Thursday, February 28, 2008

Pics from Lijiang, China

For those of you who follow Alex's trip, he asked me to post these pictures as he is not able to upload them from Lijiang, China. According to him, this is one of the most beautiful terrains he has seen. As you can tell from the pictures, the Himalayas are all they see in this town 10,000 feet in elevation.
Enjoy, Lisa for Alex

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Lijiang China

I was a beautiful day. After a quick breakfast we got on the bus and began a tour of a village further up in the mountains. The village is at an elevation of 10,000 feet (higher than Shaver or Tahoe). In fact, the mountain range that we are currently in is the eastern portion of the Himalayans. This is the Mountain range that has Mt. Everest (the tallest mountain on the planet.

Before going 3,500 feet higher, we dropped a group of four off where they hiked the 3,500 steep incline. I decided to take the winding dirt road to the village by bus.

Once getting to the village, we met several of the locals and had lunch. Following the tour, we joined up with the fearsome foursome and traveled back down the mountain where we met up with a traditional and famous medical doctor…Dr. Ho. After a brief visit, we continued on to Dragon Lagoon where we crossed several bridges and hiked by the river that goes through the town of Linjiang.


Tonight, after dinner, we are traveling to the town square where we will watch the local dancing and singing. Tomorrow, we leave by plane back to Kunming where we will join up from the other members of our class that toured Dali. After one night in Kunming, China we will leave and head south to Laos. Hopefully, I will be able to blog you one more time before Laos. If not, next stop…Laos.

I loved the trip log about San Diego. It looks like you and Jordan had lots of fun. Tell everyone hi and keep writing.

Love you and God Bless,

Ottster

(I am having big problems loading pics...the internet in the square is very slow)

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Kunming & Lijiang China

We have made the halfway point! Yesterday, our class flew into Kunming where we started off looking at a nursery. From there we toured the stone forest. Words can not describe the beauty of this place. It is incredible.

After a two hour bus ride back to Kunming, we ate dinner and then watched a performance about the minorities within the area. Unbelievable! They performed the drums, dances and singing.

After some quick sleep, we were on another plane to Lijiang. Mom would like this area, because the women rule the society! Women are in charge of the work, finances, society in general. And the different minorities have different versions. Tonight, we will go to dinner and watch the local area perform their nightly "parties" that includes dancing and singing.

Love the blog from San Diego...can't wait to hear more about your fun trip.

Love you and God Bless,

Ottster


Pictures - First Daddy at the airport getting ready to board, second right little boy in Lijiang, last picture the stone forest.

Monday, February 25, 2008

San Diego Day 2



Well today was beautiful and typical San Diego weather. Not hot and very comfortable. Today was a Sea World day and considering I am doing my blog at 6:40pm the kids had fun as they are already asleep. Today boiled down to 3 things: Macaroni Pinguins (Munchkin will tell you the name story and it has nothing to do with pasta), Killer Whales and dolphin. Both kids had their cameras and used up all the pictures. A couple of them are attached. We were able to go behind the scenes with the penguins and actually go into their 24 degree enclosure and pet the infamous "King Tut" a 27 year old penguin. Alex, 24 degrees is not that cold, you are a whimp in China! The kid's favorite today was definately seeing the Killer whales behind the glass (the whale got close enough so the kids could kiss it through the glass), petting the penguins and of course the dolphin show. The kids already want to come back to play with this dolphin which is ok once Moose turns 6. That means another trip to San Diego, oh how terrible :)



San Diego Day One

WET WET and a LOUD LION

Hello from San Diego! Yesterday was a fun yet drenching day. Upon landing in San Diego we were wet, wet and wet. Hoping to wait out the rain a little we had breakfast and drove around a bit. Finally with a little proding from having grandparents in town, the kids warmed up to the idea of going to the Wild Animal Park in the rain. As you can see with the first two pictures, the kids had their parkas on (the best $5 spent and planning ahead I ever have done)!
We didn't think the animals would be really active but the workers said it is quite the opposite. The animals love the rain and ten to be more active during this time. We were not disappointed, the only animals who didn't do anything were the gorillas, the rhinos, monkeys, and lions were all really active. Here is Jordan standing next to a life size gorilla, he looks like a baby size!
You can see the picture of the male lion and there are two videos that you can see to really see how fun they were. There were 8 baby lions born in November and they were all playing. The dad was really active (See Videos and Pictures).



