In the Shadow of the Moon

Travel Idea:

In the Shadow of the Moon

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Destination for this trip:

Beijing, China; Chengdu, China; United States; Wuhan, China; Xian, China

Length of trip:

10 days

Approximate price of this trip per person:

from $ 2945 to $ 3485

Best travel dates to go:

Jul 16, 2009 to Jul 25, 2009;

Detailed Description of this trip:

On July 22, 2009, the narrow band of the moon's shadow touches Earth in the Arabian Sea. Making landfall in Surat, India, it then crosses the monsoon covered Indian-Subcontinent into China. Crossing central China the shadow shoots across the South Pacific where nightfall occurs. On this day of nature’s most extravagant celestial event, we will be ideally situated on the centerline of the path of totality in central China. We will have arrived at our eclipse site the day before, thus giving us a relaxed day to setup and prepare for totality. With legs firmly planted on the ground and tripods steady, we will be able to observe and photograph the various stages of the eclipse with ease. This will be very different from the frustrating rolling deck of shipboard viewing. “Got to have your feet on solid ground, with plenty of elbow room to observe and photograph an eclipse” says Sanjay Saxena, leader of four total solar eclipses expeditions and veteran of five. We will have ample time to soak in the amazing sight as the moon’s shadow rushes across China towards us before engulfing us in it embrace for a long 5 minutes and 30 seconds.

Trip Properties:

Trip Itinerary:

  • Day 1 - United States

    en route
    Depart USA

    Departing the USA, you “lose” a day as you head west across the International Date Line.

  • Day 2 - Beijing

    Arrive Beijing
    Arrive China

    You arrive in Beijing, the capital of the People’s Republic of China, on Day 2. You will be met upon arrival at Beijing’s International Airport and transferred to our hotel.

  • Day 3 - Beijing

    Tour Forbidden City, Heavenly Palace and other city sites.

    Tiananmen, the largest square on earth and an icon of Beijing is our first stop this morning. We will roam the square, then proceed to the vast enclave of the imperial court, the Forbidden City, called Ta Nei, “The Great Within.”

    The Chinese were adept practitioners of feng shui, the art of geomancy, and the Forbidden City--all 250 acres and 9000 rooms of it--is a devout expression of that art: all is placed according to plan, for maximum felicity and effect. The Forbidden City has been supplanted by history, but it retains an ancient and knowing air of utter command.

    We also explore the Temple of Heaven. One key element in China's architectural genius was the blending of the monumental with the delicate, and the Temple of Heaven is perhaps the finest expression of this mixing of near opposites. Built in the 15th Century (without the use of a single nail), the Temple was visited yearly by the Middle Kingdom's emperors, who performed intricate rituals to insure a good harvest. The Chinese harvest was a huge undertaking, but one senses in this delightful and awesome structure the importance of each grain of wheat.

  • Day 4 - Xian

    hIke the Great Wall of China before flying to Xian

    Depart early morning from Beijing by private vehicle for the Jinshanling section of the Great Wall. The Great Wall is one of those wonders of the world travelers throughout the centuries have lusted after, and for good reason.

    The Chinese flock to the Wall, and enjoy it not only as a novel outing, but also as tangible evidence of their country's ancient preeminence. More than 2,500 years old, the Chinese built this impressive fortification to protect their civilization from the unruly northern tribes. Remains of the Ming Great Wall stretch from Jiayuguan, along the Hexi corridor of Gansu Province, across the Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region and Shaanxi, along the Shanxi-Inner Mongolia provincial boundary, north of Beijing and through Hebei to Shangaiguan on the coast. In the early 17th Century, in fear of Manchu invasion, the mainline structure was extended by the addition of the Liaodong sidewall, stretching from Shanhaiguan, northeast to the Yalu Jiang, (the border of China and North Korea).

    Returning to Beijing, we will catch the early evening flight to Xi’an, the capital of Shaanxi Province. Once the largest city in the world, Xi'an was the capital of eleven dynasties (from the 11th century B.C. to the 10th century A.D.) and was the easternmost city along the Silk Road. Perhaps no other Chinese city is so deeply entwined in the country's history. Though Xi’an has not been center stage in China for a millennium, it still regards Beijing as something of an upstart.

    Met on arrival and transferred to our hotel.

