Monday, 16 July 2007

London (UK) by Plane

July 16

Our tour through Hong Kong and Mainland China has come to an end. We have been surprised by the vast space, population and progress that the People of China have shown us.

The Olympic Summer Games in 2008 will inform the whole world what has been established in China by then. Despite the huge energy that China puts into getting more involved in world economy, their product is still very much 'inspired' by inventions and creations from European countries and the US. Copyright and authorship needs to be respected and the Chinese people is invited to bring forward their original ideas for the rest of the world to enjoy.

Thank all of you who have joined us on our voyage by reading and looking at this web log. We wish you well and recommend a tour through this intriguing part of the world and its hospitable people.

Saturday, 14 July 2007

Hangzhou by Plane

July 14 - 15 (click here for this location on the map)

[source: Online]

Hangzhou, the capital of Zhejiang Province, is one of the seven ancient capitals in China. Located on the north bank of Qiantang River, it is a garden-like city famous for its scenic charm.

Marco Polo, who once visited here, praised it as "the finest and most splendid city in the world." There is a famous saying, "Up there is heaven, down here is Su and Hang." Chinese people regard Suzhou (Su) and Hangzhou (Hang) as "the paradise on Earth."

Whenever Hangzhou is referred, West Lake is invariably reminded, which is not too far from the hotel we stay in. It is so named because it is located on the west side of the city. Many men of letters favored its picturesque scenery. In the Song Dynasty, the great poet Su Dongpo wrote a poem about it,

Likened West Lake to Lady Xizi (one of the four ancient beauties),
Charming she looks whether richly made up or only slightly so.

Of the many famous sights, Lingyin Temple (Soul's Retreat Temple) seems to have earned a most resounding fame. The temple, built in 326 by the Indian monk Hui Li, is one of the largest temple complexes in China.

Here are the photo's Willem made at an early rise (5:50am) at the West Lake:

Wednesday, 11 July 2007

Beijing by Plane

July 11 - 14

Just before departure to Beijing, Willem negotiated a low price with one of the many market standowners in Shenzhen for a multimedia player. An imitation (!) iPod, the juiciest gadget of Apple computers.

Click to enlarge: Apple & mini video / photo / music player

A night out in a Japanese Sushi bar, this is what the conveyor belt saw of Aileen and Willem:Sushi

Our visit to the Palace Museum in Beijing:

Click to enlarge: Two kids on the block

Tuesday, 3 July 2007

Shenzhen by Plane

July 4 - 10 (click here for this location on the map)

Before we left for Shenzhen, Willem tested his new camera (skills) by shooting a picture of the hotel lounge cake tray.

Click to enlarge: Cake on a tray [2007 - Willem van Heemstra with Sony Alpha-100 digital SLR camera]

-- Aileen reports --

"Hello Missy. You want manicure? Pedicure? Good price for you."

The shop assistants throughout the Shopping mall in Lou Hu call everyone "Missy" to attract their attention. Fake designer goods - handbags, watches, jewellery, sunglasses - and then you have to negotiate the price.

So when I heard the words "manicure and pedicure", that was it! Willem is a pretty good price negotiator. He claims he gained this experience as a little boy when he had a fun shop! ;o)

He was offered the same treatment (without the nail varnish of course!) but turned it down. Manicurist No 10 (yes, sadly only a number to identify her) was charming and spent at least an hour trimming and polishing my nails. The outcome is beautiful hands.

Fingernails after manicure

Granted at a price far higher than a Chinese person would have paid but much less than it would have cost at home.

[source: from the book 'China welcomes you', Volume 18 Edition June 06-07, Century Publishing Co Ltd]

As the city absorbed much of Hong Kong's manufacturing industry, and then became a Special Economic Zone, it sprawled out into what now is a well-planned settlement of over 4 million people. The sleek skyscraper skyline of the centre in the Luohu and Futian districts, or so-called Middle Area, bustles with shoppers and restaurant go-ers.

Sprawling 'Splendid China', on the edge of Shenzhen Bay, illustrates the glories of China's centuries old culture with miniatures on a scale of 15:1.

[source of underneath information is China Tourist Attractions]

The Terra Cotta Warriors and Horses that are ranked as the eighth wonder of the world are located at Xian City, Shaanxi Province. After the first emperor of China in the Qin Dynasty (A.D.221-206) ascended the throne he ordered more than 700,000 workmen to build him a grand mausoleum. In Splendid China the terracotta figures have been faithfully reproduced and arranged like the originals. The entire assemblage is very grand.

The Great Wall, with a total length of 6,700 kilometers (about 4,163.3 miles) is the world's longest protective wall. It was built in the Qin Dynasty(A.D.221- 206)and repaired time to time during the Ming Dynasty (1368 - 1644). In Splendid China, tourists may see three miniaturized sections of the wall made of scree, white stone and small green bricks respectively. These green bricks were specially made and brought here from Beijing.

The Forbidden City, also called The Imperial Palace, is the largest and best-preserved ancient architectural complex in China. In Splendid China, the miniature encompasses the gorgeous spectacle of Emperor Guangxu's (1875 - 1908) marriage. The Forbidden City has been ornately and beautifully replicated and as with the original the dominant color is yellow, the symbol of the royal family.

The Old Summer Palace, also called Yuan Ming Yuan, was a cultural treasure house of luxurious jewelry, priceless paintings, calligraphy works and rare antiques in the past. But the real Old Summer Palace was reduced into a ruin by the Allied British and French Armies in 1860 and again by the Eight-Powers Allied Army in 1900. The miniature of The Old Summer Palace shows a recreation of the complete and original royal garden. It has been made according to a full and authoritative plan that was found by accident in the Forbidden City in 1990.

