To read my account of our travels in chronological order, you have to read from the earliest post forward. To get to the first post of our China Adventure click Adventures in China which should take you to the first post for China. After you get to the bottom of that post, below the “Related” Posts, and below the little tags (but before the “Please Leave a Reply”), you should see Next Post – Getting To China. Click on this to take you to the next post. At the end of each post you should see the “Next Post” as well as “Previous Post” if you want to reread a post.
On the other hand, if you are only interested in a particular place in China, use the “Categories” section to the right of the posts and click on a particular city or sight.
I hope you enjoy travelling with me.
We met up with our van and our guide, Rocky, at 9:00 to drive to Suzhou (pronounced Sue-Joe) and Tongli (a water town – the “Venice of the East”). It was about an hour and a half drive to Suzhou. Not so much traffic today as it’s Sunday. And the skies are pretty clear and sunny.
Our first stop in Suzhou was the Garden of the Master of the Fishing Nets. This garden was begun as early as 1140 AD, but had fallen into disrepair when it was overhauled in 1785, and it’s bones remain about the same as then, although it has been “improved” by each subsequent owner.
The first stop this morning was going to be the Shanghai Museum, but when the driver pulled up, the line to get in was miles long, so we went to the Jinmao Tower first instead. It’s in the Pudong area on the east side of the river. The van went under a really long tunnel under the Huangpu River to get there. Not crowded and the day was clear – probably the best day we’ve had. Jinmao Tower is designed as a modern adaptation of a traditional Chinese pagoda. It has 13 distinct tapering segments, with high-tech steel bands binding the glass like an exoskeleton. We zipped up to the 88th floor on a very fast elevator (45 seconds to the top) – my ears popped a couple of times. The view from the top is pretty spectacular. Continue reading
We had to be at breakfast at 6:30, so we got up at 6:00 – no time for showers this morning. Off the boat by 7:30 (once again the first ones off the boat and our own guide for just the six of us – gotta love it!) for our tour of the Dam Project. Very heavy smog today – worst we’ve had.
First we drove through the “resettlement village” of Sandouping that was fairly attractive. The public landscaping is very beautiful and no trash at all along the sides of the road. The architectural detail of the apartment buildings themselves was better than we’ve seen elsewhere – perhaps the government did this on purpose knowing that tourists would be coming through. Continue reading
Got up early this morning (6:45 am) to see the first of the famous Three Gorges, Qutang Gorge, which we entered at about 7:15. It’s billed as the most dramatic of the Three Gorges. Lots of early morning haze, so pics will be iffy. The sun was just coming up.
This section of the Yangtze is very sparsely populated – only saw one tiny village and it was accessible only by boat. Can’t imagine how it must have looked before the dam flooded everything. It’s quite dramatic as it is – sheer cliffs plunging right into the water. The spectacular scenery only lasted about 20 minutes though. Continue reading
After a good sleep in the gently rocking boat, we had a nice buffet breakfast, but nothing like the spreads we’ve been used to. Very foggy/smoggy again today. Can’t see much – only the very near hills . I went for a massage. Got cheated out of 10 minutes – supposed to be 80 minutes long but I only got 70 minutes. OK massage – a lot of brisk rubbing over the same areas; guess this is for circulation – no deep tissue. Continue reading
We left the Shangri-La Hotel at 7:30 am bound for Chongqing airport. We expected to be overtaken by the Australian Prime Minister who was also staying at the Shangri-La (can you believe it!), and run into a traffic nightmare. Police were already lining the streets and highways at all intersections. But thankfully we managed to stay ahead of her.
We boarded our China Air flight without problems at 9:30. On the plane we were joined by at least 60 other China Spree travelers who were on several different (non-luxury) CS tours.
We had a bit of a problem on landing, an hour later, with retrieving our luggage. We took a wrong turn and ended up at the wrong baggage area. What a goat rope! A young lady baggage attendant told us to go outside security and proceed to “6”. Baggage area 6 ended up being in Terminal A (we had gone to Terminal B) and turned out to be a quarter mile walk away and outside the buildings, all the while toting our carry-ons. Since we had left the secure area, it required several of us to re-enter through security to secure our luggage. We were having a bit of an issue explaining this to the security guards, but fortunately our guide, Merry, showed up and we got through. We hoped aboard an almost identical beige van to the ones we had in Xian and Guilin and off we went into town.
Chongqing has 33m people (8m in city center) and is smoggier than Beijing. Very, very smoggy as a matter of fact. It is the world’s largest metropolitan area, surpassing Tokyo. Continue reading
After an uninspiring long drive from Guilin, we just barely made it to the ship, literally minutes before it left. The ship is fairly rough, but we got good seats on the top deck, and they were right next to a small forward open deck where the views were good. This small deck was far less crowded than the “sun deck” up above. Of course, still very, very smoggy, or “misty” depending on your perspective, and we could only see the close-in mountains, but still very pretty.
Limestone karsts are beautiful one-of-a-kind formations.
Each bend around the river was prettier than the last. My pics of the scenery don’t do it justice – all are pretty disappointing because of the “mist”. Continue reading
We started this very cloudy (smoggy) morning with a relatively short ride south of town to the Big Wild Goose Pagoda and the Da Ci’en Si Temple and Monastery. A short walk through a park led us to the leaning 210 feet tall pagoda – it has a definite list to the right. It was built in 652 AD by the Emperor to house the sacred Buddhist texts that were brought back from India by the monk, Xuanzang.
Leaning Wild Goose Pagoda
My cold is getting a little better. Still incredibly stuffed up in my sinuses and my throat occasionally hurts, but at least I don’t have that warm and sicky feeling.
Another smoggy day.
After a long drive to get to the Terra Cotta Warriors, we were almost there when we got stopped several car lengths back from the entrance toll booth because of a visit by the female Australian Prime Minister. We had to wait about 20 minutes. Big black SUVs and limos rolled right on by. Continue reading