Sunday, December 19, 2010

Report on Visit to China

Holiday Season 2010

We are glad to be home on the boat but there has been a huge amount of rain, even well past the change of seasons and the boat is torn up and on the hard getting new wood, bottom paint and other repairs.

We need to report on our China trip and all these photos are just some that caught my eye as I went through the mass of photos that we took.

Smoggy day at the wall!

We stayed in 12 different locations all around China and have decided that for us, China is simply "not fantastic". It is pretty OK if you have extra time and more money than you might expect to pay. We were happy making our own arrangements and liked Agoda for hotels. We often took day tours recommended by cruiser folks and from Tripadvisor. We still found all of China very average, in general. With all the raving I hear I feel like someone needs to tell another side. We are not naive travelers. We enjoy a sense of adventure and don't mind if everything isn't perfect because it's another challenge. We were disappointed with much of the big attractions just being rebuilt rather than maintained to look like they used to when they really didn't used to use so much concrete! So many places looked manufactured to be tourist attractions. And the air pollution was dreadful casting an awful haze over everything.

Old style banking building in Pinghao

There were some places that were remarkable. We really enjoyed Pingao, an old walled city, Dali for it's mountain hike and old walled town and Lijiang as an example of ancient culture, even tho it was a bit touristy...especially it has a nice palace visit called “Mu’s House”. We did the usual touristy things in Guilin, Li river cruise thru steep karst[upward jutting mountains], and it was all pretty ok in the pollution. Our short waterfall hike in Dali in the mountains convinced us that rural China is nicer than the smoggy, noisy, 'overdone with tourists' big cities. We think it takes younger bodies to really enjoy the rural adventures tho..

Just us somewhere pretty!

Many natural elements were stunning but they are far apart. So much of the info at attractions is, of course, altered to go along with the current government ideas that we were always suspicious. Many tours just told us the info we could read in English if we wanted to with out giving any depth. We found that getting the headphone recorded tours was always interesting and we often wished we had chosen them over a guide.

Lynn tries calligraphy and does OK encouraged by onlookers!

Much of the archeology was very interesting and there is more variety than we expected all over China. We did like learning a lot about prehistory and early of Lynn’s favorite subjects. Chuck was more interested in military stuff and politics. China has been around for an amazing amount of time and accumulated an even more amazing number of Chinese!!! Maybe we got “Chinaphobia”!!!

Must make time for happy hour!

All this doesn't say we are sorry we went. We wanted to see China and what it had to offer. We just feel like it has been just a bit overrated. And we found the food was universally average to awful. It seems like we would have found something remarkable in over a month of experimenting as we always do when we travel ...but we didn't. The quality was just so average even in expensive restaurants and with guides to help us choose. Nothing was worth ever having again or as good as frozen Chinese food in the US!

Clear skies for mountain hike on paved path...easy!

We liked Hong Kong somewhat better but it was even more expensive, like the US....the history was interesting there but many places were just touristy sites and shopping and high up views from mountains. It was like “China-Lite”!! We didn’t think it was worth it to just shop ‘til you drop! The history museum was quite well done as were several museums all around China. We learned a lot from the better museums everywhere. We especially liked the Capitol Museum in Beijing... Good general info on all of China and architecturally stunning.

Stayed in antique 500 years old!

Lynn was not impressed with the Chinese gardens...too manufactured from concrete and unnatural....too stiff and formal and artificial. Too many things seemed like Disney had made ancient places to visit. It just didn't feel genuine and sincere but rather like tourist traps to suck money from you. She did like the calligraphy, clay and porcelain traditional arts.

Typical old house

If asked, I guess we would say if you don't expect too much, China might turn out fine but too many folks are making it sound fabulous and we worked hard, but couldn't find very much that was great. There was too much smog, smoking, yelling into cellphones, and pushing crowds [even in the off season] to make some things worth a treasured memory. We absolutely enjoyed many places but we were just not overwhelmed with awe. I also need to say that this is a very generalized opinion with an overall aspect.

Lejiang canal scene

The treatment by the Chinese people was outstanding and we can't say enough good things about them. We were surprised to find and enjoy the Chinese as being very expressive and open like the Italians and not nearly as shy and soft spoken as the other Asians. We usually stayed in 3-4 star hotels but did stay in Hostels in a few places and wished we had used them more than we did. They were more personal. I will add that all the transportation works very well and we were impressed, especially with the super high speed trains.

Mu's Residence in Lejiang

We are now getting our Indian visas now to go to the Andaman Islands in the Indian Ocean and they are supposed to be wonderful and sparsely populated and also with quiet anchorages...sounds fantastic after the hoards of masses of folks we saw in China. We gotta admit that it is an amazing feat to employ, house, feed, nurture and amuse so much of the world’s population in just one country.

A Wall where potential candidates are found for arranged marriages

Must include the mass of Terra Cotta Soldiers to prove we were there!

1 comment:

Hayden said...

This is INCREDIBLE and makes me want to go to CHINA ASAP. What a beautiful place with so much diversity. Thank you so much for the work and effort you are investing into this blog. It is appreciated.