Sunday, August 20, 2006

On the road through China

We completed our classes this past Friday. Though clichéd, time sure flies! It's difficult to believe that the six weeks of classes have gone by. We bid farewell to our teachers and some of the staff as well as other students, with whom we've become quite acquainted. We will surely miss them, and we plan to try to stay in touch with some of them.

This past week, we went with Starla's parents to the Great Wall. We went on a weekday and early in the morning, and the wall was still rather crowded. We were blessed with a beautiful bright sunny day, and we were able to see the Wall snake across mountain tops far into the distance. It was well worth the rather bad sunburn that Starla and I suffered, from which we're still peeling.

On Saturday, we also said goodbye to my mother as Starla, her parents, and I began our two week tour of central China.

We flew bright and early Saturday morning from Beijing to Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan (Szechuan) Province in central China, famed for its spicy food and tea houses. We're putting our newly improved Chinese to good use, though we're finding that the Sichuan dialect is still nearly un-understandable, and the accented Mandarin of most of the local people rather challenging.

We've toured the Chengdu area these past two days, including a couple of local parks dedicated to some historical figures such as the famed Chinese poet Du Fu from the Tang dynasty (around 700 AD) as well as a little town that still has some Qing dynasty (the last dynasty, whose reign ended in 1911) era architecture. Tomorrow, we plan to visit the giant pandas at a local panda breeding and research center, as well as see the largest Buddha carving in the world at Leshan. We hope we brought enough film! Until next time...

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