Songpan to Chengdu

29 08 2009


We left Langmusi by bus and headed to the town of Songpan. The road is new and fancy between Langmusi and Songpan, making for a quick and easy trip. The quick bus trip gave us time to wander the streets of Songpan for the afternoon, before heading out on the longer bus ride to Chengdu the next day. Songpan is mainly a gateway city to a nearby national park and other horseback riding trekking areas and it has a walled traditional town center for the tourists who come to visit. Read the rest of this entry »


27 08 2009

From Xiahe, we headed further into the high Tibetan grasslands to the small town of Langmusi, which is at an elevation of 3,300 meters (10,800 feet) and is pretty cold, but with clear skies and little or no air pollution.  It is a small Tibetan town nestled high up in a nice grass valley with granite outcrops in the surrounding hills and a small monastery on the hill. In the summer months, these high grasslands are lush and green, and the local Tibetans graze their yaks in summer grasslands, and bring them back to lower elevations during the winter when snow covers much of the higher areas.  Here we did a great three-day trek on horseback.

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23 08 2009

We ventured out to the town of Xiahe, which has been closed to visitors (due to unrest amongst the local monks) but just reopened to foreigners.  To get out here, we took an overnight train from Xian to Lanzhou, them took a bus to the small town of Xiahe.  They still don’t sell bus tickets from Lanzhou to Xiahe, so we had to get a bus to Lingxia, then switch to a bus to Xiahe.  Xiahe is famous for the beautiful Labrang Monastery, which is a monastery for the Yellow Hat sect of Tibetan Buddhism.

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22 08 2009

We took a bus from Pingyao down to the major city of Xian.  Xian (formerly called Chang’an) is one of the oldest cities in China and was the capital of China during some of the ancient dynasties.  The ancient wall around the main part of the city is intact, and makes an interesting juxatposition to have the very modern core of the city encircled by the old wall.  There is also a small Muslim minority here, with a fascinating Chinese style mosque.

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19 08 2009

We took an overnight train to the small and historic town of Pingyao.  We booked our train ticket a few days in advance, but were not able to get sleeper seats and we were stuck with hard seats.  This didn’t seem to bad, but we really didn’t understand how the trains work in China until we got to our seats. Read the rest of this entry »

Out in Beijing

15 08 2009

We saw all the main attractions of Beijing (Forbidden City, Great Wall, Temple of Heaven, Behai Park, etc.) and had a few days in a fancy hotel to celebrate our first anniversary.  We also had some good food in our first stop here in China, including two trips to a nice hotpot restaurant (where you get a bunch of vegetables, meats and other [?] things and then cook them in a boiling pot of broth at your table).  Jason also rode a bike around Behai Park and some of the old hutong neighborhoods on a rented bike. Read the rest of this entry »

beijing is nice

14 08 2009

(Jason and Alexa sent the following message to let everyone know they made it to China safely. Blog posts will most likely be few and far between during their travels in China. -Amy)

Welcome to Beijing

We made it to Beijing, and it is super hot here (in the 90s). It is odd since there was a typhoon in Taiwan, but it is really hot here. Our internet access is…er, limited {read: censored – this editorial comment was added later, from outside of the country}, but we made it here safely and are starting to see places like the Forbidden City and tomorrow we will go for a long hike on the Great Wall.

Goodbye Bangkok

10 08 2009
Sukhumvit culture mix

Sukhumvit culture mix

We recieved our China visas and plane tickets , so we will be leaving Bangkok later tonight for Beijing.  We have taken care of our logistical things (sending packages home, downloading photos, making reservations, getting tickets, etc.) and spent more than enough time here in the bustling city of Bangkok.  Aside from the noticeable seedy reasons that many foreigners visit Bangkok, the city is nonetheless pretty interesting, but we are glad to be moving on.  Read the rest of this entry »

Birthday in Bangkok

8 08 2009
B-day dinner

B-day dinner

Alexa’s birthday came up while we were in Bangkok, so we treated ourselves to two nights in nice hotel and a fancy birthday dinner at a trendy restaurant called Basil. We had a delicious appetizer plate with many different types of well-prepared food. We also moved to the Sukhumvit area of Bangkok, which is in the modern city center. Read the rest of this entry »

Bangkok: the standard tourist sites

5 08 2009

Wat Phra Kaew

We continued our visa wait (we paid for the standard four day turn-around time through the travel agency) by venturing out to see the standard tourist sites of Bangkok. The convenient thing about the Khoa San Road area is that is close to the impressive Grand Palace and Wat (wat means temple) Phra Kaew complex, which is a very beautiful architectural site, in addition to being an important spiritual center for the Thai people. Read the rest of this entry »