Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Yangtze River Cruise Day 3

Leaving the gorges......
Ship loaded with coal next to us in the locks.
Three Gorges Dam (in the fog).
You have to love Chinese signs. "No turning over please."
In other words, don't climb over the fence and fall off the cliff.

Out the bus window--Decorated graves for the Chingming Festival.

This morning we finished going through the locks and disembarked from a delightful cruise. We had a tour of the Three Gorges Dam--the world's largest dam site (haha) and hydroelectric power project. Our bus ride to the airport in Wuhan was about 4.5 hours, but the countryside was lovely. Spring has sprung and the farms and villages along the way were quaint. The Chinese are buried in their fields and all along the road, in the fields and on the terraced mountainside were graves. The reason we had a long weekend was because of Chingming Festival or "Grave Sweeping" holiday (the equivalent of our Memorial Day), so all the graves were decorated with paper flowers, fireworks, etc. It was quite lovely.

Yangtze River Cruise Day 2

Just entering the ship locks. First of five.
Traditional rain gear. I'm such a good boat driver!

Medium boat that took us from our ship to the small boat.

Look at the small cave in the face of the cliff. There is a small wooden coffin inside.

Entering the first Gorge. Kinda like Lake Powell, but a little different.

We entered passed through the gorges today and the sights were breathtaking. We could see monkeys on the mountain and goats, terraced rice fields and villages. It was interesting to see where the villages had been relocated because of the rise in water due to the building of the dam. The other interesting thing was the "hanging coffins." In ancient times the people would carve a cave out of the sheer cliff wall and put the coffin in it or suspend them down the cliffs. Many are still there and you could see them. It was rainy today, but everything was still beautiful. We took and excursion in a sampan to the mini three gorges. Really fun. Our guide let me try on his rain gear and he even sang to us. Tonight we entered the ship locks and it took about 4.5 hours to get through all of them. Really amazing.

Yangtze River Cruise Day 1

Ghost City

Captain's Dinner
They had many "tests" to pass in the Ghost City. I made it!

Oops I think he got me......

The cruise ship was really nice. The food and service was great. You couldn't beat the scenery. Fantastic. The first day we visited Fengdu, the Ghost City. Hiked a mountain to get there, but it was incredibly interesting and a little creepy. Supposedly, Ghost City is where all the evil spirits reside and they are supposed to remain there eternally. Included in the city - which sits on top of a mountain - is a replica depicting the awful ways the Chinese tortured those among them who sinned. For example, they cut a person's tongue out if he was a liar; a thief had his fingers cut off, etc. Ghost City is also supposedly the pathway to the "underworld." It is the Chinese way of expressing the atrocities of Hell. Lots of frightening statues in such a beautiful setting. Tonight was dinner with the captain. Always fun visiting and enjoying the company of our dear BYU friends.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Yangtze River Cruise

Chongqing the "mountain city" and the largest city in China.
Making noodles at the street market.
Enjoying the day!

Stilwell/Flying Tigers Museum.

Some of our delightful traveling companions (Samuel, Linda, Sophie).
Sophie (Yoyo) is our travel guide, Marvin's, daughter and our newly adopted niece. She looks like Lucy (only Chinese).....hahaha....you should see their pictures together and their mannerisms are amazingly similar. She is DARLING.

The Yangtze River is the longest river in China and the third longest in the world. The three gorges (Qutang, Wu and Xiling) are regarded as some of the most spectacular scenery attractions in all of China. The Qutang Gorge is magnificent and precipitous, the Wu Gorge is deep and beautiful and the Xiling Gorge has rapids and many rocks. The water in the Mini Three Gorges is clean and both banks are blanketed by trees and many historical sites, scenic spots and lovely legends. The Three Gorges Dam has just been completed and our tour ended at the dam.

Our river cruise began in the city of Chongqing, the largest city in China--about 32 million strong! It is called the "Mountain city." We saw a bit of the city the first day and it was lovely--rivers, mountains, small villages. What a great place. We visited an ancient town, The Stilwell War Museum and the Three Gorges Dam Museum. All very fascinating.

We Love Chinese Food

I love this picture so I posted on Packer Place as well. Where's Waldo? This stew actually came from our "canteen" downstairs. Our neighbors got it to go and started eating it before they noticed good old Waldo.


Terry and Steve updating their image......

All the island's fresh fruit.....does a body good!

Our new Russian training partner.

Our fresh fruit ice cream goddess--best game in town!

Our new look is complete.......

Forgot to mention how good our diet or "training" efforts were while we were at the beach. We even had to purchase new bathing suits as ours were just not right on our new physiques.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Back to the Beach!

