Friday, April 29, 2011


I am WAY more excited about this than I probably should be, but OMG!!!

I've got it on TV while I'm looking here, and here,

Ahhhh I love weddings -- especially ROYAL ones!! So excited. I can't wait to see her dress! Going out to Naha tonight to toast the royal couple.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Xi'an - "Western Peace"

Xi'an is an ancient former capital city that literally means "Western Peace." This city has over 3,000 years of fabulous history.

Terra Cotta Warriors. The highlight of Xi'an is of course the famous and massive Terra Cotta Army that the 13 year old Qin Dynasty emperor created for his mausoleum and afterlife. This royal tomb was discovered by farmers digging a well in 1974. The life sized warriors and horses are impressive enough on their own, but the sheer size of the pits and the massive amounts of warriors and relics found in the pits is astonishing.

One of the many shopping stops on our tour was at the Terra Cotta Reproduction Factory and we had fun posing with the replica warriors.

Great Mosque and Moslem. This mosque was built during the Tang Dynasty in 742 and is a very interesting combination of Muslim and Chinese architecture and culture. Arab merchants and travelers came to China and married Chinese women and so, these Muslim Chinese people came about. Prayer services are still held at this mosque daily, well that is, 5 times a day! Silly me wore a sleeveless dress this day and I had to buy a pashmina to get in here, but it was well worth it and I got a pretty shawl out of it too.

Wild Goose Pagoda. This pagoda was built in 684 AD during the Tang Dynasty. Amazingly this pagoda has lasted all this time and through all the earthquakes. Only the top 2 levels were damaged and are now missing, so there are 13 levels to the pagoda instead of the original 15. The pagoda is surrounded by beautiful buildings and pretty park area.

Xi'an City Wall. This city wall is "the most complete city wall that has survived in China, as well being one of the largest ancient military defensive systems in the world." The city wall has four gates and I just love the Chinese names for things: the names of the gates mean eternal joy, harmony peace, eternal peace and forever harmony. We rented bicycles and rode around the entire rectangular wall. This happened to be at sunset and it was totally amazing!

Drum Tower. In ancient Xi'an the Bell Tower sounded in the morning and the Drum Tower sounded at night. These sister towers were used for the whole city's time. The Drum Tower is one of those amazing constructions that didn't use a single nail in it's construction (like the Temple of Heaven in Beijing I believe).

Traditional Chinese musical and dance performance. I loved going to the Tang Dynasty Dinner Show. The food was awesome and they served this awesome warm rice wine. The performances were completely amazing, the costumes were ornate and complicated, and the music was wonderful! This was a very interesting and entertaining insight into Chinese culture.

In Xi'an we went out with some of our new friends from the tour group one night. Our hotel was at a great location and we only had to take our life in our hands to cross the (crazy, dangerous)street and went to a couple bars in Xi'an. These bars were located on the edge of the City Wall and we could see the moat and the edge of the wall and ramparts all lit up with lights. It was one of the prettiest views I've ever drank a beer next to!

I totally loved Xi'an. It wasn't the little rural town I somehow thought it was going to be! I loved all the history of this city. Of course all the spring trees were blooming here too. The wisteria, magnolias, cherry trees and it all made the city all the more beautiful with the frothy pink, purple, yellow blossoms and the bright green of the baby leaves. Xi'an was a nice break after Beijing because even though this is a big city, everything seemed close together because it didn't take us an hour to get every single place. In fact, like I mentioned above, our hotel was in a wonderful location and we could walk to the bars, city wall and other great locations.

Shanghai is next!

Monday, April 25, 2011

Good Luck and Congrats!

This past weekend, other than it being Easter of course, was important for a couple of other reasons. My big sister had a going away party because in a few days she will be moving to Georgia (the country, not the state) to teach English for a year. Read all about who/what/when/where and why she's doing this on her new blog. Mary has always been the writer in the family and her upcoming adventure will be entertaining to read about for sure.

Also, my amazing hubby passed his check ride on Friday and was upgraded! Hurray! We went out with friends on Friday night and celebrated his success. Way to go babe!

And to stick on the military thread for minute... by now you all probably know about my unabashed love and border line obsession with Brit. It's good to know that these Marines feel the same way!

Sunday, April 24, 2011

The China Diet

When we first signed up for China I jokingly referred to the trip as the China Diet because I, being a "weird eater" didn't think I'd be able to eat much on the trip. I am not an adventurous eater, and I had a feeling that the Chinese were rather creative in their food tastes and choices... like boiled chicken feet. Nope. I'll pass.

One evening soon after getting to Beijing we walked down the Wangfujing Walking Street. We'll go ahead and add all this to the list of things I Did Not Eat on my trip to China. On this list includes but is not limited to: testicles, scorpion, silk worm pupa, centipede, shark, sheep, snake, sea horses, sea urchin, starfish, (what looked like) fetal pigs, grasshoppers, crickets, beetles, honey bee cocoons, cicadas and "sweet edible fungus". Basically if you wanted to eat any type of bug or animal from the sea or land you could get it here at this market.

Even though there were these types of food choices available, there was also plenty of Western food available and the Chinese were super accommodating to my food questions and requests. We went to a Tang Dynasty dinner show in Xian and when the set course main meal was beef they made me my own special chicken dish. So sweet! They answered what was in every single, countless basket of dumplings that were brought to the table so I could know which ones I could eat. The dumpling dinner was probably my favorite dinner!

The tours lunch and dinner meals were "family style" and while I didn't like not getting to order what I wanted at first, it was a fun way to try a lot of things I normally wouldn't. Such as breaded fish with frosting and sprinkles. I tried it and surprisingly it was good! I ate very adventurously on this trip. I even participated in the "very special" Peking duck dinner in Beijing. I don't eat duck, but I did promise Brad I would at least try it and you know what? I actually really liked it. Being really really hungry (and not having another option) always helps broaden horizons and makes things taste better.

I totally ended up being on the opposite of the China Diet on this trip! Tons of great food and drinks are to be had in China. Just don't drink the water. You cannot drink the tap water in China. They say it is ok to brush your teeth and wash in, but I was sure in and out of the shower a lot quicker than usual!