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Wednesday, October 30, 2019

On the train to Nanjing

We are cruising along at 300 kph! That sounds more impressive than 200 mph. We left Beijing at 10 am. Will arrive at Nanjing around 1 pm. They just served a snack pack and drink. Of course lulu had my little snack for me. Beijing means north capital. Nanjing means south capital. It is 68 and sunny but hazy outside.

Lulu will present at Nanjing university. They paid for first class for the train and a nice hotel. Fulbright said lulu could not accept the $2000 honorarium they offered.

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Jan’s Review of Her China Adventure


> Never in my wildest dreams did I ever expect to travel to China. When my friend, Nancy, received the Fulbright and told me she and husband, Harry, were traveling to Beijing to spend five months, I knew I had to visit. They are well seasoned travelers and I knew they would know all the ropes by the time I arrived. I had no preconceived notions about anything as I planned my travel. Getting my visa was a daunting task, but once that was done, I was ready to figure out what to pack. Harry and Nancy said not to bring any money. We would settle up at the end of the trip. They made everything very easy for me. Of course they met me at the airport on my arrival and Harry made sure I got the the airport for my trip back to San Francisco from Beijing nine days later. It was a direct flight taking 12 and 1/2 hours to reach Beijing and 10 and 1/2 traveling back to San Francisco. I had no fears. I knew I was in good hands with the Everharts. The flights were uneventful and relaxing. I refused to have jet lag and we began our adventures as soon as I arrived.
> As the trip unfolded, I was struck by how similar we all are. A smile in one language always translates well into another language. The people were friendly. I never felt unsafe in any way. I had to keep pinching myself to remember I was in CHINA! I wondered what my parents would have thought about me making a trip to a communist country. In their time, that would have been unimaginable. I arrived as the people were celebrating the 70th anniversary of the People's Republic of China. On my first full day, we walked into Tiananmen Square shoulder to shoulder with hundreds of people waving the Chinese flag. They are very proud of their country. We only saw a handful of caucasian peoples. The scope of everything seems immense. The buildings, the statues, the landscape, the shopping malls…everything is HUGE. But nothing felt intimidating to me. The one drawback for me was the language barrier. Very few people speak any English, and those who do, don't do it well. I think it was nice for Harry and Nancy to have someone to talk to! They are the ultimate hosts. We saw so many things and Nancy's ability to arrange events and to navigate the transportation system was incredible. I would have definitely been lost without her guidance.
> We did so many special things, from a hot pot dinner with a changing mask showman the first night, to our last day at the Great Wall and a natural hot springs. Every day we enjoyed sightseeing and traveling. We visited the elegant Summer Palace, watched a Kung Fu show at the Red Theater, ate Peking duck, visited the Lama Buddhist Temple with its thick atmosphere of incense, walked around the Forbidden City in massive crowds, traveled by high speed train to Shanghai to see Shanghai Disneyland, visited the Pearl Market to shop….and in between, we tried local food and enjoyed the beautiful fall in China. We walked many miles and enjoyed each others company.
> A few things I noted were how clean and efficient everything was. There are little carts with handmade brooms that carry people who are constantly cleaning the streets and sidewalks and places we visited. The subways are sparkling clean. What a contrast to the ones I have used in NYC and San Francisco. The people seem happy and docile. The children are adorable and delightful. The young ones are the ones who want to say hello to us. The method of pay seems so easy. Your money is in the bank and to pay for anything, you just show your phone and read the Q reader code that transfers the money, with no cash changing hands. The traffic flow in the streets is incredible. The people, carts, cars, scooters and buses are all vying for position. The pedestrians do NOT have the right of way. Traffic during Golden Week, their national holiday, was extremely congested. Most streets have barriers to prevent jaywalking. The ones in Shanghai also had beautiful flowers in the medians. Everything was interesting to me. At the Summer Palace we had a meal that was cooked at our table by activating a liquid in the container the meal comes in. Quite a system! At our hot pot dinner we ordered chicken that showed no resemblance to what we expected. Shopping is also quite an event. Bargaining is the rule of thumb and though I am terrible at it, Nancy is a master. It was fun to watch her deal. The history here is mind boggling - so ancient, so colorful, so violent at times. So much to see and do. I only scratched the surface.
> I kept a journal while I was in China. I wrote everything down so I could relive my incredible 10 days. The last night we talked about the highlights of my trip. It was hard to decide. I enjoyed every minute. I think the best part was being with old and dear friends, making special memories.
> When I arrived back on US soil, I reflected on things I am thankful for here. I am thankful for my freedoms, English speaking people, people who respect personal boundaries, the internet, telephones, televisions, stand up potties, and of course, my family and friends that make this journey through life, so meaningful.
> This was a trip of a lifetime. I would definitely go back if the opportunity arose.
> Thank you, thank you, thank you Harry and Nancy. You have given me the opportunity of a lifetime.
> Jan

Sunday, October 27, 2019

Our Visit To the Terra Cotta Warriors Near Xi'an China

Note the warrior coat

Note Lulu's coat

The warriors are positioned to go into battle for the Emperor.

Over the weekend we visited the excavation site of the Terra Cotta Warriors. It is about 800 miles southwest of our home in Beijing near the town of Xi'an. When I say town - it is relative to the city of Beijing boasting 25 million people - Xian has near 8 million people - like NYC! Although we stayed right downtown on the town square at a Holiday Inn Express - we did not get to see much of the city. 

Xian is a walled city and the downtown appeared impressive. In the morning after a quick breakfast - we got a cab downtown for the 40 minute ride out to the diggings. The Terra Cotta Warrioers were discovered by farmers digging a well. This was around 1974. It has become a UNESCO site - and several giant domed stadium like buildings have been placed over the area. 

They estimate that there are about 6000 of these statues. They were build by Emperor Qin around 100 BC to protect him in the after life. His tomb is nearby. 

The Warriors were assembled very much like an assembly line. Legs - arms - heads - hands - etc - were made and baked. There were several basics faces- then other details were added to make them all different. They were assembled - then painted - then fired in kilns. Weapons were added. 

Finally trenches were dug and the soldiers were placed. A wooden roof structure covered by fiber mats was put over them - then layers of dirt. This protected them for 2000 years. 

They are presently digging to uncover more. The estimated value of one is $4.5 million. You can buy replicas for much less. 

There are three giant buildings - but the most dramatic is building number 1. You can walk 360 degrees around the inside and take photos until you are happy. We had to deal with a Friday crowd - but this is the least crowded time of the year. 

After we viewed the site for a few hours - we shopped - had supper - and caught a cab back to the train station. Our high speed bullet train took a little longer because it made maybe 12 stops over the 800 miles. It took 5 hours. We all caught some sleep. I went to the dining car to have a soda - in one of those metal bottles. It turned out to be a beer. When we got to the train station after 10 PM - the subways were closed - and the cab line was very long. We walked a little bit - and an uber type car pulled over and offered a ride. We made a deal - he took us home for $21. The way the night was looking - it was cold - safe and warm. The 4 of us piled in. 

Along with the Great Wall - it was JP and Wanda's favorite part of the trip. Today they boarded a plane for Seattle and are over the Pacific as I type. 

Future diggings

The warriors were found in pieces and then assembled.

Bigger than the Super Dome

They held weapons

Packed clay supported the roof above them

That is building 1 in the back

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