Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Beijing, China

Welcome to China!
Palace where one of the many Emperor's tombs was located.

These are replicates of what the Emperor's treasure chests looked like. Visitors have thrown money onto the chests as a form of gratitude and respect.

Emperor's Throne Chair

Squat or Sit?? Well, unfortunately most places we visited in China the choice was to squat. Yes, that's right, squat. If you haven't squatted in China, well then you are missing out. It's quite the experience.

The Great Wall!! One of the great beauty's of this world. It truly is a magnificent site to see and worth the trip to China

Chains that line the wall with messages written on them.
Look how steep the stairs were... yes we climbed them!

Tiananmen Square
Our tour guide told us that if two people were to stand on each cement block in Tiananmen Square that it would hold one million people at one time.

The beginning of the Forbidden City.
Disclaimer: In case you are wondering, no, this is not bad picture quality. That is indeed smog you notice. We never actually saw a blue sky or the sun for the four days we were in Bejing.

Palace inside the Forbidden City in Bejing...notice the large amount of tourists.

This is part of a Chinese Village that is still being preserved today in it's original design. This housing used to belong to Chinese Nobles and is to this day very expensive to live in. Most families share housing by owning one room per family.

This was in the center of the old Chinese village that we toured. This lake ran through the center of the village that was located on both sides. We actually all took a bike tour (on rickshaws)through the village in the rain.
One of the many beautiful palace buildings. Notice the bright colors.
Mythical creatures like the one above are located outside palace entrances for protection. They are designed to look as though they are made up of different body parts of several animals such as a dragon body and a lion head.

This man was so cute and as soon as we took his picture he smiled at us, it was priceless!
We walked down the longest hallway in the world which was located at the summer palace. The ceilings were beautifully handpainted and every picure was uniquely different.
Beautiful lake behind the Summer Palace where the Former Emperor of China would stay during the summer. The Emperors mother would be transported to the palace in secrecy by boat.

Jeju Island

Once our classes were finished, we took a plane to Jeju, an island off the southern tip of S. Korea. Jeju Island is Korea's version of Hawaii. Most people come here for their honeymoon (Dr. Suh and her husband came here for theirs!), and it is easy to see why! Every part of this island was beautiful.
Welcome to Jeju! Our tour bus picked us up at the airport and we immediately began our tours. Do you like the bus? It actually broke down the next day, but we were so glad to see that the crane motif was also in the "back-up" bus. Our tour guide spoke spoke very little English, so it was frustrating at times for us. It really gave us a good glimpse of what it's like for non-Americans when they come to the United States. We wanted to learn and to communicate, but we didn't know how.
This is the 7 Angels Bridge. The tale is that the Emperor would come down from Heaven with 7 angels and then bathe in the river.

This fountain had several different "heads, " each with a different meaning or purpose. The object was to stand in front of the head of the animal that possessed the quality you sought after and then toss a coin into the bag. If your coin landed in the bag then you would receive the animal's quality. All three of us stood in front of the Mallard Duck, which represented "love," and none of us were able to get the coin in the bag.

Jeju even had palm trees!

The bluest water we've ever seen! It was cold, too!

Dr. Suh and Erin cool off in the lake

This is a ginseng factory. Apparently, ginseng is extremely hard to find with excellent health benefits, therefore it is very expensive! A very small bottle of ginseng was about $500!

The underside of a bonsai tree

Jana poses for a picture!

This was probably our favorite part of Jeju Island. We walked around this coastline for about an hour, and even though it was pouring down rain it was absolutely beautiful. Jeju Island is famous for it's women divers (who dive to search for seafood) and we got to see them at work cleaning their finds.

Although our tours usually consisted of a visit to a "Traditional Korean Folk Village," this was the first time we got to tour a folk village with people still living there. Before we entered, the guide explained the significance of the entryway poles. If all three poles are down, as pictured above, then everyone is at home and visitors are welcome. If only 1 pole is down, it means that only children are home. If there are no poles down, then there is no one at home.

This is how the village gathers its water. When it rains, the water runs down the branches into the bucket.

This is Soju, the traditional Korean alcohol. Very strong!