Monday, July 24, 2006

He who has not climbed...

...the Great Wall is no man at all. Or so the famous Mr. Mao said. I'm not sure I want to be a man (no, actually I know I do not want to be a man), but I did climb the wall!

Our first stop was Beijing, where we saw most of the major sights (but unfortunately not all of them): The Great Wall (which was definitely the highlight of our trip), The Forbidden City, The Summer Palace and The Temple of Heaven.

I love the detail in traditional Chinese buildings. Here is an example of a wall from the Forbidden City.

From Beijing we took a night train to Xian, where we saw the Terracotta Warriors which were impressive.

After a few days in Xian we flew to Shanghai and hopped on a bus to Suzhou, famous for its traditional Chinese gardens. And they were fabulous! Suzhou is also one of the silk centers of China and there was a wonderful silk museum there that we visited.

From Suzhou we took a night boat to Hangzhou, where we visited the famous West Lake. The day at the lake was, I think, the hottest day during our trip (and most of them were pretty hot). I had barely any energy to move and at times I wondered why I had traveled to the other side of the planet to look at an artificial lake when I could have looked at plenty of authentic ones in much nicer weather back home. But seriously, it was beautiful. The weeping willows and the rolling hills and the pagodas and the gorgeous bridges.

From there we were supposed to go to Putuoshan Island and we hopped on a bus to get to the seaside town where they leave. Only to be told there that because of the high winds the boats could not leave. So, we made the decision to go to Shanghai (which would have been our destination after the island). And we made the right one. The wind was furious for the next two days, so we couldn't have gone at all even if we had stayed and waited. Shanghai has a few great museums (Shanghai Museum and the Shanghai History Museum) and the Bund, but not many other sights. So we mainly just shopped :) We visited a cloth market and I had a cashmere coat made and DH some suits. Great bargains! I also got plenty of fabrics to sew some clothes at home.

We also spent one eveing at the highest bar in the world. Cloud 9 Bar is located at the 88th floor of the Grand Hyatt and the views over the Bund and all of Shanghai really were stunning. The drinks weren't cheap but they were good :) It was also nice to have a glass of wine (China really isn't a wine country and even at most of the popular restaurants you can only purchase them in bottles).

We had a wonderful time and will want to go again (though not in July!) as there's still so much to see. But now it's nice to be back home :)

My tips for those planning a trip to China: do not go in July if at all possible (it's waaay to hot to be comfortable and the Chinese also have their holidays then so all the sights are crowded), buy a mandarin phrase book (English is not that widely spoken and my tiny knowledge of the language came useful at times. We bought our phrase book in a book store in Beijing for less than 2 € and used it for words like boat, headache and post office) and bargain hard at the market places. Sometimes we were quoted prices that were 10 times more than what we actually ended up paying!


Blogger Nicki said...

That sounds wonderful! Thank you for sharing. I'd love to go one day - hopefully before many more years have passed!

7:22 AM  
Anonymous villasukka said...

Some day I'll go there, a friend has already promised to go with me. Lovely pictures.

8:28 AM  

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