Reflections on China
July 4, 2019
Author: Bianca Yang
Here are some unorganized takeaways from my recent trip to China with the always excellent Signet Tours:
- Shanghai is a highly uninteresting tourist city. It has the least history out of the cities we visited. The tourist destinations here were a skyscraper, the old streets of 城隍廟, and a jazz band (we didn’t actually go, but we were given tickets to the show in the Fairmont Peace Hotel).
- Hangzhou, on the other hand, is a beautiful city. The lake is gorgeous and definitely worth a walk around and a ride through.
- Note: If you are looking to buy good 綠豆糕, please save your money for whatever brand they sell in Taipei Taoyuan International Airport. We tried some from 采芝齋, a really famous brand in Suzhou, but it was certainly not worth the money.
- The roads are of excellent quality, even in very rural or out of the way places, unlike roads in the US.
- The Great Wall is in great shape. I’m not sure how much work has been done on restoration, but the pieces we visited did not at all seem to be at risk of collapsing anytime soon. Do be warned that there are certain sections of the Great Wall that are very steep or lack side walls (司馬台長城).
- Do not ever travel to China or Japan in July or August. This is when the “plum rains” (梅雨) begin. You will suffer under high humidity and high temperatures (40deg C +) that will make your clothes / food / soul rot.
- Bejing, Xi’An, Huangshan, the other places on the Signet Tours itinerary are all definitely worth a visit. The history in Beijing and Xi’An is extraordinary (though I’m sure you’d already determined that from the sheer quantity of Chinese period dramas set within imperial China) and Huangshan is just a beautiful place to visit. Do be advised that Huangshan is overcast or rainy for 2/3 of the year. There are lots of bugs on Huangshan, so please bring bug spray.
- I did not like the food… Blame my Taiwanese palette?
- I did not expect to enjoy this trip as much as I did. My original desire was to go to go Singapore and Malaysia and get fat. I suppose my body is happy that I didn’t go to Singapore, though my mind is not convinced it’s a bad idea to execute that plan at some point in the future.