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It’s been a few days since I’ve uploaded pictures. Thankfully, modern technology has allowed my iPhone to keep up with my tendency to make up for the lack of quality pictures by the quantity of said pictures.

We’ve spent the past few days here in Chongqing, which everyone warned us was just unbearably hot. It is listed as one of the “three furnaces” here in China. 

Fortunately, the warmth of the people has more than made up for the heat and humidity of this city. But first, the last day in Xi'an. 

Early in the morning we left for the small place outside the city where three farmers stumbled upon the enormous army of Terra Cotta Warriors while they  attempted to dig a well in 1978. Fortunately for themselves, for China, and for the rest of the world, they hit gold. Before we arrived at the actual site, however, we stopped at a pottery museum where we had a short tour. The highlight of said pottery museum? This, right at the front:

I have a whole bunch of other pictures from this place, but I’ll spare you those to give you the more important ones.

The coolest thing about the museum is that it’s still an active archaeological dig. Some of the statues are still being put together, like the world’s hardest jigsaw puzzle. Imagine digging up your entire subdivision, finding a bunch of puzzle pieces, not knowing how many you have, and then trying to put it together. Oh yeah, and an army destroyed this puzzle when they razed the city over two thousand years ago, leaving it in shambles. So it’s an amazing feat that they’ve put this many back together.

The other interesting archaeological piece is that (unbeknownst to me) the current trend is to leave pieces of discovered sites to future generations to discover with the thought that they will be able to preserve things better in the future, and to leave some treasures for our descendants. Here’s an example of a current work in progress.

Unfortunately, the color on most of the soldiers is not preserved. On this one you can see the color. You can also see the bottom of his feet. This soldier was an archer, as told by the direction and size of his hair bun. 

This was an incredible place to visit, and really well done. It’s a very simple space, and in itself was worth the trip to Xi'an. 

That afternoon we had hot pot (to prepare us for the spicy Sichuan tradition) then headed to the Banpo Museum, where in the 1950s, archaeologists discovered the ruins of an ancient civilization. While not as cool as the warriors, it was a very interesting and well-done museum. Here’s a diorama of what they think the village looked like:

In the afternoon we went to the Large Wild Goose Pagoda, which has a ridiculous shopping area around it and some fun sculptures. 

While I’ve got this music picture up, let’s discuss some other musical things. Three things that happened just today:

1. The man in the lobby is whistling and humming. It’s totally pentatonic and awesome. 

2. Clapping on one and three. Gahh!

3. While not musical, the hacking, phlegming, (yeah, I just made that a verb), and spitting in this country are truly disgusting. As Erin just said, we’re all going to have typhoid by the end of this trip. 

Inside the Large Wild Goose Pagoda is a 1,000 armed Abolokatesvara. 

The next morning before the airport, we went to the Small Goose Pagoda and I played around on the rocks. I was feeling chancy I guess. 

At the airport we had a few delays, so we had some time to explore. We thought the business area was nice with their beds so I took a picture.

This lady on the right was pissed. But I don’t really care considering how many people have taken pictures of me without asking. If I catch them doing it I try to make an obnoxious face, or just smile really big. If you ever want to know what it feels like to be a minority, just dye your hair blonde and go to China. Some places it’s an ego boost (“You are so beautiful!”) and other times I just feel like I have three heads. 

We love Chongqing! Many of you probably saw a picture on facebook that I posted when we first got here. It really does look like that 4th layer of dream in Inception.

But I love it here! The city is at the confluence of the Yangtze river and the Jai ling river. As Steve said, it looks a little like Pittsburgh. And it does, just minus one river. 

After we visited the Stilwell museum (where this was taken–the man had prime real estate), we took a sunset/evening cruise. This bridge is not quite finished yet, but is currently open to pedestrian traffic. 

Did I mention the humidity? That’s why my hair looks like this. 

This is a theatre. I don’t know anything about it. Sorry. But it’s pretty. 

This bridge is just so cool. I can’t resist another picture. 

(By the way, this guy has not stopped whistling and singing for the hour and a half I’ve been sitting here in the lobby). 

