Showing posts with label China. Show all posts
Showing posts with label China. Show all posts

21 May, 2012

Photo a Day Challenge - Day 140 Where You Stand

Last year, when in china for the World Horticultural Exhibition, I got to visit the Terracotta Warriors, also in Xi'an's Shaanxi province. I was in awe of the site, and in NO way, does my photo do it any justice what's so ever... Seeing the way the soldiers were standing, en mass, I was standing myself just in sheer bewilderment of it all...

Terracotta Museum - Pit No. 1

Hoo roo for now...


08 April, 2012

Photo a Day Challenge - Day 97 Inside your Wallet

Well, I'm not going to show you inside my wallet (it is way to full of tax receipts and the wallet itself is about to fall apart) so this is something that is STILL inside my wallet, even though I went to China in August last year!!!

5 China Dollars

Hoo roo for now...


26 August, 2011

The return begins...

Date - 24 August

The morning began, without breakfast today, as we needed to check out and get to the airport for the flight back to Hong Kong. We checked out, not a problem, but as we exited the hotel we were almost swamped by local taxi drivers who wanted our business... The bus direct to the airport is only a 3-4 minute walk up the road and the safer option we felt given the chaos on the roads here!

I politely said no thanks to the first couple of guys (all asking at the same time I might add) and we walked on... Then, another guy standing a few meters away asked, and this got a firmer response of NO back from me... now, I am normally a fair guy and replies are generally polite, but this morning I was either not in the mood for the constant repetitive questions that was going on about the same thing, all within earshot of each other, and when the last guy didn't take nicely to the firm 'NO' and said goodness knows WHAT to me in Chinese, I gave him the universal sign of NO THANKS being the 'Bird' back to him... (the middle finger)!!! Well, the garbage that came out of his mouth, both in Chinese and English, is way to unsavoury for this blog, so I will not tell you what he said, but he finally got the idea that he was not going to get the fare from us!

We got to the bus, paid our fare and whilst waiting on it, they squeezed us into a seat... The ride was, often slow, but uneventful in getting us to the airport on time. NOW, the Chinese have a very strange way of operating a dual operation, single terminal here in Xian... You see, the last 10 or so gates are International designated so no problem here right. Well, to get to them, you have to pass through a gate that has immigration officials there serving no purpose other than stopping you going through to check-in until a given time! That time, was of course, uncharacteristically late (for Chinese) and we were left standing around for an extended period of time. Once through, there was very little in the way of shops, including places for breakfast, so we simply sat around and chatted a little... The flight was uneventful across to Hong Kong as well.

Once we arrived in Hong Kong again, there was a slightly smaller line to clear immigration, We were only here for around 24 hours, so it was a quick trip to the hotel, and to hit the streets for some shopping. However, it was sad to hear that along the way, taxi from Kowloon Station to the hotel, that DW had lost his iPhone! We tried to locate it via phone finder (great app), but it was nowhere to be seen using GPS. We even tried calling it, but when it took the girls (four) in reception to have a conference about doing it and how, we walked away!

We eventually caught up with CJ in Hong Kong for some shopping. He showed us around some great shops. Both J and I got battery grips for the cameras, but unfortunately, D and us got separated and as we had no way of calling/SMS'ing him, we caught up much later that night.

Date - 25 August

After a restless nights sleep, we had an earlyish morning to get a couple of things done. D had purchased a new phone and needed to go back to the 3 Shop (around the block) to get the PUK code fixed. So he and I walked around, but when we got there, it would not open until 11am!!!! So we left it, grabbed some bread/pastries from a shop (with an OJ) and went back to the room for breakfast. After checking out, we hailed a cab to get us back to Kowloon and back to the airport for some spotting... Maybe!

Unfortunately, when we got back there it was SO hazy, which meant we would not be able to see much. We headed up to the Skydeck, but due to haze, heat and glare, we headed back inside!

When we were heading in, J had noticed a couple of things and wanted to clear immigration and get some pics, so he headed off through terminal 1 whilst D and I grabbed a coffee. After which, we headed through immigration through Terminal 2, which was a much easier exercise than through T1!

