China trip: With the community Asian Theatre of the Sierra | TheUnion.com
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China trip: With the community Asian Theatre of the Sierra

Ni hou! (How are you?)

Fifteen friends of the Community Asian Theatre of the Sierra traveled with local China experts James and Helen Jay, of Nevada City, to explore the Middle Kingdom.

We first explored Beijing, including Tian An Men Square, the Forbidden City, the Great Wall, jade and silk factories, sacred temples, and enjoyed entertaining shows.



Beijing, the site of the 2008 Summer Olympics, is going through Olympics fever. Many arenas and housing for the athletes have been built.

Cruising the Yangtse River was breathtaking, with all its surrounding mountains. The water level is much higher now due to the construction of the world’s largest dam, the Three Gorges Project, slated for completion in 2009. When completed, China will have flood control for the region and will be able to generate enough power to support its rapid modernization.




Buried army

Xian is the site of what some consider the Eighth Wonder of the World, the Terra Cotta Warriors.

The first emperor of China, Qui Shi Huang, commissioned these life-sized clay figures more than 2,000 years ago to be his burial attendants. More than 8,000 terra cotta warriors and horses and more than 100 chariots were unearthed in three pits between 1974 and 1976.

Archaeologists continue their meticulous restoration. Our tour viewed Pit No. 1, which was larger than a football field and held the most warriors and horses in battle formation. We viewed restored chariots in another pit.

The farmer who discovered one of the sites while drilling for a well in 1974 was on hand at the museum to greet visitors.

Shopping spree

We shopped everywhere, buying from street vendors, vendors on the cruise ship and at temples and pagodas.

We very quickly learned to say “no, don’t want to buy!” (bu yàu!) in Chinese and to bargain for the best deals when we did buy.

Shanghai is what they say it is – the Queen of the Orient – for its commerce, beauty and modern shopping malls, which are a cut above ours.

Overall, we ate well and enjoyed food from various regions of China, including a meal of Peking roast duck in Beijing and dumplings in Xian. But by the time we arrived in Shanghai, most of us were craving non-Chinese food. We indulged in Starbucks coffee, Hagen Daz ice cream, KFC and Pizza Hut.

Rapid growth

We saw construction everywhere, from upscale business districts to the old and rundown neighborhoods. Construction workers were still drilling away at 11 p.m. The window washers in the high-rises in Shanghai sit on little slabs suspended from a rope above and no scaffolding below.

Food vendors were cooking on their woks late into the night. The beggars mixed in with the crowds during the day.

Our tour guide told us that most drivers in China have less than five years driving experience. You see more cars now in the cities than you do bicycles.

Helen and James Jay were very organized and gave us an intimate tour of China. To contact them, call (800) 551-2482) or visit http://www.chinastudies.com.

Zai jian! (Good bye or See you again!)

ooo

Jeannie Wong Wood is executive director of Community Asian Theater of the Sierra. The group recently produced the highly acclaimed “Golden Child.”


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