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The Travel Diary of Ian Lebold  
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China(Beijing) and Japan (Tokyo) - November, 2009
 

Beijing, China

Our Asian trip started out with a week long stay in Beijing, China. This was the site of the 2008 Summer Olympics and is home of the Great Wall. While the Wall does stretch through the entire Northern part of China, Beijing provides the easiest access.

Ian at the WaterparkOn our first day in Beijing we went to the Panjiayuan Market. On weekends, locals lay out their antiques and old household wares on a blanket placed on the ground. The market also contains shops and stalls where people sell everything from rugs and pottery to jewelry, furniture and books. Daddy got me an old abacus so that I can use it to practice counting items in Chinese. I can count to five in Chinese with ease and I am now learning numbers six through ten.

Ian at the Waterpark

We ate lunch at a nice restaurant in the market and meet a nice couple there. While the couple could not speak any English, we had many laughs. The gentleman gave us his photograph and autograph and we later found out that he is an artist and author -One of his books even became a movie.

 

 

Ian at the WaterparkThe next day we headed to the north-west section of Beijing to visit the zoo and aquarium. Since it was cold out (it had snowed in Beijing the week before we arrived; the first time in 54 years), we quickly strolled through the outdoor animal cages and headed directly to the aquarium. The aquarium had plenty to see and do for young people. There were shallow water touch tanks filled with starfish, shells and fish. I especially liked the dolphin and sea lion show. I liked when the dolphins touched the ball in the air and came down with a splash.

Ian at the Waterpark

Through out the week we visited numerous temples and historical locations around the city. My first stop was Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City. Tiananmen Square is the largest city square in the world. Unfortunately nobody was flying any kites when we were there; it was too windy and quite chilly. From the square, we headed under a tunnel to end up on the other side of the main street in front of the Forbidden City.

The Forbidden City was home to the Emperor and his household for almost five centuries. It was built from 1406 to 1420 and served as the imperial palace for both the Ming and Qing Dynasties. The Forbidden City was declared a World Heritage Site in 1987 and we felt very privileged to be there. We walked through many structures each serving a unique purpose for the Emperors. I managed to catch the attention of quite a few sightseers myself!

The following day we visited the beautiful Summer Palace. For this excursion we hired a tour guide (Cherry). She was extremely knowledgeable of the history and provided us with many facts that we would have missed out on if we hadn't hired her. We wished we would have had her at the Forbidden City.

 

Ian at the Waterpark

Cherry also took us to a small local silk factory for a quick tour before ending the day. At the factory I got to learn all about how these little worms spin a continuous silk strand into a single cocoon. Mommy and I got to help stretch silk batting used to fill a comforter. Silk filled comforters are preferred over down comforters in China.

Ian at the Waterpark

The following day was one of our highlights of the trip - The Great Wall. It was a beautiful day; chilly but bright and sunny. Before visiting the Mutianyu section of the wall, we spent the morning at the Ming Tombs; home to the mausoleums of 13 emperors of the Ming Dynasty. we visited the tomb of the Third Emperor, Emperor Zhu Di. Several people enjoyed my visit there by taking photos with me and carrying me up and down the several sections of steps. I felt like an emperor myself!

Ian at the Waterpark

The Great Wall was spectacular and stretched for as far as we could see! We ascended to the top of the mountain ridge via a short gondola ride to tower 14. From the top, we headed West for several towers' length before heading back East towards tower 6 and a fun ride for getting down fast - The Toboggan Slide!

Mommy carried me in a backpack for the first portion of the hike. I got to meet several local people who bring drinks, snacks and souvenirs from the valley to the wall via their trusty donkeys. I eventually got tired of riding on Mommy's back and wanted to walk on my own. I walked over three tower lengths!

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The toboggan ride, similar to alpine slides in the U.S., was a lot of fun! The track snakes down through the contour of the mountain to the main parking lot below. Mommy and I rode together on one cart and Daddy rode down behind us. We bundled up and went down FAST, but Daddy caught up to us at the end. Mommy would have loved to bought a season pass to this attraction.

On our last day in China we hired Cherry again to show us around the Temple of Heaven, Yonghe Temple, and a stroll through the Olympic park - The location of the 2008 Summer Olympics.

Again Cherry impressed us with her knowledge of the history and significance of each site. At the Temple of Heaven, I got to stand at the very spot the Emperor stood to pray for good weather.

Ian at the Waterpark

The Yonghe Temple is one of the largest and most important Tibetan Buddhist monasteries in the world. I got to see a 54 foot tall statue of the Maitreya Buddha carved from a single piece of Sandalwood (it's in the Guinness Book of World Records).

Throughout our visit, everyone seemed to worry that I only had two layers of clothes on verses the numerous layers of clothing they place on their children. One lady even said that Mommy must be my step mom because she didn't have me dressed properly! Daddy took a picture of Mommy's reaction and included it below.

Ian at the Waterpark

...Are you the step Mom?...

Ian at the Waterpark

In the Olympic Park I had to opportunity to meet some Chinese women who were visiting Beijing from the Central region of China. These ladies where dress in their traditional clothing. I was lucky enough to spend a little time with them and get my photo taken with them as well.

Ian at the Waterpark

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Bye Bye China.... Until later...

 

Tokyo, Japan

Daddy planned a several day layover in Tokyo, Japan before heading home. I experienced my first train ride via the Narita Express. While in Tokyo, we visited the Imperial Palace, Takashimaya Times Square, the shopping district of Ginza, and the Asakusa Kannon Temple and encompassing shops.

Ian at the Waterpark

Ian at the Waterpark

I enjoyed listening to people speak Japanese, but had a little trouble speaking it myself. I tried! The language barrier did not keep me from sharing laughs and smiles from some friendly Japanese people along the way. I did continue trying a variety of new foods and loved any opportunity to practice using chopsticks. Tokyo has a wide variety of attractions to enjoy; we just didn't have enough time to do it all. Our visit will be memorable all the same!

Ian at the Waterpark

Ian at the Waterpark