0000 Introduction

0000 Introduction.jpg

0005 APR 5-6- Taking off from San Francisco, we cross the date line and land in Tokyo

0005 APR 5-6- Taking off from San Francisco, we cross the date line and land in Tokyo.jpg

0006+6 APR 7- TOKYO. Wide awake at a jet-lagged 4 am, we arise and head forTokyo's Tsukiji wholesale fish market

0006+6 APR 7- TOKYO. Wide awake at a jet-lagged 4 am, we arise and head forTokyo's Tsukiji wholesale fish market.jpg

0015 It's a warren of stalls where fresh fish are auctioned, cut up, ...

0015 It's a warren of stalls where fresh fish are auctioned, cut up, ... .jpg

0020 ... picked over by early-bird chefs, ...

0020 ... picked over by early-bird chefs, ... .jpg

0021

0021.jpg

0023 ... packed into styrofoam boxes and trucked out by forklifts to feed a fish-loving nation

0023 ... packed into styrofoam boxes and trucked out by forklifts to feed a fish-loving nation.jpg

0031-20 Stalls near the market offer the freshest sushi, ...

0031-20 Stalls near the market offer the freshest sushi, ... .jpg

0035 ... and tempura and noodle breakfasts

0035 ... and tempura and noodle breakfasts.jpg

0038+150p Back at our hotel ...

0038+150p Back at our hotel ... .jpg

0043 ... we meet our volunteer guide, Senichi, who takes us through the Imperial Palace grounds

0043 ... we meet our volunteer guide, Senichi, who takes us through the Imperial Palace grounds.jpg

0050+3  Nest stop is the Koganji Temple. The street leading there is lined with vendors. It's part of the old Nakasendo, the start of the highway to Kyoto

0050+3 Nest stop is the Koganji Temple. The street leading there is lined with vendors. It's part of the old Nakasendo, the start of the highway to Kyoto.jpg

0051 The temple is known for healing.  On the way there, in return for a donation to this nun, Walt gets a massage to help his knees

0051 The temple is known for healing. On the way there, in return for a donation to this nun, Walt gets a massage to help his knees.jpg

0053an Inside the temple, washing this Jizo Buddha statue is supposed to heal the body. It's very popular, especially with older people

0053an Inside the temple, washing this Jizo Buddha statue is supposed to heal the body. It's very popular, especially with older people.jpg

0057 Walt tries the cherry blossom flavor.  It's not very good

0057 Walt tries the cherry blossom flavor. It's not very good.jpg

0059 Senichi takes us to the municipal complex in Shinjuku for a view of the city. The park houses the Meiji Shrine

0059 Senichi takes us to the municipal complex in Shinjuku for a view of the city. The park houses the Meiji Shrine.jpg

0064 Nearby is the Shinjuku shopping area

0064 Nearby is the Shinjuku shopping area.jpg

0071 Tokyo escalators are strictly stand left, pass right. It's nothing like New York

0071 Tokyo escalators are strictly stand left, pass right. It's nothing like New York.jpg

0080 At dusk, we visit the Meiji Shrine

0080 At dusk, we visit the Meiji Shrine.jpg

0081-5

0081-5.jpg

0086+16 APR 8 - In the middle of Tokyo, at the north end of Tokyo Bay, ...

0086+16 APR 8 - In the middle of Tokyo, at the north end of Tokyo Bay, ... .jpg

0087+20n ... Senichi shows us around the Hama-riku Gardens

0087+20n ... Senichi shows us around the Hama-riku Gardens.jpg

0089+12n This is considered by many to be the best traditional Japanese garden in Tokyo

0089+12n This is considered by many to be the best traditional Japanese garden in Tokyo.jpg

0110 The cherry blossoms, or sakura, are a major annual event to Japanese

0110 The cherry blossoms, or sakura, are a major annual event to Japanese.jpg

0113 The bloom only lasts only a week or two and varies from year to year. Our visit, planned 8 months in advance, just caught the end of the bloom

0113 The bloom only lasts only a week or two and varies from year to year. Our visit, planned 8 months in advance, just caught the end of the bloom.jpg

0124 A modern elevated train takes us to the Odaiba area, ...

0124 A modern elevated train takes us to the Odaiba area, ... .jpg

0131 ... a place for tourists and families to stroll, dine, shop and enjoy city views across Tokyo Bay - and this replica statue

0131 ... a place for tourists and families to stroll, dine, shop and enjoy city views across Tokyo Bay - and this replica statue.jpg

0138 We catch a boat back to the city, and change for a cruise up the Sumidagawa River to the Asakusa district

0138 We catch a boat back to the city, and change for a cruise up the Sumidagawa River to the Asakusa district.jpg

0141 We're going to Asakusa because, since World War II, it's pretty much the only surviving old area in otherwise modern Tokyo

0141 We're going to Asakusa because, since World War II, it's pretty much the only surviving old area in otherwise modern Tokyo.jpg

0149 The crowded Nakamisa shopping street leads to the Sensoji Templi

0149 The crowded Nakamisa shopping street leads to the Sensoji Templi.jpg

0150+8 Outside the temple, we stop for a ceremonial procession

0150+8 Outside the temple, we stop for a ceremonial procession.jpg

0155n

0155n.jpg

0160 Inside the Sensoji Temple ...

0160 Inside the Sensoji Temple ... .jpg

0162 ... people burn wishes or prayers

0162 ... people burn wishes or prayers.jpg

0164 The Five-Story Pagoda is a 1970 reconstruction of a 17th century temple. Pagodas always have an odd number of floors

0164 The Five-Story Pagoda is a 1970 reconstruction of a 17th century temple. Pagodas always have an odd number of floors.jpg

0176 Returning on the subway, we see Tokyo's solution to pinching during morning rush hours

0176 Returning on the subway, we see Tokyo's solution to pinching during morning rush hours.jpg

0196p  APR 9 - Tokyo Station, waiting for the Shinkanshen - the bullet train - and so is the cleaning crew

0196p APR 9 - Tokyo Station, waiting for the Shinkanshen - the bullet train - and so is the cleaning crew.jpg

0198-4 It's a different experience than U.S trains. For one thing, every time an employee enters or leaves a car, they turn and bow to the passengers

0198-4 It's a different experience than U.S trains. For one thing, every time an employee enters or leaves a car, they turn and bow to the passengers.jpg

0200+1 HAKONE, JAPAN - A couple of hours later, we're in the resort town of Hakone, near Mt. Fuji

0200+1 HAKONE, JAPAN - A couple of hours later, we're in the resort town of Hakone, near Mt. Fuji.jpg

0201+61 A taxi brings us to the Fukuzumiro Ryokan.  A ryokan is a very traditional Japanese inn

0201+61 A taxi brings us to the Fukuzumiro Ryokan. A ryokan is a very traditional Japanese inn.jpg

0202 Our shoes don't make it past the lobby; we get slippers instead.  Only one staff member speaks a little English, but a written checklist takes care of our needs

0202 Our shoes don't make it past the lobby; we get slippers instead. Only one staff member speaks a little English, but a written checklist takes care of our needs.jpg

0207 We've got two big rooms, a sun porch with private garden and a babbling stream ...

0207 We've got two big rooms, a sun porch with private garden and a babbling stream ... .jpg

0210+25 ... and a private hot-spring bath!

0210+25 ... and a private hot-spring bath!.jpg

0224n The century-old building is all wood, inside and out

0224n The century-old building is all wood, inside and out.jpg

0232 A book in the room tells of the famous people who stayed in this ryokan. Our room was favored by a noted writer

0232 A book in the room tells of the famous people who stayed in this ryokan. Our room was favored by a noted writer.jpg

0250+7 APR 10 - After a restful night's sleep on the floor, with the sound of rain on the roof, it's a bright morning

0250+7 APR 10 - After a restful night's sleep on the floor, with the sound of rain on the roof, it's a bright morning.jpg

0254 Meals are not only served in the room; parts of them are cooked there

0254 Meals are not only served in the room; parts of them are cooked there.jpg

0259 We reclaim our shoes ...

0259 We reclaim our shoes ....jpg

0268 ... and the staff bids us farewell as we set out for a tour of the Mt. Fuji area

0268 ... and the staff bids us farewell as we set out for a tour of the Mt. Fuji area.jpg

0272 Today's sightseeing loop takes us on five different modes of transportation, starting with this picturesque mountain railway

0272 Today's sightseeing loop takes us on five different modes of transportation, starting with this picturesque mountain railway.jpg

0275+9 We make a stop at the Hakone Open-Air Museum

0275+9 We make a stop at the Hakone Open-Air Museum.jpg

0277 They have sculpture by Picasso and Rodin, but the outrageous stuff is more interesting

0277 They have sculpture by Picasso and Rodin, but the outrageous stuff is more interesting.jpg

0302 We take a funicular tram to Sounzan, then cross this mountain range by cable car, passing over a volcanic area with hot springs and fumaroles

0302 We take a funicular tram to Sounzan, then cross this mountain range by cable car, passing over a volcanic area with hot springs and fumaroles.jpg

0303 At Togendai, these gaudy sightseeing boats take us across Lake Ashi. It's too hazy to see Mt. Fuji, though. In fact, although although the trip today has been fun, ...

