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China

307--China: Macau--Ruins, Casinos & Forts
@ CherieSpotting     Jul 21 2005 - 01:00 PST
Cherie, Scott and Margaret by the ruins of St. Paul's Cathedral which was devastated by a typhoon in 1835.

Cherie, Scott and Margaret by the ruins of St. Paul's Cathedral which was devastated by a typhoon in 1835.

cherie writes: Flashback: January 2005
Located on the Pearl River Delta in the Guangdong province, Macau has been a “Special Administrative Region” of China since December 20, 1999. (Basically “SAR” means that the people of Macau aren’t bound by China’s socialist economic system.) Macau is 60-kilometers west of Hong Kong and boasts a population of 465,000 people that call themselves Macanese.

The Portuguese colonized Macau in the 16th century by renting the land from the Chinese. China was happy to oblige on one condition: the Portuguese rid the area of those nasty pirates!

Walking around Macau it’s hard to believe you’re in China. There are numerous open air plazas flanked by baroque cathedrals and colonial mansions. Macau is most famous for the Ruins of St. Paul which was a Jesuit church built from 1602 to 1637. St. Paul’s Cathedral was destroyed in 1835 by a typhoon. The entire structure was razed except the picturesque façade.
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307--China: Hong Kong: Aberdeen and the Big Buddha
@ CherieSpotting     Jul 20 2005 - 05:23 PST
Cherie, Margaret and Scott on our sampan ride in Aberdeen.  Behind us is the famous floating restaurant "Jumbo."

Cherie, Margaret and Scott on our sampan ride in Aberdeen. Behind us is the famous floating restaurant "Jumbo."

cherie writes: Flashback: January 2005
A few centuries ago, the floating city of Aberdeen was a hide-out for pirates. Now the harbor is a refuge for a different kind of rogue—“boat people.” Aberdeen’s “boat people” have shunned society’s restrictions and formed their own community on the water.

Unfortunately, many complain that Hong Kong’s “boat people” are derelict and an eyesore. Men strangled by ties and trapped inside a square of false light and buzzing technology, gaze down from their cubes and judge the vagabonds below as unfortunate. The "riffraff" smile peacefully to themselves, finding humor in the irony of the situation: a man caged in an office all day feels sorry for the "bum" who wakes up to an ocean view and leisurely spends his days fishing. Local businessmen may say the “boat people” are odd, but I think the eccentricity of Aberdeen Harbor brings the city of Hong Kong another dimension of charm.

Aberdeen Harbor is alive with boats that have just as much character as their owners, just as a crooked tooth often makes a man more attractive.
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306--China: Beijing, Searching for the Forbidden City
@ CherieSpotting     Jul 19 2005 - 11:21 PST
I thought I was in the Forbidden City until I realized I was staring at the same view that had made the cover of my guide book.

I thought I was in the Forbidden City until I realized I was staring at the same view that had made the cover of my guide book.

cherie writes: Flashback December 2004
Winter in Beijing is freezing. I was soaking up the warm rays in Thailand just a few days before I headed to China so I wasn’t prepared for the extreme difference in winter temperature. How could China be so cold when it was less than 3 inches away from Thailand on my map?

Winter in China helped me understand why people in cold climates are often grumpy. When temperatures are below zero it physically hurts to smile. It’s the kind of cold that makes your bones ache and your head scream. My blood felt like it turned to slush.

Our biggest miseries didn’t stem from the cold in our limbs—but rather the nagging ache in our minds: Amidst all the confusing squiggles of the Chinese language will we ever find a hotel? If so, will we be able to find the train station again?
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305--China: Guilin--Cruising down the Li River
@ CherieSpotting     Jul 16 2005 - 02:30 PST
Cherie and Scott take the 52-mile boat cruise from Guilin to Yangshuo in Guangxi, China.

