Preparation. Less than 2 months off.

Pats picture of trip. He couldn’t get small enough pinto go around Ireland.

Last week Pat exclaimed that we seem to have replaced everything in the boat but he hadn’t thought of the engine! And yup we have to replace it now. Hopefully that will be done before end of March and we can get out and try a few more drills. Having said that, the last time I did this I was learning how to raise the mainsail just days before we left to sail to the Arctic and cross the Atlantic and we had to be rescued because of not ‘burping’ the engine when she went back in.

Our agenda is dependent on the weather and any other possible delays. I’m getting so superstitious I daren’t mention any.

I’ve just spent the day searching for a piece of rigging to haul the whisker pole up and down as ours has cracked and it seems they don’t make it any more. Think I’ll just use a couple of rubber bands and a rosary or two.

Dervla my trusty editor will be keeping this updated as we travel along. In the meantime unfortunately I have no pictures the meal planning including flying cooked chickens hot and fatty from the pressure cooker or mistakes in recipes when I thought 200º was Fahrenheit. We were starving by the time it was cooked. but here are some of recent travels.

Wadi Rum, Orien’s Sword and of course Lawerence

After Petra we headed out to a jeep ride through the desert.  I was not to keen on this initially, as I had been on one of these in Dubai and it was a ride sliding up and down the dunes full of thrills and spills!  Frankly I felt car sick throughout it and one jeep all the airbags exploded in the middle of it, but thats another story.  This ride was much better.  We headed out to an area that all the Jordianians are extremely proud of where ‘The Martian was filmed and of course Ibad had to ensure that I posed exactly right in the right spot for the picture.  We then went on through the beautiful red desert through natural images of Spinx’s and elephants and where Lawerence of Arabia held meetings. In honor of him they engraved a picture of him in the rock. I have to say I was a wee bit disappointed.  He looks nothing like Peter O Toole and I was told he was short and dumpy.  All my fantasy’s splashed!  The fat face in the photo above is the carving.

The carving of the camels above are type of signposts or directions for caravans coming through and it indicates North south east and west and milage etc.  A type of chart/ Map or GPS for the modern minded. DSC_0446

And we came across this group resting before moving on.  At the end of this we were picked up and taken out to the middle of the desert to the camp we were staying the night on and this was really fantastic.   It was a high end camp and we were greeted with cold towels and a refreshing sorbet drink.  Our tent had hot shower and a heater for the cold night.  I would advise good warm PJs for this.   We sat out watching the sunset amidst the most beautiful silence disturbed only by the occasional refill of our glasses.  I fell a wee bit in love with the waiter (In a maternal manner it must be noted!)  He was so shy.   We had our own fire and the manager tasted marshmallows for us before we the sun set and we went on for our meal.fullsizeoutput_200d

They cooked a feast from a pot dug into the sand and left to cook for three hours.  and there was one other couple ad joined us.  Really nice from England and we shared travel stories.

At the end of the meal we went out to marvel at the stars and of course a photograph will not do that any justice.   Millions of stars.  The Milky Way was so clear.  I was looking at the Seven sisters and saying to Sue that it is really amazing to view through the binoculars and trying to impress them with my Celestial knowledge.  Well Mike ran in and got the binoculars and politely amazed at my wisdom and then Sue showed me the Nebulous in Oriens sword which is incredible to see and the Red Glow from the star in the sword next to it. She apologized for not remembering the name of the sword but suffice to say I learnt a lot more about the stars from them.

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I had full intentions of getting up to watch the sun rise but it was at 5am and Pat didn’t put the heater on until 5.30 am and I certainly wasn’t getting out of bed to put it on.  We did get out though to see this and had breakfast overlooking the sand and rocks .  I loved the Antarctic and the silence and wonder there but I have to Amit it is too much nicer to have a bit of silence and wonder in luxurious comfort.

Petra (Five days before the flash floods)

So sad to hear today that there have been more flash floods in Petra. This blog was written just after we visited.

