Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Xishuangbanna

On Sunday we climbed down the 5 flights of stairs for one LAST time and caught a plane to the Xishaungbanna (pronounced Si-shwa-bah-nah) Tropical Botanical Garden.   This area is at 21 degrees Latitude and is part of the tropical rainforest areas of the world.   It is easily the most beautiful place that I have ever visited!!!

But more about that in days to come….first about the trip…..

The flight from Kunming only took about 45 minutes so we pretty much ascended to altitude and then started descending!!

As we looked out of the windows, we could see huge mountains and lots and lots of green!!!  On the mountains you could see terraces built into the side and each terrace was filled with plants….mostly rubber trees.

IMG_0408 The river in this photo is the Mekong, although it is not known by that name here.

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We landed at a very small airport and walked across the tarmac to the terminal.  The first thing that hit us was the heat and humidity.  It seemed stifling at the time, but we have quickly become accustomed to it and it doesn’t seem to bother us now.IMG_0420

We were met at the airport by 3 graduate students who put us and our bags on a small bus and told us that we were traveling to a restaurant and would be met there by three other students!! 

When we arrived at the restaurant, we met Jeff, a scientist from California.  We looked at the menu which contained a lot of Western foods, but decided instead to have Thai food.  Michael had a Massaman Curry but asked for extra peppers.  They said that they couldn’t add more peppers, so instead they poured chili sauce over the top!!!   IMG_0423 

I ordered Chicken and Cashews which was not spicy but was SO good.  IMG_0424

And, of course, we ordered a bottle of local beer…..IMG_0425

All of the beer here is very light and doesn’t contain a lot of  alcohol.  Consequently, it is very refreshing!!!

We were there for a couple of hours, waiting for other scientists to arrive on various planes.   The next to come were David and Diana.  Diana is NOT a scientist and was very glad to hear that I was not either.

After everyone arrived, we returned to the bus for the one hour drive to the Tropical Botanical Garden.

The first part of the drive was in the small city.  I never found out the name of the city but I would love to have a couple of days to explore it.   There were sculptures on many of the corners and the landscaping was wonderful.

I took the following photo because of the two ladies with red hats on the corner, but when I looked at it, I really like the auto-rickshaw driver who is laid back and taking his afternoon siesta…..

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I loved these structures, but I am not sure if they are houses or part of a temple complex…… IMG_0430

In this photo, you can see the terraces along the hills.IMG_0439 

As we got closer to the mountains, you could see that there were not only rubber trees, but also corn and other crops.

Many of the valleys were filled with rice paddies…..IMG_0442 As we had seen before, they do not waste a single inch of land!!!!

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We arrived at the garden and were driven to our hotel.   It is fairly old and, if you really look at it, the structure is decaying.  However, the room is clean, has air conditioning, and there is internet in the lobby….I mean, really, what more can you ask for!!!!

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And, this is the view from our “deck”……

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There was a “mixer” for the conference attendees on Sunday night and we enjoyed meeting people from all parts of the world.   We met up again with Chuck and his wife who spend 3 months a year here and the rest of the time at Texas Tech.  We also made new friends with Manuel and Bonnie (from University of Virginia) who are here for three months with their THREE kids.

We fell into bed and reveled in the air conditioning, the quietness of the room and the softness of the bed!!!!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Final thoughts on Kunming

I don’t have much to write about the last three days in Kunming.  This particular part of the trip has been difficult and we are  both glad that it is coming to an end!!

When we make these extended trips, there are three parts to the trip.  The most important part  is the work that Michael accomplishes.  After all, this is the reason for the trip.  Next comes the conditions in which we are living and finally the availability of fun things to do.  We have found that it is important to have at least two of these three requirements for each trip.

Unfortunately, our stay in Kunming let us down on all three!!

Michael has found the bureaucracy here to be difficult to work thru.  We brought plant DNA samples with us that were supposed to be processed as soon as we arrived, and then he was going to work on analyzing the data for the rest of the trip.   We received notice today (2 days after leaving the city) that they are “in processing” so hopefully he will have the results soon!!!   But basically, he has been unable to do anything more than what he could have accomplished sitting in his office in Athens!!

Our accommodation was less than perfect.  Besides the fact that we had to climb 5 flights of stairs to get there, there was no internet in the apartment, there was no stove for cooking, and no hot water in the kitchen for washing dishes.  The bed was hard as a board, as was the single couch that we had to sit on.  There was a construction site outside our window which worked on 24 hour shifts during much of our stay, so we heard trucks and machinery at all hours of the day and night.