We went to little market on Saturday after a lecture on Confucianism. We also had a delicious vegetarian lunch (if tofu and whatever else we had tasted that good all of the time, I’d never need to eat meat). 

That night we had hot pot again. Everyone gets their own dipping sauce of sesame oil and on the table was soy sauce, garlic, salt, and msg. yep, good old msg. Oh, and la, which is the spicy sauce. We mixed our little bowls. And then the food started coming. 

It was, um, not our favorite. There was this guy. 

That’s pig kidneys. (Or liver? Either way, no one touched it. It did not go into our pot).

There were some eels, one of which was still wriggling on the plate. Some mushrooms, cabbage, tomatoes, and that ending the “edible” portion of our meal. Some things were already fried. The tofu was ok. There was some fish–I don’t remember much of it because it went into the pot and I did not go fishing for it. The spicy water itself was pretty good, and it was definitely an experience. But if I ever do it again, i would like to do the food ordering for myself. 

The place itself used to be a bomb shelter. So that was cool. You can kind of tell from this picture. 

Anyway, we all sweated profusely, and I was hungry in the morning. 

At some point I got a foot massage (twice actually, I am slightly ashamed to admit. But it’s so cheap!)

On Sunday we went to the Dazu rock carvings. That was pretty amazing. Our guide was not very good, but it was worth the two hour bus ride to get there. 

That afternoon we had lunch at the Luo family compound, which has been there for many generations. The family still owns it and uses it as a vacation spot once a year. The rest of the year they rent it out. There is an area for ancestral worship, and there are gorgeous lotus flowers everywhere. We ate every part of the flower at that restaurant–the root, the seed, the stalk, and I don’t even know what else. And they were all delicious. 

Today, however, was everyone’s favorite. We drove about an hour and a half outside of Chongqing to Qijiang, a “small town” of about 960,000 people. I guess when a typical city is 8 million people, anything less than a million is a small village. We knew we were visiting a school, which we also did outside of Beijing. But this school had the warmest welcome for us. As we drove up, a huge welcome banner was hanging from their front gate. We were met at the bus with water bottles (did I mention the heat and humidity?) and were able to talk with students for a long time. Here’s the first student I was talking with, Daniel. His English was amazing. Barely a hesitation when he asked or was answering a question. Definitely a top-tier student. 

We then had a short formal welcome from the principals and directors. Once again, a lovely welcome banner. (Pay no attention to the serious bunny ears going on ). 

In the afternoon we visited the primary school, where we watched the students perform Mulan. They were INCREDIBLE! The work they put into their performance, which was all in English (none of them older than 12) was amazing. They asked questions, answered questions, performed musical talents, and danced. 

We then drove to the “real” countryside, which was still pretty nice for farmers, and listened to a country music performance. I will have to record the details later.

It was very loud, but so boisterously joyful. The men ranged in age from 16 to 89, and they just had so much energy. It was a fantastic performance. I’m pretty sure I’ll never see anything like it ever again.

After the concert, we drove to a family compound where we made soy milk and sticky rice, played mahjong, had a brief karaoke stint, and then at a delicious meal. The teachers from the school hung out with us and they were great. 

The people of Chongqing have been so open and friendly. I’ve loved our time here, and nearly all of our speakers have been excellent. It’s been a great mix of lectures, site visits, and tourist attractions. I really can’t say how fortunate I am to be able to experience all of this with such a great group of people. We’ve got a little over a week left before about half go home and half continue on to Hong Kong. So far, no one is completely at anyone’s throats and we’re still getting along. 

We have a free day tomorrow. I’m going to walk to the house of Sun Yat-Sen, then perhaps we will experience what a Chinese water park looks like. 

Until next time! Thanks for reading. I also checked the box that said “Let people answer this.” So now you should be able to post comments directly. Sorry I just figured that out :)

(and in case you were wondering, that guy is still humming and whistling, three hours later). 

Another installment of my sister’s 2014 trip to China and Hong Kong, enjoy!

Two New Cities

Central Europe planning

Central Europe planning