china

relaxing in china

While I have been dreaming of ways to relax (and continuing my wanderlust), my thoughts traveled all the way back to 2008 when I visited China.  One of the most unforgettable experiences was our glorious hotel.  It was the perfect refuge after 22 hours of flying and especially on day 3 when jet lag attacked my stomach.  As I adjusted to the time change I spent a lot of time wandering the halls enamored by the beautiful interior design.  I also enjoyed relaxing in the many lounges while my Uncle tended to business.  The staff was impeccable and the food was delicious.  BUT — the best part was the I-N-S-A-N-E, 3-hour spa treatment my Aunt and I each indulged in around day 7.  It was called the Empress Imperial Jade Journey.  And the journey of a lifetime it was.  Everything in the world stopped for those three hours.  The entire red army could have been surrounding me in that suite staring at my naked body and I couldn’t have cared less!!!  And my tiny, little, Asian-lady masseuse with hands as strong as crocodile jaws was the most perfect hostess.  I could literally write a novel on the entire experience — which included a belly massage and culminated with Himalayan “dust” being lightly powdered over my body with feathers…  Oh my!  If you are ever in Beijing… believe me, it’s worth it to stay at The Shangri La!

   

[all photos are mine, except for the last one: courtesy of Shangri-La]

brrrr….

It’s chilly here in Southeast Texas.  Feels a bit like a Michigan winter.  But it doesn’t feel anything like the cold in Harbin, China.  They just kicked off their annual International Ice and Snow festival.  The Globe posted some great photos of the event…including an annual mass wedding.  I can’t believe these ladies were still wearing dresses even though it was -22! But what an amazing backdrop!

20 years later

Today is the 20th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre.  I can’t believe that China (mainland) still refusues to recognize that so many were killed.  I don’t understand how a culture that has a picture of a scantily-clad movie star advertising jewelry on the side of a public bus, can still be living like it’s the middle ages.  I encountered so many wonderful people in Beijing each with a personal voice and unique story to share.  It’s so interesting to me the ideas that the government chooses to supress and the others it lets in.  I can’t wrap my brain around it.

I so very much enjoyed my time at Tiananmen Square.  I could have stayed all day just people watching.  It was such a strange feeling to be on the other side of “majority” as a young, American female.  It took a little getting used all the staring and picture taking, but I had to embrace it or go crazy!  What I loved is that I felt like I was able to communicate with lots of people w/o ever saying a word.  Smiling really is a universal symbol that can disarm just about anyone.  I liked feeling like I had my own little United Nations meeting helping to gap the cultural divide.

Tiananmen Square November 2008

Tiananmen Square 2008

beijing burning

I can’t imagine seeing a 40-story building on fire in the middle of beijing.  If the news reports are correct it is the mandarin oriental hotel that was on fire.  The financial district of beijing is so congested, but I guess it’s like any other major metropolis, but with buildings that blow your mind.  In the first picture below, the main building is the new CCTV building that the Chinese are so proud of.  I think that the building just to the left of the new TV building is the hotel that burned.  The second photo is a view from my second hotel room (The Shangri-La Kerry Centre).  I think the way I’m positioned here has the mandarin oriental hotel on the other side of the TV building.  The architectural accomplishments of Beijing are astonishing.  Size, shape — it’s all relative.  It’s such a pity to see so many months of hard labor literally go up in smoke.  I hope everyone is ok.

I’ve also attached a couple of other interesting architectural sights I saw along the way…

***Just an interesting FYI.  The locals call the new CCTV building the ‘underwear building’ b/c it looks like a pair of men’s boxers. Hilarious.

beijing cctv building

View of CCTV building from Shangri-La Kerry Centre

beijing on a clear day

building in financial district of beijing

birds nest

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Back from Beijing

Wow.  Two weeks in China was amazing.  What an interesting and conflicted culture.  I look forward to re-reading my journal in a few days, especially as I go through my pictures.  I took in all the sights of Beijing (The Summer Palace, Forbidden City, Tiananmen Square & The Great Wall) and I also traveled to Xi’an to see the Terra-Cotta Soldiers.  Many days were spent at the Pearl Market and Silk Street bargaining myself to death.  I was fortunate to meet several locals that showed me different types of the city: 5-star and no-star.

As I enter Thanksgiving week back home in America, I am thankful for the entire experience and the way in which my world is a bit smaller and more personal.

Here are just a few shots…more to come.

The Great Wall

The Summer Palace

view from hotel