Entering via ipad over unstable connection. So brief, and typos.

Assumed China still censored / prevented access to Nexus. But it does not prevent access here.

The flight is long for me. I fatigue easily. But enjoying this trip.

Staying with in-laws. What sweet welcoming people.

Beijing air is acrid smoky thick. At least, wS yesterday.

Changchun is old big industrial city in Northeast. As different from, say, Hongkong as Detroit or Cleveland woul be from Miami.

People here have strong Manchurian or Mongolian roots. Tall robust ruddy complexion. Plain spoken, earthy sense of humor. No attitude.

Staying with in laws who live here. Thats why we are here. What sweet down to earth people. So welcoming.

Food here is comfort food. Nothing like Chinese food in US. Wheat based filled dumplings, pot stickers, heavy noodles, sauerkraut. Filling and full of flavor.

Changchung is smoky dusty smoggy. I think here its dust blown in from the Gobi desert. All of the street flowers and trees are covered with desert dust.

Folks get a kick out of my efforts at Mandarin via phrase generator app on iphone. The do understand my attempts, whic is funny. Because knowvIm bad at it.

All for now. More later. Going with the flow, real break from normal life. Not a vacation paradise. But I think Im liking it far mor than I would, say, Acapulco. I know I am.

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Comment by Joan Denoo on October 27, 2013 at 2:58am

Daniel, welcome home! Your travelogue and photos present excellent images and descriptions to whet our appetite. You must be very weary, especially seeing so many things in such a short time. Rest well, looking forward to all you have energy and time to share. 

Comment by The Flying Atheist on October 27, 2013 at 1:27am

A wonderful conclusion to your trip.  It's nice to have you back.  You really got so much activity in during your visit.  What a great experience. 

Dumplings, noodles and hot sauce.  Sounds fantastic!!

I realize there's a LONG way to go, but I'm encouraged by your comments regarding air pollution.  With the world becoming "smaller" as a result of trade, travel and internet communication, I think the egregious violations to humans and our environment by industry can no longer be localized, hidden and covered up.    

Interesting comments about the temples.  If the worst aspect is the money that flows in, I'd say overall that's pretty benign in comparison to the other major world religions.  I imagine it could be rather emotional to visit the sanctuaries of a society that worships serenity and peace.  When humans are at our best, we really are a wonderful species.  That's why everyone enjoys a good "feel good" story.  

Welcome back and again, thanks for sharing your experiences. 

Comment by Daniel W on October 27, 2013 at 12:44am

I've returned.  Some thoughts on returning, and some more photos.  I don't want to overdo the photo sharing so will try to control myself.

First some thoughts.


I had a wonderful time.


I was surprised by my own reaction at Buddhist temples.  At a couple of point, I was emotional, almost moved to tears.  I had to analyze why.  I'm ardently atheist.  I think it was largely, religion for me, for a lifetime, is overwhelmingly aggressive, negative, authoritarian, brutal, belligerent, self-assured, bellicose, abusive.....   and here I was in a place where, in complete isolation - temporal and geographic -  from christianity / islam / judaism, religion developed with aim for serenity, acceptance, peace.  I have to add, there is still a lot of money involved.  But still, it was emotionally overwhelming.  I'm still ardently atheist, but maybe I'm more tolerant of the idea of religiosity, even if I don't believe in religions myself.


I love studying history.  It's interesting to look at the millennia of Chinese history, and see such parallels to European and American history, and even to my day-to-day workplace.


I have an increased appreciation for Chinese cuisine.  Especially the Northeastern style - again back to the dumplings, noodles, and some specific hot sauces.  Love that stuff.

People in Beijing and to some extent Chengdu are too pushy.  I can only take so much of that.  Changchun, is less so.

Dennis - on pollution, I think there is a big movement in China to develop in increasingly environmentally friendly ways.  They are not there yet, but I was impressed with many of the efforts.


Dennis - on pollution, which is terrible, there is effort everywhere in China to improve that.  I think as China develops - your American shopping dollars at work - I think they will continue to improve their environment.

