Saturday, July 19, 2014

China Trip 2014 - We made it home!

We are now home safe and sound! After 6 plane rides, 5 times through airport security areas, 3 delayed flights, 5 hotels, 1 cruise ship, an orphanage visit, crazy hot days, lots of sight seeing and a great time with our friends, we are glad to be home, able to drink the water, brush our teeth with tap water instead of bottled water, be in our own space and sleep in our own beds!!  It is great to travel and it is also wonderful to come back home!


Thanks to the Westerner for doing such a great job of posting photos - I sent a lot!!  so I really appreciate it as well as the personal touch on the captions.  They always add some fun the blog!


We are now back to trying to change our time zone by 12 hours and the Man and I are desperately trying to keep ourselves and the girls awake until at least 3 in the afternoon even though I think we could all crash and sleep right now!  3 would be a good start.  The later the better but it also has to be an achievable goal!  We've done a family grocery shop, had lunch and I think we're all going to go for a walk in the rain to just keep ourselves going as long as we can.  Wish us luck......


the Mom

China Trip 2014 #8: Shanghai

From the Mom, "Energizer Bunny and I had a nice quiet day yesterday while Soccer Girl and the Man had a good time at the water city and shopping.  Once they got back it was everyone in the pool, bathing caps required and then a quick dinner before heading to the acrobatic show.  The acrobatic show was awesome, amazing physical feats, funny segments and just very enjoyable.  Energizer Bunny kept saying, "this is great, mom!"

Today is our last full day and we're off to the Yu'yuan  gardens and market.  Flowers and shopping, something for everyone!"
...
"We are now at the last night of our trip.  For a trip that seemed so long, it's surprising that it's nearly finished.  We had a good day again today.  Much hotter than yesterday though.  Yesterday was muggy but today was sunny and hot, hot, hot again.  Energizer Bunny has had enough of touring and the weather and wouldn't eat any lunch.  She was drinking water but wouldn't eat again until we got back to the hotel and had a nice long, refreshing time in the pool and then some quiet time in our air conditioned room.  Then she started eating again and I wasn't sure she was going to stop!

Soccer girl is off to her second trip to the pool today so she is happy.  She is also happy that we got her an iPod case today and that we are going home tomorrow.  She is definitely our shopper.  Sometimes I wonder if she just agreed to come along for the shopping and the pools!  She is 10 after all!!  I do think that she has benefited from the trip though and that she has some very positive memories that should last her a very long time.

Today's adventures included a trip to the Bund area of Shanghai that was a British area in the past.  You can really tell by the architecture.   We also got an excellent view of some really cool  towers and hotels that identify Shanghai' s cityscape.

Unfortunately that is now also the location we broke our camera.  It fell during a hand off from Soccer FGirl to the Man.  It turns out that only the display broke so we can still take pictures, we're just not exactly sure what the picture is that we're taking!  So anything from the Bind on, including the Yu'yuan gardens and market was a guess or from Soccer Girl's iPod.

So next were the Yu'yuan gardens and to get there we walked through the narrow alley ways of the old city getting to see the local stores, people and nearly get run over by them on their numerous scooters on several occasions.

The gardens were packed and it was sweltering by the time we got there.  They were also beautiful, quite an amazing oasis in the middle of the city.  I am going to miss the beauty of the architecture and all the amazing things we have seen and done on this trip as well as the delicious food not to mention having such a wonderful time with our friends.  I will definitely miss all of them once we are home and I'll look forward to our next reunion when we see them all again.  

After we made it through the crowds in the garden it was time for some shopping in the Yu'yuan market.  It was also packed and crazy but we got some last souvenirs and it was neat to see everything there.  It was more expensive than other places though and it was hard work bargaining the prices down.  I won't miss the bargaining for everything but I guess like everything, it gets better with practice.

Next was another delicious lunch and then most of us went back to the hotel.  I took the girls swimming while the Man headed off with another group to do some final shopping and that is when he finally found the most desired iPod case so it's a good thing he went.  He also got a few other things but I don't think we'll have to buy another suitcase this time.  Our suitcases will be full and so will our hearts and memories from this very happy trip to China."
Zhujiajiao, the Venice of China


For a Venitien latte...



Those little boats with the low railings are the reason Energizer Bunny and I weren't on this trip


Watermelon is served at nearly every meal here, delicious, refreshing and a yummy way to rehydrate

Boo swimcap...

But yay pool!



In the lobby for the acrobat show




Reenactment of the girls on the sofa shot from 9 years ago with all the girls on the trip



Yu'yuan gardens



Yu'yuan market




 Energizer bunny enjoying the light show across the street and saying goodbye to Shanghai and China

Friday, July 18, 2014

China Trip 2014: #7 Chongqing, 3 Gorges by Boat Cruise and Flight to Shanghai

From the Mom, "We've been on the boat cruise for the last three days and there was no wifi so I prepared a bunch of photos and they're sending now from the Yichang airport where we are again waiting for a delayed flight!  I will try to catch you up in words at least as we wait...

I think I left off in Chongqing.  After all the rooms issues and beds were sorted out we got a good sleep and headed out to the Chongqing zoo the next morning.  It was a rainy morning which made it much cooler (still upper 20s, lower 30s) but a nice break from the sun beating down.  We had our jackets but we were also besieged by vendors anxious to sell us umbrellas at the entrance to the zoo.  We bought a couple for a few dollars each and headed in to enjoy the zoo.  It was a lot of fun, especially when the rain let up and the pandas came out!  After the zoo, we had a delicious lunch that was so close to the Chinese food that we eat at home that we devoured everything!  Next it was to a place to climb a hill and then a tower to get a panoramic view of Chongqing.  It was quite a view and quite a city - 35 million!!!  The population of Canada in one city and surrounding area!  The was also an artist who was making drawings of names with items like bamboo, fish, birds etc as letters for a very good price.  Most people in our group got one or two scrolls.  He did a lot of business that day!!  In the same area we went to a tea ceremony which was a lot of fun and then a quick stop a the grocery store for some snacks and then onto our boat for our 3 gorges tour.  It was a busy day but lots of fun and the boat was lovely and a lot of fun.  It didn't start moving until 5:30 the next morning and after breakfast they brought extra mattress pads for those of us Westerners that couldn't handle the rock hard beds!

