Monday, April 2, 2012

A bear's eye view of China

The calendar says it and so do my yellow irises: it really has been a year since we returned from our trip to China. I remember staggering up to our house last year, with a serious case of jet lag and culture shock. I saw the pretty yellow irises in our flower bed, but the only bed I was interested in was the one with sheets and a pillow.

We are super big on travel and have gone many times to Europe and the former Eastern bloc countries. While not of the backpacking crowd, our travel style is a bit gritty and we've had some amazing experiences. Nothing prepared us for China though. Even flying in, looking over the countryside, I knew this would be like no other place we had been before. I brought my laptop and blogged as much as I could on vacation. Since posting from China is difficult, my friend Myra of Interactive Expat very kindly uploaded my emails and photos for me.

On our last trip to Europe, we bought this little red key chain bear and took pics of it all over Europe, even filming a crazy little video one rainy night in Poland as a thank-you for our hosts. So we dusted off Jessica Bear and brought it along on our trip to China. We meant to make a little thank-you video for our wonderful hosts in Beijing who treated us to this fabulous twentieth anniversary present. Sorry, never got around to the video, and after a year, I think this is as good as it's going to get. (By the way, in my posts, for reasons known by our friends, we refer to them as Brad and Angelina, Brangelina or just B and A. We were not visiting the movie stars.)

We shot these captions with Bananagrams one morning in Qingdao when Brad had food poisoning. We were laughing so hard and quickly trying to get it done between times that Angelina was coming out to talk with us.

Something interesting happens when you photograph a very small thing in a very big place. It forces you to look at the details and get some interesting perspectives on the smaller world behind the bigger one. Our little bear project made us stop and look at some things we would otherwise have passed up on our way to the bigger attractions.

Beijing was our home base, where Brangelina live.
The Summer Palace still had a little ice in the moat.

Look, weird Americans taking pictures of a key chain!
You can't go to China and not meet a panda.

At a most relaxing tea shop.
Forbidden City, I think?
We passed up the Forbidden City to go Geocaching.
Kicking back at the park.

Hanging around at the same park.

A real head turner.
If the shoe fits...

Key chains!

What do you know, made in China.
Enough shopping already.

The candy was cheap, interesting and mostly yummy.
Finding some long lost cousins.

Forget Cup 'o Soup, they have Bucket 'o Soup.

A Where's Waldo impression.

More candy!

Some odd sort of fruit at the market.

They sell green tea Oreos in China. They taste just like Oreos, but with green white stuff.

B, A and the Big E climbed it to the top, the two Jessicas got some gondola assistance the second half.
The only place we paid to stay in China; water pipes were frozen but the heater worked.

A VERY cold sunrise on Tai Shan.

Different spelling, but it's where they brew the well-known Chinese beer.

 Bear on tap.
After a restful stay in Qingdao, it was a smelly train ride back to Beijing.

Is this where Mr. Dumpty had his Great Fall?
We walked and climbed and never saw another person for hours. Was it really China?

The idea with these next photos was to make some sort of little stop action video for Brangelina, but seeing as we have taken no action on that, just scroll down really fast, blur your eyes and pretend the bear is climbing up and down the Great Wall. A few bottles of Tsingtoa may help with this do-it-yourself movie. (No beer was involved in the shooting of these pictures, maybe just some really strong American coffee at the apartment we were staying.)

So that was our China Vacation 2011. It was the trip of a lifetime for two travelers who have had several trips in our lifetime. Where will we go next? Our passports are up-to-date and our key chain is ready for some new adventures.

Some of my posts from China 2011: