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Entries about family travel


A Unseco World Heritage Site… and cute too

65 °F

We arrived in LiJiang, from Chengdu in the afternoon. It was evident as we landed that we had transitioned into a different part of China. While well over a mile in elevation, the hills were now full of lush vegetation, and there was a more tropical sense about the place. Even the people looked different. This is the Yunnan province and it borders Vietnam, and Myanmar, and of the 55 ethnic minorities in China, many live in this province as they did 1,000s of years ago. There is much pride of ethnic diversity in and around LiJiang in the form of music, dance, language, artwork, and food, celebrating unique ethnic heritage.

LiJiang is relatively small town of well under a million people surrounding the old town of LiJiang that sits in its center. Our hotel (the Hexi Hotel) was in the old town and while the services at the hotel were a little dubious and old school, the location was absolutely wonderful in its quaintness. The beauty and preservation of the old town and the Naxi minority culture that calls it home is what earned the “Unesco World Heritage Site” certification.

We wandered the cobble stone streets and streams of LiJiang lazily, roaming from store to store and street to street, and we could have done so for days. There were wonderful crafts made by different ethnic minorities, food for locals and tourists alike, and fabulous people watching. Watching Naxi villagers wash their clothes or scrub pots and pans in the ancient aqueducts bordering these cobbled paths made it seem that the cars and buses that bring tourists by the 1,000s were some weird contraption from the future. And there were a lot of those contraptions and tourists. Han Chinese tourists were everywhere as well as a few European, Australian, and Israeli tourists.

We took two day trips from LiJiang. Our first trip was to Jade Dragon mountain national park. This was a stunningly beautiful place that sits at about 9,000 feet at the base. The base entrance of the park featured a giant herbal medicine store. Kind of like a pharmacy, except no prescriptions are required and it is all natural. They have things for just about every ailment. It was teaming with Chinese who snapped up some of these herbs and fungus like it was candy. Regardless of what ails you, there is a plant or a fungus that is your cure. Who knows if these plants are grown in the province, or in the park, but man, is it selling. We bought some spirulina and most of that is supposed to come from the ocean – why it seems more natural at 9,000 feet, who knows, but even we were sucked in. It was kind of funny, (in an ironic sort of way), that we were in an apothecary that was all about natural health while being surrounded by health conscious Chinese that were smoking like locomotives (70% of Chinese men smoke). Well, I guess tobacco is a natural herb too (more on this later).

Two massive mountain peaks of over 18,000 feet are in the park and they loom over the town of LiJiang like Mt Rainier looms over Seattle – except about 50 miles closer. We took a chair lift to a little over 12,000 feet and did a little hiking there before returning down the mountain back to town. That evening, we attended a Naxi music and dance show featuring Naxi people and a Naxi Elder. The musical harmonies and counterpoint were intoxicating not unlike a chant. The dancing was a bit goofy as was the elder :-)

Our second day trip was to the first bend of the Yangtze river and the Tiger Leaping Gorge. We drove about two hours through some of the most beautiful countryside we’ve seen on the trip. Much different than the Himalayan countryside, idyllic and lush farms with fruit trees, Leeks, Rice, Peppers, Corn and Marijuana border the road to the edges of the valley. What, Marijuana? Yep, there was marijuana being grown commercially and wild. I asked our guide about it and he told us that the seeds are used in cooking. Hmmmm…. We noted as we walked through the quaint old town of LiJiang that there were numerous pipes and giant bongs for sale as well. Hmmmm… maybe this is the secret to ensuring a long and prosperous life in the little village. Seeds for cooking…

Anyway, we saw the Yangtze and cruised our van along its banks for miles. It was gorgeous and meandering as we made our way down to Tiger leaping gorge where the Yangtze gets squeezed into a canyon that is over a mile deep. We hiked about two miles over groomed rock trails and through tunnels whose walls were pure quartz. The river was low, so the water volume was down, but even with that, the river was ferocious as it passed through the throat of the gorge and past the rock that the folkloric tiger jumped upon. You can tell this is a very dangerous place by the countless Chinglish warning signs accompanying you and warning of great disaster. “Cautio Suipery” or “Within 200 meters, notice the rock slide, is please run about by cliff”. As funny as it reads, it gets pretty real when you see a hand rail and path that has recently been crushed by a boulder, and an entire bridge section that has been taken out by a slide (all within the last 6 months). Apparently 5 or 6 folks die out here every year.

