Miscellaneous Highlights from China

Great Wall of China


Part of a Mutianyu section of the Great Wall of China. Get there early to beat the heat and the crowds.

Tiananmen Square

Tiananmen Square

This is a massive square and there are SO MANY people on it at any given time. There are thousands of domestic tourists and the queue to see Chairman Mao’s body is the longest queue I have ever seen. It is reasonably fast moving. For security reasons, people are not allowed to take backpacks or handbags into the building when seeing the body so there are small piles of bags and possessions scattered on the outskirts of the square “guarded” by the tour guide.

Imperial Palace

Imperial Palace

This is a huge complex and draws a massive number of international and domestic tourists.

TouchingBigPotBig Pot Faces

There are these big pots in the Imperial Palace complex and it must be good luck to touch these lions on the pots!

Bund in Shanghai


Topiary on steroids near the Bund in Shanghai.


The skyline of Shanghai from the Bund area with the tops of buildings obscured by smog.

Pet Market in Shanghai





Some photos from a pet market in Shanghai. I have no idea how the little frogs are those lurid colours! The predominant constant background noise in the pet market is the sound of crickets. These are sold in little baskets or in specially designed plastic containers. They increase in price depending on size and quality and are for cricket fighting.


Fighting crickets in little baskets graded for size

Terracotta Warrior in Xian




The terracotta warriors are an amazing achievement by Emperor Qin. So far many hundreds have been found but there are lots more which have not yet been excavated. Of the ones we saw, it’s amazing to note that they have different details on their armour and even different expressions on their faces. The pictures are of a kneeling archer. It’s interesting to note that all the warriors are originally coloured but oxidation on exposure with air causes the colour to come off the sculptures. A little bit of remnant colour can be seen on the back of the armour of the kneeling archer. Look also at the back of his head. See the detail of his hair and the tiny braids.

Visiting Pandas in Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding

This was much more interesting than I had expected. We got really quite close to the panda’s and they really are like big fat cute teddy bears, just lolling around all day and eating bamboo in a bit of a frenzy of gorging. Seems like an ideal life. They just grab the bamboo and rip off the fibrous exterior before munching on the interior.

Pandas Eating Bamboo

We learnt that panda’s are not cut out for survival on their own. The odds seem entirely against them. They only eat bamboo. The females are only on heat 3 days in a year. 30% of the males are impotent. The babies are born incredibly helpless and often the mother panda is clueless about how to care for them. The adult panda’s often don’t know how to mate naturally. So as a result, this and other panda bases practice artificial insemination to keep these large mammals going. It’s quite artificial the way they have to support the panda population. Anyways, the one thing panda’s have going for them is their extreme cuteness.


This photo is of a 9 month old baby panda which is hanging precariously upside down on these thing branches. The little thing is still trying to munch on that small branch while it’s clutching with arms and legs to the tree branches. It’s quite comical but it’s good to know that it didn’t fall. Someone miraculously, every time the baby panda looked like it would fall, it would someone grab onto another part of the tree to stabilise itself.


At the Panda Base, they also keep red fox pandas. These are not as endangered as the giant pandas as they have a wider diet. An interesting fact is that they sometimes fight one another. The strong ones have long fluffy tails because they bite each others tails when they fight. We saw some with just stubs insteads of tails and we saw one panda which still had a long tail but a section had no hair and looked like it had been chewed on.

Leshan Giant Buddha


In Leshan, we boarded a tour boat for a boat ride past the Leshan Giant Buddha. This was a highlight seeing this massive Buddha carved in a hillside. You can get an idea of the scale of the sculpture from the little tiny heads of the people below. Actually, another highlight of the boat ride was a Chinese man releasing a couple of live tortoises into the river water. I guess releasing animals back into the wild is a way to get some good karma but I wonder how those tortoises will survive in the seemingly deep and fast flowing water at the confluence of three rivers.

Shennong Stream Excursions

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We cruised down the Yangtze river for 3 nights on the Oriental Emperor. This was a lovely chance to eat and sleep and relax. On the second day, we went on a boat ride up Shennong Stream. This was stunning because we could go through a couple of gorges. The water level is up much higher due to damming but the scenery was still spectacular with the stillness of the water in parts allowing mirror-like reflections of the the gorge in the water.

Landscape of Karsts in the Yangshuo countryside

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The landscape in Yangshuo is jaw dropping. The majestic karsts rise up from the ground and there are so many of them surrounding the city of Yangshuo. They are spectacular. The city itself is not that special because it’s overpriced and touristy and most annoying of all, rainy and humid. It has rained everyday we have been here and even when it is not raining, it would have just recently rained so everything is wet and there are puddles everywhere. You spend more time looking down to avoid stepping into a giant puddle than looking up to admire the incredible landscape.

Overall, visiting China has been full of highlights and does make an interesting and worthwhile trip.