Xi’an: So Much More than Clay (allow me to present ‘Your Dinner’)

After bravely buying train tickets in Vietnam, Nanning and Guilin I felt ready to try one more time. It was fortunate I would be leaving Liaoyang to head to Xi’an from the same train station I had arrived at and where I had caught the bus to the Grottoes. I was feeling like a local. It always amazes me that the stations are so large in China, and most cities have more than one! Liaoyang was definitely the easiest station to get to, a mere, if that, 15 minute walk – and only because I was carrying my pack. By this time I was finally down to the fine art of packing. Big pack, day pack, carry things in roll up bag only if necessary. I knew the train to Xi’an would not be a long trip – perhaps five hours tops. Once again I arrived early, this time with my list of departures with train numbers. Although I most likely had time to catch a train leaving in about 15 minutes I chose the next one as I did not want to worry about getting to the departure lounge on time. It is security that slows me down. Each time I depart from a place I have to unbuckle my hip and chest straps, remove my daypack, and sometimes the extra bag I have, fling everything onto the security belt while fending off everyone else in a hurry to get through. Then I have to hitch the pack on again, buckle up, loop my travel pack over my shoulder (plus that extra bag – although empty this time) before finding my gate number – this usually means a precarious ride up an escalator. Well seasoned by now I continue with my stop for coffee at KFC, pull out my book, do some breathing then relax with the knowledge I will not be late for my train. Unlike some people I have seen. I have also become good at requesting a window seat having finally discovered I really do not have to take the first ticket available. The only stop of interest along the route was Huashan, (literal translation – Flower Mountain)a city where many visitors head for the mountains for some rugged climbing. It was shrouded in smog. Not fog or mist. My young friend had left earlier in the day to go there. I would wonder for weeks if he ever made it or had become lost when we did not connect as sort of planned. Typical mothering instinct. (i have since seen him logged into Facebook but have yet to say hello)

Like Nanning and Guilin, the last time I was in Xi’an a subway system was not even a dream – it now has three lines. Unlike Yangshuo, I was provided with excellent directions, get off the train find the appropriate line, get off at specified station, even the exit letter was provided and a landmark. The hostel I had chosen was just around the corner. Perfectly situated for visiting many sites on foot, by bus or metro. One of the first things I noticed about Xi’an, after checking into my very own room – I needed the break from sharing – was how clean the streets were. This was great except for the music that the street cleaning trucks played – ‘it’s a small world after all’ – over and over and over. I kept singing the rest of the line in my head. There were also street cleaners keeping sidewalks swept and garbage cans emptied. First time in China I thought they may have had too many! Then there were the bike shares. All neatly lined up, easily borrowed using an App such as AliPay (we in the West are so far behind in financial technology). Xi’an got this right, wide roads for traffic, separate paths for motorbikes and bikes and great sidewalks for pedestrians. People were constantly hopping on or off bikes that seemed to always be carefully left in assigned spots whenever possible.

I had booked three nights for Xi’an, I ended up staying five. (Having the freedom to make such changes is one of the main reasons I prefer to travel solo, or at least without an attachment to a tour. However, it is always important to know which countries insist on visitors having an exit ticket – which China does.) So what does one do as the afternoon is waning into evening in Xi’an? Dusk descends early. I left my hostel at 3:30 in the afternoon to head towards the Bell and Drum Towers.

Lights turned on at dusk – Bell Tower, Xi’an China

These were an easy 20 minute walk, and can most likely be done in 15, or one stop by subway. Of course, since I last visited much around the towers had changed. Immediate access by crossing the road was no longer possible, and an area that had been a simple gathering spot was now built into a very nice lower park with easy access to the Muslim Quarter on the far side of the Drum Tower.

Main Street taken from the Drum Tower – the trees provide a wonderful, natural canopy for any weather.
Unfortunately I can only read the first and 4th characters so they have no context. (unless old…meat is something to worry about)This is where I got my first night’s dinner in Xi’an
Dem bones, dem bones, dem dry bones. The meat was succulent.Some serious cooking going on.
Jiangbing, coffee made by me.