The last day was a goof around day where we went to a gorgeous park where a natural spring emerges and provides crystal clear water for the village waterways of LiJiang. They had a few kitschy tourist photos that I chose to partake in as well (note the golden monkey with Parker). We also did a little skating and cycling this day. The cycling proved to be much harder and less natural than Beijing with a few good hills and a few broken derailers. We found an excellent skate spot that had some great skating terrain and good viewing areas for those curious about those “sky board things”. Carol and Rebecca went to a fortune teller letting Rebecca know that she would be getting married in 2009, and travelling outside of the country. USA? We hope so! I would be remiss if I didn’t tell you that Griffin considered LiJiang to be “puppyland” and there were cute little puppies everywhere. Griffin was making friends with puppies all over old town and the little dogs started to seek him out (seriously).

Posted by Blakei 16:02 Archived in China Tagged family_travel Comments (2)


“Awwwww, look at the baby pandaaaaa”

overcast 63 °F

Tim Chen, an old friend of mine from Microsoft, told me that if we were going to visit China, we absolutely must visit the city of Chengdu. “You see,” Tim explained, “There is an incredible Panda Research center in Chengdu, and Microsoft sponsors one of the baby panda’s so, I will make sure you have your pictures taken with a baby”. It was a done deal. How could we miss out on that? Griffin is in love with all animals, and Pandas, well, they’re simply the cutest and cuddliest.

So, we flew to Chengdu from Lhasa for a two night stay to go the Panda Research Center. Julie, Tim’s assistant, also arranged for us to visit the San Xin Dui museum where we would see the relics of a 5,000 year old civilization that lived there, right on the site. The museum was pretty amazing, proving this civilization was the first to cast bronze in China 1,000s of years before it was thought to have been done. And we’re not talking about small things being cast, some objects were over 10 feet tall – and they were ornate and beautiful. This ancient culture designed and crafted statues, pots & pans, wine vessels, wine glasses, heated tea pots, etc.. with jade and metal that were hard to fathom for the period. Our museum guide was super hard to understand, even though his English was very good, and the kids grew tired of it rather quickly, in spite of the historical significance. So, after an hour or so of touring, off to the Panda Research Center we went.
I was a little freaked out about whether the Panda Research Center visit was actually going to happen. You see, I had raised expectations for weeks about this visit, especially with Griffin, and when we arrived in Beijing I found out that Tim had left his post as President of Microsoft China to take the role of CEO of the NBA Greater China, (yes, the basketball NBA) that very week. I thought – uh oh…. I hope they didn’t forget about us! Well, Tim and Julie came through big time, even while he was digging into his new role. We showed up at the entrance and were immediately provided a great English speaking guide who showed us the Research Center and exhibits and the big payola… pictures sitting right next to and petting a 14 month old Panda (60 lbs). The panda reached for Griffin’s face, just like a human baby would, but a helper came and stuffed some bamboo into it’s mouth and hands just before contact was made, and ya’ know, that’s probably good news, cause the pandas paws would have scratched his eye out or something….. it’s easy to forget it’s a REAL BEAR with big claws and not some cuddly stuffed animal. We saw just how REAL BEAR they are about 20 minutes later when the Pandas were fighting. They’re not to be played with.

As real bear as they are, it turns out that the tone and approximate pronunciation for “Awwwww, look at the baby pandaaaaa” are universal, and you can tell people are saying it no matter what the language. People from all over the world were there, and we heard “Awwwww look at the baby pandaaaaa” in German, Chinese, English, Japanese, Dutch, Spanish and Thai to name a few…. It all sounds alike. There was a viewing area of newly born Pandas and there were four or so sleeping in a crib just like little babies. We weren’t allowed to take pictures. And you know, they looked and acted just like little human babies. One baby was picked up and bottle fed by an assistant and the panda held the bottle, touched the face of the woman feeding him, and it looked just like Parker when he was a baby.

Griffin was ecstatic – and we were all genuinely thrilled. Chengdu was a home run and we could now get on to our next city. We arrived at the airport the next day and were ready to head to the Jiu Zhai Gou national park when we found that all flights were being cancelled because the weather had turned foul and icy in the park. Of course we had to stay at the airport for 4 hours to confirm OUR flight had been canceled.

