we're here! we have travelled thousands of miles and been on what feels like just as many planes, trains and automobiles. We've done guided tours, gone drinking with ex-pats and gosh...seen too much to even contemplate writing down here all at once.
Travelling halfway around the world, while fascinating, really screws up your sense of place and time. Though we left Ottawa on Saturday, and arrived in SHanghai on Sunday, we really haven't felt like we knew which end was up until Thursday.
Arriving in Shanghai was an experience. Where stories have told us that getting into china was always a difficult experience, for us, it was simply a matter of dropping off three forms. We never said a single word to anyone in customs, in quaratine, in immigration or while picking up our baggage.
We've been city-hopping since we arrived - first to Xi'an (She-ann) to see the terracotta warriors, walk the city wall and climb pagodas until we were blue in the face. Then we were off to the desert, which was, quite honestly, the part of the trip I had been dreading the most. I was wrong to dread.
On Wednesday, we climbed sand "dunes" (think mountains) in the Gobi desert. We've visited the flaming mountains, the Mogao Grottoes, home to thousands-of-years-old buddhist art, and two gigantic buddha statues. We've made friends with Americans, Uighurs, and Han Chinese. We've had planes detoured well past the places we've wanted to go, flown through sandstorms, and are just now, setting in to have some real fun.
I'm writing from Urumqi, the farthest city in the world from any ocean, and the closest major city to the Kajikstan border. We're mere hours from Mongolia, from Pakistan, Afghanistan and the influence of these middle eastern cultures on this part of China is absolutely astounding.
The scenery has been absolutely amazing - my camera has been getting a real workout. So much so that I'm now on the hunt for *another* memory card though I brought 3 and a half gigabytes of memory with me.
I'd write more but access here is not cheap....more soon, I promise!