After grabbing a couple of shots etc within the terminal, we boarded our MH flight and returned back to Kuala Lumpur. It was an uneventful flight and clearing immigration in KUL was a breeze!

When we arrived at the hotel, and as it was also Ramadan, they were having a feast and a buffet in the dinning room. It was well after the sun setting, and there was a lot of people there, but the food smelt amazing! We dropped our bags in the room and headed for dinner. The food was as good as it smelt, and the array of choices was simply amazing indeed!

After a hotel massage, I headed for bed, not that I could sleep that much as we needed to be up at 4am to get ready, breakfast and be across at the airport for an early morning flight back to Sydney!

Date - 26 August

Breakfast in the hotel, was a typical continental breakfast, with a slight twist of Malaysian style as well. We checked out, and caught the bus to get across to the airport. On the way, there was a young lady who was not at all well, and within about 2 minutes of the bus leaving (and it took all of 10) she had a bag and was throwing up into it. She was very discreet about it, so it must be a common event for her. Again, immigration clearance was easy, and we were into KUL locating our gates for the return flights We were out at the satellite terminal this time, so a short trip across on the driverless train and we were there. We said our farewells to D and boarded our flight back to Sydney whilst D got his flight back to Melbourne.

It was a great trip, of which I would happily do again. Xi'an was a fascinating city, if only it had blue skies, and Hong Kong is marvelous and will most definitely revisit!

Hoo roo for now...


23 August, 2011

Xi'an City Tour (LOTS of pics!)

Today, it was a 'tour day' in that we would see many things, The City Wall and Drum Tower, local (an famous) Jade factory, the Terracotta Warrior Replica/Restoration (under licence) factory, the City Pagoda and then the Terracotta Warriors them selves before a Chinese Dinner and Show to finish the day off... It was a busy day!


We were only in the van for a little bit and we hit the typical Xian traffic, but not to long in it and we were at the City Wall & Drum Tower. It was a fascinating monument, and the only intact wall of its type in all of China! The Drum Towers as well were in excellent condition. We had a very good English speaking guide, who told us all about the history of the wall, and how it guarded the city. There was even some armament pieces along the top of the wall itself! We then headed into the Drum Tower, and we were told all about the Chines Feng Shui - it was very interesting indeed!

Drum Tower - City Wall Xi'an

Drum Tower - City Wall Xi'an

Armourment Drum Tower - City Wall Xi'an


A little further into the industrial area of Xian, we arrived at the Jade Factory where they do intricate carvings into statues, bangles, bowls and more... No matter what you can think of, they can do it here. An interesting fact, I at least, learnt is how to pick out fake jade from the real jade! I will now be testing it in the future! The lady here also told us the differing qualities of jade; its hardness, colour and translucency! I bought a little piece for someone...

Carving Jade - Xian


This was a very spiritual place, where our guide could only take us through a very small section given she was not of the Buddhist faith. But our guide here spoke lovely English and took us through the many areas within... It was both fascinating in its construction and in its material and landscaping. In one of the rooms we entered into, in is customary for the gentlemen to enter via the left foot whilst the ladies the right - and NOT to touch the entrance 'step' whilst stepping over! Now I almost always step with my right (being right handed) so I found this a little awkward! It was also OK to take photos of the Buddha, just not from inside... In another room, the walls were richly decorated telling the story of Buddha, and it was all done in natural coloured jade!!! It was beautiful... Even walking through the grounds, past the Monastery buildings, and the tombstones of the many elders within once passed... Finally, we were back at the van, with Melody waiting for us with the driver...

Pagoda - Xian

Buddha - Pagoda Xian

Buddhist Monastery - Xian

Buddhist Monastery - Xian

Paper Art Buddhist Monastery - Xian


When we arrived here, I was a little concerned for it being just a rip-off place for the real deal... But, I later found out that in fact, they were under licence to restore and manufacture pieces for the site! We were shown how the models were moulded, tidied up prior to firing... Then they showed us the life sized replicas actually taken from the real ones (using a mould) and displayed! They even do some restoration works as well! We were also shown around the ceramics area, and then into the furniture section, where exotic looking cabinets were deeply coloured and lacquered, and whilst NOT my taste, I can (now more so) appreciate the work that goes into them.. Finally, they also make to order here, 'seals' or stamps! You pick the animal from the year to which you were born (Monkey for me) and then you write your name for the man... He then translate it into Chinese characters and carves it into a stone, both in mirrored image AND in relief... So when you 'stamp' it, it is the right way!! I got mine done as did DW, so I will make a stamp and use it soon!!

