chinese dance performance

China: Essence of China

16 April to 1 May 2016

From the time of Marco Polo until the late eighteenth century, China was the greatest economy in the world, renowned for its stability and wealth; its cosmopolitan civilization and advanced technologies: so much so that it was held in awe by the nation-states of Europe. When Marco returned from his travels in 1295 he described a place of mythic wealth, beauty and harmony. The empire spread from the shores of the Mediterranean to the China Sea, and to India in the south. Along the fabled Silk Roads traversed European, Arab and Chinese merchants trading the exquisite products of China’s civilization. But not only were the luxurious silks, textiles and porcelains exported, so too were its scientific technologies which were well in advance of anything in the ‘West’. Iron production in 13th century China was not equalled in Europe until the 18th century; metal-casting techniques and mass production delivered a standardised military and agricultural system linked by canals across a great commercial network using paper money and credit facilities, printing, the compass and gunpowder; three inventions which changed the world according to the 16th century English philosopher, Francis Bacon. Essence of China is a journey through world history, technological innovation, scholarly philosophies and glorious architecture, from the Great Wall to the ancient cities and villages, spectacular mountains, a deluxe cruise on the mighty Yangtze, the Terra Cotta Warriors, Buddhist sculpted temples, contemporary art galleries, and Shanghai, a throbbing metropolis. All this against a backdrop of sites of great political upheaval, revolution, and the forging of modern China’s railways, agriculture and commerce. Participants will be able to compare the different social and economic systems in ancient times with China’s emergence once again as the second superpower of the modern world.

Day 1: 16 April 2016, Adelaide (or your home city) to Beijing

Depart Adelaide by Malaysian Airlines MH 136 at 09:45. Arrive in Kuala Lumpur at 15:00. Depart Kuala Lumpur by MH 360 18:00 and arrive in Beijing at 00:20and transfer to a hotel.

Overnight stay at Guangxi Hotel

Day 2: 17 April 2016, Beijing

"Greater than the mind can comprehend said Marco Polo" of Peking and it remains so today. You will begin your exploration of China with a visit to Tianammen square and the Imperial 'Forbidden' City which was the sacred centre of the empire for 500 years and home to the Ming and Qing Emperors. Rectangular in shape, surrounded by a six metre deep moat and a ten metre high wall, it is the world's largest palace complex and is said to house 9,999 buildings over an area of 74 hectares. You will walk (slowly) through the royal complex to exit through the north gate at Shenwumen (Gate of Divine Light), exploring the outer court and private residences and courtyards within.

Nearby is the National Centre for the Performing Arts at which you may stop to see the exterior. This is spectacular building colloquially described as The Bird's Egg. The Centre, an ellipsoid dome of titanium and glass surrounded by an artificial lake, seats 5,452 people in three halls and is almost 12,000 m² in size. It was designed by French architect Paul Andreu. The location, immediately to the west of Tiananmen Square and the Great Hall of the People, and near the Forbidden City, combined with the theatre's futuristic design, created considerable controversy. Paul Andreu countered that although there is indeed value in ancient traditional Chinese architecture, Beijing must also include modern architecture, as the capital of the country and an international city of great importance. His design, with large open space, water and trees, was specially designed to complement the red walls of ancient buildings of the Forbidden City and the Great Hall of the People, in order to melt into the surroundings as opposed to standing out against them.

Thence it’s on to the Temple of Heaven, centre of ancient sacrificial rituals. Superbly restored for the Olympic visitors; it stands as one of the glories of Ming architecture. Literally the Altar of Heaven, you visit a complex of religious buildings which were visited by the Emperors of the Ming and Qing dynasties for annual ceremonies of prayers to Heaven to ensure a good harvest.

The Temple of Heaven is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and described as "a masterpiece of architecture and landscape design which simply and graphically illustrates a cosmogony of great importance for the evolution of one of the world’s great civilizations..... as the symbolic layout and design of the Temple of Heaven had a profound influence on architecture and planning in the Far East over many centuries."

