Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Up close & personal with the Terracotta warriors, and Hong Kong!

Family from the States was in town visiting, and although we originally planned to take them to OUR favorite place in China (Guangxi province), we decided that due to it being the rainy season in that region, we'd take them somewhere else. We ended up spending time in Beijing, then headed to Xi'an for a VIP tour of the Terracotta Warriors, and finally, we ended up in Hong Kong.


Dinner at the Noodle Loft in Beijing - good Shaanxi noodles and fun to watch the noodle makers throwing the noodles around in front of you

My husband and our guests headed to Xi'an on an overnight train, and I flew with a friend and met them there the next day. I had a really cool cab driver drive me from the airport to my hotel. He was super chatty the entire way and loved that I could speak Chinese. When he realized I could read Chinese, too, that really sent him over the edge - he'd excitedly point out billboards on the roadsides as we passed and say "And that one?" "and THAT one?!!!" "and that one!!" as he had me read the billboards aloud to him. I'll tell ya - me and cab drivers in China - we have come a long way. I have learned that a friendly smile, a big "NI HAO!" (hello!), and a good attitude works wonders! I think it's pretty cool that since my last trip to Xi'an, I've pretty much come full circle - from 万事开头难 (everything has a difficult beginning) to what I think is now the opposite - everything has a difficult end! I leave China late next month. The adventure is almost over.

Because my friend's husband is the President of the Asian branch of a huge company - and the company contributes a huge amount of money to Shaanxi province's tax base - we were able to get the real VIP tour at the Terracotta Warriors site! This is the same tour that is extended to U.S. Presidents and other heads of state.

The average person only gets this close:


We got THISclose:



We were very careful not to even sneeze. Can you imagine stumbling into a cultural relic dating back to 210 B.C.?!!! These statues guard the tomb of the First Emperor of China, Qin Shi Huang.

After our time in Xi'an, we headed to Hong Kong. Actually, we landed in Shenzhen, which is still in mainland China just across the way from Hong Kong. Because Hong Kong is considered an international flight, prices flying in are often much more expensive than flying into Shenzhen, which is considered a domestic flight. The process of landing in Shenzhen, taking a bus to the Hong Kong border, going through customs, and being dropped off in Causeway Bay took about 3 hours. Luckily, we flew out of Hong Kong International Airport - but if the price difference is huge, it may be worth it to fly into Shenzhen.

Bamboo scaffolding! I've only seen that in movies. Rush Hour, anyone?!


The famous Hong Kong trolley system, and double decker buses! (British influence, anyone?!)



Pretty views taken from a junket ride in Victoria Harbour



This is the site where in 1997 Hong Kong was officially handed back to China after more than 150 years of British rule


Night scenes, hard to get a good pic without a tripod




Me staring longingly into one of Hong Kong's many beautiful boutiques


View from The Peak


A reason I loved Hong Kong: a city built amid palm trees


Not the only car of this caliber seen on the streets of Hong Kong!


The Big Buddha at Lantau Island



I also ate at California Pizza Kitchen, which rocked my world, and the hubby and I also went to see an American movie in the super nice mall across the street from our hotel (we sort of have a tradition of seeing a movie in foreign cities we've been to - we've seen movies in Brugges, Victoria, Hong Kong, and Vienna).

And that's it. Hong Kong was truly one of the coolest cities I've ever been to. I love the tropical clime, the palm trees, the city built around it, the proximity to the ocean, and all the amazing shopping and restaurants. It's also definitely one of the most crowded (the most?) city I've ever been to - streets are very narrow, surrounded by high rises - it makes the streets of Beijing look extremely wide and spread out!

Steph

17 comments:

  1. Thats AMAZING that you got to be so close to the Warriors! I'll admit, I'm a little bit jealous! :)

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  2. I love it all. Seriously! You have just made me ass Hong Kong to my list of places to travel to. Your photos are great and it's amazing you got that close to the Warriors. I can't believe your adventure is almost over. I hope you keep blogging though!

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  3. ok that should say ADD and not ASS. Geez. I should trash that and start a new comment, huh? Nah...that's a good typo. ;)

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  4. I find those Teraccotta Warriors so interesting. Seen the images like them on movies, I suppose they weren't the real ones. China has a good history, it's one great place to go to.

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  5. Glad that you had a great time in Hong Kong Steph! Did you end up staying in Causeway Bay? Also SOOOOOO envy you for the super VIP tour in Xi'an!

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  6. I remember visiting these warriors when i was younger...such a cool experience and love your "close up" photos :) Just found your blog and adore it...have been reading through all your entries...just followed you! <3

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  7. That is sooooo cool. I'm not sure I'll ever visit China or Hong Kong, so it's fun to see it thru your eyes.

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  8. Looks like so much fun! I'm hoping before I go back to the states I can visit China. xo

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  9. It's been a while ! How are you sweetie ? I hope you're not updating because you're having too much fun :) Let us know how you're doing !
    Bisous :)

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  10. Frenchlover..... I know I have been so bad. I moved back to the US and had to cancel our awesome summer trip because my husband had to report NIH earlier to his knew duty station. So just getting everything in order.... I'll post soon!

    Steph

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  11. Much earlier ... Autocorrect

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  12. Question for you, we are considering a trip to China, did you do any vaccines prior to going? Thanks in advance!

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  13. Hi anon... You want to make sure you have your hepatitis vaccines,including hep A and B. I also got a typhoid shot - that's if you plan on seeing rural areas. Ad then make sure you are up to date on normal vacs such as MMR. The CDC has more info on their site.

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  14. Thanks so much for the info! Did you have any bad reactions to the vaccines? I am so needle and med phobic lol but we really want to visit China. Thanks again, loved all your pictures (found from the nest), looks so gorgeous!

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  15. Nope nothing other than a sore arm. I was scared to so I kept putting it off ... Just get it done:) it's nothing and you def want to get the hep a before going.... Two shots six months apart so make sure you have time!

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  16. Thanks, glad to hear there were no problems for you! : )

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