0303 At Togendai, these gaudy sightseeing boats take us across Lake Ashi. It's too hazy to see Mt. Fuji, though. In fact, although although the trip today has been fun, ... .jpg

0311 ... the scenery has been disappointing, including this 'view' of Mt. Fuji obscured by haze

0311 ... the scenery has been disappointing, including this 'view' of Mt. Fuji obscured by haze.jpg

0314 In late afternoon, we take a bus back to Hakone and the bullet train to Kyoto, arriving in this huge, modern multilevel station which also houses our hotel

0314 In late afternoon, we take a bus back to Hakone and the bullet train to Kyoto, arriving in this huge, modern multilevel station which also houses our hotel.jpg

0326 APR 11 - KYOTO was Japan's capital for over 1000 years. Today we tour it by metro, bus and foot, starting with the Golden Pavilion at the Kinkajuki Temple

0326 APR 11 - KYOTO was Japan's capital for over 1000 years. Today we tour it by metro, bus and foot, starting with the Golden Pavilion at the Kinkajuki Temple.jpg

0334n Walt lands a lucky coin in the dish, presumably gaining some sort of merit

0334n Walt lands a lucky coin in the dish, presumably gaining some sort of merit.jpg

0339 The Ryoan-ji Temple is famous for this 15th century Zen garden, a World Heritage Site

0339 The Ryoan-ji Temple is famous for this 15th century Zen garden, a World Heritage Site.jpg

0351 We contemplated the Zen garden for five or ten minutes, but were not enlightened. Any hints are welcome

0351 We contemplated the Zen garden for five or ten minutes, but were not enlightened. Any hints are welcome.jpg

0357 The inscription on this 17th c. Tsukubai (washbasin), 'I learn only to be contented', is unique, with the central square forming part of all four characters

0357 The inscription on this 17th c. Tsukubai (washbasin), 'I learn only to be contented', is unique, with the central square forming part of all four characters.jpg

0367 Crossing the Kano River toward Kyoto's eastern hills, there's a choice of bridge or stepping stones

0367 Crossing the Kano River toward Kyoto's eastern hills, there's a choice of bridge or stepping stones.jpg

0377 The Philosopher's Pathway, running a mile or more along a canal at the foot of the hills, is a spectacular stroll in cherry blossom time

0377 The Philosopher's Pathway, running a mile or more along a canal at the foot of the hills, is a spectacular stroll in cherry blossom time.jpg

0378 Sakura petals float slowly down the canal

0378 Sakura petals float slowly down the canal.jpg

0391n Nearby, the Jisho-ji temple contains beautiful gardens

0391n Nearby, the Jisho-ji temple contains beautiful gardens.jpg

0392n Another World Heritage site, Jisho-ji contains the 15th c. Silver Pavilion, or Ginkaku

0392n Another World Heritage site, Jisho-ji contains the 15th c. Silver Pavilion, or Ginkaku.jpg

0410 APR 12 Next morning, we explore the vast multilevel Kyoto station before taking a train to the ancient city of Nara

0410 APR 12 Next morning, we explore the vast multilevel Kyoto station before taking a train to the ancient city of Nara.jpg

0415 Nara was the capital of Japan from 710 to 784. Most of the wooden structures date from that time. The Kofuku-ji Temple complex includes the second highest pagoda in Japan

0415 Nara was the capital of Japan from 710 to 784. Most of the wooden structures date from that time. The Kofuku-ji Temple complex includes the second highest pagoda in Japan.jpg

0418 Nara Park contains most of the surviving historic buildings, as well as several thousand protected deer. This is the Nandaimon, or Great Southern Gate

0418 Nara Park contains most of the surviving historic buildings, as well as several thousand protected deer. This is the Nandaimon, or Great Southern Gate.jpg

0426 The Daibutsuden, or Great Buddha Hall, in the Tokai-ji temple area, is a UNESCO site and the world's largest wooden building

0426 The Daibutsuden, or Great Buddha Hall, in the Tokai-ji temple area, is a UNESCO site and the world's largest wooden building.jpg

0430p The Great Buddha of Nara is the largest bronze statue in Japan

0430p The Great Buddha of Nara is the largest bronze statue in Japan.jpg

0438 This fountain, strewn with sakura petals, is at the entrance to ...

0438 This fountain, strewn with sakura petals, is at the entrance to ... .jpg

0439-2 ... the Nigatsu-do shrine, famous for the ...

0439-2 ... the Nigatsu-do shrine, famous for the ... .jpg

0440 ... hundreds of stone pillars commemorating benefactors of the shrine

0440 ... hundreds of stone pillars commemorating benefactors of the shrine.jpg

0442+3 The Kasuga Taisha, one of the three Great Shinto Shrines of Japan, ...

0442+3 The Kasuga Taisha, one of the three Great Shinto Shrines of Japan, ... .jpg

0443p ... is known for its thousands of lanterns

0443p ... is known for its thousands of lanterns.jpg

0453 After lunch, we take a train to nearby Horyu-ji

0453 After lunch, we take a train to nearby Horyu-ji.jpg

0455p

0455p.jpg

0458 Thought to be the world's  two oldest wooden buildings, the Main Hall, and Five Story Pagoda, whose central pillar has been dated to the year 594

0458 Thought to be the world's two oldest wooden buildings, the Main Hall, and Five Story Pagoda, whose central pillar has been dated to the year 594.jpg

0460

0460.jpg

0472 The Yumedono (Hall of Dreams) was built in 739

0472 The Yumedono (Hall of Dreams) was built in 739.jpg

0476p An hour's train ride returns us to 21st century Kyoto, and our home base train station and hotel, at rush hour

0476p An hour's train ride returns us to 21st century Kyoto, and our home base train station and hotel, at rush hour.jpg

0483 APR 13 - The Sanjusangendo shrine - the name means a hall with 33 bays - is 400 ft long. The building dates from 1266

0483 APR 13 - The Sanjusangendo shrine - the name means a hall with 33 bays - is 400 ft long. The building dates from 1266.jpg

0484pc Inside is a spectacular sight - 1000 statues of the thousand-armed (actually 40) god Kannon. (Postcard image - no photos allowed)

0484pc Inside is a spectacular sight - 1000 statues of the thousand-armed (actually 40) god Kannon. (Postcard image - no photos allowed).jpg

0485 The gift shop sells a wide variety of useful (if they work) amulets. We buy an assortment

0485 The gift shop sells a wide variety of useful (if they work) amulets. We buy an assortment.jpg

0508 The Nijo Castle complex was built in the 17th century by the Tokugawa shoguns

0508 The Nijo Castle complex was built in the 17th century by the Tokugawa shoguns.jpg

0512 We stroll through the palace ...

0512 We stroll through the palace ... .jpg

0514

0514.jpg

0516 ... and gardens

0516 ... and gardens.jpg

0531 Later that afternoon we climb Kyoto's eastern hill ...

0531 Later that afternoon we climb Kyoto's eastern hill ... .jpg

0537 ... to the Kiyomizu Buddhist temple complex, ...

0537 ... to the Kiyomizu Buddhist temple complex, ... .jpg

0542 ... known for its views of Kyoto

0542 ... known for its views of Kyoto.jpg

0549 These colorful rice flour confections are popular in Japan, particularly as gifts when calling on friends

0549 These colorful rice flour confections are popular in Japan, particularly as gifts when calling on friends.jpg

0555p APR 14 - SEOUL, KOREA - After a night at the airport hotel, we catch a morning flight to Incheon Airport, and a bus to Seoul, Korea

0555p APR 14 - SEOUL, KOREA - After a night at the airport hotel, we catch a morning flight to Incheon Airport, and a bus to Seoul, Korea.jpg

0561p Near our hotel, in the City Hall plaza, a costumed group performs

0561p Near our hotel, in the City Hall plaza, a costumed group performs.jpg

0565+11 And across the street, costumed 'guards' decorate the entrance to Deoksugung Park

0565+11 And across the street, costumed 'guards' decorate the entrance to Deoksugung Park.jpg

0566+12p  Established in the 1400s, Deoksugung became a royal palace complex

0566+12p Established in the 1400s, Deoksugung became a royal palace complex.jpg

0567 A dozen or so historic buildings have survived or been rebuilt. As a central city park, it's also a promenading spot for couples and families

0567 A dozen or so historic buildings have survived or been rebuilt. As a central city park, it's also a promenading spot for couples and families.jpg

0569 Junghwajeon is the main palace hall. On ceremonial occasions, ministers lined up at the numbered pillars according to rank

0569 Junghwajeon is the main palace hall. On ceremonial occasions, ministers lined up at the numbered pillars according to rank.jpg

0579+4p Within a mile of our hotel, near the Namdaemum (Great South Gate), ...

0579+4p Within a mile of our hotel, near the Namdaemum (Great South Gate), ... .jpg

0580p ... is the Namdaemum night market

0580p ... is the Namdaemum night market.jpg

0581p On sale are all sorts of goods for tourists and locals, and food both raw ...

0581p On sale are all sorts of goods for tourists and locals, and food both raw ... .jpg

0582p ... and cooked

0582p ... and cooked.jpg

0585p Korea is particularly proud of its local ginseng

0585p Korea is particularly proud of its local ginseng.jpg

0590 APR 15 - Our all-day tour visits Gyeongbokgung, Seoul's first royal palace, dating from 1395

0590 APR 15 - Our all-day tour visits Gyeongbokgung, Seoul's first royal palace, dating from 1395.jpg

0596 The number of figurines on the eave indicates the rank of the owner. Like many aspects of Korean culture, this came from China. The same is true of Japan ...

0596 The number of figurines on the eave indicates the rank of the owner. Like many aspects of Korean culture, this came from China. The same is true of Japan ... .jpg

0597-3p ... but Koreans will proudly tell you that they came to Korea first, and then through Korea Japan. Here, the palace throne room

0597-3p ... but Koreans will proudly tell you that they came to Korea first, and then through Korea Japan. Here, the palace throne room.jpg

0605+4p On the palace grounds, the National Folk Museum displays Korean crafts and traditions, including the manufacture of some of the over 200 varieties of kimchi

0605+4p On the palace grounds, the National Folk Museum displays Korean crafts and traditions, including the manufacture of some of the over 200 varieties of kimchi.jpg

0606p Claimed to be the world's oldest woodblock printing. Korea, like Japan, borrowed the Chinese alphabet. But the modern Korean writing is phonetic, although it looks like ideograms

0606p Claimed to be the world's oldest woodblock printing. Korea, like Japan, borrowed the Chinese alphabet. But the modern Korean writing is phonetic, although it looks like ideograms.jpg

0612 A pagoda on the palace grounds

0612 A pagoda on the palace grounds.jpg

0616 Jogyesa Temple is said to contain relics of Buddha

0616 Jogyesa Temple is said to contain relics of Buddha.jpg

0617-4 This 500 year old lacebark pine, brought to Korea by an envoy to the Chinese court, is designated a National Treasure

0617-4 This 500 year old lacebark pine, brought to Korea by an envoy to the Chinese court, is designated a National Treasure.jpg

0620+2 In the afternoon,we toured the much-touted but disappointing Korea Folk Village. This rock pile is said to help written wishes come true

0620+2 In the afternoon,we toured the much-touted but disappointing Korea Folk Village. This rock pile is said to help written wishes come true.jpg

0621 The signs on this tea house tout the curative properties of their offerings

0621 The signs on this tea house tout the curative properties of their offerings.jpg

0623p There's another acrobatic performance, similar to the one we saw yesterday near City Hall

