The Quick Tour of China Starts and to an End
Hong Kong Travel Blog› entry 54 of 99 › view all entries
It is said that a visit to Beijing allows you to see 1,000 years of Chinese history and Xian allows you to see the 5,000 years of the history and Shanghai allows you to see the last 100 years of progress. While Xian was the capital of the first united China we were happy to find a lot more English there. We had trouble find a taxi and a young woman who spoke great English helped us get it done and at another time had somebody quickly offer to help us find our way. We were also shocked at some of the pricing on the main shopping street where some of the Chinese branded shirts would cost a few hundred dollars and both Nike and Adidas were more expensive than in the United States. We also saw more Starbucks in a few hours in Xian than we saw in 4 days in Beijing. The mix of the Western restaurants with towers that were hundreds of years old and an ancient city wall made us feel more comfortable even though white people were still an oddity.
After a night walking through the markets and struggling to find a non-western restaurant that had an English menu or a menu with pictures we were ready for a tour of the main sites with a private driver and English sites. While we were told that the cost for everything was 700 Yuan (slightly over $100) we were told at the first site that the admission price for the sites was not included which increased the cost by 25%. While we enjoyed the visits to the old pagoda and the Terracotta Warriors they were not as impressive as hoped, but we had checked the box of seeing one of China’s most important sites.
From Xi’an we headed to the cities of Guilin and Yangshuo to see some of the Chinese countryside. While the natural beauty was great, the crowded streets and crazy bus roads did taint the beauty. The small town of Yangshou has 310,000 people, but seemed to have another 100,000 tourists and this was the only city that we would visit with less than 1 million people. Our bike ride outside the city did allow us to enjoy some peace and quiet of the countryside and the very humid 90+ degree weather and were glad that we saw some of the countryside.
From there we went on to one of the quickly growing cities of China Shanghai and its suburban Huangzhou and Suzhou which both have millions of people. Huangzhou was probably our favorite of the trip even though we still felt like movie stars due to the amount of people who would look to see the two blond hair people walking down the sidewalk. In Shanghai we saw the most westerners and visits to Starbucks became a daily occurrence. While we didn’t have the financial means to enjoy the Shanghai nightlife it appeared that the city had everything and maybe a bit more that New York City or Chicago would have: Malls that seemed to be the size of office building in Cincinnati, a subway system that has grown from 1 line to 9 in 10 years and trendy cafes. Luckily taxi’s and meals could also still be found for a few dollars.
Our final stop on the China tour was Hong Kong. While technically part of China, it is treated as its own country with the normal customs procedure and roads that require that you drive on the left versus the rest of China that drives on the right. We will only spend 24 hours here before heading on to Vietnam and it looks like the main attraction that we will see here are rain clouds. It is actually not a bad break from the scorching sun that we have seen for the last week. In addition, the plentiful supply of English and westerners makes for pleasant change and something that we don’t think we will see for a while.