May 2015 - China
On May 19th, twenty-two ASURA members and their friends from NAURA left for China. What a trip! We spent three weeks, 21 days, exploring one of the world’s oldest civilizations. Some highlights of our adventure included:
- a four-day cruise on the Yangtze River through the Three Gorges, (and we reckon we won the talent show on-board with our stunning “Take Me Out to The Ballgame” to an all Chinese audience. They loved the Arizona ball caps we gave them, too.)
- a visit to the Panda Research Center near Chengdu, and watched for an hour as 2-3 year old pandas tussled, wrestled, pushed and pulled one another up and down trees.
- a flight to LiJiang, near Burma, where the Chinese have built a monument to honor and thank the US Flying Tigers for their service in WW II
- a visit to a farming village of the ancient Naxi people, one of the 51 minority peoples of China
- in Xian, of course, we peered down on some of the 8,000 Terra Cotta Warriors created over 35 years by 700,000 some people to protect the nasty Emperor in the afterlife
- in QuFu, the hometown of Confucius, we spent an afternoon holding seminars for six groups of students attending the university established by Confucius a few years back.
- we wrapped up the trip by visiting and walking through such wonders as: the Great Wall, the Summer Palace, the Ming Tombs, The Forbidden City, the Temple of Heaven, Tiananmen Square and Silk Alley, of course, to buy t-shirts for the grandkids.
Our national guide for this trip as well as our 2010 & 2007 trips was Lucky Wang, a wonderful, friendly, knowledgeable leader. He organized the seminars with the Confucius’ college students because he wanted them to meet and learn from American professors.
We have found the Chinese people to be very open and friendly. Very. Most of them, certainly up to about age 40, have adopted English/American names, often from American tv and movies. We met and now know Olivia, Don, Shirley, Ralph, Sunny Day and other wonderful young Chinese people.
If you have the chance, do it…………… You can be Chopsticks, tres.
Story and pictures by Gary Anderson
What an amazing trip! With all the different modes of transportation - train, plane, boat, and bus - it all worked like clockwork. This enabled us to enjoy so much more of China than a "regular" tour could have done.
Even after having seen pictures of the Terra Cotta Warriors, the real thing was so much more impressive. You really don't get a sense of scale until you see it in person. And to think that this same emperor was instrumental in building the Great Wall. Amazing!
I consider the time I spent in China an experience and not just a trip or a tour. Our group experienced not only the current and historical sites of China, but we were encouraged to experience the culture, politics, economy, geography and current events. We learned a great deal in our 21 days.
The Chinese tourism professionals were exceptional. We were very fortunate that guides of such a high caliber were a part of our experience.
A very important aspect of this China experience was the group that traveled together. Not all of us knew each other before we started, but we quickly coalesced into a traveling team that cared about each other as well as the day’s itinerary.
The experience could not have been better except for the cold that was shared by a couple of participants. I would recommend traveling with the ASU Retirees Association. A great deal of care went into the detailed planning and arrangements. All of the participants benefited from that work.
The experience was First Rate!!!!
The people, beyond the fact there are so many - a large percentage who are trim, vital, well groomed, polite and helpful. Those who wanted to practice their English with us. The cities, beyond the fact that so many are so huge - attractive with tree and bush lined streets were immaculate in their cleanliness. Shiney mostly new cars that, in spite of the heavy traffic, seemed to avoid accidents. The country side - a big country, wide open spaces, a massive program of reforestation, fields of crops; snow covered mountains. A sense of tradition with, not only preserved temples and royal palaces, but the vast attendance by the appreciative Chinese people themselves. A country to know.
Along with everyone else, my thanks for you great organizing - and to Marge and you for your great friendship.
Dan & Gail Austin
Gary, it's difficult to pick out one or two special memories from this great trip, but two come to mind: One was the eagerness of young people--including the very young--to engage with us, often with a big smile and a simple English "hello" or "thank you" in response to our awkward attempts at Mandarin greetings. Another, more serious, was the devastating impact on certain historic sites of the Cultural Revolution and its attempt to "purify" Chinese culture by destroying some of its artifacts, and the efforts made since to restore those damaged sites.
Bente and Per
Gary, as we said before, it definitely was a trip of a lifetime, and will get a solid checkmark on our "bucket list"! As for specific things, the Great Wall was especially impressive, and then the Terracotta Soldiers and the work done in restoring the thousands of statues were almost unbelievable! However, the Dazu Stone Carvings depicting Buddha's life and work were the most impressive and interesting, - an amazing piece of art!
In addition, Bente's birthday party with the lit-up and musical lotus flower will be remembered by us for a long time! Thanks to Olivia and everyone else for creating such a special day for her. We gave the panda bear to our niece's little daughter when we got to Norway last week.
We are recovering well from the jetlag, and have already had some doctors' appointments. We should soon be back in shape! Hopefully, you are also recovering from the colds that hit our group.
In a few words, China is HUGE !!
The Great Walls, The Forbidden City, The Summer Place, and Xi'An to name a few. "Seeing Is Believing," truly fits the bill in China.
Another thing that struck me is there are STEPS everywhere ! You have to walk a mile, just to get to the first entrance; climb many steps, only to find there are more steps beyond !
Catherine and Craig
Gary, we want to add our thanks to you and Marge for putting this trip together! It was an unforgettable voyage into the ancient and the emergent of Chinese culture. We feel very fortunate to have experienced it with so many wonderful and talented people!
We are readjusting to our time zone and have had no lingering health issues. Thinking of all of you who are/have been suffering and wishing you a speedy recovery.
We received the Lucky email and have responded. He was the best of guides and we credit you with finding him and establishing a great relationship that deepened our China experience.
Hoping we can find a time later this summer or fall to get together over another round table.
Best Wishes to All,
ASU Retirees Association
Mailing address: PO Box 873308, Tempe, AZ 85287
Physical address: Community Services Building Room 201, 200 E. Curry, Tempe, AZ