We did learn to “make-do” with certain things while there.   We discovered that the comforter that we had purchased was unnecessary for warmth, so we put it under the bed sheet and used it to pad the mattress a bit. 

There was no mirror in the apartment, so I found a backlit window in the kitchen door that I could use to dry my hair.  At least I could see the shadow of what I was doing!!

And as for the city of Kunming…..it is a dirty city with only a few “attractions”.  When we were being interviewed for the job last year, we spent most of our time in the prettier areas of town (and there are a bunch of  those), but once you leave those areas, it is not a welcoming place.

There seems to be a pretense of keeping the city clean.  There are always people sweeping the street and sidewalks, but that only gives a surface clean.  As another example, in the buildings, women are constantly mopping the floors, but I don’t believe that they ever use soap in the water so they are basically “cleaning” the floor with dirty water.

Now our time here  wasn’t entirely bad!!!  I have posted about many of the fun times that we have experienced.   We have especially enjoyed spending time with Colin at Salvador’s and with his wife A-Ling.  We have enjoyed walking around Carre-four and exploring the shopping areas.   We have had some wonderful meals, but only when we were accompanied by Chinese speaking persons.  None of the menus have English so it was impossible for us to go to a restaurant by ourselves.

We have loved smiling and greeting people on the streets and having their faces light up as they returned the greeting.  One memorable older woman gave us a glorious, toothless smile and said “Nee-how” and  then gave us the thumbs up sign!!

But, to paraphrase the old Mac Davis song “Happiness is Kunming  China in my rear view mirror!!!”

….Now on with some more fun!!!!!

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Monday, June 27, 2011

Is it a bad sign if…. (the vagaries of Chinese air travel)

On Wednesday morning, we were able to relax at the hotel before heading to the airport around noon.

We checked in just fine and made it thru the security check, although something in Michael’s bag always worries them and he has to unload all of his stuff.  I think that it is his flash drive.

We ambled toward our gate which ended up being on the bottom floor of the airport.  

We found optimum seats for “rushing the plane”, but more about that later.

Then we waited!!!    Time came for boarding, and there was nothing happening at the gate…..there wasn’t even a sign saying which flight was going out at that gate.  So, Michael went walking and found an information center that was able (sort of) to tell him that the plane had been delayed indefinitely by Air Traffic Control.  Indefinitely…..what exactly does that mean????

About an hour later, they made an announcement and everybody started getting up and walking toward a lady positioned to one side with a cart.  They returned with a bottle of water and a plate of food!!!!   This cannot be a good sign if they are feeding us!!!!    The food was heat HOT and excellent…..

IMG_0382 The fried things on the left are fish patties and they were wonderful.  Michael liked the balls of meat and vegies, but it wasn’t my favorite, however the hot lettuce was really refreshing.

OK…..so now we have eaten and we wait some more.   Then we heard a rumor that the flight was being moved to gate 41 (upstairs) so Michael asked one of the information workers.  They said that it MIGHT be moved there but that we might as well stay where we were for now.

So, we waited some more!!

Eventually Michael went upstairs,checked out gate 41, and called me to come and join him since the flight was actually listed on that gate sign.

I met him there and we continued the wait.  Eventually the other passengers wandered there as well so I guess that they finally made an announcement of the gate change.

The passengers started filing out of the incoming plane and we all stood up thinking that we were about to board.  Then the unthinkable happened…..

Four policemen walk purposefully past us and down the gangway into the plane….NOT A GOOD SIGN!!!!!

We were hopeful that someone had simply left a bag on the plane and that it wouldn’t take long, but as time went on we lost our optimism.

The funny thing was to watch the growing intensity of the other passengers.  At first they were patient and orderly as they waited.  Then one person went up to the counter to ask the lone attendant what was going on.  As soon as the attendant started talking to him, a huge crowd rushed up to hear as well.  Then the shouting started…..especially from the angry women!!!

The attendant retreated down the gangway and everything returned to it’s quiet, calm state.  But when he returned so did the anger!!!

After about 30 minutes the police officers walked off of the plane and then about 30 more people disembarked as well.  We never did know exactly what happened.

Then we had to wait for the plane to be cleaned…..more yelling ensued!!!

We finally boarded the plane at 8:00pm (our original departure time was at 3:00), but we had been fed and had encountered a new side of Chinese air travel!!!!

