Monday, January 28, 2013

Yings at Terra Cotta Soldiers

So the terra cotta soldiers of Xi'an are a fascinating sight that are a great example of the incredible work that can be achieved by slaves ruled by ruthless dictators.  The soldiers themselves are all beautiful since each one is unique.  It was also speculated that before being buried each one was painted in extravagant colors.  The story behind the soldiers is sad.  
The first emperor, Qin Shi Huang, believed that he needed to bring all of these soldier and horses to his afterlife.  He also wanted to preserve his tomb so he had the 100,000 slaves who built all these buried alive also.

Yings with Uncle Jim

This was in location #3.  Hardly escavated at this point.

Location #2, a deeper area.  Our guide didn't tell us too much
about this one.
Four years after the emperor's death there was the 'farmer's revolt'.  The common people got pissed off that all the town's money was invested in the soldiers - and maybe that all their friends went missing... The farmers raided the tombs, knocked over the soldiers and then burnt the structures to the ground.
This is #3 again.  You can easily see the beams that held up
the dirt above the soldiers.  

I didn't quite get these bronze statues.  They looked out of
place in the museum so they were probably trucked in from
somewhere else.

This is location #1.  About the size of 2 football fields and filled
with soldiers.  The soldiers have been reconstructed by finding
the pieces and gluing them together. 

We kept talking about how we felt sorry for the archaeologists
who have to dig all these guys out with toothbrushes!

Friday, January 25, 2013

Yings around Xi'an

While Uncle Jim was here from the USA, we took a short flight to Xi'an for his second weekend.  Xi'an is one of the oldest cities here in China that dates back 3100 years.  It has been the capital of China a few times and has been the location of the most dynasties.  A dynasty is the reign of an emperor, I think.  

We had a full day of touring the attractions but we also spent some time nearby the hotel in the city.  This means within the city walls.  This city wall is a great-wall-like boundary of the inner city that is as impressive as the Great Wall.  It seemed to be taller and wider and was 20-30 km in circumference.  In nice weather you could rent a bike and pedal all the way around.

We walked around the Muslim area, the bell tower and the drum tower.
This steak and beef on a stick was street food that was
brought in to our table.  Very spicy.

The Muslim quarter walking street.  Very crowded with many
unique foods, trinkets, artwork and other unknown stuff.

This was a crazy desert that was steamed and put on a stick.
We asked the name but it didn't translate to English.

Roasting walnuts.

A cool stone carving.
10 RMB ($1.60) for a view of Jupiter through
his homemade telescope.  He put this thing on
his 3-wheeler.

Even though it was 300+ on the air quality index we could see Jupiter.
Yugege has ice cream flowing in his viens.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Oriental Pearl Tower

The Pearl Tower is one of the center pieces of the new growth of Shanghai.  It was the first landmark to be built to signify that China was on the growth path and was a force to be reckoned with.  It was built in the early nineties when Shanghai decided that they were going to build on the east side of the Huangpu River.  Locally it is called the Oriental Pearl Radio and TV Tower or Dongfang Mingzhuta.  
Looking up at the tower in the little courtyard
in front of  the tower.
Construction began in 1990 and was completed in 1994.  It is 468 meters (1,535 ft) high and was the tallest structure in China until 2007.
Uncle JimHead was in town so we decided to pay the $20 ea
to go up the tower.  There are two floors and beautiful views
of the city.  It was worth the money.

Here is looking out at the other tall buildings.  These are
mostly taller than the oriental tower.

This is looking down on the elevated, circular walking path.

This was a freaky glass-bottom floor!!  

We were all freaked out standing on this glass.  Construction
in China is not known for its high-quality.

Courageous Yuyuan!

Caomei joining the fun of 'floating' over the city.

All the kids had a great time experiencing walking and
crawling over the glass. 

Friday, January 18, 2013

Snowy Shanghai

We have had a very cold winter here.  They say it has been the coldest winter in 27 years.  During the winter break we had a cold front come through that dropped a bunch of snow on us.  It was very fun peddling our bikes to church! The next morning there was a little snow on the ground - just enough to make a few snowballs.
Caomei trying to make a snowball.

