This is a synopsis of of our 14 day tour of China from May 21 to June 3, 2010. This tour visited Beijing, the Pandas, the Forbidden City, the Great Wall, the Temple of Heaven, Xi’an, the Terracota Warriors, and the Big Wild Goose Pagoda. We also toured the Yangtze river and the Three Gorges, flew into Shanghai, and we briefly saw Expo.
21 May (Fri) – Calgary to Beijing
This was a travel day. Calgary to Vancouver to Tokyo (Narita) to Beijing. We began our trip early in the morning of May 21 and didn’t arrive in Beijing until late in the evening of May 22 as the filght crossed the international date line and we lost a day.
23 May (Sun) – Beijing
In the morning we visited the Panda bears in the Beijing zoo. Following this we went to visit the Summer Palace. In the afternoon we went to see Tiananmen Square and then saw the Forbidden City. I think there was much more to see in both the Forbidden City and the Summer Palace than we actually had time to view.
24 May (Mon) – Beijing
This moring we went to the Great Wall, about an hour and a half drive outside of Beijing. After lunch we toured the Ming Dynasty Imperial Tomb. At the end of the day we visited a Jade Factory where we had an opportunity to see how jade was carved and purchase some goods.
25 May (Tues) – Beijing
In the morning we visited the Temple of Heaven where the Emperor went to pray for a good harvest. In the afternoon we toured the Beijing City Planning Museum and then toured an old Beijing section of hutongs to see how people once lived near the Forbidden City.
26 May (Wed) – Beijing – Xian
In the morning we flew to Xi’an. Xi’an is the old capital of China. It was the largest city in the world at about one million people around 1600 AD. After arriving we visited the Big Wild Goose Pagoda and in the afternoon toured the provincial museum of the history of China. The Big Wild Goose Pagoda is a currently operating Buddhist religious center, originally built in the Tang dynasty (650 AD), and is where the Buddhist scriptures from India were first translated to Chinese.
27 May (Thu) – Xian
The next day we toured the Terracotta Warriors and Bronze Chariot and then visited a Ceramics and Pottery center where I took more pictures of art rather than ceramics. The Terracotta Warriors are baked clay pottery and are all smashed and broken. After excavation they need to be put together like a jigsaw puzzle. After dinner we saw a Tang Dynasty show.
28 May (Fri) – Xian – Chongqing
In the morning we flew to Chongqing. Chongquing has about 20 million people, just like the current population of Xi’an and Beijing. In the afternoon we toured the Yangtze River Museum which described the changes to the Yangtze river as a result of the Three Gorges Dam. We also looked at the Second World War Memorials to the Flying Tigers and US General Stillwell. After dinner we boarded the MV Paradise cruise ship for our trip down the Yangtze river, which departed near midnight.
29 May (Sat) – Yangtze River
Our first shore excursion was to Fengdu, the city of ghosts. This is the only city in China where a temple to the underworld exists. The dead, or ghosts, must take three tests to enter the netherworld. The first is crossing a bridge using the correct protocol. The second is to pass the great torturing where 18 demons judge you. The third is to balance on a large stone on one foot for a short period of time.
30 May (Sat) – Yangtze River
On this day we travelled through two of the Three Gorges, the Qutang Gorge and Wu Gorge. The gorges have spectacular scenery and mountains that rise to about 1000 meters. Our second shore excursion was to Shennong Stream where we some of the history of the local people. By 11:00 PM at night we reached the Three Gorges Dam and waited to enter the locks.
31 May (Sun) – Yichang – Shanghai
We went through the locks while asleep, and in the morning we went ashore to view the Three Gorges Dam. It was quite foggy this day and difficult to take pictures. Later, after sailing through the last gorge, we disembarked at Yichang for a dinner flight to Shanghai.
1 Jun (Mon) – Shanghai
In the morning we drove through some of Shanghai and visited the Yu Gardens, a private garden for the wealthy people in Shanghai during the Qing dynasty. Later in the afternoon we viewed the Shanghai harbour and saw impressive buildings, including the financial center built in the 1920’s. At night we saw a Shanghai acrobatics show, but no pictures were allowed.
2 Jun (Tue) – Shanghai
This day didn’t start until 10:00 AM as we were scheduled to spend our time at Expo (Shanghai). We were on the Expo grounds by noon but didn’t stay long as it was busy and crowded. Instead, we took a taxi and left Expo and spent the afternoon shopping at a jade and silk factory.
3 Jun (Wed) – Shanghai – Calgary
This was a travel day. Shanghai to Tokyo (Narita) to Vancouver to Calgary. We were almost 24 hours in transit, yet the elapsed time was only about 8 hours as we crossed the international date line and gained a day.