I was sitting in the Hotel at breakfast remembering in Ireland where they so charmingly sit you at the table and ask you what hot meal you would like and sometime have trouble understanding what ‘Sunny side up is’ and thinking it really is nicer than navigating around a buffet finding where the honey is hidden. At that time I was idly watching a child cut herself a piece of bread and it occurred to me that it may not be terribly hygienic. As if to prove my point this gorgeous little girl stood back, looked at the bread thoughtfully , scratched her bum and then sliced another piece. The joys of travel. Obviously no accompanying picture to this one!)

Gosh I wish there was another way to let you see the atmosphere of history and magnificence of the rocks and buildings my words and photos really don’t do it justice. You have to go. NOW before the tourist trade grows. (Written a coupe of days ago) (Jerusalem is terribly overcrowded but thats another blog

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Downtown Petra

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We started off to see Petra very early as advised by David of ‘Departures travel’  (Btw the way many of your tips and suggestions were much appreciated David)
The first sight of the Treasury through the crack in the canyon is so impressive. I can’t think what it must have been like for the Swiss guy who had first heard about the city and took some time to persuade the Arabs to take him to it.  Petra is ENORMOUS.  much more that the Treasury which is in all the pictures.  There are the Kings Tombs, the Amphitheater, the Monastery, (which is twice the size of the Treasury) Downtown Petra where the shops were of course and you can almost feel the bustle of trade there must have been then.  (Did I say in the last blog how Juresh would have made Dubai’s shopping Malls look common.) You have to hand it to the middle Easterners they know how to shop.

Petra is said to be 100 sq miles and due to flash floods and earthquakes only about 65% of it is excavated.
The church still has the mosaic design on the floor perfectly preserved because it is the actual color of the stones not painted stones.  It was not as crowded as last night and it was easy to avoid any other tourists.    There are 900 steps up to the monastery and a bit of a hike to get to the steps so there is an option of riding camels to downtown or donkeys/mules up to the monastery. Pat and I chose to walk.  It was a bit hairy as you had to listen out for donkeys and camels coming up behind you.  Camels are surprisingly quiet and sometimes going quite fast,    The donkeys climb those steps at a 80 degree angle and it looks terrifying… actually I believe it is terrifying as the faces of those who rode them did not look relaxed.  . There are stalls on the way up to the monastery and we had to stop at one for a refreshing mint and lemon as he was calling out “have a break , have a Kit Kat.”
The local male Bedouins wear Kohl around their eyes and are really very beautiful in an androgynous type of way.  Keith Richards must have taken his look from them and a lot of them look like Johnny Depp.
We were both very proud of ourselves climbing up there and then some more up a cliff to the “worlds finest view’.  There are about 15 of those in Petra alone.

 

We did a 2nd day in Petra and in the afternoon our guide took us to Little Petra.  This is a place where they kept the camels and traders to rest before they would go into Petra.  Behind it it the second oldest village in the world. (The oldest is Jericho). Beidha is from 2000 BC!  They have only started excavating it and unfortunately Jordan hasn’t the money to wok more on it at the moment.  We saw another ancient tomb from neothleitc days that the Bedoiuns used for shading their camels and  Its quite sad to see all these places which were heaving with prosperity and now there is a shortage of Water and Jordan is so poor.  Since 9/11 they have had big drops in the tourist trade which is one of their top incomes and there is a shortage of water.
Throughout all of this there is the most incredible terrain with sights across wide expanses of land seeing the Red Sea , the Dead Sea and the Sea of Galilee all at once.  I find myself imagining just what it must have been like when Moses walked through all this.  Our Guide Emad has been Wonderful telling us about it all from the Koran which of course is very similar as in the Bible.  It has been a real treat to have him as he clearly loves his job and apologies for talking too much.  He even decided to top at an Olive Oil factory thats not really for tourists but they were happy enough to let us in to look around and really very friendly.  One of them came up to me to tell me he had been in Virginia so we all started sing ‘on the blue ridge mountains o Virginia…’The smell of Olives was fantastic.

