|19||Monday||Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota, U.S.A.||Leave MSP International late morning for Tokyo-Narita International airport.|
Kowloon, Hong Kong, P.R. China
|Fly from Narita to Hong Kong and stay at the YWCA in Kowloon's Mongkok district.|
|21||Wednesday||Hong Kong, P.R. China||Take Grey Line Tours' half day tour of Hong Kong Island, including Victoria Peak, Aberdeen, and Stanley. Went to the top of Victoria Peak on a low cloud day so the view was non-existent. Took a sampan tour of Aberdeen harbor. Walked around Kowloon's Tsimshatsui, Taumatei, and Mongkok districts.|
|22||Thursday||Kowloon, Hong Kong, P.R. China|
Haikou, Hainan, P.R. China
Zhanjiang, Guangdong, P.R. China
|Left Hong Kong to fly to Hainan where Justin Davis has
been vacationing with Volunteers in Asia (VIA)
co-volunteers (Karl, Tsue-ya, Stephanie) and staff.
(Amy, Cliff). We decided to head for Guangzhou. Left
Haikou via boat for Zhanjiang with some VIA
co-volunteers and staff.|
Departed Zhanjiang for Guangzhou on an overnight train. Cliff went his own way to visit relatives.
|23||Friday||Guangzhou, Guangdong, P.R. China||Arrived in Guangzhou around 6 AM. Amy and Karl departed for Hong Kong. The rest of us headed for Stephanie's mom's Guangzhou apartment. Tried to buy train tickets to Guiyang, Guizhou province. Bad idea as everyone is trying to leave Guangzhou for the start of Spring Festival. Bought plane tickets to Guizhou instead. Visit a park which had a garden dedicated to Chinese idioms.|
|24||Saturday||Guangzhou, Guangdong, P.R. China||Bill and Neagha arrived at Stephanie's mom's place from Sanya, Hainan, where the VIA conference was held. They stayed longer due to sickness. Neagha's fairly recovered, but Bill is still feeling his sickness. Justin,|
|25||Sunday||Guangzhou, Guangdong, P.R. China||Visit European-influenced Shamian Island with Bill, Stephanie, Neagha, Justin, and Tsue-ya. Also saw Beijing St., which is a major Guangzhou shopping street. Get sick, likely the stomach flu, and spew while ridding back to Stephanie's mom's place from Beijing St.|
|26||Monday||Guangzhou, Guangdong, P.R. China||Sick. Justin delays flight to Guiyang one day. Leave apartment for hotel--and warmth. We watched a bad American movie which was an ersatz E.T.|
|27||Tuesday||Guangzhou, Guangdong, P.R. China||Try to leave for Guiyang. Justin got sick at the airport, so we stayed an extra day. Receive partial refund for tickets and buy tickets to Guilin since there was not enough time to travel from Guiyang to Guilin by the evening of February second. Rest. Eve of Spring Festival.|
|28||Wednesday||Guangzhou, Guangdong, P.R. China|
Guilin, Guangxi, P.R. China
|First day of Spring Festival. See dragon and tiger performance with drums. Fly to Guilin and stay overnight. We met an interesting student in Guilin. He finds places for foreigners to stay, negotiation prices, so he says, and taking a cut from the hotel owners.|
|29||Thursday||Guilin, Guangxi, P.R. China|
Longshen, Guangxi, P.R. China
|Headed out for Longshen on bus. To go one hundred miles, the bus took three and a half hours because of mountainous roads and frequent stops to pick up and to drop off passengers. Afternoon hike around Longshen. Nice dinner at a family's restaurant. The young daughter was very outgoing and funny. Stay at Riverside Hotel (kaikai lüshé) run by an Chinese English teacher.|
|30||Friday||Longshen, Guangxi, P.R. China||Visited the Dragon's Backbone Rice Terraces (lóngji titián) with some expats from out hotel. The Dong women offered to be guides and let down their hair for a photo op. Justin and I declined. Nice place. Must be spectacular during warmer and sunnier months. Revisit the family at their restaurant for a dinner of hot pot. Mmm, mmm, good.|
|31||Saturday||Longshen, Guangxi, P.R. China|
Sanjiang, Guangxi, P.R. China
Chengyang, Guangxi, P.R. China
|Took bus to Sanjiang county. Stay at Chengyang at a
hostel. (We may have been the only guests during our
Visit Chengyang village. Spend a hour and a half with some old men in the village drum tower. Translation (English to Mandarin) on translation (Mandarin to Donghua) was interesting. Justin explains how the solar system works on the insistence of the man translating Mandarin to Donghua. Have names engraved in tablet.
