In a country that eats, breathes and lives trade and a country that boasts a separate city for manufacturing pretty much everything, Shanghai cuts the clutter and shows you a side of China, which is completed is distinct from the original canvas of China.Not because it isn’t that good or anything, but simply because, if you’re here to see China and its culture, you’re likely to be demotivated at the start itself, because Shanghai is so much about big-ass fancy malls with international brands alluring you to pour our all those yuans (RMBs), and the up market buildings enveloped by spiral wide flyovers twirling around Shanghai’s high-rises.What they say about China is actually true, that with every 100 kms, the architecture always changes, so do the people’s eating, drinking and living habits. Thus, you go a few kilometers away from Shanghai and you are likely to find an entire city manufacturing only socks, the city is called Datang in Zhuji, where about 8 billion pairs of socks are manufactured everywhere. The list doesn’t end here, we have a tiny hamlet namely Gurao, which is called the undergarments capital of China, and you will find the latest of everything as far as ‘inner beauty’ is concerned.Thus in a china which is divided into a plethora of such cities, Shanghai seems to be comfortably placed between its DNA and its aspirations.Shanghai is the quintessential black-sheep, in a herd of colorful stock. Unfortunately and due to logistical convenience, I commenced my China sojourn from Shanghai and spent about 5 days in the midst of skyscrapers and the dynamism of city-life. For someone who was born and grown up in Bombay, city-life can never be exciting or novel. For us, fast life is normal and there are enticing options to party after every few stations. Thus cities are not the go-to options for a vacation for a lot of city-dwellers like me. But hey, that doesn't mean you don't get touristy.Shanghai to me in one word was VAST. It’s humongous and everything is spruced up in a fashion that one has to travel several kilometers in order to get to the next cluster of fun and entertainment, and between that, is just elevated concrete and more of that.As far as connectivity is concerned, since my folks live in China, it was easy to move around as we had a car at most times, and when we did not have a car, the metro transport always saved the day. Let me tell you their metro deserved a total 5 on 5, with the amount of lines they have and the fact that the metro stations are so beautifully placed outside every relevant place one would want to visit.Download the application called Metro Man right away and you can thank me later. In a city where there was a major language barrier, this app helped me sail through my solo travels to the interior parts several times. Just tell the app, the closest station which is in your area and the name of the station where you want to head and after that let the app work its wonders.The metro is conveniently placed, swift and inexpensive in a rather pricey Shanghai. You can cover a good amount of distance between multiple lines (say about 10 stations – 30 kms) in about 4 Yuan i.e. Rs. 40/-. Now you can thank me!Also, if you have arranged a car from outside Shanghai, you won’t be allowed to travel on their highways (which is pretty much the entire city) from 4pm to 8pm, because they give preference to their local vehicles that time and they don’t want the cars of the outsiders to jam up the expressways. That is a thoughtful move for the locals, isn’t it?They have cabs as well, which start at a basic fare of 8 Yuan (Rs. 80/-), but please avoid taking the red color cabs as from what I heard, they have records of being unnecessarily pricey.Most places have a Metro station but the only issue can be, that the Metros stop working around 10:30pm onward (there’s different time for every line of metro), so watch out before you make those late night plans.
From the very first look, Guangzhou is too different than Shenzhen, as Shenzhen is a tourist destination, Guangzhou is a metropolitan city, which boost the business and tourism both. It is the 3rd largest city of China, Guangzhou has big sky scrappers, it's to huge, to get to see complete city you need more then 4/5 days and still I bet you won't be able to see it all, as distance is far and as I mentioned it is a big city so the places are far from each other. I had my booking done at Westin Guangzhou which is situated in the center of the city, and is just 10 mins walk from the metro station, As I mentioned Guangzhou has many skyscrapers and high rises, it also has the Canton tower which is one to the tallest towers in world, once it used to be the tallest in the world but as the world is growing so does taller buildings are, but still it is in top 10 in world. Canton tower is. 431 meters high and it is a beautiful tower located just next to the pearl river as it flows within the city. It looks beautiful at night when it is lit up in different colors which keep on changing. During my trip I even went to the Guangzhou Zoo Which has some beautiful species of animals and when in China the main attraction is a Panda. I get to see 2 Pandas but wasn't lucky enough to see them in open as both were inside there close enclosure. Guangzhou being a big city has many shopping options from Mall to big shopping streets It's all there. Got some good shopping options for all.
Home to the Lehe Ledu Wildlife Zoo where people pay to be caged while they are stalked by ferocious predators!
Hopping off the Chinese bullet train at Hangzhou Station from Shanghai, a few things that are distinctively Hangzhou have struck me right away.
I loved Xian. I had always wanted to see the Terracotta soldiers and I was finally there. The visual highlight was pitted 1. Nonetheless, the actual story behind the Terracotta warriors was even more intriguing. Qin Shi Huang, the First Emperor of China, had an army of life-size warriors fabricated to battle with him in the afterlife. These artifacts, produced around 210 BC, were not discovered until 1974; local peasants who were searching for a new well site accidentally unearthed the archaeological site. The terracotta warriors varied in height depending on rank, generals being the tallest. Since the excavations had commenced, warriors, chariots, and horses had been uncovered. The estimated quantity of warriors in the three pits amounts to eight thousand soldiers, one hundred and thirty chariots, and five hundred and twenty horses. Inconceivably, the majority of these estimates still lay below ground. In fact, Pit 1 was impressive because of the massive quantity of warriors that had already been uncovered. Pit 3, in contrast, was relatively small. Pit 2, although massive in size, was only excavated in one small section. Only in Pit 1 were hundreds of terracotta warriors visually lined up and prepared for battle. Apart from this we also visited, the Emperor Jindi’s tomb and museum. The excavations have been glossed over so you can WALK above the items left in the ground. In his tomb, all things are 1/3 size. I loved the layers of pigs, sheep, dogs and goats. We also walked on the wide intact city walls and enjoyed the Big Wild Goose Pagoda with its free water and light show.
And so, my journey begins... Arrival Day [Feb 8, 2016] The flight from Kuala Lumpur to the provincial capital of Hunan, Changsha was approximately 4hrs 15mins. The flight arrived at midnight and my tour group of 22 fellows are warmly welcomed by a local tour guide, Siao Tang. We checked-in to a very decent hotel called Ramada Plaza and called it a day. Day 1 [Feb 9, 2016] I woke up to a cool and foggy morning with some sunshine in Changsha. The tour began by taking a coach to the village of Shaoshan.
The capital of Yunnan province and the starting point for travelers headed to Vietnam, Laos and Myanmar, Kunming will be our stop for a day to rest and stock up on anything we might need for the long train journey (20 hours) to Yangshuo.