Wadi rum next

Travels in Jordan

fullsizeoutput_1ea9After 24hours + travel I was warning Pat that this better be worth it and so far so good!

We spent the first day resting and just wandering around the opulent part of town watching all the suave Jordanians with their pristine Dishdāshahs (the long tunic they wear) and perfectly ironed Turban and the women in incredibly elegant Burkas.  We went to the Blue Mosque fullsizeoutput_1eb7

 

and somehow I did not manage to look elegant in my burka!. Picture not attached!  Many thanks to David of ‘Departures Travel’  for arranging an excellent Hotel (Rotana ) which not only provides a very good service but also is dominant in the sky line so we can’t get lost.

We wandered by the courts and there were men out in stalls with manual type writers probably doing legal wfullsizeoutput_1eb9rits.  Full of bustle and hustle but not stopping them from shouting WELCOME to us.

 

Our guide Emad took us to the Citadel with the 2nd century Temple of Hercules, an Ancient Inn, a Fort  where Laurence of Arabia negotiated.  The door of the fort is made of stone and and weighs well over a ton.
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Built by the Romans and the door could be easily pushed closed by me because of its hinges.
 Finally  a 15th century mansion where the Kings younger son who was into girls and hunting.  DSC_2381
The friezes could be seen depicting his interests !   All of these buildings are in incredibly good shape but the photographs do not seem to do them much justice.   A quick bite to eat with local food and then home exhausted.
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Today we visited Jerash. This is a world heritage and unfortunately for Jordan, due to 9/11 and issues with Syria the tourist industry is not what it used to be.  It was nice for us though as there were not the crowds you see in other places.  It is the largest Roman ruin outside of Rome and truly fascinating architecture.  It dates as far back as 3500 BC but it was more developed by Alexandra the Great in 500BC There are four Byzantine Churches with Mosaic floors still clear and intact, a hippodrome where you can see where the gladiators fought.
Two theatres where you can see the seat numbers and family names who had reserved seats.  The sound system is such that you can stand in a specific spot and be heard by all 3 thousand sized audience. Of course I tested it !  There are also holes at the base where its like the whispering gallery in St Pauls and the guards or theatre staff could communicate all along the stage floor.  How did they figure that out so long ago?  The 63 columns are earthquake proof.  The Romans put iron bars into the columns  and they can move gently when pushed.  That’s demonstrated by a teaspoon Video unable to attach due to sizeEmoji.
We went on to see Qalat Al -rabad fortress which is situated on a mountain top showing views from the Dead Sea to the Red Sea to the sea of Galillee.  fantastic views.
Tomorrow we are driving down the Kings way stopping at various sites on our way to the highlight PETRA

 

Final days in Tibet.

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We are on our last night in Tibet and although sad to finish it I must be candid. I am looking forward to the luxury of home.  Tibet is not for the faint hearted.  The dilemmas start early morning when it as been -11°C about 20°F and you’re deciding whether to wear one or two pairs of trousers (Pants for the Americans). This has a knock on effect when using the rest room (not really the right word to use for the facilities in Tibet). 
Then there is also the problem of your breakfast.  The food is not wonderful and the only thing I liked in the morning was beans on toast which is not so good when your going on an 8 hour drive.   The driver offered me some Yak cheese.  Its dried. You keep it in your mouth.   My advice to you is to say NO to the cheese and butter and butter tea. 
All moaning aside I must admit we had a wonderful time and we both leave with a lot of mixed emotions about Buddhism, the politics of China and Tibet and we’re both so glad we made the trip. 
We drove eight hours to Gyantse, passing nomadic tribes, stunning mountain scenery, the Galoohing monastry and up to a stunning high altitude turquoise lake where of course I had to have my photo taken on a yak.
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  On the way up there every now and then we saw pilgrims walking with their prayer wheels coming from the secret Mountain which is considered a sacred pilgrim by both Hindi and Buddhists alike. 
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We stopped at a stuppa which was 5998 meters above sea level.  ( thats about 20,000 feet). The first thing I saw was a man sucking on his oxygen can.  I was glad I’d taken my tablets that morning but I have to say it is a really weird feeling as you breath so deeply and quickly.  A lot of people leave white silk scarves… Forget that ….Pat and I just got our photo taken instead.

