I just spent five days in China, Earth’s most populous country just ahead of India. Combined, they represent one third of mankind! Yes, five days. It is not much indeed, as China represents the third largest country in surface as well. Still, I did a lot and saw plenty, making these five days permanent memories!
The first day was spent in 2005 on my way back from Australia to Europe. A 24 hours’ stopover in Hong Kong, formally known as Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China. Worth the stopover, as I witnessed the most impressive cityscape I have seen so far: Hong Kong island from Kowloon peninsula. Impressive by day, amazingly impressive by night! All those colourful lights on the skyscrapers, some of them in motion (the lights, not the skyscrapers), what a light show, making you feel like in a sci-fi movie!
The four other days were spent in September 2008 in Beijing. Not enough to properly discover that tiny 20-million-inhabitants’ giant. I nevertheless managed to escape the city unusually blue sky – some factories were having an Olympic break – for a day trip to the greatest wall of them all, the Great Wall of China!
That wall-day-walk took place in Badaling, a short bus ride from Beijing city centre. Absolutely worth the short ride to get a good feeling of the giant stone snake of the forest. That is how it looks like. As often, it is enough to walk a few minutes to escape the crowd and get that amazing feeling to be one with nature, even on what is possibly the biggest man-made built achievement.
Back to Beijing, I did a short visit to the Olympic centre to witness the famous stadium. It was tricky to get there with the metro as the stops were written only in Chinese. I managed to stop not too far from the stadium, though. Then to the Forbidden City, accessed via Tiananmen Square, one of the most notorious square in the world with the Red Square. One of the places where you can feel the waves of history under your feet. Luckily, it is allowed to enter the Forbidden City. It would be a shame if it were not. Huge it is. A huge architectural gem. You can spend hours just walking around, admiring the subtleties of the roofs, the walls, the gorgeous and flamboyant painted dragons, etc. And that is just the outside part. You can learn a lot inside the buildings. No need to enter them all, there are almost 1 000 of them! A week could easily be spent inside the Forbidden City if you are an amateur of Chinese history or carpentry. You would need good shoes! One day was enough for me as I did not have many days anyway. Another day was spent at the not-less-famous Temple of Heaven. The same amazingly superb architecture and a large number of gorgeous dragons. The colours are different. Red and yellow dominate the Forbidden City. Blue (for Heaven) and green (for Earth) dominate the Temple of Heaven. Another heaven for architecture, history and carpentry lovers.
Last experience worth to mention: tea tasting. Even if tea is not your cup of tea, go for it! You may find out a special tea that fits your taste! Considering how abundant they are, you will find one! What you will for sure find out is that drinking tea is not just drinking tea. It is an art. From the temperature of the water to the kind of recipient, nothing is random in the process. You can smell the centuries of experience.
No need to say there is a huge potential of places and sights left to discover in China for me! But why did I go for five days only? Because I was on my way to join a group of fellow travellers heading to Saint-Petersburg, a short 8 500 km train ride from Beijing!
Do not hesitate to share your Chinese memories below, as a comment…