In the huge temple park you will witness the activities of people in their daily lives. Many will be practising Tai Chi, playing games and musical instruments, singing or just relaxing with friends in a quiet corner of the city.

Day 3: 18 April 2016, Mutianyu Great Wall, Jade Factory, Peking Duck Dinner

Due to traffic conditions you may have to leave the hotel earlier this morning to visit one of the wonders of the oriental world; the Great Wall of China, imposing in its monumentality and inspiring in its grandeur. Built over two thousand years ago, it stretches from the Shanhaiguan Pass on the east coast to the Gobi Desert in the west; more than 5,000kms away. The Great Wall is a series of fortifications made of stone, brick, tamped earth, wood, and other materials, generally built along an east-to-west lineacross the historical northern borders of China in part to protect the Chinese Empire or its prototypical states against intrusions by various nomadic groups or military incursions by various warlike peoples or forces. Several walls were being built as early as the 7th century BC.

Your visit will begin at Mutianyu, a less visited area, well away from the highly commercialised access point at Badaling which is the 'normaL' tourist destination on the Wall. Here, the Great Wall was first constructed in the early Ming Dynasty by the famous general, Xu Da, (1368-1644). There are over 100 'enemy towers' which remain in very good condition. You walk along the wall admiring the panoramic views and reflect on the enormity of the material and labour required for its construction. You can ascend by cable car to see the wall in relatively 'unspoiled' condition with sensitive renovation.

On your return to Beijing visit a Jade Factory and the Silk Street Markets (time to practice your bargaining skills) before being welcomed to the 'Essence of China' Study Tour with a Peking Duck dinner banquet.

Day 4: 19 April 2016, 798 Art District, Dashazi, the Square and UCCA, Wangfujing Street

Today you begin a discovery of the contemporary arts scene in Beijing. In the morning drive to the 798 Art District or Dashanzi - which opened to visitors in 2002 – it’s the most important area, both as a centre for new art and for the cafe-bar culture that clusters around 'creative people'. Less than a decade ago, this area had virtually no arts presence but now 20 galleries from the USA, Japan, Germany, Korea, Holland, Beijing, Shanghai, Switzerland and another 20 cultural enterprises, including arts organizations, studios, museums and art schools, operate within or near the village. And the galleries are top-notch. "When a silkworm produces silk, it would never dream there is a Silk Road," artist and architect Ai Weiwei, co-designer of the Bird's Nest stadium, quoted a verse written by his father, the poet Ai Qing. Ai Weiwei, the first prominent artist to move to the village, was a catalyst in turning the area into an arts haven. Ai designed and built his studio and the ground-breaking Warehouse in the village in 1999. (he’s also about to work on a mega installation for the National gallery of Victoria using Lego!)

Visit 798 Space, the first gallery to open in Dashanzi, an avant-garde and trendy space that hosts high-level cultural, artistic and commercial activities. It can hold more than 1000 guests with ease: 1000 square meters and up to 9 meters high structural exhibition space, 300 square meters relaxing and eating space, contemporary art book shop, film and video showing area. It is worth visiting for the spectacle of the cavernous main hall with its multiple-arched roof.

After lunch it’s on to the Ullens Center for Contemporary Art (UCCA). A must-see site on the list in rapidly modernizing Beijing. Founded by Belgian art collectors Guy and Myriam Ullens in November 2007, it aims to be China’s most comprehensive institute for contemporary arts. Their collection of around 1500 works by contemporary Chinese artists is considered to be the world's largest and best. The museum’s spare galleries, exposed support beams, and 31-foot-high ceilings recall the Bauhaus-style building’s original function as an electronics factory. It’s a natural fit for the 798 art district in Beijing’s Dashanzi neighbourhood.

On returning to Beijing center you will be dropped off near Wángf?j?ng Street, one of the Chinese capital's most famous shopping streets. The majority of the main shopping area is pedestrianized and is very popular for shopping for both tourists and residents of the capital. Since the middle of the Ming Dynasty there have been commercial activities in this place.

