Tradition & Change in Modern China
May 8th – May 20th, 2013
The price for this twelve-day trip ($2,800) includes all transportation in China, breakfast and dinners, entry fees, hotels, and tour leaders. The price does not cover visa ($160) and round trip airfare into Shanghai and out of Beijing. Travelers will depart the United States on May 8th and arrive in Shanghai on May 9th.
Shanghai will be the first stop on the trip. The Chinese government has decided that, in the future, Shanghai will rival Hong Kong as an international center, and as such, the city has been undergoing a metamorphosis in recent years. This metamorphosis is nowhere more apparent than in the Pudong New Area. A mud flat on the banks of the Huangpu River in its more recent past, the area has been transformed into a vibrant, futuristic collection of modern architecture housing the heart of the financial district as well as shopping malls, museums, and luxury hotels.
Shanghai is also a city of contrasts boasting many historic areas. The classical architecture of the Bund and the French Concession are vivid reminders of the occupation of Shanghai by the British and French in the 19th and early 20th centuries. During our three days in Shanghai, we will experience the old and the new as we explore this fascinating and unique Chinese city. Shanghai is in many ways a metaphor for "tradition and change in modern China."
Day 1 - May 9th
Travelers will arrive at Shanghai airport mid-afternoon. They will be bused by private transport to their hotel located on the beautiful campus of East China Normal University where they will have time to check in, rest a little, and explore the campus. Prior to dinner, a brief orientation to the city and the planned activities will be provided by the trip leaders. We will dine as a group at a nearby Chinese restaurant. For those who have heard that Chinese food is bizarre or inedible, this meal will dispel any misgivings. Chinese food is exceptionally well prepared, and there will be something to please even the most discerning of palettes.
Day 2 - May 10th
After a good night's rest, we will begin the morning with a tour of the Pudong New Area. We will take a ride to the top of the Oriental Pearl Tower for a magnificent panoramic view of Shanghai. We will visit the Shanghai Municipal History Museum at the base of the Tower. The museum re-creates the history of Shanghai prior to 1949. You can enjoy the feeling of the city when it was a major international trading port. After lunch, we will cross the Huangpu River to walk the Bund. We will view the impressive neoclassical architecture more reminiscent of New York than China. The Bund sits directly across the river from and in stark contrast to the ultra-modern Pudong New Area. We will end the evening with dinner and a night cruise on the Huangpu River. Both Pudong and the Bund are most impressive when viewed from the river at night.
Day 3 - May 11th
A visit to the Shanghai Museum will begin the day. The museum has one of the most impressive collections of Chinese arts in the entire country. The audio guide is a must, and the gift shop has books and wonderful replicas of the many treasures you will see. After the museum we will go to the Yuyuan Garden, a shopping mecca where we will have lunch together and then you can haggle for the best price in the many stores. An optional tour of the French Concession will end the afternoon. After dinner on the run, we will attend an amazing performance of the Shanghai Acrobats.
Day 4 - May 12th
In the morning, we will be bused to Xitang, a small canal town, about an hour outside of Shanghai. This town, made famous as a backdrop for Mission Impossible III, is in sharp contrast to the hustle and bustle of Shanghai. Wander the alley ways and lanes to experience a part of Chinese life that is rapidly disappearing. We will have lunch in a small, family owned restaurant, and with any luck, convince the owner, an accomplished musician, to play the Chinese violin, erhu, for us. After an early dinner back in Shanghai, we will prepare to leave the next morning by plane to Xi'an.
Xi'an, once the eastern terminus of the Silk Roads, is very different from the other cities we will visit. It is a "melting pot” of cultures and religions. The city wall remains intact for the time being although it is being threatened by the argument that it is an impediment to automobile traffic and should be removed. Perhaps a more well-known reason to visit Xi'an is what has been called the 8th Wonder of the World, the Terracotta Warriors. The pits containing the thousands of clay warriors protecting the tomb of the Qin emperor were discovered in 1974 by a farmer whose digging for a well unearthed the clay head of soldier. This event resulted in the discovery of the vast army of 8 foot tall soldiers and their horses now open for public viewing in three pits.
Day 5 - May 13th
Upon arrival, we will check into our hotel and then meet for lunch. After lunch, we will travel to the center of the city to experience performances at the Drum Tower and Bell Tower. Next, we will walk through the Muslim District. Here you can visit a Mosque and enjoy the fragrant smells of exotic spices and shop for antiques , rugs, clothes, and much more in the bazaars.
We will end the day by riding bicycles atop the city wall (14 km) or taking an electric cart ride along the same route. A dinner of local cuisine will end what will be a long but very exciting day.
Day 6 - May 14th
After breakfast, we will be taken by bus to the site of the Terracotta Warriors. Along the way we will stop at a modern kiln where they demonstrate how the warriors were made and where replicas can be purchased. Upon arriving at the site of the warriors, we will begin the tour with Pit 3 containing 72 warriors and horses.
Next, we will explore Pit 2 containing about 1,300 warriors and see how the excavation was done. We will end our tour with Pit 1, the size of an aircraft carrier, and housing over 6,000 warriors and horses. After dinner, we will have an early night and leave by plane the following morning for Beijing.
Beijing, the capital of China, is resplendent with architecture reflecting imperial rule, post-1949 ideologies, and monuments designed to bring China into the global arena. Although the city itself is huge (16,800 sq km), you will find it quite orderly in its design. Once teeming with bicycles, Beijing is now crowded with cars and motor bikes.
While much of its rich history remains, the city aspires to be a window to the world of China's entry into the global stage. You will find the transformation fascinating and, at times, rather poignant.
Day 7 - May 15th
Travelers will leave Xi'an by plane in the morning and arrive in Beijing International Airport. We will be transported by bus to our hotel. After settling in, we will visit Tiananmen Square where we can view the Great Hall of the People and China National Museum. We will dine at a nearby restaurant to enjoy the local cuisine and end the evening with the Lao She Teahouse to enjoy performances of the Beijing Opera, martial arts, acrobatics, and folk art.
Day 8 - May 16th
This day will be spent in the heart of Beijing. We will walk through the Forbidden City closed to everyone but the imperial household for centuries. Opened to the public in the 1970's, the City reflects the isolation and opulence of the imperial household.
Day 9 - May 17th
We will travel northwest of Beijing by bus to the Great Wall at Badaling. The hearty can walk the wall. It is quite steep with lots of steps and often crowded with Chinese as well as foreign visitors. But the climb is worth the effort as the views along the way are spectacular.
For the less adventuresome, there are cable cars. The Wall is ironic in that it was originally built to keep intruders out, and now it is being used to bring them in. We will return to Beijing and have dinner together.
Day 10 - May 18th
Our morning will be spent at the Summer Palace. The palaces, gardens, lake, temples, and bridges were once a playground for the imperial court and a beautifully preserved landscape. You will have time to meander at your own pace and walk or take a boat ride before meeting to leave for the Hutongs. We will end the day with a tour of the Hutongs (quaint alleyways) by rickshaw and dine near the lake to observe the nightlife in the neighborhood.
Day 11 - May 19th
On our last day, a visit to the National Center for the Performing Arts (affectionately called, "The Egg”) is a must. Designed by a French architect, the building is a modern marvel. Of particular interest is the display of elaborate costumes from the Beijing Opera. We will then visit the Olympic sites. The "Bird's Nest” and swimming venue are excellent symbols of China's entry onto the world stage. Our day and trip will end with a traditional dinner of Peking Duck.
Day 12 - May 20th
Depart for the U.S.A. May 20th and arrive the same day.