Inner Circle

Let's Go And Circle Around Golden China - Part Two

 

Let's Go And Circle Around Golden China - Part Two
 

I love Beijing and Shangri-La Hotel, Beijing, spending 12 days there continuously exploring, and loved the bustling city vibe combined with the pockets of history and local life. I continued on a route solo through to Nanjing, whose well-known Massacre museum ensures the city’s devastating history is never forgotten. From there it’s a three hour train ride to Shanghai, where you can seek some comfort from the modernity and westernized way of life, taking in the magnificent skyline of Pudong, shopping centers on every street corner and the busy bars and nightlife. Shanghai is also a fantastic base in order to visit the traditional towns of Suzhou and Hangzhou, which are only a few hours away by train.

Shanghai connects you to many places including Xian, Chengdu and Huangshan but I chose to train back to Beijing in order to begin an overland tour route that would take me through well-established and off the beaten track destinations in Central, West and South of China. While Datong and the out of town Buddhist caves, the ancient walled city of Pingyao, the Terracotta Warrior famed Xian and the panda residence of Chengdu are well trodden and easy to get to, my overland tour allowed me not only to see more of local life as we passed through it, but meant I got to see places that were difficult to get to or which were not on my original radar – such as the beautiful mountain and UNESCO temple complex town of Wutai Shan, the cave dwelling village of Lijiashan, and Yan’an, which became the center of the Communist Revolution from 1936 to 1948.

The Yangtze River Cruise is a great way to travel on Asia’s largest river and between the two travel hubs of Chongqing and Yichang, or vice versa. Ending in Chongqing meant that I was in closer proximity to travel to the giant Buddha in Leshan, the spectacular Emei Shan Mountain and its spectacular trek and down to the beautiful Yunnan province, where Tiger Leaping Gorge awaits you outside of the beautiful narrow streets and cobbled stoned alleyways of Lijiang. Lijiang, Dali and Kunming form the golden triangle of Yunnan, but sadly I ran out of visa time after Kunming.

China is so large that’s it’s impossible to see it all in one trip. Everyday something new surprised me and everyday something else drove me crazy. 10 weeks allowed me time to acclimatize to the way of life, spend significant time in my favorite places (I’m a huge fan of Beijing) and give me ample time to try and understand the Chinese way of life.

I’ll be back to concentrate on the Southern regions, where glorious sunshine beats down on paddy fields and picturesque villages set within a wall of magnificent mountain ranges and where traditional towns suck you in to their winding streets and everyday burst of activity. I guess I will never tire of China and I’m dying to get back soon!

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