It took about 6 hours of snowing before some of it started to

Ice balls!

Yuyuan was so happy to have icicles from his bike light.

There are trampolines around the neighborhood.  This one
had ice and snow that was bouncing with us.

Backyard dusting.

Front yard had a little more for us to collect up into a minor
snowball fight.
It has flurried a few more times but nothing to accumulate.  I'm not sure if it is being a kid or being a kid from Florida but the kids are soooo excited when it snows!

Monday, January 14, 2013

Around town with Uncle Bingjalingren (Ice Cream Man)

Baba's gege (big brother) came for a visit on January 2nd since in January he shuts down his Ice Cream store, Mt. Tom's Ice Cream.  He arrived for a two week visit to check out China and to hang out with his nephews.  We immediately got him into Shanghai to visit the Yu Garden, Pearl Tower and the Bund.  The 'Must-see's' of any visit to Shanghai.

We also did the Urban Planning museum and some local wet-markets around our home.  He did some exploring later in the week on his own - like the French Concession.  More adventures will be in later posts.

Inside Yu Garden - the Boys feeding the Coi
Another temple in Yu.

Temple in the garden

Kids with Bingjalingren (Ice Cream Man) in Yu Garden.

It was Zero Degrees but they still had to have Dairy Queen.
The family business is in their genes...

This was a Pork and SeaWeed donut from Dunkin Donuts.
We told him afterwards..

Bingjalingren with his nephews and niece at the house.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Ying's Christmas Morning

It's official, Santa does visit China.  We have a tradition to give the kids PJs on Christmas eve.  This year we bought them in Clearwater, FL, USA and there is a Crab theme on them.  We think Yugege grew about 5" this year so his were a bit tight.

Showing off their "I'm crabby" PJs.

YanYuan seeing what Santa left under the tree!

Caomei under the tree.  Santa brought Baba a new set of
wheels.  It has taken about 5-10 minutes off my 35 minute

Stocking hung by the chimney with care (or the stairway if
you don't have a fireplace).

A very successful Christmas since they were all so 'nice'
this year!

We bought A'yi a very special comforter.  She doesn't have
heat in her apartment.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Price Disparity

There seem to be two classes of people here in China, the wealthy and the not.  I don’t want to describe them as poor since they seem happy with what they have and are not in extreme suffering.  There are also multiple different price structures in this society.  If you live in the lower class neighborhoods you would typically purchase your goods from local shops or the ‘wet markets’.  These are filled with fresh fruits and veggies, the local meat out on display or fresh baked breads – all at prices in the cents or couple dollar range.

Street Vendor selling and cleaning chickens
Here are the chickens for your purchase

Fish kept alive on the street - bass and other local fish -
20 RMB for a full fish, cleaned and gutted.

Who said China Doesn't have beef?

Wet market - fresh chickens - love the black ones!

Wet Market nearby

The middle prices, which includes those shoppers who reach up from the lower class and those that are looking for a bargin from the upper class, are the same as in America or maybe a little more.  A half-gallon of milk for about $4, a beer for about $0.35, quart of ice cream for about $4, rice is cheap, breakfast cereal is expensive.  These goods you would buy at a local grocery store or maybe a Carrefour.
Carrefour Seafood Department
Carrefour Bikes - Giant brand

Carrefour Fishing

Then you have the higher prices.  These are the prices that the 67,000 - $10+ Millionaires that live in Shanghai pay for their goods.  They shop at the places like the IFC mall and other high-end, 5th Avenue-type boutiques.  You will see them walking around the mall with their Gucci and Prada’s with no second thoughts about spending their money.

High-end Grocery store, e.g. City Shop (ref - retailnewschina.
Lastly, there is the prices for foreigners.  These are prices for those that can’t speak Chinese or look like they ‘should’ spend more money on their stuff.  These are the shops within and around the expat communities, like Kerry Parkside.  These are malls and shops that cater to those that ‘need’ a taste of home.  Grocery stores like Pines and City Shop will stock most of your home countries foods at 3 – 10x the price.  But since it’s cheaper to buy that candy or that Mac ’n Cheese for $3 a box, than to fly home – we just do it.