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Places We Regret Going

  We’ve travelled to over 30 countries, and each one had something special, unforgettable and memorable.   But upon careful review, do we have any travel regrets? Have we travelled to any places that we wish we had not gone to?    There are a few that stand out above others as the best with no regrets whatsoever, like Tonga, New Zealand, Uruguay and Venice, but then there was also China, and Ireland… oh, and Croatia, and Scotland… and France and Mexico and Hungary… there are so many incredible memories, and so many fantastic places!    So… ummm… let me … More…

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Full Moon Over Beijing

  The Chinese people were warm and sweet, smiling beguilingly at Westerners, offering quick assistance, showing deep respect, bowing slightly, and always using “you first” gestures.   A Chinese acquaintance told me that the government is very strict that the people make Westerners feel welcome, but I sensed, especially outside of Beijing and the tourist places, that people felt flattered and privileged to know, talk to, or have a picture taken with a Westerner. It seemed as if one gained status to have some personal contact with a Westerner. Several times I was invited to stand affectionately close to a … More…

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China Consumes the Most Beer in the World

  From Xian, we flew to Tsingtao (pronounced ching-dow), a small city (according to Chinese standards) of only 6 million people, on the southeast coast of China in Shandong province.   It had the feel of a beautiful small resort nestled between the mountains and the ocean.   It was quiet, and not at all crowded. I don’t know where all those millions of people were, but we didn’t see many.   There were supposedly one million people at the annual Tsingtao Beer Festival, which was on the week we were there, but again – it didn’t seem crowded.     Tsingtao Beer … More…

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Terra Cotta Warriors

From Beijing, we travelled inland south to Xian.   2200 years ago, Emperor Quin Shi Huant, one of the most famous emperors in China, was losing a battle with his enemy. He developed an ingenious plan.   He asked his soldiers to build an army of clay soldiers exactly like his own army, with soldiers of all ranks, as well as horses and chariots. The thousands of soldiers were even painted in colour. They are known as the Terra Cotta Warriors.   Lined up at a distance, this massive army appeared foreboding and frightened the enemy. What a simple but clever … More…

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Lost in Summer Palaces And Temples of Heaven

  The parks in Beijing are simply stunning!     They make parks in Canada look embarrassingly simple.   Beijing’s parks are full of themed areas with separate pathways leading to separate areas within the larger park. Each one is set in a magnificent and serene setting and unique theme.   With ponds and streams, hills and valleys, glades and gardens, rare trees, unusual flowers, the landscapes were choreographed to reflect each specific theme.   Even the scent of each theme area seemed to match the theme.  With impressive displays of wisteria, bamboo, peonies, orchids, cherry blossoms and apple blossoms, ancient cypress trees, pine … More…

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Shrimp Heads, Goose Feet and Szechuan Chicken

  The food in Beijing, China was absolutely nothing like any Chinese food I have eaten in North America or anywhere in the world, for that matter.   Because they were business dinners, we had fairly formal dinners in the better restaurants. All of the dinners were served on large round tables with a huge turn-table or Lazy Susan in the centre.   At least twenty dishes would appear on the table, and no matter if the end of the business dinner was obvious, no dish, according to custom, could become empty and would be replaced as soon as it was … More…

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The Art of the Chinese Sale

  The Art of the Chinese Sale, also known as The Calculator Game, is actually a lot of fun! I never considered myself much of a bargainer or a haggler – it felt way too pushy – so what happened was a bit surprising.   Everyday in Beijing, I went somewhere on my own, but the Xiu Shui Silk Market was my favourite place to shop, and there were hundreds of tiny stalls lined up along alleyways with clothes and other goods hanging 8 feet high on the walls, lining the floors, and piled high on tables. Five levels filled to the … More…

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China Was A Lot Different Than I Thought It Would Be

  I didn’t even want to go to China! Too many people for me, I thought, but then I was invited to join a friend who had been there many times on business, so that was it.   Two weeks later, I found myself in China.   First of all, Beijing was not crowded. I fully expected wall to wall people, being unable to walk easily down the sidewalk, crushed within a crowd of people, panic attacks setting in, as well as pagoda after pagoda, temple after temple, but it was none of that.   In fact, it was a big … More…

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