Enchanted China Trip Report July 26, 2009 - August 7, 2009

Discussion in 'Adventures By Disney' started by figmentfan2009, Jul 26, 2009.

  1. figmentfan2009

    figmentfan2009 Mouseketeer

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    Yesterday was amazing. Yes, I'm up at 2:30. Can't sleep to save my life right now, So I'm backing up pictures and video, cleaning off memory sticks and writing. Pre-trip day was awesome. Today is Tienanmen Square and the forbidden city.

    Yesterday we got to the Summer Palace at about 6:45. DH thought that going so early was a bad thing since they don't open the buildings until 8:30 but the park itself opens at 6 or 6:30. The cab ride to the park was neat. We passed Olympic stadium and some neat looking buildings.

    We got to the summer palace and there weren't a LOT of people there, but there were a lot of people there. We walked about a third of the way around Kenming lake, watched a man do water calligraphy on the sidewalk, watched couples dance not far away from him and watched more people do exercises (maybe Tai Chi?) with walking poles. On the bridge, older men and women (60 and older) were flying kites. DS noticed that there are a lot more people here that take advantage of the awesome quieter things to do than people in the United States tend to bother with. Lots of places were playing traditional Chinese music, there was a guy playing some kind of flute and DOZENS of kids with plastic slide whistles that are shrill and loud.

    We took a boat across the lake to see the Stone Boat (which is neither stone, nor a boat... but hey) and had breakfast of Dim Sum and Ice Cream. When we were leaving the food place, a kid on a tour wanted his picture taken with DS and DD (little Chinese boy... the kids thought it was amazing and awesome to get his picture taken with mine and mine thought it was totally weird). That was about the time it really sunk into DS that he's in China.
    Then the kids and I walked up Longevity Hill (there is a REASON they call it that). DH made it about 2/3 of the way up but had to turn back the way we went. If we had bone the "right" way, he would probably have made it, but we ended up Billy Goating our way up. The view from the top was awesome. Well worth the effort. DD was even impressed with the view and the buildings. The buildings are so colorful, beautiful paintings. It is amazing to think that they are so old.

    Lama Temple offended DD. She realized that not all of the world is Christian. It made her very uncomfortable to see the people paying homage to Buddha and burning incense to him. DS was enthralled with that temple because it is a working temple and these people were REALLY here to do what they were doing... they really pay good money to burn incense, they really buy the incense at the stores along the street on the way to the temple. There was building after building each with several Buddhas and people bowing to him.

    Confucius temple was down a back alley (an awesome back alley with little shops that had their pet birds in cages and people on bicycles and REAL people (there was a guy who had deformed legs begging (I think) but not pushy. There were women sweeping the tree droppings (seeds) with brooms made out of bushes. Larry got Pepsi from one of the stores, DD got neat chocolate drumsticks and I got green tea. That temple was very quiet... very few people but SO rich in history. Walked around looking at all of the history exhibits and there was a lady with her RED red wedding dress (peacock on the train) getting her pictures taken. There were wicked awesome trees some of them were HUGE cedars, not sure what some of them are... I will have to do some digging...

    Back to the hotel to clean up before the "Meet everyone else" dinner... out after some interesting KFC... walked around a HUGE city block... stopped at a tea shop (a real little hole in the wall tea shop... ). I bought a cup that has its own tea caddy inside and 250g of oolong tea. The shop guy was SO nice, not pushy... very REAL (not like the panhandler on the street or the people who really do try to get you to buy for REAL Rolex watches or Mont Blanc pens [without the white mark on the cap though...] or tour books or socks). He offered to have us try the oolong (no charge). He did the commoner's version of a tea ceremony (we got the royalty version with explanations later at dinner). He had a stoneware table topper with lots of glass tea pots and pour-ers. He had a stoneware tea pot that he brewed the tea in (it was about the size of... a not huge coffee mug... like the ones we drink out of all the time...). He poured water in it and over it. He poured that water on the "cups". Dumped everything out... added tea to the pot (a LOT of tea for a little pot) then rinsed the tea with one pot of water and dumped that over the cups and out. Added more water and did it again. THEN he added the tea water and brewed cups of tea, poured it for each of us. It was HOT!!!! Kids and I had 3 cups each out of the one pot of tea (each cup was about as big as the palm of your hand cupped). DH and the guy were joking about how DH's Pepsi makes your tummy grow but oolong makes it shrink... all of this while speaking VERY little and very broken English. We sat on chairs made out of cut trees (the seats LOOKED like trunks... with legs... and the backs looked like half trunks.. bark still on them... the table under the stoneware top was the same stuff). Tea lined the walls (bricks of tea, circles of tea that looked like small cheese circles... tins of tea)... The walls were made to look like the roofs of old Chinese buildings... so it kind of looked like you were outside with the "stuff" on the walls on the outside of buildings. All with traditional Chinese music playing. The man had HORRIBLE teeth but the most wonderful open heartfelt smile you would ever want to see.