On other occasions, we have observed several interesting phenomenon in Chinese air travel……

Firstly there are signs all around (called “Warm Tips”) that say “For your convenience we will be boarding by seat row numbers”.   This is a bunch of ….well….you know!!!

As soon as the attendants begin making motions that they are about to open the gate, people start lining up.   This is fine, except when the announcement is finally made, everyone else rushes and pushes into the “line”. 

On most of our flights we have been put into buses and then shuttled to the departing plane.  On one occasion, the bus driver drove to the wrong plane and we had to walk across the tarmac to the correct one.   I am just glad that someone realized the error before we had boarded the plane!!

The rushing is even worse when you get off of the bus.  You really have to muscle your way up the gangplank or you would be the last one to board!!!

Regulations say that checked baggage cant be more than 18 kilos (about 40 pounds), but we have twice flown with bags at 22 kilos each!!   The regulations also say that you can only have one piece of carry-on luggage, but I have always carried both my purse and my backpack and most people are carrying at LEAST 2 and sometimes 3 or 4 bags!!!!

Most of the airlines are China something…..China Southern, China Eastern, etc.  However we have seen one plane from “Lucky Air”….would love to fly that one!!!

And to end this post, here is our favorite “Warm Tip”…..found by Michael in the men’s restroom…. “Please aim carefully”!!!!!

The night of too much drink

The D ay of Stressful Shopping was quickly followed by the night of too much drink….and not necessarily alcohol!!!

We were picked up at the hotel and taken back to the Beijing Institute of Botany where we were met by a group of researchers.   One of the big deals here is to present your business card to visitors and each of these 6 men carefully and formally presented their cards to Michael.   Each card looked exactly the same, except for the name and email address.   I asked Michael if he would remember who was who!!!!

We drove down the road to a "country-club” type compound and entered a greenhouse….that was actually a restaurant.

 

We walked down a long tree-lined pathway…..IMG_0373

….past the open air kitchen……..

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…..past the ballroom used for weddings and big parties…..IMG_0376

…..and into a private room with a huge round table.

When you get ready to sit at a table, the head of the table is indicated by how the napkin is folded.   In this case, all of the other napkins were rolled, but Michael’s was standing upright on his plate.

Once we were seated, the waitress came around and picked up our napkins and I waited for her to put it in my lap.  NO…..instead she lifted up the plate on the table and placed the corner of the napkin under the plate with the rest of the napkin flowing off of the table  and into my lap.  Very ingenious!!

Another waitress quickly came around with green tea.  At this point we were asked if we would like juice with our meal.  We said yes and were surprised when a thick green concoction was poured into our glasses.   Upon inquiry we were told that this was “Green Bean Juice”!!!!    It tasted like a cold cream green bean soup!!  Michael said that it needed salt!!

Next came the bottles of wine and a few sips were poured into each glass.

Now came the fun part……there was a small glass pitcher and a tiny glass sitting at each place.   The pitcher was filled (or partly filled) with a clear liquid and we were told that it was a liquor made from Wheat and Sorghum.

Here is what our place setting looked like before the food started arriving…..

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Do you see the big glass turntable in the center of the table?  As each dish was presented, it would be placed on the turntable and then turned to where Michael and I could have the first bite of it.   It is a bit stressful to have to use chopsticks to pick it up when everyone is watching you!!!!

I do not have any photos of the food, but these were the dishes……

Cold beef slices

Tripe (the first time I had eaten it…..it was OK, but not my favorite)

White Yam with blueberry drizzle

Fried Tofu

Spicy Mushrooms

Lamb ribs (the meat had been cut off of the ribs, and the bones were arranged as a holder for the meat)

Vegetable cake

Chicken with Water Chestnuts

Pork and peppers

Greens Soup

Others that I cant remember……

After the entire meal had been served, the rice was brought out.  Apparently this signifies that there is no more food to come…..except for the dumplings…..and the dessert!!!!

Dessert consisted of beautifully arranged fruit…..pineapple and  watermelon slices.

As the night progressed there were MANY toasts made with the liquor.   Apparently the tradition is that each person at the table must make a personal, individual  toast to every one else at the table!!   We received their toasts, but only made ONE big toast to everyone at the same time.

If the “toasters” were close to each other, they would clink glasses.  If they were across the table, they would tap their glasses two times on the table before they drank.

Needless to say, with 11 people at the table, many of them got very silly before the night was over.   There was much wobbling among them as we made our way back to the car!!!

Sunday, June 26, 2011

The Day of the Stressful Shopping!!!