The end of February was cold in Qingdao and so we decided with three weeks still until the second semester we would head back to Sanya. We met up with the Sessions from Beijing and had a great time. It was great because we did absolutely NOTHING. No bus to catch. No tour to take. Nothing to wait on or prepare for. Every morning we would secure our lounges at the beach; visit over breakfast; people watch, fly kites, lounge, read and then head for our favorite frozen fruit smoothies and lunch.....more of the same until dark and then dinner. We ate Thai food every night! In fact, Terry ate the same dish (Mango Beef) every night. We took a one day break from our very tough schedule and went to the "hot baths." We enjoyed massage, hot pools, mud bath, salt buriel and best of all, fish biting massage--all in gorgeous surroundings.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Qingdao Miscellaneous

Fish drying in the parking lot near the Pier.

China basketball with our colleagues from BYU.

The 7' white guy is Ty Detmer's brother-in-law. No joke.

The Qingdao Pier
Visiting one of the beach parks

The acupuncturist's name is Jane. We call her "Jane Pain."
Qingdao's music park on the waterfront.

When we returned home from our Spring Festival tour we still had a few weeks before the second semester so we spent time shopping at Jimo, watching the Qingdao Doublestars, getting some "Eastern Medical Treatments" and basically enjoying down time (although I'm not sure the needles were enjoyable).

Lantern Festival

On a foggy, cold night (in February) we went in search of the
"Lantern Festival." We went to the park, but found nothing. We had a lovely walk through the park and to Bathing Beach No. 1, but it was deserted. We were headed back to our part of town, (and to McDonalds) but happened to get off the bus at May 4th Square when we saw a Pizza Hut. As we were eating, fireworks started going off...they didn't stop all night.....you think I'm kidding.... We went down on the beach and everywhere people were lighting paper lanterns (kind of like mini hot air balloons) and sending them into the air. Fireworks lighted up the sky in every direction. It was quite fun. We bought some lanterns and sent them up ourselves--sending our wishes and prayers for all back home up to the heavens.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Hochi Minh City...better known as Saigon

Wow--I can't believe we found the BYU bookstore in Vietnam.

Yes, they really wear these hats every day....not just in the movies. Isn't she beautiful.

Tunnels for hiding and living during the war. As you can see an American couldn't fit too well.

She is a tall lady and I'm not talking about the lady in red.

I don't know that anyone owns a car in this country. There are thousands of scooters as far as you can see.

The last leg of our month long tour ended in Hochi Minh City, Vietnam. We were going 24/7. We visited Hochi Minh City Hall, Notre Dame Church, thong Nhat Conference Hall and the War Museum--that was before lunch time on the first day. We went to the Cuchi Underground Tunnel-a battle field in Vietnam war time close to Saigon. We enjoyed having Brother Orton with us who explained many aspects of the war as he was with government intelligence during the war. On the second day we went to My Tho Town, one of the 11 provinces in the Mekong Delta and then took a boat trip on the Mekong River to a farmer's house and garden, bee raising farm, coconut candy enterprise and had lunch on the river. We had free time and there was a fabulous market where we bought Polo shirts for $3 and True Religion jeans for $10. We found a great hamburger restaurant, The Black Cat, and ate there two days in a row. We also walked through The Rex Hotel one night (where dignitaries stay) and enjoyed an evening on the patio listening to music.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009


Floating City.....

Isn't she lovely.....

Those are some serious tree roots. They actually hold the temple up in places.

An afternoon at home on the "houseboat."

Isn't he just the cutest!

Loved Cambodia it was warm, the hotel was nice and we were able to relax a bit. We saw temple after ancient temple and they all sort of run together. We visited the ancient capital of Angkor Thorn with the South Gate and huge statutes depicting the churning of ocean milk. Next was the Bayon Temple, unique for its 54 towers decorated with over 200 smiling faces, the Elephant Terrace and the list goes on. In the afternoon, we visited the most famous of all temples on the Angkor plain: Angkor Wat. The temple complex covers 81 hectares and is comparable in size to the Imperial Palace in Beijing. Its distinctive five towers are emblazoned on the Cambodian flag. We took a serious hike to see the sunset from Phnom Bakent which has a spectacular view of the Western Baray and Angkor Wat.
The temple visits continued the next day to Prasat Kravan with its unique brick sculptures, Srah Srang once used for ritual bathing, Banteay Kdei surrounded by four concentric walls, Eastern Mebon guarded by stone figures of harnessed elephants and then Ta Prohm one of the most beautiful temples of the area. It has remained relatively untouched and remains a mystery.
Finally we visited the floating village of the Chong Khneas. We took a traditional wooden boat ride on the Great Lake of Cambodia and the largest lake in Asia. The floating village was a village of homes, repair shops, stores, school, church and even a basketball court/gym all on the water. We stopped at one point to see the alligators. The incredible things was the people lived in the poorest of circumstances and would try to beautify their "homes" with potted flowers or whatever they could find. As my mom would say, "there's a lesson in that!"