Hi there, I (right) am the instructor for this field course (HIS 1977) and this (left) is my wife Hiro who has been helping to manage this course both on the ground in China as well as in the many hours of preparations and planning that occurred over the past 6 months.
I will be adding a few comments here and there as we go along, but will leave much of the blogging to the crew. Enjoy!
We are now in Urumqi at the end of our travels along the Silk Road. Today I will post a collection of photographs of the group at various sites from Beijing to Urumqi.
The first set will be in Beijing:Biking around Hou Hai Lake and the Hutongs; The Bell Tower; Tiananmen Square; The Forbidden City; The Temple of Heaven; Lama Temple.
Next was Xi'an: a modern commercial city where one of China's largest auto manufacture's (BYD) has a strong presence, but it is also a city with a deep history that makes it a tourist center.
From the massive city of Xi'an we flew to the relatively small city of Dunhuang in the middle of the Gobi Desert. Here we visited the Singing Sands mountains, the Crescent Moon Oasis, the Mogao Caves, the Han era Great Wall, Yumen guan ruins, and the Yangguan Museum.
From Dunhuang we took the night train to Turpan (Turfan) another historic oasis city between the Gobi and Taklamakan deserts and one of the lowest basins on earth and the place in China with the highest average temperature. Here we visited the Flaming Mountains (pictured behind us); the Bezeklik Thousand Buddha Caves, Ruins of the Ancient Kingdom of Jiaohe, the Karez well and irrigation sytem
Finally, we took a bus from Turpan to Urumqi the capital city of Xiangjiang Province. Xiangjiang is in fact the largest province in China with over 1/6th the total territory of China. It is larger than the state of Texas.
One of the things that I feel is important in getting to know a culture is food. As far as food cultures go, China is a heavy hitter and we have been trying to get a good taste of this culture.
We started in Beijing with classic northern Han Chinese food and have been moving west adding Mongolian and Uighur flavors.
I have here included a selection of our long meals that have been full of discussions, reflections, and good comradery.
With Xi'an we have moved from late imperial sites to pre-historic sites. Our first was Banpo which provides great examples of Yagnshao culture.
Next we visited the excavation site of the Terracotta Army.
After a 12 hour overnight train ride from Beijing to Xi'an, we have gone from the modern capital of China to the location of the ancient capital of many Chinese dynasties, Chang,an (modern Xi'an).
Today we climbed the Great Wall walking between eight towers. This section was constructed in the Ming dynasty (1368-1644) and is located about 1:30 north of Beijing city center. We lucked out and had wonderful weather.
This is the class at the largest Confucian temple outside of Qufu still standing today. It was built in the days when Beijing was just being transformed into a capital city in the early 14th century. We are standing in front of a recently erected statue of Confucius which marks a new phase in the history of Confucianism in the new global vision of China.