video video

The Final picture is of a bunch of birds eating nectar. There were about 6 birds landing on the kids and drinking the nectar from a cup in the kids hands. Moose dropped his when the birds started landing on him and just watched the rest of the time. Munchkin loved it! So long for now!


































































Sunday, February 24, 2008

China - Suzhou


Today we traveled to Suzhou. It is a small city of 4.1 million people. This area is known for its gardens. After the tour of the gardens, we took a boat ride down the old water ways, which back up to houses. After the boat trip we left to tour a silk factory where they make silk cloths.

By the end of the day, we went to the 87th floor of the Grand Hyatt in Shanghai. you could see a very long way. We then went to dinner as a group and then began to pack. Tomorrow, we fly to Kunming. This will take four hours by plane where then our group seperates into two (more on that later). Early day tomorrow...until then...

Have a fun time in San Diego,

Love you and God Bless,

Ottster


Pictures - Top picture of some of the gardens we toured. Right, as you can see it is still very cold in China. We bundled up for the tour. This is a picture of Jeff and I waiting for our group to return. We were presiding fellows along with Kelly.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

More China

Today started with a meeting with the ATO office. ATO stands for the Ag Trade Office. This office is an important component to the overall U.S. trade strategy, allowing a full time staff to assist in promoting agricultural trade in China.

After the meeting, we toured the Shanghai Museum. This was a very impressive museum. There was a giant model of the river front and then an even larger model on the fourth floor of the whole city. It was awesome!

After the museum, our group toured old town shanghai. This was the famous street that I received a good deal on some golf clubs last year. And yes, tell mom I received some great deals again this year! No golf clubs...just some great deals. She is hooked up!

Tomorrow we tour the garden city. I am sure I will have more pictures tomorrow. Last year, we toured this area with the Chamber and I am looking forward to another chance to visit!

Keep being good and enjoy your trip!

I love you and tell mom and Moose hello for me!

God Bless,

Ottster

(First picture is of one of two models at the Shanghai Museum. The second is of the court yard in old town Shanghai. Because it is the year of the rat, a giant rat figure is portrayed in the center of the area).

Friday, February 22, 2008

China - February 20 - 22


What a few days it has been. After visiting the warriors, we went back to the hotel where we met up with our host family. Five of us were assigned each a Chinese family for the evening. The family took us back to their house where we were treated to a traditional dinner.

However, it was the last evening of the Chinese New Year, which means…fireworks. Wow, these shows put our firework shows to shame. First, everyone would start off by dancing (we met lots of new friends!). After dancing, everyone would watch the firework shows on their square…that’s right, each square had their own show and these shows would last for almost an hour. Also, the shows would be similar to our grand ending…for the entire hour! It was amazing. After the show, we went back to the house and fired over 2,000 firecrackers on the sidewalk. It was amazing, everywhere you looked, and there were thousands and I mean thousands of fireworks being shot off!

After the show, we retired, only to wake up early in the morning and make it to the airport, where we caught a plane and flew to Shanghai. So far, in Shanghai, we have toured a traditional medical facility where we witnessed a patient receive acupuncture. This is where a doctor puts needles into certain points into the body to relieve pain. After the tour, we visited a museum of traditional medicine and concluded by coming back to the hotel where we split up on our own for dinner. My group went for PIZZA!

Tomorrow, we tour old town where we will have several opportunities to buy, buy and buy!

Hope all is well and I hope everyone is being good. Tell Moose to keep being a good boy! I love you and give mom a big hug and kiss for me.

God Bless,

Ottster

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Hello From Xian

Lots of fun items to report on from Xian. Yesterday we met with the Ambassador of the U.S. to China and then we toured the emperor's palace yesterday. We then toured the city of Hutong by rickshaw. Several of the lakes and rivers were still frozen over with the cold weather. (Picture of ostrich at zoo two days ago.).

From Beijing we then left by train to Xian where today we saw the largest insect collection in China. I have lots of good pictures that I will have to share with you tomorrow.