This quarter is often given a bad rap by locals – seems to be a common theme worldwide – which, in my opinion, is uncalled for. Primarily ethnic Hui Muslims live in Xi’an, descendants from ancestors who travelled to what is now China 2000+years ago. Two things stood out for me on this trip, the trees and leaves and it was extremely crowded! My last visit I arrived on a freezing cold, new year day of Spring Festival – so, although many families were out everyone was also trying to keep warm, which meant they were mainly going indoors for food. Which is why anyone goes the Muslim Quarter. The food stalls are what draw visitors and locals.

By the end of the night more than one lamb carcass would have been cut to the bone. Skewers being prepared.


As Cogsworth says in the animated version of Beauty & the Beast, “Your Dinner.” From that first lamb carcass hanging all the way to the end of the Main Street with smaller stands selling walnuts. It would be easy to over indulge. I arrived at a perfect time, around 4:30, only managing to walk down then up the Main Street. My senses were overwhelmed. Lamb carved for cooking into delectable chunks to then be minced for roujiamo (far better than any hamburger anywhere) right before your eyes. I found one place doing mad business, three young men singing the wonders of their roujiamo while collecting money hand over fist and handing out reusable cards to the ever increasing line of anxious, hungry patrons. This was indeed dinner and show! Of course I chose them. Oh my goodness, food for the gods. The meat melted in my mouth, the ‘bun’ – not quite pita bread and definitely not a bun – was fresh, warm and did not overpower the meat.

Dinner out of the way I carried on to discover another delicacy I had not enjoyed for fifteen years, and to this day I still do not know what it is called! Sliced into thin pieces, much like cake – not Nian Gao (New Year cake) – I have always been under the impression it is a sweet, rather rare for Chinese dishes.

One of several stalls along the boulevard near my hostel. I could easily find breakfast, lunch and dinner in this quarter of a block if I had wanted. (neighbouring stalls sold: muffins, waffles, toast; soup; seafood on a stick; potatoes; eggs)
Hot dog/sausage on a stick with spices; perfect to assuage hunger pains after a full day of exploring

All in all I visited the quarter every day until my last – even then I ate food that had a definite Muslim flavour flare. Perhaps it was the Persian tastes I was fortunate to encounter over two decades. I ate Xi’anese potatoes – like new potatoes, tiny, fried, add a dash of chilli, green onion, insert a couple of short skewers and there is dinner to go; hammered candy – nuts and/or seeds hammered into small bits then mixed with honey or a form of sugar, much like toffee, before being formed into lengths to be cut into bite size pieces and packaged. How anyone manages to buy these to give as gifts is beyond me – I bought a small package and ate all of it by the time I left Xi’an; persimmon doughnuts – yes, more deep frying deliciousness; cold noodles – these ones were rice noodles with, I believe, cilantro and probably spinach mixed in to make them a lovely jade green, then topped with garlic and a light sesame oil. Yogurt in a glass bottle. Rounds of beautifully designed bread, to be broken off and dipped into a bowl of thick, mutton stew. (As I write I am wondering how soon I can return)

On the boulevard of the main road where I was staying, I checked out a huddle of people waiting for slurp worthy dumplings – no words were necessary for the women doling out these golden, hot pockets of deliciousness. Twice Breakfast was provided by a vendor making jianbing (Chinese crepes) which seem to vary slightly from region to region. Of course I had to have youtiao (deep fried pulled dough – better know as churri in the west. Of course I also had to have lamb kebab, as well as spiral, fried potatoes – these days found at various locations throughout the world. I was in gastronomical heaven and managed to keep my blood sugar within normal range! Only once did I decide a sit down dinner, in an actual restaurant, after realizing i really was not getting enough greens. This is often a challenge unless there are pictures or questionable translations. I ended up with chicken with garlic – garlic scapes. As usual far too much to eat in one sitting so i had it packaged up to take back to my room – only to throw it out the following evening after my foray to the inner streets nearby for more delectable choices and to gather supplies for my train trip to Beijing.

