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Emerging China Part 1
by

Professor Arnie Greenberg

“This summer I traveled to Asia and Europe with a tour group. Living in Canada, as I do, I had to fly to Vancouver which was exciting as the five hour trip from Montreal took us over the Great Lakes, prairies and snow capped Rockies. What a thrill especially when you could still see snow on the mountaintops.

We had only a short stop in Vancouver but I had been there before and my mind was on our next stop; China. It was a long and boring flight to Beijing but again, the excitement was intense. Once there, we were met by Terry, our guide and whisked to our 5 star hotel.

Our Local Tour Guide - click to enlarge
Our Local Tour Guide

Author & Tour Manager - click to enlarge
Author & Tour Manager

The hotels in China ( 4 and 5 star) are modern, inviting, clean, and comfortable and as good as any I’ve stayed in on other holidays. Even the food services were excellent with fresh and inviting food. Little was I aware of how long it would be before I had North American style food again. That doesn’t include the breakfasts were to my liking. Cereals, hot rolls, yogurts, pancakes, juices, fruit and often eggs made to order by a chef in a tall chef’s hat. The buffet would satisfy anyone’s taste and appetite.

Lobby Beijing - click to enlarge We spent five glorious nights in Beijing. I was particularly impressed with Tian-An-Min Square. It was larger than I thought and crowded with families taking pictures. Many Chinese people greeted us in English and asked to have a picture taken with us. I did see a sad family taking a picture with their young son in his new military uniform. The parents and their son were not smiling.


We visited the Forbidden City and I learned that the entrance, adorned by Mao Tse Tung’s portrait had two huge lion statues to greet us. We were told that the male had his paw on a ball which could also be interpreted as the world while the female was reaching out to a baby cup. This interested all of us. Inside, we saw where the emperors once lived. Now it is open for everyone to enjoy. It was enormous, crowded and worth while. So too was the Temple of Heaven which showed what ancient China was like.

We toured the Olympic site and were impressed by the advanced state of construction with two years to go. Another day we visited a Jade factory, silk factory and had lunch in a typical family house in the large HUTONG quarters around the Forbidden City. We traveled by rickshaw and met ordinary people who opened their homes to us. (See my article on Hutongs)

Male Lion - click to enlarge
Male Lion

Over the next few days we visited the summer palace, the Peking Opera, which was like no opera I had ever seen, and, of course, The Great Wall.

We drove north to Badalong. There we were able to walk along a small section of the wall and get an idea of the history, effort to build it and what it was like to walk on the only man made structure big enough to see from outer space.  It is 3,728 miles long. We had our picture taken there and were given certificates to prove that we walked on the Great Wall of China. It was cold and windy but worth the effort. It is a memory I will never forget.

We left Beijing after a typical Peking Duck dinner and flew to Xi’An. There we were met by Eddie, our local guide. Up until they discovered the hundreds of Terra Cotta Warriors buried underground, I had never heard of Xi’An. Eddie explained that this was the ancient capital of China and the seat of power of seven different dynasties. It is in central China and has over eight million people.


Warriors

The warriors were discovered in 1974 when some farmers were digging a well. Today these armies of men, (totaling 8,000 life sized statues, each with a distinctive feature) horses and carriages are one of the world’s most incredible sights that you must see for yourself. It is well worth visiting as are the museums that explain the concept of a buried army and offer a souvenir soldier to take home as a souvenir.

The walled city of Xi’An offered us a chance to see the Wild Goose Pagoda and walk along the city wall. Some people rented bicycles and drove along the top of the wall. Xi’An has a noisy and bustling downtown and our New World Hotel was sitting in the middle of the shopping district. The sights, sounds and smells were exotic. And on the streets people sold souvenirs and trinkets to the growing number of tourists. I bought a box of seven paint brushes in a silk lined box for $3 US. Others bought knock-off Rolex watches for as little as $1-3 US. We joked that they came with a guarantee of 24 hours. One man suggested that if it broke you could always bring it back. Sure, if you wanted another 15 hour plane ride. But mine still ticks away over a month later.

On the last night in Xi’An we attended a Tang Dynasty Dumpling Dinner show. The food was excellent. The theatre was humongous and the show beyond my greatest expectations. The men and women were attractively dressed and exceptionally talented. The music was infectious and the show worthy of any theatre in the world.

We left Xi’An the next morning.

Tang Dynasty Show - click to enlarge
Tang Dynasty Show

Our flight to Guilin farther south was delayed because there was a typhoon in the area but that soon past and we arrived at our destination in the early afternoon. Here, we were met by a new guide whose anglicized name was Alice.

Here we visited The Elephant Trunk Hill and Piled Silk Hill but it was very hot and mostly I chose to sit under a shade tree with an ice cream.

The Park Hotel was surrounded by water and looked like a giant pagoda. It was quiet and comfortable and also afforded interesting walks surrounded by nature. I was anxious for the next day to come. We would spend the day sailing on the Li River.

Coming Next:  Shanghai… Hong Kong & Macao

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You can Contact Professor Arnie Greenberg at

Email:  Ultours1@gmail.com

Over the past few years, Professor Greenberg has traveled with groups to France, Italy, Spain, Greece, Budapest, Vienna, Salzburg, Prague and both Sorrento and the Bay of Naples plus most of Sicily. His tours traveled to the far reaches of the globe including Italy and most of China (Beijing -Hong Kong) and to Russia where his group cruised the waters from St.Petersburg to Moscow. 

"He took a group to Greece and another to northern Russia. In Nov 07 he took a tour group to much of India and ended his tour groups by revisiting France. He now travels with his wife and friends. They winter in Argentina or San Miguel Mexico.  His newly found spare time is taken up with his painting and writing. "I must write every day." His current work is a cautionary manual for would-be tour leaders..  "So You Want To Be A Tour Leader." 

Arnie now travels with friends. He continues writing Travel articles about unusual places but often concentrates on novel writing. Two books based on French Art will be published this year.  Keep reading his web for travel ideas.  His next novel HELLSTORM'S Folly, will be available this fall. He now lives in British Columbia.

Go to:  www.top-travel-ideas.com or contact him directly at ultours1@gmail.com.

(More about the writer.)

 
 

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