Carol and I consulted with each other and decided that we’d rather stay a few more days in Chengdu than try to jam in the park, leaving a day late or trying to take the 10 hour bus ride to the Park. We had no snow clothes and trekking around in sub zero weather wasn’t appealing without warm gear. We had met a great local guide named Kevin that was showing us around Chengdu and we decided that we would all be just as happy hanging out in the city. The hotel was awesome, the people were super nice, and the kids would just as soon skate some city sites than tour a national park. So, Chengdu became our home for a few more days – and Jiu Zhai Gou fell off the itinerary. Chengdu boasts about 10 million people, contains a big university, has a produce section in the airport, has great “hot pot” and features gorgeous people who are relatively short, so I am finally tall, though still not good looking. Damn! The city also has great Sichuan food everywhere, as it is in the heart of the Sichuan province.

Chengdu had some fun places to stroll and visit, and it really doesn’t have a big tourist business in the city, so we were pretty happy to just hang out with the locals without sticking to an agenda. Growing tired of Sichuan food, we even went to a Tex Mex restaurant in Chengdu which was pretty damn funny, and pretty darn good. As an aside, it was really fun and empowering to just blow off an entire city on our schedule. We had no pressure to go to Jiu Zhai Gou, just because it was on the schedule, and blowing it off made us all feel better. Think we’ll do that again.

Posted by Blakei 17:45 Archived in China Tagged family_travel Comments (4)


The Pilgrimage Ends here

sunny 64 °F

It is around 10:00pm. We are met at the train station by our Tibetan guide, Yangdron, the driver, Jor, and the GM of the travel agency. We are welcomed with ceremonial white silk scarves that signal the first day in Lhasa, the holy city to Tibetan Buddhists. The road that leads from the new train station to downtown seems too perfect, too quiet, almost sterile. We experience none of the quaint shanty-town feeling we’ve enjoyed the past days. Neither is there a sense of an “old neighborhood” like the hutong we enjoyed so much in Beijing. It all seems new and squeaky clean. You can almost imagine that even the crickets have been removed from this part of town. It feels odd. We can see the Potala Palace off in the distance, but where is the rest of the town. We begin to encounter the sounds and sites of rural China, as a more familiar town begins to grow in front of us – it feels a bit familiar in a Xining sort of way. But this short drive has given us an impression that there are really two Lhasa’s here – with different visions of what this city has been and is to become.

After a few kilometers of driving through Lhasa, we encounter the Potala Palace, once home to the Dali Lama. It rises from the floor of the city and seems to reach up to the sky. It is illuminated under 1,000s of bright lights, and the fresh whitewashing, recently done to celebrate a holy day, makes it glow. Under these bright lights, it is surreal and looks like it could be a Disneyland or Vegas re-creation of something that existed 1,000 years ago. So spectacular is the Palace, that we were left kind of speechless and gawking as we drove by. We drove a few kilometers more through town, which seemed tattered, though happily so, and we checked into our hotel, the Brahmaputra. It was anything but tattered. It was a virtual antique store with every hallway displaying cases of beautiful Tibetan antiques between room doors. We were taken to our room, and it was absolutely gorgeous, and over the top in its decoration and finishes. It too had beautiful Tibetan antiques sitting on tables that were all for sale. We didn’t look at all of the prices, but one of them would have bought a nice car back home. We threatened dismemberment and a sky burial if anyone broke that thing through horseplay. The hotel wasn’t the Lhasa we had expected. We expected austerity, and this certainly wasn’t austere. We had been told about difficulty sleeping above 12,000 feet, but we all slept well, wondering what we’d find in the day light.
The real Lhasa visit started the next day. A traveler’s first day in Lhasa is supposed to be slow, so you can acclimate to the altitude. We had no problem, thanks to the train and a few days in and around Xining. After some studying with the boys, we drove with Yangdron and Rebecca to lunch through downtown Lhasa. It was indeed austere, and simultaneously impressive. There were old buildings of handmade brick, next to a brand new hotel or government building with modern materials. We would pass a dirt alley with broken cars under repair, locals standing around kibitzing, while the very next street was fronted with wonderful shops and strolling shoppers. The same contrast that met us in Xining and other cities existed here too. But there was a difference. This city was packed with pilgrims. Pilgrims flow into Lhasa from all over Tibet and China and other parts of the world to worship Buddha. The streets are full of pilgrims, some brightly dressed, some wearing clothes that are filthy and tattered, lending the appearance that they may have traveled 1,000 kilometers by foot to reach Lhasa. They have. The sites of Lhasa are incredible. The Potala Palace, the Barkhor, the JoKahng temple, the Sera Monastery, the Himalayas are all worthy of a visit to Lhasa. However, the real reason to visit Lhasa is to experience the pilgrims, their deep faith and the fantastic rituals that they engage in. I’ll highlight a couple of experiences we had at different sites.

