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Enter The Land Of Dragon (Part 3)

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13. Sutra River

A trip on Chang Jiang River

I felt very small when taking a downstream trip on Asia’s longest river and I did be made smaller by lofty defiles and stunning views. A trip on Chang Jiang River may be a slow one for many people. That feeling grows when standing on the highest deck and the ship is drifting. Of course, there are many spectacular views to enjoy. The greatness of nature and human’s efforts in conquering it may evoke some thoughts about human’s crazy ideas. However, the ship 3N/4D heading to the estuary from Chongquing self-governing city in Middle China to Yichang is considered a unique experience.

Insider’s advice

You can, of course, get a cheap cruise ship. But don’t do that. For this trip, you’d better not be miserly but choose a high-class service. Practicing Tai Chi at dawn when the deck is being opened and covered with breath-taking views or getting feet massaged by experts, you would easily find the profoundly inner peace.

For more information, visit: www.centuryrivercruises.com and www.yangtzeriver.org.

Description: Sutra River

Sutra River

14.  Heaven and Hangzhou

Calm Lake

During the Chines travel, Marco Polo is an irregular chronicler ignoring the fact that Chinese uses chopsticks to eat. However, with Hangzhou, he has interesting and vivid memories. He names it the “heaven city”. A city situates at Zhejiang province and Hangzhou’s attractions surround West Lake. You may spend hours watching the tide in front of Chinese temples on the shore and the pagoda behind.

Insider’s advice

Visit Lingyin temple, which has “Peak That Flew From Afar”. A limestone cave, according to legend, flew from Vulture’s Peak in Rajgir near Nalanda. To know a slice of history, visit Song Dynasty village that shows a 1000-year history in festival’s atmosphere with a significant on-stage performance.

Website: gotohangzhou.com

Description: Heaven and Hangzhou

Heaven and Hangzhou

15.  Bike in Beijing

Nights at the city

Well-off Chinese people have left bicycles for modern cars but biking around Beijing at night still has its own fascination. Bike Beijing arranges bicycle-tours to the city’s places of interest. These travels are quite comfortable and friendly, for families, with a speed of 9miles/h.

Website: www.bikebeijing.com/tours/night_beijing.html

Insider’s advice

If it is still soon, Beijing provides a lot of night entertainment – Sanlitun Bar used to have its heyday but Houhai Street is classier – and more beautiful views (than a hole). Beijing’s karaoke bars are most dissolute so you’d better stay away unless they are what you are looking for.

Description: Bike in Beijing

Bike in Beijing

Information

Chinese translation

For Indian tourists, China may be both interesting and dangerous. It is fun that there not many countries, like China, having such a big traffic and facilities, and especially in remote area, there are many hospitalities as well as curiosities for the Indian. This is often indicated by the Chinese’s common questions when you take a picture with them: you will feel like a rock star with huge fan-girls following.

This hospitability is partly from ancient connection in civilization, based on monks travelling between the two countries. Buddhism came to China from India although its belief has been decreased by Communism’s 60-year domination and the Cultural Revolution. Chinese people are, step by step, regaining their belief partly.

Recently, movies and songs of Raj Kapoor time have special appeal with topics about proletarian struggles. If you live in China long enough, you will certainly have “Awala Hu” (or “Awala Hoon”) told by an inconsiderate taxi driver.

Language: Visiting China may have some challenges so learn some handy Chinese words and a hospitable world will be opened – worth your effort.

Food: Various according to areas and different cuisines. For a sophisticated Indian, Chinese’s full-of-meat meals may not be good. The term “vegetarian” comes strange for some kitchens: even vegetables are often cooked in pork fat or minced pork. If you are very special, you have to have “bu fang rou” (no meat) in each meal.

Cheating: Like in many places around the world, innocent visitors are magnets to masters of cheating and some are very superb in China. Two types of cheating you may encounter are: drinking tea (you are invited to a tea party by an interesting youngster until the very end you will get stuck with a huge amount of bills) and art students (you are invited to a gallery and lured to pay a lot of money for cheap pictures).

China in books

Smoke and Mirrors, an Experience of China, by Pallavi Aiyar: A journalist having lived and worked in China for more than 6 years delivers a perspective of China in Indian eyes.

From Heaven Lake, by Vikram Seth: Chronicle of Seth’s travel following roads from China to India in the 1970s. This gives a lot of information though it is out of date

Country Driving: A Chinese Road Trip, by Peter Hessler: The last of a trilogy, describing romantically Chinese’s feelings when walking into a modern era.

And on screen

Lost in Beijing, directed by Li Yu: A modern respective movie showing the pressure of culture and class in a Beijing which was exploding, concentrating on an immigrant couple.

Up the Yangtze, directed by Yung Chang: An award-winning documentary that compares a trip on Chang Jiang River with people being removed by a project of Three Gorges Dam. The film told about a poor farming girl’s compression of the new consumerism.

Not One Less, directed by Zhang Yimou: A touched story in a rural school

China in…

5 days: Beijing – Xian – Hangzhou

10 days: Beijing – Xian – Guilin – Yangtze Cruise – Shanghai

15 days: Beijing – Xian – Lhasa – Guilin – Yangtze Cruise – Shanghai – Suzhou – Hangzhou

20 days: Beijing – Shaolin temple – Xian – Dunhuang – Lhasa – Kashgar – Guilin – Yangtze Cruise – Shanghai – Huang Shan – Hangzhou – Suzhou

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