New York, NY

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

It is time to take off for our long expected and prepared China trip.  We are packed and excited, and ready at the JFK airport to fly to Beijing via Seoul.  We are flying with Korean Airlines in A380, which is the largest plane in the world - it fits over 600 people.  We will arrive to Beijing in the evening next day.  From there, we are continuing to fly to Xi’an, which is our first stop. We will cover quite a number of stops – see the map.

Xi’an, Shaanxi

Friday, August 7, 2015

Xi’an is our base to explore the Army of Terracotta Warriors, but the city itself is an interesting place to visit. It has a walled old city, and you can walk or ride a bike on the 13 km long city walls.  There is a picturesque quarter where Chinese Muslims live, where women wear colorful scarves and men wear caps.

There are many delicious lunch options in the Muslim quarter, and we had a nice lunch although a bit spicy. So far, China over stimulates all our senses – very noisy, very spicy, intense smells, many people everywhere. Where ever we go, we are in a crowd.

We also visited the bell tower in the heart of the old city.  The ringing from its bells used to mark dawn. The tower dates from the 14th century.

Xi’an, Shaanxi - Terracotta Warriors

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Today we visited the extraordinary army of terracotta warriors.  This is one of the most famous archeological finds in the world, discovered accidentally when farmers drilled a well. There are thousands of life-size terracotta soldiers, archers, cavalry, horses, generals, and everything else an emperor might need in his afterlife.  It is remarkable that no two soldiers are alike. This 2,000 old site gives an insight into ancient China’s life. As many warriors were there, tourists were just as many.  In the evening, we took a high-speed train to Luoyang.

Luoyang, Henan – Kung Fu

Sunday, August 9, 2015

The weather today was hazy and worse than yesterday. While it is very hot (34-36 degrees) and humid, the sun was not to be seen until much later in the day after some summer rain. 

In the morning, we visited the Shaolin temple, the place where Buddhist monks created Kung Fu as a counterbalance to meditation, and for self-defense. We saw an amazing Kung Fu show with elastic children, animal inspired fighting styles (fighters making movements like a monkey, a snake or a tiger).  They demonstrated breaking a sword against a head and popping a balloon through a glass without a needle, etc.  We saw a temple whose floor is depressed by monks practicing jumps over many years and trees with holes made by punches.  My girls were thrilled by the temple and Kung Fu, even while none is practicing any martial arts.

Luoyang, Henan – Longmen caves

Sunday, August 9, 2015

In the late afternoon, we went to the Longmen caves, a UNESCO world heritage site with amazing Buddhist’s rock carvings.  The carvings were created in the rock on the both sides of the river by the Wei dynasty over 200 years dating from around 500 AD. There are more than 100,000 statues of Buddha, but many were taken away over the centuries.

Looking for zen.

We took an overnight sleeper train that took us all the way from Luoyang to Nanjing, and then continued the next day with high-speed train to Huangshan.