Blogs from Kids

from Jenny

How’s it going? This is Jenny Raak again. I was all psyched to write this, but honestly I have no idea what about, so I’m just going to ramble a bit, if that’s all right. Whomever (I hope that’s the correct usage of ‘whom’) said I would get sick of sesame chicken on this trip (I think that was you, Dad) was sorely mistaken. These people over here have never heard of sesame chicken. It only exists in American style restaurants. Chinese people are not very discrete about picking their noses. Well, at least men over the age of thirty-five aren’t.

I saw this wicked pink car today. I’m really excited to go to Beijing so I can record the traffic. I’m pretty sure it’s going to be chaos; I’m looking forward to it. I’m also sure that when I get home, I’ll be driving on the left side of the road. Technically everyone here drives on the right, but the way the roads are is crazy, and it feels like the left. That’s how I feel, anyway.

We went to this jade shop today to learn about jade rocks and how to carve them. The tour person there was Chinese, yet had a slight British accent to his English. That’s sadly what I focused on the entire time he was speaking, so I did not learn a whole bunch about the history of jade. I did, however, eavesdrop on the tour group that was after us while I was supposed to be shopping, so I learned how to tell fake jade from real jade. We also went to these really nice fountains in front of this Buddhist temple, I think it was (I don’t really keep track of the names of things) where you could walk across these rocks they had in the middle of the massive fountain. It was terribly frightening, because there were signs posted all over that said if you went in the fountain and touched the bottom, you would be electrocuted. (AAAAAAHHHHHHHHH!!!!) That’s how I interpreted it. The sign was in Chinese, but the pictured showed a stick person touching the ground of the pool with a gigantic lightning bolt above them. I thought the meaning was clear.

Hrm… everything else I can think to say is either boring or really boring, and the plane attendants keep making announcements in Chinese, which I can’t understand but might have something to do with landing, so bye.

from Hannah

Hannah  –  Our day today started very early for some of us. The self-titled Outlaws, about 20 of us, opted to wake up early and journey outside of Xi’An to see some pandas at a sanctuary. Sleep-deprived and hungry (for we left too early for breakfast at the hotel), the Outlaws met in the lobby for a 7:00 AM departure. We boarded a minibus that only seated about 18 people, forcing some of us to sit on the floor. Speeding along a major highway (speed limit 120 km/h, which is upwards of 65mph), we learned about pandas in general: where the live (in the mountainous region), what they eat (only one type of bamboo and only when it’s not flowering), what they do when there is not enough food (some starve to death and some turn carnivorous and eat the farmer’s sheep), and about some different varieties of panda (red pandas, small pandas, that sort of thing). Some dried fruit and bread were passed around the bus to serve as our breakfast.

We deemed pandas more important than sleep for reasons that vary by the person. Some went upon convincing of their parents, some went to see a national symbol of China, some went because the Denver zoo only has red panda but no giant pandas, and some because pandas are just so darn cute and fuzzy. The bus ride quieted to Mr. Chen and Bennie (our tour guide) chatting softly in Chinese, everyone else waiting in silent anticipation of fuzzy, black-and-white bear-like creatures. The pandas did not disappoint. After a short walk, our first panda encounter was a caged panda, seemingly on some sort of special diet. It was hungry and threw a temper tantrum with its bowl, throwing it around and overall acting like a four-year-old.

We continued walking to the “feed lots” (according to the sign) and came upon two pandas just enjoying the morning. They were a male and female couple, playing together and rolling around. Their enclosure had a ditch and tunnel which provided a lot of enjoyment for them. They climbed up and around it, providing us a few close views and lots of opportunity for pictures. They were rolling around and scratching themselves looking not unlike dogs. They seemed to know they were putting on a show for some American tourists and acted accordingly, amusing us.

The next panda enclosure contained an elusive panda. We spent quite a bit of time looking at bamboo before someone pointed at a tree. Upon closer examination, the panda was in the tree, climbing around and eating leaves. It was amazing that the tree could hold the panda’s weight because it didn’t look that strong and the panda certainly wasn’t small. After a few minutes of climbing around and eating, a man emerged from the brush carrying a bowl. He used sticks to entice the panda from the tree, tickling it. The panda determined that whatever was in the bowl was tasty and proceeded to eat it quickly. The man left and the panda followed him as if he were a dog following someone in hopes of getting more treats. The panda moved more or less out of sight, so we moved on in the direction of the minibus.

Along the way, we paused to snap a few photos of some baby golden monkeys. As with anything baby, they were very cute and fuzzy-looking. Clearly they thought we were interesting too because they scrambled over as soon as they saw us. Next to the monkeys were some peacocks. Nothing terribly interesting…but one was an albino peacock! It was a creamy white, with white feathers. Definitely a unique sight.

We headed back to the minibus with much haste so we can meet the rest of the group at the museum on time. After a quick stop at the toilet, we loaded the bus, some of us wishing we could stay with the pandas and blow off the museum completely, or at least be late. Really, fluffy pandas or old artifacts…which would you choose? Overall the pandas were fantastic and everyone agreed that they were worth the extra money (only about $30 US) and the lost sleep. Now it’s off to the museum (of what nobody seems to know) and another day of touring the beautiful land of China.

Posted in China Trip 2010.