2011 China Trip
Update for January 17:
Today was our first full day in Hangzhou. We arrived here yesterday by plane and did not have much time to really see the city. Going to breakfast in the morning was really our first opportunity to see the beautiful landscape of Hangzhou. The windows surrounding the entire seventh floor of our hotel made for fantastic viewing of the cityscape dropping off into the lake and the misty mountains and pagodas in the distance. Following breakfast we all hopped on bikes outside the hotel and rode around the West Lake. This included crossing the large causeway across the lake constructed using mud from the lake itself. Shortly thereafter we headed off to a museum of Chinese herbal medicine, included in this complex were clinics and pharmacies. We were given the opportunity to experience the ancient Chinese practice of acupuncture. Some of us thought well of it, others thought it was just painful (e.g. myself), however I think most all of us could agree it was a little weird. Later, the group headed off to the West Lake for an evening boat cruise. This allowed us to get a closer glimpse of those beautiful pagodas shrouded in the misty Hangzhou hills.
--C.H. and E.S.
Jan. 18th update: 3 photos!
Photo Below: The Kinkaid group in the courtyard garden of the Hu Xue Yan House, the former residence of a wealthy businessman and philanthropist from the 1800s.
Photo Below: The Kinkaid group with a group of the students of the Provincial Ping Pong Training Institute in Zhouzheng. Some of those students may be future Olympians!
Photo Below:The Kinkaid group with a nun and member of the Catholic Cathedral of the Sacred Heart in Kaifeng.
Sunday, Jan. 16th, 2011
Today we went to Hangzhou! We started the day with a 1 and ½ hour plane ride that was very short and pleasant. After getting off the plane we had a quick meal at a McDonalds… IN CHINA! All of the food was the same except for some menu items like Taro Pie instead of an Apple Pie and a cup of corn instead of a salad. Other than that, they had all of the American goodies like the Big Mac and chicken nuggets. For dessert, many had delicious McFlurries. It was an interesting change from all of the traditional Chinese dishes that we had been eating over the course of the past two weeks. After the meal we were piled on the bus and headed off to Dragonwell Tea Plantation. On the way, we had the opportunity to enjoy the serene and calming scenery of Hangzhou. The tea bush-filled mountains were particularly beautiful! At the Dragonwell Tea Plantation we went into a little room and everyone was given a glass of green tea leaves without any water in them. Ms. Mae (a green tea expert) told us to sniff the tea and embrace the aroma of the leaves, which are to have said to have healing powers for all aches. Then we drank some tea with three pours which means “You are welcome” in the tea etiquette world. After the hot water was poured in the glass, we were told to hold our eyes directly above the glass to “steam” them because green tea contains vitamin A, which is helpful to your eyesight. We also added some different types of dried berries and oranges to change the taste. After the berries and oranges, we were introduced to the magnificent Emperor’s tea, which is not exported, yet kept on the plantation for those avid tea drinkers. It is a Type 1 tea, which is considered by many as the freshest, best tea of all. The smell and color of the Emperor tea leaves were significantly different than other Type 2 or 3 or 4 teas (Type 4 tea is used for exporting and tea bags). We were then allowed to but any type of the tea but told not to drink type four tea. So watch out all you tea drinkers because apparently, according the Ms. Mae, anyone who drinks using a tea bag is not a true connoisseur of tea! The real drinkers “eat” the tea, referring to the leaves in the cup. After the tea plantation we were given time to settle into our rooms before a delicious dinner of traditional Chinese food.
--A.J. and C.W.
Saturday, January 15th, 2011
Our day started off with a trip to the Henan Provincial Sports Training Centre to watch and interact with a group of students training to become athletes for a very intense sport – ping-pong. Some would say this is just a leisure activity, but to these male and female students, it’s a lifestyle. They have school for a short period of time in the morning, train in ping-pong for three to four hours, and then continue with their classes in the evening. We not only got to watch them rally, but play with them ourselves. They were very polite and did not use their competitive serve unless challenged. Preceding lunch we visited the Henan Provincial Museum. This museum exhibited an outstanding collection of artifacts from China’s history. A personal favorite of the students was the jade suit; a suit of armor completely made out of jade that an emperor was once buried in. After lunch at a classic Chinese restaurant we arrived at a spa to receive a traditional Chinese massage. This included very relaxing foot and backrubs that prepared us for our final week in China. Lastly, we went on an indulging trip to Pizza Hut for dinner. What a day.