    Dinner was really neat. The tea ceremony was beautiful. The girl doing it was graceful and told the story of how and why of everything. The food was absolutely fantastic. Two different kinds of duck, shrimp dressed in fried sweet potato noodles, beef, chicken, green bean soup and bean something squares that were really sweet and had an odd texture for desert. Dressing up like royalty at the end was a fun way to get everyone laughing together and the pictures will make a great way to remember the evening. It looks like there are 6 families on the trip. Guides are Brian and Huan.

    DD has yet to even go into one of the 'real' bathrooms. The worst part is remembering to bring your own toilet paper...

    Breakfast in just about an hour. Think I'll catch a shower and get ready before we have to go down and join the group.
    ff2009
     
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  3. 2GirlsMama

    2GirlsMama Happy Wife and Mom

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    Figment Fan2009,
    Thanks for sharing your excitment about your trip. I can't wait to read about your adventures. I hope you have a great trip!

    Who are your guides?
     
  4. 2GirlsMama

    2GirlsMama Happy Wife and Mom

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    Sorry, I just noticed you said your guides names. We had Brian, too. Tell him we said hi!
     
  5. LukenDC

    LukenDC DIS Veteran

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    Thanks for the detailed report. I am eager to read future installments. Have fun!
     
  6. sayhello

    sayhello Have Camera, Will Travel Moderator

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    Wow, ff2009! Sounds like you are having a wonderful time, and that's only the first day!!!! :cool1:

    The tea shop just sounds wonderful. I'd end up spending forever in a place like that!

    I'm really looking forward to more of your report!

    Sayhello
     
  7. HappyGrumpy

    HappyGrumpy DIS Veteran

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    Thank You so much for the "live" trip report! So exciting to read!!
     
  8. BriarRose59

    BriarRose59 WDW Once Upon a Dream

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    ff2009, its wonderful to hear you had such a great first day! It won't take long for you to be able to sleep, it took me longer when I got back home to get back to a "normal" sleep schedule. I guess because you are so busy there, running constantly from one place to another. I hope you have a wonderful time. Tell Brian and Huan that Rochelle and Amanda said "Hi!" They were our guides in June. They are fantastic!
     
  9. LisaTex

    LisaTex Mouseketeer

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    You are going to have SUCH an awesome time! We just got home last night. Not going to spoil any surprises, but i will tell you it just gets better and better!!!
     
  10. cbcdiver

    cbcdiver Earning My Ears

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    I totally agree with LisaTex, I just got back too...

    Just remember to drink LOTS of water, especially when you get to
    Shanghai! It is really, really, really, hot! ;-)
     
  11. figmentfan2009

    figmentfan2009 Mouseketeer

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    Yesterday... The Forbidden City - Tienanmen Square

    "Breakfast" is so incredibly interesting at China World Hotel in Beijing. Sushi (which irritates DD no end because she wants to eat it so badly, and can't) and beans, fried tomatoes and interesting potatoes... I ate a thousand year old egg (which has the weirdest consistency and the "white" looks like brown jello and the 'yellow' is green... ). Tea for breakfast is English Breakfast tea and the juices are different (watermelon, cucumber, carrot, tomato, as well as orange and grapefruit and pineapple). The sugared Brioche is really good, and my kids ate the dim sum like it was going out of style. They have some normal breakfast food too, like bacon and eggs and sausage (pork sausage as well as chicken sausage).

    Out to the bus by 8 and off to listen to Huan tell us about Beijing. I loved the bus ride to the destination. The buses and the bikes fighting with the cabs, the different neighborhoods and the PEOPLE. Traffic really wasn't that much worse than I think I have seen it, but the lines on the road are REALLY there as gentle suggestions not really rules of the road and Brian was right, pedestrians may have the right of way but the cars have the right of weight. The water was much needed today as we were out an about... it wasn't a blue sky day but it was humid and everyone was needing water.

    Tienanmen Square was massive. Brian pointed out the yellow lines on the ground all over the park. Those are where people line up to view the body in his tomb. The line to view would have to be THOUSANDS long... The amry guards the under the street walkway tunnels into and out of the square. INTO was packed... out of, not a line at all. The dancing waters outside of the forbidden city had even more people...

