They say the Great Wall is one of the 7 wonders of the world. West Edmonton Mall is the 8th. But the guide didn't mention that.
Today the Great Wall, the zoo, a jade factory, the Olympic venue, and some place to get glasses.
I bought a jade pisu, a baby dragon (male version with left foot out-see photo). It eats money but doesn't poop so it keeps your money inside. Rub the pisu but don't rub the eyes. It will blind him and won't see the money coming.
Longest part of the Great Wall is 4,000 miles but we traveled a bit shorter. But our part was up up and up. We made it to the top and have an engraved medal to prove it! It was hard and awesome. Uncle Rick got to hold a Chinese baby as his prize for reaching the top.
We had a casualty on the wall but nothing serious. Mary-Lou hurt her foot. We didn't see it. We were too busy climbing! But anyone who knows ML knows it won't hold her back.
The evening ended with the deal of the century. The tour brought interested folks to a place to buy glasses and I found two pairs of Chrome Hearts. So obscure. Bought both. Paid about 20% of what I paid at home.
Tomorrow brings more chaos as we venture into the Silk Road Market. Knock off Rolex here we come!
I am making a comeback on my blog thanks to my iPhone. Hats off to our guide Alex who was attempting to track down my iPad. Sadly no luck...so all photos here are from my phone only.
Yesterday we went to the Terra Cotta Warriors. Check it out on Mellissa's excellent blog at: mellissak.weebly.com
One thing I wrote about and lost on my ipad. As we drove from our hotel we saw an old man on the city wall practicing with a sword, reminding me of the master in the movie 7 Samurai. It brought me back to the end of the movie where the master looks out to the graves of his friends as the rice farmers are singing and bringing in the crops. Last line of the movie is from the master. "We have lost." So sad.
Ok enough of that. Today is the Summer Palace, Forbidden Palace and a pearl factory.
Our Beijing guide said something interesting. Beijing translates to "northern capital." He also said the right way to carry yourself as a man in China is you "don't want people to know you are coming until you've arrived." Interesting. Some people back home can learn from that!
Here is an odd observation for the guys. Urinals with motion detectors here rinse water before you go, not after like at home. Seems odd. And it may account for the fact the washrooms here always smell bad.
The Summer Palace was like everything in China. Large. Took a lot of pictures but didn't pay attention to the education part.
Had lunch and was treated to the Bryan Adams song Everything I do I do for you in Chinese Muzak. So charming.
Not to sound like a broken record but the Forbidden City is absolutely GIGANTIC. 10,000 people serving the Emperor and 3,000 concubines. How he ever got anything done with that many concubines is beyond me. Might be the reason rule ended in the 1920's...
We just had the most ridiculous dinner where a table of French people in a tour started to chant a song. Enter the Saskatoon team who equaled them. Next thing you know singing and cheering and the wave through the place. It ended with team Canada singing our national anthem. Beer played a pivotal role.
Well it is sad folks. I lost my ipad today so my blogging days have come to a halt I'm afraid. And I'm kind of stuck since I can't use the find my ipad app in China. James is sad tonight (and admittedly pretty frustrated...). Hopefully I'll be back soon.
I can go on an adventure like a trip to China, but all roads lead back to advertising I'm afraid. There's no way around it. So when you are in the airport in Hangzhou and you stop at a Starbucks you hear the distant echo of Howard Schultz and his goal of world wide consistency of experience. Let me explain...
I went first to a local coffee place at the airport and tried to order a coffee, a gaggle of servers gathered around me to figure out what I wanted. Black coffee. I walked away with a coffee with sugar and milk. They opened my sugar and milk and stirred for me. They even opened my cup flap so I could drink it. One server said, "you leave?" I said yes thank you. They shook their heads in sync as I left the restaurant.
Then an hour later, past security we went to Starbucks. "Americano." "Do you want room?" I said no thank you. I was presented my receipt with two hands and my coffee with a smile, a "have a nice day" and a classic Starbucks green coffee plug. Nailed it. Just like it is being nailed in thousands of Starbucks around the world, even here in China.
When I read Howard's book Onward I came to realize what he wrote was a bible for retailers. If you are running a coffee shop or a shoe store, there are a few gems in this book that help you figure out how to do things the right way. You don't need to like Starbucks coffee. You just have to admire a job well done.
Said an old friend of mine who is a copywriter, "tell one story well." And tell that story over and over again so everyone knows how the story goes. Now do it everywhere.
Have you ever had a bad experience in service at a Starbucks? I rest my case!
Ok, well...enough about that!
We flew from Hangzhou to Xian today and immediately went to the Big Wild Goose Pagoda and the Grand Mosque. The Grand Mosque was interesting because you first had to walk through absolute chaos of the market where, I swear, everything in China is serviced on a stick. Meat in a stick. Pineapple on a stick. Squid on a stick. Really smelly hammered flat mystery meat on a stick. There will be some photos to show you what I'm on about.
We have at least a dozen kinds of dumplings for dinner and watched what was kind of like a dinner theatre show about the Tang Dynasty. I'm not sure I learned anything about the Tang dynasty to be honest.
I did learn today however that the Ching Dynasty created the Terra Cotta Warriors and the Great Wall. Not bad for one dynasty. And the Song Dynasty created the movement to limit a woman's feet size by binding their feet in fabric because the Emperor had a bit of a foot fetish. I'm hopeful the Song Dynasty did other great things too?
