In all the flurry of activity in the last few weeks I haven't had a chance to blog our holiday to China. (13 April - 7 May)

Big Goose Pagoda, Xi'an, China

First point, there are more photographs to follow!

Our itinerary involved flying to Beijing then on to Yantai in Shandong Province - a costal city in the north of China. We didn't stop overnight, instead we booked a bed at Beijing airport for a few hours - a new experience. We stayed for 4-5 nights in Yantai with my mother-in-law before flying to Xi'an, Shaanxi Province in central China (a flight of about 3 hours), near the terraccota army (兵马俑). After 4-5 nights in Xi'an we returned to Yantai, then after another break we took the train overnight to Taishan, climbed the mountain and returned by train.

Here are some of my abiding memories:

  • My daughter climbing up and down the 7 storeys of the Dàyàn Tǎ (Big Wild Goose Pagoda, 大雁塔) in Xi'an, on her own (age 2 1/2). The Dàyàn Tǎ is a brick tower that was built in 652 to house sūtras (precious Buddhist scriptures) brought from India by Xuán Zàng a translator and traveller. It afforded us some great views of Xi'an. Dàyàn Tǎ, on Wikipedia

  • Sharing a roasted sweet potato in the back of a taxi on the way back from seeing the terracotta soldiers! I was concerned that the soldiers wouldn't live up to expectations, but they were as impressive as I hoped. The excavations and soldiers are protected by 3 halls and the archaelogical research continues. We took a taxi from Xi'an (about 2 hours direct?) and stopped at a Daoist temple on Lishan (Mount Li) and the imperial baths at Huaqingchi on the way.

  • The crowded waiting hall in Taishan station as we waited for our train on the eve of the May public holiday - a big holiday in China. We returned to Yantai in daylight (9 hours), and travelling by train was a great way to see more of the country.

  • Yantai theatre

    Steak and chips at Lang Man ("Romance") a French restaurant in Yantai, followed by watching "KungFu Revelations - 9 Scrolls" at the new theatre. This live performance was a mixture of modern dance, acrobatics and narrative which we both enjoyed. And, I think the theatre is an elegant structure. Yantai also has a grand new train station.

  • Eating Yáng Ròu Pào Mó for lunch at a small restaurant in the Muslim quarter of Xi'an. This is a dish local to Xi'an, which consists of a round unleavened bread broken up and soaked in mutton soup. It isn't particularly spicy. And we found that with the precaution of hand-wipes these smaller restaurants were safe (but I accept no responsibility if you do become ill!)