24th May 2013

I traveled to China with a lot of inhibitions and worries. Would I find anything to eat? Would the bathrooms be clean? Would we be able to find the right bus? I had carried a wordless book with colorful images in hopes that when I could not communicate, I could point. Learning about the history and culture in China was a highlight of our year trip away. I loved staying in a 1000-year-old hotel in Lang Zhong and learning about Chinese New Year. The sights in China were truly amazing. I loved our bus trip to Shilin to see the Stone Forest. After a few weeks, we realized there was so much to see and chose to extend our visa and stay six weeks instead of four. During our travels by bus and boat, we saw many famous sights and UNESCO highlights. I highly recommend you visit this amazing country. Plan a trip to China and you are sure to find a lot of adventure.

Photo of Ni-Hao,China! 1/1 by Sankhadeep Saha

The land of the abominable snowman,they call it.Our first major destination in Lhasa was the Potala Palace.The entire site was as clean as it was touristy. We were limited to a visit of only 1 hour due to the integrity of the structure (it could risk collapse from the weight of too many visitors) but all in all it was absolutely gorgeous. The temples were just breathtaking and I enjoyed watching the monks walking from room to room continuing their daily tasks all the while examining the hundreds of different rooms, shrines and statues.After taking in the Potala Palace, we were set free to enjoy Johkang Temple and the surrounding vicinity that’s known as the Backhor Streets. It was quite interesting to see the layers of culture in such a small place. Lhasa was a much larger city than I had anticipated. Shops and stalls lined every corner and were filled to the brim with Tibetan prayer beads, necklaces, singing bowls, yak blankets and many other ornaments. Tibetan & Chinese restaurants filled the streets with an almost intoxicating smell of yak meat, bread & other cultural foods.We then explored both the Drepung Monastery & Sera Monastery. The Drepung Monastery, which happened to be the Dalai Lama’s old winter residence (up until the 5th Dalai Lama moved it to the Potala Palace), happened to house the largest amounts of monks in Tibet. We were very lucky to arrive just as many of them were gathered for their afternoon lunch and meditation sessions. The energy that protruded from them was nothing short of intense!Later, we passed through Gangbala Pass with a quick pit stop at Yamdrok Lake where we took some very scenic pictures of turquoise blue waters that were overlooked by snow-peaked mountains.

Potala Palace

Photo of Lhasa, Tibet, China by Sankhadeep Saha

Namdrok Lake

Photo of Lhasa, Tibet, China by Sankhadeep Saha

After experiencing the sublimity that Lhasa was,it was time to move on to the Chinese Republic via a cross-border high-altitude train that would take us through the naked rocky mountains of Tibet,through the snow-covered fields and across the world's highest lake-The Namtso. An overnight journey,and we were in this historical bedrock of the early Chinese Civilizations called Xi'an.

Lake Namtso

Photo of Ni-Hao,China! by Sankhadeep Saha

Terracota army is one site that is must visit if you are in xi'an the lush green fields, the tress, the color of flower all these things will give feeling of a painting. Besides this place,we were treated with manyxi'a monasteries,pagodas(The Giant Wild Goose Pagoda being the most notable one),museums containing ancient relics of Tang,Qin and Hang dynasties.A night here,and we were off to Shanghai through another train.

Reviving its golden days in the 1930s, Shanghai is grabbing the world’s attention again as the most dynamic metropolis in China. From the jaw-dropping skyscrapers in Lujiazui to numerous cosy cafés in the French Concession, this is where East meets West, traditional meets modern, and the grassroots coexist with the luxurious in harmony. Whether you’re a backpacker or a jet-setter, you can always find what suits you best.

One of the most distinct building in the world and the Shanghai skyline, the Oriental Pearl Tower houses many restaurants and observation decks with interesting views over the Huangpu river.

The Majestic View Of The Pearl Tower near the Bund River,Shanghai

Photo of Shanghai, China by Sankhadeep Saha

Up next was the Nanjing Road.Holding a similar status to that of New York's Times Square,a world-class shopping experience in an electric street snaking between huge malls and 5-star hotels. Visit this street at dusk and walk towards Waitan (The Bund) for awesome views of the Shanghai skyline just as night sets in.

Nanjing Road

Photo of Ni-Hao,China! by Sankhadeep Saha

Other notable mentions from this coastal city are the People's square-a hub of China's cultural life and group dances,the Shanghai Art Museum,and the Shanghai Grand Theater Gallery.

On the second last day of our trip,it was time for us to catch the bullet train to the capital city of Beijing.At a speed of about 330 km/hr,this is the world's third fastest carrier with networks stretching for about a radius of 2000km.

First up was the Forbidden City-a place where the Ming and Qing Emperors resided for more than 500 years, which used to be off-limits to the common people.After exploring the main buildings in the Forbidden City, drive around Tiananmen Square to see the biggest city-center square in the world, as well as some of the iconic buildings like the Front Gate, Chairman Mao's Mausoleum, Monument to the People's heroes, Great Hall of the People, Tiananmen Gate and National Museum of China.

Front Gate of The Forbidden City

Photo of Beijing, China by Sankhadeep Saha

Located in a 20 km long valley, Juyongguan(western) is the closest section of Great Wall to Beijing with very important strategic significance.Even though not easily accessible ,it has much more beautiful scenery to offer and is less crowded than the Badaling (eastern)section of the Great Wall.

The Great Wall of China

Photo of Ni-Hao,China! by Sankhadeep Saha

After lunch, we drive for 1.5 hours to see the Summer Palace, the largest and best preserved imperial garden in China now. Inside the Summer Palace, we also took a boat to see the Suzhou Street, where the eunuch and concubine used to disguise as sellers for the emperor to enjoy shopping by using a special kind of coin. On the way back the hotel, drive to the Olympic Stadiums and stop at a bridge to the west of the Water Cube, which is the best place to take pictures of the main buildings in the Olympic Village.

The Olympic Village,which hosted the 2008 Olympics

Photo of Ni-Hao,China! by Sankhadeep Saha