Dinner on a real plate!

Here Be Dragons

Travelling in China and Vietnam one cannot miss a beast of myth the countries share. Dragons lurk above, rear up from fountains, wind along stairwells. Dragons control rainfall, typhoons and floods. They symbolize power and good luck. In ancient China the dragon symbolized the sovereignty of the emperor. Images of dragon decoration in architecture, furnishings, monuments, musical instruments, tools or war and clothing were common. Look closely at the number of claws when visiting royal palaces – five claws were for the sole use of Emperors. The dragon is one of the twelve symbols in the Chinese and the Vietnamese zodiac. Dragons in Vietnam generally have similar symbolism to China. They bring rain to feed the fields, but can also cause destruction through typhoons and floods. A dragon symbolizes power, intelligence and luck and symbolized supreme power to the King. The country of Vietnam is shaped like a dragon.

Here be dragons. Major equipment issues and a resulting blogger breakdown resulted in a few having little information. However, these choices are more for how artists perceived the dragons of imagination.

Ba Then Hau Temple, Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam 
Temple built and dedicated to President Ho Chi Minh, Vinh Loc, Long Duc village
IMG_2180 IMG_2184
I never could decide if this dragon looked shocked after biting its tongue or that mere mortals have dared to cross the steps.
However, it is a wonderful carving that catches the breath 
vehicle used in funeral procession for deceased followers of Caodaism; Tay Ninh, Vietnam
Now this a dragon! Dragon Bridge, opened to traffic 2013 on the 38th anniversary of the liberation of Da Nang, Vietnam
Dragons adorn the corners this quiet Buddhist temple’s eaves
Made out of chipped pottery, these dragons look a little friendly; Quang Trieu (Cantonese) Assembly Hall, Hoi An, Vietnam
Jade dragon at the Confucius Temple, Nanjing China

Luoyang: Longmen Grottoes

It was fortunate I had enough sense to record some of how awestruck I was by these magnificent, ancient carvings as, even after going through my very few photos and my notes, I cannot adequately describe what was coursing through my senses. As for pictures, they barely do justice to the majesty of the workmanship – I put my phone and camera away to just enjoy the legacy left behind after the carvers, monks, adherents, royalty and commoners had turned to dust. I spent seven hours marvelling, discussing, pondering, searching, with a young man from the Netherlands I had met at my hostel. It was nice to spend time with someone just as inquisitive as I am about the history of a place. A bonus was how quickly he could look up the meaning of a character – sometimes writing it on his phone with his finger (I need an app for that).

My very first glimpse – I was smitten

Longmen Grottoes (pinyin: longmen shiku – Dragon’s Gate Grottoes. a.k.a. Longmen Caves) were added to the UNESCO World Heritage List in 2000. The majority of the 1400 caves with 100,000 statues, plus steles and pagodas, are along the western bank of the Yi River. By the time we had finished the western bank my new friend and I were worn out. An excellent excuse to return another year.

My first glimpse of the Longmen Grottoes and I knew I was in for at least a few hours of viewing marvellous carvings, with their mystery and magic, there was a feel to the air of just how ancient the area is and how revered it once was. The care, the belief, the fortitude of the craftsmen who carved these astonishing statues in their manmade caves out of the sandstone cliffs vibrates. (I am not prone to sensations of a mystical, religious or ghosts of the ancestors nature)

Many of the carvings are so massive it is impossible to photograph them as a whole 
Boddhivistas in the Central Binyang Cave (508-523 C.E.)