0623p There's another acrobatic performance, similar to the one we saw yesterday near City Hall.jpg

0636+2n But this one is more high-flying

0636+2n But this one is more high-flying.jpg

0637p

0637p.jpg

0653 APR 16 - Our hotel room overlooks the Hwanggungu shrine. An altar was part of the site since the late 10th c., until the Japanese destroyed it in 1913

0653 APR 16 - Our hotel room overlooks the Hwanggungu shrine. An altar was part of the site since the late 10th c., until the Japanese destroyed it in 1913.jpg

0655 This morning we stroll through modern Seoul

0655 This morning we stroll through modern Seoul.jpg

0660 A highway that covered Choneggye Stream since 1965 was removed in 2005 to create this refreshing pedestrian refuge from all the traffic and pavement

0660 A highway that covered Choneggye Stream since 1965 was removed in 2005 to create this refreshing pedestrian refuge from all the traffic and pavement.jpg

0662p In the evening, we catch a flight to Guilin to begin our tour of China

0662p In the evening, we catch a flight to Guilin to begin our tour of China.jpg

0665+3 APR 17 - GUILIN, CHINA We wake up to our first view of the famous karst mountains of Guilin, shrouded in the equally famous Guilin mist

0665+3 APR 17 - GUILIN, CHINA We wake up to our first view of the famous karst mountains of Guilin, shrouded in the equally famous Guilin mist.jpg

0666PT~1

0666PT~1.jpg

0678+15 The top attraction around the city of Guilin is the boat ride down the Lijiang, or Li River, to the town of Yangshuo

0678+15 The top attraction around the city of Guilin is the boat ride down the Lijiang, or Li River, to the town of Yangshuo.jpg

0679 Each morning, a veritable armada of tourist craft sets out from Guilin

0679 Each morning, a veritable armada of tourist craft sets out from Guilin.jpg

0682 The boats wind through the spectacular karst mountains

0682 The boats wind through the spectacular karst mountains.jpg

0690+9pp The shapes of the peaks, and the mist and rain, are familiar to anyone who's seen very many Chinese scroll paintings

0690+9pp The shapes of the peaks, and the mist and rain, are familiar to anyone who's seen very many Chinese scroll paintings.jpg

0708+18p In fact, this scene was chosen for the back of the 20 yuan bill (minus the tourist boats, of course)

0708+18p In fact, this scene was chosen for the back of the 20 yuan bill (minus the tourist boats, of course).jpg

0709 For all its beauty, the river is also a vital part of the local communities

0709 For all its beauty, the river is also a vital part of the local communities.jpg

0712 It's a highway for busses, ...

0712 It's a highway for busses, ... .jpg

0713+6p ... and for taxicabs, propelled by motors ...

0713+6p ... and for taxicabs, propelled by motors ... .jpg

0714-20pp ... and by hand, through a sudden cloudburst

0714-20pp ... and by hand, through a sudden cloudburst.jpg

0716p It's a fishing hole for tame cormorants, ...

0716p It's a fishing hole for tame cormorants, ... .jpg

0717+14p ... a feed bin for the livestock, ...

0717+14p ... a feed bin for the livestock, ... .jpg

0718-1p ... and the local laundromat

0718-1p ... and the local laundromat.jpg

0719-13p Sometimes it's even home sweet home

0719-13p Sometimes it's even home sweet home.jpg

0720 Back on the tourist boats, it's getting on toward lunch time.  Each boat contains a complete kitchen. Some of them happen to be outside

0720 Back on the tourist boats, it's getting on toward lunch time. Each boat contains a complete kitchen. Some of them happen to be outside.jpg

0723 It looks like this cormorant fisherman has just delivered the catch of the day ...

0723 It looks like this cormorant fisherman has just delivered the catch of the day ... .jpg

0725 ... and is hanging around waiting to get paid

0725 ... and is hanging around waiting to get paid.jpg

0726-50p Oops - looks like the lettering on this boat goes from bow to stern - in English as well as Chinese

0726-50p Oops - looks like the lettering on this boat goes from bow to stern - in English as well as Chinese.jpg

0728+9 The armada steams on downriver, ...

0728+9 The armada steams on downriver, ... .jpg

0730 ... through the beautiful scenery ...

0730 ... through the beautiful scenery ... .jpg

0738 ... and eventually reaches the town of Yangshuo. We disembark and head for our hotel

0738 ... and eventually reaches the town of Yangshuo. We disembark and head for our hotel.jpg

0742 There's a beautiful view out our window

0742 There's a beautiful view out our window.jpg

0743 Suddenly there's another cloudburst.  A fierce gust of wind blows this air conditioning unit off the roof next door.

0743 Suddenly there's another cloudburst. A fierce gust of wind blows this air conditioning unit off the roof next door..jpg

0748 Beyond the river and mountains, there aren't many attractions in the region. The hole in Crescent Moon Hill appears to change shape as you go along the road

0748 Beyond the river and mountains, there aren't many attractions in the region. The hole in Crescent Moon Hill appears to change shape as you go along the road.jpg

0753 Yangshuo is set up for tourists, and a good thing too, because it's dinner time

0753 Yangshuo is set up for tourists, and a good thing too, because it's dinner time.jpg

0754 'Mei you' attracts us because it's a funny name for a restaurant. It means 'don't have'. But we find the caricature offensive

0754 'Mei you' attracts us because it's a funny name for a restaurant. It means 'don't have'. But we find the caricature offensive.jpg

0767 APR 18 - There's a lot of construction in Yangshuo. This project is using cobbled-together machinery ...

0767 APR 18 - There's a lot of construction in Yangshuo. This project is using cobbled-together machinery ... .jpg

0768 ... and old-fashioned Chinese hand labor, like this woman hauling bricks

0768 ... and old-fashioned Chinese hand labor, like this woman hauling bricks.jpg

0769+3 Here's another restaurant named to attract Western tourists

0769+3 Here's another restaurant named to attract Western tourists.jpg

0770 But never mind the tacky aspects of Yangshuo.  The rain is gone and it's a beautiful day

0770 But never mind the tacky aspects of Yangshuo. The rain is gone and it's a beautiful day.jpg

0773 So we walk around town and enjoy the scenery

0773 So we walk around town and enjoy the scenery.jpg

0778 Then our guide takes us upriver to this rafting station on a quiet tributary of the Li

0778 Then our guide takes us upriver to this rafting station on a quiet tributary of the Li.jpg

0783 Our boatman seems confident

0783 Our boatman seems confident.jpg

0784-4 Although he does try to get us to patronize the local equivalent of a 7-11

0784-4 Although he does try to get us to patronize the local equivalent of a 7-11.jpg

0785+5 We glide along in tranquility

0785+5 We glide along in tranquility.jpg

0789 Oops.  There are these dams across the river. And the rafts have to go over them

0789 Oops. There are these dams across the river. And the rafts have to go over them.jpg

0793 No worries, though.  They're not high, and the water over them is shallow.  This motorcycle even uses one as a bridge

0793 No worries, though. They're not high, and the water over them is shallow. This motorcycle even uses one as a bridge.jpg

0794 The worst thing that happens is the raft gets stuck, and the boatman has to get out and push.

0794 The worst thing that happens is the raft gets stuck, and the boatman has to get out and push..jpg

0797-20 The rafts only go downriver with the current. Once the tourists get off, the rafts are trucked back upriver to the launch point

0797-20 The rafts only go downriver with the current. Once the tourists get off, the rafts are trucked back upriver to the launch point.jpg

0805 On the road back to Guilin, we visit Shi Wai Tao Yuan, a sort of theme park showcasing area ethnic minorities. In China, minorities are protected, with some special privileges

0805 On the road back to Guilin, we visit Shi Wai Tao Yuan, a sort of theme park showcasing area ethnic minorities. In China, minorities are protected, with some special privileges.jpg

0817 Back in Guilin, we and our guide Jeff take a cable lift to the top of a mountain

0817 Back in Guilin, we and our guide Jeff take a cable lift to the top of a mountain.jpg

0820 The views up here are just incredible

0820 The views up here are just incredible.jpg

0827 The trip up and down is also breathtaking

0827 The trip up and down is also breathtaking.jpg

0840 APR 19 - We're back in Guilin's Lijiang Waterfall Hotel, and if you remember that deserted Western breakfast dining room - well, everyone eats at the Asian buffet instead

0840 APR 19 - We're back in Guilin's Lijiang Waterfall Hotel, and if you remember that deserted Western breakfast dining room - well, everyone eats at the Asian buffet instead.jpg

0841 There's rice porridge with all sorts of condiments, dim sum, Chinese donuts, and more. A much better experience, although the coffee wasn't very good

0841 There's rice porridge with all sorts of condiments, dim sum, Chinese donuts, and more. A much better experience, although the coffee wasn't very good.jpg

0850 Guilin is known for its pearls, so we make the obligatory stop at the 'pearl museum'

0850 Guilin is known for its pearls, so we make the obligatory stop at the 'pearl museum'.jpg

0851+4 By now, Jeff understands that we're not typical 'big nose' tourists, so he takes us to eat with him and our driver

0851+4 By now, Jeff understands that we're not typical 'big nose' tourists, so he takes us to eat with him and our driver.jpg

0865 The Love Park, on the river in central Guilin, is ...

0865 The Love Park, on the river in central Guilin, is ... .jpg

0867 ... filled with sculptures on the theme of love

0867 ... filled with sculptures on the theme of love.jpg

0868 And speaking of love, these ethnic minority young ladies in tribal costumes love to be paid 5 yuan each to pose with culturally inclined foreigners

0868 And speaking of love, these ethnic minority young ladies in tribal costumes love to be paid 5 yuan each to pose with culturally inclined foreigners.jpg

0872 Our final 'attraction' in Guilin is Fubo Hill

0872 Our final 'attraction' in Guilin is Fubo Hill.jpg

0873 It's actually interesting, with these thousand year old carvings in a cave

0873 It's actually interesting, with these thousand year old carvings in a cave.jpg

0879 Walt swears by these Chinese cough drops. It was amusing to see them advertised all over China by an Italian soccer star

0879 Walt swears by these Chinese cough drops. It was amusing to see them advertised all over China by an Italian soccer star.jpg