Visit a villager's home, which was pretty typical for the Dong--wooden, elevated with livestock below. It was dark inside, but the people were nice. The daughter was pretty funny.
|1||Sunday||Chengyang, Guangxi, P.R. China|
Sanjiang, Guangxi, P.R. China
Baxie, Guangxi, P.R. China
Tong Le, Guangxi, P.R. China
|Pack up and head out to the bus stop. Justin and I
happened to see the expats we meet in Longshen. They
had missed the hostel during late night travel and stayed
with a man in another village, which is illegal, but not
well enforced in rural areas.|
They plan to cross the boarder into Guiyang province, so we parted ways in Sanjiang. Justin and I took a two and a half hour bus ride to Baxie and explored the town. Justin was pretty confident we would see another bus to take us to Tong Le were we planned to stay. We started walking in the direction of Tong Le; a bus never showed. We reached the village north of Tong Le around dusk and hired a three wheel truck to take us to Tong Le.
After arriving in Tong Le, we checked into a hostel. The nephew of the owners invited us into his aunt and uncle's office-den-kitchen room for some conversation and dinner. What a feast we had. The nephew's brother, sisters, wife, and sister-in-law, and father also joined us for dinner.
|2||Monday||Tong Le, Guangxi, P.R. China|
Sanjiang, Guangxi, P.R. China
Longshen, Guangxi, P.R. China
Guilin, Guangxi, P.R. China
|Caught a bus back to Sanjiang. Put up with a broken
down bus that never arrived and then the bus ride from
hell. Arrived in Guilin around eleven PM and met Meg
at the hotel.|
After much discussion, we decided a visit to the Jianjiang (Yangzi River) Three Gorges and Three Little Gorges would not fit into our plan and may have not been worthwhile during the winter.
|3||Tuesday||Guilin, Guangxi, P.R. China||Bum around town visiting a market, the Li River, and some back streets.|
|4||Wednesday||Guilin, Guangxi, P.R. China |
Yangshuo, Guangxi, P.R. China
Xi'an, Shaanxi, P.R. China
|Visit Yangshuo from Guilin. Our cabbie said that money
is a key motivator for many Chinese. She made a pun
of a Chinese Communist saying to express this.|
Spent some time in town--good Chenglish found--and Meg and I biked around the countryside for about two hours while Justin stays in Yangshuo. Beautiful countryside. The misty day made them more mysterious that on a sunny day.
Flew to Xi'an late afternoon and early evening.
|5||Thursday||Xi'an, Shaanxi, P.R. China||Visited the Muslim Quarter and its Great Mosque,
which has a strongly Chinese influenced architecture.
Had cold wheat noodles for breakfast in the Muslim
Quarter. Meg, Justin, and I made off with great bargains
on chops. The key, we found, is not have enough
money and use that as a bargaining tool.|
In the afternoon, toured the Shaanxi History Museum. Interesting look at civilization around Xi'an, which has existed for over two millennia. On our way back, a large, sunny late afternoon crowd was flying kites in the center of a roundabout near one of the old city gates.
Had hot pot for dinner as a last dinner with Justin during my trip. The hot pot was very good--spicy, Sichuan broth on one side and delicate broth on the other.
|6||Friday||Xi'an, Shaanxi, P.R. China|
Beijing, Beijing, P.R. China
|Rise and shine for a day at the Terracotta soldiers.
After waiting 45 minutes to an hour, our bus finally left.
We were lied to about taking the highway, and Justin
was upset. In his disgust, he paid them the extra money
for the toll. One of Justin's more colorful moments.|
The soldiers were very impressive. Each one was different and may have been modeled after real people. Not a bad burial site for Qin Shihuang, the first emperor of a unified China (third century B.C./B.C.E.)