KB & LR
Thursday, Jan. 13th, 2010
On Thursday we visited the Shaolin Monastery, the Buddhist Temple complex that has become famous for its martial arts traditions. We learned about the interesting story of Bodhidharma and Shen Guang. The story was about a young man, Shen Guang, who was trying to convince a monk, Bodhidharma, to teach him Zen Meditation. After that, we went to a martial arts school in Dengfeng County where more than 100,000 students live and study in different Kung Fu schools. There, students put on an impressive performance for us, inviting several of our students on stage. Students are enrolled in the Kung Fu school from the age of five to six; they remain there through high school.
On Friday, we took a day trip to Kaifeng, one of the seven ancient capitals of China. Kaifeng is known for developing a new community of Chinese Jews. We took a walk on Teaching the Torah Lane and spent the morning with Miss Guo and her grandmother. Miss Guo is now actively engaged in researching and teaching others about the Jews in Kaifeng. Afterwards, we visited a Catholic Church and walked through the historic area around the church. Next, we took a stroll in Dragon Pavilion Park and Qing Ming Shang He Park. Finally, we saw the Iron Pagoda, which isn’t really made of iron. It is actually constructed of glazed ceramic bricks that give off a metallic shade, giving the pagoda its name.
--AV and EN
Thursday, January 13, 2011
Today as we traveled from Luoyang to Zhengzhou, we made two exciting stops. The first of which was the Shaolin Monastery, a Buddhist temple complex. As we pulled up to the monastery on our bright yellow golf carts, we were amazed by the beautiful buildings and colorful statues. In the complex we saw multiple trees with deep circular dents. To our astonishment, Yang, our wonderful tour guide, told us the dents were created by the monks as a finger strengthening technique. One of the most interesting buildings, the standing in snow pavilion, had an amazing story to it. It is the smallest building at the complex and it is located on the axis. Legend has it that Bodhidharma, the founder of the temple, stayed in the pavilion. Shen Guan, a monk at the monastery, was interested in learning Chan Buddhism. To his dismay, Bodhidharma refused to teach him because of his Daoist background. Bodhidharma told Shen Guano that he would teach him only when it snowed red. Determined, Shen Guano cut of his left arm: making the snow red. Bodhidharma was so impressed by his gesture that he agreed to teach him. After his death, Shen Guan became the second abbot of the temple. Now monks will bow with only one hand to show their respect for the Shen Guano. Perhaps our favorite part of the visit was burning incense. We each lit three sticks representing the past, present, and future.
As we left the monastery, we saw both old and new pagodas. It was interesting to discover that one of the newly constructed pagodas has carvings of a laptop and an airplane on it! We walked through the pagoda forest to the bus, which took us to lunch. After lunch, we went to a hotel near a Kung Fu school and watched a performance by some of the students. They were very flexible and strong! It was so much fun to watch! Then we got back on the bus and headed to our new hotel, The Crowne Plaza. Today was a blast!
J.J. and C.I.
Wednesday January 12, 2011
Yesterday in Luoyang, we had our first semi-warm day in China. The high was 49 F and the low was 27 F. We woke up to an interesting breakfast in the hotel. Most students stuck with cereal and watermelon while the more adventurous ones tried some steamed dough with various meats and eggs. Around 8:30 we left the hotel to embark on our only full day in Luoyang. The first stop was the Bai Ma Si, meaning the White Horse Temple. The temple was founded when the emperor Ming Di had a dream about a golden man flying in from the west, which was later discovered to be Buddha. It is known for being the first Buddhist temple in China. Our guide, Yang, explained a lot about the facial expressions of different Buddhas. A fat Buddha with a double chin is far different from the Turkish Buddha with a big nose. Next, we were lucky enough to walk through the Old City Quarter. It was really interesting to see all of the small, traditional shops and houses. Along the way we found a vendor that was selling something called Chinese Nang, which is like the Arabic Naan, but with a Chinese twist. It is basically thick pizza bread. Gerald was kind enough to buy a couple for us to share with the group. It was a big hit! At lunch, a chef at the restaurant taught us how to make dumplings. We rolled small pieces of dough into really thin circles. Then we put a little bit of vegetable in it, folded it in half, and sealed the edges. It was so fun. After lunch we went to the Gu Mu Buowuguan, which is a museum that shows the burial chambers of the ruling families from ancient dynasties. One of the groups discovered that the skeleton that was laying in one of the chambers was only visible when photographed. It was CRAZY! After the museum, we headed to a rural farming village to see a cave house. When we arrived, we discovered that the cave had collapsed and was now used as a trash pit. So much for checking out the cave… Although we couldn’t walk through the cave, it was so cool to see a typical Luoyang neighborhood. It made us all appreciate how blessed we are to live the way we do. When we got back to the hotel, Gerald offered to take us to the supermarket down the street. We all bought LOADS of chocolate, chips, and other American food snacks. Among the favorites were TEXAS BBQ chips. We ended the day with a nice dinner at the hotel. It was great to spend our only full day in Luoyang enjoying the culture that the city has to offer.
