incredibly slothful. Just tired in that unique way only intercultural interfaces can make you. Those days, I’ve no interest in practicing my Mandarin. I don’t want try exciting new food. I cannot even face the thought of going to the dry cleaners, knowing the visit may be riddled with land-mine-style language barriers. These are the days I’m in danger of sleeping my way through our China tour, closing my eyes when I should be jumping on opportunities that may never come my way again. Continue reading “Big Buddhas & Tang Era Tales”
So many pearls….
More pearls still.
Looking for that perfect pair of earrings.
Ling Ling’s store display
Piles of lovely lavender pearls.
An Advisory: To my male readers, I hereby issue fair warning: the following is an unequivocally girly blog post. Read at your own risk.
Now that that’s out of the way, let’s get down to the important stuff: pearls.
This past week, I was fortunate enough to take a short business trip to Beijing. (I know; boo hoo for me, right?) It really was a work trip, so I didn’t have much time to explore Beijing’s touristy side. But there was one spot I knew I had to make it to, even if it meant facing off with Beijing’s infamous rush hour traffic to get there: Hongqiao Market (a.k.a: the Pearl Market).
As a pearl enthusiast, I’ve been hankering to pay Hongqiao a visit since my move to China. Having now made the trip, I can officially endorse it; if you share my fashion icons–women like Jackie Kennedy, Grace Kelly, and the incomparable Audrey Hepburn–you’ll want to make a stop there, too. Continue reading “Livin’ in Pearl-adise”