topblog Ivoire blogs

02/07/2013

What things to do in Chongqing II

6. Yangzi River Cable Car

There are actually two cable car rides in Chongqing (where you can start your Yangtze River cruises ) that cross both rivers - the Jialing and the Yangzi. I took the Yangzi River Cable Car as I wanted to see the river from high up but what you also see are the rather unpleasant apartment blocks which are just horrid. This particular crossing was the first in the city and has a length of 1166 meters.

7. Arhat Temple

This temple, known, also, as Luohan Si, was built during the Ming dynasty and is famed for its hall crowded with luohan (those freed from the cycle of rebirth). The Indian Buddhist pantheon has just 18 luohan, but the Chinese have added hundreds of their own, including Buddhist figures, folk heroes and even Taoists. The hall has 524 life-sized statues; some sit serenely, while others have grotesque faces.

Open: 8am-5pm. Admission: 10 RMB (unit for China money).

8. People' s Liberation Monument

Jiefangbe, or the People' s Liberation Monument, formerly known as the Monument of Victory in the War of Resistance, a 27.5 meter high structure, was renamed and had its new name inscribed by Liu Bocheng on October 1st, 1950. This drab clock tower is to celebrate the Communists' liberation of the city from seventy years of colonial and right-wing occupation.

9. Great Hall of the People

In 1951, under the leadership of Marshal He Long, an auditorium was to be built at Chongqing to accommodate domestic and overseas guests. Completed in 1954, it was named the Chongqing People's Assembly Hall in 1955.

The hall complex is a cluster of attached structures which contain the hall and three attached buildings respectively to the east, south and north. Collectively, they cover 66,000 square meters (about 16.3 acres) of which the hall accounts for 18,500 square meters (about 45.7 acres). The hall is 65 meters high (about 213 feet) and has a capacity of more than 4,000 seats.

10. Three Gorges Museum - Bayu

Bayu, located in China's south-west corner, has been largely separated from the outside world since ancient times. It boasts some of the most ancient human art relics. Exhibits include animal bones, pottery, bone tools and instruments, bronzes, weaponry and musical instruments.

11. Chaotianmen Markets

If you have the time and the inclination a trip to the wholesale markets of Chaotianmen are a must for your last minute China travel deals- a rabbit warren of steps, passage ways and outlets tumbling down the river cliffs in series of steep steps - just off the city centre - only 10-15 minutes walk away - prices are very cheap but you may need to buy 100 of the item to get the deal! At the bottom cross over to the urban planning exhibition below Chaotianmen Square to see the most amazing planning models of Chongqing and surrounding areas - don't be put off by the term 'planning models' this is a truly remarkable exhibition which will leave you a little awestruck at the scale of what is happening in this city!

Look out for the art gallery on the bottom levels and there's a good little cafe in there too - from there you can access the terrace and see across to the site where they are developing the Chongqing Opera House - an amazing design which it is hoped will rival Sydney for position and grandeur. Here too is the famous meeting of the Yangtze and Jialing rivers. At night catch one of the riverboat trips to see the lights and buildings of Chongqing - you may have to pre-book through an agent. They leave from the spaces below the terrace.

For more via China tour agents.

10:33 Publié dans Voyage | Lien permanent | Commentaires (0)

What things to do in Chongqing I

Before your Yangtze River cruise, you can consider the following things to do in Chongqing

1. Boarding the Yangzte River Boat

After an afternoon visiting Chongqing it was time to board the boat for the Yangtze River cruise. The river was a long way down from the street level and you had to go down a lot of stairs along a steep wall. There I found that the boat is moored along way out in the river which was shallow at this time of year (April) and was approached over a series of decks joined by floating pontoons - just like a Bailey Bridge.

There were porters everywhere and the going rate was 10 CNY (unit for Chinese currency) per bag. They slung the bags onto a pole which they then hoisted onto their shoulder and off they went. I had trouble keeping up with them. Nearly all of the stores for the voyage were brought aboard the same way.

On the main pontoon there was a brass band playing to welcome you aboard.

Then you had to find your boat - not as easy as you would think. They moore side by side sometimes 3 deep and you had to go through one or two other boats to get to yours. The same system used by the Nile boats in Egypt.

2. Eling Park

Eling Park is the earliest private garden to be built in Chongqing. It is built on a high piece of land between the Yangtze and Jialing Rivers and is known for its superb views over the city.