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5998 meters high

 
The following day we drove to Shigatse to see the Tashilhunpo Monastry.  It was beautiful because it was peaceful and there were less and less tourists.  More pilgrims.  Just at the end of the tour  we realized we were too late to see the special chapel but I was pretty OK with that. We had seen the 26 metre high future Buddha.  During the cultural revolution the Chinese occupied this monastery but fortunately they did not destroy it. Just imagine an enormous gold Buddha looking down on you.   Very impressive.

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paling the monks to prayer

 

 As we were leaving I heard the beautiful horn calling the Monks for prayer and lunch.  Well wadayaknow, the next thing a young Monk (not more than 14 years of age) hurried by with his yellow coat and yellow hat.  Our guide said ‘quick lets go back to the hall and maybe we’ll get a few pictures of the monks returning’. It was terrific I stood and watched and then took photos and then watched them fooling around with each other (they were mostly teenagers) and then took more photos.  Then they all started going into the hall and the pilgrims started following them.  It seemed that we could also go in.  There they were chanting away and as we walked around we got into the special chapel. We stood and watched them and one of the monks kept laughing and looking over at Pat and I.   We both felt blessed to get this chance to watch this.  I know our guide was over the moon.

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taking shoes off onto cold cold stone floor to pray and eat

 
We had another long drive the following day to Samye Monastery.  This is the ‘first monastery.’  The Chinese destroyed the second and third floor of this monastery in the cultural revolution  but it has been rebuilt.  I thought it was a bit of a cheek that the police station was right beside it and blazoned on the front was Chairman Mao and the other presidents.   It does seem that Tibet is prospering under China and the Tibetans are rebuilding these monasteries however they require permits to do so.  When we were going into the Dahkong Temple , as tourists we did not need to supply ID but the Tibetans had to and we saw two Tibetans who, no doubt traveled quite a way to worship there been turned away.   I see a lot of new roads and schools and its difficult to understand just how strong an influence religion has on the Tibetans
Anyway, a cute moment on the roof of the ‘First monastery was when Pat and I were getting a photo taken a pilgrim wanted in it and then his grandchild, then the children clearly wanted in it so the father came in and brought them into it.  It was the cutest thing and typical of the warmth in Tibet…..making up for the cold weather. 
Off to a monastery now.

Tibet

We had a long journey to Tibet, staring out at 3.30 am and arriving at 18.00.  To say we were tired was an understatement however we were met charmingly by our guide Tse Wang with white silk scarfs.  I had been warned by someone who was horrified that we were spending 8 days in Tibet saying it was too long and  that the predominant smell was Yak butter and everything was Yak related.  Of course the person who told us that had never been to Tibet but that still lingered in my mind as I arrived.  We were both exhausted and had snively noses.  I felt nauseas and our first dinner was cold chicken korma.  I felt miserable.

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The hotel was lovely as you an see from the picture and once we found the radiator we could heat up a little.  Pat and I were to tired to talk to each other and I thought that the rest of the week would be spent in bed.  Fortunately I had Diamox with me which is for altitude sickness and the following day after about 12 hour sleep we both struggled out of bed for a strange breakfast.  Still not looking good.  We then went to the Potala Palace.  The Winter Palace fro the Dalai Lama.

