Sunday, November 25, 2007

Chinese English Teacher

Chinese Teacher, originally uploaded by yellojkt.

This is the same classroom as the picture used earlier. An English lesson is written on the front blackboard. On the left side of the picture you can see my wife and one of the American students dressed in school shirts that had been given to us as a gift.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Teacher in Computer Lab

Teacher in Computer Lab, originally uploaded by yellojkt.

The teachers at Beijing Middle School #22 shared a computer lab with full internet access where they could research and make lesson plans.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Classroom Blackboard

Classroom Blackboard, originally uploaded by yellojkt.

We were given a tour and we visited this English class where one of the students gave a greeting. All the students study English. The light blue colors on the school uniforms show that they are the younger students, probably the equivalent of 8th grade.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

School Courtyard

School Courtyard, originally uploaded by yellojkt.

This is the central courtyard of Beijing Middle School #22. Middle school is the equivalent of high school in the United States. The school was very old and the administration was very apologetic about the condition. They were planning to build a replacement building the next year.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Student at Recess

Student at Recess, originally uploaded by yellojkt.

Since our trip to China was part of a school exchange program we spent one whole morning shadowing students at the school. This girl is one of the host students. Despite the very hot weather, she is wearing the long sleeve track suit style winter uniform. The students prefer this because they can wear street clothes under the jacket.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Picking a Pomegranate

Picking a Pomegranate, originally uploaded by yellojkt.

Pomegranates in the Xian region are as abundant as apples are in the northeast United States. This fruit that is a delicacy in the United States were everywhere including the medians of city streets. These pomegranates were at the Hot Springs and looked almost ripe enough to pick.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Huaqing Hot Springs

The terra cotta soldiers aren't the only archaeological treasure in the Xian area. The Huaqing Hot Springs go back at least to the Tang Dynasty and further. They sit at the picturesque base of a nearby mountain. The site has been heavily restored with pagodas, ponds and fountains.

The original baths are large swimming pool sized pits that are now dry to preserve how they looked in the ninth century, but the hot springs still run through the site.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Hand Made Noodles

Hand Made Noodles, originally uploaded by yellojkt.

The restaurant at the Terra Cotta Soldiers complex was buffet style, but they had an area with chefs making fresh noodle soup from scratch. And that included the noodles. They would take patches of dough and stretch and toss it like a pizza maker, except they were stringing it out thinner and longer. Eventually they hand sliced it into tiny slivers and boiled into noodles for the soup.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Snake Wine

Snake Wine, originally uploaded by yellojkt.

The terra cotta warrior complex has a buffet restaurant for the visitors. One of their ways of getting a few more sales is that they come around with a beverage cart. They include the choice of snake wine. The wine is really 80 proof rice alcohol with a snake in the bottle. It supposedly has medicinal and virility enhancing properties, but nobody in our group was willing to try it.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Terra Cotta Soldier Replica

Terra Cotta Soldier Replica, originally uploaded by yellojkt.

The terra cotta complex has a huge gift shop where all sort of replicas of the terra cotta soldiers if you don't want the trinkets the street peddlers sell.

Here is an actual size replica of the soldiers to show that they truly are life size. The gift shop is also where the farmer that found the soldiers hangs out. He autograph books and poses for pictures. He wants ten bucks a shot, so we passed.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Xian Fur Vendor

Xian Fur Vendor, originally uploaded by yellojkt.

The area in and around the terra cotta soldier complex is stately and elegant. Just outside the main gate to the parking lot is a gauntlet of souvenir vendors. Most just approach with sets of figurines or books or post cards. If you refuse, they keep lowering the price until you get curious enough to look. The going rate for a set of five clay or brass miniature figures is one dollar. I paid double that and felt I got robbed.

Others have booths set up with clothing or crafts or pomegranate wine. This vendor was selling animal pelts. I have no idea what I was expected to do with one, but now I know where to go if I ever want some.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Emperor's Front Wagon

Emperor's Wagon, originally uploaded by yellojkt.

Two replica funeral wagons were found near the terra cotta soldiers. The first one is open air with a parasol indicated life and birth. The second one is closed and symbolizes death.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Emperor Wagon

Emperor Wagon, originally uploaded by yellojkt.

