Thursday, May 22, 2008

Kruses in Shenzhen

Well, now it was time to come back to our house and relax a little. We tried not to do too much.
The first day the boys all went golfing with one of David's best buddies and golf pro, Jeff.

Jeff, David and Mr. Kruse

We also took a trip to see David's factory.

And a trip to see Michaela at school.
Michaela with her pengyous (friends).

The teacher shows us Michaela's art work.
Claudia got a manicure.

Beautiful piggies.
Claudia was VERY impressed with David's car. She insisted on taking a picture to show other people back home. So here it is.

The nicest car David's ever owned.

We fellowshipped:
Family devotions.

And finally, we walked around town a bit.

Michaela at Dragon park

Mr. Kruse pushing LJ

It was a wonderful visit. Thanks so much to the Kruses for making the long journey. We had such a fun, exciting and uplifting time together. We can't wait to see you this summer!

Kruses in Yangshuo

After Longsheng, we took a four hour car ride to Yangshuo. Yangshuo is a small city surrouded by beautiful karst formations. It is known for being a backpacker town and the preferred choice for most foreigners who visit the area (as opposed to the bigger tourist city, Guilin, that the Chinese prefer to visit).

First we took a trip down west street. It is named for the western food primarily available in the small cafes lining the quaint, traffic-free street. We drew attention as usual.

Michaela made a friend. Isn't she adorable?

The next day we hired a car to take us to see the area. It was raining on and off and Mr. Kruse did not think he'd fit on the Chinese-made and Chinese-sized bikes so commonly used to sight see the area. First we saw the beautiful Li river

Family picture in front of the Li river.

The area is surrounded by rice paddys.

The village on the other side.

Strange touristy activities on the river. This is one where you get into and inflated ball and float along while rolling in a small amount of water. Everyone says it is a lot of fun. I thought it was way too cold to get wet, but some people were giving it a try.

Next, we went to visit the old town. It was a long and back-achingly bumpy ride. With all the jarring bumps, I was actually worried for the safety of the baby. The old village seemed really poor and mostly dirty.

Sharing the road.

They really didn't have much, but everyone did have a TV which seemed out of place in these ancient open-air houses.

An adorable, sweet old lady with crooked teeth.

It was then time for lunch. I was famished so I ordered a 10 course meal that took an hour to get to the table and ended up only half-eaten. At least everything tasted pretty good.

Leonardx3 waiting for the meal.

Next stop was a complete tourist trap which ended up being the place Michaela liked best. At least the silly, stupid activities were inexpensive.

Hand-made flower hat for 30 cents.

Sit on a decorated horse -- 50 cents.

Sit with ridiculously-dressed monkeys -- 1 dollar.

Dress like an ancient Chinese princess for another dollar.

Meet other princesses -- free!

Last stop -- see moon hill -- a strange formation that has a moon-shaped hole in it.

Trains in China

Trains in China are both fun and miserable. Riding them is really a cultural experience that all visitors should try at lease once. We did it twice on this trip. On the way to Guilin we took an overnight soft sleeper. It was quite comfortable and relatively clean. We had four bunks in one room and a door that locked. The way back to Shenzhen from Guilin was a bit different. We had hard sleepers (they were all out of soft sleepers). In this case there are 6 beds in one room and no door to separate your compartment from the other compartments. It is somewhat comfortable and kind of clean. Your experience can depend a great deal on your bunk mates. On our way back there were two empty bunks a lady that never said a word and then us on the bottom so it wasn't so bad.

Siblings sleeping together.

The dining car. Mr. Kruse liked the food a lot. I refuse to eat on trains so I just had some muffins that I brought from Hong Kong.

David and Yaya

Sometimes you meet fun people on the train. This is Sudoku Jack. He saw Mr. Kruse doing a Sudoku puzzle and wanted to learn how.

Jack trying his first Sudoku puzzle.

There is really no way to explain this -- it was messy and we all had to just laugh.

Longsheng Rice Terraces with the Kruses

So the trip was long, but clearly worth it as you will see. We took an overnight train from Shenzhen to Guilin. We then took a car from Guiling about a three hour trip to Longsheng. Longsheng is a beautiful area with famous rice terraces and several minority groups.

The ride was long and rainy.

The entrance -- at the bottom of the mountain.

We drove a bit further and then had to walk about 40 minutes up the mountain to the hotel.

The hotel was amazing -- expensive but wonderful in every way. Each room was decorated in a different theme with beautiful Chinese artwork and handicrafts in every corner. The atmosphere and beauty was a perfect accent to the scenery. If you need some decorating ideas, check out their site where they display each room.

A village path

Bamboo pipes worked as water drains

Once we settled into our hotel we headed out to see the beauty of the rice terraces. It was raining, but only lightly.

Looking out at the village below.

Looking out over the terraces.

The three Leonards

We met some minority women from the neighboring village.

Align CenterThey never cut their hair.
On a walk.

After a long walk we went out for a meal which included the local specialty -- chicken cooked over a fire inside bamboo.

The next day it was raining too hard to do more exploring so we headed down the mountain to make the long trip to Yangshuo.
Me and LJ before heading down.

Claudia carried Michaela on her back the whole way down.

Down narrow streets in the poring rain.

A very wet family -- I carried LJ in a front carrier which made traveling down the narrow, slippery steps very difficult.

On the way out we grabbed a cup of warm dou nai (bean milk) made from this old grinder.