Posts Tagged ‘Great Wall of China’

Chinese Bridge Hangzhou

Chinese Bridge Hangzhou

After leaving Hong Kong, our journey led straight to the East of China, with an involuntary stopover in Guangzhou where we were stuck for the night due to unavailability of trains (yet if not for these circumstances we would have never had the pleasure of residing in a funky hotel with golden curtains and a purple sparkling sink!!!).

Temples in Hangzhou

Temples in Hangzhou

Our first stop in the East was Hangzhou, known China-wide for its picturesque lake surrounded by gardens, temples and pavillions. We spent a few days walking and cycling in the area. We strolled along causeways that traverse the lake, lined by willow trees, visited the many beautiful Chinese parks (and admired the lotus plants growing in the water everywhere- and yes, it is true what they say about the lotus effect) and paid a visit to the national Chinese tea museum (tea tasting included). Now we are truly up to date on this national beverage, from its origins in Yunnan province to present day preparation and varieties.

Card player in a park

Card player in a park

Our next stop was Shanghai, with its 19 million inhabitants the largest city we have been to on this trip. And yes, it is big, but a well developed and efficient metro network makes it easy to navigate. We walked a fair bit, taking in everything from the historical 19th and early 20th century buildings along the riverfront to the fancy shopping and dining districts. The contrast between the epicenter of business in town with all its mighty skyscrapers could not be more marked when compared to what remains of old Shanghai (and that is precious little….). Think 500 m high monsters of steel as opposed to winding alleyways with ramshackle houses and street eateries; polished malls and fast food chains rather than fresh produce markets and bric a brac shops with their goods spilling out onto the road.

World Financial Center Shanghai

World Financial Center Shanghai

Old Man ignoring the pace of the city

Old Man ignoring the pace of the city

Shanghai Skyline

Shanghai Skyline

One evening, we ascended one of the immense towers, having a drink on the 91st floor of the Shanghai World Financial Center. The bar is part of the Hyatt Hotel (the rooms are all located between floors 87 and 90- pretty impressive views if the smog allows).

View from the 91st floor of the World Financial Center

View from the 91st floor of the World Financial Center

Given its sheer size, traffic is a major issue in Shanghi, with immense road arteries cutting through the city- we found one of the stacked intersections and managed to take some impressive pictures from an nearby apartment building.

Elevated Highway in Shanghai

Elevated Highway in Shanghai

The night before moving on to Bejing, we met up with a friend of mine from Maastricht who now lives in Shanghai with his wife- small world!

The journey between Shanghai and Bejing was exciting in itself as we took one of he new high-speed trains that manages the 1300 km distance in 5,5 hours- at speeds of around 300 km/h for most of the trip… Welcome to the future.

Chinese Bullet-Train

Chinese Bullet-Train

1300 kilometers in under 5 hours

1300 kilometers in under 5 hours

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lladf If Shanghai is everything that embodies progress and modernity in China, Beijng surely is its anti-pole, modern but still firmly rooted in history. The latter’s weight is more clearly felt around the capital, also the governmental presence with its firm grip on society becomes more apparent.

Old Man playing traditional music in a public park

Old Man playing traditional music in a public park

While waiting for our Mongolian visa, we had plenty of time to take in the many sights around the city. Of course, there is the (in)famous Tian’anmen square (which makes one wonder how many security cameras can be mounted onto street lights around a supposedly public square- the answer: a lot), there is the Forbidden city, the Summer Palace, dozens of parks and gardens, historical streets and so called Hutongs (old living and working quarters around the inner city, with narrow alleys and small houses).

Tian'anmen square

Tian’anmen square

We spent a day each at the Summer Palace and the Forbidden City. The former reminds of Hangzhou with its lake, gardens, temples and pavilions. The Forbidden city is impressive not only through its sheer size and history buy also due to the detail devoted to the execution of the buildings- it definitely is a masterpiece in architecture.

Chinese people just like to dress up for their photographs

Chinese people just like to dress up for their photographs

He just didn't feel like joining his tour group

He just didn’t feel like joining his tour group

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Of all the important things to do in Bejing, two are of course especially crucial- a visit to the Great Wall and eating Peking Duck. We achieved both. In order to avoid the tour bus masses, we choose a section of the wall that is further away from the city and officially not open to visitors- only that no one cares and locals are happily waiting for the (mostly Chinese) tourists that make their way to this remote stretch of the wall. We had brilliant weather and pretty much the whole section of the wall to ourselves, which gives a very good impression of the size of this amazing construction. And makes one appreciate even more what an achievement its erection was.

The Great Wall of China

The Great Wall of China

Our last day in China is nearing. We are leaving the country with many new impressions, had our fair share of culinary adventures and would definitely come back again, as there is still so much to see!

Fiddling in the park

Fiddling in the park

You can't argue about taste, right?

You can’t argue about taste, right?

Shanghai at Night

Shanghai at Night

One of many kite-flyers in China

One of many kite-flyers in China

Thinking about a chess match

Thinking about a chess match

Greetings from the wall

Greetings from the wall

The two highest towers in Shanghai

The two highest towers in Shanghai

Shanghai Local with a fan

Shanghai Local with a fan

Lotus effect

Lotus effect

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