On  Tuesday, Michael was set to spend the day teaching a short course at the Beijing Institute of Botany so he left with our host at about 8:30, but I had other plans for the day.

At 9:30 I went to the hotel lobby and asked them to get a taxi to take me to the Pearl Market.  When the taxi arrived, they opened the door for me to sit in the front which was an entirely NEW experience.   My previous car rides had been observed from the back seat where you couldn’t really see ALL of the traffic, but from this new vantage point, I could truly SEE everything that was about to hit me!!

As we drove, we passed huge apartment complexes and small green areas that almost always held an impromptu market or group of people playing cards.  I felt that the traffic (overall) was more orderly than in Kunming .  There did not seem to be as much horn blowing and swerving.  We spent some time in heavy congestion but most of the trip was on large highways that were moving well.

The trip took about 50 minutes and cost 90Y  (about $US13).  I am amazed that it is so cheap, especially when you consider that gas is almost $4 per gallon.

I kept looking for signs of “the city”….you know….sky scrapers etc.  Then it dawned on me that, because of the smog, I would never see those building until we were directly upon them.   I do not know how native Beijing residents live without ever seeing the sky or the sun.   I was also amazed at the number of joggers that I saw.  I would think that an aerobic exercise would be VERY hard on the lungs.

When I walked into the Pearl Market I was expecting to find…..pearls!!   But it was not that easy.   The market is built on 5 levels with the first level containing computer and technology stuff, the second level having clothes, shoes, etc.  The third level contains mostly jewelry and beads, with a few pearls thrown in.  The fifth level held the REALLY expensive pearls.  But, the fourth floor was where I was heading….to a shop owned by “Miss Lynn”.  This information came from Simon in Bangkok who actually gave me a list entitled “Simon’s Best of Beijing”!!!   I walked up and down the aisles and had about given up on finding the correct shop and then I remember that he said it was at the back of the building.  So, I walked to the VERY end of the last hallway and, sure enough, I came upon “Lynn’s Shop” (that was the name of the shop).

As usual, Simon had not lead me astray!!!   Lynn spoke wonderful English and happily explained the different types and grades of pearls and showed me some wonderful pieces!     Almost as soon as I entered the store, I was offered a cold bottle of water.  When you got ready to buy a strand of pearls, you would first pick out the size, grade, etc that you were interested in and she would bring out a large bunch of strands of pearls.   You would pick out the strand that you wanted, the type of clasp that you wanted and then they would re-string the pearls on a nice cord, with a small knot between each pearl.  This entire process only took about 10 minutes!!!   And the price was amazing!!!!

I  bought quite a few things with her and didn’t  bother to haggle about the price.  When I was leaving, she took out one necklace and gave it to me as a gift!!!

OK….that wasn’t stressful!!!   BUT, as I moved down to the 3rd floor, things started heating up a bit.    The entire area is made up of small shops and as I walked passed I was bombarded with “Hello Lady….I make good price for you"!  Or, “Hello Lady….what you buying today”!   And, as you go lower on the floors it got worse.   And heaven forbid that you should make eye contact with the vendor, or even worse, actually look at a product that they had for sale.   In this case, they would follow you while holding the item that you had looked at and asking how much you wanted to pay for it!!!

Since I had already bought pearls, these were the stores that really caught my eye……IMG_0357

I purchased two stone necklaces from this stall and watched in amazement as she strung the stones.   Unfortunately, this photo didn’t get a good view of her doing the work, but the blur of her hands indicates the speed with which she was working.IMG_0356

I really enjoyed looking around in the stone area and could have bought a LOT of stuff, but finally realized that there was only so much jewelry that one girl needs, so I pulled myself away and returned to the street.

There was a taxi waiting outside so I showed him my card that said “Take me to the silk market”.   He said, in broken English, that it would be faster by the “bicycle rickshaw”.   I asked how much it would be and he said “Three”.   OK ,I thought, a taxi would start at 10Y so it must not be very long of a trip so 3 sounds good.

Now, if I felt conspicuous in the front seat of a taxi, you can imagine how I felt in the backseat of a rickshaw!!   The driver did a great job and  it was actually a lot of fun, especially when we were able to navigate around a bunch of taxis that were stuck in traffic!!!IMG_0360 

The driver carefully missed the manhole covers that were raised above the road and I actually felt safe during the ride. 