0881p We catch a much-delayed flight and land in Shanghai late at night

0881p We catch a much-delayed flight and land in Shanghai late at night.jpg

0883 APR 20 - SHANGHAI. Our hotel's in a great location, across from People's Square at the start of the Nanjing Road shopping street

0883 APR 20 - SHANGHAI. Our hotel's in a great location, across from People's Square at the start of the Nanjing Road shopping street.jpg

0885p After walking Nanjing Road to the Bund, we take a futuristic sightseeing train under the Huangpu river to the east bank

0885p After walking Nanjing Road to the Bund, we take a futuristic sightseeing train under the Huangpu river to the east bank.jpg

0887 We grab a quick look at the Shanghai skyline and take the train back again

0887 We grab a quick look at the Shanghai skyline and take the train back again.jpg

0888 Back on the Bund, the interesting skyline is on the east side - the new Pudong district

0888 Back on the Bund, the interesting skyline is on the east side - the new Pudong district.jpg

0893p That night, Nanjing Road is just as busy, if not more so

0893p That night, Nanjing Road is just as busy, if not more so.jpg

0895p The Shanghai Number 1 Department Store is right next to the hotel. Nancy finds some great buys on sale

0895p The Shanghai Number 1 Department Store is right next to the hotel. Nancy finds some great buys on sale.jpg

0896p Our hotel room has great views of People's Square, below, and People's Park, with the Shanghai Museum (round building)

0896p Our hotel room has great views of People's Square, below, and People's Park, with the Shanghai Museum (round building).jpg

0911 APR 21 - Today we take a tour to the city of Hangzhou to visit West Lake, considered the epitome of a beautiful Chinese lake since the Tang dynasty (609)

0911 APR 21 - Today we take a tour to the city of Hangzhou to visit West Lake, considered the epitome of a beautiful Chinese lake since the Tang dynasty (609).jpg

0915p

0915p.jpg

0916p These three stone pagodas are lit with candles during the Moon Festival. The reflections give rise to their name- Three Pools Mirroring the Moon

0916p These three stone pagodas are lit with candles during the Moon Festival. The reflections give rise to their name- Three Pools Mirroring the Moon.jpg

0928+4 Mei Jiawu is one of the four villages producing types of the famous Longjing, or Dragon Well, tea, known throughout China for its fragrance and smoothness

0928+4 Mei Jiawu is one of the four villages producing types of the famous Longjing, or Dragon Well, tea, known throughout China for its fragrance and smoothness.jpg

0930+5 This museum is set up to explain (and sell) tea to tourists. The statue is the 8th c. writer Lu Yu, who wrote the first definitive work on growing, making and drinking tea

0930+5 This museum is set up to explain (and sell) tea to tourists. The statue is the 8th c. writer Lu Yu, who wrote the first definitive work on growing, making and drinking tea.jpg

0931 Green tea is picked only in the spring, and only the small leaves are taken

0931 Green tea is picked only in the spring, and only the small leaves are taken.jpg

0934 Green tea is baked lightly by hand, until it is just a little toasted, much less than oolong or black tea. Longjing tea is almost fresh

0934 Green tea is baked lightly by hand, until it is just a little toasted, much less than oolong or black tea. Longjing tea is almost fresh.jpg

0945 APR 22- Walt learned that the Longhua Temple fair, a 350 year old tradition, is going on, so we take a cab there

0945 APR 22- Walt learned that the Longhua Temple fair, a 350 year old tradition, is going on, so we take a cab there.jpg

0946 Of course, food booths are the main attraction

0946 Of course, food booths are the main attraction.jpg

0947 Several of them sell these whole fish, deep fried in bamboo netting

0947 Several of them sell these whole fish, deep fried in bamboo netting.jpg

0953 For a long time the tallest structure in Shanghai, this pagoda is about 1000 years old. The original one dates back to the year 247

0953 For a long time the tallest structure in Shanghai, this pagoda is about 1000 years old. The original one dates back to the year 247.jpg

0956 In front of the temple's four halls, worshippers burn so much incense that it becomes a bonfire

0956 In front of the temple's four halls, worshippers burn so much incense that it becomes a bonfire.jpg

0958p The second hall has statues of the Four Heavenly Kings

0958p The second hall has statues of the Four Heavenly Kings.jpg

0962p Statues of the 500 lohans, Buddha disciples who became bodhisattva-like figures

0962p Statues of the 500 lohans, Buddha disciples who became bodhisattva-like figures.jpg

0965 The third hall, the Great Hall, contains this Buddha statue, with the 16 principal arhats, or enlightened disciples, on both sides of the hall

0965 The third hall, the Great Hall, contains this Buddha statue, with the 16 principal arhats, or enlightened disciples, on both sides of the hall.jpg

0969 Behind is this tableau featuring the Goddess of Mercy and representing reincarnation. The man with sword (lower left) represents death ...

0969 Behind is this tableau featuring the Goddess of Mercy and representing reincarnation. The man with sword (lower left) represents death ... .jpg

0970p ... and the boat in the lower right is birth

0970p ... and the boat in the lower right is birth.jpg

0973p Longhua is Shanghai's largest and most active temple, and it was absolutely fascinating

0973p Longhua is Shanghai's largest and most active temple, and it was absolutely fascinating.jpg

0978 It's lunch time, so our next stop is Old Town. We seek the holy grail of real Shanghai soup dumplings, or siu lung bao (literally, little dragon dumplings)

0978 It's lunch time, so our next stop is Old Town. We seek the holy grail of real Shanghai soup dumplings, or siu lung bao (literally, little dragon dumplings).jpg

0987p We spot a long line of people ...

0987p We spot a long line of people ... .jpg

0988+39p ... waiting in front of a window where cooks are making towering piles of siu lung bao

0988+39p ... waiting in front of a window where cooks are making towering piles of siu lung bao.jpg

0988p An hour later and two floors up - success! It's the 100 year old Nan Xiang Steamed Bun Restaurant, Shanghai's most famous purveyor of Shanghai dumpling

0988p An hour later and two floors up - success! It's the 100 year old Nan Xiang Steamed Bun Restaurant, Shanghai's most famous purveyor of Shanghai dumpling.jpg

0995-9 Nearby is the Bridge of Nine Turnings. Since evil spirits can't go around corners, this bridge protects the 400 year old teahouse

0995-9 Nearby is the Bridge of Nine Turnings. Since evil spirits can't go around corners, this bridge protects the 400 year old teahouse.jpg

1000 APR 23- Today we join up with a big tour group for a 16 day China cruise and tour. Having switched to their hotel in Pudong, we see this modern skyline on a sunny morning

1000 APR 23- Today we join up with a big tour group for a 16 day China cruise and tour. Having switched to their hotel in Pudong, we see this modern skyline on a sunny morning.jpg

1005+6 Our tour returns to Old Town to visit Yiyuan (Pleasant Garden), a famous Chinese classical garden completed in 1577

1005+6 Our tour returns to Old Town to visit Yiyuan (Pleasant Garden), a famous Chinese classical garden completed in 1577.jpg

1006+12 Chinese gardens consist of four elements - water, rock, plants and structures The yin and yang of these opposite elements must be balanced to create harmony

1006+12 Chinese gardens consist of four elements - water, rock, plants and structures The yin and yang of these opposite elements must be balanced to create harmony.jpg

1008+23n

1008+23n.jpg

1010+9 Exquisite Jade Rock, has a history of over a thousand years. The passages through the stone can create effects with water poured from above or incense burned below

1010+9 Exquisite Jade Rock, has a history of over a thousand years. The passages through the stone can create effects with water poured from above or incense burned below.jpg

1015+14n View from the 'Knowing the Fish Pavilion

1015+14n View from the 'Knowing the Fish Pavilion.jpg

1022p

1022p.jpg

1023p Yiyuan garden occupies just four acres in the middle of China's fastest modernizing city

1023p Yiyuan garden occupies just four acres in the middle of China's fastest modernizing city.jpg

1032 The Shanghai Museum is considered the best museum in China

1032 The Shanghai Museum is considered the best museum in China.jpg

1033 Around a central atrium, four floors of galleries display ...

1033 Around a central atrium, four floors of galleries display ... .jpg

1035p jades from prehistory (31st - 22nd c. B.C.) ...

1035p jades from prehistory (31st - 22nd c. B.C.) ... .jpg

1036+19n ... and ancient times (Wine vessel with bird stamping on a tiger, Western Han - 206 BG - 8 AD, ...

1036+19n ... and ancient times (Wine vessel with bird stamping on a tiger, Western Han - 206 BG - 8 AD, ... .jpg

1057 ... and porcelain, like this bird and flower design vase (c. 1730) from the ceramics capital of China, Jingdezhen, which we'll visit in a few days

1057 ... and porcelain, like this bird and flower design vase (c. 1730) from the ceramics capital of China, Jingdezhen, which we'll visit in a few days.jpg

1066+7p In the evening, we're taken to a show

1066+7p In the evening, we're taken to a show.jpg

1072p Shanghai acrobats are world famous

1072p Shanghai acrobats are world famous.jpg

1073-5p Some of them are appallingly young

1073-5p Some of them are appallingly young.jpg

1074+25 APR 24- Today we travel to Nanjing to board our river cruise. On the way, we tour Suzhou, located on the 1115 mile long Grand Canal to Beijing which was built around 610

1074+25 APR 24- Today we travel to Nanjing to board our river cruise. On the way, we tour Suzhou, located on the 1115 mile long Grand Canal to Beijing which was built around 610.jpg

1082 The four classical gardens of Suzhou are a World Heritage Site. The smallest and most elegant is the Garden of the Master of Nets, or Fisherman's Garden

1082 The four classical gardens of Suzhou are a World Heritage Site. The smallest and most elegant is the Garden of the Master of Nets, or Fisherman's Garden.jpg

1083 This tree is 900 years old - a century older than the garden itself

1083 This tree is 900 years old - a century older than the garden itself.jpg

1084-6p

1084-6p.jpg

1090+3p Suzhou is also a major production center for silk. This machine unrolls the long silk fiber ...

1090+3p Suzhou is also a major production center for silk. This machine unrolls the long silk fiber ... .jpg

1091p ... from cocoons softened in hot water

1091p ... from cocoons softened in hot water.jpg

1096p The silk is twisted into threads, dyed, and woven into cloth. There's an adjacent store, of course, with a huge selection and decent prices

1096p The silk is twisted into threads, dyed, and woven into cloth. There's an adjacent store, of course, with a huge selection and decent prices.jpg

1108p After an excellent lunch, ...

