Friday, September 19, 2008

Scenes From Xian

This morning started with a big change of plans. Now that we've carried the Li'l Empress for three full days, our backs and arms are aching. We weighed her last night and discovered that she's a whopping 22 lbs! No wonder - it's been years since we've carried a baby that size for so many consecutive hours and back then, we had months to work up to it! And now that I think about it, when BBE weighed 22 lbs, he was walking, er, running all over the house on his own two feet. So, we met our trusty guide Jo and asked her to help us find a light-weight cheap stroller.
Instead of going to the TerraCotta Soldiers Museum today, we spent a little more than an hour hunting down an umbrella stroller. Thanks to advice from our LH friends, the Alkemas, we made our way to this brand new supermarket (think Super W*lMart on steroids and stilts!) and found a mini-chariot for the empress. Wow, my back and my arms and my shoulders are so relieved.

She seems quite content in it. We were a bit concerned about spending the money only to have her hate being in it rather than in our arms. I'm so glad we waited a bit to build her trust and comfort first. She's had a lot of new things in her last 3 days and we didn't want to freak her out with another one, but this was a necessity. We have heard over and over from our fellow hotel guests that the TerraCotta Soldiers Museum is huge and a lot of walking. We're thankful for Jo's flexibility, and grateful that the stroller was inexpensive.

Occasionally, she puts her thumb in her mouth and sucks on it a bit. Wouldn't it be great for LadyBug to have a fellow thumb sucker in the family? NOT that LadyBug still sucks her thumb. I promise :)

Our driver brought us to the South Gate of the famous Xi'an City Wall. The wall was built in the Ming Dynasty, over 600 years ago, to protect the city and defend the dynasty. The South Gate is the one that is most beautifully restored and hosts many tourists every day. We met folks from Australia, England, and Canada there today.

One of the first defenses of the city is its moat system. This picture is from the drawbridge, showing one of the many bridges that have been built over the moat to handle the traffic. Xi'an has over 7 million residents and more than 1 million tourists from all over the world every year.

This is the Watch Tower on the wall. We walked up to the middle balcony to view the city from all around. There are 4 original gates into the city: North, South, East and West. Each gate has similar watch towers. Inside the tower there is a museum and gift shop with beautiful Ming era porcelain pieces and furniture. The replicas are just as beautiful and intricate. The attention to detail in the architecture and the craftsmanship are very impressive. And the colors, as I said before about Beijing, are so rich and saturated. I love the contrasts of the colors against the hazy drab skies.

This is a view of the City Wall from the balcony of the Watch tower. On the left, you'll notice that the wall is higher and there are battlements notched in to the wall. That's the outside of the City Wall, were the soldiers and guards stood to defend the city. On the right, the wall is lower and looks over the inner workings of this ancient city. The City Wall itself is about as wide as a US city street and only bikes and walking traffic are allowed up there. The air was cool and breezy and it was so peaceful up there, looking over the fascinating mix of ancient and modern inside and outside of the original wall's perimeter.

This is one of the restored cannons used to defend the Ming dynasty's treasured city. Xi'an used to be the capital city of all of China, when the Ming family was in power. The capital's location changed to Beijing when the Ming family lost their power and their dynasty was taken over. This wall and the beautiful gates are testaments to their long and prosperous rule.

All the sight-seeing and the history lessons proved to be too much for the Li'l Empress by late morning. Apparently Mommy and Daddy missed her cues because half-way through her morning snack, she pitched a royal fit of screaming and crying. We laughed while she tried to poop and then she got really mad. It took all three of us adults to change her diaper and then Daddy scrambled to make a bottle while I rocked and soothed her. She promptly fell sound asleep in the middle of the bottle and we scrambled to the van to head to the hotel for a rest.

On tap for tonite: the famous dumpling restaurant. We saw a special on the Travel Channel before the Olympics by Samantha Brown. She did a whole hour on the city of Xian. One of the sites she highly recommended was the De Fa Chang Dumpling Restaurant. By then, we knew we'd be traveling to Xian for Aidan, so we made that a big priority to visit when we spoke with our guide. Jo has told us to just eat a snack mid-day because it will be a big spread tonight.
Last night, Jo took us to a wonderful little Chinese restaurant by the Bell Tower. The table was full of tender beef in a tomato sauce, garlic steamed broccoli, spicy chicken and peppers, pineapple flavored sticky rice, and fried aloe. There was also a mushroom filled broth but neither of us enjoyed that very much. Aidan surprised us by inhaling as much of the steamed broccoli as I could cut up for her. She loved the beef in tomato sauce - I think I'm going to find a recipe for that one. It was amazing. The Boss really enjoyed the spicy chicken, but I steered clear. I think the kids would have really enjoyed the sticky rice, too. Maybe I'll try to find a good recipe for that also. Most surprising was how much we both loved the fried aloe. It was in a light tempura type batter and soooo sweet inside. Jo said that the Chinese eat a lot of aloe, and it has great medicinal qualities for inside and outside. It went down easy and we were all happy.
I expect tonight will be no different. And Shaggy? While we are completely unable to box up the left overs and bring them home to you, I promise to take pictures and give you a full report of the eating extravaganza! Remember, no drooling on the keyboard :)


