Saturday, May 31, 2014

China Must Sees - Did they live up to the hype?

Our trip to China was through a tour company called Affordable Asia. As it was a guided tour, the itinerary was set and there wasn’t a lot of time to go off on our own to explore, which we were ok with since we had thought it would be hard to get around the country due to its size and language barriers. One thing we made sure of was that each city stop included the “must see” attraction on the itinerary. So, did these famous icons live up to their hype? 

The Great Wall - Beijing, China

Hype status: Exceeded expectations

The Great Wall was one of the main reasons we had for booking the trip in the first place. We imagined what it would be like to actually walk on this famous piece of history that we have seen in pictures and on TV so many times before. The drive from our Beijing hotel to the Badaling section of the Great Wall took well over an hour, and we sat  excitedly anticipating the highlight of our trip.

Turns out it did not disappoint! I didn’t appreciate how massive it actually was (over 4000 miles long) until standing on it myself. It was also much steeper than I had ever imagined, with some sections being almost straight up! We were only given 2 hours on the wall with the tour, but I honestly could have hiked it all day long as it was such a surreal feeling to finally be there. It was also a great workout!  

Great wall of China
Just as spectacular in person as in this picture!

Great wall of China
Way steeper than we originally thought!

Great wall of China

Great wall of China

Terracotta Warriors - Xian China

Hype Status: Met expectations

This is the other main tourist attraction in China that has years of history behind it. These statues date all the way back to the early 200’s BC! The army was created to be buried around the emperors tomb to help protect him in the after life. The guide told us that prior to this, they would just bury people alive to get the job done. Crazy! 

What’s even more interesting is that these treasures weren’t found until 1974, and that was by accident! They found close to 8000 warriors, but they were all in pieces, and archeologist have been putting them together ever since. They were even on site working on them while we visited! 

The wow factor in all this is that they were able to put so many back together, it’s like working on a never ending puzzle! The pictures we had seen prior to arriving really captured what the site is like, but it was still cool to see it in action. 
Terracotta warriors Xian
This is how the warriors are first discovered - in pieces
Terracotta warriors Xian
Archeologist hard at work to piece them back together

Terracotta warriors Xian
And meet the army!

Terracotta warriors Xian

Terracotta warriors Xian
Terracotta horses - part of the cavalry

The Bund and financial district - Shanghai China

Hype Status - Met expectations

We have all seen the famous skyline of Shanghai, known as the Bund, in pictures. Our tour included seeing this icon during the day, so we didn’t get as much of the Wow factor up front. It was still impressive to see all the skyscrapers and the pearl tower across the river that didn’t exist a mere 30 years ago. That’s a lot of progress! 

The real attraction is to see how these buildings are lit up with neon lights at night. While we didn’t end up having time to see the view from the famous Bund at night, we did take a metro directly to this area and go to the top of the Shanghai World financial center, which is their tallest building at 492m and 3rd tallest in the world. These titles will soon be removed once Shanghai finishes construction of their new building which will be 632m. It was a bit foggy when we went, but overall the area did not disappoint. 

The bund Shanghai
The Bund

The bund Shanghai

Pearl tower shanghai
Pearl tower view from the financial district

We were happy with our tour’s choices of attractions to include, as we felt they really did live up to the hype. What do you think of these famous icons?

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