The street was also previously known as Morrison Street in English, after the Australian journalist George Ernest Morrison. Wangfujing is now home to around 280 famous Beijing brands, such as Shengxifu Hat Store, Tongshenghe Shoe Shop, and the Wuyutai Tea House. A photo studio which took formal photos of the first Chinese leadership, the New China Women and Children’s Department Store helped established by Soong Ching-ling (Madame Sun Yat-sen) are also located on the street.

Find your own dinner tonight in Wangfujing Snack Street, located in hutongs just west of the main street, an area densely packed with restaurants and street food stalls. The food stalls serve a wide variety of common and exotic street food. More common fare such as Chuanr (meat kebabs, commonly made of lamb) and desserts, such as Tang hu lu or candied fruits on a stick, are among the most popular. You are free to experiment with many of the local foods and restaurants or stalls. Take a taxi back to the hotel; perfectly safe, simple and cheap (just don’t forget the hotel’s name card!!!).

Day 5: 20 April 2016, The Mansion of Prince Gong, High Speed Train 15:06-18:11 to Taiyuan

This morning you visit the Mansion of Prince Gong. It‘s Beijing's largest and the best preserved Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) princely mansion. This fine example of ancient Chinese architecture with its cultural connotations is important not only for its aesthetic value but as an asset to those who wish to study the lifestyle of the privileged classes in the feudal society of a bygone era; it also has an interesting history.

The dwelling is a traditional courtyard mansion of a style that was so popular in imperial Beijing. The complex covers a total area of 60,000 square meters (14.9 acres). Just over half of this is the residential portion, while the remainder is devoted to an ornamental garden to the rear. The living quarters stand within three sets of courtyards occupying a central, eastern and western situation. The garden, surrounded by artificial mountains, is known as Jincui Yuan, is of high standing on account of its layoutand distinct design. It covers an area of 28,000 square meters (6.9 acres) and includes twenty scenic spots, each widely different from the others. The entrance via a cavern brings you into a spacious yard. A high but graceful rockery at the center point greets you. There are mountain peaks, ponds, caves, studies and pavilions distributed throughout the garden. The 'Western-Style Gate,' the 'Grand Theatre House' and the 'fu' Stele to be found in the garden are referred to as the 'Three Uniqueness in the Prince Gong's Mansion'.

In the afternoon you will experience another of China’s contemporary infrastructure, the high speed train which will depart at 15:06 and arrive at Taiyuan at 18:11. Transfer to your hotel.

Overnight stay at Grand Shanxi Hotel

Day 6: 21 April 2016, Coach to visit Ping Yao and the Courtyard of the Chiao Family

Founded in the 14th century and covering an area of 225 hectares, the Ancient City of Ping Yao is a complete building complex including ancient walls, streets and lanes, shops, dwellings and temples. Its layout reflects perfectly the developments in architectural style and urban planning of the Han cities over more than five centuries. Particularly, from the 19th century to the early 20th century. The Ancient City of Ping Yao was a financial centre for the whole of China. The nearly 4,000 existing shops and traditional dwellings in the town which are grand in form and exquisite in ornament bear witness to Ping Yao’s economic prosperity for over a century. With more than 2,000 existing painted sculptures made in the Ming and Qing dynasties, Shuanglin Temple has been reputed as an "oriental art gallery of painted sculptures". Wanfo Shrine, the main shrine of Zhenguo Temple, dating back to the Five Dynasties, is one of China’s earliest and most precious timber structure buildings in existence.

The Ancient City of Ping Yao is an outstanding example of Han cities in the Ming and Qing dynasties (from the 14th to 20th century). It retains all the Han city features, provides a complete picture of the cultural, social, economic and religious development in Chinese history, and it is of great value for studying the social form, economic structure, military defense, religious belief, traditional thinking, traditional ethics and dwelling form.

