Exploring Asia Overview
Cathay Pacific B777-300ER Business Class San Francisco to Hong Kong
Cathay Pacific Lounge Review: The Cabin at HKG
Cathay Dragon A330-300 Business Class Hong Kong to Beijing
Lodging Review: Regent Beijing Hotel
Beijing: Dongcheng District
Beijing: The Great Wall
Beijing: Run-ze Jade Garden
Beijing: The Sacred Way of the Ming Tombs
Beijing: The Legend of Kung Fu
Beijing: Tiananmen Square
Beijing: The Forbidden City
Beijing: Hutong Tour via Rickshaw, Tea Tasting, Flying to Xi’an
Lodging Review: Hotel Shangri-La Xi’an
Xi’an: Qing Dynasty Terra Cotta Warriors
Xi’an: Tang Dynasty Dinner and Show
Xi’an Wrap-Up, Flying to Lhasa, Lhasa Home Visit
Lodging Review: Shangri-La Hotel Lhasa
Lhasa: Jokhang Temple and Barkhor Market
Lhasa: Canggu Nunnery and Sera Monastery
Lhasa: Potala Palace
Leaving Lhasa and Flying to Chongqing
Cruising the Three Gorges
Three Gorges Dam
Jingzhou City Walls Tour
Wuhan: Hubei Bells Performance and Provincial Museum
Shanghai: Shanghai Museum
Lodging Review: Fairmont Peace Hotel, Shanghai
Shanghai: Old Shanghai and Yuyan Gardens
Lodging Review: The New Otani Tokyo Hotel
Tokyo: City Tour
Mt. Fuji and Hakone Tour Returning by Shinkansen
ANA Suites Lounge Review, Tokyo Narita
All Nippon Airways B777-300ER First Class Tokyo Narita to Houston
The next morning, a Saturday, we awoke in Wuhan, the capital of the Hubei province and the most populous city in Central China with over 10.5M residents in the city itself and over 19M in the metro area. That’s roughly 3200 people per square mile.
Hubei Provincial Museum
Our first stop for the day was the auditorium at the Hubei Provincial Museum where we would be treated to a bell performance. That doesn’t sound all that exciting but was actually pretty cool. I had visions of a number of different hand bells but this was different. These 65 bells were uncovered in the tomb of Marquis Yi who died approximately 430 BC. He was the ruler of Zeng, a minor state in what is now Hubei province.
These are zhong bells which means they are made of bronze and cast in a lens shape (think of two circles slightly intersecting) rather than a circular shape. The mouth of the bells also has a “cutaway” profile and on the outer surface there are 36 studs placed symmetrically on it. This allows these bells to produce two different tones, depending on what part of the bell is struck. The bells uncovered in the Marquis Yi tomb are still playable though the concert was performed on replicas.
There were six musicians, two on zither-like instruments, two on woodwinds and two playing the bells.
Here’s a sample of one of the songs.
Halfway through the show a dancer arrived and performed for us.
The show ended with Handel’s “Ode to Joy” which was well-suited for these instruments.
Tomb of Marquis Yi of Zeng
Yi was buried in this inner coffin
which itself was placed in this outer coffin.
The original zhong bells, also called bianzhong, are safely behind glass.
There were also the usual pots.
And these small jade figures that were typically put in the mouth of the deceased.
Since the dead shouldn’t be unarmed, weapons were included in the tomb as well.
After lunch we had time to ourselves and we were docked near a pedestrian mall area so we all went out to enjoy the sunshine and just to see what we could see. Lots of folks were sitting on the beach, also enjoying a post-lunch rest time.
At night, like we saw in Chongqing, the waterfront lit up and put on a bit of a show for us.
It was our last night on the boat and we had to say farewell to the lovely folks who’d taken such great care of us during our cruise. These folks work quite hard and do a fantastic job waiting on our tables, keeping our cabins clean and generally making our lives easier and they always do it with smiles on their faces. I was so impressed with these young folks (and the vast majority of the crew that interacts with the customers is young) and hope they go on to bigger and better things.