Forbidden City
It was a really hot and muggy day when we visited the Forbidden City (which the Chinese government insists on calling the "Palace Museum"). It was also crowded, since we were in the very center of the city at a very famous place during high tourist season. Yeah...
I don't know why the police car was outside. I just thought it was interesting, just sitting there.

Parts of the city were been renovated, I suspect in preparation for the Olympics next year. Kind of a bummer. Looking at the above shot you can get a feel for how BIG the place was. It was literally a city. Rachel and I spent three hours inside and didn't see a third of the compound. Our Chinese friend said that if you wanted to see absolutely everything, you'd have to spend a week inside.

The buildings were, of course, very ornate. As Rachel and I walked through the maze of different buildings and gardens and pathways, we tried to imagine living our entire lives in such a grandiose environment.

Fortunately, there were a few sections of the city that were surprisingly uncrowded. We had the most fun looking around in those places. We also ate salami sandwiches for lunch. That's right: I ate a salami sandwich and drank a Pepsi inside the Forbidden City.

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written by Ruthie @ 9:54 PM   0 comments
The Great Wall
Not many people can say they've climbed the Great Wall of China. But even fewer people can say they've climbed the Great Wall in a thunderstorm. Yes, the day Rachel and I decided to take a tour of the famous Wall the rain was so heavy we had to change which site we were going to, the roads were so washed out! There was lightning, thunder, and ugly pink ponchos involved.
Although the weather was crummy, I think it was actually better that it was raining as opposed to being extremely hot. I was huffing and puffing trying to climb the steps as it was. Plus, after about twenty minutes the rain stopped and we were able to take the ponchos off.
It became obvious to us after walking around for awhile that this section of the wall had to have been either rebuilt or very restored. The stones were in much too good a condition to have been used when the wall was first built thousands of years ago.In spite of the inclement weather, I was able to fulfill my dream of visiting the Great Wall, one of the most famous historic sites in the world and one of the new Seven Wonders of the World. One down, six more to go!

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written by Ruthie @ 8:55 AM   1 comments
Our first day in Beijing we decided to do a package tour of the Great Wall, the Ming Tombs, and several overpriced jade, silk, and tea shops. I wasn't about to buy any of it, but it made for cool pictures.
These balls of jade have at least eight balls inside them, all carved from one large piece of jade. 8 is an auspicious number in China.

The silks were beautiful, but EXPENSIVE. We watched how they stretched out the cocoons of silkworms in order to make quilts.

These vases are made by starting with a plain copper vase, gluing small copper bits on to create a design, filling in the copper bits with enamel, firing the pot in a kiln, then buffing and polishing it down.

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written by Ruthie @ 8:47 PM   0 comments
More Qingdao
If you've ever tasted Tsing Tao beer, you've probably seen the above pavilion: it's featured in a picture on the bottle. I had some Tsing Tao while in Qingdao. It was really good, not as bitter as American beers. I've decided I like Chinese beer.

A pagoda at Xiaoyushan Park (小魚山公園). The name means "small fish mountain." Did you know that the word "pagoda" is neither Japanese nor Chinese? Where did this word come from?

Walmart in China. While their food products and some of the household stuff was different, the signs, the smell of the store, the atmosphere, the harsh UV lights: the same. Notice Pizza Hut is right below it. Pizza Hut is a high-class, very expensive eatery in China.

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written by Ruthie @ 7:40 PM   2 comments
Our first day out and about Rachel and I were escorted by our friend 金 to Zhongshan Park (中山公園). "Zhongshan" means "the middle of the mountain." It isn't exactly a fitting name, as we weren't surrounded by mountains or in a cave. But anyway...
The park was very gaudily decorated for some festival. There were tons of these parade-float looking things that I'm sure lit up at night enough to scorch the retinas. One float featured the mascots of the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games:
Are these guys at all popular in the Western world? I'm just curious. I'd never seen in them in Japan, but in China they were EVERYWHERE. I couldn't stand the sight of these cutesy, bear-like creatures after a week in China.

And then this was just pretty, so I thought I would include it in a post.

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written by Ruthie @ 10:46 PM   1 comments
Back Home
Well, I'm back from China. And it really did feel like I was coming home. I realized on the ferry from Qingdao back to Shimonoseki that I really felt at home in Japan. I was excited to get back to Japanese culture, to my apartment, to routine. It's good to be home.

I'm starting a series on my trip to China, since I can't cover it all in one post. I'll start with Qingdao.The first glimpse my traveling buddy and I got of China. Qingdao was definitely more polluted than Shimonoseki, but not as bad as Beijing, as we would soon find out.

The Wind of May. This sculpture has become the new Symbol of Qingdao. During the day it is a bright red, but at night lights shine on it to create different colors.

Qingdao is the site of the sailing competition for the 2008 Olympics, so there was Olympics signs and souvenirs EVERYWHERE, ad nauseum.

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written by Ruthie @ 8:43 PM   0 comments

Name: Ruthie
Home: Japan
About Me: I want to know who God is and what his truth is. I love getting lost in beautiful music and cloudless star-filled skies, especially in the fall. I hate being bored. I like big cities. I want to travel the world.
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