Our last night in Xi’an we went to see a light and water show set to music in front of the Big Goose Pagoda. It is boasted as being the biggest water and light show is China. We were very impressed with the show and felt that it should be ranked with the shows in Las Vegas or Barcelona. The multicolored lights were very dense and there was a lot of movement of the water fountains themselves.
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Before and after the plankton we traveled through Phnom Penh, Cambodia. It was a short stay, but it was during the Khmer New Year. We witnessed some of the celebrations on Koh Rong Sanloem but the celebration last for three days.
The Khmer/Cambodian New Year is the traditional lunar new year that signifies the end of harvest season. It is a time to enjoy the prosperity of their labor before the rainy season begins. During the three days, people pray, light candles and incense, give to charity and dedicate a ceremony to their ancestors. It is also tradition for people to wash statues of Buddha. Washing Buddha symbolizes washing away bad actions and will bring good luck, happiness and prosperity. Children also wash their parents and grandparents to obtain their best wishes and advice on life. (Moms and Dads: we thought we would just stick to dinners, phone calls, and asking for advice! 😘)
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We enjoyed Sapporo again, getting a great sushi lunch. We sat at the sushi bar, watching our chef (one of several) craft each piece we ordered. The fish was delicious and the texture was above and beyond anything we had had before. We most enjoyed trying several different cuts of tuna and comparing the flavor.
Later on, we saw the sushi bar had made an ice sculpture of the owner buying a giant tuna!
Thanks for the gift!
One of the highlights was getting to see the end result of the snow blocks the international teams were still carving the last time we were there. Here is a before (from our last visit to Sapporo) and after for Finland, who made a carving representing the different facets of our personality interacting in society:
Here is the winning entry, from Macao, of the crane dance of spring:
And one from Latvia, called “Wooden Dreams”, of what a tree dreams of!:
Dinner we found by navigating this narrow street full of hole-in-the-wall ramen shops:
The ramen was good and we are looking forward to trying a different place this weekend.
The Snow Festival almost turned Meg into a snow sculpture too. But we really enjoyed all the things we saw:
Citizen sculptures: these were smaller sculptures made by local groups and organizations. Each group was able to pick their own design and there were about 50 of them total.
The large sculptures are huge buildings of snow made by national groups; towering several stories tall and built from thousands of tons of snow over the last month with hundreds of people working on each one. There were 7 of these total and they were all magnificent in size and detail. Each of them double as a stage for performances as well. The Arc de Triomphe is 1/3 of the size of the original which leaves it slightly over 5 stories tall! It is 17.5 meters tall, 24 meters wide and 18 meters deep. The sculpture of Kofukuji Temple in Nara, Japan is the one pictured below. All of the sculptures have that much detail but it is easy to see on that one. This is a temple we are hoping to see in the summer in Japan.
The snowboarding jump competition, Chris’ favorite, with professional snowboarders doing some impressive tricks. They were quite impressive doing jumps and flips off of the ramp (24 meters high and 60 meters long)!
We also watched J-pop groups perform and saw a dog disguised as a bear.
This was a candle light festival in the snow. Beautiful in its simplicity. This was a small town festival put on by locals with traditional
dance and singing entertainment. Although nowhere as large as the previous festival, it was great to see local life and culture. We hope to continue to see both the large and extravagant as well as local aspects of life as we travel.
We took the bus to the Lake Shikatsu National Park for an ice festival.
We were blown away at the natural beauty of the lake and surrounding mountains. The lake was crystal clear. It was breath taking. We touched the water in the lake, took a short walk through the park and were happy to be back in a National Park (even if not from our own country). After taking in the scenery we went into the ice festival. This festival is unique due to its man made ice structures. They put up minimal amounts of chicken wire or wood as a base and then they spray lake water onto it and it freezes. The wire and wood are removed leaving ice buildings in which you can walk into and on. The tallest one was three floors to walk on.
After having dinner and spending some time in the visitor center for the National Park, it was dusk and the ice buildings were lit up by colored lights. We returned to the festival to find the buildings glowing with multicolored lights. The afternoon was full of natural beauty but the evening felt like a multicolored fairy tale. We then ended the evening with fireworks surrounded by ice.
Well, that wasn’t really the end…the night actually ended by waiting in a bus line for 15 minutes (while freezing) and a 35 minute (hot, bumpy and packed) bus ride back to the city. But, we both agree: WORTH IT!
Last weekend we were married in Charleston, South Carolina. It was a wonderful whirlwind of a weekend for us! It is almost a week ago and we are still discussing details from the weekend. We are so grateful to everyone that traveled to be with us, helped us out all weekend and celebrated with us. Thank you!
We had so many great memories that it is hard to pick a few. My father gave a touching and funny welcome in the beginning of the evening. He told Christopher that I am the type of person to love him to the moon and back but that I would also take him there if it becomes a tourist destination. Which is, in fact, true. There were three other sincere and humorous toast in the evening as well as many other great moments with family and friends.
We are looking forward to our departure to Asia in a few days but we will always cherish the memories of our wedding weekend. Not everything went perfectly as planned; however, we feel as if it was the perfect weekend for us. ❤️