Some of the Places I Visited in China as Part of our Trip Around the World

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The Buddhist Temple

A few days ago we went to the Wild Goose Pagoda and learned about Buddhist history and their religion. On the tour we went to the different shrines and heard the monks chant. We learned that the Pagoda leaned to one side because they had an earthquake a long time ago and when they built it they made the foundation so that it could move but not fall all the way over. It was built during the Tang Dynasty. During the Tang Dynasty one of the emperors was Buddhist so the religion became very popular in China.

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The best bit of the tour was the art gallery at the end. The guide taught us calligraphy and we got to do some, then a bamboo artist painted, guess what? Bamboo!




We got to keep that, and then we picked out chops of our zodiac animals and the master carved our English and Chinese names into them!

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The Pagoda was full of culture and history and was amazing to see.





The Terracotta Warriors

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Earlier that day we saw the Terracotta Warriors. It was interesting that the  Emperor that built them built them out of fear, not ego.  He built them so he could continue to rule in the afterlife.  After the soldiers were built he buried the people who put the soldiers  there alive so no one knew where they were. He also killed the engineers who discovered chrome plating so we had to rediscover it thousands of years later. When he was 13 years old he began construction on his tomb. A few years after he died a peasant revolt rushed his tomb and stole the weapons from it and then burned and destroyed the Terracotta Warriors. The first time they were found was when a farmer was digging a well and found an arm. The other farmers told him it wasn’t important but he put the pieces he found in a wheelbarrow and took them to officials in the town. They recognized how important his find was. Many years later he stopped being a farmer and spent his days at the museum signing books.

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The Great wall

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The same emperor that built the the Terra Cotta Army started the construction process of the Great Wall of China.  Qin Shi Hungdi built the wall to defend the Chinese Empire from the Mongolian Nomads of the north. The Mongals were mounted soldiers who lived off the land though when they could not they reverted to stealing, burning, and pillaging the Northern Chinese villages. The Great Wall was also known as the great, or longest, grave yard. When workers died on the job they just buried them in the wall and built around them. Once it was finished they had a special system to signal the army; one signal fire meant 50 men, two signal fires meant 100, and so on. The Great Wall took over 500 years to finish building.

The wall in it of it self is not very high but most of it is built on mountains that were steep and treacherous. The mountains provided little fast escape for the soldiers but made it nigh impossible to scale, grapple, destroy, climb or, mount ladders on.  When we went to the great wall the it was incredibly crowded even though we had requested not to go to crowded areas. When we asked the guide why we had come where she said because it was the most important part but she never told us why. The Great Wall, like the Terracotta Warriors, was built out of fear, fear of the Huns, rather than ego as many people thought it was.

Diving in the Bahamas

This week I was certified as a PADI Open Water Diver. When we first arrived we had to do tons of paper work, get our gear, and get into the pool. In the pool we practiced and learned skills that we needed to dive; we spent all day in the pool doing this so that we could go on a open water dive the next day.

The next day we got on a boat and went out to the David Tucker wreck first–it was amazing–my first look into the under water world. From the moment I did that first giant stride into the water to when I hauled myself back out I was in a whole different world. We were the only humans there, visitors in an amazing new world in which the corals were the plant life and the fish were the dominant species of the reef with crabs scuttling around feeding and hiding. The human race knows more about the surface of Mars than about what lies beneath the waves of our oceans.

The next dive we did that day was called “James Bond” because they sunk the ships for the James Bond movies, Never Say Never Again and another one. One of the wrecks used to be a plane but we could not tell because it was so old and covered in beautiful coral. After we saw the wrecks we swam through a coral tree forest that our instructor had planted.

The next day we got back on a boat and went out to the sand chute. We swam along a 6,500 foot drop off that went from 60 feet to 6,500 like a cliff. It was slightly terrifying but awesome. After that we went to one of the of the only natural wrecks here. We swam up to the propeller and the rudder, saw the breach in the hull, took pictures of us holding femurs (don’t worry they were fake. a prop from a movie shot years ago) and saw a Caribbean reef shark.

A kid in Burning Man (it is awesome)

One of the main reasons that I enjoyed Burning Man was the friends that shared the experience with me.  This year was the dustiest Burning man in a long time.  The best bit was the actual burns, the ginormous man and the temple that they build every year for the experience.  Burning Man was one of the best experiences on this trip so far.

My friends from school, Gus and Joe, camped with us and we went to the burns, played poker, and set up the camp together.  They had been going for four years so they knew a lot and showed us around the city. The big reason why it was so fun was because of the friends we made.  We hung out with Landon, Carson, Mickey, and Marty on the trampolines.

My brother hung out with kids more his age, Hope, Arri, Forrest, Will, and Meghan were some of his best friends. He actually met his girlfriend Hope at burning man.  Having friends that were more experienced was really helpful.  They took him dancing a lot.

The dust was bad. The first day was a 15 hour dust storm. It was crazy, you couldn’t see five feet in front of you. The whiteout lasted for 12 hours and it was moderate for the rest of the storm. To go outside we had to  wear goggles and masks to protect our eyes and our throats.   The next storm lasted four hours, it wasn’t that bad. My dad and I watched sky divers get blown off course because of one.

The burns were amazing. The energy before the burns was great, every one was excited for them but sad because it marked the end of the week. The Man had a whole show and burned for 45 minutes before it fell. He was 60 feet tall. The temple had no show but was more spectacular than the man, it fell after 7 minutes but everyone stayed for the perimeter break. We have a temple for other burners to make shrines for lost loved ones. They were the whole point of the place and marked the end, it was a bittersweet occasion.

Burning Man would have been dull without the friends that I made there and those that I already had.  This year was very, incredibly dusty.  I had the most fun at  the actual burns both the man and the temple, they were amazing but a little bit sad.   Burning Man was one of the best experiences on this trip so far.