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There and Back Again

China - Shanghai to Beijing

CHINA | Thursday, 20 September 2012 | Views [525]

If you want to see the future of human kind – visit China.

The building and construction happening in most cities and regional centres is enormous and astounding. Driving to Hangzhou airport, there were forests of skyscrapers that stretch as far as the eye could see. It was like something out of a science fiction movie. Just one of these buildings would stand out in London. There are cranes and construction happening everywhere.


There is a downside – the air pollution. We only saw blue sky on 3 of the 17 days we spent in China. Some days it was particularly oppressive and was the main spoiler of the scenery along the Yangtze River and elsewhere.



Food – There was a great variety and cheap. We enjoyed dumplings and a Pho type noodle soup ($3.00)

Xi’an – Xi’an is more than the Terracotta Warriors. It has a wonderful Muslim quarter and an intact 14th Century city wall.

Banpo Museum – The Banpo was a matrilineal clan of the Neolithic period (6000 years ago).

Shanghai – The sitting Buddha carved from jade; the view from the Bund.

Guilin – The strangely shaped Karst hills along the Li River.

Chongqing - Try to imagine 34 million people living in Chongqing.

Yangtze - Going through the 4 locks at the Three Gorges Dam.

Beijing :The Forbidden City – Extensive, beautiful and colourful with 1000’s of visitors.

The Great Wall – Chinese people value their heritage and we shared our climb among excited groups of Chinese and a few foreigners; it’s an extraordinary sight winding its way into the distance.


Marcus, an Engineer from Germany living in Shanghai, said: ‘Young people in China are not interested in politics’. It appears that like their counterparts in the rest of the world, young people in China are only interested in making money, in status and aspiring to have some of the possessions valued in the West – Clothes, lipstick, handbags, hairstyles, mobile phones and fast food.

The young people are into fashion, especially the young men. There were lots of hairdressers full of young men getting the latest hairstyles (Justin Bieber?) and dressed very fashionably.

Chinese people love shopping – markets, shopping plazas were always packed. We were surprised at the high end shopping areas full of Chanel, Louis Vuitton, Dior, Armani etc. Who buys there? We walked into a large shopping plaza in Shanghai and the whole floor was packed with customers wanting to buy one of the hundreds of thousands of mobile phones on display.

There is lots of wealth and there is also poverty that is often ‘hidden’ from tourists. Large black sedans are popular in China.

Some children often displayed defiance toward their parents. A possible consequence of their new found wealth, the ‘one child’ policy and grandparents responsible for child care.


Transport and transport infrastructure were efficient, clean and easy to use. The airports and railway stations are huge. Each city has a number of airports and railway stations. The station where we caught a fast train (307kmh) had 20 platforms each serving 2 fast trains.


‘Grab the opportunity’ would be an apt description of contemporary Chinese culture. Because there is such a large population, opportunities are less and so when an opportunity is presented (a gap in the traffic, queues, making money), you grab it. There is no place for being ‘nice’.


There is evidence of a lot of ‘behind the scenes’ state control – no Twitter or Facebook and Emails were difficult. To access Wi-Fi in one hotel we had to agree that all transmitted material (Emails etc) will be retained by the Chinese government for 60 days. All movements of foreigners are closely monitored.


Shanghai, which is not the largest city in China, has 24 million people. Australia’s total population is 22 million.

This means there are a number of ‘mega cities’ in China. The transport, the infrastructure, industry and utilities all happen. Huge numbers of people live relatively comfortably, most things are clean and efficient and the per capita use of energy is very low.

Through these mega cities, China may be pointing the way to an energy efficient future.


The drivers and Chinese guides were of a high standard and we appreciated the excellent itinerary developed for us by:

1.       Sunrise Travel (Hong Kong) Ltd

2.       Great Wall Vacations http://www.greatwallvacation.com/


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