1108p After an excellent lunch, ... .jpg

1113 ... we continue to the Ming dynasty capital of Nanjing. Its 20 mile long city wall, dating from 1386, is the longest preserved city wall in the world

1113 ... we continue to the Ming dynasty capital of Nanjing. Its 20 mile long city wall, dating from 1386, is the longest preserved city wall in the world.jpg

1114-3 Some of the bricks still show the original makers' names. If there were problems, the king knew who to execute

1114-3 Some of the bricks still show the original makers' names. If there were problems, the king knew who to execute.jpg

1117-50 In Nanjing we board the Viking Century Sun and settle in. It's a new boat, and with no low bridges across the Yangtze, much taller than most river cruise boats

1117-50 In Nanjing we board the Viking Century Sun and settle in. It's a new boat, and with no low bridges across the Yangtze, much taller than most river cruise boats.jpg

1118+48 This map on the ship shows our cruise, from Nanjing to Chongqing. The Chinese call this Long River, or Changjiang; Yangtze is properly the name for the lower section

1118+48 This map on the ship shows our cruise, from Nanjing to Chongqing. The Chinese call this Long River, or Changjiang; Yangtze is properly the name for the lower section.jpg

1124 APR 25- After a morning cruising, we drive past rice paddies to Mt. Jiuhua (9 Streams), up a road with 99 curves ...

1124 APR 25- After a morning cruising, we drive past rice paddies to Mt. Jiuhua (9 Streams), up a road with 99 curves ... .jpg

1134 ... to a complex of 99 temples ...

1134 ... to a complex of 99 temples ....jpg

1135-2p ... and more being built

1135-2p ... and more being built.jpg

1136-6p

1136-6p.jpg

1156 A funicular tram up a ridge leads to more views, and another one of the 99 temples

1156 A funicular tram up a ridge leads to more views, and another one of the 99 temples.jpg

1172+31 APR 26- Today we're docked in Jiujiang (Nine Big Rivers). A bus takes us across Poyang Lake, the largest in China ...

1172+31 APR 26- Today we're docked in Jiujiang (Nine Big Rivers). A bus takes us across Poyang Lake, the largest in China ... .jpg

1173p ... to Jingdezhen, the porcelain center of China for over 1000 years.  Jingdezhen even uses porcelain for the lamp posts

1173p ... to Jingdezhen, the porcelain center of China for over 1000 years. Jingdezhen even uses porcelain for the lamp posts.jpg

1178 The porcelain museum showcases ancient kilns ...

1178 The porcelain museum showcases ancient kilns ... .jpg

1181+9p ... and merely very old ones

1181+9p ... and merely very old ones.jpg

1183p

1183p.jpg

1185p The kaolin clay dries white, but after firing, it will be translucent if thin enough

1185p The kaolin clay dries white, but after firing, it will be translucent if thin enough.jpg

1191p The finished product

1191p The finished product.jpg

1192-10p In the well-stocked gift shop, we buy a couple of lovely porcelain pieces. After lunch, in the cheap stores, we get some nice rice bowls

1192-10p In the well-stocked gift shop, we buy a couple of lovely porcelain pieces. After lunch, in the cheap stores, we get some nice rice bowls.jpg

1211p APR 27- Docked in Wuhan, capital of Hubei Province. As usual, leaving the ship for a tour, we run a gauntlet of polite crew members, each wishing us a pleasant day

1211p APR 27- Docked in Wuhan, capital of Hubei Province. As usual, leaving the ship for a tour, we run a gauntlet of polite crew members, each wishing us a pleasant day.jpg

1218 The Hubei Provincial Museum features 7000 artifacts from the tomb of a Marquis Yi, c. 433 B.C.

1218 The Hubei Provincial Museum features 7000 artifacts from the tomb of a Marquis Yi, c. 433 B.C..jpg

1230p The centerpiece is a collection of ancient musical instruments, notably this set of 64 two-tone bells

1230p The centerpiece is a collection of ancient musical instruments, notably this set of 64 two-tone bells.jpg

1231+10p In addition to the astounding workmanship, the bells prove the existence of the 7 tone scale and 12 semi-tone scale in ancient China

1231+10p In addition to the astounding workmanship, the bells prove the existence of the 7 tone scale and 12 semi-tone scale in ancient China.jpg

1232-1p Replicas of the bells and other ancient instruments ...

1232-1p Replicas of the bells and other ancient instruments ... .jpg

1235p ...  are used in a musical performance

1235p ... are used in a musical performance.jpg

1237p The dancers, however, are not replicas of ancient anything

1237p The dancers, however, are not replicas of ancient anything.jpg

1255+9 After lunch aboard, we walk into Wuhan. Despite this proletarian sculpture, capitalism is thriving along the busy pedestrian shopping street with modern stores

1255+9 After lunch aboard, we walk into Wuhan. Despite this proletarian sculpture, capitalism is thriving along the busy pedestrian shopping street with modern stores.jpg

1258p We had to check out the Wal-Mart. They have silk comforters, cheaper than the ones we got in Suzhou. Fortunately they don't have our size; Chinese don't use queen beds

1258p We had to check out the Wal-Mart. They have silk comforters, cheaper than the ones we got in Suzhou. Fortunately they don't have our size; Chinese don't use queen beds.jpg

1267p After lunch, we cruise upriver from the big city of Wuhan. At 3960 miles, the Yangtze or Long River is the longest in China, third longest in the world

1267p After lunch, we cruise upriver from the big city of Wuhan. At 3960 miles, the Yangtze or Long River is the longest in China, third longest in the world.jpg

1268p A major commercial artery, especially since it was tamed by the Three Gorges Dam, the Yangtze is bustling with commercial traffic of all kinds

1268p A major commercial artery, especially since it was tamed by the Three Gorges Dam, the Yangtze is bustling with commercial traffic of all kinds.jpg

1269p Ferries ...

1269p Ferries ... .jpg

1270ap ... huge auto carriers ...

1270ap ... huge auto carriers ... .jpg

1270p ... barges loaded with coal, a lot of coal, ...

1270p ... barges loaded with coal, a lot of coal, ... .jpg

1271p ... and other bulk cargo ...

1271p ... and other bulk cargo ... .jpg

1272+3p ... container cargo ...

1272+3p ... container cargo ... .jpg

1273p ... all manner of boats and ships

1273p ... all manner of boats and ships.jpg

1280p These huge hay barges are pushed by boats buried in the back of the load. The captain can't see ahead and depends on the people standing atop the load

1280p These huge hay barges are pushed by boats buried in the back of the load. The captain can't see ahead and depends on the people standing atop the load.jpg

1281p Like so many things in China, the river shipping business is often a family affair

1281p Like so many things in China, the river shipping business is often a family affair.jpg

1284p There are a few other cruise boats here on the lower Yangtze, but most of them do shorter cruises around the scenic Three Gorges area. Our 9 day cruise is unusually long

1284p There are a few other cruise boats here on the lower Yangtze, but most of them do shorter cruises around the scenic Three Gorges area. Our 9 day cruise is unusually long.jpg

1285-11p Channels are marked not by structures, as in the U.S. and Europe, but by these cost-effective anchored boats

1285-11p Channels are marked not by structures, as in the U.S. and Europe, but by these cost-effective anchored boats.jpg

1286 APR 28- This morning we visit Yueyang Tower, whose fame stems from a renowned poem written in 1045

1286 APR 28- This morning we visit Yueyang Tower, whose fame stems from a renowned poem written in 1045.jpg

1287 In the nearby teahouse, we're treated to a recital on the guzheng

1287 In the nearby teahouse, we're treated to a recital on the guzheng.jpg

1290 After lunch and back underway, we visit the bridge

1290 After lunch and back underway, we visit the bridge.jpg

1291 The ship's steered manually with this little wheel

1291 The ship's steered manually with this little wheel.jpg

1294 The calligraphy above the window reads, 'Caution brings fortune; risk brings misfortune'

1294 The calligraphy above the window reads, 'Caution brings fortune; risk brings misfortune'.jpg

1296 The other side reads 'Better to wait ten minutes than risk danger for one second.'

1296 The other side reads 'Better to wait ten minutes than risk danger for one second.'.jpg

1299p In the dining room, Walt, bored with the delicious but usually Western food aboard, wangles a plate of what the crew eats. It's real tasty - but very spicy

1299p In the dining room, Walt, bored with the delicious but usually Western food aboard, wangles a plate of what the crew eats. It's real tasty - but very spicy.jpg

1304APR 29- Today we dock in Jingzhou, and bus to a school sponsored by the cruise company

1304APR 29- Today we dock in Jingzhou, and bus to a school sponsored by the cruise company.jpg

1314+5p Every ten days or so, the poor kids have to put on a show for the tourists

1314+5p Every ten days or so, the poor kids have to put on a show for the tourists.jpg

1317-4 But it pays off in donations, and the school supplies we were told to bring along, which they share with the rest of the district.jpg

1317-4 But it pays off in donations, and the school supplies we were told to bring along, which they share with the rest of the district.jpg.jpg

1318-7 One of the passengers makes balloon animals for the kids, and is mobbed

1318-7 One of the passengers makes balloon animals for the kids, and is mobbed.jpg

1319+12n Walt helps by blowing up balloons

1319+12n Walt helps by blowing up balloons.jpg

1321+7 Outside there are faded posters of great intellects - Confucius, Albert Ayin Si Tan, and Isaac Niu Dun

1321+7 Outside there are faded posters of great intellects - Confucius, Albert Ayin Si Tan, and Isaac Niu Dun.jpg

1325p In a classroom, it's our turn to perform. We've been practicing singing 'You Are My Sunshine' in Chinese

1325p In a classroom, it's our turn to perform. We've been practicing singing 'You Are My Sunshine' in Chinese.jpg

1327p The kids fall apart laughing, which is probably appropriate

1327p The kids fall apart laughing, which is probably appropriate.jpg

1337p Back on board, our guide explains why mainland Chinese feel the U.S. has dealt badly with them on Taiwan

1337p Back on board, our guide explains why mainland Chinese feel the U.S. has dealt badly with them on Taiwan.jpg

1369 APR 30- This morning finds us docked at the Yellow Ox Temple,  a couple of miles downstream from the Three Gorges Dam, in the middle of Xiling Gorge, first of the three gorges