Day 7: 22 April 2016, Jinci Temple, High Speed Train 15:00-18:21 to Xian

After breakfast you will drive to the southeast of Taiyuan City to visit the beautiful Jinci Temple, a combination of historical cultural relics and beautiful landscapes. The welcoming boughs of a multitude of ancient trees provide an eye-catching entrance. Beyond this, the numerous halls, cabinets, pavilions and bridges are guaranteed to keep any visitor enthralled. Jinci Temple is world-famous because it is an ancient ancestral temple, something which is rare in China.

After lunch it’s another high speed train journey departing at 15:00 and arriving in Xian at 18:21. Transfer to your hotel.

Overnight stay at Grand Metropark Hotel

Day 8: 23 April 2016, Terracotta Warriors?Ancient City Wall?Tang Dynasty Show

The Terra Cotta Warriors and Horses are the most significant archaeological excavations of the 20th century. Work is ongoing at this site, which is around 1.5 kilometres east of Emperor Qin Shi Huang's Mausoleum in Lintong, Xian, Shaanxi Province. Upon ascending the throne at the age of 13 (in 246 BC), Qin Shi Huang, later the first Emperor of all China, had begun to work for his mausoleum. It took 11 years to finish. It is speculated that many buried treasures and sacrificial objects had accompanied the emperorin his entombment intended to serve him in his afterlife. A group of peasants uncovered some pottery while digging for a well nearby the royal tomb in 1974. It caught the attention of archaeologists immediately. They came to Xian in droves to study and to extend the digs. They had established beyond doubt that these artefacts were associated with the Qin Dynasty (211-206 BC)

The State Council authorized the construction of a museum on site in 1975. Life size terracotta figures of warriors and horses arranged in battle formations are the star features at the museum. They are replicas of what the imperial guard would have looked like in those days of pomp and vigour. The museum covers an area of 16,300 square meters, divided into three sections: No. 1 Pit, No. 2 Pit, and No. 3 Pit respectively. They were tagged in the order of their discoveries. No. 1 Pit is the largest, first opened to the public on China's National Day - 1 Oct. 1979. There are columns of soldiers at the front, followed by war chariots at the back. No. 2 Pit, found in 1976, is 20 meters northeast of No. 1 Pit. It contained over a thousand warriors and 90 chariots of wood. It was unveiled to the public in 1994. Archeologists came upon No. 3 Pit also in 1976, 25 meters northwest of No. 1 Pit and appeared to be the command centre of the armed forces. It went on display in 1989 with 68 warriors, a war chariot and four horses.

Later you will visit the city walls and the ancient heart of the city. Xi'an was originally a walled city, and even today the wall is considered a landmark dividing the city into the inner part and the outer part. The city wall is massive - tall, long and thick. The South Gate and North Gate are the two main entrances to the inner city. The city itself is neatly arranged along the city wall. Xi'an City Wall was erected in the 14th century Ming Dynasty, under the regime of Emperor Zhu Yuanzhang. When Zhu Yuanzhang captured Huizhou, long before the establishment of the Ming Dynasty, he was admonished by a hermit named Zhu Sheng, who told him to "build high walls, store abundant provisions and take your time in proclaiming yourself emperor. "This advice Zhu Yuanzhang heeded. Once the whole country was unified, he sent orders to the local governments to build city walls on a large scale. Zhu assured that "out of all the mountains and rivers in the world, the area of Central Qin is the most strongly fortified and strategically impregnable." The current city wall is an enhancement of the old Tang Dynasty structure, as a result of the emperor's wall building campaign.

The first city wall of Xi'an was built of earth, rammed layer upon layer. The base layer was made of earth, quick lime, and glutinous rice extract, tamped together. It made the wall extremely strong and firm. Later, the wall was totally enclosed with bricks. A moat, wide and deep, ran around the city. Over the moat, there used to be a huge drawbridge, which would cut off the way in and out of the city, once lifted.

