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09/06/2013

Hub of history of China

Zhengzhou offers peek into origins of Chinese civilization amid modern development

Shaolin Temple is a mecca for the countless number of Chinese martial arts fans across the globe weaned on popular action movies and also attracts many tourists for China tour deals. But not many know that Zhengzhou, the capital of Henan province where Shaolin is located, offers much more as the hub of a historically and culturally rich area in Central China.

The ancient city was already the capital of the Shang Dynasty (c. 16th century-11th century BC) when porcelain and the Chinese technique of bronze smelting were available.

Zhengzhou is now an economic center and transport hub, with major investments in the agricultural, manufacturing and mining sectors.

But travelers will also find that the city remains a treasure trove of Chinese history and culture, making it a rewarding stop for even short-term visitors.

1. Shaolin Temple

Shaolin Temple was built in AD 495 when an Indian monk Damo, also known as Bodhidharma, arrived to spread Buddhism in China.

The temple has more than 200 towers dating back seven dynasties from the Tang (AD 618-907) to the Qing (1644-1911) dynasties, with one "modern" tower from AD 689 to 1820.

The monastery is considered an ideal spot for a comprehensive study of the history of Chinese architecture, sculpture and religious art to color your popular China tours.

Fans of Chinese martial arts should catch a 30-minute kung fu show offered daily. Shaolin kung fu is considered the largest system in Han Chinese martial arts, with more than 700 actions and moves. Practitioners believe the essence of the art form reflects the unity between Zen and martial arts. Shaolin monks also practice kung fu as a form of meditation.

2. Songyang Shuyuan

This is one of the four great academies of ancient China built in the Northern Wei Dynasty (AD 386-534).

A 12-sided pagoda in the compound was built in AD 520. Many famous Chinese thinkers lectured in this academy, while emperors also made it an important stop in their inspection tours and sacrificial rites to heaven.

The academy's building is divided into five courtyards and the precise layout of the structures also reflects Confucian thought.

3. Henan Museum

This is one of China's oldest museums. As a major repository of Chinese relics, it boasts modern displays and exhibitions housed in unique architecture.

Henan province, located in the middle reaches of the Yellow River, was called Zhongzhou, or central region, in ancient times. It was an important area in early Chinese civilization.

The museum's exhibits are mostly related to the ancient history and culture of the Henan region, including historical artifacts, buildings, major archaeological discoveries and the arts and crafts of the early Chinese settlers.

4. Yellow River scenic area

This scenic spot is located 30 kilometers northwest of Zhengzhou. It is bounded by the surging Yellow River in the north and Yueshan Mountain in the south, which together help offer some of the most breathtaking views in the region. The scenic area is an optional for top China tours.

Eating and drinking

Zhengzhou cuisine centers on carp and chicken.

There are three famous ways to cook a local carp from the Yellow River: the fish is cut into three pieces, one fillet being fried and one cooked with sweet and sour sauce. The fish head and tail is boiled together with radish slices to make a delicious and nutritious soup.

Famous local dishes also include traditional pastries and translucent noodles.

The best food in town is available from the dense concentration of eating and drinking spots on Jinshui Road.

For more, you can contact with China tour operator.

09:21 Publié dans Voyage | Lien permanent | Commentaires (0)

08/06/2013

Xian - Living history I

Dating back 630 years, Xi'an's city wall offers visitors a fine vantage point as they zoom around its ramparts on bicycles. And as a proud civic symbol, it's a favorite spot for lovers to take a stroll, while children play in its shadow. Hege Tollerud pays a visit.

Bathed in glorious spring sunshine - much welcome after a long winter - our full circle around the Xi'an city walls was an unforgettable experience.

Xian, capital of Shaanxi Province in northwestern China and starting city for Silk Road tours, boasts a history of more than 3,100 years. Named Chang'an before the Ming Dynasty (1368–1644), it is one of the world's four great ancient capitals. And with all due respect to Athens, Rome and Cairo - all I cared about right now was this center of the origins of Chinese ancient civilization, situated by the Yellow River estuary in the mid-western region of the country.

Or rather, its city wall was at the center of my attention.

Cycling and running

At more than 630 years old, Xi'an city wall is the most integrated and complete ancient city wall in China, still serving to divide the city into the inner, old city and the outer part. After catching a glimpse of it when driving through on arrival night, I had to wait until the next morning, check out a row of street stalls selling antiques along the inside of the eastern part of the wall, and pay the 40 yuan (US$6.5) admission fee (it will increase to 54 from July), before climbing up to get a closer encounter with this impressive construction.