Then we came to the BIG intersection.   Here is a layout of the intersection……

Picture1 The blue arrows indicate the lanes that cars use while the red one indicates the bike/motor scooter lane.  There is a small barrier between the bike lane and the rest of  traffic.

The problem occurs when taxi’s park in the bike lane to pick up fares, effectively blocking the bike lane off.  At that point, the bikes have to merge into the regular automobile traffic.

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At this particular intersection, we needed to make a left hand turn which meant turning across oncoming traffic.  The problem is that to make a turn FROM the bike lane TO the bike line you not only cross oncoming traffic, but also the straight traffic that is going your direction.

Here was our trajectory……

Picture2 …..basically crossing 7 lanes of traffic!!!   Amazingly everyone made it thru with scrape or scratch.

Then, the joy of being on a manually pedaled vehicle showed it’s worth as we went the WRONG WAY (against traffic) in one area and then up on the sidewalk in another area.   I worried about being on the sidewalk until I saw the bus parked on it as well!!!

Then came the rub……  as I got out of the vehicle, he handed me a card that said that the ride cost THREE HUNDRED Yuan  (about $US45) and not 3Y.   We then had a stand-off as I repeatedly said “Too High” and he said “Too Far”.  I finally handed him some money (more than 3Y but GREATLY less that 300Y) and walked off with him grumbling in the distance.

The silk market was much like the pearl market…..located on several floors and really more about clothes and other stuff than silk.   Once again came the barrage….

“Hello Lady….come look at what I have”

“Hello Lady…..you want Tee-Shirt”

“Hello Lady…..wanna make a suit”

“Hello Lady…..I make good tailor for you”

“Hello Lady….come look at table runners”

“Hello Lady…..want to buy a comforter….pure silk”

At one point, I started pretending that I didn’t speak English, but then they would just walk up and grab your arm to get your attention!!!

I was interested in the  silk shops. IMG_0361I love the sign in this one that promises “quality with high efficiency”.   I saw numerous shops that offered “next day” tailoring.

Once I entered this shop and  started wandering around and looking at the silk, I had a shadow following me.   Every aisle that I walked down, she was two steps behind me.  Every time I fingered a piece of fabric, she started asking how much of it I wanted and when I finally picked out one to  buy, she asked numerous times if I didn’t want more of it, or perhaps the same pattern in another color!!

I did learn something here about bargaining!!   They start by giving you a “high” price…..in reality none of the prices were very expensive when you convert it to US dollars!!    Then if you counter with a price you normally end up somewhere in between.   HOWEVER, if you just say no and walk away, they will start reducing the price on their own.   As an example, as I walked past one vendor selling scarves, the price started at 75Y, then went to 45Y and then 30Y, and I had not even shown an interest in it!!!

I did purchase one table runner that started at 280 and ended up at 100Y!!!

It was then that I fell into “Costume Jewelry Hell”…..

IMG_0362 I dont think that I have EVER seen such a conglomeration of “cute-sy” and bling…..

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At this point, I had bought enough and I was tired of trying to say “No” to people without being entirely rude, so I went back to the street to catch a taxi. 

This was the part of the trip that I was most concerned about because the hotel was so far away from the downtown area.   The problem was exacerbated by the fact that it was during the lunch hour and most of the taxis were already occupied.   The first one that stopped for me looked at the card showing where the hotel was and politely  refused the trip so I continued standing there and waving at each taxi that passed.  

The next taxi  driver looked the card and motioned for me to get in.   He then pulled up into a parking area and called the phone number of the hotel and talked loudly to them for a few minutes, mumbled something about “so far” and off we went.

Traffic was HORRIBLE and we crawled along at a snails pace.  The driver alternated between staring intently at the hotel card, muttering “so far”, ranting about the traffic (at least that’s what I thought he was doing), and checking to see that his air conditioner was working.   I was exceedingly thankful for the later!!!

He called the hotel again and spoke at length to them and seemed to be satisfied with the answer.  The traffic finally lessened and we were able to cover some distance quickly.  The problem arose when we got off of the main road and onto the small streets.   He stopped SIX different times and got out of the car and asked for directions!!!

We finally passed a sign for the “Beijing Botanic Gardens” which I knew were fairly close to the hotel.   I pointed to the sign and said “it’s that way”.   He said “Thank You” and put his hands together in an attitude of prayer!!!

Needless to say, I tipped him WELL for the trip!!!!!

I was hungry when I reached the hotel so walked down the street and found a small store that sold Oreos and Pepsi…..I was saved!!!!