Also known as 'Courteous Park' it was built as a private garden in 1909 and was originally the home of a wealthy merchant. It became the home of Chiang Kai-shek during the war against Japan and several embassies were built there. In 1958 it became a public park and was named Eling or 'Goose Neck' Park because of its narrow shape.

The park has many species of plants and small landscapes and has a beautiful stone bridge with intricately carved railings in the shape of rope. The lake is stocked with fish and is a popular place with the local people.

3. Flying Tiger Museum

The 'Flying Tigers' is the name given to the 1st American Volunteer Group who work with the Chinese Airforce during World War Two.

Major Claire Chennault, an American from Louisianna, was hired by Chiang Kai-shek as one of a group of instructors and advisors for the Chinese Air Force. He was serving in China when the Japanese invaded China in 1937 reaulting the the move of the capital to Chongqing. The Flying Tigers are famous for keeping open the 'Hump Route' - the route over the Himalayas from India and Burma used to transport supplies into the otherwise blockaded China.

The museum in Chongqing, although not well publicised is very interesting with many photographs and artefacts of the time. A museum attendant gives visitors an informative talk on the Flying Tigers for China tour deals.

The museum is still raising funds and shares the building with an art gallery. There is also a Chinese artisan of watercolour painting on rice paper who sells his art to help the museum.

4. Dazu Rock Carvings

The Dazu Rock Carvings can be found at any of 75 protected sites located in the steep hillsides of Dazu County (Chongqing Municipality). They are a series of religious statues and carvings showing aspects of Buddhism, Taoism and Confucianism and can be dated back as far as 7th century AD. The best examples are found at Mount Baoding and Mount Beishan.

The carvings were made over a period of time, some as early as 650 AD but were mostly created starting in the late 9th century at Mount Beishan. The elaborate work at Mount Baoding was a life work of the monk Zhao Zhifeng during the 12th century. He dedicted 70 years of his life to the work.

It was only in 1961 that the carvings were opened to the Chinese public and a muddy track kept them reasonably unknown until 1975. This helped keep them safe during the Cultural Revolution when anti-religious vandalism was rife. In 1980 the carving were opened to foreign visitors. The carvings were listed as a World Heritage Site in 1999.

Our local guide Albert had great knowledge of the area at Mount Baoding and explained a lot about the concepts and of, and differences between Buddhism, Taoism and Confucianism. One of the features of this site is the 'Reclining Buddha' or 'Buddha Entering Nirvana' Dazu Rock Carvings is a top spot for top China tours.

5. Shopping in Chongqing

1> Jiefangbei --- the central business district and the center of economic development of Chongqing

The Jiefangbei commercial Pedestrian Street centers this well-known shopping area. Clusters of modern shopping malls and exclusive shops line the roadsides. Banks, theatres, KTV clubs, bookstores, hotels, bars and pubs are also quite easy to find. Some of the main buildings worth seeing include Chongqing Department Store, New Century Department Store, Commercial Mansion, Friendship Shopping Center, Carrefour Supermarket and New Oriental Women Plaza.

2> Chaotianmen Market -- the biggest market in Chongqing

Located on East Jiefang Road, Chaotianmen Market is dealing primarily in Garment wholesale and is reported that goods traded in the market come from or are sold to more than 200 counties in Sichuan, Hubei and Hunan provinces. Shoppers can expect to find stylish clothes and very reasonable prices. Still, bargaining with the vendors in most stalls and shops will ensure a great deal.

10:29 Publié dans Voyage | Lien permanent | Commentaires (0)

01/07/2013

Tibet General Travel Guide

Hidden high on the roof of the world, Tibet is a land of golden monasteries, spectacular mountain scenery and a deep spiritual heritage that lives as much in our imagination as it does in the remote Himalaya.

Many travellers will be drawn to Tibet by the spectacular Buddhist temples, stunning high-altitude scenery or huge blue salt lakes. Epic journeys beckon everywhere, from the world's highest railway trip to the classic overland drive across the Himalayas to Kathmandu in Nepal. A recurring highlight wherever you go is the Tibetan people, always quick with a smile, from visiting bands of pilgrims to nomads in their yak-hair tents.

Once the very definition of remote, arduous and forbidden travel, Tibet is now surprisingly well connected by road, plane and even rail links. Massive change is reshaping the politically troubled plateau and complicated travel restrictions make independent travel tricky, so check current regulations and the political situation before planning a trip included in your affordable China travel packages.