Xi'an's city wall, after its enlargement in the Ming Dynasty, stands 12 meters high. It is 12-14 meters across the top, 15-18 meters thick at bottom, and 13.7 kilometers in length. There is a rampart every 120 meters. The ramparts are towers that extend out from the main wall and were built to allow soldiers to see enemies trying to climb the wall. The distance between the ramparts is within the range of arrows fired from either side. This allowed soldiers to protect the entire wall without exposing themselves to the enemy. There are altogether 98 ramparts; each has a sentry building on top of it.

Day 9: 24 April 2016, Big Wild Goose Pagoda, fly to Chongqing, Panda House in the zoo

This morning visit another great UNESCO World Heritage site, the 'Big Wild Goose Pagoda' Originally built in 652 during the reign of Emperor Gaozong of the Tang Dynasty (618-907), it functioned as a repository for Buddhist materials that were taken from India by the Chinese Buddhist scholar, Xuanzang. Xuanzang started off from Chang'an (the ancient name for Xian), walking along the Silk Road and through deserts, finally arriving in India, the cradle of Buddhism. Enduring 17 years and traversing 100 countries, he obtained Buddha figures, 657 kinds of sutras, (sacred texts) and several relics of the Buddha. Having gotten the permission of Emperor Gaozong (628-683), Xuanzang, as the first abbot of Daci'en Temple, supervised the building of a pagoda inside the temple precincts. With the support of royalty, he asked 50 scholars into the temple to translate the Sanskrit sutras into Chinese. The result was 1,335 volumes, which heralded a new era in the history of translation. Based on the journey to India, he also wrote a book entitled 'Pilgrimage to the West' in the Tang Dynasty, to which scholars attach great importance. (Remember the story of "Monkey"?)

Fly to Chongqing and visit the Pandas at the famous Zoo. (time permitting).

Overnight stay atChongqing Harbour Plaza

Day 10: 25 April 2016, Chongquing and Board your Deluxe Cruise on the Yangstze River

Coach to visit Dazu Grotto. The steep hillsides in the Dazu area contain an exceptional series of five clusters of rock carvings dating from the 9th to 13th centuries. The largest cluster at Beishan contains two groups along a cliff face 7-10m high stretching for around 300m. There are more than 10,000 carvings dating from the late 9th to the mid-12th century which depict themes of Tantric Buddhism and Taoism. Inscriptions give insight to the history, religious beliefs, dating and the identification of historical figures. The late 11thcentury Song dynasty carvings at Shizhuanshan extend over 130m and depict Buddhist, Taoist and Confucian images in a rare tripartite arrangement. The Song dynasty carvings at Shimenshan dating from the first half of the 12th century extend along 72m and integrate Buddhist and Taoist subjects. At Nanshan the Song dynasty carvings of the 12th century extend over a length of 86m and depict mostly Taoist subjects. The culmination in terms of expression of Tantric Buddhism is found in the U shaped gorge at Baodingshan which contains two groups of carvings dating from the late 12th to the mid-13th century near the Holy Longevity Monastery. The very large group to the west stretches for about 500 metres and comprises 31 groups of carved figures depicting themes from Tantric Buddhism as well scenes of herdsmen and ordinary life.

The carvings are known for their grand scale, aesthetic quality and rich diversity of subject matter as well as for being well preserved The Dazu Rock Carvings not only underline the harmonious coexistence in China of three different religions but alsoprovide material proof that cave temple art has increasingly shed light on everyday life. Large numbers of carvings and written historical materials within the heritage site show the great changes in and development of cave temple art and religious beliefs in China during that period.

After lunch back to the city to visit Ciqikou Old Street. This evening you will board your cruise ship, the Deluxe M.S Blue Whale http://www.ccotc.com (or similar) to Yichang. After settling into your cabin, the ship will set sail around 9-10 pm on its downstream course through the Three Gorges region. The total length of this cruise is 660 kilometres (402 miles) and is considered by most Chinese to represent the single most scenic area in all of China.

