Mockford China Adventures November 2010

Back home after six weeks in China. Not able to blog while traveling but will try to catch up now.

Jim spent six weeks in China on a global exchange program for his company Wacom Technology and went to Beijing on October 15. Cheryl arrived a month later and on her first day we set out for the Yashow Market to shop for Chinese style clothing. Jim’s work finished up and on November 18 we set out for Tienanmen Square where Chairman Mao’s portrait looks out from the Tienanmen Gate and we passed through it to the Forbidden City that was home to 24 Chinese Emperors for over 600 years and is now maintained as the Palace Museum. It is a huge place covering over 720,000 square meters and some 3,248 meters long. We walked over moats, through the Taihe Gate, Taihe Hall, Zhonghe Gate and Baohe Hall, Qiangqing Gate and Palace, and Kunming Palace and Gate, across courtyards and finally the Imperial Garden.

On November 19 we set out for the Great Wall of China (Wanli Changcheng萬里長城; literally “Ten Thousand Leagues Long Fortification”). It is about a two hour drive from downtown to get to the well visited site known as Badaling where Jim visited the wall in 1987. Times have changed in China since then and the tourist area at Badaling was modernized for the 2008 Olympics with many shops and even a KFC among the restaurants there. The wall however is just as steep and steppy as ever and we climbed up and up on a sunny warm fall day to take many great photos.

We took it easy the following day and walked a level course around the 2008 Olympics arenas including the “Bird Nest” Stadium and then went out for a yummy Beijing Duck dinner hosted by Jim’s HR director at Wacom China Corp. The following day we flew on Hainan Airlines to Guilin in south China.

Guilin is a scenic and historic city on the Li River. The name means “forest of Sweet Osmanthus” that is a fragrant tree found in the area. It has a subtropical climate as it is located at 25°  16’ N just a few degrees north of the latitude of Cabo San Lucas but not as dry a climate as Baja and more like Honolulu at  around 21°. We stayed at a Chinese style hotel called Jing Guan Ming Lou with a nice 4th floor view of Banyan Lake (Ronghu) and a convenient location for walking around the 4 lakes and two rivers that make Guilin quite a water town. Our first adventure was the walk to Elephant Hill on the south side of town that has quite a climb up steep steps to reach the top but well worth it for the view and to see the caves and formations that cause the entire hill to look like an elephant taking a drink of water via a large trunk of rock arching into the Li River.

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