January 23, 2014


As amazing as the wall is, its surrounding scenery is breathtaking!
We found the Great Wall fascinating, but
were also pleasantly surprised to find that it
wound its way through gorgeous mountains and foliage.

The Great Wall is actually a discontinuous network of wall segments built by various dynasties to protect China's northern boundary.

It's usually included in the list of the
Seven Wonders of the Medieval World and
is on UNESCO's list of great national and
historical sites.

The wall is around 2,145 miles long,
with an extra 1,770 miles of branches
and spurs. Parts of it are over 2000 years old.
Built for military defense, the wall accommodated traffic of soldiers, horses, and vehicles.

It's estimated that more than 1,000,000 workers died during the wall's construction.

A view of autumn splendor from the wall.

View from a watchtower.

From this vantage point, soldiers used weapons such as axes, sledge hammers,
crossbows, and gunpowder--a Chinese invention

The western section also provided defense for those traveling the Silk Road.

The wall was begun over 2000 years ago. Today, this tree
guards one of the ramps built for handicapped access.

Tourists taking the stairs to an entrance. Lots of climbing!

January 17, 2014


We recently returned from a trip to Hong Kong and China and, as always, our travels were sprinkled with surprises. In addition to exploring the Great Wall, enjoying a delicious variety of regional food, marveling at the Terra Cotta Soldiers, Tianenmen Square, the Summer Palace, the Li and Yangtze rivers, and all the natural and architectural and historic sites, we constantly encountered the unexpected.

HALLOWEEN Trick or Treat...In both Hong Kong and China, 
we found evidence of Halloween celebrations. 
A street market in Hong Kong offered scary pastries and 
vendors in costume. When we arrived at our hotel in Xi'an, China, 
it was Halloween night. Costumed staff greeted us 
with light-up skull pins left over from a celebration. 

Uniforms, backpacks, phones and vigilant teachers.
FIELD TRIPS  are the same everywhere in the world, it seems. Our first day in Beijing, we visited Tianenman Square and found ourselves touring behind a school field trip. The students' bright blue uniforms made them easy to spot. Ten-year-old chatter and antics are universal!

Muslim Quarter Market

Outside Gullin, we visited a 350-year-old
house where two widowed sisters-in-law 
lived. Their children had built them a
new home, but they preferred to live
here, in what was originally a general's
home. They proudly showed us their
possessions, including a coffin!

Our second day in Xian we visited the
Muslim Quarter of that city, which is on the eastern edge of the Silk Road. We learned that there has been a sizable Muslim population in that region for over 1000 years, a result of the Silk Road trade route.

Widow proudly displays her coffin made by a son.

Wherever we went, people wanted their photo taken with our group's redhead or with our tallest white-haired Gweilo. At the Three Gorges Dam park, several "redheads" got in the act.
At the Three Gorges Dam, a group shot of redheads!

                          Shanghai Book Store's Children's Book Section
Like a giant Barnes and Noble, the Shanghai
Book Store is seven stories of every
imaginable book genre, plus games
and puzzles, stationery and cards, and, of
course, a Starbucks. While we sipped our
latte and herbal tea, we enjoyed Christmas
music. So there we were in Shanghai listening to
Feliz Navidad. Surprise!

We had trouble finding the store and
stopped at a police station for help.
No one there spoke English but we
were able to convey what we were looking for
and a police woman walked us to the corner
and pointed down the street. Surprise!