1369 APR 30- This morning finds us docked at the Yellow Ox Temple, a couple of miles downstream from the Three Gorges Dam, in the middle of Xiling Gorge, first of the three gorges.jpg

1370p Looking from the temple steps, a bridge can be seen behind the little shopping street. Soon we're crossing it on a bus, to tour this controversial dam

1370p Looking from the temple steps, a bridge can be seen behind the little shopping street. Soon we're crossing it on a bus, to tour this controversial dam.jpg

1372+21 Viewed from the observation area on the island in the middle of the project, the dam doesn't look that large. But it's 1.3 miles long

1372+21 Viewed from the observation area on the island in the middle of the project, the dam doesn't look that large. But it's 1.3 miles long.jpg

1377+9 We're on the island in the center. The dam extends southeast, and the ship locks are just above (north) of us

1377+9 We're on the island in the center. The dam extends southeast, and the ship locks are just above (north) of us.jpg

1378+8e Here's a closer look. The narrow channel just below the island leads to the vertical shiplift

1378+8e Here's a closer look. The narrow channel just below the island leads to the vertical shiplift.jpg

1383 When completed, the lift will raise a 3000 ton ship up 370 feet in 40 minutes, instead of 3-4 hours through the locks. But they aren't sure how to power it yet

1383 When completed, the lift will raise a 3000 ton ship up 370 feet in 40 minutes, instead of 3-4 hours through the locks. But they aren't sure how to power it yet.jpg

1384p-10 Meanwhile, all ships use the twin 5-step ship locks. As the water level rises toward 508 feet (155 m.) above sea level, or 361 feet above the pre-dam level..

1384p-10 Meanwhile, all ships use the twin 5-step ship locks. As the water level rises toward 508 feet (155 m.) above sea level, or 361 feet above the pre-dam level...jpg

1385+13 ... the lock stages have been put into use, one by one. Today's the first day that the lock gates on the top level need to be closed

1385+13 ... the lock stages have been put into use, one by one. Today's the first day that the lock gates on the top level need to be closed.jpg

1400-14p The generating turbines on the far side are already working. By 2009 the ones in the near side and in the mountain on the far bank will kick in to produce 22.5 gigawatts

1400-14p The generating turbines on the far side are already working. By 2009 the ones in the near side and in the mountain on the far bank will kick in to produce 22.5 gigawatts.jpg

1402-13p But the main purpose of the dam is to control the periodic floods that have destroyed property and killed over a million Chinese in the last century

1402-13p But the main purpose of the dam is to control the periodic floods that have destroyed property and killed over a million Chinese in the last century.jpg

1404+50 It also makes the river more navigable, and is expected to quintuple the amount of shipping traffic on the Yangtze

1404+50 It also makes the river more navigable, and is expected to quintuple the amount of shipping traffic on the Yangtze.jpg

1407p In the exhibition center, we learn that this project was first proposed by Sun Yat Sen in 1919

1407p In the exhibition center, we learn that this project was first proposed by Sun Yat Sen in 1919.jpg

1415+12 Back at the ship, the goodbye brigade lines the gangway to see us ashore after lunch

1415+12 Back at the ship, the goodbye brigade lines the gangway to see us ashore after lunch.jpg

1418+20 The Yellow Ox Temple was built c. 5th-8th cen. B.C. It's the oldest and largest ancient building in the Three Gorges region

1418+20 The Yellow Ox Temple was built c. 5th-8th cen. B.C. It's the oldest and largest ancient building in the Three Gorges region.jpg

1419 It commemorates the local ruler, Great Yu, who battled terrible floods, supposedly with the help of the Earth God who, as a great yellow ox, gored through mountains

1419 It commemorates the local ruler, Great Yu, who battled terrible floods, supposedly with the help of the Earth God who, as a great yellow ox, gored through mountains.jpg

1420-2p And here in the main hall is Great Yu himself

1420-2p And here in the main hall is Great Yu himself.jpg

1422p The temple was restored during the Ming Dynasty (1368-1611) and renamed Huangling Temple. Most of the buildings date from that period

1422p The temple was restored during the Ming Dynasty (1368-1611) and renamed Huangling Temple. Most of the buildings date from that period.jpg

1423 These Qing dynasty bricks are at the level of floodwaters in 1870 - the sort of catastrophic flood that the dam is supposed to protect against

1423 These Qing dynasty bricks are at the level of floodwaters in 1870 - the sort of catastrophic flood that the dam is supposed to protect against.jpg

1436 Though we're scheduled for a 3 pm lock entry, we remain tied up at the dock, one of many vessels waiting for clearance

1436 Though we're scheduled for a 3 pm lock entry, we remain tied up at the dock, one of many vessels waiting for clearance.jpg

1445p Walt and Nancy dash ashore for more shopping, until finally a blast on the ship's horn calls passengers back for departure

1445p Walt and Nancy dash ashore for more shopping, until finally a blast on the ship's horn calls passengers back for departure.jpg

1453 But the Sun just ties up to a piling near the lock entrance (just outside our cabin). And there we sit

1453 But the Sun just ties up to a piling near the lock entrance (just outside our cabin). And there we sit.jpg

1459p Finally, around 7 pm, the Century Viking Sun enters the first lock, along with an assortment of cargo ships

1459p Finally, around 7 pm, the Century Viking Sun enters the first lock, along with an assortment of cargo ships.jpg

1460p For the first of five times, all the boats are snugly tucked together

1460p For the first of five times, all the boats are snugly tucked together.jpg

1468p Slowly we climb up through the five locks

1468p Slowly we climb up through the five locks.jpg

1475p Three hours later, the last lock door opens and the ship continues upriver. Because of the delay, we'll transit the rest of the scenic Xiling Gorge at night

1475p Three hours later, the last lock door opens and the ship continues upriver. Because of the delay, we'll transit the rest of the scenic Xiling Gorge at night.jpg

1478 MAY 1-  By now the ship is cruising in Wu Gorge, the middle of the Three Gorges and probably the most beautiful place we've ever done tai chi

1478 MAY 1- By now the ship is cruising in Wu Gorge, the middle of the Three Gorges and probably the most beautiful place we've ever done tai chi.jpg

1487 This river landing is the way to get to a village somewhere over the next mountain

1487 This river landing is the way to get to a village somewhere over the next mountain.jpg

1496 The bins are for coal storage.  Trucks dump the coal down from the road.  Later it's loaded into ships or barges

1496 The bins are for coal storage. Trucks dump the coal down from the road. Later it's loaded into ships or barges.jpg

1502 The local minority tribe, the Ba, call these 12 peaks the 'Gathering of the Immortals'

1502 The local minority tribe, the Ba, call these 12 peaks the 'Gathering of the Immortals'.jpg

1504p A river traffic control station at this river junction

1504p A river traffic control station at this river junction.jpg

1505 Next to the station is a street sign. Straight ahead reads Changjiang (Long River or Yangtze)

1505 Next to the station is a street sign. Straight ahead reads Changjiang (Long River or Yangtze).jpg

1508-15p Despite the pristine and remote appearance of the landscape, China is a densely populated country and there's lots of local traffic on the river

1508-15p Despite the pristine and remote appearance of the landscape, China is a densely populated country and there's lots of local traffic on the river.jpg

1510p Even a local bus

1510p Even a local bus.jpg

1511 There's even heavy industry. The ship on the left is being loaded with coal

1511 There's even heavy industry. The ship on the left is being loaded with coal.jpg

1514+85 Soon we pass under the Rainbow Bridge at the east end of Wu Gorge ...

1514+85 Soon we pass under the Rainbow Bridge at the east end of Wu Gorge ... .jpg

1516 ... and the city of Wushan comes into sight. It's mostly new, to accommodate those who lived below the 175 meter level. Their homes are underwater or have been demolished

1516 ... and the city of Wushan comes into sight. It's mostly new, to accommodate those who lived below the 175 meter level. Their homes are underwater or have been demolished.jpg

1519+2p The ship docks at this barge and we transfer to the smaller sightseeing boats

1519+2p The ship docks at this barge and we transfer to the smaller sightseeing boats.jpg

1520 (Fortunately, our lunch is transferred too.)

1520 (Fortunately, our lunch is transferred too.).jpg

1524+2p This morning we'll tour the Lesser Three Gorges,on the Daning river, which branches to the north off the Yangtze at Wushan

1524+2p This morning we'll tour the Lesser Three Gorges,on the Daning river, which branches to the north off the Yangtze at Wushan.jpg

1525 This 30 year old bridge used to be over 400 feet above the water. As levels rise it will have to be rebuilt. Passing underneath, we enter Longmen (Dragon-Gate) Gorge

1525 This 30 year old bridge used to be over 400 feet above the water. As levels rise it will have to be rebuilt. Passing underneath, we enter Longmen (Dragon-Gate) Gorge.jpg

1533 Say goodbye to Panther Cave - it'll be submerged next year

1533 Say goodbye to Panther Cave - it'll be submerged next year.jpg

1536p Can you see the electric light hanging over this cove - the local fishermen use it to attract fish at night

1536p Can you see the electric light hanging over this cove - the local fishermen use it to attract fish at night.jpg

1538 This island used to be a peninsula,  supporting 300 farmers. By 2009 it will be submerged. Even the graveyard at the top will be moved

1538 This island used to be a peninsula, supporting 300 farmers. By 2009 it will be submerged. Even the graveyard at the top will be moved.jpg

1546 Going through Misty Gorge, the local guide discusses the effects of the dam. It's been good for people downriver but bad for folks around here, with over a million displaced

1546 Going through Misty Gorge, the local guide discusses the effects of the dam. It's been good for people downriver but bad for folks around here, with over a million displaced.jpg

1548 Water busses keep passing us. The local guide says they go 100 kilometers upriver

1548 Water busses keep passing us. The local guide says they go 100 kilometers upriver.jpg

1550 The small cave above the water is a bus stop. A path from there goes up the mountain to a village of about 300 farmers

1550 The small cave above the water is a bus stop. A path from there goes up the mountain to a village of about 300 farmers.jpg

1552+40 The path goes almost to the top of the peak on the right, where the farms are

1552+40 The path goes almost to the top of the peak on the right, where the farms are.jpg

1557 We see many '175 meter' signs, indicating the highest water level when the dam's reservior is filled. I believe that includes 20 meters to be used to control flood waters

1557 We see many '175 meter' signs, indicating the highest water level when the dam's reservior is filled. I believe that includes 20 meters to be used to control flood waters.jpg

1561 Now we're in Emerald Gorge, and this river station is our lunch stop

1561 Now we're in Emerald Gorge, and this river station is our lunch stop.jpg

1564+2 Unfortunately for this food vendor,  the crew's brought all our food along with us

1564+2 Unfortunately for this food vendor, the crew's brought all our food along with us.jpg

1568 Then we continue upriver to see the rest of Emerald Gorge

1568 Then we continue upriver to see the rest of Emerald Gorge.jpg

1569p The horizontal cleft in the rock is a sign to look out for ...