It was nice to go at a slower pace on the boat.  We didn't have any plans the first morning so the girls enjoyed some down time for a change.  In the afternoon, the Man and Soccer Girl went to the Ghost City of Fengdu.  Energizer Bunny and I stayed back and Energizer Bunny recharged while I caught up on sending some e-mails and photos (to be ready for when we met wifi again).  Apparently there were 400 steps through many temples.  A lot of fun for a 10 year old but too much for an almost 3 year old!  

After dinner and a quiet night we again enjoyed a slower morning and then it was my turn to go with Soccer Girl on the 3 Gorges Boat trip and the Man stayed back while Energizer Bunny recharged.  The trip through the gorges was beautiful, restful, amazing and very enjoyable.  It was also over 4 hours long.  The Man was wondering if we were ever coming back!!

We had another enjoyable dinner.  We had the same wait staff for each meal and the young man especially worked very hard to make sure we had everything we needed.  The dining room also had a very limited loop of music and we heard "don't cry for me Argentina" at every single meal on the boat except for our last lunch when we are in a different dining room.  What an interesting song to remind us of a boat trip through the 3 Gorges in China!

After dinner the girls joined in the talent show that was in the bar that evening and so after some really inappropriate for 10 year olds music videos and some local dances our girls (named 7- up because there were 7 of them dancing and that's pretty much the only drink available to them besides water) did a beautiful fan dance that 2 of the girls taught them in the morning.  It was lovely and so much fun to see them all up there on stage!

This morning we went to the 3 Gorges Dam after going through the series of locks in the night.  The Man went up on deck and took some photos in the night.  Energizer Bunny was asleep but restless so I watched from the window in our room.  It was pretty cool to see the locks as we went through them and also from above in the viewing areas the next morning.  It was supposed to still be cloudy today but the sun was out and our trip was from 8 am to 10:30 and it was sweltering and drippingly hot again. I can't imagine what it would have been like in the afternoon!!

After that tour it was back to the boat for lunch and final packing and then from boat to bus to the airport which is not much bigger than London, On airport which is a nice and relaxing change.  It was easy to get checked in and through security, the lines were very quick and it's much more peaceful waiting here for our delayed flight then in the massive Chonqing airport!

The interlude on the boat was quite nice and a more relaxed pace which was a good change.  Now we're on to Shanghai for our last 3 days and then it will be time to go home.  The trip has been so busy, it feels like we've been gone a month, not just a week and a bit.  We'll be exhausted when we get home but it's been a very good trip so far.  Worthwhile and enjoyable!"
Chongqing traffic

At the zoo





Soccer girl wishing she was a zebra...





Yay, the Pandas have come out!

Soccer girl and friends being eaten by a dangerous rocadile

Turtle


Soccer girl was born in the year of the monkey, couldn't find a rabbit for Energizer Bunny to pose with

Towers of gold

Best lunch so far


Climbing up to the lookout tower in Chongqing

Looking out






'Soccer girl' was too big to fit on the scroll

So was 'energizer bunny'

Soccer girl and the Man are down at the bottom, but the Mom and Energizer Bunny are still up top

Downstream from Willy Wonka's chocolate factory





Down, down, down


Trying to hold the teacup the right way!

Down, down, down

Onto the boat!

Main hall on the boat

Leaving Chongqing behind...

Soccer girl watching the world go by

Museum is 'built like a tank'



Ghost city of Fengdu as seen from a safe distance

Getting too close for comfort for Shaggy and Scooby...

Soccer girl and the Man are OK with the 400 steps up to the ghost city

Shaggy and scooby are now hiding in an urn

The Man was worried that Soccer Girl might have nightmares after this trip!



Somehow a happy buddha snuck into ghost city


I hope this means good luck!


Bearing gifts, they traverse afar?


Apparently on this trip the Man and Soccer girl have been to (the gates of) Hell and back. I guess we've all felt like we were stuck in 'retribution palace' at one point or another...







Praying, 'get me out of here!'



Improvised docking station for Energizer Bunny recharging while on board the crib-less cruise ship

Captain's reception

Captain and crew, sadly, no bowties...

Healthy breakfast - yes breakfast!

Practicing for the fan dance

Energizer Bunny kickin' back on deck

More fan dance practice

Approaching the gorges (I hear there are three of them)



Leaving cruise ship behind for the gorge ferry trip

















Hanging coffin, thousands of years old


Tourist walkway - not sure I'd be brave enough to walk on this engineering marvel



Penguins??


Waterfall

New bridge going up

Some kids - not ours - braving the very green on board pool

Getting ready for talent show and dance

Getting ready for talent show and dance

Other dances

The dance

Traversing the locks at night




Waiting for the gates to open

The dam




Model dam



???





Worn out family photo!



Home on the cruise ship

Small but effective bathroom


Mom provided a caption saying that she wasn't sure what the sign meant, but it seems clear enough to me.

Disney store at small regional airport

Take us to Shanghai!

Thanks.

In Shanghai, the last hotel room for the trip... where does the time go?