My Trip to China
November, 2006

In flight Map

The Air China 747 real time inflight locater showing
that our 13 hour flight to Beijing is almost over.


I took a Peoples' Republic of China (PRC) sponsored tour of Beijing, Shanghai, Suzhou, Hangzhou and surrounding areas.

The air quality was very bad all over that part of the country with the addition of dust storms in Beijing. The water is not drinkable. The five star hotels even have warnings at the taps telling us not to drink the water. They supply bottled water for brushing teeth.

The air quality will only get worse as the Chinese people are acquiring millions of new cars every year. On the other hand many Chinese commute via electric motor scooters. There is often barrier separated bike lanes in the cities. Many buildings have solar heaters.

The development is amazing. New, tall, modern buildings are going up all over the place. New, wide freeways abound. You can see the logos of many American businesses all around. The Maglev train in Shanghai is the fastest train (267 mph)in the world. The airports are huge and modern.

Capitalism has firmly taken hold. The Air China airplanes have advertising from various companies stuck on the seat backs. Rolex watches sell at four for ten dollars on the street. A pack of cigarettes (Twin Happiness brand) sells for about 80 cents.

The people are very friendly and hospitable. They are quite anxious to talk to Americans and have their pictures taken with us. They do not hesitate to talk politics but they have been clearly indoctrinated by the State philosophy (but not communism). I did not sense resentment or hatred from anyone at any time.

I was strongly impressed by the superstitions of Chinese people. Everything in their lives is governed by attempting to leverage "luck" in their favor. Every number, day, object, place location and orientation, step ... everything has a good luck and bad luck symbolism.

Capitalism (China brand) is clearly entrenched and there to stay. The clearly have no in interest having someone Nuc their progress back to the stone age

China is rising and rising fast!


Note: Clicking on the links will open a picture album in a new window. When done viewing the album, close the window.

Fresh Water Hairy Leg Crabs. These particular crabs are only available during a couple of weeks in November in the Shanghai area. We were lucky enough to be there at the right time.

Beijing Street Scenes. Various pictures on the streets of Beijing.

Curiosities. These are pictures of things I found to be curious and different in China.

Dinner at a family home.We were divided into small groups and sent to the homes of various families for dinner. They transported us there via bicycle Rickshaw. The home had been remodeled and was quite beautiful. The dinner was excellent.

Electric Bikes and Scooters. Many people commute on bikes. Many of these are motorized electric bikes. Gas driven scooters were very rare. Most city streets have nice wide bike lanes which are often separated from he main road by a barrier.

Forbidden City. The Forbidden city was the home of 24 Chinese Emperors. The site is many acres large and contain 9999 1/2 room. It is called the Forbidden City because only the Emperor, his family and retainers were allowed inside the city. The infamous Tienanmen square is just outside the walls of the Forbidden City.

Fresh Water Pearls. We were taken to a fresh water pearl factory. These pearls are cultured in large fresh water oysters. Every oyster will yield as many as thirty pearls of various sizes. After the brief tour we were given the opportunity to buy various pearl products (for which our tour operators get a kickback).

The Great Wall. This is the famous 7000 mile great wall.

Various Five Star Hotels. These are some of the hotels we stayed at. The pictures include views from the windows. One picture is of a sunrise in the polluted air of Beijing. The promised the hotels would be five star and indeed they were - even the Howard Johnson's Hotel.

Ming Tombs. Thirteen of the sixteen Ming Dynasty emperors are buried here. One of the tombs is fully excavated and open for exploration. The PRC is waiting to open other tombs until they have the technology to properly protect the ancient contents.

Jade Factory. We were taken to Jade Factory and once again given the opportunity to spend our money and fatten the wallet of our tour operators.

Lingering Garden. This is one of four classical gardens in China. The garden was once the home of rich person. He "gave" the garden to the State during the Cultural Revolution and did just about everyone that owned anything in China at the time.

Silk Factory. Most of the world's quality silk come from the Chinese city of Suzhou. Nearly every home with a small plot of land has Mulberry Trees which the silk worms eat. Most of the children of Suzhou learn to care for the silk worms and harvest the cocoons. After seeing the silk pulled from the cocoons and spun into silk thread, we were given the opportunity to spend more money.

Silk Rug Factory. This is another silk product factory in the Suzhou area. I was quite impressed by the quantity of hand work required to produce these rugs. Some of the women making these rugs will spend six or more years on a single carpet.

Shanghai Street Scenes. The pictures were taken at various locations around the City of Shanghai. This city is filled with beautiful new sky scrappers of impressive design.

The canals of Suzhou. Suzhou has been called the Venice of China. The town is filled with canals upon which many boasts, small and large, roam. We rode one of these boats to an old shopping district.

Dragon Well Tea Factory. This tea factory is located in the country side near the city of Hangzhou. We learned how Green tea is manufactured and prepared. After the tour we were given the opportunity to buy cartoons of loose tea and around $50 a box.

Tiger Hill Temple. Tiger hill is crowned with a 1000 year old Buddhist pagoda. Not only is this pagoda old, but it, like that tower in Piza, Italy is leaning. We were assured that the People's government had the lean totally under control.

West Lake Cruise. We took a cruise on West Lake in Hangzhou. I took some pictures. There was nothing to buy here.

Yuyuan Garden. This is another one of those private homes given to the State by it's generous owner. Nice place.

The People of the Tour Group. Me and my tour group companions.