1569p The horizontal cleft in the rock is a sign to look out for ... .jpg

1570p ... a hanging coffin.  There's just the top of one. The ones in this area belong to the Ba minority, and date back from 400 to 2500 years

1570p ... a hanging coffin. There's just the top of one. The ones in this area belong to the Ba minority, and date back from 400 to 2500 years.jpg

1578 As we reach the end of Emerald Gorge and turn around, everyone's looking for more hanging coffins

1578 As we reach the end of Emerald Gorge and turn around, everyone's looking for more hanging coffins.jpg

1581p There's a good look at one.  They don't really hang - they just sit there

1581p There's a good look at one. They don't really hang - they just sit there.jpg

1588p Here comes another water bus

1588p Here comes another water bus.jpg

1589p It's pretty crowded, but the people look friendly

1589p It's pretty crowded, but the people look friendly.jpg

1591p They must have pretty good engines. But the steering mechanism isn't real complicated

1591p They must have pretty good engines. But the steering mechanism isn't real complicated.jpg

1601p We reboard our ship in Wushan and continue upriver.  Here's a coal freighter taking on a load from one of those cliffside coal bins

1601p We reboard our ship in Wushan and continue upriver. Here's a coal freighter taking on a load from one of those cliffside coal bins.jpg

1602+8p River traffic is still heavy, here above the dam.  There goes a big ferry

1602+8p River traffic is still heavy, here above the dam. There goes a big ferry.jpg

1603p And that must be the express bus

1603p And that must be the express bus.jpg

1605p Coal is abundant in China. Its pollution is a big factor in China having just become the largest global source of greenhouse gases

1605p Coal is abundant in China. Its pollution is a big factor in China having just become the largest global source of greenhouse gases.jpg

1609 Orange groves. Three Gorges oranges have been prized in China ever since 400 B.C., when some famous poet raved about them, eloquently

1609 Orange groves. Three Gorges oranges have been prized in China ever since 400 B.C., when some famous poet raved about them, eloquently.jpg

1612p For thousands of years, the only way east to Sichuan was over these mountains on 'trekker's paths'. Many have been flooded but here's a good look at one

1612p For thousands of years, the only way east to Sichuan was over these mountains on 'trekker's paths'. Many have been flooded but here's a good look at one.jpg

1615 Now we're in Qutang Gorge, at 8 kilometers the shortest of the Three Gorges

1615 Now we're in Qutang Gorge, at 8 kilometers the shortest of the Three Gorges.jpg

1616 But many say it's the most spectacular

1616 But many say it's the most spectacular.jpg

1620p Looking back, eastward through the Qutang Gorge, we see the scene chosen for the back of the ten yuan bill

1620p Looking back, eastward through the Qutang Gorge, we see the scene chosen for the back of the ten yuan bill.jpg

1622 Coming to the end of the Three Gorges, I think the scenery was not as spectacular as its reputation. It must be a shadow of what it was before the dam was closed off

1622 Coming to the end of the Three Gorges, I think the scenery was not as spectacular as its reputation. It must be a shadow of what it was before the dam was closed off.jpg

1624 Around 6 p.m. we reach the end of Qutang Gorge. Here, several tributarities flow into the Yangtze, and it's at this point that it becomes a truly major river

1624 Around 6 p.m. we reach the end of Qutang Gorge. Here, several tributarities flow into the Yangtze, and it's at this point that it becomes a truly major river.jpg

1625p MAY 2- Debarking in Fengdu, we pass up an excursion to another tarted-up cave in order to explore this modern city of 800,000 people

1625p MAY 2- Debarking in Fengdu, we pass up an excursion to another tarted-up cave in order to explore this modern city of 800,000 people.jpg

1627 In a park, a band of elderly musicians performs for us, and accompanies a tai chi demonstration. Although there are dozens of schools of tai chi, ...

1627 In a park, a band of elderly musicians performs for us, and accompanies a tai chi demonstration. Although there are dozens of schools of tai chi, ... .jpg

1632 ... each with its own 'form', or sequence of moves, the government has approved one 56-move  form and it's the one usually performed throughout China

1632 ... each with its own 'form', or sequence of moves, the government has approved one 56-move form and it's the one usually performed throughout China.jpg

1637 We wander around a modern shopping arcade for a bit

1637 We wander around a modern shopping arcade for a bit.jpg

1638 Then our guides take us to this modern neighborhood ...

1638 Then our guides take us to this modern neighborhood ... .jpg

1641 ... for a more traditional street market

1641 ... for a more traditional street market.jpg

1646 Look at these huge steamed buns

1646 Look at these huge steamed buns.jpg

1650 Walt enjoyed the real Sichuan peppercorns in one of his 'crew meal' dinner dishes. The guide helps him buy some to take back home

1650 Walt enjoyed the real Sichuan peppercorns in one of his 'crew meal' dinner dishes. The guide helps him buy some to take back home.jpg

1660 Back by the ship, farmers are working rice paddies above the river. I forget the story behind that huge statue across the river, but I think it's not completed yet

1660 Back by the ship, farmers are working rice paddies above the river. I forget the story behind that huge statue across the river, but I think it's not completed yet.jpg

1664p This evening, musicians are playing ...

1664p This evening, musicians are playing ... .jpg

1665p ... for our end-of-cruise banquet. No crew mean for Walt tonight!

1665p ... for our end-of-cruise banquet. No crew mean for Walt tonight!.jpg

1668+21 MAY 3- Trick question - what's the largest city in China. It's Chongqing, with 31 million people, twice as many as Beijing. But the urban area only has 4 million

1668+21 MAY 3- Trick question - what's the largest city in China. It's Chongqing, with 31 million people, twice as many as Beijing. But the urban area only has 4 million.jpg

1669p It's here in Chongqing that we disembark the Viking Century Sun and head for the airport

1669p It's here in Chongqing that we disembark the Viking Century Sun and head for the airport.jpg

1682p But we can't leave town without a brief - as in 15 minute - visit to the zoo to see the pandas

1682p But we can't leave town without a brief - as in 15 minute - visit to the zoo to see the pandas.jpg

1686p Trotting through, we're lucky enough to see four or five, including cubs, all doing what pandas do when not asleep (which they usually are) - eat bamboo

1686p Trotting through, we're lucky enough to see four or five, including cubs, all doing what pandas do when not asleep (which they usually are) - eat bamboo.jpg

1694p Then it's off to the airport for a bumpy flight to Xi'an

1694p Then it's off to the airport for a bumpy flight to Xi'an.jpg

1699p They treat us to a super dinner show

1699p They treat us to a super dinner show.jpg

1701p ... and dancers ...

1701p ... and dancers ... .jpg

1702+14p There's musicians ..

1702+14p There's musicians .. .jpg

1708p ... and more dancers ...

1708p ... and more dancers ... .jpg

1714p ... and a ham of a pipes player who steals the show

1714p ... and a ham of a pipes player who steals the show.jpg

1727p MAY 4- The only reason China tours come to Xi'an - and they all do - is to see the famous terra cotta warriors.

1727p MAY 4- The only reason China tours come to Xi'an - and they all do - is to see the famous terra cotta warriors..jpg

1729p But really, if you've seen a few thousand, you've seen them all. (Check out the crowds. It's now the Golden Week holiday when a third of all Chinese travel)

1729p But really, if you've seen a few thousand, you've seen them all. (Check out the crowds. It's now the Golden Week holiday when a third of all Chinese travel).jpg

1734+43 On the warriors, the story we got is that it used to be the custom, when the king died, to bury his wives, servants and army with him

1734+43 On the warriors, the story we got is that it used to be the custom, when the king died, to bury his wives, servants and army with him.jpg

1744p The first emperor of China, the Qin Emperor, had a great army. He unified China in 221 B.C. His son, needing the army too, talked him into doing it this way instead

1744p The first emperor of China, the Qin Emperor, had a great army. He unified China in 221 B.C. His son, needing the army too, talked him into doing it this way instead.jpg

1745+28p Although their (real) weapons were stolen within a few years of the funeral, the arm positions determine which figures are archers, horsemen, etc.

1745+28p Although their (real) weapons were stolen within a few years of the funeral, the arm positions determine which figures are archers, horsemen, etc..jpg

1758 An equally good reason to come to Xi'an (in my opinion) is the local specialty, handmade soup noodles

1758 An equally good reason to come to Xi'an (in my opinion) is the local specialty, handmade soup noodles.jpg

1761 The dough is stretched, doubled over, stretched again ... pretty soon, you've got 32,768 thin noodles. More or less

1761 The dough is stretched, doubled over, stretched again ... pretty soon, you've got 32,768 thin noodles. More or less.jpg

1765 And here's the proof

1765 And here's the proof.jpg

1781 Then it's off to the airport for a quick flight to Beijing

1781 Then it's off to the airport for a quick flight to Beijing.jpg

1781+130p  In Beijing, our tour group checks into the Westin, great for tour busses but located way out in this sterile financial district

1781+130p In Beijing, our tour group checks into the Westin, great for tour busses but located way out in this sterile financial district.jpg

1784p But the buffets are to die for - like this chocolate fountain

1784p But the buffets are to die for - like this chocolate fountain.jpg

1786 MAY 5- And here's the tourist attraction you've all been waiting for - the Great Wall.

1786 MAY 5- And here's the tourist attraction you've all been waiting for - the Great Wall..jpg

1791 Although the Great Wall is over 4000 miles long, the Badaling section is the best preserved, protected and restored

1791 Although the Great Wall is over 4000 miles long, the Badaling section is the best preserved, protected and restored.jpg

1796p That, plus its proximity to Beijing, makes it the most crowded - especially now, during Golden Week

1796p That, plus its proximity to Beijing, makes it the most crowded - especially now, during Golden Week.jpg