A.R and C.F
Photo 1: The Kinkaid Group with Professor Wang Xueli, the foremost archeologist in China, who headed both the excavation of the Terra-Cotta warriors site and the Yangling imperial burial site.
Photo 2: The Kinkaid Group with students and faculty of the Shaanxi Normal University High School in Xian. Our students greatly enjoyed interacting with their Chinese peers and are already exchanging emails with them!
Photo 3: The Kinkaid Group with students from a kung fu training academy located near the Shaolin Monastery, the home of Chinese martial arts. We saw an incredible performance by these students!
Thursday, Jan. 13th updates:
This morning we packed up our suitcases and got on a plane headed to Xi’an (one of the oldest cities in China). We ate lunch at the airport restaurant, and let me tell you, the food wasn’t exactly the tastiest we’ve tried so far. To top it off we were served French fries. Yes, we were served French fries in a typical Chinese restaurant. There was warm Pepsi and 7 Up to drink (bleh) but hey, food is food right? Some of the main attractions in Xi’an are the Terra Cotta Warriors, The Great Mosque and the Muslim Quarter. Today our first stop after our flight was the Han Tombs. The tombs are 42 square miles in total with 81 tombs. The tombs were made for the emperor in his afterlife. Some of the things within the tombs were clay workers, animals and chariots. All of these things were buried in wooden boxes and put into the ground. The workers were made of clay with wooden arms and silk clothing though the arms and clothing decayed so all that remains of them is the body. Each section of the tomb was set up as if it were a room so that the emperor would have those things available to him in his afterlife. We were able to see the tombs through glass floors so that we could look down into each room of the tomb. At the end of the tour we saw a holographic movie to explain the life of the emperor. We really enjoyed the tomb and museum. The way it was set up with the glass flooring created a more interactive setting. The rest of the tombs are still in the process of being excavated and they will continue to excavate the remainder of the tombs once there is more technology available. Upon arriving at the hotel we were astonished at the size and grandeur of the hotel. The rooms were spacious and they had an amazing view from the window. Dinner was excellent and desert was by far the best we’ve ever tasted! Too bad we’re only staying two nights
-B.R. and H.E.
Yesterday, we started the day by listening to a presentation of the Terracotta Warriors presented by a famous archeologist named Professor Wang. He introduced us to the topic and explained the structure of the famous tomb. A burial mound, which holds the tomb of the first emperor Qin Shi Huang Di, is located about a mile away from four excavation pits, the fourth being covered back up because no warriors were built because of a peasant uprising. Apparently, in 1974, a couple of farmers were digging for a well and came upon a piece of a terracotta warrior. That piece of statue turned out to be part of pit number 1, the largest of all three. Pit number one contains roughly 6,000 warriors. When first discovered, all of the warriors were shattered into many pieces. This was because during the peasant rebellion in 208 to 206 BC, the pits were broken into and the peasants shattered and burned the statues, taking away their brilliant color. Over the years, work has been done to restore the statues and glue them back together. In pit 1, the warriors are seen in battle formation. Pit 2, which contains about 1,400 statues, represents a military encampment and the statues are seen doing exercises such as practicing archery. The third and smallest pit, containing 68 statues, represents a military headquarters where they plan the strategies. In this pit, there are very few heads on the statues. This is due to the rebellion, in which the peasants took off the heads as a sign of victory. The Terracotta Warriors were awesome, and later that night we visited an old mosque called the Great Mosque. Persian traders built this mosque when they came to China along the Silk Road in 742 AD. However, it was rebuilt in 1398. The mosque is really old, beautiful, and it is a male only mosque. We walked to the back where we got to see a 600 year-old prayer building and the men were in the middle of prayer when we arrived. Inside the building, we could see all 30 books of the Koran carved on the walls in both Chinese and Arabic. It was a really interesting day.