  • Day 5 - Xian

    Visit Terracotta soldiers

    After breakfast we'll drive to the excavations near the tumulus (or burial mound) of Emperor Qin Shi Huang Di, where in 1974 well-digging peasants serendipitously discovered the famous Terra Cotta Warriors. One of the century's greatest archaeological finds, these life-size figures number in the thousands. Each seems based on a live model, each has a personality, a history. The main pit is encircled by a ramp offering a sweeping perspective of this massive treasure trove. Viewing of the new excavations is even more rewarding, because one can get close enough to sense the human scale of each individual soldier. Despite the mass of visitors, there is a charged silence about the place. One almost expects a command to ring out, and the warriors will rouse themselves from a 2000-year stillness, and begin to march.

    Xi'an has a rich culinary tradition. This evening we will be treated to a feast of the dumplings that Xi’an is so famous for.

  • Day 6 - Wuhan

    Fly to Wuhan, prepare for Eclipse viewing

    This morning we will go to the vegetable and flower market, returning to our hotel for a late breakfast. Mid-morning we will be transferred to the airport for your flight to Wuhan. Departing Xian we will fly to Wuhan, arriving there at 3:00 PM. After checking into tour hotel the leaders (and any participants who wish) to will drive out to the eclipse site and check it out once again.

    In the evening, in anticipation of tomorrow's eclipse Sanjay Saxena will talk about the finer points of eclipse photography and viewing safety. We will provide solar eclipse glasses to all participants and bring plenty of extras for our local staff. You will need to bring all the necessary filters, lens for your cameras, telescopes and binoculars.

  • Day 7 - Wuhan

    View the Total Solar Eclipse

    We will rise early this morning to head off for the centerline and viewing stations that we defined yesterday. We will have our vehicles and drivers on standby and in case of cloudy skies we will have the option of driving East on the excellent roadways in this region to find our patch of open sky.

    With the sun well above the horizon (32 degrees) and luck on our side (bringing clear skies) we will be ready as first contact occurs around 8:15 am with the moon’s shadow racing towards us at 1600 miles per hour. At our viewing site totality occurs for a long 5 minute 30 seconds, starting at 9:24:28 am. The eclipse ends at 10:46 am as the moon completely moves out from in front of the sun and the partial eclipse starts.

    After totality (or before) we will have a “picnic breakfast,” returning to our hotel for lunch. In the afternoon we head out to some of the sites in and around Wuhan with a Gala Dinner this evening, complete with slide show of the eclipse that we just witnessed.

  • Day 8 - Chengdu

    Fly to Chengdu, visit sites

    After two early mornings, we have a relaxed morning as we depart mid-day to Chengdu, the prosperous capital of Sichuan province. Don’t be deceived by the urban sprawl of Chengdu, the laid back friendly people, beautiful temples, gardens, tea houses and spicy restaurants make this city a worthwhile stop.

    Arriving there at 3:20 PM, we will check into tour hotel before heading out to explore the heart of the city. Our afternoon’s exploration will start with a visit to the serene Bamboo garden at Wangjiang Lou Park, featuring 100 species of bamboo. We will then visit the beautiful Wenshu Yuan (God of Wisdom) Temple, built during the Tang dynasty and is the best preserved Buddhist temple in Chengdu. A very active temple you will see lots of local worshippers and its as exciting to mingle with them as its to see the detailed relief carvings that decorate the various buildings.

  • Day 9 - Chengdu

    See the world's largest Buddha

    We depart early this morning to see the Giant Buddha at Leshan, a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1996. It was undamaged by the 2008 Sichuan earthquake.

    Carving of the Buddha was started in 713, led by a Chinese monk named Haitong. He hoped that the Buddha would calm the turbulent waters that plagued the shipping vessels traveling down the river. Construction was completed by his disciples ninety years later.

    We will view the statue both, from across the river and walking up the stairs from its feet to viewing platforms level with its eyes.

    On our way back we will make a diversion to see the largest collection in the world of Buddhist carving on a Cliffside. Over 2,400 Buddhas in various sizes, shapes and groupings are carved on the cliffs at Jianjiang Qianfoyan. This is off the tourist path and we may be the only visitors here.

  • Day 10 - United States

    Return flight back to USA

    Today we will transfer to Chengdu’s airport for our return flight to the USA. Flights will arrive in the USA the same day.

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