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Patalo Palace. Winter Palace of the Dalai Lama

I don’t know what was more stunning, inside the palace  (where we couldn’t take pictures), we were taken around the ornate chapels and chanting rooms and one monk was chanting and beating the drum and indicated for us to come in.  Everyone around us was chanting lightly as they passed and statues of the past present and future Bhuddas with the Protectors or the different people we saw. I think the one comparison could be is if you imagine the whole of Europe in Trafalgar Sq wearing their national costumes.
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We immediately felt miles better.  Our guide is a wonderful mix of reverential buddha teaching us and teasing humor.
Tibet is soo very different to China even though there are many posters referring to China as the motherland.  If you read the previous blog and saw the mall there I’ve taken a pic of a Tibetan Mall.  I want to write a bit more about this in a later blog when I get back as it reminded me a bit of Home in the 1970’s.

The children are all so playful and you can see how many of the adults enjoy being photographed.
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Contrary to the smell of Yak butter (however there is a great deal of this in the temples where the candles are burning there is a strong smell of incense everywhere.  Around the Jokhang Temple there are about six enormous incense burners.  The smell o these and the chanting and sound to the prayer wheels turning and the sliding sound as they prostrate on the ground as they walk around and in front of the temple.  (They have sliding boots on their hands and they stand up, raise their hands in prayer, then kneel and then lie down on the cold ground.
I expect to have more photos than words in the next one as there were many places we went where photography was not possible and would not have given the full dimension of the scene, like the monastery where the monks debate. I could have watched them for hours as the person who questions is standing and he slaps his hands and raises his legs and questions the person sitting down.  It got quite heated.

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workers chant as they stamp the mud into the floor

The photograph of the four on the roof were workers stamping own on the mud and chanting as they did this.
Tomorrow we’re off to the  Yamdrok Lake, ‘a stunning high altitude turquoise lake’.

Confucius say “Learning without thinking is useless, thinking without learning is dangerous”

We’ve just had a taster of everything in Shanghai and it’s certainly
a place I’d love to return to.

Confucius
two wise old bods

Vibrant. fun, stylish, opulent energetic and varied.  The wonder of Shanghai is

that they have managed to create a style that blends the
best of Western and Eastern fashion.  The buildings are
unique and clothes subtly shanghai-esque and the furniture
shops are really modern with a touch of the orient.   Both
Pat and I had a difficult time choosing out of  300 +
photos.

shopping mall
How could you not feel beautiful?

The bright Mall has the only curved escalator and
everything around you screams to be bought.  These
beautiful girls could convince me that I too could look like
them if only I used tis cream or wore this coat.
We visited the original place where the cultural revolution started and then to the
incredibly peaceful Confucius temple/school where a charming
student took us around.  Pat even bought worry beads. (When
have you ever seen him worry!)  Gerry (our new guide) then
took us to the market where he buys his pet birds and
fish.  It was incredible. They sold colored frogs, painted
turtles crickets and insects to put under your pillow to
help you sleep!!

cricket
how do you think he will perform?

The crickets are for cricket fighting
and racing.  Those three men (in the pic) are looking hard
at a cricket they eventually buy.
We had to go on the Maglev train which travels up to 480 kilometers an hour (300
miles/h).  It works by magnet and is very quiet and
smooth.
That night we strolled along the Bund which is the Wall Street of Shanghai and
along the river.  The buildings on the other side are
constantly changing pictures and colors and couples go there
for their wedding photos.

night time in Shanghai
changing colours

We went into the fancy Peace Hotel to watch some jazz ad then took the
tube home all by ourselves!   We had already taken a bus.
Pat looked a little out of place as the only tall white
boy!

on the tube
minority

The following day we went off to the ancient Zhujiajiao (the watery town according to Gerry).

