Tom & Holly Travels
since 2004
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你好(Ni hao)

   We will be getting off the ship tomorrow morning, so we may not be able to email until we reach the hotel tomorrow night in Xian. We are 12 hours ahead of you. I send my thoughts from the previous day. Example, for us today is Sunday morning, but we are sending you Saturday’s tour. We of course will then lose those 12 hours when we return.

   Well the sun does shine in China. It rained yesterday, so we are currently enjoying one of the three times a year the sun actually shines here. I was told by the chief receptionist that this is very rare. It is absolutely beautiful, and I can breathe.

    I think it is a good thing that the air was clear today because it helped climbing the 99 steep, make that very steep steps, of the pagoda. That doesn’t count the 55 steps or more before you climb before you get there. Plus the swinging bridge was quite sporting. I can hardly wait until we can post pictures. The pagoda is 12 stories high and is the tallest example of ancient architecture in China. It was built in 1819, so that the monks and visitors did not have to climb the mountain to get to the temple. After climbing to the top of the pagoda, you are on the mountain top.

    Once on the top there is a well that the monks used to draw water from the Yangtze River by the use of a long, very long, bamboo pipe. It was believed that if you dropped a duck into the hole on the top of the mountain, winter would turn into spring. They would drop the duck and wait for it to come out onto the river. This, I guess, is their version of our groundhog.

    Additionally, one had to walk down all those steps to return back down the mountain. My legs are letting me know that I got my exercise today. They kept telling us that once you started there was no turning back. There were only the very steep 99 steps up, and easier concrete steps on the way down.  Interesting that in America there is no way they could take people on this tour because there were several spots where the railing ran out and you had to sort of crawl up the last few steps. At the evening briefing they show photos of the tour you are going to experience, and if you feel you can’t participate, too bad. In America people would be screaming it is not available for the handicapped and the tour would be off.

    The majority of people on this adventure are in their seventies. We all feel we are in that window of opportunity where we have the financial means to travel and the good fortune of health and the ability to traverse such obstacles such as the pagoda to experience firsthand how other people on planet Earth live and work. We all joke that we will travel handicap friendly America when we are not as mobile.

    Because the weather was so beautiful, finally, we enjoyed shopping in the market. We learned that most of the town is made up of farmers. There are numerous grandparents here raising the grandchildren, because their own children moved to the cities when the town was relocated during the Three Gorges Dam Project. The parents usually only come back to the city once a year at Chinese New Year. I can’t imagine having children that you only see once a year.

    Joking with friends during lunch, we decided maybe not a bad idea. But then it was pointed out that these people work all of their young lives, and then take care of kids in their old age. Nope, not for us.

    Like the rest of the 1.3 million people, our guide’s family was relocated. She showed us some old photos of the city before it was flooded and actually showed us the house where she lived. Every guide does this, and you can just feel their pain. Again the government destroyed their house, so that they could recycle what was possible to move up to the new town. Amazing stories these people tell. I asked where she lived while they were building the new city. She told me that people had to huddle together with friends and relatives in any house they could find until the new ones were built.

Life is priceless, Peace is a blessingShibaozhai Temple

Confucius say – Virtue is not left to stand alone. He who practices it will have neighbors.


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