I had my first and only run in with the Chinese police. While in tomb three, I was caught picture taking, which is forbidden. Justin and I were pretty shaken (not stirred), but Justin managed the situation surprisingly well. The guard should have taken my film, but instead he took advantage of the situation, which included the absence of his superiors and peers. He first asked for U.S. currency, which I did not have, and then asked for two hundred kuai (about US $24). I paid no questions asked, but it stung my conscience. We took a taxi back due to tight scheduling.
Parted with Justin. Meg and I flew to Beijing that night.
|7||Saturday||Beijing, Beijing, P.R. China||Visited the Forbidden City and Tiananmen Square on a
blustery day. What awful weather in which to have
made this visit. Though, the effort was worth it. The
Forbidden City is very interesting.|
Later, Meg and I visited the Temple of Heaven in Tiantan Park.. The Temple of Heave is very beautiful. One of my favorite places in Beijing.
|8||Sunday||Beijing, Beijing, P.R. China||Spent the day in and around the Great Wall at Badaling.
After checking out the bus situation and feeling
justifiably uneasy about it, Meg and I hired a taxi to take
us to Badaling. Through miscommunication we saw
much more of the wall than we planned. First, we say a
relatively unrestored, decaying portion. Then, the newly
restored walled city at Juyong Pass. Finally, we saw the
"scenic" part of Badaling. It really was scenic. I was glad
Meg persisted in ensuring we saw what we had hoped
to see. All of it was very interesting. Variety to be sure.
The Wall is an incredible testimony to human will and
We had hoped to see an acrobatics show, but the day had worn us out. Instead, we rested and went out for Peking/Beijing duck.
|9||Monday||Beijing, Beijing, P.R. China|
|Visited Liulichang which is known as antique street.
Nothing of interest so we went east through some
hutongs. Shame to see them go to progress. Visit the
Summer Palace. Neat place. Left for Tokyo, Japan.|
Shiro Fukada, an old friend of Meg's, met us at the airport. Shiro drove us around a small part of Tokyo and then to our hotel in Shinagawa. The three of us had drinks and appetizers, which were very expensive!
|Took the bullet train to Kyoto from Shinagawa Station.
Arrived in Kyoto and stopped at the tourism office to
find a ryokan for the night. Of course, we managed to
become lost on our way to our ryokan.|
Spent the afternoon, walking around some neat areas and grabbing a bit to eat.
Kyoto is a very peaceful town.
|11||Wednesday||Kyoto, Japan||Meg and I started off on a whirlwind tour of a handful
of Kyoto's historic sites. We saw:
Two Kyoto University students surveyed us about violence in Japan as a part of their English class. A recent rash of violence had hit Japan bringing the Japanese to begin conversations about apparent changes in their society. As probably typical of foreigners, especially violence numbed Americans, we could not relate well to their concern. Japan appeared to be a very safe country.
Meg introduced me to Japanese curry that evening. What a wonderful dish!
|Meg and I had decided to take the Shinkansen to
Hiroshima. Hiroshima has a certain pull for Americans
because of the bombing; Meg and I very much felt the
Meg and I found an inexpensive ryokan and bunked our stuff for the afternoon.
|Returned to Tokyo on the Shinkansen. What a nice
way to travel. We met Shiro in Tokyo and spent some
time at his office while he finished up work.|
We took the train to Yokohama to spend the weekend with Shiro, Yoshiko, Shun, and Yu.
|Visited Kamakura and saw Japan's largest statue of
Buddha, ate sweet potato ice cream, and walked the
For dinner we ate shabu shabu, which is the Japanese version of hot pot. Kobe beef is very good.
|Since Shiro has had that taste of American, we went to
McDonalds for breakfast. We shopped for groceries,
which Meg and I bought a few to take home.|
Michio and Noriko, Shiro's parents, invited us to their house in Tokyo and then out to dinner at the American Club. I had vague memories of Shiro's parents when they visited the United States, but it was nice to have met them as an adult. Noriko is such a vibrant and warm person, and Michio is also very warm.
Michio and Noriko gave us several presents of which one was three sumo wrestlers. At dinner, we saw three sumo wrestlers and had our pictures taken.
Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota, U.S.A.
|Saw Shun and Yu off to school. Yoshiko, Shiro, Meg, and I headed off for the train station. Good byes with Yoshiko and Shiro at the train station. Shiro got us on the Narita Express and we were off to the airport. I left for the States, and Meg flew to Hong Kong for a few more days before returning to the U.S.|