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Suzhou, the city of gardens and the Grand Canal, China

Suzhou, the city of gardens and the Grand Canal, China

Suzhou is situated on Lake Tai in the Lower Yangtze Basin, just 66 km (41 mi) from Shanghai. It has long been one of China’s richest cities. The Grand Canal, which starts in Beijing and is 1,700 km long, greatly influenced its development. The construction of the Canal started  in 5th century BC, so it can be considered ‘ancient history’.   The Grand Canal runs through the centre of town and there is a network of smaller canals … Read entire article »

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The Lingering Garden, Suzhou, China

The Lingering Garden, Suzhou, China

The Lingering Garden is regarded as a masterpiece of classical Chinese garden style and is one of China’s four most famous gardens. The garden was named a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1997. It is said that when you visit the garden you linger between heaven and earth.   Within a space of six acres there are 42 rooms and halls and 700 meters of covered walks connecting them. There is a Small Fairly Isle by a lake that … Read entire article »

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Photo gallery of Master of Nets Garden, Suzhou, China

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The Master of Nets Garden, Suzhou, China

The Master of Nets Garden, Suzhou, China

Who wouldn’t love a garden that has a pavilion named “Moon Comes with Breeze”? Or the “Watching Pines and Appreciating Paintings Studio” where you go to watch evergreen trees during the wintry season. The garden’s oldest and tallest tree is here, a Sabina chinensis that is said to be a survivor from the Southern Song Dynasty (1127-1279); the top of the tree is withered but foliage is growing from branches in the middle of its … Read entire article »

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Photo gallery of Lijiang, China

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Lijiang, China, an ancient town in a dramatic landscape

Lijiang, China, an ancient town in a dramatic landscape

China’s province of Yunnan is one of the world’s must-see destinations. The “mobs” are starting to go there so be sure to stop in if you’re in the neighbourhood. That may not be as difficult as it sounds for the province borders Vietnam, Laos, and Myanmar. To its north is Tibet and it’s from there that a series of high mountain chains branch southeastward across the province in a fan-like fashion. The result is sharp differences in … Read entire article »

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Sailing down the River Li, China

Sailing down the River Li, China

The Lijiang River (often called the River Li) starts in the Cat Mountain in Xing’an County and flows 437 km to the West River. The 83 km between the city of Guilin and the town of Yangshuo is the most scenic section and attracts many domestic and international tourists. Here the river winds “like a blue ribbon” and as you cruise along its curves you pass soaring limestone peaks. These peaks have been eroded into the … Read entire article »

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Photo gallery of Shanghai, China

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The very doable Shanghai, China

The very doable Shanghai, China

It seems to me that just about everyone has heard about the remarkable effort China made in getting Beijing ready for the 2008 Olympics. Well, the country’s efforts for the 2010 World Expo in Shanghai surpassed even that. More countries participated in the Shanghai Expo than ever in the history of the event. This Expo also attracted a record number of visitors. Today Shanghai shines. Shanghai is the largest city in the world with a population … Read entire article »

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Travelling by tuk-tuk in Southeast Asia

Travelling by tuk-tuk in Southeast Asia

I took many, many tuk-tuks in Southeast Asia and they certainly weren’t just for tourists for that’s how most locals get about. There are tuk-tuks propelled by motor and others by cycle . I wasn’t too keen on the latter because the driver was often old and skinny and I’d want to do the peddling instead of him. There are many reasons to go by tuk-tuk. They are inexpensive. They can weave in and out of … Read entire article »

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Photo gallery of Suzhou, China

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The Humble Administrator’s Garden, Suzhou, China

The Humble Administrator’s Garden, Suzhou, China

Suzhou is one of China’s most historical and cultural cities. It also has over 60 well preserved classical gardens, nine of which are listed as world cultural heritages by UNESCO. So Suzhou is a city of gardens and not surprisingly a place that is blessed with both temperate climate and fertile soil. Chinese classical gardens are also called scholar’s gardens for the landscape is inspired by legends and poems.  They usually include small viewing houses, artificial … Read entire article »

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Photo gallery of Yunnan market

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All I can do is “mooooo”! Being lost in a Yunnan market

All I can do is “mooooo”! Being lost in a Yunnan market

From the vault: The guy looked at me a little strangely but didn’t laugh; instead he shook his head and walked on. I will admit that I was acting weirdly for I was mooing, trying to sound like a cow. I could have done the “oink, oink” sound of a pig but thought it wouldn’t be as convincing. It’s easier to be a cow. Besides, there was a picture of a cow on a nearby building … Read entire article »

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Photo gallery of Dali, China

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The splendid diversity of Dali, China

The splendid diversity of Dali, China

There are travellers who dismiss Dali, saying it was once a place treasured by western backpackers but is now too touristy. I say just ignore these naysayers for they know not what they are talking about. If Dali is too tame then all you have to do is travel a few kilometers and you are sure to find a village almost untouched by foreigners. If your aim is to avoid bus loads of domestic tourists, … Read entire article »

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Photo gallery of Yuyuan Garden

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Yuyuan Garden, Shanghai, China

Yuyuan Garden, Shanghai, China

The Yuyuan Garden in Shanghai was my introduction to classical Chinese gardening. The garden is hidden in the Yuyuan Tourist Mart in the old city—a shopping area made up of rows of stores housed in buildings imitating the architecture of the Ming and Qing Dynasty. How could a garden considered to be a classical masterpiece possibly be there? But when I finally found the entrance after much wandering around I discovered  a paradise and the … Read entire article »

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Photo gallery of Beijing

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There’s more to Beijing than the Great Wall

There’s more to Beijing than the Great Wall

Beijing, the capital of the People’s Republic of China, lies in the northeastern part of the country, at the foot of the Yanshan Mountain and not far from the East China Sea. It was my introduction to China, a country reputed as being difficult for independent travellers. The drive in from the airport confirms reports that anything that was derelict was carted away as part of a massive beautification program for the 2008 Olympics. The avenues are … Read entire article »

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