These are artifacts that deserve, and must, to be retained for as long as time can make it possible. There are many, many defaced figures, missing limbs; however, perhaps, in the 21st C. it gives pause for us to understand how fortunate we are to be where we are and how much we have advanced. These figures were chiselled by hand with great care. No electricity, nothing motorized. The smooth cheeks on many of the figures made me want to reach out to touch them. How was this accomplished? My young friend and I discussed this and came up with, from our very limited knowledge of art, the possibility that sand may have been used as the medium – much like sand paper – to rub the cheeks, smooth the brow, encourage the slight curve of a smile, or enhance the intense draw of the eye to the future unfolding before each statue. It is amazing what those stone eyes can make us ponder. From a distance one of the extremely tall, intimidating, powerful, stone guards watches over the area, and yes, his eyes do seem to follow you. Once we made it up the stairs and were at his feet, looking up – you know you will never be at his level – physically or spiritually – I remain still unable to adequately put into writing how the realm of gods can affect the realm of disbelief. As always, and it was absolutely necessary here, I looked up, way up. To my delight and curiosity I discovered a small opening close to the ceiling – with its own, bricked ceiling. Definitely put there for a reason although anywhere close to what we bantered back and forth. My friend and I were so curious (ah, to be young) that he did a search on his phone. It was a resting place, or hideaway for the immortals who embodied the statues! So much better than a place for the tools of the trade that carved the magnificent figures.

The majority of the carvings have lost their colour

Tourists are encouraged to get up close, up the concrete stairs, with railings, along wide, easy to maneuver to appreciate the craftsmanship of over 1500 years ago, with the relics far enough out of reach of accidental, or sadly, purposeful damage.

Even this Peony Stone overwhelmed the pandas!
The majority of carvings range from the tallest at 57 feet in height to tiny, barely one inch square that hold exquisite, single carvings



We must have spent 15-20 minutes just studying this ceiling lotus flower!  I could not find information about its diameter
The detail of the carvings in this grotto, despite the destruction, are stunning
These grottoes within a larger one shows the influence of Buddhist carvings from India
Bared to the elements it is amazing any of these lesser carvings have survived so long. This is one of the last photos I took – barely one quarter of the way through.

Visiting the caves is fairly easy – unless provided with a bus number to one of the least numbers of trips. While waiting for  probably 40 minutes, on a somewhat chilly morning – I had been in the south until now – I introduced tea eggs and ‘oil’ drum baked sweet potatoes to Tristan. These kept us going until lunchtime when I finally succumbed to hunger and ate both of the granola bars I had packed for emergencies. As for the bus, we decided to walk to the nearby train station, found a bus idling by with its driver looking for passengers. I think once we boarded others were encouraged to also hop on as it soon filled and we were off. Only a 15 minute ride away.

Tristan. Not only did we go to the Longmen Grottoes together, we took a very rushed tour the following day to the Shaolin Kung Fu Temple Academy and the White Horse Temple

The tour the next day reminded me, once again, how much I do not enjoy tours. We were picked up across from the hostel, and stopped to pick up other passengers also going on the tour. Our guide seemed horrified she would have to be in charge of two foreigners and eventually asked if there was anyone on the bus who could look after us. Or something along those lines. The poor fellow had his work cut out because we tended to not follow the group like sheep. I do not know why he volunteered, his English was worse than my Chinese!

First stop, Shaolin Temple and Kungfu School of China, 1 1/2 hours out of Luoyang. Yikes! As we scurried after our guide, once we had arrived, I felt like I should start to Baa – I think I managed to refrain. It was difficult to enjoy anything because we kept being rushed hither and thither. One of the supposed highlights is to watch a performance put on by students. A rather slick operation getting everyone inside and seated for the short show then out again for the next crush. I tried to be impressed.

One of the many steles erected in memory of great masters, this one was draped with silk to commemorate (I think this is correct) the anniversary of the death of one master
A quick fix to stop monuments from toppling over
The gate to the temple and school


I finally captured one student not moving

For some reason I took very few photos of the White Horse Temple. I can only think it was most likely due to all the driving to get anywhere. A lunch stop in the middle of nowhere provided a chance for a quiet, cobbled together picnic – those granola bars do come in handy – before heading for the last stop of the day. It was quite busy and once again less seeing anything of significance (much the same happened at the Wu She School) and standing around waiting.

We did not get back to Luoyang until dark – descends early and suddenly – and were then hustled into a smaller van before finally getting into a car and eventually a public bus to the train station. We were tired, hungry and happy.

