I enjoy many forms of creative expression, including writing, blogging, and game design. No matter which I’m working on at the time, or thinking about, there’s few better options for enhancing my creativity than to travel somewhere new. So recently, we headed to China!
My wife was already in Shanghai on business, so I met her in this sprawling and attractive international city of 25 million people. Upon landing at PVG airport, I couldn’t resist taking the Maglev train at 180 mph for about $6. If you go, the Maglev direction signs after passing through immigration are clearly marked. The Maglev gets you within 5 metro stops of Pudong, which was where I was headed. It’s an easy walk from the Maglev overhead exit across the way to the metro station at Longyang Rd. The kiosks at the metro station let you choose English, which makes it easy to select the station you are headed to — I was going to Lujiazui, which cost less than $1. The IFC mall and local hotels — Ritz Carlton and Shangri-La, for example — are very nice.
Other sites we saw in Shanghai: The informative Shanghai History Museum at the base of the Oriental Pearl Tower (an easy walk from Lujiazui station), the historical Shanghai Jewish Refugees Museum, very fun Shanghai Disney (the Tron and Pirates of the Caribbean rides are terrific, and the park wasn’t crowded on a 45F degree mid-February day), and the Shanghai Museum (cultural artifacts) and People’s Park. All are easily reachable by metro at a very reasonable cost. Just be prepared to stand quite a bit if you go during busy periods, which is most of the time.
Guilin, China — about 100-150 miles north of Hong Kong — is the site of the Li River Cruise and famous eroded mountains which line the river. The view changes which each twist and turn in the river, with each new sight as exciting as the previous one. The back of the 20 RMB bill depicts a scene from the river. We loved staying at the Shangri-La Hotel in Guilin.
Chengdu, China, located east of the mountainous regions of Tibet, is one of the fastest growing cities in the world, now with 14-15 million people. It is a combination of agriculture, manufacturing, and a large hi-tech area — our Hilton Chengdu hotel was great and located in the hi-tech area. We were there to see the Leshan Giant Buddha — about an hour by fast train away — and the Giant Panda Breeding Research Base north of central Chengdu. Through Viator, we arranged our Leshan tour with Lily Chen of WestChinaGo, and she provided us with a memorable day. The next morning, first thing, we took the metro to Panda Ave. to catch the shuttle bus which goes (about 10-15 minutes) to the Giant Panda Breeding Research Base. We even were able to take our luggage along, dropping it at the 2nd floor information desk at the Research Base before seeing all the Pandas. Afterwards, we caught a cab to the airport for our next days’ adventure in Xi’an.
Xi’an, China is about an hour south of the Terracotta Warriors museum. The Hilton Xi’an has an amazing lobby and awesome service. In Xi’an, it is worth taking time to see the ancient City Wall. It was too cold for us to rent a bike, but if you can it looks like fun to bicycle on top of the wall. Lily at GuideWe was our excellent Terracotta Warriors tour guide. She even took time to show us the City Wall on the way back to town at the end of our tour.
We finished our vacation with a trip to Beijing. The first day we visited Great Wall at Mutianyu. It was 25 degrees Fahrenheit and it snowed! We rode the chair lift up and got a work out climbing stairs to the next outpost or two. Got some great shots of the wall in the snow and then return on the chair lift. We wanted to take the luge down, but they close it when it snows. All in all, a great time. Our last day, we took a cab to the east wall of the Forbidden City, and then walked around to the south entrance. It was easy to purchase tickets there and then enter the fortress wall. It’s quite a bit of walking (especially in cold weather), but it’s a beautiful piece of history you just can’t miss. The walk back from the north exit to our hotel was only about 20 minutes, as we stayed at the nearby Renaissance Wangfujing Hotel. A very nice hotel and quite convenient if you plan to visit the Forbidden City.