Saturday, October 31, 2009

Halloween 2009

Halloween really came fast after China, especially with all the jetlag. Pammie sent E some lovely "bones jammies" as we call them. The bones even glow in the dark.We got to attend our annual ward Trunk or Treat. Ethan was a turtle, and John was, what else, ghetto-fabulous!
I was a pirate because, well we were pirates at work, and I was already dressed.
On the day of Halloween, I took Ethan to the Clayton Pumpkin Farm, now an annual tradition! And yes, he has a tail.
E measured up quite nicely. Growing faster every year!
He chose the drivers' seat on the bus, how completely surprising.
Getting up close and personal with the llamas this year.
Getting a workout in front of the ladies.And the train. I think it's the highlight for Ethan.

He's clapping before the engine started.
But it was hot again this year, so we had to put on the shades.
Halloween night, we went to Clayton again, hitting up the fire station first thing, and taking a seat in the fire engine.
Ethan practiced his stop, drop and roll like a pro.
Got some loves from Sparky.
Then hit up some houses for the loot.
We had a great time! And as a bonus, my visiting teacher, from church, brought these owls over. Aren't they a hoot?

Thursday, October 29, 2009

China Part 3, the Final Installation

We are in Xi'an, and our first day out, we take a bus to go see, what else, but the Terracotta soldiers. You have to walk quite a way from where the bus leaves you, and along our walk I see a tree wrapped in rope. I don't know the reason, but I liked it, and thought you might too.There are several pits that have different sections of the soldiers. This one is by far the largest and most impressive.
There's not a whole lot to say about all of the Terracotta Soldiers. They are just amazing.
This man would have been armed with a spear.
Here is a photo of some of the different hairstyles worn by the soldiers. I'm pretty sure the modeling agencies have studied these, because some of them looked familiar to me.
I think this is about as close as we got, without being separated by glass. These guys have been recently assembled.
This guy was winking at me. Either that or he had the sun in his eyes, I couldn't tell.
I think they said they could fit like fourteen 747's in this building, just to give you a reference point. There are a LOT of soldiers.
And of course, we found a KFC at the Terracotta Soldiers. I think John was in heaven.
In China, all of the major cities at one point had a wall built around them, much like the Great Wall, to prevent takeovers. Xi'an has the only wall that is still completely intact, and after we saw the Terracotta Soldiers, we took a bike ride around the top of the wall. It gave a great perspective of the city. Justin and Jared chose to rode on a tandem (weird).
While the girls opted for singles, not liking the idea of the boys being in charge of where they headed. I can't say I blamed them.
About halfway through the trip though, the girls had a harder time keeping up with us, on the tandems, so they switched bikes. All of these photos were taken from the back of our tandem, by the way (not too shabby).
Justin and Jared found a "hot spot," if you will, for great noodle soup. Here they are pictured as they attempt to one-up each other for "spiciest soup."
No, Justin is a poser, he didn't really eat the chili oil straight up. He's not that crazy. Oh on a side note, did you know they don't have soy sauce on every table like they do in the States in all Chinese restaurants? They have a rice vinegar of some sort and it's waaaaay better than soy sauce.
Case and point. China has crazy drivers. What you can't see is that we have a green light saying that we can walk, through the cross walk, but do you see these cars stopping for us? Nope. And they never will. I'm so glad we didn't bring Ethan with us. He most certainly would have died.
This is where I tell you that we no longer are trigger happy. We went a whole day without taking a single picture. And you know what we were doing? Visiting with Yuan's family in Zhenzhou. Aren't we stupid? We had an amazing time with them. We went out to dinner (where I forgot that I shouldn't be eating raw beef, and I ate some, and it was delightful). We stayed with Yuan's Aunt who had a spectacular house that I wish I could just pick up and move to California, where it probably would be worth 6 million dollars. The next day Yuan's Aunt and Father drove us to Luoyang, the place where Buddhism started in China, where they have some ridiculous number of Buddhas carved into the side of a cliff. All different sizes and shapes, the smallest they said was only 1 inch tall. The largest was much much bigger, at least 30 feet.
Originally in all the caves, the Buddhas were painted, but I loved how they've deteriorated.