Day 11: 26 April 2016, Cruise with shore excursion to the Ghost City of Fengdu

This morning you enter the most scenically spectacular sections of the river, famed by poets over the centuries;

Bidding the Town farewell when morning clouds hang low.
A long trip through canyons I made in a mere day.
Monkey cries were heard on either bank all through the way.
While the boat passed by mountains swiftly in a row.
 

By Li Bai (701-762)

In the afternoon, you disembark to visit Fengdu on the north bank of the river, which was in the past more popularly known as the 'City of Ghosts'. There is a temple here dedicated to the God of 'Hades'. A pilgrim to the temple used to be able to purchase a 'Passport to Heaven', stamped by the local magistrate and the abbot. Landmarks in the temple complex bear horrific names - Ghost Torturing Pass, Last Glance at Home Tower, Nothing-to-be-done Bridge. Fengdu's temples display instruments of torture and wild demon images. Shopkeepers kept a basin of water into which customers threw their coins; if they sank they were genuine, but if they floated the coins were ghost money and unacceptable. Boats would moor in midstream rather than by the bank in case of attacks by ghosts. It seems that the origin of the town's extraordinary reputation dates back to the Han dynasty (206 BCMD 220) when two officials, Yin and Wang, became Daoist recluses here and eventually Immortals.

Day 12: 27 April 2016, Cruise passing through Qutang Gorges

Early this morning the M.S. Blue Whale will enter the first of the fabled Three Gorges, the Qutang Gorge (also known by early Western travellers as the Wind Box Gorge). The shortest but grandest of them all, the gorge's widest point is only 150 metres. Mists frequently swirl around the mysterious Limestone peaks, some nearly 1,200 metres high, and the river rushes 'swift as an arrow' through the narrow entrance, pounding the perpendicular cliff faces on either side of the gorge. Siling downstream you enter Qutang Gorge and then the 40-kilometre long Wu Gorge, the middle Yangtze gorge which straddles Sichuan and Hubei Provinces. So sheer are the cliffs that it is said the sun rarely penetrates. The boat passes, on the south side, the Golden Helmet and Silver Armour Gorge, shaped, it is said, like an ancient warrior's silver coat of arms crowned by a round golden helmet. Ahead are the l2 peaks of Wu Gorge, famed for its dark and sombre grace. Poets have attempted to evoke both their bleakness and beauty:

Autumn Thought

Jade dews deeply wilt and wound the maple woods.
On Witch Mountain, in Witch Gorge, the air is sombre, desolate.
Billowy waves from the river roar and rush towards the sky.
Over the frontier pass, wind and clouds sink to the darkening earth.
These clustered chrysanthemums, twice blooming, evoke the tears of yesteryear.
A lonely boat, as ever, is mooted to the heart that yearns for home.
To cut winter clothes, women everywhere ply their scissors and foot-rulers.
Below the White Emperor's tall city is heard the urgent pounding of the evening wash.
 

Day 13: 28 April 2016, Cruise with shore excursion to the Three Gorges Dam

After breakfast, you will arrive at the Three Gorges Project Dam Site and Exhibition Centre. The project was started in 1992, partially completed in 2009 and was finished in 2015. The dam spans 3 km in width and .75 km in height, and is the largest and most expensive engineering project in the world. The dam's 32 generators will generate enough clean energy to reduce China's reliance on coal but it has submerged 13 cities, 140 towns, 1,352 villages and over 600 industrial factories, more than 1,200 archeological projects and the 1.2 million people that will be resettled as a result of the flooding.

Next, you sail through Xiling Gorge, the last and most scenic of all the gorges. Xiling Gorge starts at Xiang Xi and zigzags for 76 kilometres down to Yichang. It is the longest and historically the most dangerous of the Yangtze gorges. Before the passage was made safe in the 1950’s, 'the whole surface of the water was a swirling mass of whirlpools sucking the froth they created into their centres'. Xiling comprises seven small gorges and two of the fiercest rapids in the stretch of the Yangtze between Chongqing and Yichang.