    Outside of the forbidden city, fountains dance to music while people jostle and push to get in. I would LOVE to be able to spend an entire day walking around and looking in the rooms but the people are elbow to elbow and wall to wall. Listening to the history from Huan and Brian was awesome, to start to understand why and how and where... DS wondered if many of the visitors really understand how impressive the place is or how much history they have at their finger tips... How much they get to see and how truly fortunate they are to be able to see it. I don't know.

    Driving to the restaurant, passed many more bicycles and busses... neighborhoods where the buildings are all gray, the stores, the houses... Huan explained that this was the difference between royalty and common people, Red and Gold and ornate, emperors, gray, everyone else.

    Lunch was family style again. Lots of rice... lots of interesting new dishes to try. Lots of water, too. It is amazing how much more water everyone seems to drink here. Not complaining, even my kids are asking for water.

    Free time we walked to Ri Tan Park (temple of the sun). People were flying kites and playing cards, exercising in the free outdoor exercise facility (which really does look vaguely like torture devices). People were fishing with tiny fish hooks for gold fish (which they look like they take home for fish bowls). There is a beautiful water garden on the side, though, that people sit around and play cards at, watch the fish, drink coffee and cuddle. This was where Chines people go to be Chinese people and raise their kids and just be.

    On the way back to the hotel, we stopped to get sodas and I found a brass tibetan singing bowl that I managed to get for half of the asking price. I love the bowl and am starting to get pretty good at making it sing.

    When we got back to our room before dinner, there was a cake and a card for DD birthday and flowers for her. She was so happy she was almost crying. The cake was, I think, chocolate moose and we all shared in her moment. She is upset that she can't take the flowers home with her, but she was so touched that they did that for her. It was an awfully special touch.

    Dinner was most excellent and was very relaxed. Surprises abound! Loved the kit making, mask making, calligraphy and the easy humor everyone had.

    After dinner we went to the skating rink in the bottom of the hotel and skated for about an hour. That was probably the perfect topper to the day. Everyone was exhausted, but the ice was so inviting. The little kids are fantastic figure skaters, but no one, NO ONE but three little boys and their coaches had on hockey skates, we really stuck out.
     
  12. CBEB

    CBEB <font color=deeppink>We're ready to do it again!<b

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    Your trip sounds so wonderful! We're planning to go next summer!

    Can't wait for your next post!
     
  13. glassslipper2004

    glassslipper2004 DIS Veteran

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    Thanks for writing - this is so much fun to read. It sounds like you are having a wonderful trip.

    Why can't your DD have sushi - is it all raw?
     
  14. RweTHEREyet

    RweTHEREyet DIS Veteran

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    I am really enjoying your trip report and the experiences you are sharing. While we are not going on an ABD tour, my DH and I and some family and friends are going to China in October for 9 days. We will visit Beijing and Shanghai, and a couple of other cities.

    I hope the rest of your journey goes as well as the first few days have. :goodvibes
     
  15. sayhello

    sayhello Have Camera, Will Travel Moderator

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    Really loving this report! What a great trip.

    Sayhello
     
  16. Aburns8

    Aburns8 DIS Veteran

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    I am loving your trip report. I am hoping to do the China trip one day!
     
  17. figmentfan2009

    figmentfan2009 Mouseketeer

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    It is 4:30 in the morning again. Today we do the Peti-cabs and fly to Chengdu.

    Yesterday was up for breakfast in the Hotel again. They change some of the breakfast foods up every morning, some they keep the same. I love the tea and the assortment of juices and the fact that even my picky one can find something to eat.

    8 am off again, this time for a 2 hour bus ride to the great wall.

    The bus ride was great. There are signs with cute (humorous) pictures telling people to buckle up, don't drive drunk, obey the height restrictions and obey the weight restrictions. Traffic clears out once you are out of the city and it is a lot like driving between locations on the interstate in the US. Biggest difference there is the fact that you don't have people honking every time someone changes lanes or is going too slowly. Even when there is little traffic and changing lanes is simple, they seem obliged to beep the horn whenever they find a reason to. It amazes me that they don't get annoyed with other people beeping at them when they don't have any control over the reason that beeping is happening.

    Got to see road side fruit markets and people in was less 'touristy' places just going about their lives. The biggest contrast that has been striking me is the brand new cars (many people seem to really like black cars) and the very old, well worn bicycles that share the road. I guess I always through that, when I saw pictures of China with people on bikes that looked like they were from the 50s that they were taken much closer to the 50s. They may not be. The bikes really are like that in the vast majority of cases and none seem to be the kind of bikes that we think of as 'for pleasure' even when they purpose of the rider seems to be for pleasure... they are always the one speed old Schwinn looking bikes that I remember from when I was a kid.