1797+11 The completed wall dates from the Qin Emperor (the terra cotta warrior guy), 221 BC. The best preserved sections, like this, were rebuilt in the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644)

1797+11 The completed wall dates from the Qin Emperor (the terra cotta warrior guy), 221 BC. The best preserved sections, like this, were rebuilt in the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644).jpg

1811 Despite the heat, we climbed past seven towers, lured by competitiveness and thinning crowds. Finally we reached this unrestored section

1811 Despite the heat, we climbed past seven towers, lured by competitiveness and thinning crowds. Finally we reached this unrestored section.jpg

1819 We'd gone so far, we reached a cable car station, and gratefully took the easy way down, avoiding a steep descent

1819 We'd gone so far, we reached a cable car station, and gratefully took the easy way down, avoiding a steep descent.jpg

1826+9 On the way back, we stop to walk the Sacred Way of the Ming Tombs

1826+9 On the way back, we stop to walk the Sacred Way of the Ming Tombs.jpg

1829p The tombs and statuary date from the 15th - 16th centuries

1829p The tombs and statuary date from the 15th - 16th centuries.jpg

1839p Back in Beijing, we pass the 2008 Olympic Stadium, under construction. It's supposed to look like a bird's nest; we think it looks like noodles

1839p Back in Beijing, we pass the 2008 Olympic Stadium, under construction. It's supposed to look like a bird's nest; we think it looks like noodles.jpg

1844p MAY 6- The Tian An Men - Gate of Heavenly Peace - enters the Forbidden City at the north end of the vast Tiananmen Square

1844p MAY 6- The Tian An Men - Gate of Heavenly Peace - enters the Forbidden City at the north end of the vast Tiananmen Square.jpg

1847 The Communist Party Congress building - the Great Hall of the People - has an auditorium that holds 10,000 people

1847 The Communist Party Congress building - the Great Hall of the People - has an auditorium that holds 10,000 people .jpg

1850 Sculpture in front of Mao's mausoleum, which was closed for pre-Olympic renovations. Probably just as well

1850 Sculpture in front of Mao's mausoleum, which was closed for pre-Olympic renovations. Probably just as well.jpg

1851-10 A sidewalk calligrapher near Tiananmen

1851-10 A sidewalk calligrapher near Tiananmen.jpg

1855 Passing under Mao's portrait, into the Forbidden City. As tourists, these days we're told that Mao was a hero but he did some terrible things too

1855 Passing under Mao's portrait, into the Forbidden City. As tourists, these days we're told that Mao was a hero but he did some terrible things too.jpg

1862 The Forbidden City is vast, with courtyard after courtyard of imposing buildings, staircases and gateways, ...

1862 The Forbidden City is vast, with courtyard after courtyard of imposing buildings, staircases and gateways, ... .jpg

1869p ... stone carvings, ...

1869p ... stone carvings, ... .jpg

1874+9 ... statues, ...

1874+9 ... statues, ... .jpg

1882 ... tilework, ...

1882 ... tilework, ... .jpg

1886p and interesting architectural details. It's all rather overwhelming and goes on for quite a long time

1886p and interesting architectural details. It's all rather overwhelming and goes on for quite a long time.jpg

1887 The throne of the late Qing emperors, on the left, and behind the curtain, the larger throne of Dowager Empress Cixi, the original 'power behind the throne'

1887 The throne of the late Qing emperors, on the left, and behind the curtain, the larger throne of Dowager Empress Cixi, the original 'power behind the throne'.jpg

1894n A pavilion in the Imperial garden, as we exit the Forbidden City

1894n A pavilion in the Imperial garden, as we exit the Forbidden City.jpg

1897p The Summer Palace is a 1.1 square mile park in the northwest part of Beijing. We boat across Kunming Lake to the Tower of Buddhist Fragrance

1897p The Summer Palace is a 1.1 square mile park in the northwest part of Beijing. We boat across Kunming Lake to the Tower of Buddhist Fragrance.jpg

1902p The 800 yard Long Corridor leads from the main gate area ito the Tower of Buddhist Fragrance

1902p The 800 yard Long Corridor leads from the main gate area ito the Tower of Buddhist Fragrance.jpg

1904p Intricately painted scenes decorate the inside of the corridor ...

1904p Intricately painted scenes decorate the inside of the corridor ... .jpg

1908p ... and the cupolas

1908p ... and the cupolas.jpg

1910 The hull of this 250 year old boat is marble. The rest is wood, painted to match

1910 The hull of this 250 year old boat is marble. The rest is wood, painted to match.jpg

1911-11 We could spend hours here, but we're rushed back on the boat so those flying home tomorrow can pack

1911-11 We could spend hours here, but we're rushed back on the boat so those flying home tomorrow can pack.jpg

1917p Before the end-of-tour banquet, there's a Beijing Opera performance. First, we get to see the performers put on makeup

1917p Before the end-of-tour banquet, there's a Beijing Opera performance. First, we get to see the performers put on makeup.jpg

1924p Every intonation, every position of fan, arm, finger, has a meaning - none of which we know. Fortunately we get a brief sample, not the full 5 hour performance

1924p Every intonation, every position of fan, arm, finger, has a meaning - none of which we know. Fortunately we get a brief sample, not the full 5 hour performance.jpg

1940_7~1

1940_7~1.jpg

1943p At the end of Wangfujing Street, there's a street market ...

1943p At the end of Wangfujing Street, there's a street market ... .jpg

1945p ... specializing in food vendors

1945p ... specializing in food vendors.jpg

1948 MAY 8- Today we take the Metro around Beijing. After a visit to the Lama Temple, ...

1948 MAY 8- Today we take the Metro around Beijing. After a visit to the Lama Temple, ... .jpg

1951p ... we Metro to Silk Street, which is not a street but a fabulous seven story shopping paradise for tourists

1951p ... we Metro to Silk Street, which is not a street but a fabulous seven story shopping paradise for tourists.jpg

1952p They sell everything here - souvenirs, tiny painted snuff bottles, silk jackets, tea, jade carvings ... all of which we buy, and more

1952p They sell everything here - souvenirs, tiny painted snuff bottles, silk jackets, tea, jade carvings ... all of which we buy, and more.jpg

1953p This sign is posted near the employee's entrance.  They're kidding - we think. Wonder why there's no English translation of the last three Forbidden Words ...

1953p This sign is posted near the employee's entrance. They're kidding - we think. Wonder why there's no English translation of the last three Forbidden Words ... .jpg

1954-1p On the top floor is a branch of the Quanjude duck restaurant, Beijing's top name in duck with over 115 million sold

1954-1p On the top floor is a branch of the Quanjude duck restaurant, Beijing's top name in duck with over 115 million sold.jpg

1971p MAY 9- Our last full day in Beijing, so we splurge for the hotel breakfast buffet

1971p MAY 9- Our last full day in Beijing, so we splurge for the hotel breakfast buffet.jpg

1972p Walt's crazy about this sweet bean breakfast crepe, with fried egg and chili sauce

1972p Walt's crazy about this sweet bean breakfast crepe, with fried egg and chili sauce.jpg

1974+17 We've got just a few unfinished items, starting with a pedicab tour of the hutongs, the old city neighborhoods, now rapidlydisappearing

1974+17 We've got just a few unfinished items, starting with a pedicab tour of the hutongs, the old city neighborhoods, now rapidlydisappearing.jpg

1976 In some ways, it's not unlike some older American neighborhoods

1976 In some ways, it's not unlike some older American neighborhoods.jpg

1977 Our driver takes us to this alley, ...

1977 Our driver takes us to this alley, ... .jpg

1978+10 ... where one of the courtyards is open to tourists. The English-speaking daughter welcomes us

1978+10 ... where one of the courtyards is open to tourists. The English-speaking daughter welcomes us.jpg

1980 This hutong dates from the 1600's. Most would house more than the one family we see here

1980 This hutong dates from the 1600's. Most would house more than the one family we see here.jpg

1993+19 After lunch, we take one of Beijing's inexpensive taxis back to spend more time at the Summer Palace, yet another UNESCO site

1993+19 After lunch, we take one of Beijing's inexpensive taxis back to spend more time at the Summer Palace, yet another UNESCO site.jpg

1994+10 Constructed in the Jin Dynasty (1115-1234), and subsequently expanded,it was burned in 1860 by Anglo-French forces, along with much of Beijing

1994+10 Constructed in the Jin Dynasty (1115-1234), and subsequently expanded,it was burned in 1860 by Anglo-French forces, along with much of Beijing.jpg

1995+10 Remember Empress Cixi, the 'power behind the throne'. from 1888 to 1898 she restored the Summer Palace with funds embezzled from the Navy

1995+10 Remember Empress Cixi, the 'power behind the throne'. from 1888 to 1898 she restored the Summer Palace with funds embezzled from the Navy.jpg

1996p Here's her motor car. After learning she had to ride in the back, she never used it again

1996p Here's her motor car. After learning she had to ride in the back, she never used it again.jpg

2003 Cixi sounds like the Quing Dynasty's answer to Imelda Marcos. No wonder they had a revolution

2003 Cixi sounds like the Quing Dynasty's answer to Imelda Marcos. No wonder they had a revolution.jpg

2016p High up in the Pavilion of Buddhist Fragrance is the bronze Thousand-Hand Guanyin Buddha. It has 12 faces and 24 arms

2016p High up in the Pavilion of Buddhist Fragrance is the bronze Thousand-Hand Guanyin Buddha. It has 12 faces and 24 arms.jpg

2025 Descending Longevity Hill on the other side, we pass Suzhou St., evoking the 'Venice of the East, leave by the North Gate, and take a cab back to the hotel to pack

2025 Descending Longevity Hill on the other side, we pass Suzhou St., evoking the 'Venice of the East, leave by the North Gate, and take a cab back to the hotel to pack.jpg

2032-90p And that's about it ... except, of course, for our thiird Beijing duck at the Quanjude restaurant near the hotel

2032-90p And that's about it ... except, of course, for our thiird Beijing duck at the Quanjude restaurant near the hotel.jpg

2036 MAR 10-  After an easy 12 hours on a 747, we cross the date line, and arrive home with a few more pieces of luggage than we left with

2036 MAR 10- After an easy 12 hours on a 747, we cross the date line, and arrive home with a few more pieces of luggage than we left with.jpg