So we are in Turfan. The past 72 hours have been a whirl wind. This time three days ago, we were in Xian. Then the next day we boarded a plane to Dunhuang. The flight was a brief two hours and then we arrived. Looking out of the windows of the plane, it looked like there was only one road. It was quite the sight.

If you ever want to know what it is like to be a president, you should fly to Dunhuang.
So we are in Turfan. The past 72 hours have been a whirl wind. This time three days ago, we were in Xian. Then the next day we boarded a plane to Dunhuang. The flight was a brief two hours and then we arrived. Looking out of the windows of the plane, it looked like there was only one road. It was quite the sight.

If you ever want to know what it is like to be a president, you should fly to Dunhuang.
After we grabbed our luggage it was off to meet our guide, Jenny, and to our first stop the Mogao Caves. The caves are a key location to studying Buddhism, due to the discovery of the Library Cave in the early 1900s.

The Mogao Caves were built as acts of devotion dating back to the early Han Dynasty until the Tang Dynasty. After the Tan Dynasty, the caves were sealed to prevent damage due to instability in the region.

In order to preserve the caves, pictures are not allowed in the cave. You should google them. The only way to describe it is: indescribable. We are also really lucky because there are serious discussions about actually closing down the caves, in order to preserve them.

Afterwards, we had a delicious dinner. Then we went to the Sing Sands and the Crescent Lake. There we got to ride camels. It was amazing. The sights from the top of the Dunes (or the middle of them) it was breathtaking. Absolutely breathtaking!
After we returned our camels, we went to the Crescent Lake, which is an oasis. Also, it started to rain. On average it rains about five times a year in Dunhuang. The total annual rainfall is 40mm. It rained twice while we were there.

When we got to our hotel, Jenny surprised Kelsey with a birthday cake because Kelsey turned 20!
Next, some of us students ventured to the Night Market down the street from our hotel.

The next morning we went to the see the rements of the Han Dynasty Great Wall. It was amazing. Situated thousands of kilometers from the seat of imperial power, were these military outposts. One of the really cool parts about these walls and forts are that they were built out of mud and straw.
After a delicious lunch, we went to a museum that opened in 2003. It was amazing. They a lot of Han and Tang Dynasty pieces. This time it was more daily life pieces for the solider. We also got to see one of the most impressive views ever.
As Tyler said, after a quick 12 hour train ride from Beijing to Xian, we began our field work here.

For those who do not know, Xian, or Chang'an, was the ancient capital in China. Over 10 dynasties ruled from here. The city was renamed Xian or Western Peace, after the capital was moved to Beijing. Today Xian has over 100 universities and is growing.

After we freshened up at our hotel (which is absolutely gorgeous) we began our tour of the ancient capital. Our first stop, the Xian City wall. We climbed the steps to the wall and then biked around it. All 13km of it. The wall was simply incredible. You could see the evidence of the city's past, as well as it's future, as an industrial hub. The view was spectacular. If you're going to go to Xian and only do one thing make it the bike tour of the city wall.

Next we went to lunch, where we learned how to make dumplings. The restaurant that we did this at makes their dumplings unique because the filling of the dumpling is mimicked in its shape (duck filling meant that the dumpling was duck shaped). For the record, the duck was my favorite!

After lunch we toured two museums. The first was an art museum which focuses on art related to Xian. We also got a second calligraphy class; this time Tyler and I received the best marks for our characters. The museum also focused on local artists. Next we journeyed to the Shaanxi History Museum. There we learned about the different dynasties that ruled the area. The main focus was on the Qin, Han and Tang Dynasties.

Our next stop took us to the Big Wild Goose Pagoda, which is a Buddhist temple in the heart of Xian. It used to be taller but time, a earthquake and the Cultural Revolution made it shorter. Today it stands 7 stories tall. We climbed to the top of it and had some impressive views.
Next it was dinner and we were in for a treat. We had hot pot, which is where you cook all of your own food, such as mutton, eggs, vegetables etc. and then dip them in a sauce and eat them. It was delicious and a bit mess.

The next morning it was time to go again. We ventured to the Banpo Museum which houses a Neolithic village that was located in Xian. The museum was really interesting especially for those of us who do not know a lot about the Neolithic period. Not to mention we got to pose with some tribesmen models.

Afterwards, in anticipation of our trip to see the Terra-Cotta soldiers, we went to a ceramics factory. We saw how the soldiers would have been made and also how they would have been painted. They also had some beautiful furniture there too!

Next we went to the Terra-cotta soldiers and they were incredible. It was amazing to see something that we all have heard about since we were little in person. This was what Kelsey was most excited to see and it did not disappoint. The soldiers were built as a way to, hopefully, make the dynasty last longer. But as we know, the first Emperor of the Qin dynasty, who was also the first Emperor of China, died after less than 20 years on the throne. His dynasty in 206 BCE and then the Han Dynasty came to power. This was an amazing experience. We saw all three open pits.
At night we headed down to a night
market and did some shopping. It was a lot of fun to experience some different parts of the city. Not to mention, we had a stunning view of the city wall decorated with lights.

