11/1994 - China

17-day trip to China visiting Hong Kong , Guangzhou, Guilin, Xian , Suzhou , Shanghai with the Yu Garden , Jade Buddha Temple, the Bund and the house of Zhou En Lai, Beijing with Tiananmen Square (Gate of Heavenly Peace), the Tibetan Temple , Confucian University , the Temple of Heaven , the Forbidden City, the Temple Buddhist, the Via Sacra , the Imperial Tombs of the Ming Dynasty , the Imperial Summer Palace and the Great Wall

We arrived in the bustling city of Hong Kong, via Paris . It is a city which extended straight up.
We visited Aberdeen Bay, the beach and the Temple of Repulse Bay. We could not miss a short cruise through the Bay of Hong Kong.

We left Hong Kong by train going to Guangzhou, a city that we reached in less than three hours. Just outside our hotel, in the early morning , we saw a multitude of Chinese doing gymnastics in various ways , some of them handling long swords , while a band enjoyed them playing rhythmic music .

We visited the Mausoleum of the Chen family with its magnificent gardens, the “Sey Banyani Pagoda” (Temple of the Six Banyan Trees) and the Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hall. It is remarkable the beauty of finely painted statues made of terracotta, in particular the ones of the Sun Yat-sen Mausoleum .

I must mention the Quingping covered market where they sell whatever is edible: vegetables, snakes, fish, turtles, shellfish, dogs, cats…. The price is more than double if you buy live animals rather than dead. We have been quite impressed seeing a dog cut in pieces and a smaller one offered lacquered .

After a short flight (one hour ) we arrived in Guilin. With a boat trip we went to watch the beautiful and stunning sceneries on the Li River (the river of Pieces of Jade) . During the cruise we could enjoy magnificent rural scenes with cormorants, musk oxen , as well as characteristic floating villages .

In the evening we could attend and see, always on the Li River, night fishing with cormorants . The fisherman closes the cormorant throat, the cormorant catches the fish but cannot swallow it. When the cormorant comes back in the boat the fisherman takes the fish.

We moved to Xian that welcomed us with a winter climate, after the heat and damp found in the previous places. We visited the Wild Goose Pagoda and then we went to see the famous Terracotta Army.
Another flight and we reached Shanghai where we took the bus to proceed to Suzhou , the “Venice of China”.

Suzhou is an enormous city (almost two millions of inhabitants); we visited Tiger Hill on top of which there is the homonymous Pagoda. We found quite interesting the plants cultivated through the practice of bonsai.
Suzhou is also famous for the beauty of its gardens.

We visited two gardens: the Humble Administrator’s Garden and the Humble Fisherman’ s Garden. We are told that through windows overlooking another garden we obtain some views which are called “lent gardens “. This “imaginary garden” is obtained by applying some coloured glasses to the windows.

We returned by train to Shanghai and we were amazed because it looks like an American megalopolis … not a Chinese one.
We walked along The Bund and Nanjing Road where I tried to took pictures of typical life scenes; we did not miss a visit to the Peace Hotel to listen to its famous Old Jazz Band.

In the heart of the old city we visited the Yu Garden, characteristic for its lakes, streams , caves and many flowers as well as a huge dragon stone .

The Jade Buddha Temple is the most important monument of the city of Shanghai and owes its fame to the nearly two-meter high statue of the Buddha, in Burmese jade, and weighing over a thousand kilos.
Another beautiful statue is the one of the reclining Buddha.

We moved to Peking (Beijing) where we finally saw the sun again after the early morning mist. The impact of Tiananmen Square (Square of Heavenly Peace), known to the world thanks to the movies with the man who defied the tanks, is breathtaking.
Its width cannot be imagined; it seems empty even if there are thousands of people who are passing through it. The homonymous gate is dominated by a huge portrait of Mao Tse Tung .

We visited the Tibetan Buddhist Temple, also called Temple of the Lama.
It is structured into several pavilions with interesting architectural solutions that increase its charm.

The Sacred Way is the road that leads to the tombs of the Ming Dynasty . On its sides there are 24 animals (lions, camels, elephants and others), on their knees or standing, and 12 characters (military officials , civilians and elderly). Then thirteen tombs of the Ming Dynasty follow.

We visited the Chang Ling tomb which is the most important one because it houses the remains of Yongle.
The admittance to the courtyard is through an impressive gateway, the Gate of Eminent Favours , then we arrived in a three-tiered terrace of white marble. It is spectacular the yellow tiled roof supported by large wooden columns.

The road goes upwards to the Great Wall of China and the altitude let the mist fade and the sun shine.
The Great Wall is impressive for its size (it is 4000 km long !) and it is fascinating to see the wall which follows the tops of the hills with their different altitudes . It is a breathtaking wonder .

The Forbidden City welcomed us with its immensity. It is protected by a 10 meters high city wall and by 50 meters wide moat; it consisted of nine thousand rooms and was inhabited by nearly ten thousand people .
It is huge the square in front of the first of three halls, the “Hall of the Supreme Harmony “. The “Hall of Heavenly Purity” and the “Hall of Imperial Peace” follow.
Wall decorations are wonderful; they are present before the entrance door of the royal apartments at whose sides are located two lions in gilded bronze of great beauty. On the backyard there are a garden and a pagoda.

The Temple of Heaven was the place of the Emperor’s ritual contact with the Sky (considered round-shaped by the ancient Chinese) and the Earth (considered square-shaped ) .
We started the visit with the Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests, all in white marble.
We reached the highest of the three terraces decorated with balustrades and cut marble columns.
Then we visited the Circular Mound Altar, in white marble; the center of the altar is a round stone (or “Wall of Echo “) famous for its acoustics which creates a voice amplification.

The Imperial Summer Palace was the palace where the emperors spent their holidays, 20 km far from Beijing.
It is dominated by Longevity Hill, on which there are Temples and Palaces of magnificent beauty; the complex includes numerous gardens and covered corridors , finely decorated.
On Kunming Lake, in addition to the harmonious 17-Arch Bridge, there is the Marble Boat where the emperor used to receive the highest dignities of the Marine army.

Before concluding this short travel notes I wish to remind the sensation of beauty and tenderness the many children I met conveyed to me.

Finally, as my habit, I show pictures of all the curious aspects of the trip.
Our trip to China came to an end and we came back to Italy via Paris.