China is a remarkable country with its physical variety and beauty, mix of ancient civilization and modern cultures, outstanding cuisine, and wonderful people.
Our trip included:
- Beijing (Peninsula Hotel), The Forbidden City, Tiananmen Square, Old Beijing with its rapidly disappearing Hutongs (giving way to “urban renewal”), and an excursion to the Great Wall
- Xi’an (Sofitel Hotel), with visit to the breathtaking Terracotta Warriors, created to guard the tomb of Qin Shi Huang
- Guilin (Bravo Hotel)
- Li River Cruise (with visit to Fuli, traditional painted fans), considered to be one of the most beautiful rivers in China
- Yangshuo (Moon Dance Hotel)
- Longsheng (Li’an Lodge), with spectacular view of the Dragon’s Backbone Rice Terraces
- Shanghai (Indigo Hotel), a magnificent cosmopolitan city perched on the edge of the Yangtze River and China’s Coast, the glittering Bund, Shanghai Museum, and Yu Garden
- Suzhou, an ancient city with beautiful canals and gardens, and the Suzhou Museum, designed by internationally renowned architect and native son I. M. Pei
The Great Wall, built over two millennia and breathtakingly beautiful, is a major symbol of China’s important place in the world. The majesty of this engineering feat is striking.
The Terracotta Warriors in Xian were created to guard the tomb of Qin Shi Huang (259BCE-210BCE), and originally consisted of over 8,000 warriors, 100 chariots, and 600 horses with remarkable detail and no two alike. Many have been very well preserved and others are undergoing painstaking restoration by archeologists. An archeological wonder, the Terracotta Warriors have been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Longsheng, home to Guangxi’s rich minority cultures, is famous for the Dragon’s Backbone Rice Terraces, large-scale rice terraces built into the hillside that date back more than 650 years. Li’An Lodge, a beautiful inn at the top of a long, serpentine stairway, is perched atop magnificent rice terraces. The stairway is functional though primitive (see photo below), but the views from the top are well worth the challenging climb.
We visited a simple farmhouse in the countryside, where we met the matriarch of this prosperous farming family. She was caring for her young granddaughter during our visit, standing in her playpen below a portrait ofo Mao. Her son was taking their produce to the market for sale, while her daughter-in-law was working in their produce shop.
The Shanghai Museum, opened in 1995, has one of the world’s finest collections of Chinese artefacts spanning over 5,000 years.
Suzhou is an ancient city with graceful canals, old houses, and magnificent gardens (see photo below). It is home to the stunning Suzhou Museum, designed by the internationally renowned architect and native son I. M. Pei. and houses an interesting collection, including painting and calligraphy.
Tongli is a well preserved, picturesque old water town with a network of canals spanned by many classic Chinese bridges and dotted with assorted Ming (1368-1644) and Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) houses.