Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Our trip to Hong Kong and China

In January we were privileged to go to Hong Kong as chaperones for 20 Mongolians who were going to the temple.  We flew to arrive ahead of them and prepare for them.  They traveled by train--taking 72 hours to arrive.  Many of them received help from the temple patron funds to make this trip.  This is a great blessing to the people in Mongolia.
I was impressed with how modern Hong Kong is.  It is built on hills (or small mountains) and there is limited land space--so they build UP.  There are many skyscrapers.

 There are also older sections of the city.

 Some of the Mongolians had never seen the ocean.  They loved going there and wading in the water.

We also enjoyed seeing the ocean again.

One of the tourist stops in Hong Kong is the "Avenue of Stars" which has stars and famous peoples' names on the sidewalk, as well as some statues.  Here is Clair with Bruce Lee.  In the distance is Hong Kong Island.

This is most of our group down by the waterfront as we were taking a tour of Hong Kong.

Looking from Kowloon across the water to Hong Kong Island you can see the convention center and many of the tall buildings of the business district.  The church Area Office is in this area.

Walking through the downtown of Hong Kong Island we passed many interesting shops where you can buy things such as very fresh chicken (below).

Here we are at the top of Victoria peak.

Someone started a jump-rope contest and Clair won!

Hong Kong Island at sunset

Our purpose in going to Hong Kong was to attend the temple, the only place on the earth where families can become eternal.  This family was sealed in the temple so that they can be together forever.
Here is our group in front of the Hong Kong Temple.
We met with some of our supervisors in Hong Kong.  The area medical advisor, Dr. Linford, and his wife went with us to see the Nan Lian gardens.  These are very beautiful gardens featuring some very unusual stones. 
We had five children in our gruop.  We really enjoyed them.   These two are one-year-olds.

After finishing our week at the temple, we traveled by train from Hong Kong to Beijing.  Unfortunately, we had the third bunk up.  It was pretty tricky getting our luggage up and climbing up and down ourselves. 

There is not much head room on our bunk, so we spent a lot of time sitting on the bottom bunk.  The Chinese people were friendly and welcomed us to sit with them.  Here is Clair on his bunk--he didn't sleep much.
It was interesting to watch the countryside change from green in the south to icy in the north.  There were lots of small gardens and some cities as we passed through.  It took 24 hours to reach Beijing.
We enjoyed the little chinese child who shared our compartment and his family as well as this man who was very helpful.  It is interesting to try to communicate with people who do not understand your language, but if you try you can understand a lot with body language.

Here are some greenhouses as we got further north.

Notice the nuclear power plant.
Two families on the train had gone to Hong Kong to have babies because of China's one-child policy.  These babies were only about a week old and were returning to China. 
The Chinese flags in Beijing.
TiananmenSquare at night.  You can see Chairman Mao's picture in the background.
Here we are eating some "Peking Duck."  Peking has now been renamed Beijing and is the capitol of China.  We thought the food was good at this restaurant.
In Beijing they love their Pekinese dogs and consider them part of the family.  This one liked to ride the elevator in our hotel.  (I am told they eat other dogs!)
We were able to visit the Great Wall of China at Bedaling.  This wall used to go for 8,000 kilometers and runs along the mountain ridges.  It is quite amazing to see.  Astronauts say it is visible from outer space.
The wall has steep stairs and guard stations short distances apart.  They used the wall to keep out intruders (especially the Mongols).  They could send signals from station to station.
In the picture below you can see how the wall runs along the ridges.
Here is the wall from a distance.  Ridges do not run straight, so the wall doesn't either!

We hiked up to the 5th guard station and there the restored part of the wall ended.  We could go no further.

This is the "Ming Tomb" where an emporer was buried.  Following emporers went their to pray and offer burnt sacrifices and have a feast once a year.
We were told that the animals on the corners of the buildings are for protection and blessings.
These stone animals represent the ones used in the burnt offerings.
Our tour also included some commercial sites.  This was a "cloisonne" factory.  The items are made of copper but are covered with porclain.  The dyes used are special and for many years were secret.  See the woman using the dyes below.
Here is the "bird's nest" used in the Olympics held in Beijing.  Beijing appeared very modern, partly because of all the improvements done for the Olympics.  Generally, China seemed much more modern than Mongolia.
At the silk factory we saw the silk making process--from cocoon to fabric.  It was interesting to see.

This is the Olympic swimming competition building.  It looks like a lot of bubbles.

We saw many kinds of transportation--cars, bicycles, three-wheeled trucks, scooters, delivery bicycles, etc.
After leaving Beijing we flew to Erlian, which is in Inner Mongolia (a part of China now).  This is part of the Gobi desert where lots of dinosaurs have been found.  They had many dinosaur statues along this part of the road from the airport to the city.

Erlian was quite modern, whereas the sister city on the Mongolian side has not changed in many years.  Below is one of the many 3-wheeled delivery trucks.

This restaurant is called "Dicos" but seems very much like MacDonald's.  There are not many Americans who come here, so this young landy wanted her picture taken with us.  Many Mongolians go to Erlian to shop because they can get bargains there.
The policemen also wanted our picture.  When they approached me in the train station and explained that this man was the "chief of the police" I was worried.  They they began to ask us questions, take our pictures, and record our answers with their TV cameras.  We began to feel like celebrates.  They asked us questions like, "Did you feel safe here?"  "Do you like our city?"   They were friendly and we didn't have any problems.
The train from Erlian to Ulaanbaatar was not as modern as the chinese train, but at least we had a bottom bunk.  And we enjoyed being back with our Mongolian friends. 
The Gobi desert at Sunset. 
We are getting closer to Ulaanbaatar now and beginning to see groups of gers and "bashins" (wooden houses).
Our Mongolian children are playing "train" on the train.
We had a testimony meeting and lunch with most of our group when we arrive back in Ulaanbaatar.
Going to the temple with our Mongolian friends was one of the highlights of our mission.  We hope that they will soon have a temple in Mongolia.  We have been inspired by the way the Mongolian members revere the temple.