The Barkhor:
The Barkhor is a series of streets and what seem to be 10,000 shops that surround the ancient JoKhang temple in the center of Lhasa. Upon arrival in Lhasa, pilgrims gather in front of the temple, and then walk in a clockwise circle around the Barkhor area 3 times. This is an important ritual for pilgrims and it seems to form a river of people, meandering at a leisurely pace around the Barkhor. We found ourselves caught up in this river and it was amazing to be among the many pilgrims, and few tourists caught in the flow. The pilgrims’ joy of being in this river, seems to be held just under their very deliberate gaze, at the ready to burst through in the form of a broad smile or laugh. Many have lived their entire lives for this moment – and the joy of being there occasionally bursts through. Many pilgrims sit along the route begging for assistance, because many are flat broke by the time they reach Lhasa. We stocked up on candy and handed out pieces to pilgrims and their tiny children as we passed. We also handed out a few Yuan, but only on rare occasions.

One other thing we witnessed was a ritual called prostrating – perhaps the ultimate way for a pilgrim to show their devotion to Buddha. Try to imagine this: With your feet pressed together, raise your hands high above your head, fingers and palms pressed together, and pause. Then, pull your hands in the same position to your face, and pause for a brief moment. Next, bring your hands to your chest in the same position while dropping to your knees. Now, place your hands on the ground next to your knees, and slide them forward as you gradually lay prostrate on your belly with your face flat against the ground. Now it’s time to get up. Slide your hands back to your knees, while avoiding dragging your face on the ground, and stand up from your knee squat. Oh, and don’t separate your knees because that is quite disrespectful to Buddha. Now, do this 200 times a day. Not exactly lather, rinse, repeat, is it? This ritual can be seen in many places on the way to Lhasa, and some pilgrims do it every 10 feet or so, the entire way. There is some majorly hidden upper body strength going on in some of these pilgrims. It is hard to imagine a display of this much devotion to any god today. We saw children, mothers, grandmothers, men, and monks prostrating – and some do this every 5 steps or even fewer. Many, had plastic shields made from two liter soda bottles attached to their knees and hands – so they could slide better without damage, looking a bit like Tony hawk getting ready to drop into a super pipe without the helmet.

JoKahng Temple, the Sera Monastery and the Potala:
All of these places were incredible and spiritual, even if you have no concept of Buddhism. All were packed with pilgrims worshiping Buddha, and we were just along for the ride. We were getting an education, with Yangdron explaining the different types of Buddha, the rituals, history and the process we were witnessing. We learned a bunch about Buddhism and were told that we likely had more historic foundation and knowledge now than most of the pilgrims. Foundation however, isn’t important. Faith is.

Griffin and Parker were both blessed by a monk at the Sera Monastery by having charcoal from sacred yak butter candle wicks smeared on the tip of their nose before entering the Barkhor. The blessing is only available to children. Pilgrims lit-up to the kids as if they too were pilgrims. They smiled and laughed and pointed, loving the fact the kids had partaken of a blessing.

All of the places we visited feature this very odd circumambulation, where pilgrims walk around the temple or monestary 3 times before entering – the Barkhor being the best example, but we saw it everywhere. The Potala Palace has to be five kilometers all the way around, so it’s quite a walk. Prayer wheels, which are spun in a clockwise fashion surround much of the Potala palace and are spun by pilgrims as they walk. Many Pilgrims carry their own Prayer wheels for their entire pilgrimage, chanting, (more like humming under their breath) and spinning as they go.

The Himalayas:
We took a trip to a day trip to Lamdrok lake which is one of only four sacred Tibetan lakes. We drove for two hours through an amazing valley dotted with tiny villages, and climbed by car to around 16,500 feet to take in the lake view. There were tour buses packed with Chinese tourists racing up the mountain to this elevation if you can believe it. After arriving at the overlook we decided we are vastly more healthy than the older Chinese tourists to climb a tall hill that took us up another few hundred feet to approximately Everest Base Camp elevation (no joke). The view was stunning. Also stunning was how quickly you felt winded climbing this few hundred feet. The lake is beautiful, but it is also a rather sad site. You can easily see the declining lake level. The Chinese Government has built a hydro electric plant there and is now slowly draining the lake to provide power to Lhasa. There isn’t a river that replenishes the lake, and it appears no one has thought through how to fill the lake after it has been drained.