In addition to the terra cotta soldiers, other archaeological artifacts were found in Xian. This bronze model of a funeral wagon is on display in the adjacent museum. It stands about two feet tall. All the accessories have rotted away but the cart and horses remain will preserved.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Terra Cotta Soldier On Display

Terra Cotta Soldier, originally uploaded by yellojkt.

Most of the sculpture figures at the Xian terra cotta warriors complex are kept within the pits where they were found. Many of them have even been reburied to preserve them.

A select few are on display at the main level in glass cases so that visitors can see the exquisite detail in these finely crafted clay pieces. Here is an army officer holding a weapon that has rotted away long ago.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Terra Cotta Horsemen

Terra Cotta Horsemen, originally uploaded by yellojkt.

In addition to the famous pit where 8000 terra cotta soldiers were found, there are two other pits with fewer but more "senior" soldiers. Here is a grouping of warriors with battle horses.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Terra Cotta Faces

Terra Cotta Faces, originally uploaded by yellojkt.

At first, the claim that each of the eight thousand terra cotta soldiers buried in Xian is unique defies belief. To prove the point, the display inclues a large photo montage of a couple of dozen of the sculptures so that the faces can be compared side by side.

Sure enough, each picture shows different facial features, hair styles and expressions. The craftsmanship and detail is astounding.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Terra Cotta Soldiers

Terra Cotta Soldiers, originally uploaded by yellojkt.

Each of the 8000 terra cotta soldiers is unique with separate features, clothes, hair, and facial expressions. As seen in the front figure in this picture, many held wooden weapons that have long rotted away. The original paint and glazing has faded over the past 18 centuries, but the figures remain.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Olympics For Sale

Olympic Store in Xian, originally uploaded by yellojkt.

The Chinese have a deseveredly bad reputation for violating intellectual property rights. It's not that they can't enforce them, it's that they don't. Take for example, the very cute mascots for the 2008 Olympics. You would think they would be everywhere. But you can only buy licensed Olympic items in select Olympic stores. There is not a knock-off to be found anywhere.

This picture is just outside the Xian Terra Cotta Soldiers complex. Most tourist areas have an Olympic store in or near them.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Countdown Clock

IMG_4007, originally uploaded by yellojkt.

All over Beijing there were signs big and small with these countdown clocks saying how many days remained until the Olympics. The sense of pride in hosting the Games is overwhelming. The Olympic Spirit is overwhelming.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Water Sports

IMG_4236, originally uploaded by yellojkt.

Besides the Birds Nest Stadium, the other architecturally unique building being built for the Beijing 2008 Olympics is the aquatic sports facility. The entire exterior of the building is clad in a material designed to look like reflective bubbles.

As you can see, the building was pretty far along, but there was plenty of site work to still be done.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Olympic Mascots

IMG_4227, originally uploaded by yellojkt.

One thing the Chinese do well is cute. The five mascots for the Olympics are each one of the colors of the Olympic rings and each has a special theme and group of events they represent.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Terra Cotta Soldiers in Pit One

Terra Cotta Soldiers in Pit One, originally uploaded by yellojkt.

The terra cotta soldiers in Xian are a major tourist attraction. They were made and buried around 200 AD and only discovered a couple of decades ago.

The building was built around the pit where the soldiers were discovered and is bigger than an aircraft hangar.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Xian Drum Tower at night

Xian Drum Tower at night, originally uploaded by yellojkt.

Just off the center square of the old city part of Xian is the Drum Tower. The tower has a large colony of bats and at night you can see and hear them as they fly out of and around the tower eating insects.

Friday, November 2, 2007

Bird's Nest

IMG_4253, originally uploaded by yellojkt.

The premiere venue for the Beijing Olympics will be the stadium known as the Bird's Nest. Here I am standing at the construction entrance to the site. Even from this short distance, the Beijing haze obscures the view of the stadium.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Making Dumplings

P1000459, originally uploaded by yellojkt.

One of the great benefits of my son going to China as a cultural exchange was that he stayed with a Chinese host family. One evening we all got invited to the host student's grandparents house for homemade dumplings. And by "homemade" that meant made right in front of us.

People in Beijing love dumplings and eat them with nearly every meal.