Moulding Mini Warriors

Mini Warriors

Coloured Warrior

Life Sized Replicas

Carving my Seal


Firstly, this was to be our lunch spot prior to entering the Museum itself. We had a three dish meal, with rice, and a soup. The meals were great, hot (spice) but very tasty... J was learning still how to use chopsticks, but he relented (in the end) and got a fork/spoon - he DID try very hard though!!

After lunch, we entered into the Museum's shop, where "Lucky for you today, Mr Yang is here today - he's not often here, but very lucky for you..." Yeah right, I didn't come down in the last shower you know!! BUT, i still bought the book and got his signature in it... Gullible? ANYWAY, we got our tickets issued to us, and headed through the gates and onto the line to get driven across to the museum... It would've been a 20-30 minute walk otherwise! Once inside the Museum, it was VERY apparent... We had bought the wrong lens - we should have had the 50-500mm with us! Oh well, work with what we have...

I can not begin to tell you the actual size and scale of Pit No. 1, it is just MASSIVE! It is the larger of the 3 that are on display and words really can not give it justice... The pits are also very deep and the Warriors within them are simply inspiring... We were told, many times, to watch ourselves for both wallet pickers and scalpers trying to sell 'rip-off' statue sets... I had one guy ask, and I politely declined... I became firmer and firmer when he persisted... Others after that, I ignored as if I could not hear them... We walked around Pit No. 1 and we saw an archaeological group doing a study and working on an area in the middle. These areas are yet to be opened, but you can see where the walls of the pits are and the arching roof tops as well - there is still so much to do here!

We then headed into Pits No. 2 & 3, where the different levels of hierarchy were displayed. Pit No. 2 was more the Chariots and so on, and Pit No. 3 the Generals and Lieutenants! Again, these two pits were simply stunning, amazing, awesome and so on, but in the Pit No. 3, they also had some of the Warriors in glass cabinets for a closer examination. To have seen them when they came to Sydney earlier in the year was NOTHING to seeing them in the flesh, and I am so lucky and privileged to have seen them. I want to come back again and see them again, in my time and with my longer lens, as you could easily spend a day here instead of just a couple of hours that we had...

Terracotta Museum - Pit No. 1

Terracotta Museum - Pit No. 1

Terracotta Museum - Pit No. 1

Terracotta Museum - Pit No. 1 Archaeological Study Group

Terracotta Museum - Pit No. 1

Terracotta Museum - Pit No. 2

Terracotta Museum - Pit No. 2

Terracotta Museum - Pit No. 2

Terracotta Museum - Pit No. 3

Terracotta Museum - Pit No. 3

Time was now, pardon the punn for where we are, marching on and we really needed to move on as we were going to have tea up in the Tea House! There was a vast array of different blends for different purposes... Now I was desperate for a coffee, but I still had a 'cuppa tea' - my flavour was a Lychee blend and it was lovely. The tealady told us about the way they are blended, she then washed the leaves and made us our tea. It had to brew for a specific timeframe, mine was slightly shorter for DW's, and true to form, it was delicious! I am very much a tea with milk and sugar, but this was simply black tea, NO sugar at all!

Tea House Teas

Tea Lady


Time was NOW marching on, and we needed to rush back into the city for the Chinese dinner/dumpling and the show before heading back to the hotel...

Chinese Dumpling Dinner

Sunshine Grand Theatre - Show

Hoo roo for now...


22 August, 2011

2011 International Horticultural Exposition - Xi'an

Ok, firstly, sorry this post has NO photos until my CF card gets fixed, as the photos are on that and when transferring them from the card to the laptop, it became corrupt... But for now, its just a summary...

It was an early morning start, breakfast at McDonalds across the road and another point to what we wanted... It was ok, in the end, and the coffee wasn't to bad! We then headed back across to the hotel for the driver to take us out to the site, some 45 minutes away!