Right now, we are in Starbucks and having a Hot Coco. Tomorrow, we will tour the warriors where there are large armies made of clay. I will have more to report tomorrow. The connection is very slow today and we are having problems uploading items to the internet.

Tell Moose that daddy wants him to be good or mommy will start counting. Also, keep being good so you can go on your special trip on Sunday. I want both of you to be good for mom and dad...and if you are good I will have presents for you.

Here is a picture of daddy leading the group on the bus to the U.S. Embassy and the picture on the left is daddy and Denise at the Forbidden Palace.

Help mom and be GOOD!

I love you,

God Bless,

Ottster!

Monday, February 18, 2008

China - February 18, 2008

Lots of interesting things to learn and see today. First, we headed to a nursery. This nursery was big...I mean really big! Over 116 square miles big. Within the facility, they were growing several types of flowers and trees. Also, the facility was looking at how to grow new types of plants. This picture is of me in front of my favorite Asian fruit...Dragon Fruit. It looks like a cactus but taste like a sweet strawberry and looks like a white kiwi. Also, this research facility is so big, that it contains its own zoo, for the workers and visitors.

I also had the opportunity to visit some peach and apple trees at the facility.

After touring the facility, we headed to the bamboo factory. This is another facility dedicated to research of the different types of uses for bamboo. Lots of stuff is made with bamboo, including: furniture, cloths, pictures and statues.

During the tour, we saw a map of where all the bamboo is grown. They also had a stuffed panda. Our hosts were very kind as we were treated to royal treatment.

After the tour, we came back to our hotel and I had the pleasure of visiting with a gentleman regarding trade over a duck dinner. The duck was very good. I learned a new way to make a duck taco.

Beijing is a gigantic city. It is going to host the summer games this year and they are building several new facilities.

Tomorrow will be a very busy day. We start with a meeting with the U.S. Ambassador to China and then tour the Forbidden Palace. After the tour, we will board a train to Xian. I will probably not have the opportunity to blog tomorrow but will try and catch-up on Wednesday. I have lots of other pictures to share when I get home.

Love you very much and give Jordan and mom big hugs and kisses.

God Bless,

Ottster

P.S. Tell mom I saw Hudson in China!

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Day 3 - China


Today was a beautiful and cold day in China. Started off with breakfast at the hotel. I had an "Americanized" breakfast - Onion rings, baby hot dogs, bread and china dumpling. It was good!

After a meeting with the U.S. Foreign Ag Service, our class boarded the bus and took the long climb up the Great Wall of China. This portion of the wall was very different from the area that Lisa and I visited last July. First, I had to take a sky bucket up to the top of the mountain. After the steep ride, several of us hiked to the top of the wall and had a toast with "Great Wall" wine (thank you Richard Nunes)!

After the long trek up the wall, the gang of us began our heading back to the bus. However, instead of climbing down or taking our sky bucket down the hill, we road a chute car down a long and winding track. This device had two speeds, fast and break. You had to lean into the corners just like a bobsled. WOW! What a ride!

After our time at the wall, we went to see several Chinese performers. These were amazing folks that performed amazing tricks. After the performance, our class met up with the South Dakota Agricultural Leadership Class (Class 4) and had a Chinese dinner while we told ag leadership stories.

Over all, it was a fun be very tiring day.

Until tomorrow, God Bless,

Ottster

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Ag Leadership Class Arrives!


We arrived safe and sound in Beijing, China. We arrived late afternoon...just in time to unpack and go to dinner. The first picture is of downtown. Yes, there is a McDonalds and a Starbucks! The second picture is of my dinner group. I had two pork dumplings, steamed rice and orange chicken. It was excellent! After dinner we toured some of the downtown shops looking at several different stores.

I am going to make day 1 & 2 short because we left on Friday at 11:30am and arrived Saturday at 3:00pm. Also, I did not sleep at all on the plane. Tomorrow, our class has a meeting in the morning and then travels to the Great Wall of China. Following the Wall tour, we will go to dinner and watch the dinner show. More to come.

Hope all is well, Give mom a hug & kiss!

God Bless,

Ottster