April 28
China Soujourn - Part 2

One of the highlights of our trip to Weifang is the chance to meet with Chen Zhao Ji.

Mr. Chen is clearly one of the premier kite designers of China. Each year, he agrees to drop by our hotel and showcase some of his new kites. The detailing is immaculate. However, the ones that get the best response are the larger models with hand-crafted fans and bamboo gears that create moving pieces when they fly.

Chen Zhao Ji

Chen's kites are museum quality and we are grateful for the chance to buy a few -- at any price...

Chen Kites Chen Kites Chen Kites

Our next stop was Qu Fu -- birth place of Confucius. After a three hour train ride from Weifang, we settled into our new hotel, haggled with local vendors over souvineer prices, had another great dinner, and went to sleep. Early the next morning (Day 8 in China) we began a tour of the Confucius Temple, Forest, Mansions, and burial site.

The area is quite and calm, with little of the crowding that characterizes the more popular sites in Beijing. Occasionally, characters in traditional costumes parade through the Mansion.

We finished our day with a horse-drawn carriage ride through town and a traditional music program after dinner. Click here to see a short movie of our carriage ride. Then at 10, we boarded the overnight train to Beijing.

Confucius Burial Site

Traditional Parade Traditional Parade Traditional Parade
Confucius Garden  Confucius Garden  Confucius Garden
Confucius Mansion Kevin in the Doorway Conficius Mansion

We arrived in Beijing (Day 9 in China) and were greeted by a terrible dust storm. Winds had blown the haze and grit from the nearby Gobi Desert and visibility is limited for our trip to Tian'anmen Square.

Our third local guide is Xio Ji (Chow -Gee) but she let's us call her "Helen". Helen, takes charge -- pointing out significant historical sites, explaining their context, and providing contemporary China information. She also took our teasing well when I call her "Chow Gee Dan" -- the Chinese word for scrambled eggs...

After a stroll around the Square, we cross the street and enter the Forbidden City.

Tian'anmen Square
Tian'anmen Square

The Forbidden City is the center of Imperial China, the residence of the Emperors and a breathtaking experience. Behind the huge walls are 1000 rooms, ranging from smaller sleeping quarters of the concubines, to large throne rooms.

Enormous plazas front the ceremonial pavilions. We walk past large water containers which had once been guilded with gold. 100 years ago, invading British soldiers scraped the plating away with their bayonets.

Palace Map
Forbidden City Forbidden City Forbidden City

In the afternoon, we visit the nearby Temple of Heaven.

Temple of Heaven Temple of Heaven Temple of Heaven

The next day dawns bright and clear. We board the bus for the trip everyone has been waiting for -- the Great Wall. Normally, it is an hour drive, but a traffic accident snarls the expressway, and we arrive three hours later. No matter! There are few people there and we scamper up the stairs. Some struggle to the top. Others pull out kites near the bottom. All of us are consumed with the satisfaction that we have arrived in this special place.

The Great Wall
Great Wall Great Wall Great Wall

On the way back to the city, we stop at a Cloisonne Factory.

There are five steps involved in making cloisonne. First they glue metal strips to a brass base to form the design. Second, they fill in the spaces with wet cloisonne powder. Third, they fire the whole thing red hot. Fourth, they polish the piece smooth. And fifth, they sell it to you...

Cloisonne Factory Cloisonne Factory Cloisonne Factory Cloisonne Factory

Our final full day (Day 11 in China) is spent at the Summer Palace. It is an amazing place, and one of the most beautiful in China. You'll have to take my word for it since I didn't go with the rest of the group. Instead, I took the morning for some special kite business. beides, I've been there five times and don't expect it has changed much...

David and Friends

The following morning, we rose early for the hardest part of the trip -- the journey home.

We'd all had a wonderful time, thanks in large part to the diligence of our primay guide, Peter. He and I built the iteneary and then Peter arranged the details and hired local giudes.

Next time we go back, you should come along!!

Meanwhile, I'm off to Japan in a few days. So stay tuned for more adventures...

Peter and Family

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