The Great Wall of China on a wet spring day.
I recently returned from a three-week trip to China with a significantly better understanding of the country.
I also have more questions than ever before.
This is a good thing. The knowledge I gained and the questions raised creates a foundation on which to layer new reading, film viewing and news reports.
China is a complex country. It has been undergoing huge change in the last few decades. Evidence of this is in the hundreds of construction projects trying to keep up with rapid urbanization, the high-end shops and the market knock-offs, the cars people drive and feverish efforts to move people on public transit…
This amazing three week trip, taken with the support of Overseas Adventure Travel (they offer singles trips with no single supplement and no requirement to share a room), is the beginning of my education on China.
But China is more than the complications that massive growth creates. It is also a country where tradition runs deep. As described in one report I saw, it is not so much a nation state but rather a civilization. And what a civilization! It seems that nothing in China’s history was done on a small scale. From the Great Wall to the Terracotta Warriors and sights in between, everything was huge. These historical sites grabbed my imagination at a very young age and have held it over the decades. Finally, I got to see them first hand.
Here are the photos of three major highlights of China. Next week I’ll write about some of the more unique experiences that I and my fourteen fellow travelers in the group enjoyed. Overseas Adventure Travel took us off the beaten path and that’s where my writing will go next week.
Yes, those steps are as steep as they look!
Inside one of the towers that are naturally arranged on high points to act as lookouts.
The Great Wall of China cannot, as had once been reported, be seen from space. It is, nonetheless extraordinary. It is about 5,500 miles long.
To get a close up look at the Terracotta Warriors go to the Shaanxi Museum in Xian where they have a small display. Of course, you absolutely must also go to the The Museum of Qin Terra-cotta Warriors and Horses as well to get the full sense of this archeological find.
One of the greatest archeological discoveries of the 20th century, the Terracotta Army was discovered by accident by farmers digging a well in 1975.
The Terracotta Army are 6,000 plus life-size figures arranged in vaults at the entrance to the tomb of Qin Shi Huangdi, the first Qin emperor of China and a major architect of The Great Wall. As you can see in this photo, many of the figures were damaged. Archeologists continue to reconstruct the site.
There are thousands more soldiers still buried. Apparently each is painted however, once exposed to oxygen, the paint disintegrates. The archeologists are waiting until they have the technology to preserve the paint before they uncover the rest of the army.
The Panda Sanctuary in Chendu is another huge attraction for tourists (western as well as Chinese).
The pandas in the sanctuary are well protected but the species is under threat for many reasons including habitat eradication (people taking over forests) and poachers. Learn more from the World Wildlife Organization.
A momma and her baby.
There were also Red Pandas at the sanctuary. While the Giant Pandas are cute, these are far more active, playful and fun to watch. I hadn’t heard of them before. Here’s a link to National Geographic information on them.
What a fabulous time! My thanks to Overseas Adventure Travel for making my trip to China possible.