Guest travellers Rick Watson and Gail King share memories from their first visit to China on a trip organised by Trip a Deal. While it wasn’t on their bucket list, these New Zealanders are pleased they got the chance to visit and were pleasantly surprised by the experience.
After visiting a jade factory to see the wonderful jewellery and statues being made, we drove to the Great Wall of China. Nothing can prepare you for the emotions and grandeur. However, be prepared for a lot of stairs! We decided to go up to Fortress 8 and were not disappointed with the experience and view. We had lunch with a local family in a Hutong, which is a village within the city of alleyways. The house was small but very homely and cosy and the family were very welcoming. The food was divine, the saké and beer flowed freely, and the laughter and conversation abundant. We then did something I never imagined in my wildest dreams; Tai chi in a village courtyard in China!
We started the day at the Bund in the Shanghai business district where you can take in the wonderful vista overlooking the harbour across to downtown Shanghai. Most of the banks are located here in opulent buildings. We also explored the Peace Hotel, built between 1926 and 1929, which features magnificent art deco design. After exploring the area, we headed to the French Quarter for lunch. While in Shanghai, we also visited the Shanghai Museum and were totally blown away by the historic pieces on display, from coins to pottery, paintings to furniture dating back to 6500BC and displayed magnificently; well worth the visit. And 88 floors up at Jin Mao tower we took in the breathtaking view of Shanghai.
Our day started with a tranquil cruise in a junk around the willow-draped banks of West Lake. It averages only 1.5 metres deep and is another UNESCO world heritage site. Afterward we drove to a tea house in Meijiawu in Hangzhou, the tea capital of China. Here we learnt about the health benefits of Longjing green tea and how to prepare and drink it. It is a beautiful village with about 1500 tea growers. Their average age is 85 and the only way to live here is to marry a local! A very interesting place.