Old Xi’an to DAM Yichang then Nanjing

Trip Start Jun 30, 2008
Trip End Dec 31, 2009

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Flag of China  , Hubei,
Saturday, July 18, 2009

The main reason we traveled to Xi'an was to see the 8th Wonder of the World - the Terra Cotta Warriors. We all studied the site (with its 7000 personalized soldiers made of clay to protect the Emperor after his own death) before arriving and yet I made everyone sit through a very boring 30 minute video of the history and details of this attraction. For me, it was just that, an attraction. I had traveled there 20 years ago when it was relatively unknown. I probably would not have found out about it except I was taking an archaeology course with Simon Fraser University. This week when I went there the thing that grabbed my attention more than anything was the amount of commercialism (and I thought this was Communist China!).

One of the objectives of our trip was to allow all of us to think about the things we want to do, to have and to be and then begin preparing and working toward achieving those goals. It is safe to say based on the underwhelming excitement and lack of amazement that NONE of the Maaske Clan will enter the field of Archaeology. 
On one of the hotter days we all got refreshingly wet in the water fountains at the Big Wild Goose Pagoda with our friend Betty Lee. On the 15th (14th in the West) our three older children thought they had struck 'pay dirt' when they came across a theatre playing the latest Harry Potter flick. They got to the line up extra early (9:15 am) and were filmed for the nightly news as one of the many waiting to see the latest Harry Potter movie. All had been going to plan until they realized that the movie was only going to be in Chinese. Either their Chinese was not good enough or Harry was not as exciting in a language you didn't fully understand - at any rate, the kids got their money back after the first 30 minutes. 
Someone somehow suggested it would be great to go see the new Three Gorges Dam and me without doing much research said 'mei wenti' (no problem). 5 cups of coffee, 20 chocolate bars, 7 instant soups, a roll of toilet paper, 12 lollipops, 3 movies, 8 computer recharges, keeping warm under newspapers and 16 hours and hundreds of kilometres sitting on a hard seat we arrived in lovely Yichang at 1am!! The only thing that was lovely for a mother and farther with four very tired children at that time of the morning with very heavy packs to carry was that it was hot outside which thawed us from freezing the last three hours on the train. 
We arrived by taxi at our hotel to find out that the two rooms I had reserved was now only one room. This long on the road we have become accustomed to what is to be is not always to be. At 1am we were not going to argue so we crammed into our little room for well deserved sleep. We liked the room so much we book a second night! 
We were up and Adam at the break of the lunch hour! It was soooooooooo hot by then but we had to persevere and see the dam Dam! We came this far and there was no way I was not going to drag the kids to it and they were going to like it. The highlight was hitching a ride back to town on a tourist bus full of Chinese teachers from Shanghai. 
Trains and more trains... 
One of the initial problems with going to see the Three Gorges Dam was we were not sure how to get out. Our only option before getting there was to take a 24 hour train ride to Nanjing. Nobody was too excited about that. We had weighted many other options as they unfolded but when I got to the train station to buy the tickets for a hard sleeper I was told that the only thing left were hard seats. Okay, 16 hours hard seat was bad enough but even I realized it would be death to me if I purchased a 24 hours hard seat ride anywhere. My marriage is far too important so I figured out (was told by those in line behind me) to take a different train then transfer and cut a 24 hour ride down to 8!! Not bad eh? 
As I write this we are traveling on a very luxurious train going 251km/h through the countryside toward Nanjing. I also read on the cabin car display that the outside temperature is 44.2 degrees centigrade at 6:30pm. 

If you have not seen the movie "Nanking" or know about the massacre in Nanjing (Nanking) by the Japanese it is a real “eye opener” and “heart breaker”.  We now know why many Chinese still do not like the Japanese.  We had often been told this but after visiting the museum today we were overwhelmed by how barbaric and brutal 'man' can be when left to his/her own nature during war and/or conflict.

On the way from the museum we stopped at a mall to cool off and met up with my friend Simon and his fiancée (Sarah).  The older 3 children got to watch the Harry Potter movie (in English) and Monique and I went to Ice Age 3D.

Unless you have been here it is hard to describe how hot it is and how life changes as a result of the heat.  It is too hot to visit many places and it is enough to go from one spot to another without dripping in sweat. 

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hamiltonfamily on

Hot is all relative!
Its funny, it felt incredibly hot here yesterday at 37 degrees - to the point of turning on the air conditioner for a few minutes - with the convertible top down!! Goodness knows what we would do in 45 degree heat. Looking forward to getting together with you on your return and swapping stories- Meggie

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