...and from Beijing made our way in a C...

If you were to look at a map of China you will see that Beijing and Shanghai are both towards the east of the country, so the trip we took literally took us in a C, starting with Beijing and ending with Shanghai.
While still in Beijing we spent a morning in a hutong village.  If you are wondering what in the heck a hutong is, here is some information I found on the web...

At the end of the Qing Dynasty unified and closed China came under influence from abroad, having experienced change of dynasties and the vicissitudes of life. The stereotyped arrangement of the hutong was also affected. Many newly formed hutongs with irregular houses appeared outside the city, while many old ones lost their former neat arrangement. The social status of the residents also changed, reflecting the collapse of the feudal system. During the period of the Republic of China (1911-1948), Chinese society was unstable, with frequent civil wars and repeated foreign invasions.

The city of Beijing deteriorated, and the conditions of the hutong worsened. Quadrangles previously owned by one family became a compound occupied by many households.

After the founding of the people's Republic of China in 1949, hutong conditions improved. In recent years, the houses in many hutongs have been pulled down and replaced by modern buildings. Many hutong dwellers have moved to new housing.

The hutong today is fading into the shade for both tourists and inhabitants.

However, in the urban district of Beijing houses along hutongs still occupy one third of the total area, providing housing for half the population, so many hutongs have survived. In this respect, we see the old in the new in Beijing as an ancient yet modern city.
This is my group walking through for a tour, which is a common tourist thing to check out.

This was the bell tower in the village.  We got here by going in a rickshaw.  It was a run little ride.

In the bell tower we had the nice treat of hearing the bell ring...or shall I say the drums.  That's right, it was a drum performance, no bells here.

Lunch was at one of the houses in the hutong.  This family must be regulars on the tourist circuit because they had Western toilets in their house (actually their communal area).  They showed us how to make dumplings before serving us a nice home cooked meal.

Here is the meal we were served.  As I am a vegetarian, my group translator often had to call ahead and make arrangements.  Most meals were 7-9 courses and this was food the whole table shared.  I was usually served something else and sometimes others would share with me since it was so much food.

Since I am a vegetarian, the group leader planned in advance for us to visit a well known vegetarian restaurant called JinXinLiang.  The food presentation was amazing.  These were veggie wraps in seaweed paper.

Ok, that seems to be me in the background trying to take a picture using my cell phone.  Yes, there is smoke!!!  That was from dry ice underneath the dish for presenting the food.

Then we were off to Xi'an.  First we went to the Chinese Herbal Institute...well something like that.  I thought this was in Beijing, but looking over my itinerary tells me it was not, so I'll go with the itinerary!  Here we learned about the herbs and research.  Sorry, it was a lot to listen to and the translators in stuff, but the jist is that they do research here and they grow herbs in a big herb garden which we walked through, I just don't remember all of the specifics about everything.

This is a giant mushroom...pretty neat!

At the institute they served us an herbal lunch.  That's right, everything served to us was filled with herbs.  In fact, many people felt a little "high" after the meal...very light headed.  This was one of those places where the meal was about 9 courses and they actually made me a separate 9 course vegetarian meal, which was about the same amount of food as what was served to the table.  I could not even come close to eating it all.  Here are some pictures of the food.  I believe these were all dishes I was served also.
They made me a vegetarian form of this ocean scene food picture.

Tempura leaves with shrimp (I think)

I do remember eating these and I think it was a fried vegetable of some sort, like onion rings sort of.

The next few pictures are from a herbal/medicinal street market we visit.  Yes, they sell this stuff on the street.  the first is gross and I think you hold it by the tail and swish it around or us to stir in boiling water filled with herbs.  Lizards perhaps?

Snakes anyone?


This is from another meal we enjoyed.  Lots of goodies.  Large plates were always served and we would share dishes among the group.

Oh, and now on to my favorite part of Xi'an...The Terracotta Warriors.  Look how awesome these are.  So impressive how many were still intact and how mush work was done to reconstruct these.

