From Jamie's Philippines Pics

We have also had the opportunity to travel to some amazing places in China, Cambodia, Thailand, Vietnam, the Philippines, and Bali. We have archived all of our travels and living experiences abroad; and if you wish, you can read about our adventures by finding the archives on the right of this page and by checking our Photo Album.

We appreciate all of our family and friends who have stayed in touch and emailed us with encouraging words throughout the year. We hope you will continue to keep us in your thoughts as we continue our adventure of living abroad teaching at an international school. For those who have stumbled upon our site, check out the "About Eric and Jamie" section on the right for more information.

Thanks for checking us out!

Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness."
- Mark Twain

"Perhaps travel cannot prevent bigotry, but by demonstrating that all peoples cry, laugh, eat, worry, and die, it can introduce the idea that if we try and understand each other, we may even become friends."
- Maya Angelou






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Tuesday, April 27, 2010

May Holiday 2010 - Day 4

We woke early, ate breakfast, and disembarked for Baidicheng or the White Emperor City. There is quite long long history to this place and one in which would take several books to write. I can summarize by saying that since the Three Gorges Dam has been built, it is an island which is inhabited by an ancient Chinese gated city dating back to the Han Dynasty a couple of thousand years ago. It is now mainly a tourist site where travels of cruises like ours visit on excursions from the ship. Jamie and I were the only English speaking tourists who decided to make this excursion.

Our guide, Apple, showed us the city and explained its history after we climbed the 300 steps to the top. We could have paid 2 guys to carry us to the top in these chairs, but we politely declined. These men are displaced farmers who now make a living carry tourists to the top of the White Emperor City. Among the sites we saw in this area were the poems carved by Du Fu and Li Bai, two of China’s greatest poets who spent some time there during their lives and were inspired. The White Emperor City is at the entrance to the 1st Gorge along the Yangtze River, the Qutang Gorge. The gorge is especially interesting because it is featured on the back of the 10 RMB note where you can pose for the picture inside the White Emperor City. Another interesting site inside the city was small room that showed the Hanging Coffins of the Ba ancient civilization. The Ba civilization of cultural ethnic group of China dates back 5000 years and lived along the Gorges of the Yangtze River. One of their customs was to bury their wealthy in caskets and literally place them or “hang” them in small caves or crevices along the gorge walls. Some of the coffins are as high as 900 feet from the water today, 1100 feet from the water prior to flooding. We were able to see these coffins up close and our guide explained how they were able to place these coffins in such precarious positions. According to archeologists, there are three explanations: using scaffolds, using a raised platform, or scaling the gorge from the top. As you can see from the pictures, all three methods would be difficult.

We walked back down our 300 steps and heard went exited though a very typical Chinese tourist “factory.” Every city in China is famous for something: Dali has marble, Beijing has pearls and jade, etc. This city was famous for its oranges for some reason and its wooden combs. Hundreds of women were selling these small wooden combs. Our guide told us that these combs were fake, of course, but the real combs were the government certified combs sold in the store. Go figure. These combs apparently are made from a special tree called the Rong Shu and sell anywhere from $5 to $125 US depending on what part of the tree it is made from, the root, trunk, or branch.

We boarded our ship afterwards and rested a short bit before lunch. After lunch, we disembarked again for 2 smaller cruises to see the lesser gorge and the lesser lesser gorges of the Yangtze River. I will have to go through my pictures to find the names of these gorges, but the highlight was being able to see 3 hanging coffins still in the cliffs. Be sure to check out the pictures of these in our photo album. These smaller cruises were very relaxing and the scenery was spectacular. After a rainy, misty first day, we were thankful to have some sun. Unfortunately, this is still China so there is a constant haze, even out in the middle of nowhere.

After returning, we learned to play Mahjong, an ancient Chinese game similar to gin rummy except with cards and different characters. It is a fun game and actually pretty easy to learn. Jamie and I plan on buying a set before we leave China.

Dinner was delicious tonight and we ended the evening watching a cabaret performance with more Chinese staff and some tourists who could play some instruments and sing.

Tonight (I’ll put it on the blog tomorrow), we will travel through the Three Gorges Dam. It will take us 3-4 hours to go through their 5 lock system. It will be in the middle of the night, but well worth staying up at least a little bit for. Check back for pictures and a description of what I’m sure will be an amazing adventure.

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