Now some pics....


Another big Buddha, in Szechuan.....  I thought these were in Southeast Asia....

A nice temple in Chengdu.

Silver temple in the mountains, at 10,000 feet.  I think it's painted silver, not the actual metal.

A few hundred feet from the Silver temple.  I thought this sort of imagery, with multiple faced Buddhas and elephants, was in India and Southeast Asia.  One aspect that might inspire more emotion and awe, is this is a mountain peak at about 10,000 feet.  The air is thin, the journey is fairly arduous, and visitors have to climb a fairly steep stairway at the summit.  I was out of breath and dizzy, which might explain some of my emotions. 

Thinking about these 2,000 + year old warriors in Xi'an, and what they represent, and the story of the first emperor / empire, and how the more things change, the more they stay the same....  and the effort, organization, investment, and 20 centuries of detritus, physical and chemical deterioration, accidental discovery by peasant farmers digging a well....  and yet here they are.

I love badly translated signs.  There are many examples.  This is not ridicule of the translators - I speak almost no Mandarin, and any attempt I would make to translate from English to Mandarin would mangle their language far worse.  It's just so human, and the languages are so different, that mangled, accidental poetry is inevitable.


And finally, remembering this is a culture with it's own history, values that descend from Confucianism, Taoism, thousands of years of feudalism - including emperors both benevolent and dictatorial, and communism which often seems like just a new take on imperial dynasties...



Comment by Daniel W on October 24, 2013 at 7:15pm
Heading back to US Today.
Added a couple more pics.
No internet access in remote areas.
Explored a number of old temples and new. Very moving for me.
Peasant food is pretty bland.
Comment by Michael Penn on October 22, 2013 at 1:00pm

Thanks Joan.

I was watching Al Jazeera news right now and found out that a lot of highways are closed in northern China due to smog. That's pretty bad stuff, and the Chinese need to deal with it just like England had to deal with their coal pollution problem in the past.

But wait. You used to get Al Jazeera news on PBS and then Gore made a deal that took that away and put it into cable subscription only. No more live Al Jazeera. Wrong! With computer savey and XBMC you can watch just about any damned thing that you want to. Al Jazeera has some of the most accurate reporting on the planet. No religion here. Just the news and no analysis reporting of what the news actually meant.

Comment by Joan Denoo on October 22, 2013 at 12:57pm

I am trying to get a Google Earth photo to send you, unsuccessfully. So, here is the best I can do:

Next is a shot so you can see more of China and locate the general area where Daniel is today. I hope I can get it to work. 

Comment by Joan Denoo on October 22, 2013 at 12:16pm

Dennis, are you able to get to Daniel's Profile page? If not, here is how: Put your cursor over Sentient Biped, highlighted to reveal a link, or over his avatar (photo), > click on it. That will take you to Daniel's page; then scroll down the page to "Photo", > click on it. That should bring up his albums. 

If there is an easier way, I do not know of it. 

Daniel, you look wonderful, strong, and happy.

Comment by Michael Penn on October 22, 2013 at 6:42am

Daniel. Glad you are enjoying your trip, but I'm missing something here. Where are your updates and pictures you and your partner are sending? Guess I'm showing my ignorance but I can't find the link.

Comment by Daniel W on October 22, 2013 at 6:04am
Thank you Carl and Joan! It's good to be able to share experiences with my friends!

Today we flew to Chengdu, capital of the Sechuan province. Warmer greener cleaner air. Ultra modern 2000 year old city. Spent afternoon at museum and shrine of the 3 kingdoms, more artifacts. Bonsai garden. Spicy hot food. Now the starch is rice instead of noodles.

Tomorrow to a mountain shrine. i will take it slow. This is the last leg of the trip.
Comment by The Flying Atheist on October 22, 2013 at 12:48am

Daniel, I've been enjoying all your wonderful travel updates.  Thanks for taking the time to share your experiences with us.  What a fantastic trip!  Happy travels to the two of you. 


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