Splendid China has many more miniatures of places of historical interest to offer you, such as the Ancient Observatory of Beijing, the Mogao Caves of Dunhuang, Tibet's Potala Palace and so on.

Mt. Huangshan, lying at the Anhui Province, middle part of China, is proud of its rare pines, bizarre rocks, and the sea of clouds as well as hot springs. Standing on the summit, one will see how small the creatures are beneath the mountain. Characteristics of all famous mountains are reflected clearly on Mt. Huangshan.

In the replica of the Li River, you will be surrounded by a pleasant water and mountain garden. This miniature spot gives you a picture of the seemingly relaxed and contented lifestyle along the real Li River, Guilin City, and Guangxi Province. Taking a bamboo skiff on the river, one will see a vast expanse of blue water and peaks.

More miniature spots of natural scenes are also included such as the Huangguoshu Waterfall, Stone Forest, and West Lake and so on.


And here are some of the pictures Willem has taken of 'Splendid China', to practise his camera skills a bit more.

Click to enlarge: Boy in yellow shorts [2007 - Willem van Heemstra]

Click to enlarge: Boardgame [2007 - Willem van Heemstra]

Click to enlarge: Steel Dragon [2007 - Willem van Heemstra]

Click to enlarge: Temple Roof [2007 - Willem van Heemstra]

Click to enlarge: Beer Clouds [2007 - Willem van Heemstra]

Click to enlarge: Vulcano [2007 - Willem van Heemstra]

Click to enlarge: Sweets [2007 - Willem van Heemstra]

Click to enlarge: Cork [2007 - Willem van Heemstra]

Friday, 29 June 2007

YiWu by Plane

June 29 - July 2 (click here for this location on the map)

Having arrived in the commercial centre of the world, that is to say the chances are that your Christmas tree and all ornaments have been produced or at least traded here in YiWu, we found our next dear hostess Jessica at the hotel reception.

Aileen and Jessica

As we discovered that the large discount stores were only a couple of steps away from our hotel, Aileen & Jessica and myself went over to find clothes, shoes (!) and ... magic tricks.

I found a branch office of Mr Tang's Magic Shop (based in Shenzhen, a place we will be visiting later on). The branch manager was very kind, tried his best to set his wallet to fire and had his young assistant speak English with me. This is an example of their brochure text in English... be amazed ;o)

"Make greatest efforts the seashore city- Shenzhen that the magic thing limited company of world locates the beauty, is the subsidiary of whole of the limited company that makes greatest efforts international development Shenzhen, we are local scales biggest, the most whole professional magic development in product. Produce. Sell the base."

I bought a trick called the Magic Mirror. Ahum, I had to buy at least ten of them in fact... a big achievement after opposing to their initial minimum quantity of 307 pieces! Well, I might try to sell them forward to Edinburgh's Magic Circle at our next meeting ;o)

Below I have enclosed a short (!) film of the dinner table in the restaurant which we visited with Aileen's Chinese workmates.Dinner table filmed from the spinning disc on the table, called a 'lazy Susan'

Wednesday, 27 June 2007

Guangzhou by Train

June 27 - 28 (click here for this location on the map)

After a successful ride by train from Hong Kong into mainland China we arrived in Guangzhou to meet the charming Mei.

Aileen and Mei at the hotel in Guangzhou

She and we had dinner in the city centre after a hectic cab drive through the busy streets. The day following Aileen conducted her China first examination in English with international students from Guangzhou's school.

Afterwards we enjoyed the hospitality of the hotel and packed our luggage for the flight departure to YiWu.

Monday, 25 June 2007

Hong Kong by Plane

June 25

Arrived after a considerable delay with British Airwa(it)s, we have met up with Fergus who lives and works as an English teacher in Hong Kong. The first evening we have admired the city light scape at the harbour.

Hong Kong harbour

Fergus has showed us the Island of Hong Kong from high up places such as the Peninsula hotel with the Felix bar on the top floor.

Great views from the Felix bar

Left-to-right: Fergus and Aileen

The day following we have visited the suburban town of Stanley to shop for clothes (such as my knee-zipperable trousers) that will cool us down from the 35 centigrades we are faced with outside. Aileen knows how to cope with the heat due to her years in Seville (Spain). Although it still comes as a shock to the system.

Luckily the dinner at Simply Thai restored our enthusiasm (and batteries) for Asia.

Simply Thai at the 5th floor of the shopping centre above Mong Kok KTR station, next to our Royal Plaza Hotel.

TIP: Curry with seafood served in a coconut

On Tuesday, after yet another delicious breakfast (chop sticked!) we met Maggie, Aileen's lovely Hong Kong examination coordinator who she had met in 2004.

Aileen and Maggie

Maggie took us up a series of walk ways to the Soho district, after which we ate a Vietnamese dish in Lan Kwai Fong: Prawns on a Grapefruit Salad!

Later that evening Willem unwrapped his new toy: a digital photocamera from SONY.

Wednesday we will take a train to Guangzhou (2 hours), our crossing of the Chinese border. A different country all together ;o)

Monday, 28 May 2007

The Big Adventure

On 25 June 2007 we, Aileen & Willem, depart from Edinburgh Airport (Scotland) for the adventurous journey throughout Mainland China...

This web log is an account of that journey.

Travel with us on our search for new friends, new experiences, and new impressions of mankind.