    Great wall was awesome. The vendors WERE in your face but in a much nicer way. Learned later that only people who live in the town where the wall entrance is are allowed to be vendors there. That explains why you can actually get up the mountain. I was less than enthused about riding up in the cable car (I really really don't do cable cars well... I used to HATE the one at WDW with a passion) but being enclosed, I think, helped (except it was stuffy and humid and my glasses kept fogging up) and I have some great pictures that I will post as soon as I actually get time.

    Oh, a bit about pictures. They are REALLY great about taking pictures and the one thing about picture time is always... Wait Wait, just one more... so they have one with their cameras.

    DS was smiling ear to ear because he was actually standing on the great wall of China, and that had always been a dream of his. It was foggy, so you couldn't get the breathtaking views that you sometimes see in pictures, but the pictures had their own shrouded in mystery quality to the.

    Walked to the top of two of the tower's roofs. It is hard to believe that this has been around for 1800 years and that people had to carry the bricks up the hill to build it. They really didn't like the Mongols.

    Schoolhouse for lunch. So far, I would have to say this was my least favorite lunch but it was still good. Had a hard time with the cornbread 'bread' part of the chicken sandwich and ate it with a fork. The ice cream (caramel) was killer.

    After lunch, got to see glass blowing (not like you see at Disney or at one of the 6 Flags parks... real glass blowing with a huge blow pipe and furnaces). They made a flower for us to see. Then, noodle making, and we all got a chance to try if we wanted to.

    Back on the bus for the ride home. A last drive-by of the great wall entrance for a final picture (the fog burned off, so you could see it from the bus) and back to Beijing and more looking at small town China. The bus driver took us kind of over the river and through the woods on the way back so got to see small town life in process. Everywhere there are parks, most of them with exercise equipment and all of the exercise equipment is painted yellow and blue. Corn (at least here around Beijing) is a big crop by the looks of it, and it is just about the 'right' height for corn if it were being grown in Pennsylvania this time of year. Some of it is in tassel, some hasn't gotten that far yet.

    2 highlights of the bus ride back to the hotel for us were
    1... seeing a truck load of donkeys on their way somewhere on the interstate
    2... a drive-by of olympic stadium and the water cube.

    Back to the hotel... found a place to eat that didn't speak any english and that thought we were a riot trying to eat noodles with chop-sticks. I have really learned to like sticky rice a lot...

    Then down to the Night Market. I tried bubble tea (interesting flavor) and sugar coated (like... hard candy... dipped) cherry tomatoes on a stick. Dipping them in the hot melted sugar has the effect of starting to cook the tomatoes and the taste (if not the consistency) reminded me a lot of eating stewed tomatoes when I as a kid. DS had fried silk worm (DD and I tried one of these... weird sensation and kind of... stale bread kind of taste), centipede, scorpion and meal worms and (I think) crayfish (these he said were spicy and I was less up for the spicy than adventurous enough to eat them(. Meal worms have nothing to them, taste kind of like grass after it has gone to hay.

    Walked around a pedestrian street shopping thing, will probably have to ask Huan where it was this morning so I know where we were. Very reasonably priced jewelry (if you could fight your way through the crowd. Not sure the quality, but it looked sterling and was labeled on the tag jadeite and agate.

    Back to the hotel to crash and burn (after putting the finishing touches on packing... ) and now, nearly time for breakfast.
     
  18. RweTHEREyet

    RweTHEREyet DIS Veteran

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    Another great installment. Thank you so much for taking the time to post each day. I am really enjoying your observations.

    Curious to know how hard it is for you to get your TR posted. Is it a slow connection as I have read from other people? We are considering taking an e-book with us, but I wasn't sure how easily we would be able to send out e-mail.
     
  19. sayhello

    sayhello Have Camera, Will Travel Moderator

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    I just loved reading about your son's reaction to being on the Great Wall! What an amazing thing!

    Your days just seem so filled with activity. Wonderful

    Sayhello
     
  20. cbcdiver

    cbcdiver Earning My Ears

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    I am just back from the Enchanted China Trip, here is a summary of the
    Internet connections for the hotels on the tour:

    Beijing - Fast (Video Chat was good quality) - Free
    Chengdu - Very Fast (Video Chat was excellent quality) - Free
    Guilin - Slow (Could not do video, Skype was very choppy, web pages Ok) - Free
    Shanghai - Very Fast (Video Chat was excellent quality) - 120 RMB / 24 hours
    Hong Kong - Very Fast (Video Chat was excellent quality) - Free

    In general, the speeds were as good as an average Cable/DSL connection in
    the US. In Beijing things seemed to slow down in the late afternoon (4-6PM).

