Travels in China 2010: Overview

Bridge to Hongcun Village, Huangshan, Anhui (2010)

Bridge to Hongcun Village, Huangshan, Anhui (2010)

Private tour, except Suzhou and Hong Kong.

We chose to go on a customized, private tour hosted by Dragon Delight Tours. Below are the places we have visited during our second trip to China.

  • June 11-15, 2010: Shanghai (上海)
  • June 12, 2010: Shanghai World Expo 2010 Report
  • June 13, 2010: Suzhou, Jiangsu (江苏) province
  • June 16-18, 2010: Huangshan, Anhui (安徽) province [part I | part II]
  • June 19-20, 2010: Hangzhou, Zhejiang (浙江) province
  • June 21-22, 2010: Xi’an, Shaanxi (陕西) province
  • June 23-25, 2010: Guilin, Guangxi Zhuang (广西) province [part I | part II]
  • June 26-July 2, 2010:Hong Kong (香港), Special Administrative Region (SAR) of the People’s Republic of China
China 2010 Map courtesy of Google Maps

China 2010 Map courtesy of Google Maps

» Return to Project China

TRAVEL: Hong Kong

Visited June 25-July 2, 2010.

Panoramic View of Hong Kong City

Panoramic View of Hong Kong City

Attractions:

  • Mong Kok
  • Hong Kong City Hall, Central
  • Tsim Sha Tsui
  • Victoria Harbor
  • Hong Kong Disneyland (June 29)
  • Lei Yue Mun (July 1)

Hong Kong is a thriving metropolis that ranks as the fourth important financial center of the world after London, New York, and Tokyo. Its history as a British colony has influenced its worldwide perspective and diverse culture. Today, Hong Kong is a Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China, meaning that it has autonomy on most affairs with the exception of foreign and defense affairs. Hong Kong can be viewed as an individual country, for it has its own flag, currency (Hong Kong dollar [HKD]), government, and official languages (English and Cantonese). Packed with 7 million people over several islands, the country is divided into districts: (1) Hong Kong Island (central, east, and south coasts); (2) Kowloon; (3) New Territories; (4) Lantau; and (5) Outlying Islands.

During our visit, we visited relatives and focused on the areas of Kowloon and Hong Kong Island. We stayed six nights in Langham Place—a five-star hotel that is conveniently connected to a shopping mall. The location is in Mong Kok, a busy commercial area that has plenty of shopping malls, markets, and restaurants; I highly recommend this hotel for the convenience. Also, prices here are more reasonable than in, for example, the Tsim Sha Tsui—the tourist-heavy area.

One night we went to Central. The area is a well-known shopping, business, and government district. We went to dinner with relatives at the Hong Kong City Hall, where there is the renowned restaurant called Maxim’s Palace. We had an excellent meal of seafood, beef, and other delectable dishes. Continue reading

TRAVEL: Hangzhou, Zhejiang

Visited June 19-20, 2010.

Six Harmonies Pagoda garden

Six Harmonies Pagoda garden

Attractions Checklist:

  • Six Harmonies Pagoda (June 19)
  • Tea Museum at Meijiawu Village (June 19)
  • West Lake (June 20)
  • Lingyin (Heart of the Soul’s Retreat) Temple (June 20)
  • Romance of Song Dynasty Show (June 20)

Our visit to Hangzhou was delayed, because our ride was not at the airport when we arrived in Shanghai from Huangshan; as a result, we hurriedly called a taxi to go to our hotel in Shanghai at 1 AM and emailed our tour organizer of the incident. The following morning a guide and driver picked us up and took us to the Hongqiao train station, where we took the train to Hangzhou. The train ride from Shanghai to Hangzhou is approximately 45 minutes to one hour. The cost is ¥64 (~ $10 USD) for a one-way trip. Continue reading

TRAVEL: Shanghai World Expo 2010

Visited June 12, 2010. The expo opened from May 1 to October 31, 2010.

