China is a giant country, and I could easily spend my entire trip exploring its large cities and rural villages. But I’ll probably have more like six weeks to spend there, and I want to spend that time well. Here are some ideas to start me off–do you have any other suggestions?
The Forbidden City, Beijing
Foreign visitors to Beijing always make it to at least the Forbidden City and the Great Wall, and for good reason. The vast complex that is the Forbidden City is impressive for its scale alone, not to mention the imposing architecture, the royal treasury, and the centuries of history seeping through the walls. Just seeing a giant portrait of Communist crusader Mao gracing the southern entrance of a formerly imperial residence should be enough to set my head spinning.
The Great Wall
I’m not sure what there is to say about the Great Wall of China that hasn’t already been said. It’s a giant, mostly failed border policy built and added to over centuries of rule by various dynasties. It’s a testament to human perseverance and a monument to the thousands of laborers who died working on it. It’s falling apart in some places and extensively restored in others. It’s a glorious thing to see and climb, and I can’t wait.
The Bund, Shanghai
I’d never heard of The Bund until I started ACAM research on China. Apparently, “bund” means “embankment” and in this case, it’s a stretch along the Huangpu River in Shanghai of various colonial buildings. These buildings housed the major banks of the country, as well as hotels for visiting dignitaries and financial folks. I’m not sure why the buildings weren’t razed during the fervor of Mao’s reign, but they remain and in the last thirty years they were renovated and put to use for government departments and pricy hotels. It looks like a nice place for a walk.
This art museum has eleven galleries, one for each material or medium (jade, calligraphy, sculpture, etc.). Eleven galleries of ancient art! And apparently, if I get there early, I can get one of the free tickets they pass out every day. Cultural nerdy paradise.