Thus ended my “stressful shopping day”!!!   Xiao-Ru commented later that she would never have thought about sending a visitor down there by themselves before, but was glad that I had such a fun time!!

Saturday, June 25, 2011

The Summer Palace

On Monday, we left Kunming in the wee hours of the morning and flew to Beijing where we were met by 2 Graduate Students from the  Beijing Institute of  Botany.  They escorted us to our hotel which was located in the Northwest part of the city and not far from the BIB and also the Beijing Botanical Garden (this bit of information will be important tomorrow).

The hotel seems to be  more of a convention center,  but the rooms are clean, the  bathroom has a tub AND shower and the air conditioner works so life is good!!!    Because it is not a tourist hotel, there is very little English spoken so we are once again resorting to pointing and smiling!!!!

Michael’s host, Xiao-Ru picked us up and took us to her office in the Botany Institute and she and Michael spent some time talking about her research.  We were given a short tour of the facility, including posters featuring each of the Primary investigators in the institute and telling about the work that they were doing.  It was a great way to promote the work and people.

We left the institute about 5:00 and drove to the Summer Palace which is also located in the Northwest part of the city. 

Now, one of the first things that we noticed was the intense smog in the city.  The sky looked as if there was a heavy fog just below the horizon and the sun was only a light spot.  We were told that the Summer Palace was built because the air quality was so much better!!!   Michael and I both looked at each other and laughed and then realized that this palace was built in 1750 and there probably wasn’t a lot of smog back then!!!!!

It was built as a temporary palace and imperial garden of the Qing Dynasty.  In 1860 the Palace was burned down by Anglo-French forces and was rebuilt in 1888.

By the time we got there, it was too late to get into the palace itself, but we spent an enjoyable 2 hours walking around the grounds.  75% of the Palace is made up of two lakes and the walks surrounding them are gorgeous……except for the smog!!

Here is a view of the palace from across the lake……

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This Bronze Ox was erected in 1736 and is thought to help control the floods on the lake……_6204214

This bridge is called the “Seventeen Arch Bridge”and was built in 1750……

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Across the span of the bridge there are 500 lions carved in different poses……_6204218 

I loved the extent that they had gone to save this tree.  There was an entire metal structure built to support each branch……

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Some of the areas were quite rugged with the buildings seeming to rise out of the stones……_6204234

 

I love the stone sculptures that adorn the corners of the houses……

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And the colors and designs in the buildings are gorgeous as well…..

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I took this photo to give you some idea of the smog.  You can barely see the mountains off to the right, you cannot see the sun at all but can see it’s reflection in the water……

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This is one of the many gates that we passed thru on our walk……_6204269

Here is the actual palace that we did not go into.  Personally I am glad that we didn’t have to walk up all of those steps……_6204289

Now, for me, comes the really interesting part of this palace.   While Michael and Xaio-Ru strolled along and droned on and on about science, I (as usual) had my head down looking at the floor.  AND, guess what I found……..drum roll here…._6204294 …..QUILTING designs!!!!   Can you see them???

 

In each of the stone paths, there were larger stones placed in various designs.  They were difficult to see, but I had a great time looking at them and trying to burn them into my memory.

To help you visualize them, I used Photoshop and added the somewhat shaky lines to show a couple of the designs….

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I also have NUMEROUS photos of my toes…..

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We left the palace and headed back to our hotel, but first stopped for dinner at a WONDERFUL restaurant.

Xiao-Ru  was given the menu, which was a HUGE bound book with page after page of delicious treats.   She studied it for about 10 minutes before she made our choices……IMG_0344

Our drink of choice was Tsingtao beer, but the bottles were completely different from the ones in Kunming…..

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We started off with cold chicken that had been boiled in salty water…..

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Next came this treat that looks like a sweet……IMG_0348

…..but is in fact made of slabs of cold yam, topped with pureed green beans and a pimento.!!!

My favorite for the evening was this spicy lamb.  It was tasty and beautiful as well.   I just loved how they presented the dishes……

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This was a Goose Liver Pate and was probably our least favorite, but once again, how can you say no to something that looks so good!!!!!IMG_0351

This dish is made of cucumber slices with eggplant……IMG_0353

….and finally, tofu “pockets” served with a green vegetable of some sort.   Look how they used a stem of the green vegie to “tie up” the little bun……IMG_0354 

We returned to the hotel and had a wonderful, restful night sleep in a bed that was soft, in a room that was quiet and with an air conditioner that kept the temperature at the perfect condition!!!!

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