I spent the month of March in China, travelling from the deep south to the mid section of Shanghai/Hangzhou/Zhoushan. My economic thoughts are detailed on pages 2 and 3, my reflections on culture and life on page 4. And here is my ‘Lonely Planet Guide’ to the not-miss sights.
1. Wherever you go use the ‘Gaotie’, China’s high-speed trains. They are clean, new and arrive to the minute on schedule. Oh, and did I mention they all go 150-180 mph. Air travel is a hassle whether in the US or China. High-speed trains are comfortable, you get a front row view of the scenery and they are cheap. Shenzhen in the south to Beijing in the north is a 1500 mile trip costing $140.
2. Climb a mountain. If you want to experience a living, breathing Chinese landscape painting climb the most famous Chinese mountain, Huangshan (Yellow Mountain) about 3 hours from Shanghai (picture above). You can climb the thousands of knee jarring steps to one of the summits or, more conveniently, take a cable car up. Either way the view and the experience is spectacular.
3. Shanghai is a not miss city. But how do you see a city of 25 million? A great option is the $18 sightseeing bus which circles the major sites. Yes its touristy but a leisurely way to see the highlights. Another option is the modern, cheap, easy to use subway system. Choose a stop, look around and then get back on. Don’t miss the Shanghai Museum. A world class collection of landscape paintings, ceramics, furniture and jade. A real treasure. And finally don’t forget the food. Food follows money as the saying goes and China has money today. A signature dish of Shanghai is ‘Xiaolong Bao’ or soup dumplings (pictured above). These delicate dumplings are filled with pork and injected with soup. Be careful when biting in however, the soup can be hot but the taste is divine.
4. If Shanghai is a bit too bustling for you, take the high-speed train an hour west and you get to Hangzhou and Suzhou. The West Lake in Hangzhou is a gem, an enormous lake with islands, pagodas, temples – – everything you imagine classical China to be. Suzhou is famous for its delicate gardens including the ‘Humble Administrator’s Garden’, which of course begs the question, where does a ‘humble administrator’ get the funds for such a lavish garden? In any case, enjoy the trip – the going is still good.