More lotuses, this time at the White Horse Temple. The leaves are from a gingko tree

Of course the highlight of my time in Luoyang was the Longmen Grottoes; however, meeting a new friend, sharing meals and hanging out at yet another apartment turned into a hostel were all part of why I enjoyed my time there. In all I spent three nights, the first simply a matter of having arrived too late to do any exploring, and the only item on my list that I missed seeing was the Luoyang Museum after spending a whole day at the grottoes. A quick calculation indicated I had spent barely 1000CNY = under 200CAD including half the train fare from Guilin. Somehow I was managing to stay on budget! My next destination was Xi’an – home of the Terracotta Warriors.



This portion of my trip was the first of a few very difficult ones to write about. I anguished over how to provide adequate words for why I was there and where I visited. To assist me I recorded snips to remind me of the immediate impact of the heartwrenching Museum of the Nanjing Massacre. Despite having a very firm grasp of the history of that era, particularly the horrid attacks by the Japanese on Nanjing, Shanghai and the surrounding areas, I was not prepared. Which brought me up short when I finally sat down to write.

I finally decided to keep my visit to Nanjing in chronological order, it made no sense to jump back and forth even though the museum is what stood out. My whole visit to Nanjing in one ugly lump. As with my visit to Suzhou, it was one of the reasons I decided to return to Nanjing. However, I shall begin with my departure from Suzhou and my arrival in Nanjing – another early morning and a hunt for my hostel. I was beginning to think this would plague me with each new city in China and Vietnam.

Despite all the problems with not knowing if I was legally staying at a now un-named Hostel in Suzhou I actually slept and was up by 5:30. Unfortunately, due to the nature of backpacking and the lack of hot water I did not have a shower. Coupled with wearing the same outerwear as the previous day I felt yucky from the start of my day. Bleh. Then as if that were not enough, for good measure, I bashed my head with my coffee press that I had finally managed to pack in its usual top pocket of my bag. So, there was no knowing if my feelings of further bleh were a result of the head bash, no shower, or carrying everything about to taxi, station and train, or all of the above. Wheels were beginning to look like an excellent alternative to a backpack by the time I was on the train.

My first stop once I arrived at the train station – as usual far too early – was to head for whichever fast food place I could find. This time it was KFC, where I ordered a large coffee and watched the day unfold below me. Like watching Geand Central Station in fast motion. (I have only seen this on film) Then it was my turn to join the madness, coffee unfinished. I never like this part of travelling by train in China. A mad dash for the gates, stuff your ticket in, yet another mad dash up, down, over (depending on which train) and find the right car. I still have not figured out how to tell where I am supposed to go despite the colour coding on the platform – the board inside is, of course, in Chinese so I never know the colour I should head for.  Once in my seat I relax. Until my arrival.

Another short train trip, another early morning, another bad taxi driver, and I was very hungry. (One day I need to tell the tale of the driver from hell in Shanghai.) It was easy to get a taxi, not so easy showing him the address – written in Chinese – with the phone number and GPS. When I discovered later that the area is a major spot for tourists all I could do was wonder why some people choose to be taxi drivers. Once he had figured out where I was going he kept muttering to himself – this seems to be something drivers must learn at taxi school – and asking me where the place was, or possibly he meant did I, the foreign visitor, recognize it or see it – this is another common query from drivers. Once we did arrive I was nearly thrown out the door after paying the 22.00CNY in exact change; a demand for extra money was made with all sorts of gestures as to why, along with the driver insisting I hurry up. The result was I dropped my money, which slowed down the process even more, all the while he was yelling st me. I hoped I had not lost 100CNY! If he had not been in such an angry rush our transaction would have gone more smoothly as well as much faster. It was not until the following day that I found out there is a 2.00CNY surcharge.

the hostel kitty – he did not seem too pleased to share his space with a dog and a rabbit.

