To many China is a populous nation long closed to the outside world, with a distinct and somewhat alien culture. Most certainly the vast population is there, but China is re-inventing itself and becoming a very much part of the 21st century. Yet whilst the future is very much in the hands of the Chinese people, they have not forgotten their past, on which a great nation has been built….more
Beijing and Shanghai are a cacophony of sound, from the blaring of car horns to the ringing of bicycle bells. To Western visitors the roads seem lawless, but traffic does more and accidents are area. All over high-rise buildings and shopping malls appear to be going up overnight to create and ever changing a dramatic skyline.
Modern China may be concealing ancient China, but it is still there and you don’t have to look far to find it. Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City remain in the heart of Beijing and the Temple of Heaven and the Lama Temple remain havens of tranquillity.
Shanghai has always attracted adventurers and racketeers throughout its history, and now the modern equivalent are being drawn to this fast-moving city in the form of financiers and entrepreneurs. The urban landscape changes daily, overshadowing the classic architecture of the colonial buildings on the Bund, and the narrow lanes in the Chinese city.
Whilst Beijing and Shanghai are fascinating cities on the move, you only have to travel to Suzhou to be able to retreat from the modern world. Cool tree-lined streets and narrow canals flanked by whitewashed houses and intimate gardens that take you back to the China of yesteryear.
Travel further west and you come to a city that positively brimming with history- Xian, the ancient capital of China that has seen the rise and fall of many Chinese dynasties. This modest walled and moated city has revealed some of the greatest treasures to be found in recent times – the Terracotta Army.
China is a world within a world, where rapid modernisation, fascinating traditions and a long history, exist side by side.
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