It has been an interesting, enlightening, and entertaining month in China. The first 18 days were doing a private tour organized through Wendy Wu Tours, with the final 10 days being at a house sit in the city of Qingdao looking after three dogs and three cats.

Friends We've Made
Our three main guides, Sean, Cassie, and Bruce were knowledgable, personable, and professional. As well, Maria, on board the Victoria Jenna, took very good care of us. Though doing a private tour is certainly a bit more expensive, I would be lying if I said we didn’t enjoy having our own driver and guide to show us the sights and bypass any large groups that were moving slowly.

I love history, but both Karen and I have a very limited ability to enjoy museums. As well our lifestyle does not allow for collecting trinkets and souvenirs so we try to focus on sights, smells, and people in our travels. China is a treasure trove for these types of experiences.

Leshan Grand Buddha
The scope and challenges of ancient people constructing things like the Grand Buddha at Leshan are an example of that.
Perspective
It is when you look closer at these feats the size truly strikes you. The size of the tourists walking by helps you understand. How did they cope with the challenges of carving this over 1200 years ago?

The people, oh the people. With a population of 1.4 billion people (18% of the worlds population) they are everywhere. However I will qualify that with the statement that we never felt we were in a crush of people as we have experienced in many other countries. The public have learned to just move forward. With both walking and driving it is vital not to worry about what is behind you. We never once saw anyone get upset about being cutoff. Just keep moving forward.

Industry
Industry is another big thing. Though most heavy industry has been moved west into the less populated areas of the country. We saw plenty as we did our train trips. When I say less populated that is a relative term. All big industrial sites we saw were accompanied by small cities of 1 to 7 million people.
Seafood Anyone?
Oh, and street food. No lack of visual displays of what is available for your palette. Think seafood here.
Muslim Street
The amount of pork we saw for sale on Muslim Street left me scratching my head. I am sure there is more to it, but getting an answer was problematic.

Muslim Street

Teach Them Young
The majority of tourists we encountered were from China, but it doesn’t matter the nationality, children have a way of involving themselves in whatever is going on.
Crowd Control
Police and security presence was everywhere we travelled. The only piece of equipment we consistently saw were these poles. I assume they are for some type of crowd control. Most of the time the police were answering questions from passersby.
Police Dog at Train Station
We saw this fellow working at the Beijing train station when we were heading to Qingdao. So cute and well behaved. Unfortunately we never got to see him indicate on anyone. I would have been curious how that would have gone down.
Public Washroom
Another interesting experience is toilets. Squat toilets are the norm, however we found the solution is finding a handicap stall. There usually was a Western toilet in them. This public restroom took the term “public” to a new level. This was the ladies restroom.
National Centre for the Performing Arts
On the other end of the scale were places like the National Centre for the Performing Arts. An absolutely modern, beautiful facility for supporting the performing arts. We went and walked around inside, jaw dropping.
National Centre for the Performing Arts
One of the public areas in the Performing Arts Centre. It was a photographers dream wandering through here.

I mentioned our last 10 days were house sitting in Qingdao, a port city with a population of around 6 million. It was a very quiet time resting and catching up on writing and organizing photos.

Qingdao Fog
We were fortunate to have perfect weather while we were touring China. When we got to Qingdao it all balanced out. Nearly every day was heavy fog and temperatures in the low to mid teens.
Great Coffee Shop
Our best find in Qingdao was this bakery. They served excellent coffee and the baking, oh the baking. Suffice to say we went here every morning for coffee and a little something.
Nighttime Fog and Lightshow
The fog along the promenade at night was pretty cool.

Qingdao Waterfront

A Clear Day
We did enjoy some cool clear days. This is the view from the back of our apartment.
Tai Chi
On our last morning we were treated to a quintessential Chinese scene. A lady in the complex courtyard practicing Tai Chi. It was quite beautiful to watch.

China is a country that holds  strong feelings for many people. The advantage of our house sitting life styles is that when the opportunity presented itself to experience it first hand, we were able to do it. Because of that we are better informed, more rounded individuals. We highly recommend the experience to others.

Welcome to our travel blog. Have you ever wondered what it would be like to say, "I'm out of here?" Well we did, and in 2013 we made it a reality. We sold or gave away all of our possessions other than what fit in our luggage and we set off on an endless adventure. Part of our goal is to share our experiences with others and hopefully provide some information, motivation, or just a moments escape. The general idea was to look for a place that would be ideal to settle down in. However in the meantime it is about experiencing life in different countries amongst different cultures and learning how to understand and appreciate each other. A large part of our time is spent housesitting which provides an excellent opportunity to experience more of the "normal" neighbourhoods as opposed to the tourist locales. Though we make sure to enjoy those as well. So through plenty of photographs and a running commentary come and share with us our life on the road.

2 comments on “China Impressions

  1. Very interesting as always

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