Tag Archives: China

China 2019 – Beijing

Our photography tour ended in Shanghai but we spent time in Beijing.  From Shanghai we took a bullet train to Beijing and stayed near the center of the city.  We got to see the Forbidden City, the Beijing Zoo and parts of the Great Wall.

I could have spent days at the Forbidden City.  Supposedly, it has buildings whose rooms total 9,999.  Even during the off-season (January), it was very crowded.

After the Forbidden City, we stopped at the Beijing Zoo to say hello to the pandas and the Bengal tigers.  Although the animals were not mistreated, I was not entirely convinced they were happy in their surroundings.

By contrast to the Forbidden City, we went to a sparsely visited section of the Great Wall.  Most of the pictures you see of the Great Wall are probably taken around Badaling.  This section has been completely restored and is only a short hike (5 minutes) from taxi to wall.  We went to Simitai which is much less traveled and also not restored.  We had an hour hike to get to the wall but we were the only ones there.

 

China 2019 – Zhangjiajie

Zhangjiajie, in Hunan Provence, is located approximately 1,285 km east south east of Shanghai.  It is a city containing spectacular landforms and parks, which includes the Zhangjiajie National Forest Park.  It was recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1992 and is said to have inspired the filmmakers of the 2009 film Avatar.  The region is famous for its towering quartzite cliffs and Rhesus monkeys abound.  There are three cable cars and the Bailong Elevator that will take visitors to the top of the cliffs.

Notice that, from the picture taken, you appear to be alone.  Turning to the right or left tells a different story.

We spent two nights in Zhangjiajie at the northern entrance to the park and then two at the southern entrance.  Our accommodations here – at the Cube House Guesthouse – were somewhat unique – 500 steps from the street to the guesthouse!

 

China 2019 – ancient water towns

The water towns were very interesting, more than I expected although getting to them was definitely not what I expected.  I thought that they would be out in the middle of nowhere and we would approach them in a very rural setting.  Instead, we drove and stopped in the middle of a city, walked to an entrance beyond which was this older, hidden village – canals and all – surrounded by a modern city.  Sometimes the entrance was over a bridge straddling a canal (Tongli and Zhouzhuang) and, in other cases (Xitang), through a narrow break in the street leading on to the old village.  These are shown in the next two pictures.  Very strange.

 

These three water towns – Tongli, Zhouzhuang and Xitang – located southeast of Shanghai are all picturesque, each reminiscent of Venice with a network of canals.  Tongli was my personal favorite despite sleeping in the hardest bed I have ever slept in my life.  It was here that we had access to the cormorant fisherman and two of my favorite animal pictures – the patient dog and the inscrutable cat.  I also loved the moss and greenery growing in the foot tiles.  Can you pick out the outline of a creature in one of them?

 

 

 

 

 

 

You will also notice that it was impossible to get past the “conveniences” of American life – KFC and Starbucks!

 

 

China 2019 – Shanghai

First of all, I must ask you not to judge the quality of photography of Worldwide Explorers and Skye Photography based upon my photographs.  As the least knowledgeable photographer of the group, while I got excellent tips from our guides Marcus and James, I still managed to cut off the tops of buildings, take the photo from too high an angle, misalign the composition of the picture, etc.  Both of our photographs will make you weep… but for different reasons.

With that disclaimer, on to Shanghai.

Shanghai is the largest city in China by population and the second most populous city in the world with a population of 24 million.  It is a global financial center and the world’s busiest container port.  It sits on the south edge of the estuary of the Yangtze River on the East China Sea.

Today, Shanghai is a mixture of new and old.  There is the modern Shanghai with some of the tallest skyscrapers in the world.

009

There is the historic Victorian Bund.

 

 

And, just a short walk away, is the old Shanghai with narrow streets, storefront vendors and crowded homes and shops.

China 2019

My wife and I recently returned from a trip to China.  We flew out on Saturday morning January 19th non-stop to Shanghai and returned on Saturday, February 2nd after a non-stop flight from Beijing.  We were part of the Worldwide Explorers’ photography tour (https://www.worldwide-explorers.com/ ; https://www.worldwide-explorers.com/blog ) – a very small group, only six of us plus three guides, one of whom was our Chinese interpreter.

We went from Shanghai to three “water towns,” old villages east of Shanghai unchanged for a thousand years.  Then we went east to Zhangjiajie, China’s first national park, a UNESCO heritage site and the location for the movie Avatar.  When we returned to Shanghai, the photo tour was over but we had hired the Chinese interpreter as our guide for Beijing.  We took a bullet train from Shanghai to Beijing and then got to see the Forbidden City, the Beijing Zoo and the Great Wall before heading back.

China is a fascinating country; it should have a sign when entering that says “country under construction.” Everywhere we went, even in the rural areas, buildings were either being built or torn down.  Sometimes it was hard to tell which one it was.  Shanghai is a city of contrasts – the very modern skyscraper city, the elegant old Bund and, just a few blocks away, the old, old back streets of an earlier Shanghai.  The water towns were very interesting.  I expected to arrive at them in a rural setting.  Instead, we drove and stopped in a city, walked to an entrance beyond which was this older, hidden village – canals and all – surrounded by a modern city.  Very strange.

I could have spent days at the Forbidden City.  Supposedly, it has buildings whose rooms total 9,999.  Even during the off-season (January), it was very crowded.  By contrast, we went to a sparsely visited section of the Great Wall.  Most of the pictures you see of the Great Wall are probably taken around Badaling.  This section has been completely restored and is only a short hike (5 minutes) from taxi to wall.  We went to Simitai which is much less traveled and also not restored.  We had an hour hike to get to the wall but we were the only ones there.

A few pictures of Shanghai at night; more photos of the trip will follow.

IMG_1308

073

074