Cherie and Scott take the 52-mile boat cruise from Guilin to Yangshuo in Guangxi, China.

cherie writes: Flashback December 2004
Shrouded in mist, Guilin’s wild hills and peaceful rivers have inspired poets and artists for thousands of years. Now the dramatic scenery inspires travelers and photographers.

Elephant Trunk Hill is on the west bank of the Li River in Guilin. The rock looks like an elephant taking a sip of water. There’s a cave between the legs of the elephant that has over 70 inscriptions from the Tang and Song Dynasties. If you don’t have the imagination to see the elephant, no problem—there are elephant statues all over the place.

Scott and I spent a day in Guilin drifting down the Li River on a boat cruise on our way to Yangshuo. We stood on the bow with a glass of wine, and savored the dramatic karst scenery. (We tried to savor the wine, but Chinese wine sucks.)
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304--China: Xian--the Terra-Cotta Warriors
@ CherieSpotting     Jul 15 2005 - 07:45 PST
My good friend Scott and I go back in time 2250 years to see what life was like living in the Qin dynasty.

My good friend Scott and I go back in time 2250 years to see what life was like living in the Qin dynasty.

cherie writes: Flashback December 2004
The 3100 year-old city of Xian, which has watched 13 dynasties come and go, attracted the attention of the world when a farmer found something odd while he was digging a well in 1974.

Later historians confirmed that the farmer discovered the most prized archeological find of the 20th century—the Terra-Cotta Warriors. Over 7000 warriors, horses, chariots and weapons have been resurrected from the pits of Xian’s excavation. The find of the century turned out to be Emperor Qin Shi Huang’s tomb.

Arranged in battle formations, the warriors were buried with Qin Shi Huang to protect him after death. His tomb was extravagant and included rivers of mercury and a pearl encrusted ceiling. With the gems twinkling above his body, Qin Shi Huang made sure he could forever gaze at the night sky. The mausoleum is right out of an Indian Jones’s flick, complete with shooting-arrow booby-traps! Qin Shi Huang’s son made sure the emperor was buried with all his concubines—at least the ones that weren’t pregnant.

My friend Scott and I met the auspicious Chinese farmer! Too bad we couldn’t speak Mandarin and get his story first-hand.
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270--China: The Great Wall
@ CherieSpotting     Jan 06 2005 - 03:10 PST
Scott and Cherie drinking red wine on the Great Wall with a Chinese guard named Wow.

Scott and Cherie drinking red wine on the Great Wall with a Chinese guard named Wow.

cherie writes: Shi Huangdi, a Qin Emperor, began constructing China’s Great Wall in 221 BC. It is the only man-made object that you can see from outer-space.

Cost of Visa to get into China: $50
Cost of over-night sleeper train to Beijing: $65
Cost of a day-tour to see the Great Wall: $24
Cost of a bottle of “Great Wall” red-wine: $6

Seeing the Great Wall dusted with snow and drinking a bottle of wine with a friend (Scott) that you’ve known over half your life...priceless.
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269--Hong Kong: New Year 2005
@ CherieSpotting     Jan 05 2005 - 08:30 PST
Cherie, Scott and Margaret celebrate the 2005 New Year in Hong Kong.

Cherie, Scott and Margaret celebrate the 2005 New Year in Hong Kong.

cherie writes: Margaret, a friend from San Francisco, flew into Hong Kong to meet Scott (high-school buddy) and me for New Years. After traveling through China on a shoe-string budget, Scott and I were happy to be at the lovely hotel that Margaret booked for us in Hong Kong. It’s great to be in a new city with old friends.

By the way, according to me, Hong Kong is NOT a part of China. (First—Hong Kongers have their own passports. If Hong Kong is a part of China, then why do the residents need different passports? Second—tourists need a different visa to get into Hong Kong than into China. Furthermore, the currency of Hong Kong is the Hong Kong Dollar while the Chinese use the Yuan. All those things taken into consideration—I am convinced that Hong Kong is a different country!)
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