Saturday, July 27, 2013

Huangshan Mountain

Shanghai Daily: "Mercury hits 105 degrees hottest day since 1873."  For the past 25 days, we've experienced 90-105 degree heat.

Ken asks a colleague about his summer plans. He responds, "We don't plan anything, just stay inside with air conditioning on."  

To escape the heat and to see one of the top five spots in all of China, we decide to fly one hour west to Anhui Province and visit Huangshan Mountain, with our visiting friend, Lisa McNamara.  Not only is it considerably cooler, and misty, but the Chinese have done an amazing job building stairs and trails throughout these granite peaks.

With an explosion of Chinese tourism, solitude is hard to come by

Huangshan mist

We decide to take the cable car up, knowing that once we arrive, we are still going to need to walk up/down, up/down.  The many stairs and paths are exhausting and exhilarating.

Huangshan Mountains
Ken surrounded by beauty:) 
The stairs are attached to the mountain!

Lisa and Jeanie on mountain path

 Hotel on the mountain
Twisted pines, granite peaks, mountain mist

I lift up my eyes to the mountains- where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.  Psalm 121:1-2

We spend one night at the mountain, and one night in Tunxi, a quaint town at the base of the mountain.

Lisa buys souvenirs in Tunxi          
Town of Tunxi
Lisa visits Shanghai for 10 days
River cruise on Huangpu

Shout out to July visitors!

Jody Horner visits Shanghai/Beijing
 for 7 days before flying  to Thailand

  Next Up:      
 The gardens of Suzhou, a canal town

Friday, July 12, 2013

Shanxi Hospitality

Bryan, Wang Xueyan, with his extended family
We come to Shanxi Province, 2 hours by plane, to meet up with Ken's work friend, Bryan, and his extended family.  Whenever you travel to a foreign country, be sure and hook up with as many friends and their families as possible.  Travel becomes a more authentic and fun experience.

Enjoying lunch in a Pingyao courtyard
So many dishes!

The first thing one learns about Taiyuan in Shanxi, is THE NOODLES.  They are very proud of their fantastic food and abundance of noodles:  oatmeal noodle, cat eared pasta, knife cut noodles, hand pulled noodles, 25 meter long noodle in one bowl, and noodles cut with giant scissors 
It's OKAY to slurp noodles.  Really.

We travel two hours south of Taiyuan to Pingyao.  Pingyao is China's best preserved walled city.  40,000 people live in this ancient city.  No cars are allowed, just bicycles and tour buggies.
 Confucius Temple from the top of Pingyao city wall
Pingyao City Tower

Reenactment of ancient court system
 from Ming Dynasty, 1368-1644
Mao Lan, Jeanie, Fannie
at Temple Garden
Pingyao is a World Heritage Site
One can walk the city's wall:
 6 km circumference

New friends made in Pingyao

Qiao Family Couryard
Raise the Red Lantern

Near Taiyuan, we visit another unique site called Qiao Family courtyard, Qing-dynasty merchant's residence. This complex is made famous by the filming of the movie Raise the Red Lantern. 

Zhou Cypress has been growing at
an angle for 900 years!
Finally, we relax at the park in Jinci Temple before travelling back to Shanghai.

One final restaurant before we depart

We are in awe of the hospitality of Bryan and his wife, Wendy's family.  The minute we arrive, we are not allowed to pay for anything, and everything is organized for us:  hotel, transportation, meals, and tourism.  We are additionally overwhelmed when we are presented with numerous gifts upon departure:  hand-painted scroll painting, bottles of Shanxi famous vinegar, tins of green tea, and a beautiful lacquer-ware jewelry box. 
Xie, xie !!

Proverbs 11:25
A generous person will prosper; whoever refreshes others will be refreshed.

We hope to repay their kindness by being excellent hosts to any of you who can come visit us whether it be Shanghai, China, or Tacoma, Washington.

Zai jian, 
K and J

Next Up:  Granite peaks, twisted pines, and the poetic mist of Huangshan Mt.