-R.E. and S.S.
Yesterday was very fun! The hotel that we stayed at was extremely nice (Golden Flower Hotel, in Xi’an). We woke up and had an amazing breakfast at the hotel. Next we walked down to the bottom of the hotel to have a lecture about the Terracotta Warriors from professor Wang. He told us all about the three pits that make up the excavation sights. Everyone was very engaged into the lecture, and there were tons of very specific questions. At the end, we were congratulated on how specific we really were in our questions. The professor even told us that he was very moved by us and that our questions inspired him to do more research. After the lecture we hopped on the bus and rode to the Terracotta Warriors. We arrived at a more than two football in length excavation sight filled with all the Terracotta Warriors, and that was just the first pit. Next we went to the other three pits and learned about each of them in great detail. After that we went to the gift shop and watched a fifteen-minute movie about the Terracotta Warriors. The movie theater was really interesting because it had screens that made a circle, and all of the screens were connected into one movie, so everyone was constantly rotating. Next we went to lunch right down the street. At the restaurant, we watched the workers make homemade noodles right in front of us. It was amazing. Then we went to Xian’s city wall were we biked for thirty minutes. After that we rode to The Great Mosque in the heart of Xi’an. The next day we took a bullet train to Luoyang, and immediately rode to lunch and had a delicious meal. Later we went to the Longmen Grottos Caves were we learned about Buddhism and the Tang Dynasty. During the Tang Dynasty many of the statues within the caves were on the “plumper side”, meaning that they were shown with a double chin and their face was more round. In their time this meant that they were prosperous. Also, in a few of the caves there were Buddhas shown with skinnier necks that were sculpted from different thinner people from the north who betray their Buddha in a different way. All in, this trip has been amazing!
- G.M. and G.A.
What we did: Tai Chi, Temple of Heaven, Summer Palace, Peking Opera
We started our day with a Tai Chi class in Ritan Park with two masters of the art. Tai Chi is a soft form of martial arts that stretches the muscles, gets the blood flowing, and gets you ready for your day. We followed along as they demonstrated the basic movements. After our energizing morning activity, we moved on to the Temple of Heaven.
The Temple of Heaven was built in the Ming Dynasty and is located on the southern side of Beijing. This area has four ritual temples, which the emperor used for special occasions, such as ceremonial rights to ensure harmony, involving sacrificing animals on the Chinese New Year. Following our visit to the temple, we walked around the Summer Palace. During the Qing Dynasty, emperors escaped to the Palace for vacation. The Palace was known for its use by the empress Ci Xi. The Palace is also famous for its man made lake, Kun Ming, and its imperial gardens. In the spring and fall it is considered one of the most beautiful places in Beijing. Then we enjoyed seeing and taking pictures in front of the 2008 Summer Olympics stadium, The Bird’s Nest. Also we got to see the Water Cube, used for the swimming and diving events, now interestingly turned into an indoor water park.
Then we enjoyed a great lunch were we enjoyed laughter and our friends. Next, we adventured on to the Peking Opera, or known as by the Chinese as Jing Ju. This opera group consisted of young kids from ages 3 to 12. First we saw a young group of boys starting their exercises, which involved jumping in the air and landing in the splits. It was amazing! Then the kids performed a little number for us expressing their extreme talents. After saying goodbye to the adorable kids, we went to the infamous Pearl Market, where everyone enjoyed shopping for themselves, and even their moms! Exhausted from the busy day, we went to dinner and enjoyed our last night in Beijing. Our experience in Beijing was truly exciting and we will miss our tour guide Nancy and the wonderful city.
