A Once In A Lifetime Experience
Xiamen – Anxi – Shanghai – Jinghong – Beijing
October 15 – 25, 2015
Reservations Close on August 1, 2015
Booking ref: 3140909
Dates Oct 15, 16, 17, 18, 19
An attractive city recently voted one of China’s cleanest cities, Xiamen in Fujian province was founded in the 14th century and became a significant port during the Ming Dynasty. It also served as a major stronghold against the Manchus when they chose to invade in the 17th century.
Xiamen was the port of trade first used by Europeans in 1541. The city was also one of the five Chinese treaty ports opened by the Treaty of Nanjing (signed in 1842) at the end of the First Opium War between Britain and China. It was also China’s main port in the 19th century for the exportation of tea. As a result, the local Amoy dialect had a major influence on how Chinese terminology was translated into English and other European languages. For example, the following words used in the English language – tea, ketchup, Pekoe, kowtow, gung-ho and possibly even Japan, originated from the Amoy dialect.
Points of interest in Xiamen include Nanputuo Si and Huxiyan temples; the scenic Wanshi Botanical Gardens that boast over 4,000 botanical species including a redwood tree planted by former US president Richard Nixon; the impressive Overseas China Museum and Gulang Yu. The tranquil island of Gulang Yu is a 10 minute boat ride from Xiamen. The island became a European-style town with churches, consulates and capacious villas. In 1903 it was designated an International Settlement for Europeans and Japanese with its own council and Sikh constabulary, retaining the status until the end of WWII.
Dates Oct 20, 21
Just the mere mention of ‘Shanghai’ conjures up mystery, romance and general decadence. Pre–1949 cosmopolitan Shanghai was a magnet for seekers of wealth, idle colonialists, explorers and the dispossessed. The city’s oddities were due to the unusual circumstances of the city’s existence. Written into the Treaty of Nanjing was the notion of extra-territoriality, which translated as foreign nationals not being bound by Chinese law, but rather by the laws of their own consuls. Basically anything went. Until 1949 foreigners dominated commerce, banking and industry, amassing huge fortunes and transforming the landscape of foreign concessionary sections of Shanghai.
Everything went belly up in 1949, when Mao and the communists took to power and swept the good times and rock and roll away. A legacy of these heady times is Shanghai’s Bund where on and around this waterfront promenade are a vast series of grandiose pre-1949 buildings. After four decades of austerity, economic reforms implemented by Deng Xiaoping reawakened Shanghai. Just across the Huangpu River is the new Shanghai, a high-tech development of skyscrapers, the centre piece of which is the rocket-shaped Oriental Pearl TV tower.
Top spots include Yu Gardens and Bazaar-Shanghai’s finest traditional garden, the Bund for colonial grandeur and Nanjing Road for shopping, Shanghai Museum for its mighty collection of relics, Pudong and the Oriental Pearl TV Tower for its stunning views, Jade Buddha Temple and the old French Concession area.
Dates Oct 22, 23
The capital of Xishuangbanna in southern Yunnan, Jinghong, is a popular passing route between China and Laos. A tropical town inhabited by the Dai people who still live in accordance with their ancient traditions. It is a great place for hiking and exploring this very unique environment.
The Mengla Protected Nature Reserve is a rain forest filled with mammoth dipterocarp trees, hamster-sized of mouse deer, the nocturnal loris, tree-swinging gibbons and hornbills. The Flying Dragon White Pagoda, similar to the stupas of Nepal consists of eight 30 foot stone and brick towers arranged in an octagon around a 50 foot central tower. The temple is surrounded by bright colored stripes and a small shrine with a pink Buddha at each corner. The Manjinglan Dai Nationality Village has 179 traditional Dai houses made entirely of bamboo – each with its own fruit tree garden. Here you can be entertained with local food and traditional dancing.
In mid April the Water Splashing Festival is held, a very important part of the Dai calendar. It is when they bid farewell to the old year and welcome the new. Known as the Oriental Carnival, they splash each other with water which brings good luck and great fortune.
Dates Oct 24, 25
Capital of the People’s Republic, Beijing, is China’s political, economic and cultural center. With an awesome history, Beijing was established in 1045 BC and for 800 years served as the capital of several dynasties.
Tiananmen Square, the largest public square in the world and where Chairman Mao proclaimed the People’s Republic in 1949, is the city’s heart. The square plays hosts to Chairman Mao’s great mausoleum, various stoic monuments and is a popular gathering place for people out strolling, flying kites and eating ice creams. Dissecting it from the Forbidden City is Chang’an Avenue, the main centre thoroughfare. Staring out across Tiananmen from above the Gate of Heavenly Peace is the famous Technicolor portrait of Mao. It is through these gates that one can enter the Forbidden City. Built between 1406 and 1420, it served as the imperial palace for the Ming and Qing dynasties and is said to contain 9,999 rooms. Residence of the emperors and focal point of the empire, entry was forbidden to all those except on imperial business until 1911 when the last emperor, Puyi, was overthrown. The 720,000 sq m concoction is dominated by vast gates, temples, halls and palaces replete with imperial yellow tiled roofs and surrounded by a protective moat.
Beyond the city is the Summer Palace. A preserve of the emperors seeking respite from the summer heat, the Summer Palace is set around beautiful Kunming Lake.