Netherlands Pavilion

Netherlands Pavilion

“Better City, Better Life” is the theme of China’s World Expo that ran from May 1 to October 31,2010 in Shanghai. Located along both banks of the Huangpu River, the expo site covers 5.28 square km and is an eye-catching sight when one enters Shanghai city. The expo alone hosted pavilions for 250 participating countries and international organizations. Over 73 million visitors have explored the pavilions—the largest attendance in world expo history thus far. Continue reading

TRAVEL: Shanghai

Visited June 11-15, 2010.

Financial District in Shanghai

Financial District in Shanghai

Attractions Checklist:

  • Shanghai World Expo (June 12)
  • Yu Garden (June 14)
  • Jade Buddha Temple (June 14)
  • Nanjing Road (June 14)
  • The Bund (June 14)
  • Oriental Pearl Tower (June 15)
  • Shanghai Museum (June 15)

Did you know that license plates from other provinces are distinguished by a single, unique Chinese character? In Shanghai, license plates have the Hu character (沪), which is the name of a fishing tool made by the fishermen that lived in the pre-modern era and is also the nickname for this city. Since that time, Shanghai is one of the most prosperous and highly populated cities in China with more than 20 million people bustling through its streets. Located near the eastern coast, Shanghai is a municipality with its own government, so it is not a part of the Jiangsu province. Continue reading

TRAVEL: Suzhou, Jiangsu

Visited June 13 2010.

Looking Out at the Humble Administrator's Garden

Looking Out at the Humble Administrator's Garden

Attractions Checklist:

  • The Humble Administrator’s Garden
  • Suzhou Museum
  • Tiger Hill

During our visit to China we had the opportunity of taking a day trip to Suzhou from Shanghai. The China Railway High-Speed (CRH) system is very convenient—the overall trip took approximately 1 hour for an 80-km distance and cost 31 Yuan ($5.20 in American dollars) one-way. From the train station, we entered Suzhou by bus and witnessed the unfolding scene of a city upon the water. The city is divided north to south by the Beijing-Hangzhou Grand Canal and covered by ponds and lakes.

Suzhou is located within the wealthy Jiangsu province—a region located south of the Yangtze River. Throughout history, this region was the hub of commercial development ranging from crop cultivation to silk embroidery production. Today, Suzhou is a major port for electronics. As a result of the commercial growth, literati families had more opportunities to become educated in the arts and literature. The fruits of their knowledge survive today not only in the forms of published literature but in majestic gardens built during the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644). These gardens were considered a form of art: the dual effect of Chinese painting and poetry. Continue reading

TRAVEL: Xi’an, Shaanxi

Visited June 21-22, 2010.

Terracotta Warriors from Qin Shi Huang's Tomb

Terracotta Warriors from Qin Shi Huang's Tomb

Attractions Checklist:

  • Big Wild Goose Pagoda (June 21)
  • Ancient City Wall (June 21)
  • Tang Dynasty show (June 21)
  • Qin Shi Huang Terracotta Warriors – Horses Museum (June 22)
  • Grand Mosque (June 22)
Terracotta Warriors and Horses of Qin Shi Huang's Tomb

Terracotta Warriors and Horses of Qin Shi Huang's Tomb

Of the four ancient capitals of China, Xi’an, formerly known as Chang’an, is the oldest. The Qin dynasty (221 B.C.E.-206 B.C.E.) was founded within the Shaanxi province, the region that includes Xi’an. After unifying the empire, the First Emperor, Qin Shi Huangdi, (259 BC-210 BC) sent thousands of laborers to work on his tomb in 231 B.C.E. Discovered in 1974 by the farmers east of Xi’an, the tomb of Qin Shi Huangdi is now a well-known world attraction famous for its life-size army of terra cotta warriors and horses.

Qin Shi Huang Terracotta Warriors-Horses Museum

Qin Shi Huang Terracotta Warriors-Horses Museum

Today, a museum is built around the discovery sites and preservation work is still ongoing. However, one may ask the question: why did Qin Shi Huangdi want replica soldiers buried with him? One answer is that Chinese burial practices involved burying representations of real objects. A terra cotta soldier is just as good as the real one. Another answer concerns the emperor’s fears of assassination and desire for immortality. In either case, the fact that these burial replicas have been well-preserved since the Qin is remarkable. Continue reading