Photo below: The Kinkaid group with the students of the Beijing Peking Opera Art Professional School following a performance by those young children.
By K.F., A.C., and M.G.
Thursday January 7, 2011
What we did: Silk Market, The Great Wall, and Ming Tombs
The first thing we did today was go to the Great Wall of China. On the bus ride to the Great Wall expert David Spindler explained to us the true history of the Great Wall of China. We learned things such as how to identify a great wall, how many great walls have been built throughout Chinese history, and what types of walls were built. Once we got to the Great Wall everyone was astonished.
The wall is very large, about ten feet wide and twenty feet tall. We walked the Mutianyu section of the Great Wall; this very section was attacked by Mongols and is proof that the Great Wall efficiently served its purpose. The walk was rigorous, fun, warm, and full of beautiful views. At the end of the walk everyone enjoyed bobsledding down (even Mrs. Alsup and Ms. Cross). After the Great Wall and a fun lunch we went to the tombs of the Ming dynasty. Thirteen of the sixteen emperors of that dynasty are buried there. It is a long walk full of beautiful stone statues. The statues were of government officials and various animals.
The Kinkaid group along with Great Wall expert David Spindler atop the Great Wall of China.
After that we went to the silk market. The silk market was very different than we expected! There were imitations for everything from ski coats to high heels. Each vendor is very aggressive and almost everyone had to run away from a store at one point. Also the silk market is like a giant maze, it was so easy to get lost! Then we left the market went to dinner at a Chinese hot pot place. It was fun boiling your own food! Finally a highlight of the evening was going to Hägaan Daz ice cream! Almost the entire group went and enjoyed a cone. It was a great second day!
By: E.C. and S.S.
Four o’clock arrived very, very early on January 4, 2011.
Today, Kinkaid will begin its eleventh trip to China. Memories of seven previous trips, all of the students and teachers that have gone, certainly were on my mind on the way to Bush Intercontinental. What would this year’s group add to the History of Interim Term travel?
It’s 6:20 and the day is off to a good start. All travelers have arrived and we’re checking baggage. By 7:00 we were finding out first hand about the lines waiting for security check. They are every bit as long as advertised and moving slower than I remembered two years ago. Everyone cleared security and was waiting to board by 8:00. Take off was at 8:45, and we were on our way.
I always find it interesting that no matter how many times you make a journey you are never quite sure what the route will be. You might be interested also.
We flew due north to Chicago and landed at 11:03. Our course out of Chicago was directly north to Hudson Bay. We then turned northwest passing Churchill to our west and Kuujjuaq and Jaluit to our east. At 10:25 Beijing time we crossed over into Siberia. Our flight path then became almost a direct line toward Ulan Bator until we were due north of Beijing. We then flew due south to land a few minutes ahead of schedule at our final destination. It was a very long flight. Mr. Hatherly, our tour guide, was waiting for us as usual, his eighth trip. How great it is to see him. He wants us to wish all past travelers a Happy New Year.
We were a bit lighter though. A couple of electronic devices and a low-tech sleeping device (pillow) failed to make it to the capital of the People’s Republic. The best news of the day or two days is all the students are well and we still have all of our passports.
The Forbidden City is scheduled for tomorrow and the weather forecast is clear and cold high of 30.
The first thing we did today was to visit Tiananmen Square. It is located in the very center of Beijing. Tiananmen Square can fit up to 500,000 people at one time! From there we walked to the Forbidden City, which emperors in Ming and Qing lived. In 1911 when the Ming dynasty fell, the Forbidden City was no longer in use. We saw great architecture, and learned the importance of colors and numbers in Chinese culture. For example, yellow represents the earth which the emperor rules, and the number 9 which is the luckiest number in Chinese culture. We then went to a nice traditional Chinese restaurant for lunch. From the restaurant we took pedicabs (which are two-person carriages driven by a bike rider) to a traditional hutong, which is a neighborhood with many small alleys that are also called hutongs. Along the alleys are building complexes that houses one or more families of multiple generations. Ho Hai is a huge complex of 144 hutong alleys in which 30,000 people reside. After that we took a calligraphy class back at the hotel. We took it from a master artist who had been doing calligraphy for 40 years. Later for dinner, we ate a traditional dinner of Peking duck.
-- C.D. and D.A.
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