Sunrise as viewed from the summit of Taishan is the undisputed main event atop the mountain. Many climbers ascend through the night to witness the spectacle from the aptly “Sun Viewing Peak.” Others (like us) stay the night atop the mountain. It’s such a big event that staff at our hotel came through at 4am to wake guests with a knock on the door and a couple of words.
Archive for July, 2012
Despite reading up on climbing Tai Shan it never was clear what we were in for. We basically knew two things: The process of climbing the mountain involves ascending over 6,600 individual stair steps, and Taishan is very, very popular with Chinese. These two facts alone might repel many foreign tourists perhaps (and indeed we only saw three non-Asian climbers during our entire two day journey), but Lori and I were excited to take on the challenge and see what all the fuss was about.
Suzhou has long been known for its splendid gardens, and indeed they are a large part of why we planned to visit Suzhou in the first place. This post covers three of Suzhou’s major garden sights: The huge Humble Administrator’s Garden, the old Master of the Nets garden, and the ancient Panmen complex. For more on Suzhou, see our past posts: Suzhou by Day and Suzhou by Night.
Suzhou at night came as a very pleasant surprise. The old town is beautiful by day of course, but we had no idea what was in store for us when we emerged from our air-conditioned oasis after the sun had gone down. It was a fantastic find right at the doorstep of our hostel — lining the entire length of Pingjiang Road (about a half-mile or so) was a night market which seemed to be targeted at both tourists and locals alike (rarely the norm).
We arrived in Suzhou hoping to beat the July heat a little, but were largely unsuccessful given that daily highs of mid-high 90s with very high humidity persisted throughout our stay. The good news is that Old Town Suzhou (Pingjiang district) lends itself to strolling around slowly and aimlessly with plenty of frigid shops, tea houses and cafes to duck into when you’ve reached your limit of insanely muggy nastiness. Full-sized vehicles are not permitted in the old [...]
This post covers random snippets of our time in Shanghai including Nanjing Road (by day and by night), People’s Park (revisited), French Concession, the Bund and Pudong by night, and Hailun street food. We also spent an evening at the incredible Shanghai Circus World which isn’t covered in our blog but highly recommended!
Exactly two weeks into our China trip and Shanghai seems like a distant memory. We flew into Shanghai from the U.S. and spent four nights in this strange and wonderful place. Shanghai, perhaps more than any other place in the country, epitomizes mind-bogglingly rapid rise of modern China. 20 years ago, the skyline you see above didn’t exist. It was worthless swampland. Now the Pudong district of Shanghai rules the world, boasting some of the highest occupied structures in the world (Shanghai World Financial Center and Jin Mao Tower) and the fastest train in the world [...]
I could easily devote an entire blog to this topic, but don’t really care to, so I’ll give you the Cliff’s Notes version. China’s train system can be massively confusing, made even more so by the fact that even the most up-to-date travel guides are useless when it comes to China’s bullet trains. Furthermore, there are very few English resources on the internet, made more difficult by the fact that train travel seems to be the third rail of travel discussion boards (pun intended) – no one touches it.
We weren’t surprised that we’d have language issues; we fully anticipated it. What’s different in China compared with many other places we’ve backpacked is that, despite China having one of the best education systems in the world and English having been part of the national curriculum for the past decade or two, no one (and I really mean NO ONE) speaks English.