As the Xian city wall links around the inner city entirely, it is possible to walk the whole distance without any climbing down and up interruptions. Or cycle. To be fair, it adds up to just under 14 kilometers in total, so taking advantage of the excellent bicycle hire service for part of the round-trip is nothing to be embarrassed about. Rather, it's a must - especially because the option of renting a tandem with a friend makes it twice the fun. Riding on the Xian city wall is very popular activity for popular China tours.

It had been a long time since I had been on a bicycle, and for a tandem it was an exiting first that resulted in a lot of laughter to begin with. But, off we went, and it soon felt like the most natural thing in the world. (How I felt the following day is an entirely different story, however...)

There are bicycle stations near all the main gates, and you can pick up and return at different ones. The price is 40 yuan for a single bike (and a 200 yuan deposit), 80 for a tandem, giving you 100 minutes - which should be enough time to get you all the way around! There are also golf carts that can take you around. We walked about half and cycled about half - which at a leisurely speed took about 3-4 hours in total. This included an ice-cream break, and almost zigzagging throughout, as we wanted to see everything.

If you want to go faster, sign up for the Xi'an City Wall International Half Marathon! The run has taken place in early November every year since 1993, and you can also opt for the shorter versions at 13, 7 or 5km, if you don't fancy running too far.

There are, in general, a lot of activities on and around the city wall all year long. The marathon is one of the main events, with more than 30,000 runners for 50 countries taking part last year.

The annual Lantern Fair in January-February also attracts the crowds, and when we were exploring the wall, big preparations were under way for the Kite Festival, offering about everything you can (and cannot) imagine doing with a kite! If you visit Xian during the fair, you should not miss the fair for your China travel.

Green spaces

We were immediately struck by how green it was everywhere, with parks and green spaces along the walls more or less on both sides all the way around.

Inside the wall was where the emperor lived, as Xi'an served as the capital during 13 dynasties, between the 11th century BC and the 10th century AD. Just around the city wall was the city wall garden and a city river, which was used as a defense of the city.

The Xian city wall is rectangular in shape. According to the stone tablets by the gates, it is 10-12 meters high, 12-14 meters wide at the top and 15-18 at the bottom, it stretches 4,256 meters from east to west and 2,078 from north to south, and has an outer perimeter of almost 14km. If you think it is grand today, imagine what it was like during the Tang Dynasty (AD 618-907), when the area enclosed by the city walls was apparently as much as seven times bigger.

Xian city wall is always contained in the China tour packages.

08:45 Publié dans Voyage | Lien permanent | Commentaires (0)

07/06/2013

Things to Know Before Visiting China

China is a very fascinating country that presents a few drawbacks, mostly because of the language and of the communist regime. Still, there is something about this country that makes is unique and particularly fascinating to many travelers. Some may say it’s an entirely different culture than what we’re used to, with a long history and interesting people. So here’s a few particularities you might want to know before visiting China.

The Chinese language is difficult because any word can be pronounced in five different ways to have up to five different meanings. You can imagine it gets pretty confusing sometimes. Avoid speaking it unless you have no other choice and keep in mind a few basic Chinese words such as: ”thank you” (“She She”), “qing” (“please”), “hello” (“Nee How”), ” wov bù míng bái / wov bù dovng” (“I do not understand”), “how are you?” (“Nee Hi How Ma”), and “great” (“Hi How”).

To enter the country, you need a visa, which you can get from the Chinese embassy in your country. You also need a valid passport that does not expire before you leave the country. If you’re planning on visiting Tibet, be informed that you will require a Tibetan Entry Permit which is a must for your China vacation deals in Tibet. It takes 10-15 days to receive the papers and your visa is not guaranteed.

For shopping, keep in mind that many merchants speak English. If not, you can always use signs to communicate. In China, almost everything is negotiable so try to bargain for what you buy. Be polite, smile and you can get even a 50% discount.

Being such a populated country, you might encounter one or several lines; people are use to queuing when having to buy or when in need of a service for popular China travel package . Don’t be surprised if one of these situations arise and remember to be patient.

In China, the ground you walk on is considered dirty. That is why it is required that you change your shoes when entering a house. Putting one’s feet on a table or a chair is generally considered offensive. If you need to climb to reach something, take your shoes off and leave your socks on.

Tipping is not expected from you as a tourist.You can tip the hotel staff if they’ve done a good job, but you aren’t obligated to. Tipping is not part of the Chinese culture, as opposed to that of Western societies, and can sometimes be considered an insult.

When handing something, like a business card or a newspaper, it is considered polite to use both of your hands. Also, accept any gift or item in the same way. Give it a quick glance before tucking it in your pocket.

This basic information should help you on your China best tours . As with any place you visit, be polite, friendly and don’t wear flashy jewelry.

10:58 Publié dans Voyage | Lien permanent | Commentaires (0)