On Christmas day, we dropped our dog off to our Russian neighbors that were sweet enough to watch him for a few days while we headed off to Beijing. We arrived high-class on the D Train ( The fastest train in China to date). Note the lady behind Mike posing for a photo-op...
Our first stop was the Forbidden City. It was HUGE! We spent hours there and still didn't see every building. We enjoyed listening to the stories from the various emperors and empresses that lived there via our audio tour. Mike and I were too cheap to buy two audio sets, so whenever the guide started speaking we would crouch ear to ear and listen at the same time...What's not more romantic than hugging each other to listen to stories??
I like these because they show how detailed every aspect of the palace was.
Mike...waiting for his concubines...
We ran into these hot ladies in the palace. I have absolutely no clue where they are from but I dig the hot pink hats.
This is the lovers tree. They grafted a Cyprus and Pine tree together, and it was a photo shoot hot-spot.
Mike has been through the tourist traps in Beijing twice before. Knowing this, I decided to go on my own to the Great Wall. Mike begged off saying he would explore Beijing....you know, the train station...Subway...all the REAL Beijing hot spots...
The section of wall I visited was built atop a huge mountain range, with steep cliffs on either side. Imagining hundreds of years ago hauling stones up the mountain to build this wall as awe inspiring. It is said that for every one meter of wall, two Chinese died. Visiting the wall was one of my favorite experiences in China so far. Part of what made it so amazing was the fact that there were ten of us in my tour group and we were virtually the only ones on the wall. It was incredible that in either direction the wall continued as far as the eye could see.
Our tour also stopped at a spot called "The Sacred Way", which was a beautiful section of the Ming Tombs. It's told that the infamous dragon has five sons, this turtle dragon being one of them. It's also rumored that by touching the top of the dragon/turtles head, you'll have good luck. So here I am, gettin my luck on.
I saved this one for last because it's by far Mike's favorite picture from Beijing...the carefree naked pink girl on a bike. Mike's hitching a ride. Mike jokingly challenged me to imitate this pose.....bahhh!!
Okay, and I know this is completely random, but it totally shows how cheesy the Chinese can be. Doesn't he have that star crossed love look in his eyes?
After surviving the seven hour train ride home. We experienced what we've come to refer to as...the Asian good-bye. One that keeps on going, and going, and going. Below is one the many good-bye dinners we had. (BTW...who knew adult sleepovers were big in China?? I know, I was just as creeped out.)
Below are some of our FAVORITE people. They ran a family operated restaurant and we ate there...at LEAST once a day. Most delicious food in China, I promise. I miss my tungzulitzi : ( The man in the back is the bombdizzle chef.
Next.....Mike and I prepared for the BIG move. January is by far THE busiest travel month in China. Because Spring Festival is a huge family holiday, workers from around the country are booking tickets back home and boarding the train with unprecedented amounts of luggage. This is Mike....waiting to board. This picture doesn't do the waiting area justice...there hundreds of people there. We have this massive camera and Mike gets soo embarrased every time I take it out. So he was humiliated that I made him pose for a picture while dozens of curious Chinese stared on. As if a dog wasn't enough to draw attention. He thanked me later.
We were lucky enough to get tickets on a sleeper....the only problem was that we had to hide Mufasa the entire time, for fear of getting evicted from the train. Mufasa is a really easy, laid back dog and it really wouldn't have been a problem....if he hadn't been afraid to use the toilet with a hole nearly as big as he was. Let's just say he only peed the bed twice. The first stretch was twenty hours. The next four days, this is what Mufasa looked like. And he only went through one x-ray machine!!
We made it Xian, where we went to visit the Terracotta Warriors. These are seriously an archaeological wonder. It took 700,000 workers four decades to finish all 6,000 warriors. The detail is incredible, even the soles of their feet are crafted to look like soles of shoes. On top of that, not a single warrior is identical. It was incredible to see. One thing I found interesting was that following the completion of the tomb, all 700,000 workers were buried alive so as to keep the secret of where the Emperor was buried.
We took a twelve hour break to explore Xian and the Terracotta Warriors before boarding our next train to Kunming, a fabulously warm and delicious city. That train ride was 37 hours.....with a dog....in a sleeper the size of a coffin. Did I mention we had just gotten off a 20 hour train ride...okay then...moving on. Below, for your viewing pleasure, a perfect example of what I mean when I say rush hour. What you don't see are the hoards of people of either side of the street, clambering for space alongside shops and street vendors.
One more detail that has made our trip that much more interesting is that in our zest to minimize, we decided to forgo dog food and just find food along the way. Taking off a lot of weight. But Mufasa is a REALLY picky eater....a meat eater to be exact. So here is our spoiled little dog, being hand fed freshly grilled mutton prepared by a Muslim extraordinaire.