Anyways, now we are off for our last full day in Xian. It should be a busy one. I'll let you know how it goes!

Thank you for reading - Tori
Taken from the window on the plane, this is how Tyler Cuddeback '14 saw the Rocky Mountains for the first time. He was at over 30,000 feet above Montana. 

Our E.A.T. (Eduardo, Andy and Tyler) Team enjoyed a new kind of Midnight Snack upon our arrival to Beijing

The next morning, the E.A.T. Team went out on a walk by themselves and found a new food. This was taken of Tyler, not to far from where he tried the drinkable yogurt famous in China.

That morning we also went into the Hutongs of Beijing and learned how to paint Traditional Beijing Opera Masks.

We also took a bike tour of the city and the Hou Hai district of the city famous for its night life

We visited the Lamas Temple which was erected nearly 500 years ago; Nearly Twice as long as The United States has been a country.

The next day we went to the ever famous Tiananmen Square. The number of people there was absolutely unfathomable. Easily within 50,000 Tourists, guards, tour guides, citizens and vendors, but with people coming in and out, it was likely twice that.

Our lustrous leader holding down the fort while our tour guide "Icy" does all the leg work to get us into the Forbidden City. 

It is almost impossible to describe the size of the Forbidden City. They say a picture is worth a thousand words; let's let this panoramic shot do the talking.

Tyler standing in front of one of the many, but most memorable sites in the Temple of Heaven.

Leaving the Temple of Heaven, which serves as an exercise park for the majority of Beijingren (Citizens of Beijing), a famous local artist was making Bubble Graphs on the sidewalk withe nothing but water in a syringe. This is a common phrase; Ni Hao (Hello)

We went to a small factory where they make a special pottery made from Copper, enamel and embossed with gold.

Which leads us to one of the most iconic places in China and one of the 7 Wonders of the World: The Great Wall of China

And we took a Trip down the Mountain from the Great Wall on a tobagan.

Then we went to the 798 Art District and saw some of the local artists and the high fashion boutiques. 

Finally we went to the Summer Palace and saw BeiHai Park.

We hopped on the train for the night and slept our way over to Xi'An

Upon our arrival to Xi'An we went to the the Ancient defensive Wall of the city. During the Han Dynasty there were four major legendary animals; Red Bird, White Tiger, Black Turtle and Blue Dragon. These are used on the wall to mark the direction each of the Animals protect and symbolize the areas which they protect.

What other ancient secrets will Xi'An hold for us tomorrow...?

Day Two was just as busy as yesterday, just we had more sleep! Today we visited Tianamen Square, the Forbidden City,   the Temple of Heaven, and a market.

Tiananmen Square was massive and  very crowed. It made you feel tiny and was surrounded by different buildings, such as the National Museum. It was powerfully iconic. Fun fact:  a dignitary from Israel was there. We know this because of the Israeli flag hanging in the square.

Across the way is the Forbidden City which was built during the Ming Dynasty. The best way to describe it is: it can give modern security experts a run for their money. By this I mean that it has so many rooms and passage ways, that any intruder could easily get lost if they didn't know where they were going.  The Forbidden City, like the Llama Temple, had a blue and green motif on all of the buildings. We also came during the restoration of several of the different halls. The Forbidden City is overall massive and an excellent demonstration of imperial power.

After that it was time for lunch, which was very filling. Then we sojourned to the Temple of Heaven, which was actually larger than the Forbidden City. It was lush green everywhere, but the temples themselves were still adorned in the blue and green jeweled tones. It was also one of the tallest points in Beijing, which was stunning view.

Next we journeyed to a market, where we tried a host of different foods, including scorpion and snake. FYI the snake was my favorite.  The guys will have more in the food blog!  The majority of us got to practice our bartering skills, which I am sure will improve immensely in the coming week (I still need some more work, but Kelsey is great!). We also did some shopping; Alysse and I bough shoes. Yes, I flew 13,000 miles and bought shoes. We also went to the largest bookstore in Beijing. Books smell good in any language. After that it was dinner  and a subway ride back to the hotel.

Even after two days here, many of us are already becoming more confident speaking Mandarin and trying new things. Thus far it has been pretty amazing and I can't wait to see what is coming up next.

Total miles walked  today. 11.6.

Tomorrow we are off to the Great Wall! Have a great night! - Tori
Greetings from Beijing!

We just finished up our second full day here and it was amazing. While we have been here since late Tuesday night/early Wednesday morning, we've done so much that it feels like we've been here longer (in a good way). Here is a brief summary of what we have done since then! This is the first of two posts tonight!

We arrived in Beijing around 11pm on Tuesday and after we went through immigration and customs, we met our guide IC and we went to our hotel in Beijing (the airport is a bit outside the city). IC is wonderful; she is funny and very  thorough and understands our desire for a lot of pictures. After we all checked into our rooms, we unintentionally met in the lobby and decided to embark on a search for some food. After all what is more college than dinner at 1am? Dr. Pitner and his lovely wife, Hera, led us and not that far from the hotel we found a convenience store that satisfied our appetites. Eduardo even tried some squid jerky (check the food page for more food news!).

