Last year was my first year at BASIS International & Bilingual School Chengdu and the first time for my husband, James, and I to live in China. We have a long bucket list of places and history we want to explore and have only done a fraction of it. We decided to stay in Asia this summer and begin checking off that list!
The place at the top of my list was Xi’an and seeing the Terracotta Army. The sheer scale of the army was breathtaking. It is hard to fathom the hours that craftsmen put into each warrior and the engineering that went into building the tomb. It was so interesting to see the process the archeologist team goes through once a warrior is unearthed, to piecing it together at the “army hospital.” One of the highlights for me was seeing where a few crossbows and arrows once were. Simply amazing!
Many colleagues recommended visiting Muslim Street to eat the delicious food while we were in Xi’an. My husband is recovering from a broken ankle, so we were limited on how much site seeing we could do on this visit. So, I booked an evening food tour via tuk-tuk! Our favorite dish on our tour was gourd chicken; it sounds funny, but if you have never tried it, you must add this to your list. It is a famous traditional Xi’an dish that originated early in the Tang dynasty. It is prepared using a three-step cooking process: boiling, steaming, and then deep-frying. Absolutely delicious!
The next stop on our tour of Asia was Bali, Indonesia. The beaches in Bali are a perfect way to unwind and recharge for the next school year. We were very fortunate to be there during one of the most important Balinese holidays, Galungan. Our house manager explained that it represents the victory of dharma over adharma, or good over evil. One of the symbols of this celebration is the penjor which are beautifully decorated bamboo poles with offerings suspended at the end. These are placed along the roads outside temples and in front of houses. Very beautiful to ride down a street lined with them! One of the absolute highlights of our trip to Bali was being part of a baby sea turtle release!
To transit from China to Bali, we chose Bangkok as our destination since we had never visited there. Bangkok was a complete 180 from Bali. My husband and I both felt that the best way to describe it is that “Bangkok is a vibe!” Like many big cities, the city doesn’t seem to sleep. Our favorites were the supped-up tuk-tuks, the beautiful temples, and of course, the food! I had never tried mango sticky rice before, and I was absolutely blown away by how delicious it is!! We ate our fill of that, pad Thai, and seafood for five amazing days.
Our final stop before returning to Chengdu was Guangzhou to visit with some friends. Though we only saw a fraction of the city, it is so green and beautiful. (Did I mention hot?) The city is situated along the Pearl River and has been an important hub of trade since the 3rd century. It continues to be a very diverse city due to its proximity to Hong Kong and Macau. We strolled through several parks that were so beautiful along the river and took our picture in front of the famous Canton Tower. It was the perfect way to end the first of many tours of Asia!
Margaret Siglock, M.Ed.
BASIS International & Bilingual School Chengdu
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