China

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Chengde • Beijing • Shanxi

China is a truly fascinating country.  Even though this site only touches on a few locations in Northern China and the Yangtze Delta, even here there is just so much to see.  The Great Wall, without walking on which you are not a real man (according to Chairman Mao), temples, palaces and of course, the people.  Then there is the food, exotic, tasty and usually very cheap, even in hotels.

For those of a squeamish disposition, it can be a little daunting, particularly in the provinces where garbage is simply dumped in the streets for pigs and other livestock to rummage about in.  Even in Beijing the public toilets are pretty foul; amazingly it turns out that these are the sole facilities for many of the residents as they do not have their own toilets, nor even a water supply and have to leave their homes and wander down the street to the nearest public ones.

Despite that I would not miss it for the world, particularly now there are so many excellent tourist hotels at very reasonable prices, at least in the major cities and tourist destinations.  It can be a little confusing trying to communicate when their written language is so complicated (for me anyway) and the phrase book phonetics rarely seem to come out anything like the locals sound and you find yourself arguing with the taxi driver who swears he has taken you to the place you pronounced, even though you meant somewhere else entirely.

For a real laugh, try the Beijing opera, nicely edited for tourists into a martial arts/acrobatics/surreal melodrama with the most unmusical wailings I have ever heard; made all the more hysterical by the projected sub titles creatively translated into a sort of English.  I found myself continuously torn between the absurd goings-on on stage and the Pythonesque captions, unfortunately resulting in a rather painful neck!

datong_3.JPG (78314 bytes) chengde (1).JPG (45414 bytes)
Beijing Datong Shanxi Chengde
Shanghai Suzhou Tongli Yangtze Delta

 

 

 

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Jeremy Harrison 2005-2013