The sad part is that a lot of the Buddhas have been defaced just from different Archaeologists or people who just wanted to take a piece of history with them, they would break off the face of a statue, or maybe even the whole statue, take it with them, so a lot of the caves were empty now.
The next day we traveled to Shanghai, who as Yuan and Justin put it, are kind of like the equivalent of the French to the rest of the world. They think they are superior and really hate tourists. We definitely agreed after being there about 5 minutes. I thought Jared was going to take out a man on the subway. But here's downtown, where John bought some contraband. Shh. Don't tell.
After being in Shanghai shopping around for a day, we took a day trip to Suzhou, which we immediately fell in love with. Not a typical tourist destination, it wasn't as crowded. We went to these amazing rock gardens that I wanted to pick up and put in my backyard.
I love the translated signs in China.
All the rocks in the garden were picked because they looked like lions. It sounds crazy, but they did it.
There were a million different walkways, some of which didn't really go anywhere, they just were little private areas to meditate.
The pathways were in and out of rocks everywhere and what looked like a minutes walk from where you were might take 20 to get there. It was awesome to explore.
Look at this beautiful arbor. Yes, please.
Can you find the cheesy tourists?
Among the rocks you would find ponds or waterfalls.
This rock looked like handcuffs to John.
But from the other side, you can clearly see the lion's head.
There was a really cool Koi pond in the middle that had gigundo fish. We gave them all the rice crackers we had, just because.

Jared & Shannon are hidden amidst the rocks.
I spied Justin on another pathway below. The little monkey fit in beautifully in here.
We were told that they guy who started Venice (Mark somebody) actually got the idea from this town, which had waterways used as roads.
We couldn't leave without taking a boat ride.

Look at these steps! Coming straight out of the foundation.I think we loved this city so much just because it was so peaceful and not so hurried.
I wanted to be on the boat for another hour at least.
Our "driver" started singing for us. Pretty sweet.

This next picture requires quite a story. So while we were on the boat, Yuan feels something hit her head, and there was a bunch of stuff hanging from the roof of the boat so she didn't think too much of it. A few minutes later, someone notices a frog head next to Yuan. I think Justin said he saw it blink. I guess someone was having frog for dinner, and chucked the head out the window into the river. On our way back to the hotel though, Yuan feels a sticky, hard-dried chunk of hair and realizes that the frog head actually hit her, not the Chinese knot as she had assumed. She took a very long shower when we got back to the hotel.
That night, back in Shanghai, we went to a Shanghai Circus. Pretty awesome. Have you seen the movie Ocean's Eleven? This was way better. And even nicer is that we recorded the whole thing, I guess there are advantages to not having any copyright rules in China now, isn't there. And in case you can't see clearly these guys are holding on with just their legs!
And then they would do crazy flips from pole to pole.
Diving through hoops.
Balancing on chairs stacked very high.
Hula Hoops, lots of hula hoops.
There's only one bike under all those people. There was a super flexible girl that could sit on her own head. Pretty sure she had ribs removed to be that flexible, but hey, if you're going to join the circus, you go all the way.
Kai got to join us for the last few days in Hong Kong, but man oh man did it make us miss our little man.
We did do a lunch with sushi which I was very excited about. Kai even mastered the chopsticks.
He is Chinese afterall.
We did some excellent shopping, in fact that might be the only thing we did in Hong Kong.
We had our most expensive dinner in Hong Kong, on Hong Kong Island looking over the water. Flaming Steak! MMmm. But for the price, probably not worth it. I think we paid like a hundred bucks a plate here.
Here is the not so great picture of the fancy restaurant our last night.
And the day shot of Hong Kong Island. Goodbye China. Thanks for having us.