Now, driving in China, Xi'an, is an experience in itself. Firstly, it is on the wrong side of the road and the wrong side of the car for us Aussies, and this made the experience even more scary exciting! Getting out of the hotel carpark in itself took a matter of minutes and what seemed like at least a dozen 'beeps' of the horn! These Chinese like to 'beep' their horns a lot!!!

Traffic in Xi'an was, peak hour, chaotic... But there was no real difference to normal chaos and peak hour chaos! And whilst the road MAY have had 3 lanes, there was often at least 5 (or more) lanes of traffic! Did I tell you, I was unlucky enough to get 'Shotgun' seat?

With all of the chaos of the driving skills of the local Chinese, and the apparent option of using indicators and multiple and prolonged use of the horn, there was very little signs of accidents! In fact, the only one we saw was between two trucks trying to get out of a service station! And the truck that was cutting off a turning semi-trailer came off second best!

Once out of the 'inner-city' and onto the freeway, there was more obstacles... freeway, pedestrians and YES, a bloody horn (although extended this time)! It was incredible that, whilst cars are doing 100klm/hr + that a person would even try to cross the road let alone at their own speed!!! Oh, and then there was the street sweepers, humans with thatch brooms walking, YES WALKING along the gutters and center island sweeping away whilst traffic passes them by within a few centimeters at excessive speeds blissfully unaware...

It became apparent, to me in the front maybe, that our driver was becoming concerned as to where to go... Ok, he was following the brown signs pointing us in the direction of the Expo, but he stopped a couple of times to make sure he was on the right roads... And whilst we entered into the Chan-Ba Ecological District, it was far from being in an Environmental area. The smog was thick, and getting thicker, and the litter around the area along the roads was plentiful. Whilst yes, the area did seem to be going through a 'revival' of sorts and new apartment buildings were springing up everywhere, there was also teams of, generally, older women weeding the gardens along the way. This was also the case when we were in the line waiting to get in where a team of about a dozen ladies were pulling out some Chaster Daisy's!

Our driver, upon arrival into the HUGE carpark, gave us his card (in case we got lost?) and wrote down (not that I could understand WHAT it was he said) where to go when we came out. We bid him our farewells and headed for the security line to enter. Once through, we crossed a bridge that was simply fantastic with a cabled suspension bridge like appearance. There was also gardens beds with lots of colour and lights which would look amazing at night! The over use of colour, whilst intense and repetitive, looked great at the same time.

The International Horticultural Exposition 2011 Xi’an (International Horticultural Exhibition + Permanent International Horticultural Exhibition) covers an area as large as 418 hectares, 188 hectares of which are water. So after finding an information place that spoke/understood English, we headed over to get some bikes to get around the site... We basically headed around in a clockwise rotation, dodging the local Chinese who were giving us some 'interesting' looks (what, you've not seen three Caucasian guys riding bikes before??) to say the least!! It was a great system in that the bikes had a rear wheel lock and you had a key... you pull up at an exhibit, lock your bike and walk away!! The trouble we encountered was that at the start, we would go from a small garden to another constantly locking, in the end, we rode to a precinct locked and walked around from that! Much easier indeed!

The first area we stopped at was about the size of an average Australian block of land (c. 700m2) and typically Asian influenced... Surprised? Not really! They were great landscapes, and well maintained given the thousands of people trudging through every day! It was then off through the European zone, full of large French Topiary, Italian Fountains and Swiss Villages. Walking through the Swiss Village, we had lunch at a Noodle House!

At the far end of the village, there was another fountain show to music, but due to the thickness of the smog, capturing it was very difficult. This was in the main central lake and across was the Pagoda. Back on the bikes, we then headed through some open parkland's to a Sand Sculpture area, where apart from the exhibits there, there was also an opportunity for the kids to build their own sandcastle!! There was also a dog exhibition area (lunch? lol) but the line for this was a little long. And for me, it was all about seeing the Horticulture! Once again, we were on our bikes heading around towards the Pagoda. This area was intense, and FULL of people. I think it was the main draw card. The area also held the glasshouse which we walked past, and the line for this, which zig-zagged many times, at one point had an estimated wait time of an hour... And by my estimate, that was only a third of the line!! We rode on...