Here is some information about them if you are unsure of this major discovery in recent years:
The terracotta army itself was discovered in 1974 when some farmers were digging a well. Their shoveling began the unearthing of a huge burial pit belonging to the tomb of Emperor Qin Shi Huang, the founding Qin dynasty emperor who unified China into a central state and also laid the foundation for the Great Wall.



It is estimated that the tomb took 38 years to build, between 247 BC and 208BC, and utilized the labor of over 700,000 conscripts. The emperor died in 210 BC.

The Terracotta Army (simplified Chinese: 兵马俑; traditional Chinese: 兵馬俑; pinyin: bīngmǎ yǒng; literally "soldier and horse funerary statues") are the Terra Cotta Warriors and Horses of Qin Shi Huang the First Emperor of China. The terracotta figures, dating from 210 BC, were discovered in 1974 by some local farmers near Xi'an, Shaanxi province, China near the Mausouleum of the First Qin Emperor. (Chinese: 秦始皇陵; pinyin: Qín Shǐhuáng Líng). The figures vary in height (183–195 cm - 6 ft–6 ft 5in), according to their role, the tallest being the generals. The figures include strong warriors, chariots, horses, officials, acrobats, strongmen, and musicians. Current estimates are that in the three pits containing the Terracotta Army there were over 8,000 soldiers, 130 chariots with 520 horses and 150 cavalry horses, the majority of which are still buried in the pits.





In the museum they have people working on making replicas for sale.  This was a really neat thing to get to see.


QUESTION:  Have you ever heard of the Terra Cotta Warriors before?  Maybe you have seen them at P.F.Changs?  I actually was subbing 7th grade history and I showed them a video and I was so excited because it was on the excavation site of the warriors and I had been there.  I felt cool!!!

I did get another question, so here goes:

Q: Shannon asked:  Did you prefer city life or the countryside? 
A:  While we spent little time in the actual country side, what I did notice was that the air was cleaner, but you see that that it was poorer as far as economics and housing.  It was sad to see the life they were living, but from what I could tell people were content with this.  Just because that is nto how we live here does not mean they find the conditions unbearable.  They were allowed larger familes as there is the one child policy, so in the countryside they can have more than one since they will help with farming and caring for the family.  Daughters will marry off and leave the family, so if they had a daughter for the first born they were allowed to try again until they had a son so that he sould take care of them.  I loved the city life there as there was shopping and many Western things, ok, the conveniences I was looking for, AKA Western toilets for sure.  I will have some squatty potty pics to show too at some point in these posts.

I hope everyone is having a good week.

9 comments:

FoodFitnessFreshair said...

Your travels sounds wonderful! I would love to explore China. Would I eat a snake while I was there? This I'm not so sure about! Thanks for the thoughtful comment on by blog. It is true that for low income families, school lunch can actually be a saviour.

A said...

WOW, Im really enjoying reading about your adventures. Amazing pictures (esp those terracotta warriors!) Unreal!

Hope you are also enjoying your week!!

Abby (Abbys Vegan Eats) said...

A was me (Abby) lol Not sure why it came up like that in my comment?!

Nicole, RD said...

Wow! I am so jealous of your travels! The tempurah looks so unique compared to the Americanized tempurah I've had. I want to try the real deal...mm!

Gina said...

So neat. Their traditions are so different form here in America, and even the way they eat and present their food. I love the seaweed wrapped veggies! And the 7-course meal, well, I would have failed at that. I can't even imagine.

Thanks for sharing the pictures and memories, and great information with us!

Melissa said...

I saw an exhibit on the terra cotta warriors at Epcot.

Everything in China is so weird and different...but in a totally good way. :o) Like nothing that is typically seen in the US. Still amazed by your experience and I enjoy reading it and taking it all in.

sophia said...

This was so interesting, Melinda! And thank you so much for answering my question on China.

Mari said...

What a great post! I am living through you lol

Andrea@WellnessNotes said...

Love this series! :)

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