10/26-11/05 Saqra west to Beijing and Tai'An, China, as part of a dance performance group: "Natica's Poetic Dance Theatre" based in San Francisco, CA.

Travelogue commentary to be added.. the pictures will make more sense then, but in the first...

Beijing Airport

Beijing downtown shopping area. It had rained during the night so the air was clean.

This is what the air looked like on the road to Tai'An. Not retouched in any way. It was night when we came into Beijing. The air was very polluted and I was having something close to asthma attacks until the rain came.

But lucky for us the air was clean that first day. First glimpse of the Forbidden City.

The forbidden city.

Tienanmen Square

Alleyway through a traditional hutong. That is kind of a closed neighborhood.

Candied crab apples for sale in the hutong area.

Bike parking and rental also in the hutong area. There were a ton of cars on the road and pedestrians do NOT have any right of way... intrepid bicyclists duke it out with busses all over the city.

Morning in Beijing. Giant blow up chicken in far distance. I have no idea why. And it wasn't a harvest thing... there was also a giant cell phone (not pictured).

Two faced chicken! Confusing because he actually has a beak on both sides of his head.

Some corn and rodents to go with your chicken!

On the bus to Tai'An we observed a lack of required load tie-downs... still something picturesque about this load of scrap metal!

China can be a land of contrasts.

The conference in Tai'An featured meetings, banquets & some remarkable entertainment which would include us.

These ladies have giant feathers out the top of their hats. They twirl them and do acrobatics. Amazing and really cute.

Pictures of the national orchestra.



Acrobats. Yeah, that guy IS wearing a duck suit.

Chinese Opera guys. Duck if you are backstage with them! Those pointy parts are hell in the dressing room. The feathers tickle, though.

Natica's Poetic Dance Theatre doing "The Muses."

Muses. Natica and Richard (left of center) are the mythological parents of the muses.

Me in Muses.

Natica's Poetic Dance Theatre in "Blue," a dance featuring and 8-10 foot wingspan per dancer. Choreographed to a gorgeous rendition of "Blue Danube Waltz."

More "Blue."

Dance contains a segment with all 7 dancers doing turns with wings in a high V and traveling around the stage in a weaving pattern. Also has several segments with the full crew in extended barrel turns. Incredible visual and impossible to photograph!

Saqra and husband Jeff "getting on the bus."

Sacred Mt. Tai has steps from the bottom to the top of the mountain. I'm thinking 6000 steps, but I'll have to check that for the travelogue commentary.

Another view of more steps.

Ahem... optional route for the lowest part of the hike is the tram. We took the tram.

Gorgeous misty view.

Shukriya, Aleka & Saqra on their way up the mountain.

Most of the way up there is an area that has poetry inscribed in a huge rock wall.

Great place for a press conference.

Natica and Richard dancing at nearly the top of Mt Tai for the national news cameras.

Most of the dance company (and a few other folks) near the top of Mt Tai

Most Chinese emperors & even a number of our presidents have been to the top of Mt. Tai. This is the very top.

In another part of Tai'An there is the second oldest temple in China. This is an incense cart.

You can purchase 2 part slabs for good luck, or for specific prayer issues. You leave one part there and take the other part home.

This is ours on the railing in China. The other part is on our bookcase at home.

Roof line. Same temple.

Moon gate. Same temple.

Giant tortoise. Same temple.

Vendors outside the temple.

Should we admit this?

They had light purple fruit pies... turned out to be taro.

Well, this was supposed to end up pointing to the next two pictures....

The paper goes in the bucket.

At a highway rest area.

Just for the heck of it I'll include this... this is an annoying and ingenious item in the hotel room. You put your door key card in this recepticle next to the door.... or else you get no power for light. You leave you take your key of course. If you try leaving a second key in the recepticle while you are out for convenience the maids will take it and not give it back even if all the lights are off.

Chinese cabbage in jade. Attracts prosperity.

Unfortunately this picture of a carved jade ship is blurry, but it will give a bit of an idea of what we saw... if you liik in the upper right hand corner of the cabbage picture you can see s little detail of the chains. For a size reference note the white dot in the middle of the hull. That is a piece of standard 8-1/2"x11" paper that says "Don't photograph this ship." You can't read it until you get closer to the ship. DOH!

This is the rather bizarre tram ride that takes you up to the top of the great wall at Badaling.

You get on one by one and go up a hill like it might be a roller coaster. The first stretch is in a concrete tunnel lit with rainbow lights. The dude in front of me was one of the workers and didn't put his own safety bar down. Made for a really pretty shot though.

Here is Jeff on a front view of the Great Wall transport thing.

The wall goes on and on.

Walking up on top.

Uh, yeah.... by pulley. That's how you get off the wall?

Beijing's 1001 Nights restaurant does feature live music and belly dancing. The dancing that night was to CD and the dancers selected the same old Egyptian pop music.

Food was good, but an abcense of garlic was noticed.

This is the stage space at 1001 Nights.

An interior shot. Very pretty and a good crowd!

Didn't catch the dancer's names, but there were three of them that night. This young lady looked new but enthusiastic.

This woman had some really nice moves.

She seemed to be a house favorite.

And these are the local belly dancers. We suspected it when we saw them wearing less clothing than we had seen women in that trip, and noticed a lot of air-hug air-kiss smiley smiley gossiping.... just like home! Confirmed when the dancers of the evening sat down with them and joined in.

This is the "Silk Market." Floors and floors of stalls set up in categories. We were in the jade and jewelry department on the top floor when I finally got my chin off the floor and remembered to take pictures.

Silk, clothing, electronics, name brand (?) stuff, Mao watches, housewares, fans, silk and more silk....

Our last night. Except for the McDonalds back in Tai'An (ummm... and the great food at 1001 Nights) we were eating Chinese buffet food pretty much every day... we were looking for something a little more familiar. So we looked for pizza....

My husband was excited about the pepperoni and black olive pizza.... I couldn't resist the "Deep Sea Eel Pizza." Pizza Hut... Making it Great! With Smoked eel, eel sauce, crab sticks, ginger....

After that we hopped over to the night market to see if we could pick up a few snacks.

The front row is star fish, sea urchins and white snakes twirled on skewers.

These guys a few stalls over had the bugs... silk worms in the two left trays in the back row.... the front trays are locusts and of course the scorpions....

Them's good eating.

I was set for more scorpions (I had had them at a banquet already) until they pulled out a coffee can full of live ones ready to pop in the fryer.

This is a stone boat in the summer palace in Beijing. Some of our friends took this picture after we left. I'm actually only putting it up because I thought it looked cool, and I hadn't been able to find any photographs of it when I was interested in it after doing my original reading on Chinese history. You don't have to know the history to appreciate the photo. Carved stone.

This odd picture was our final view of China from the airplane window. Throughout the entire trip we had seen people along the roads and highways with inefficient brooms made from what looked like twigs.

There were at least a dozen people on the runway and the sides of the runway... and I mean ON THE RUNWAY... using these brooms.