Similarly, the line for the Pagoda was also very long, and why would you pay an additional fee to go in/up when you could barely see past 100m? So we simply went atop of the 'lookout' hill opp and got an overview of the park smog from there! NOW, had it been a beautifully clear blue sky, it would have been AMAZING! But alas, it was not the case... As we got down from the lookout, we then took the boardwalk pathway across the lake, where people were on boatbikes, there was lots of Lotus and Water Lillies and the like. There was even stalls selling traditional wears etc along the way! We again rejoined the masses of people milling around this busy area, and whilst we knew exactly where the bikes were, there was literally hundreds of green bikes and to the untrained eye, it would have been a nightmare to find. We got to ours, unlocked them and we were once again on our way. We rode on...

We soon found ourselves in an area that resembled a 'service' area, we weren't lost as the road we were on is a loop, and the many staff/volunteers were giving us the 'look', yes Aussies on bikes look. We followed a pathway, that by the map, was to take us via a hotel, but we were quickly waved at on approach NO NO NO!!! So we had to do a bit of a back-track. We rode on...

We rode past the small zoo area, full of Yaks and a couple of Panda's. Again, a recurring theme emerged, a VERY long line to get in... We rode on...

Our final area to stop at was an area that seemed dedicated to that of Thai, Japanese (again) and Sri Lankan. It had a very Buddha like feel about it and lots of incense burning around it. Gardens through here were typically raked stone Zen looking, also with over sized Bonsai's. Again, the use of colour, and in this areas case, texture, was equally as fascinating as what we saw earlier in the day. It also, for some strange reason, had a spiritual feel about it. By this stage, our 'Expo Passports' were getting a hammering (all of the Areas had a 'Visa Stamp' to collect). It had been a long day, the legs were getting tired and the head was pounding. I had tried to keep fluids up, water, but the more I drank the more I lost in sweat. It was very humid! We rode on...

Finally, after a full circuit of the park, we were back at our bike pick-up point... We locked up our rides, took back our deposit slips where they calculated out our charge (15CNY/hr) and deducted it from the deposit (200CNY) and headed back to the entrance... We walked on...

Once back in the carpark are, I called the driver and he confirmed where he was located... It took us a little while to find him though, as he had started to walk over to where we were walking out of! In the end, we were reunited all the same and we braced ourselves enjoyed the drive back to the hotel... A long, but very enjoyable day was had!

Hoo roo for now...


Xi'an - China!

OK, this IS a little late, but I am 'back dating' so as to keep it all in order, OK!

We arrived into Xi'an thanks to China Eastern Airlines. This was an interesting adventure, in that it was my first time on the carrier and the first time into China itself! True, I had been to Hong Kong, but mainland China, this was all new! We managed to clear immigration quite quickly, although the young lass at the counter was quite efficient in checking all of the documents! She corrected a couple of misplaced/aligned strokes of the pen to make sure that she actually 'worked', but who am I to complain!!!

We caught the bus into the center of Xi'an, and the hotel was a mere 3-4 minute walk. And my goodness, the swarm of cabbies that greeted us was amazing! We politely said no... No... NO I lost count just how many times I said this, but they just didn't seem to get the message!

Checking into the hotel, which was right opposite the Bell Tower, was also hassle free, and we were up on the 6th floor. When we opened the room we had a great view outside to the Bell Tower! We quickly unpacked, and thought about what to eat for dinner... And would you believe it, we had McDonalds opposite!!! It was more of a matter of quick and easy - it was late and we were tired...

So in the morning, we woke early, and (again) headed over to McDonalds for breakfast as it was not included in the tariff. We then came back to the lobby, spoke to concierge, and we had a driver for the day to take us out to the 2011 International Horticultural Exposition. It would take some 45 minutes to get out there, and it was nice to have someone doing the driving... It was CHAOS out there!!!

Bell Tower - Xi'an Night

Bell Tower - Xi'an - Day

Until I get my CF card data recovery done (it got corrupted whilst transferring pics to laptop), I will post about the Expo at a later date...

Hoo roo for now... ------