Pandas enjoying some good bamboo at the Beijing Zoo

We are in Hong Kong ending the 2009 year, in the same hotel where we started the 5 week China journey.  We knew then that the next 5 weeks would be the toughest part of our trip because it was going to be the coldest.  It was cold.  We were lucky we did not have to buy snow boots only cold weather clothing.  At the Great Wall the wind was 20 mph and the temperature in the high 30’s.  Strangely on the wall for 3 hours we did not notice it because it was one of those moments where we said “Can you believe we are in China”.  Beijing left the impression of a really huge, wide city and it was our first encounter with the preservation of ancient thousand year old buildings along side the newer construction.  The city we were told is getting wider with the newer (more…)

Side street entrance off of city center Xian China

From Nanjing we flew to Xian, pulled our luggage through the airport, stopped at a information booth, they made a call, someone came, pulled our bags to a taxi, in 45 minutes we were in front of our apartment 1 block from what is called the city center.  We thought, this is too easy, this must be an extraordinary place.  The next morning we found out what city center meant. There was a large, ancient, worshiping bell tower surrounded by a 4 lane rotary with 3 car lanes and one bike lane coming in and 3 car lanes and bike lanes going out in the north,  south, east  and west directions.  There was a mixture of old ancient buildings mixed with newer buildings of traditional Chinese architecture. You can’t imagine this mixture because the city has (more…)