Monday, March 25, 2013

Spring in China

Under the peach blossoms
We love exploring places inside of Shanghai, and outside of Shanghai.  Hangzhou is a beautiful destination 45 minutes on the speed train, (190 miles per hour!) southwest of Shanghai. The cost is about $12 per person per way. Shanghai's train system is incredible:  fast and cheap.

We left on a Friday evening and returned on Sunday night.  This weekend trip was well worth it.

 Hanghzhou has its roots in the Qin dynasty (221 BC).  In the 13th century, Marco Polo passed through, and described this city  as "one of the finest and most splendid cities in the world."

Biking across the lake on the Causeway
Moon gate in the Jingci Temple
Hangzhou is a big city of 6 million people, and the main tourist destination is its West Lake.(Xi Hu)  Miles of walking trails, around the lake and across the lake (causeways) abound.  Bike and boat riding are also very popular.
Sorry, Kaz, no kayaks!

Always dancing....

We enjoyed leaving 23 million people in Shanghai and finding room to breathe (clean air!) and relax.  When we have visitors in Shanghai, we'll be sure and take you to Hangzhou.

Weeping Willows line the canals
Classical Chinese beauty

Even in the rain, it's lovely
Jingci Temple, originally built in 954 AD

Better than fireworks!
Nightly water shows on lake
Next Up:  Cherry Blossoms in Japan, April 4-11
Have a Blessed Easter,
Ken and Jeanie

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Hong Kong

 After being under British rule, Hong Kong was returned to China in 1997 under one condition:  keep its free market economy and its social and legal systems for 50 years. One country, two systems. 
Jeanie and Ken enjoy the warm 70 degree weather in February.   Sept-Feb best time to travel to Hong Kong.
Hong Kong during Chinese New Year:
colorful, and crowded
Lobby of Mandarin Oriental Hotel

Most Chinese Hong-Kongers speak Cantonese, but more and more can understand Mandarin.  English is also widely spoken.
British influence:  high tea at the Peninsula  Hotel
Hiked up to top of Victoria Peak, stunning views
Neon lights by night
Victoria Harbor

After exploring Hong Kong by foot, boat, and tram, we took the turbo jet on a 1 hour ride to Maccau Island.  Some call it the Vegas of the East because of its many gambling resorts. We went to explore its wonderful Portuguese influence. We spent the day on an island where east truly meets west.

Beautiful European squares with a touch
of Chinese New Year

Chinese lanterns hanging above cobblestone streets
A-Ma Temple

17th century baroque church

Ruins of St. Paul Church
Gargoyles are Chinese lions
In the middle of the city, crowds make their way to one of the greatest monuments of Christianity in Asia. The Church of St. Paul:  designed by an Italian Jesuit and built by Japanese Christian exiles in 1602.  Everything was destroyed by a fire in 1835 except this fascinating facade.  East truly meets West.