i've finally found myself enough time to pick some pictures and post them for your pleasure. lucky you, and lucky your pleasure. before we go to the pictures, let me just say that going to see china with my mom was a really great experience and it's a really cool country and there's lots of neat-o things to see and do there. i recommend traveling with your mom and i recommend traveling to china. on to the pictures!
when we landed we went to our friends in shanghai, the meyers. in a display of recombinated hospitality and tough love they refused to let us go to sleep upon arrival in the afternoon, despite our bleary eyes and slurred pleas. that night, to keep our adrenaline pumping, they took us downtown and then to this hotel's 40 or so story atrium, where they apparently figured the onset of vertigo would keep us on our toes and fully awake. they were right--i nearly threw up. or down. down 40 stories.
here we are having another amazing meal in shanghai. bee tin (mrs. meyer, who is singaporean) ordered food for us so we didn't end up eating dog. she did a good job of that as far as i know. either that, or dog tastes really good--all the food we had was delicious. plus this restaurant does a remarkable job of keeping its ceiling mirrors clean.
here's a picture inside a temple in xian, which is the second city we went to. this is where they light the candles and then bow several times in the smoke. that probably would have been a better picture than this one, but this one's not so bad. plus, this way you SEE this one and get to hear about and imagine that one. so this one picture, in a way, is worth TWO thousand words. that's word economy right there.
this, then, is word and picture extravagance and superfluity. this is also in xian, overlooking one of the excavated portions of the tomb of the first emperor of the qin dynasty. this tomb was under construction for most of the guy's life, which means mr. qin was either really morbid or blessed with a strong sense of foresight. or both, i guess. first of all, let me give my standard photo disclaimer (long-time readers, sing along if you know the words): it looks way better in person. but seriously. each and every one of those clay statues is life-size and individually designed and hand made. this room, in other words, is approximately enormous. and it's sort of surreal to be there. plus, they've only excavated three of the many many pits full of untold treasures and tourist traps, so the whole thing is completely unique and bigger than whatever comes close to it and so on.
this is the great wall. some folks say you can see it from outer space, which is not true. so if you tried to see it from there you'd be pretty disappointed, and not only because at some point you'd probably realize you could have seen it without leaving planet earth anyway. we went from where we're standing here to where you can't see the wall any more in this picture. this hike was probably my favorite part of the china trip. there was incredible scenery, that palpable feeling of history, fun times with the mom, and the fun feeling of breaking the law when we snuck past the "danger in path ahead" sign. breaking the law in repressive communist countries just gives you an extra little thrill.
here's a picture depicting the scenery. and the history. and the mom time. and the overall awesomeness. but not the law-breaking, because this part wasn't forbidden. but probably there's extra helpings of awesome here to make up for it. we visited the great wall while we were staying in beijing, which is where we went after we went to xian. those are the three cities we went to: shanghai, xian, and beijing. next picture!
finally, this is tiananmen square. an enormous swatch of cement filled with monuments to various pieces of chinese splendor, it's also the site of an incredible massacre for which there is no monument. the eeriness of being between the time when that happened and when it will ultimately be acknowledged is...like, really eerie. the square is enourmous (in typical empirical fashion) and full of people and just walking through it was a very exciting experience.
so that's some pictures of china. there's probably more around somewhere, and there's therefore a decent chance i'll post more pictures after these pictures. but here are some of them, for now.