Sharon said...

The tours can be brutal on baby's schedule! Loving the photos. Have fun.


Shaggy said...

Too late.

I'll go get some paper towels.


Dr. D. said...

Those pics are cool. It's amazing to think of how old the wall and towers must be. Have fun at the dumpling restaurant and the warrior museum. I can't wait to see the pictures!

Dr. D

Brittany Ray said...

We love your pictures and understand fully about needing a stroller. We got one too. Our little one weighs 22 pounds as well. Counting the days until the White Swan and then HOME.

See you soon,
Brittany, Bayley, and Addie

The Literary Gourmet said...

The LG is swooning over your culinary adventures! I didn't know aloe was edible. I'll have to begin cultivating my own plants! ;)

Thrills said...

I just read your last 17 posts! I haven't been on a computer for 12 days due to vacation and then our computer having problems.

Anyhow. I am so excited for you. The posts had me laughing and in tears. She is yours. Wow!!!

I can't wait to see posts from when she meets her brothers and sister.

Carol said...

yep we bought a stroller at that same store! Emily was 25 pounds. And she LOVED her stroller....we took that thing was wonderful! When she didn't sit in it, we used it to carry our bags!!!

At the airport we just duct taped it closed and sent it on thru!!

~~ said...

She is angel.... oh how blessed you are! I am also envious that you got to see the Terra Cotta soilders! Oh how I want to see them. X'ian has lots to see!


Jonni, John & Sofia said...

What a fun day and I am so glad Aidan loved her stroller. I love the photo of her sleeping in your arms. What a sweetheart. Have fun at the restaurant. Sounds yummy.


VikingClanEnMass said...

Glad you got the stroller! We always found it necessary with our megababies!
Have fun...the aloe sounds interesting!

Kateri said...

Will you be preparing aloe for us when I come to visit? Maybe you should give me directions to the nearest Panera now?! You go ahead and eat my portion of the aloe, ok. It won't hurt my feelings one little bit:)

Mike and Barb said...

Sounds like you guys are having a wonderful time!!
Enjoy! Barb

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

Hey Guys!
Ok, if you continue to send these adorable pics of her, we are going to just have no other choice then to start a ..."Favorite Pic of Aidan" contest"!!! Ok, MY absolute favorites so far have been the one of you & her snuggling after her bath at the hotel & her sleeping on your lap. My next 2 favorites, would have to be the one of her HUGE smile in the pool w/ Daddy & her in the tub w/ that same big beautiful smile! She just melts my heart!
Don't worry about the boys, they are havin a great time here tonight! They are about to make their own Ice Cream Sundaes to go with our Cupcakes! Not much sleep is gonna happen here tonight but a whole lotta fun! Kiss that Angel for me!
Love & Miss Ya!
Crystal N.

Anonymous said...

I absolutely love your detailed descriptions of the city (and the sites). It makes me feel like I am right there. (Could you have been classically trained in writing?) Loved the pics and can relate to the "tired meltdowns" of a child. Since I won't ever get there, I am living vicariously through you. I pray that your weekend is as interesting and fulfilling and that you have a safe trip to and from your hotel in the traffic lol. VB

edited for identifiers

Heidi @ GGIP said...

I hope she feels better soon!

Anonymous said...

Truly amazing sights. The one I like the best is A, asleep in her Mamma's arms!

Much love and prayers,

Elizabeth Bergeron said...

Hi, coming in a bit late here, but I am trying to catch up!! Met you on the a yahoo group and I can't remember which one!! Anyway, I love your story and photos. I saw the same travel show and know that when I visit China I want to check out the dumpling place!! :) We also bought a stroller in China and it was a life saver! Our little one, E, was 24 mos. and 20lbs. I will drop you a note by e-mail. Congratulations!!