Archive for the ‘China’ Category

China 2009

Wednesday, November 11th, 2009

Beginning travel

We took the train from South Bend, Indiana, to Chicago; then boarded a flight to Seoul. After trying to catch a few winks in the Seoul airport it was on to Beijing. Goshen to Beijing, door to door, took about 38 hours.


Beijing is a clean modern city with many sky scrapers and modern highways. We saw the venues for the 2008 Olympics and had dinner with MCC (Mennonite Central Committee) representatives who live there.

Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia
After one night in Beijing we flew to Ulaanbaatar, capital of Mongolia.

Bayanhongor, Mongolia.
We took a 1-hour flight to Bayanhongor and stayed 2 nights with Mennonite worker Laura Schlabach.

Bus trip
We returned from Bayanhongor to Ulaanbaatar by bus — about 12 hours.

Farm visit
From Ulaanbaatar we took a one-day excursion to a dairy farm begun by an American and now turned over to Mongolian farmers.

From Mongolia we flew to Xian via Beijing and stayed in a very nice hostel — more like a small hotel.

Xian — Terracotta Warriors
We visited the archeological site for which Xian is now famous — 6,000 terracotta warriors buried in formation to guard the tomb of an ancient ruler.

Xian Bell Tower
The ancient bell tower was used in the morning. We heard a short musical program on traditional instruments in the Bell Tower.

Xian Drum Tower
The ancient drum tower is on the other side of a plaza from the bell tower. It was used in the evening. We also heard a short percussion program there.

Xian Great Mosque
The Great Mosque in Xian has many beautiful courtyards and gateways.

Street Vendors and Food
In Xian we enjoyed tasting the “street food” both during the day and at night.

Great Goose Pagoda
We visited the Great Goose Pagoda in Xian.

Dumpling Dinner & Show
In Xian we treated ourselves to a dumpling dinner and show. We were served about 20 different kinds of dumplings. Many of them were shaped to look like whatever was in them. For example, fish dumplings were shaped to look like fish.

From Xian we flew to Chengdu, and were hosted by Mr Yang of Sichuan Normal University. In the past he was a key official who facilitated the exchange program with Goshen College.

China 2009, Part 2

Saturday, November 7th, 2009

From Chengdu we took a 2-day excursion to Leshan and Mt Emei. On the way to Leshan we stopped at a tea plantation. In Leshan we had lunch with Dennis & Virginia Roth, visited the Giant Buddha, and walked around a preserve.

Mt Emei
We used a bus, cable car, and our feet to reach the top of Mt Emei.

We flew to Kunming in southern China, not far from Vietnam.

Indonesian Friends
In Kunming we met Indonesian friends: Ibu Wietje, her daughter Cheryl who graduated from Goshen College, Cheryl’s husband Rieswan, and their daughter Kayra.  Rieswan works with an Indonesian business that has a branch in Kunming.

Stone Forest

Western Hills
We spent another day in the Western Hills on the edge of Kunming.

Train to Tibet
From Kunming we flew north to Lanzhou where we got on a train to Xining. After a 4-hour wait in Xining we boarded another train bound for Lhasa,Tibet. It is the world’s highest railway with 80% of the route over 14,000 feet above sea level. From Xining to Lhasa took about 28 hours.

Lhasa is the center of Tibetan culture and history. We stayed at the Cool Yak Hotel in the old part of town under the watchful gaze of a visible and invisible Chinese presence. We enjoyed mingling with the crowds and shopping at the myriad small stands.

Jokhang Temple
The Jokhang Temple is a major site for Tibetan Buddhism.

Potala Palace
The Potala, residence for several Dalai Lamas, is the political and religious heart of Tibet.

We enjoyed visiting four different monasteries – two of them near Lhasa and two others about an hour away.

Former Goshen College Student
In Lhasa we were able to meet our good friend and former Goshen College student, Tsegi. She teaches English at the university and also has started an organization that offers a variety of classes to the community.

Return to Beijing
From Lhasa we flew back to Beijing. Staying there 6 days, we visited many attractions, but we also enjoyed walking to a park and sampling street food in our neighborhood.

Summer Palace
In Beijing we toured the Summer Palace, built by the only female Chinese ruler, Empress Cixi.

Forbidden City
We also toured the Forbidden City, ancient seat of Chinese government.

Temple of Heaven
The Temple of Heaven is a beautiful round structure centered in a square plaza to symbolize the meeting of Heaven and Earth. At the end of this tour we also were treated to a demonstration of how to smell and drink tea.

We visited a silk showroom and saw demonstrations of how it is produced and utilized.

Hu tongs
We spent a day walking through several Hu tongs – traditional housing areas.

Great Wall
We took a day trip to the Great Wall.  On the return we stopped for an introduction to traditional Chinese medicine and a foot massage.

Beijing Cultural Shows
We attended two different shows while in Beijing. The first included a dinner and was a variety of Chinese dance and music. The second was Chinese acrobats. Both were quite spectacular.

We spent a day at Tien’anmen Square and the surrounding area.

Our last evening in Beijing
We spent our last evening with our hosts in Beijing, Rita Fei and her husband Jaming. Rita Fei, once an English student of Bill and Phyl, is now the Managing Director of the Chinese subsidiary of Boon Edam, a Dutch revolving door company.

Signs in English
We were happy to find many signs in China written in English under the Chinese characters. This made it much easier to find our way around. However, sometimes we found the terminology or grammar rather interesting. Here are a few examples.