The next morning we began our tour of Beijing in the hutongs, which traditionally refer to the side streets that surround the siheyuans (four sided homes with a courtyard). However, in modern Beijing, hutong has come to mean the neighborhoods that are made up of these homes. In the hutongs, we painted traditional Beijing Opera masks, which have a white base, and up to four colors to create a personality.  Different colors signified different traits; such as green means military, blue means loyalty and yellow means evil. The masks were also symmetrical and if they were not it would signify to an audience that the character is injured. We learned that only the beginner opera singers wear masks, the others paint the elaborate decorations directly on to their own faces.

After that we did calligraphy. This is an art that is learned over many years, sometimes up to nine years. Some of us were better than others. We learned some basic characters such as one, two, and ren, which means person. Eduardo had the best characters, which meant that he  got to keep our teacher's examples!

After we were done with that, it was time for a bike tour of the hutongs. We biked for an hour and covered some serious ground. Our tour was centered around the Beihai Park, which was stunning. We found a street that was filled with bars and restaurants and we plan on going back there later in the week. It was an  interesting juxtaposition between the classic architecture of the hutongs and the Western music blaring from them.  After our bike tour, we met a family and visited their hutong. It was nice, except for the cats.

After that it was lunch. It was delicious. A note about dining in China, at least in the restaurants, there is a large lazy Susan in the middle of the table. The dishes are placed upon it and you share food. The plates are small, so you tend to eat right off of the serving dishes. The boys will fill you in on the food but just know that we are all getting better with chopsticks and eating a large well balanced meal.

Following lunch, we toured two temples. The first was the Llama Temple, which is center of Buddhist worship. Words will not do this justice but put it this way, between the 26 meter tall Buddha, made from a single piece of wood, and the jeweled tones of blue and green that adorned each hall, the Llama Temple was stunning. It like, the Forbidden City, was deceptively big; it took you away from the bustling metropolis that is Beijing.

Next we visited a Confucian Temple, which likewise, had rich tones and beautiful architecture. Additionally, there were trees in the temple that were older than the U.S. We'll post pictures later! For dinner, we ate Peking Duck, which was to die for. Literally, I will never eat it again because I don't want that memory to be ruined.

Total miles walked: 10.2 miles

- Tori
Tomorrow morning, we will all be boarding flights [unless we are already in the air] to Seattle. From Seattle, we will hop a 12 hour flight to Beijing! It should be a balmy 61 degrees when we get there on Tuesday night! Then on Wednesday morning we will hit the ground running as we begin our tour of Beijing! Keep your eyes peeled for some more post throughout our travels. - Tori
First up:
Kelsey Guthmiller '15
  • Major/Minor Major: Business Administration with concentrations in international business and marketing
  • Favorite food: Everything!!! But specifically anything with apples or cinnamon :)
  • Favorite color: purple or green
  • If you could be a superhero who would it be? The Hulk (He's not your average superhero)
  • What you're most excited about for the trip: visiting the terracotta soldiers (I've wanted to see them since I was six)

Tyler Cuddeback '14

  • Majors: Business Administration double concentrations in Marketing and International Business, International Studies specialization in Asian Studies
  • Favorite Food: Meat Lovers Pizza
  • Favorite Color: Purple
  • If you could be a superhero who would it be?: Iron Man, because he is the most badass superhero that could actually be real. His superpower is Money.
  • What you're most excited about for the trip.: The bike tour on top of the walls of Xi'an. 

Eduardo Tayupanta '15

  • Major/Minor: Economics and International Business Majors/ French Minor
  • Favorite food: Sushi
  • Favorite color: Brown
  • What you're most excited about for the trip? Beijing, Terracotta Army and Xi'an 

Alysse Friedrich '16
  • Major/Minor: Accounting
  • Favorite color:Blue 
  • What you're most excited about for the trip: Xi'an and Beijing

Anna Jantz  '14

  • Major: History, American Studies and Women's Studies minor 
  • Favorite food: Strawberries
  • Favorite cool: Green
  • What superhero would I be...of course Ringo Starr 
  • I am most excited see Dunhuang and the caves!

Tori Riley '14
  • Major/Minor: History and International Studies with an Economics Minor
  • Favorite food: Sandwiches [You can always make a sandwich]
  • Favorite color: Orange
  • If you could be a superhero who would it be? Princess Leia
  • I am most excited to see the Summer Palace and the Great Wall! 

Andy Manganaro '14

  • Majors: History / Adolescent education
  • Favorite food: Fried Bananas
  • Favorite Color: Orange
  • If you could be any superhero, who would you be?: The Flash 
  • What are you most excited about for this trip?: The Chance to collect dirt from all over the world


    Tori will be be the primary blogger but keep your eyes peeled for guest bloggers!


    May 2013