    I was very happy with the quality of the service.

    Chris
     
  21. figmentfan2009

    figmentfan2009 Mouseketeer

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    Last hours in Beijing. As usual breakfast was killer. I guess it is a consensus, everyone loves the ABD food... packing wasn't a lot of fun, had to make sure weight was evenly distributed between bags... but it was done and they disappeared from outside the door.

    Peticabs were neat. Pretty sure the driver of DS's cab wasn't thrilled about him... he stands out even more here than he does at home. He thinks it is funny... sometimes I'm not so sure funny is the 'right' word. Rode down narrow little streets behind and in front of people's houses. They live in from 1 room to about 5 rooms with communal bathrooms and kitchens outside (frequently). The bathrooms are, naturally, the squatty potty kind, but are pretty clean... weirdes part of them was the walls are only just over waist high and no doors. << for what it's worth, I'm thinking of doing a bathroom retrospective>>.

    Knot tying was difficult. No, you don't just watch the host do the things, you learn how. The knot tying isn't easy, but it is fun, and I actually caught on after a bit. I'm thinking I'm going to try to take this up as a hobby to do off and on with crochet. Our teacher was a retired kindergarten teacher. Her house was decorated with pictures of Buddha because her daughter is a practicing tibetan Buddhist. According to Huan, that is partially becoming the fashionable thing to be. The teacher's house was 4 rooms.

    Next we went to Chinese Yo-Yos. I figured I would be a total flop at it (I'm not the most co-ordinated person in the world, but it was really not that hard and I got it going pretty quickly... got it going pretty fast too. This was in the park by the river and it was so peaceful and pretty.

    Paper cutting was last for our group (we were split in half) and we cut out double happiness (what people decorate homes with when people get married) and spring (which wasn't as easy as it looked... and was made harder because they didn't draw the lines on spring the way they did on double happiness. The teacher here was a retired public transportation worker and she lives in two rooms.

    Lunch was family style again and was really good. Discussion, for part of the time, surrounded DS's adventures at the Night Market... and his weird food. After lunch before we got on the bus we got to enjoy a few quiet minutes by the lake. It was so peaceful. People were swimming with inner-tubes...

    On the way back to the bus, we passed a duck island... they have built little houses for the ducks and they seem to be very happy with the arrangement. I will post pictures as soon as I get some uploaded to somewhere (probably flikr).

    Off to the airport. Beijing Airport if absolutely beautiful. We didn't fly into the nice terminal when we came in, but we did fly out of terminal c. The dragon terminal... the terminal is supposed to be in the shape of a dragon with the tail being where you board the planes. Parking lot is a turtle shell. The most interesting thing about the airport was the fact that you could buy beer our of a vending machine. They had beer, alcohol free beer, ice tea, something called fire and coke all in the same machine. Fire said it was a coffee beverage... oh, and they had bottles of milk tea.

    Flight to Chengdu was delayed a bit, on the tarmac, for 45 min because it was foggy and they were being careful landing and taking off planes. I caught a 45 min nap which was nice... Didn't get to see the ground much because it was cloudy the whole way, but the clouds were pretty. Snacks were cookies (that were pretty good, actually) and spicy tofu that had nearly the consistency of beef jerky and I had warm walnut milk (which wasn't great, but wasn't too bad).

    Dinner was great. We had not spicy, some spicy and WAY spicy food. DS ate the duck face (after clearing it with everyone that it was good to eat) and the fish face (again, after clearing it with everyone). He thinks it is funny... the reactions he gets to what he eats. I'm not sure I totally understand the reactions, what he is eating isn't main stream and it is a little left of center, but not WAY left of center... but he is happy that he is getting to try things he probably never would have had the chance to otherwise. But apparently, fish cheek isn't quite as yummy as people make it out to be... :confused3...Pepper Flower was the hit of dinner... little green spheres that aren't really spicy, they just make your mouth kind of tingle numb.

    Hotel in Chengdu is beautiful and our room (on the 26th floor) overlooks the river. The lights at night are amazing. The city is beautiful.

    And... now it is time to grab a shower and finish off backing up pictures and videos and head down to what is supposed to be a killer breakfast.
     

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