Sunday, August 30, 2009

More travels in Boulder

Arti is starting to pack up his bags for his trip home, and wants to share a few more pictures of places he went within Boulder.

He visited the Celestial Seasonings tea factory and shop to watch how tea is combined and packaged. No photos allowed in the factory, but Arti did pick up a few goodies in the adjoining shop.

He helped out at the community gardens, and brought home some tasty snacks. These tomatoes were not quite ripe yet:

But Arti's favorite plant was the artichoke, of course!

He also went to visit the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration building, which has a big fake satellite in the lobby

And then a spot of afternoon tea

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Hong Kong with side of Typhoon

Last stop in China was Hong Kong for two days. On the first day, Arti visited a temple which housed plaques for remembrance of ancestors. The ceiling was covered with big incense coils:

Near the temple was an outdoor market with lots of produce and seafood for sale.

Then Arti headed over to the harbor and took a short cruise around some moored fishing boats.

After the morning, things clouded up quite a bit with lots of rain, due to nearby Typhoon Goni.

In the evening, Arti went on an outing to see Hong Kong at night.

He took the Star Ferry from Hong Kong island over to the mainland, and then toured the night market and got a look at downtown from the top of a nearby hill.

The next day was very rainy, but Arti managed to make it over to the art museum. He learned how to do brush painting at an interactive exhibit.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Whirlwind tour of Chengdu

Arti arrives in the spicy city of Chengdu to a few rainy days! He stayed in the downtown business area, with lots of modern stores and buildings.

The main attraction in Chengdu is the panda sanctuary. Lots of pandas live at the reserve, where they are protected.

In addition to big pandas, red pandas live at the panda reserve. They were feisty and quick!

In the afternoon, Arti visited the people's park, located in the middle of the city. This was a monument to railroad workers who died.

There was a nice pond in the middle of the park, with extremely loud cicadas and little boats to rent.

On the way back to the hotel from the park, Arti met a big statue of Mao near a public square.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

A few days in Lhasa

Immediately after arriving in Lhasa, Arti met a welcoming yak! Well, a taxidermied yak, but nonetheless....

The local guide gave him a kata scarf as a greeting. These scarves were popular offerings to Buddha at the temples.

The next day, Arti visited the Potala Palace. Lots of stairs to climb up to the top!

In the courtyard of the Potala Palace - no pictures were allowed inside. The interior has many large shrines to Buddha and the previous Dali lamas, with heavy incense, and floors slipperly with yak butter from the lamps. Pilgrims offer up katas, money, and yak butter for the lamps.

Yak burger for lunch!

In front of the Jokhang Temple is a huge street market of vendors selling everything from religious accoutrements to wool suits. In front of the temple are huge poles covered in prayer flags, and pilgrims circling clockwise and throwing themselves prostrate on the ground.

Roaming about at the Sera monastery on the edge of town.

Farmland and mountains at a poor village on the edge of town.

Arti headed to the Potala Palace in the evening to see it all lit up (as well as a fountain show in the park across the street).

Monday, August 10, 2009

Cruising the Yangtze

After a long bus ride, Arti boarded the Anna cruise ship on the Yangtze in the evening. The next morning, the Anna left dock and headed upriver. There were lots of coal ships and other cargo boats headed up and down the river.

A few hours later, the ship reached the Three Gorges Dam, and Arti got a chance to visit the top! He was surprised that it was made of concrete and not out of trees.

Then the Anna spent a few hours traveling through four gates of the ship lock.

There were really big doors in the ship lock! About half a dozen ships could fit into each segment of a lock at the same time.

Above the dam, the water level has risen significantly, although it was not as high as the maximum possible allowed by the dam. Last winter, the water was brought to the maximum for a test, so the vegetation about 20 meters above the current water level had all been stripped off.

On the second day of the cruise, Arti got to switch to a smaller ship to sail through the lesser gorges. Some rhesus monkeys climbed along the banks of the lesser gorges.

Then he switched to a sampan to go even further up the small gorges.

After three days, the Anna docked at Chongqing, and Arti debarked to head to the airport for Tibet.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Sightseeing in Xi'an

After wrapping up his whirlwind tour of Beijing, Arti took an overnight sleeper train to Xi'an.

He stayed in a hotel right next to the Big Wild Goose Pagoda:

The next day was rainy, a good time to stay indoors and visit the terra cotta warriors site. There are big warehouses covering the three large pits full of warriors.

On the way back to the hotel, Arti stopped at a market selling wholesale herbal medicines, including dried snakes and turtle shells.

He walked on top of the Xi'an city wall, the largest remaining city wall that encompasses the city center.

Then he spent a night at a farmer's village near town. Most of the villagers had moved to a newly built area, but the older homes remained nearby.

Then there was a short plane trip and a long bus ride past rice paddies and lotus ponds on the way to the Yangtze river!

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Heading to Beijing

Since blogspot was blocked in China, Arti is going to issue post-trip reports on his travels in China!

First, the really awful flight to Beijing through Detroit and then Tokyo...left at 3 am Wednesday morning and arrived at 10 pm Thursday night local time in Beijing, having lost 24 hours at the date line. Here is the big plane waiting to leave Detroit:

His first day in Beijing was a busy one! First, he visited the Forbidden City in the rain...

then it was off to Tian An Men Square, where he saw the Tian An Men Gate and Mao's mausoleum

The next day, he headed out of Beijing to see original (unimproved) sections of the Great Wall in the blistering heat.

He visited a rug factory where silk rugs are hand knotted

and walked around the site of the 2008 Beijing Olympics

At the Summer Palace, he took a ride across the lake on a dragon boat

And visited the Temple of Heaven on one of the few mornings with blue skies instead of thick haze.