I was so happy my hostel was just across the street from where I was dropped off – until I was informed there was no power, which also meant no internet, for the whole block. It was not expected to be on until mid afternoon. By this time I was more than a little shaky, and in dire need of food. Although I had not intended to break into my emergency granola bars I was happy I had taken the foresight to buy them before leaving Canada for moments like these. Fortunately my bags could be left in a secured room on the main floor. I was not favouring the idea of climbing to the 4th floor with them! I headed out in search of food and happily discovered a restaurant two doors down that serves food already prepared – breakfast often being a rushed meal – prior to the power being cut. I made my selections, grabbed a set of chopsticks, and headed back to the hostel where I could make coffee – thermoses of hot water are still a major item found in hotels and restaurants in China – to add to my picnic on the large deck. Coffee, breakfast and a book – I was happily unplugged for several hours.

Naturally, after I did finally have a bunk to call my own, I was also ready to explore. My first stop was to the Fuzimiao (Confucian Temple) down the street. I rather liked the apples and ribbons hung on trees by couples – either for good luck or progeny, probably the latter considering the importance of family according to Confucius. No clear explanation as to how Confucius (b. 551 BCE) would be where many Chinese choose to show their devotion. However, his philosophy on moral standards and filial piety were, and remain, the base of Chinese culture. I have always wondered why temples were built to venerate Confucius – temples were generally erected for religious reasons. Confucius never considered himself a god, not even a messenger of God. I spent some time making friends with the few Temple cats sunning themselves. I also had to don my sunglasses to hide my tears for Mozzy. (This would happen pretty well every time I visited a place that also had cats in residence)

I could not resist this very cranky looking kitty with his brush and stand – not that I was going to try to pet him!

After the truncated visit to the temple I visited Nanjing’s very busy, pedestrians only, Fuzimiao (Confucian Temple) Street and surrounding area where the hostel is handily located. In addition to the Confucian Temple and the Imperial Examination Hall there is a lot to see. I did not make it to the latter – too worn out. In hindsight I wondered just how much I missed of the Confucian Temple though, the time I was there, and what I saw, certainly did not cover what I have since read about it. (The Temple and site were undergoing extensive renovations which did explain why some areas were not accessible) Next time I visit a place I will have to be better prepared! I The various wares and food did not draw my attention nearly as much as what I consider a new trend – mainly with young men – tattoos. A cross on the throat of one young man, others with various neck tattoos. Young women seem to keep their inkings to shoulder blades or arms – perhaps easier to cover up or be discreet. I blame my lack of enthusiasm for trying out the many delectable selections to the morning head bash, no electricity and a cranky driver. My mantra at the end of each day was rapidly becoming – I was worn out! I was in my bunk by 8:00pm.

This funny fellow seemed to belong to a wax museum.

My plan for the following day was to visit the Museum to the Massacre of Nanjing. Even two months on I remain unable to adequately put into words what I felt and saw. This became palpable throughout my trip each time I visited a recent (20th Century) historic site of conflict.

I did not take any photos from inside. However, the monuments and statues outside tell the story far better than I can.

What I first saw once inside, formally called The Memorial Hall of the Victims in Nanjing Massacre by Japanese Invader, was a mass grave, with many of the skeletons laid out relatively straight. It was an eerie sight; who took the time? It is important to know that the anthropologists, the forensic scientists, anyone involved with the discovery of this mass grave, pulled no punches when describing the atrocities against these victims – they were all brutally murdered. I wish I had known the importance of the flags the majority of the visitors were carrying, and just how much the tragedy of the massacres (as with earlier and, sadly, later mass ‘war losses’, worldwide, I doubt there is no knowing how many more mass graves remain undiscovered) to this day has an affect on the citizens of Nanjing as well as the whole country. As we solemnly passed by, and around the grave site, then – in mute harmony – matched numbers to photographs, visitors left a flag next to a name, a picture, a story, a memory.

A question came to mind while a few visitors were taking photos of the bared bones. (As visitors came closer to the exit they appeared to lose the shroud of quiet respect with a need for the air of modernity – death, particularly of such magnitude – is easier to leave behind from behind a lens). I should remark here that 10,000 bodies are not under scrutiny at the memorial, I did not make a note of how many – one being too many when considering why they are there – skeletons are displayed at the memorial, although I think fewer than 150 based on the numbers laid beside each remains. The question was were we, who are visiting, collectively guilty of ghoulishness, or was it an attempt to keep the memory, or a reminder to never let it happen again? Not that it has not happened since.


It seems nearly an insult to write of the more pleasant visit I made to the city wall of Nanjing. Similar to the Great Wall outside of Beijing, and across the country, the ancient cities of China had fortifications built to keep enemies out. Nanjing, as well as Xi’an, had built a wall to surround the city. For a fee, senior discount for me, it is possible to climb the stairs to the top of the wall and go for a very pleasant walk. The sections that are open to the public stretch to six kilometres – I walked only 3. It is also much easier than the often arduous climbing of the sections of the Great Wall. I spent a couple of hours walking, taking in the view of the city on one side and a park on the other. Birds chirping, a slight breeze, and trees shimmering below were a balm after the museum. As this was a Sunday there were people cycling, walking, classical singing, tai chi, playing instruments were only some of what I heard and saw A photo shoot was happening on the wall – how the woman managed to climb the stairs in the long, flowing gown, was beyond me. I have noticed that women often carry, or have them carried, a pair of heels when heading to have photos done. Once again I was not sure if this was an wedding party or a fashion shoot. This time the dress was red – making it even more difficult to figure out. Unfortunately, by the time the Japanese attacked Nanjing on Dec. 13, 1937, the wall was useless against the bombings. It made me wonder if the Japanese were laughing at the ancient fortifications once considered strong enough to push back any invading army.

the inscriptions in the bricks are many, many centuries old, with some dating back to when the wall was first built. Although some histories say it was the builders who wrote them that seems unlikely as they were labourers and unlikely to have had any formal education.

After walking down from the wall I walked about 100metres before encountering the strangest sight – people had crossed over the low fence across from the lake and were kicking the trees before stooping down to gather up whatever had fallen to the ground. There were gingko trees and some trees I did not recognize which seemed to indicate this was a rather nifty, relieve your stress at the same time, way to harvest the fruit that would otherwise just fall and rot. It was quite funny to first hear the whack, whack of foot against trunk and more so when I saw it! Life carries on.

This lovely tearoom was built within the Nanjing Wall during extensive renovations during which time some internal modifications were necessary in order to keep the exterior as close to its original look as possible. I chose a less expensive repast.

Wedding Wednesday

I managed to get a few of these two who did appear to newly wed. Or just about to be.
Someone needs to tell her it is supposed to be a happy day!
It seems that my daughter said yes to the dress recently. She found it at a pop up wedding dress sale. Upon receiving one exclamation from a friend s explained it something along these lines: I could not help it, it fell off the hangar and leapt into my heart. Although I may have the exact wording wrong it certainly describes just how important the selection of a wedding dress can be. I remember when her younger sister and I were dress shopping, now over nine years ago, we both thought we would no be overtaken by emotion simply because we were not wired that way. Then she came out wearing one dress in particular and I had tears. She was s little teary also. As it turned out she did not buy that dress after deciding it would only suit one venue, which had been knocked out of the running. So, like her older sister now, we headed for a trunk sale and found the perfect dress, one that she had first found, tried on, and fallen head over heels in love with. Except it was the first dress and who buys the first one?

I never could decide if this was just a photo shoot with models or an actual wedding shoot.

For now I only have pictures because I am in China, my daughter is in Ontario, and I go home to British Columbia. A dress shopping date in Toronto was set for January that we will still keep. After all, there are accessories, and i still need a dress. Or, although not Chinese, perhaps my daughter can have two dresses! Her sister did, one for the wedding and dinner, then a fun little purple dress for heading out for a night of dancing.

Try as I could I was not able to capture her white sneakers.

Meanwhile, I did find some interesting dresses on the streets of Hanoi, Vietnam and Yangshuo, China. I hope to add more next Wednesday!