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Street Vendors In China 2
Guilin-Shanghai-Hong Kong
by

Professor Arnie Greenberg


Arnie & Friend

The flight from Xi’An to Guilin was delayed but we arrived just after lunch and were whisked to our hotel The Guilin Park. This pagoda-like building is deceptive in size as it is built on a rise surrounded by park greenery and a lake. To walk into town you must cross tiny ornate bridges or follow the crowded bus route. It is a very peaceful setting. I had stayed there before and was happy about the choice. Families with children played around the water and some senior citizens spent their time fishing.

There are oddities about Guilin. My favorite is the rock mountain that comes down to the river. It has a tunnel carved where it meets the water and if you use your imagination you can see the elephant shape with the trunk dipping into the water. Hence Elephant Hill, a popular spot for visitors.

Over the years the rushing water has carved away the stone at the water’s edge. Ancient believers used it as a place of worship and carvings can still be seen over the natural caves. They call it the Sword of Stone. 

Nearby Mt. Maoer affords the visitor with a chance to see the regional mountains that look like inverted ice cream cones. And through these mountains, the Lijiang or Li River wends it’s way into a land of mystery. All along there are mountain formations at turns in the river to draw your interest. The quiet restaurant boat allows you to walk on deck and enjoy a sumptuous meal indoors at mid day. You start your adventure near the town’s Fubo Hill, Elephant Trunk and Pagoda Hill. Many people took pictures of Yearning For husband rock as we floated towards Yangshuo.

Young men tied their make-shift boat to our ship and sold souvenirs as we moved over the water. Courage and determination …

We saw The Painted Hill of Nine Houses, Snail Hill, Page-Boy Hill and Lotus Peak.  Then, at the end, we were greeted by hundreds of souvenir salespeople. It spoiled the mood and mystery of the cruise but people still ran around looking for bargains that were easily discovered. I personally slept on the bus going back.

I wasn’t really ready for Shanghai. I knew it was dynamic and exciting but only when you’re there can you appreciate the pace of growth and the teeming throngs all living in one incredible city. And it is incredible. The city has its own farms, dairies and food supply depots. It is self sustaining and growing daily. Just a walk past the Peace Hotel and along Nanking Road allows you to feel the city’s size. There are shops for every taste, restaurants, museums, tours and people, people, people. It’s where you go during the day while at night you either walk along the Bund, at the water’s edge, or sail along the peaceful river as skyscrapers of all shape and color show off their futuristic faces. The colors change, the boat drifts along and you almost have to pinch yourself. “Is this really the old city of Shanghai?” It is Shanghai but the old is fast disappearing into the jaws of the new.

Even the once proud Jewish community where thousands fled the Japanese and followed their ancient traditions is merely a synagogue shell and a tiny museum. Yet, it’s worth a visit just to be able to look back at another age.

The Ohel Moishe Synagogue built in 1927 and Memorial Hall take viewers back to the WWII years when this was the refugee ghetto for almost 10,000 people. The Chinese and the Jewish refugees got along very well and many people owe their survival to the friendship between them and the shelter they from Nazi genocide. Many survivors have returned over the years to visit their wartime home.

The Memorial is situated at 62 Changyang Rd., Shanghai 200082. They can be reached by Fax at 86-21-65120229 or by Email at fyhapple@sina.com 

I sat in a park sipping a cold fruit punch. Out of the corner of my eye I could see a man doing a sketch of me. It wasn’t overly professional but it was a step up from those beggars I saw on every street corner looking for a free handout. Modernity has arrived but poverty still exists.

And speaking of modernity, aside from the luxury hotels and modern skyscrapers, Shanghai boasts the most modern transportation system to the airport. A one hour trip from downtown Shanghai can take about an hour. From the city to Pudong Airport can be reached for about $6 on a magnetic levitation train that rides a guideway in under 8 minutes.

I traveled by bus next to the guideway when the MAGVEL went by. The Roadrunner of old had a new meaning. The SWOOSH of the train had passed me before I could blink an eye. We were traveling at 50 kph. The train was doing about 440 Kph only a few yards away. The ride from the past to the future flashed by with hardly any noise. It is the most futuristic and fastest train in the world built partly with German investment and technology.

Shanghai is not to be believed. The skyscrapers seem to reach the sky. The tourist boats ply the rivers as gawkers snap pictures. The city seems to be bursting its seams. It is vibrant, alive and not to be missed. Imagine a city of over seventeen million with 2,577 medical and public health organizations, 28 public libraries, 90 museums and 59 institutions of higher learning and advanced vocational and technical colleges.

It is a socialist modern international metropolis and it grows daily. It is a modern port, a gateway to the interior and the largest economic and transport center in China. You must see it.

But our stay ended and off we flew to another growing metropolis, the great city of Hong Kong. Now part of China, this one time British Colony still has a western feeling and won’t be entirely integrated into mainstream China for decades. Here you can eat western food and still get the feeling of the Chinese culture. It is neither east nor west.

It is strictly Hong Kong.   


Dana & Arnie in Beijing

Our hotel on Mody Rd. looked out over the bay and the peak of Victoria in the distance. Here in Kawloon you could see fast motor launches heading to Macao laden with visitors. But there is so much to see and do on both sides of the bay I put off Macao for another day.

We traveled back and forth on the ferry that crosses the bay every few minutes. We went to famous Repulse Bay, learned about the British years of this great magnet of a city and had dinner on top of Victoria peak looking down on both cities as though we were flying over.

An American or European style restaurant was on our wish list. While the food was excellent in China we were ready for something more Western. We selected the INCONTRO Italian Restaurant at 68 Mody Rd near our hotel. We made the right choice.

This popular Italian restaurant set just off the main street and a stone’s throw from the water boasted modern Italian décor  and a personable food and beverage director. Sergio Marini was just what one would expect in this far away Italian eatery. He was charming and full of enthusiasm. And it was all for good reason. We descended on him in a group without a reservation and were quickly seated. We watched the waiters deliver heaping plates of colorful vegetables, steaming pastas and mounds of bread. The problem ordering our meal centered around Incontro’s gigantic menu. What to order?

I started with I Fagioli all’ Uccelletto, or white Tuscana beans with bacon, cherry tomatoes, garlic extra virgin oil and herbs. My wife selected the Il Fegato d’Oca or Pan fried Goose liver with Porto wine sauce. She has always had a craving for Goose liver. This dish was served with apples and strawberries. I then tacked my healthy portion of I Saltimbocca alla Romans; Bal escallop with sage wine sauce, rosemary, garlic, roasted potatoes and broccoli. Dana enjoyed another of her favorites, Risotto ai Porcini, Arborio rice with porcini mushrooms.


68 Mody Rd. Hong Kong

The wine was from Chianti and the desert was that wonderful Il Millefoglie puff pastry with zabaglione cream and wild berries. Capachino and cognac made it a perfect meal as did the charming waitress who served us and always attentive Sergio Marini.

I returned the next day to take some photographs. He shook my hand like I was an old friend. It was a perfect end to a  perfect holiday.

For reservations call, Incontro at 2739-1218. For more information Email incontro_hk@yahoo.com.

#   #   #

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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