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Peaceful garden smack bang in the middle of Shanghai 5000 yrs old

To me is was like Venice canals in the middle of China town.
1000 years old.  I was happy enough walking along until I
saw the picture of the Milk Snatcher herself!
  We took a canal ride. And then Gerry sorted our lunch for us.  Their desserts are
terrific and this time we had sticky rice in lotus leaves, I highly recommend, but not so much the pigs blood that I thought would be a bit like black pudding but it was very
bland.
From one extreme to another we drove straight from there to go up to the top of
the second highest building.  The highest is right beside it but very crowded.  The elevator covered the 600+ meters in less than 1 minute.  The building beside it that looks
like a bottle opener was originally designed with a circle but the government felt it was too like a Japanese flag so they changed it.
We then went off to the acrobatic show.  Absolutely tremendous.
Beautiful, exciting etc etc.. No photos obviously.
Sunday morning we went to the park where there was more dancing and of course I was
invited to dance.    Now, being the positive person that I
am I will take the smiling, laughter and encouragement along
with the many photos and thumbs up as a sign that I mastered
the dance.  I refuse to think anything otherwise.

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mmmm, not so sure about the steps

  There is also a speakers corner just like that in London.  Gerry told us that the men tend to discuss politics and the women go off to share details of their sons and daughters with
resumes.  Just like the one in Beijing.

peace hotel

There is a China town in Shanghai as well where we had the tea ceremony again and in
the middle of this there is the most beautiful garden.

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Peaceful garden smack bang in the middle of Shanghai 5000 yrs old

The Yu garden was built in the 15th century by a rich
businessman for his parents. It took him 17 years to
build.  Full of interesting rockery, bonsai and
architecture.  Hard to believe its slap bang in the middle
of all the bustling city life.
We ended the day going to the Propaganda Poster Art center.   This had
all the propaganda posters from the cultural revolution, anti USA and work hard for the party stuff.  It states ‘we must not forget our history’.   Gerry talked a little about growing up through this. He was from a wealthy family and says they were naive and believed everything. Our guides were all from different backgrounds and beliefs and freely talked about the government and their beliefs and appeared to be very knowledgeable about world politics.

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cutie pie

The family were keen for me to take the photo.
Next stop Tibet.
Someone told us the other day that the place smelled of Yak everywhere
and that would be all we could eat and forget about loos with seats !
I have faith in our tour guides that they will make it comfortable but if
not …it might make for a more entertaining blog.

Cruise on The Yangtze River and The Three Gorges Damn.

 

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We were sad to leave Guilin and Ian our guide who took us to the ‘off track’ places where  as Pat would say, we really got to ‘smell the roses’.
When we landed in Chongquin, the biggest city in China with a population of 32 million (and I’ll bet no one who is reading this has ever heard of it)  we were immediately taken to see the pandas.  I fell in love with the little brown ones although the big white ones are very cute as well.  We were then taken around an old opera house which was charming but I could have eaten the Lamb of God by this time, as we had only had breakfast.  Fortunately when we arrived on the boat we could feast on a choice of Western and Chinese food.
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The Yangtze cruise is a totally different experience and actually a chance for us to rest a bit, practice our Thai Chi and chat with a few Europeans, Americans and Australians.  Of course politics and the usual English and American suspects were mentioned… say no more.
Getting off the boat for a tour however, is really something else. The stall owners are all in a frenzy shouting out ‘Hello.. Hello, Money money, maybe later etc.  and following a yellow flag.  Now I know how a sheep feels when herded.   Some dodgey looking pigs noses in the hotdog stall though.
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I had to climb one of the many Pagodas of course and Pat took the photo but it seems the man beside me in the window is a bit under impressed or maybe he was thinking about the steep 75% angle of the steps he now had to climb down.
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The night show was actually quite fun and refreshing and of course Pat went full swing into it wearing the mask but I think it was the easiest way he could get to get his arm around the pretty waitress.
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We went up the ‘Goddess Stream and I was hoping to see the monkeys.  Not to be! Every now and then we would hear “this is where the hanging coffins were … but there aren’t there any longer, since the damn was built they are now in the museum.  This inscription on the cliff wall is 3,200 years old but this is not the original.  Since the damm was built the original is now under water.  This is were the monkeys are but now the damn is built the food is too deep for them so the government feeds them corn at the top of the mountain.”  When we landed at the end of the gorge there was a strange song and dance routine from the guides and it was all very touristy but I actually enjoyed it.
Meeting other people was a delight and I hope to meet our Australian friends Carmela and Paul again some time.  I had a great conversation with a girl who worked for Nasa and she was fascinating me with a work related story that we realized that we had momentarily lost our guide.  It was a refreshing break from the numbers of the great damn.  And I’m not sure I it was fog or smog all around but it didn’t make for fantastic photos.