The Orphanage:
Our tour guide Yangdron, was a wonderful woman and someone that was such a pleasure to hang out with. After spending time with us, and talking with Rebecca, she asked if we would like to visit an orphanage that she is associated with. The name of the orphanage is the Chushul Country Nam Children’s Home. Orphanages in Tibet are very rare, because extended family usually takes care of children without parents, but this isn’t possible all the time and there is a growing trend as economic realities change extended families ability to care for an extra child. The orphanage houses up to 18 children and we met 13. The orphanage gets some money from the government, about 200 yuan (or $26 USD) per child per month, less than $2 per day – which is well below what it takes to live even at a meager level in Tibet. The rest of the money, if it comes at all, comes from private individuals like us or you. The beds are scant, heat is scarce, meat is very rare, and they just got a refrigerator (Yangdron bought it for them) to keep food longer than a day or so. We visited one day and brought school supplies and candies and returned the next day to bring some other things and take some pictures so we can share with you on this blog. We asked Yangdron how much money it would take to bring these kids to the standard of living that the little town surrounding it “enjoys”. She said that she’d recommend less money and more bedding, clothes and essentials – which you know definitely make it to the kids. She said we could mail clothing or other items to her and she would take it to the orphanage. We’re all in – and will be providing clothes and other essentials for these children. It’s not much, but it is a tangible way we can back some of the luck we’ve had over the years, giving these kids a much needed boost in life. If you would like to help these kids as well, please send Yangdron an email at Dronyang@hotmail.com or call her on her mobile at + 0086 13638980596. It’s so true when it's said that little things make a HUGE difference.

Posted by Blakei 19:27 Archived in China Tagged family_travel Comments (3)

The train to Tibet

Gliding along the rooftop of the world...

sunny 50 °F

As a family, we had probably anticipated this one day experience more than any else in China. We had read so much about the new train; from its political impact on Tibet, to the beautiful country side; from the quality of the food, to the quality of the bathrooms. We had read about the Beijing to Tibet train in the New Yorker, The LA Times, the San Luis Tribune, and other sources. Believe me when I say no reading can prepare you. We were advised to skip the first segment of the trip from Beijing to Xining, being warned that the route was lined with industrial towns and that same blue grey air we met in Xining. We did.

We anxiously waited in the Xining train station, in the special area for sleeping compartment travelers. We waited with Chinese Government officials, a group of German tourists, an interesting guy from New Zealand and his wife. Our humongous and identical OGIO bags, were a source of good laughs and spirited conversations and we chatted with folks and made friends. After about an hour, they let us out of the room just before the train lumbered into the station. We were to be in Car 11. We had help from our driver and our guide getting the bags into the aisle of the car – now it was time to figure out how to get them all into the sleeping compartment along with the four of us. The train left the station after a very brief stop, and after much maneuvering we were able to fit all of our bags into our cabin and leave enough room for us to lie down. It was kind of amazing we got it all to fit. Even some of the German tourists had to store their bags in open areas. The cabin was a soft sleeper, which featured 2 bunk beds, framing a picture window, which sat atop a tiny table. It was perfect for our family of four. The beds were actually comfortable – much better than the Xining hotel. We went to sleep and slept pretty well, rocking to the rhythm of the train.

When we awoke, we had just rolled out of the city of Golmud, another industrial town on the edge of the Tibetan plateau. As we progressed onward and upward, the plains of the plateau seemed to roll past the horizon, giving way to distant mountains that we knew would eventually fill our picture window as it was aptly named. We strolled into the dining car for a sit down breakfast that was strictly Chinese, and quite edible. We made our way back to our sleeper, rearranging luggage for a day of hanging out, playing games, reading, writing and gawking at the scenery. The scenery was amazing. We saw 20,000 foot mountains, actually chugged our way through a 16,600 ft pass. We saw wild fox, eagles, wild donkeys, wild Yaks, and as the sunset, we saw a nomad bringing in his yak, as he danced a traditional dance (we later learned) following them in. What an incredible site on which to spend our last daylight. We reached Lhasa at around 9:30 and could see the Potala Palace off in the distance. The Lhasa train station is brand new and fabulous. The scale is tremendous and almost nonsensical, given the few people there. Guess they’re expecting big things here. On to Lhasa.