It's late so I'll stop here. Have to get ready for the Terra Cotta Warriors tomorrow, a visit to an art, ceramic and lacquer factory and then jump on a plane to Beijing.
Now I understand the difference between 5 star and 4 star. Everything. That is the difference. Our 4star hotel is stinky smoky, the breakfast was hard to find something to eat, they won't exchange money and claim not to have an international stamp.
Next door, as in attached to our hotel is Walmart. But not like one back home trust me. It had such a terrible smell I had to breathe out of my mouth. They did have a sale on chicken feet.
Today we had a good cruise on West Lake and had lots of laughs and smiles with the tourist girls from Hong Kong. There are pictures below. Take a photo of a young person here and they make the peace sign with their fingers. I asked our guide and he said they believe that is what cool people do in North America so that is why they do it. So cute!
We went to the Dragon Well green tea plantation which was awesome. Bought some green tea pills. Lots of them actually! We learned that if you put your cup of boiling hot tea to your eyes it stops you from having panda eyes. We all had our tea close to our eyes. It was interesting.
Had a good lunch for a change. It was like other food except it wasn't as greasy to we ate like it was our last meal! Uncle Rick stuck his glass of beer to his eyes. It is the Saskatchewan way of reducing panda eyes.
Next the Six Harmony Pagoda. It was a work out to go to the top. You'll see what I mean when you see the picture. Every floor had a stamp and red stamp pad and you can stamp whatever you like to show you conquered the floor. My parents have a postcard coming to them with all the stamps on it!
Next we went to a market shopping street. The smell of some of the food made my stomach turn. There were thousands of people, lots of noise, music, and the usual backdrop of car horns honking. We ate at KFC, bought a pop and then we were told we should not drink it since it had ice made of local water. So we threw it away only to learn that they boil the water before they make ice. So we went to DQ for a Blizzard. I bought a book that I fell in one with so I have a little souvenir.
It started to rain just in time for our next event, a show on the lake. They provide rain coats. The show is called Impressions West Lake, created by the same fellow who created the opening ceremonies of the Beijing Olympic. Wow it is amazing. People walked on water, incredible lights and setting on the lake. Admittedly it is hard to explain it. If you find yourself at Hangzhou (pronounced Hong Joe) you have to go.
Now we are heading home, it is 930 pm and we haven't been home since 8 am. Tomorrow starts early as we head to Xian (pronounced She En).
Our hotel is mind blogging. The Suzhou Pan Pacific Hotel is from another era. It is a rambling hotel filled with oak, marble and cool door bells at each room. I was half expecting Sammy Davis and Frank to walk through the lobby, smoke in one hand, scotch in the other. It is rated as one of the top resorts in China.
After our breakfast we went for a walk on the grounds. We were told that there was a garden that must be seen. So we flashed our card at the entry area and walked into the most memorable part of the trip to date.
My gosh the garden area is giant. There were retired couples dancing, music playing, old ladies singing, a huge lake and pagodas and caves and waterfalls. Really. Right attached to our clearly over the top 5 star hotel. I could have stayed there all day. But alas we had an itinerary so off we went at 830 am.
We visited the Master of Nets Garden for some photos, but the gardens were not even close to the incredible beauty of our hotel gardens!
Then we went to a silk factory and learned how silk is produced. And by the time we learned it all we were in the factory store and bought a duvet made of silk and I bought my mom something special (you'll see it soon enough mom!). Next we had lunch and I hardly ate anything. But I did consume a protein bar so I'll survive.
The issue is everything for lunch and dinner is the same, greasy mystery meat in red sauce, rice and what we believe was deep fried spam. Today we had the added bonus of a fish head. So if it continues my diet has officially begun!
It is now travel time, heading in our bus to Hangzhou which is three hours away. I may just have a nap.
The 88 story Jin Mao Tower may look impressive but within the next few months it will be dwarfed by the new tower that is right next door. When you are on floor 88 you have to look up....way way up...to see the top of the new tower. There are hundreds of cranes in this city. Everything is being built at the same time. Including a bunch of new developments right around the Jin Mao.
We visited the Shanghai Museum and ended our time in Shanghai with a short but sweet trip down the Nanjing Road, the super cool and super crowded shopping area. I even stopped in at Starbucks for a coffee.
Then we headed out on the highway toward Suzhou where we are presently, living the high life in the Suzhou Pan Pacific Hotel, one of the top ten resorts in China. But it is short lived. We will see Suzhou (Venice of the east...) then head to Hangzhou for two days.
Shanghai is stuffed with people. 23 million and an additional 8 million that haven't registered. That is 31 million in one city. Impressive when you think that since 1976 couples are only allowed to have one child. Can you imagine if they didn't limit it... Yikes! Just saying!
And here I thought it was a 10 hour flight... But it was 12. That is a long flight, and although the food was wow, and not in a good way, we arrived in Shanghai in the late afternoon, around 430 pm. The airport was crazy busy so we had to wait it out to get through customs. By the time we got the restaurant it was probably 7pm, and our hotel close to 930 pm. It has been a long day. Tomorrow is a whirlwind trip to many places so I'll be sure to take many photos.