Friday, June 30, 2017

与维京下来长江 - Down the Yangtze with Viking

Let the adventure begin!
Neither Dave nor I had ever traveled in China so we wanted professional help on this adventure. Now that I’ve been there, I would not hesitate to go by myself rather than on a tour; the people are friendly, many speak English, and most of the street signs are in English. My friend who grew up in Hong Kong reminded me that the Chinese people are raised to be polite and to behave appropriately; this does not mean that they agree with you or understand how you think. They will treat you with respect and they expect the same in return; I’m quite comfortable with that and ready to go to China, again. Simply sitting in a garden or a café is entertaining, but these activities do not begin to span the variety of amusements available. Also, there is no shortage of places to eat or places to stay. For information about my rating system, see Reading the Reviews.

Friday, June 23, 2017

与勇士一起走 - Walking with the Warriors

Sculpture of dancing prince and princess
When I booked this trip I had only a few things on my ‘bucket list’ that I was going to check off and the Terracotta Warriors were one of them. However, the more I learned about the Xi’an area, the more excited I got to visit this city. When we arrived, it appeared that we were going to have some clear days, but that didn’t happen. As with Beijing, smog is a significant problem, and for all of the same reasons; the mountains never did make an appearance, but what we did see was jaw-dropping.

Friday, June 16, 2017

踏上上海 - Stepping out in Shanghai

What a mix of old and new…On one side of the Huangpu River are the colonial buildings
Protective dragon
that mark Shanghai as a world banking center since the 1930s. On the other side are new high rise office and apartment buildings rivaling any city with a vision of the future. Touring this city may have been my favorite part of the trip.

Friday, June 9, 2017

跳到荆州和武汉 Jumping over to Jingzhou and Wuhan

Jingzhou was believed to have been built by Guan Yu at the same time he made the earth.
Wall outside of Jingzhou
And while this may not be strictly true, it has been a transportation hub and commodity distribution center for more than 5,000 years. Because of its location, Jingzhou served as the capital for 20 kings from around 1046 BCE until 256 BCE. This rich history has provided archeologists with numerous sites to explore. Within Jiangling County are ruins of five Chu cities, 73 sites containing Chu Culture items and more than 800 ancient tombs, including those of 18 Chu kings; there is also a well-preserved 2,000-year-old male corpse. The city walls, city gates, watchtowers, and battlements have been well maintained.

Friday, June 2, 2017

穿過重慶和三峽 Chugging through Chongqing and the Three Gorges

Chongqing, once called Chungking, is one of the Five National Central Cities in China. It is traditionally associated with the State of Ba and the Ba who arrived in the area in about 316 BC. As with Beijing, it underwent the same sort of wars and name changes from the late 200s BC through the Ming Dynasty. The area was eventually conquered by the Manchus during the Qing Dynasty with immigration to Chongqing and Sichuan in support of Qing emperor.  Foreigners were first allowed into the area in 1890 when the British Consulate General was opened. The Japanese, French, German, and US consulates were opened in Chongqing between 1896 and 1904. The big excitement came during the Second Sino-Japanese War when Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek made Chongqing his provisional capital. The mountainous environment was protection from bombs leading factories and universities to relocate here. Coming into this area made me realize why so many Chinese pieces of art show mountains shrouded in clouds. Chongqing has over 100 days of fog per year with 68 of those days occurring during the spring and autumn. Of course it’s not all fog. Chongqing is among one of the ten most air-polluted cities in the world; the list includes Beijing, Jinan, Lanzhou, Shijiazhuang, Taiyuan, and Urumqi.