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Of course we had to get onto the Bridge. (to non sailors its where they drive the boat.. think Star deck and Captain Janeway at the bridge.)  Although log book was in Chinese I could see how tidy the it was written.  They have a ceremony at the start of every journey to the Goddess of Light and you can see they left apples there on it.  I explained that we throw out a bit of booze to Neptune every time.

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On the whole Pat and I enjoyed the cruise and it has come at the right time in the middle of our trip but three days on a cruise boat is enough for us.  Once again a stress free change to flights thanks to guide waiting for us.  She even gave us her card with phone number and said f we have a problem anywhere in China and need a telephone translation we could just call.
Next installment coming soon, I’m loving all your comments.

Guilin, Tai Chi and cobra wine.

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First day Tai Chi

On arrival to Guilin there was the most beautiful aroma.  It is Osmanphus and apparently only blooms for one week every year.  Its gorgeous.  Ian is our Guide and he is very easy going and considerate as well.  He’s traveled quite a lot and is very intuitive to to travelers needs.  We decided to skip the tea ceremony as we’ve already had one and of course we bought the most expensive tea that will turn Pat into Bruce Lee equivalent and me into a healthy beauty queen.

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Rice cooked in Bamboo. no wee maggots

We headed straight to a village which hasn’t changed for over two centurys.  The local pharmacy has snakes and turtle shells and other strange looking bones.  In the local Offy/liquor store we had to try the Cobra Wine which gives longevity and had the kick of a mule.

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We later climbed the Fubo Hill and bumped into a lady from Gainesville and afterwards strolled around and watched all the local ladies dancing in the park. Its a delight to see.  There was also a small group of musicians playing Chinese music. It was woeful.  I think they probably think the same when they hear Irish diddilly dee music.  Our guide is now helping us order meals !

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Laborers on Rice fields

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view from hotel

The drive to Longsheng was spectacular scenery. We climbed the rice terraces which took the wind out of me but these 60+ yr olds were carrying people in a rickshaw or luggage on their backs.
There are two types of Chinese minorities,  the Zhuang and the Yo.  The Zhuang women  only cut their hair once in their life, on their wedding day.  They have very rich black hair.
Our guide says that its the herbs they apply and that they never go gray.  Sure enough one of them came to me and offered to let me feel her hair and it is amazing. (Was meant to buy something but I gave her 5 YUAN instead which she seemed pleased enough with.)  The Yo have those beautiful silver head tiaras.  After the hike up we sat by the side and ate bamboo rice (sans maggots or slugs) watching rickshaws race past.

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Picture of Guilin on 20 Yuan note

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on the River Lee

Our Li river cruise was amazing not just for the scenery but the fun we had with the Chinese girls wanting to get their photos taken with us and crying out ‘Hello’ to all the boats and us .  I was really touched at the end when one of the girls gave me a bottle of perfume that was on sale on the cruise and actually it smells very nice.
We landed to a crazy market,  a bit of a rest and Ian took us for dinner before the light show.

Snails, frogs and turnip toffee rolls, num num!
The specialty is beer fish which we picked out from the pool. ( I think Ian advised them to ditch the head and I noticed he ate the tail)  Delicious.  This place is a tourist area but very few Western tourists.  All Chinese.
I didn’t take any photos of the light show as they wouldn’t have done it any justice.  The backdrop were those mountains lit up and a cast of 1200.  We had great seats.

The morning was spent learning Thai chi from a master.  We are now experts!  And delightful day cooking with local farmers.  We decided to be courageous tonight and our guide took us to a restaurant where we had snails, frogs and the equivalent of turnip in hot toffee and I kid you not when I say it was scrumptious.
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