After an early start we boarded buses and braved bumper to bumper traffic until we were out of the downtown area toward The Great Wall of China. Over 4000 miles long it was built to keep the Mongolians away over 2600 years ago. Weather was hot, with a few clouds but otherwise a very blue sky and a warm breeze.
After a group picture most everyone climbed the very steep stairs of the Wall, up
We began the day with a wonderful full buffet breakfast at the Capital Hotel. We loaded the buses with our luggage for our afternoon exchange to the airport, then to Chengdu. We rode about an hour to the Emperor’s Summer Palace. There are two geographical features to the Palace grounds; the man-made lake and the hill on which the Palace sits, made from the dirt removed to make the lake. This Palace was used by
We woke up to an even more spectacular breakfast with all kinds of Chinese and European foods. At 8:30 AM we went to the Panda Preserve, about 30 minutes outside of Chengdu. We spent the morning walking through the Preserve and watching these sweet little bears go about their two normal activities, eating bamboo and sleeping.
Twelve members were able to dole out enough money ($340 USD) to hug a panda. I was able to
An early departure from the hotel put us on the road to the Chengdu airport. The morning was spent moving through airports and an uneventful arrival in Xi’An. This city has changed so much since we were here in 2006! New high-rise buildings up-scale department stores have created an entirely new skyline for the city. The old city, within the ancient city walls, has less development because high-rise construction has been forbidden there.
We rode to the site of the Terra Cotta Warrior excavations early in the morning. The air was slightly smoggy but blue skies were visible. The Warriors were discovered by accident by a farmer digging a well in 1974. We would later meet the farmer in the museum shop where he was signing a book. This job and 20 Huan were bestowed upon him for reporting his discovery to the government.
The soldiers, their chariots
We left our Xi’An hotel early for a transfer to the airport and a two hour flight to Guilin. This time check-in and security went very smoothly. Upon arrival we were met by our city guides and given a box KFC lunch to eat on the bus. Although people were appreciative I think there was a much greater appreciation for the great Chinese food we have been eating in comparison to KFC.
After a 40-minute
We left the hotel at 8:30am for an hour ride to board the Li River boat. The dock was fairly crowed as several boats were leaving about the same time. We had assigned seats and we began the most spectacular adventure down the Li River for the next four hours. Enormous, high limestone mountains loomed over the river in dramatic fashion all the way to Yangsho. On the banks you could see water buffalo grazing,
We had a safe and uneventful flight from Guilin to Shanghai. After a visit to the Bund (riverside) and a group picture, we checked in to the hotel, went to dinner and had a bit of free time in the hotel area. Many swam in the pool.
After breakfast we headed toward the Nanshi area of Shanghai and the Yu Garden. Built inside the Old Town area, this garden was originally built and owned by a government official. Its opening gate is quite unassuming but inside are expansive water and rock gardens. It would be very interesting to visit but the number of tourists shuffling through it made the experience a bit daunting. We had some time to visit the many shops