By Carol Hillman
was very fortunate to be able to travel in China for 17 days in October/November
2003. I had studied Chinese politics and history at university some 20+ years
ago and it was the realisation of a long held dream to be able to travel there
and see the country for myself.
My Travel Indochina brochure
describes China as:
country like no other—the scale, the grandeur, the history, the
mystery, the people and their ever increasing importance in world affairs—all
offer the most wonderful and challenging experience for the traveller."
The highlights for me were:
- Seeing a glimpse of the old China in the
hutongs (traditional laneways) and courtyard homes (once housing one family
and now several) around the old Drum and Bell towers in Beijing and the
people who live there socialising in the communal square.
- The fantastically amazing Terracotta
Warriors at Xi’an.
- My early morning Tai Chi lessons on the
Yangtze Pearl as we glided down the river past the old villages and cities
soon to be submerged and the enormous and uniformly unattractive new cities
built in their place much further up the hills and mountains.
- Glimpsing ancient and exotic temples and
pagodas on distant mountaintops.
- Listening to Elly, our Tujia (an ethnic
minority) guide on our Shenlong stream excursion, singing a traditional song
in a beautiful, clear voice.
- An early morning stroll along the Li river
in Guilin to watch the many, many groups and some individuals practicing
their Tai Chi (and how inadequate did I feel?) ballroom dancing or modern
dance, or general physical jerks.
- The magnificent Shanghai Museum and the
fantastic architecture in this very modern and pushy city.
- Canal cruising through the charming old
water city of Szuhou.
Old and new—China—overwhelming!
When I got home (exhausted), I vowed that I would not return to China. Despite
the amazing places, sights and experiences I had been to, seen and had, at times
I found the cultural differences and understandings about personal space,
privacy and hygiene somewhat confronting and certainly challenging. However
every time I look at my photos I relent a little. Perhaps when my Tai Chi has
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