Tibet things to see and do

Changtang

Home to herds of wild ass, dramatic grasslands and turquoise salt lakes, Tibet's remotest, emptiest and most beautiful corner is its northwestern wilderness. Unless you are mounting a full-on expedition, the best way is to pass through along the northern route to Mt Kailash, preferably camping at the lovely lakes en route.

Everest Base Camp

Don't tell the Nepalese, but the views of Everest from the northern Tibetan side are much more dramatic than from its southern neighbour. Bed down at Base Camp, visit Tibet's highest monastery or just stare at the North Face of the world's highest peak. Adventurers can trek in from Tingri or Kharta.

Ganden Monastery

The spectacularly situated monastery at Ganden offers perhaps the best day trip from Lhasa. Almost completely destroyed in the 1950s the complex has been largely restored, though political tensions remain. A lovely kora (pilgrim circuit) that offers incredible views only adds to the site's charm.

Guge Kingdom

Amateur archaeologists will feel their pulse quicken at this forgotten centre of Buddhist culture hidden in Tibet's remote far west. Underground staircases and tunnels link halls of spectacular Kashmiri-influenced Buddhist art, while the surrounding hillsides of cave complexes and crumbling ruins offer some genuine exploration.

Gyantse Kumbum

This unique eight-storied stupa is one of Tibet's architectural masterpieces. Paths wind around and up through the stupa, passing dozens of niches filled with impressive Buddhist art and iconography. Views from the roof look towards Gyantse fort, taken by the British army under Younghusband in 1904.

Jokhang Temple, Lhasa

The sacred Jokhang complex is Tibet's spiritual heart and famous attraction for China best tours. Join the awed Tibetan pilgrims as they spin prayer wheels and shuffle silently around medieval chapels thick with the smell of yak butter and juniper incense.

Mount Kailash

Sacred to over a billion people, iconic Mt Kailash is perhaps Asia's most enigmatic mountain, drawing pilgrims from across the world on a rugged but stunning overland trip to Tibet's far west. Join pilgrims on the three or four day trek around the mountain before relaxing on the spectacular shores of Lake Manasarovar.

Nam-tso

One of Tibet's most spectacular natural sights, this huge salt lake sits like a chunk of turquoise beneath a line of snow-capped 7000m peaks. Dotted with black yak-hair nomads' tents and pilgrim paths it's a great opportunity to taste the rugged beauty of wild northern Tibet.

Sakya Monastery

An easy detour off the Friendship Highway leads to this towering, brooding 13th-century monastery. Politically important for centuries, the monastery still contains towering Buddhist statues, a deeply atmospheric main prayer hall and plenty of surrounding chapels to explore.

Samye Monastery

Situated between the mountains and the sandy banks of the Yarlung Tsangpo river, the uniquely circular walls of Tibet's oldest monastery enjoy one of the loveliest locations in Tibet. The fact that Samye lies at the end point of Tibet's most popular trek (four days from Ganden) just adds to the magic.

Sera and Drepung Monasteries, Lhasa

Tibet's two largest monasteries are almost miniature towns in themselves, complete with colleges, prayer halls, kitchens and debating halls. Don't miss the debating monks of Sera or the pilgrim circuit at Drepung.

Sichuan-Tibet Highway

The remote mountain roads through the Kham region of eastern Tibet are some of the world's wildest and most beautiful. The overland trip takes you through another Tibet; of forested alpine valleys and lush meadows, deep canyons and rich biodiversity. Neither easy nor cheap, this is a once-in-a-lifetime adventure.

Take a trip along Friendship Highway

The ancient 870km (541 miles) trade route between Lhasa and Kathmandu ranks as one of the world's great road trips included in your popular China travel package . The rollercoaster ride takes you over prayer-flag-strewn high passes and past huge lakes before dropping into the spicy lushness of the Indian subcontinent. Take a week and savour the many monastery sights en route.

Tashilhunpo Monastery, Shigatse

Shigatse has long been political and religious rival to Lhasa, so it's not surprising that the seat of Tibet's number two religious leader, the Panchen Lama, is a monastic town of huge golden stupas and a colourful annual ceremony that sees the hanging of a huge thangka (religious painting).

Visit Potala Palace, Lhasa

The breathtaking former abode of the Dalai Lamas towers like a fortress above Lhasa, while the labyrinthine monastery-like interior below houses some of Tibet's great treasures. Crowds can be thick so you need to book in advance a time to visit.

You can get more via China travel agents.

09:44 Publié dans Voyage | Lien permanent | Commentaires (0)