March started out with St. Olaf's Black and Gold Gala. We put together a table from the Class of 1987 and had a great time catching up.
Rotarians are a whole bunch of fun. I bid on being part of a Downton Abbey party at the club's annual gala. Here I am doing my best impression of Lord Grantham.
Shanghai, March 16-20
The three of us traveled ahead of the rest of the class because we had to find open seats on our standby flight. (Thanks again to Elizabeth's part time job at Delta!)
This gave us a couple extra days in Shanghai before the others arrived.
Okay, where should we go first?
There are lots of public statues and monuments waiting to have their picture taken.
Treva posing by the Monument to the People's Heroes.
We went to the top of the TV Tower which is one of the signature buildings most recognizable in Shanghai. It was freaky to sit on the glass and see all the way to the ground below.
The view of downtown Shanghai from atop the TV Tower.
And down below Treva and I posed for a photo.
I've had my picture taken with the Bull at Wall Street, so it only seems fitting that I do the same at China's "Wall Street", The Bund. This statue was designed by the same person who did the one on Wall Street.
The student group arrived and we took our first group shot outside the Shanghai Museum.
We walked through the Yuyuan Garden which was built during the reign of Ming Emperor Jiajing (1559) as the private garden of administration commisioner Pan Yunduan.
Here is the kids' teacher and our fearless leader, Mrs. Wong, standing outside the Suzhou Museum. She was a fantastic tour guide and patiently taught all the parents about China while encouraging the students to use their language skills. She is a true treasure for Breck School having taught hundreds of kids to speak Mandarin and so much about the country of China.
A typical part of every meal was a fresh fish, prepared just right.
Silk embroidery is an ancient tradition that has stood the test of time.
One of the most popular things to bring home is the famous Chairman Mao hat.
West Lake in Hangzhou is a beautiful place for a stroll or boat ride. We did both. There a classic story about getting your wife to take a picture with the pagoda crowning her head. The result is a submissive wife. Mission accomplished!
Hannah and Dawn stopped for a photo in front of the boat which gave us a nice ride across the lake.
Treva was always popular because of her fair skin and blonde hair. She was continuously being asked to have a photo taken. Here she is with two boys who usually are the ones selling photos.
Hangzhou is know for producing the world famous Dragonwell Green Tea. We toured the Long Jing tea plantation and saw first hand how to make and drink the famous elixir.
Seven Star Park is a beautiful destination in Guilin. Treva posed with our guide, Tyler.
Treva and her roommate, Liz had some struggles posing with the peacocks.
Elizabeth and I also found a nice bench with peacocks with Camel Rock in the background.
Treva came across a group of children and posed for a photo. Before long Mrs. Wong had the whole group of kids in a circle singing and dancing with the Breck kids. It was an amazing chance to see the two cultures getting along so well.
We visited another tea plantation and were able to pick some of the leaves ourselves.
The tea ceremonies in China are very nuanced. Whatever I'm doing here is likely not appropriate.
I don't think this would pass any construction safety tests in the U.S. The scaffolding is made of bamboo tied together. Notice the little kids playing in the area.
We walked around a fun area during the day and then came back at night to check out Monkey Jane's.
Elizabeth liked this guy who was not working at Monkey Jane's but had a t-shirt advertising his competitor's bar.
We took a boat ride down the Li River which is famous for its Karst mounds that dot the landscape. It's the quintessential Chinese tour in the heart of the country going from Guilin to Yangzhou. Some of the girls give the adopted pose (the peace sign, not the pucker face) that became so familiar whenever one of the locals got a photo taken with one of our students.
We visited a school in Yangzhou where each student was assigned to one of the Chinese students. We enjoyed a program where both student groups performed for the other. Here are a few of the girls posing with Treva and Liz.
Twins Henry and Duncan were also especially popular because of their blonde hair.
The hot pot dinner is a tradition on the China trip. It was a whole new way for us to enjoy the local cuisine.
The silk factories show tourists the process of silk worms spinning the precious material all the way to fine threads used to make everything from ties to bedspreads.
Another factory tour showed the process of making cloisonné pots.
Treva had plenty of time to hang out without her parents hanging all over her. The students formed close bonds after traveling together for two weeks.
One of the most amazing things to experience in China is seeing the excavation of the Soldiers of Xi'an.
Everyone took their turn posing for photos with the soldiers.
In the gift shop the farmer who originally discovered the first piece of one of the soldiers signs autographed books to capitalize on his fortunate find.
Replicas are sold to people who feel the need to have one of these guys in their living room. I'll settle for a picture.
We saw a number of performances mostly related to the various Chinese empires and their leaders.
Here's Treva with the actor playing one of the Chinese emperors.
The Wild Goose Pagoda, in the background, was built in 652 during the Tang dynasty.
The ancient city of Xi'an was built with a giant wall around it. Today you can walk or rent a bike to make the trip around the top of the wall. Treva, Henry and Duncan continued to be popular with the locals for photo opportunities.
Exploring the local markets was always entertaining. Trying to find something interesting that wouldn't fall apart in a week or two was most of the battle. Elizabeth and I stopped for a picture after wandering around for a couple hours among the trinkets and trash.
There was lots of street food to try, but we were warned to steer clear. Our western stomachs might not appreciate it.
The street meat looked pretty good, but this was a close as I got.
In Beijing the entire group took a rickshaw tour of one of the old sections of town.
No trip to China would be complete without a visit to the Great Wall. It was a bit foggy on the day went, but it was still amazing. I pictured walking on the top of the wall for a mile or so. Instead it was a major climb - hiking up stairs that were so steep that it was exhausting.
The view from the starting and finishing point shows how much fog there was, but the structure was still incredible.
At Tiananmen Square the tourists line up to enter the Forbidden City. A portrait of Chairman Mao greets all who enter.
A group photo of some of the girls before heading into the Forbidden City.
The students lined up for a panorama inside the Forbidden City.
The summer palace provided a retreat from the forbidden city in Beijing. A boat made of marble stands on the edge of the Kumming Lake.
Treva and Liz by the lake.
During one of our last meals our waitresses dressed in very fancy traditional attire.
Beijing hosted the 2008 Olympics and the structures are still prominent landmarks. This is the swimming center behind me.
Elizabeth posed in front of the "Bird's Nest" where the opening ceremony was held.