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Hetty & Jim’s Travel Diary

Saturday, 09 Sep 2006

Location: Xian, China

MapDear family & friends,Hello one and all. It is Saturday 9th Sept today. 8.00am local time 10.00am Melbourne time. My legs are still recovering from the Great wall climb. Having been so suprised that we met Deb our tour leader from Laos last year I ended up walking 1klm further down the wall than I should have and had to run up about a thousand stairs to find the way back to our mini bus. Jim thought I was lost forever but no such luck! . It is unbelievable how it sits on such high mountainous terrain and built 200 BC.
Another beautiful attraction was the Summer Palace the gardens so spacious and serene with many intimate courtyards overhung with flowering pink blossoms. the ride on the Dragon boat on the extensive lake around the palace was most enjoyable.

Beijing lights up at night making it a very bright scene. Kites fly high and felect in the light in Tianenman square. Highrise buildings are illuminated with incessantly flashing neon lights advertising everything from the most elegant products to the construction of new secure high rise housing developments.There are crowds of people everywhere out for a night's stroll or shopping as shops are open till 10.00pm

As in Vietnam street hawkers bug you to buy their wares and you need to be very assertive to shrug them off ot a great bargainer to get a good price. Thank goodness we had plenty of practise in Vietnam.

It is interesting to note that children under two do not wear nappies. They wear pants with a convenient backside cut out of them. Parents suddenly squat the children if they think they are ready to do evacuate their bowls heading to the nearest drain!!!!

We have been suprised about the newness and good condition of cars on the road despite the belligerent style of driving. It is a matter of squeeze in where you can and hope for the best. Pedestrian crossings here in Xian seem to be for show only.

China has Mc Donald's & KFC. Price $2.50 for a Big Mac meal. Tastes just like home.
The parks around Beijing are full of older people doing all sorts of exercises. The Temple of Heaven a big temple with a large surrounding public park with beautiful trees and large areas of grass had many older people engaged in all sorts of activities. Obviously these parks provide an escape from the 3x3metre squarehouses people live in. so everything is done outside. People were Taichiing with balls, fans ribbons, swords sticks etc. Others were singing in choirs. There were music groups playing what looked like a version of flutes. Men playing cards, dominoes, chequers. People line dancing & ballroom dancing. Very interesting as there seemed to be no inhibitions anywhere.

Meals have a cetain sameness. bok choy almost always and a chicken dish that does not look anything like chicken! One chicken appeared out of a bamboo pipe.There are at least a dozen dishes. We have not seen one cat!!!! One night we had dumplings and more dumplings.
There is no shortage of workforce. At every meal we have at least 5-6 waiters ready to meet our every need. At the door there are at least 3 people to take you to your table.

Taxis are cheap and have protection cages. We have some difficulty making ourselves understood. Luckily our guide whom we sometimes understand has an electronic dictionary. they need more english teachers here to teach accent & pronunciation. I'm thinking of coming back to offer them my services however Jim is not so sure!!!
Street names are in English where the street is named but it cetainly provides a challenge when you want to ask someone something

We flew to Xian in a quite tubulent plane. Yesterday we went to see the Terracotta warriors. It is a very interesting archaelogical site. It is a massive tomb built for an emperor 20. There were rows upon seried rows of warriors guarding the tomb. Great to see such an interesting site.It is believed to be about 6000 all told. they are still restoring them. The ones we saw are life size figures. One wonders how people so long ago had such skill without modern day technology to produce something of this size.
Flying to chongquing today for our trip down the Yangtse River.
Hope all is well. Sorry to hear about Steve Urwin & Brocks
Hetty & Jim