Posted by Blakei 03:23 Archived in China Tagged family_travel Comments (3)


Guess we’re not in Kansas anymore…

sunny 50 °F

As foreign as Beijing seemed, there was something familiar about it. Perhaps it was the Hyatt hotel we were staying in, or maybe it was all the English speakers, or possibly all the outdoor advertisements featuring American athletes or film stars, or probably because it shares so much with other mega-cities like New York, LA, or Paris; It always seems to have purpose or directed energy. Our two hour flight to Xining landed at 8:30 and the airport terminal was dark. Literally, the lights were off. That’s not totally true. There were lights, but the lights you might expect in a hallway during a power failure where the exit sign glows. Not the lights of an airport. Our bags met the carousel promptly and we were met by a driver and a local Xining expert whose name was “Lucky” who we all pronounced as Naki or Nochi for the next few days (whoops). We drove an hour to town and it was dark most of the way. We checked into the hotel with some lively discussion with the front desk about the concept of adjoining rooms that I won’t go into, and we settled-in for a night’s sleep in a beautiful room, that featured four spectacular beds of linen covered cement. The whole truth is that sleep followed a visit from an engineer who opened the doors between our rooms, apparently a very complex operation, as well as a visit from the hotel’s general manager who brought water and beer to the room, after a room service call, requesting that I pay in cash right there in the spot. I did. The beer was warm….. and most excellent.

We awoke to 20th story windows, displaying a town shrouded in blue-gray, quietly masking skeletons of buildings that looked like they started with bang and ran out of money… This is the town where we will meet the Beijing to Tibet train that will take us to Lhasa, but while we’re here, we thought we’d check out the surroundings. We were whisked away after breakfast. We drove through the city of more than a million, and were astonished by the difference between Beijing and this town. This urban center is rural. The contrast was palpable. Tall buildings meet tractors that double as hoes. Audi A4s drive along side three wheel work contraptions, over-flowing with Barley 10 feet high. We drove for a few hours, and saw the contrast disappear with every kilometer. We drove through farm lands and bustling tiny towns made of brick and mud. The altitude was now close to 11,000 ft. We stopped briefly at a remote Tibetan Buddhist Temple at Sun Moon Mountain, for some mugging and photos with locals, (sitting on Yaks and the like), and then moved on to Quinghai Lake, (China’s largest saltwater lake), where it snowed, hailed and rained, while shepherds marshaled sheep and cows across the plains like it was 75 degrees in Los Angeles. We met locals on horseback. We ate in a restaurant where you could see your breath. We marveled at the desolation of this place, and the “on water hotel” used in the summer (August – but no swimming) by folks venturing from the big city. The air was thin and made us all dizzy for a few moments, or was it the out of body experience of just being here. This isn’t Kansas anymore, is it?

Tu is better than two...
The next day in Xining we visited our first Buddhist Monastery outside of town about 20 kilometers. It was pretty wild. Photo snapping tourists, old monks with the latest cell phones, and folks that have made a pilgrimage to praise Buddha intermingle in a Yak-butter-candle haze. Pilgrims that have sold everything they had to get closer to Buddha and god, sit on streets begging for money or candy or food, so they can get back home or finish their pilgrimage. We ate at a local noodle shop, and ventured to a minority village. There are 55 minorities in China; Mongols, Manchruians, etc.. We visited the “Tu” minority – whose core economic focus is making barely wine – which we drank upon arriving and leaving. I kept asking where the second minority group was, because we were to see Tu minorities and I had only seen one. Carol pointed out that it wasn’t “two” minorities it was the “Tu” minority. I was so dense that I didn’t get it and belly laughed when I did. Was it the Barely Wine? I dunno…..hiccup.

Before we hit the train to Tibet hat evening, we skateboarded in a beautiful and huge park in downtown Xining, which once again attracted a large crowd, and this time… other skaters…! The boys exchanged tricks and hand shakes. It was cultural exchange at it’s best. The most common phrase uttered by the Xining local skaters, was “Shit!” as they muffed a trick. English is alive and well in Xining! The Xining people were awesome and did try and converse a bunch. But English doesn’t always make sense, like the back of the many buses in Xining… yet it’s vastly better than our nonexistent Chinese… The people of Xining were some of the nicest we’ve met on the trip.

Posted by Blakei 19:24 Archived in China Tagged family_travel Comments (1)

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