On entering the western entrance the boat passes through the four-kilometre Iong Military Books and Precious Sword Gorge. The name of the gorge refers to a stratified layer of rock resembling a stack of books, and a perpendicular rock shaft below it, at a small cave on the north bank. There are two stories told of these formations, both concerning heroes from the famous classical novel, Romance of the Three Kingdoms.

The channel winds east and then south, towards Ox Liver and Horse Lungs Gorge, apparently named after the yellow stalactite formations on the north side. One of the 'Horse's Lungs' is missing, blown up by British gunboats during the reign of Guangxu (1875-1908).

In the middle stretch of Xiling Gorge, the 'strangely lovely' Kongling Gorge towers above the iron-green rocks of the 2.5-kilometre long Kongling Tan, the worst of all the Yangtze rapids. Seventeen catastrophes involving steamships occurred here between 1900 and 1945. The larger boulders choking the channel had names such as 'Big Pearl', 'Monk's Rock' and 'Chickens' Wings', but the deadliest of all was known as 'Come to Me'. As the boat enters Yellow Ox Gorge - said to look like a man riding an ox, the passage widens out and sweeps under the ancient Huangling Temple on the south face, nestling amid orange and pomelo trees. The great poet Du Fu wrote of his journey through this gorge.

Three dawns shine upon the Yellow Ox.
Three sunsets-and we go so slowly.
Three dawns - again three sunsets - And we do not notice that our hair is white as silk.
 

This morning, your ship stops at Sandouping to view the historic Three Gorges Dam Project the largest hydroelectric project in the world. You will recall that monumental works of civil engineering undertaken by Chinese emperors, often at the cost of tens of thousands of lives, are strewn across China's landscape and history alike. The Qin organized the Great WaIl, for example, and the Ming re-routed it and clad thousands of kilometres with stone. China's modern leaders have not been slow to conceive super-projects oftheir own, although cement has replaced stone, and the raw muscle power of the surplus agricultural labourers known as the 'army of sticks' has been partly supplemented by machines. The greatest of these projects is undoubtedly the new (and highly controversial) San Xia (Three Gorges) Dam, a 17-year, US$70 billion operation involving the transportation of more than ten billion cubic metres of rock and earth and the displacement of over 1 million people from the 60,000 hectares of Iand which will gradually be flooded by the resulting 640-kilometre long reservoir.

The chief justification offered for so much dislocation and destruction are twofold: the production of 18,200 megawatts of electricity, and the supposed ending of frequently disastrous flooding of cities and farmland along the Yangtze. For centuries China's rivers have been a source both of immense fertility and massive destruction. Silt-Iaden, they can change course abruptly, and need ever higher levees to restrain them. In restraining them, the Communists are again trying to take their place in history-figures who were even partially successful in flood control for the emperors are so revered as to have joined the Daoist pantheon.

Disembark at Peach Flower Blossom Pier in Yichang and after lunch fly to Shanghai. Shanghai is the largest city by population in China and the largest 'city proper' in the world. It is one of the four province-level municipalities in the People's Republic of China, with a total population of over 28 million as of 2011. Due to its rapid development over the last two decades it has again become a leading global city, with significant influence in commerce, culture, finance, media, fashion, technology and transport. Shanghai is now a major financial centre and the busiest container port in the world. On arrival you witness the city life along the new Bund area with its historical European buildings reflecting the history of the city. Time permitting visit the busy Nanjing Road.

Overnight stay at Ocean Hotel

Day 14: 29 April 2016, Shanghai Departure

This morning you will rocket to the top of the Oriental Pearl TV Tower for a bird’s eye view of the city before strolling around the chic cafes of Xin Tian Di, the hottest new entertainment district in Shanghai. A revolutionary spirit reverberates through the two-square block development that saved scores of historic brick buildings from the wrecking ball, by transforming them into some of the city's finest clubs, restaurants and boutiques. Revolution is practically a tradition in this charming neighbourhood of old Shikumen, a type of early 1900s tenement unique to Shanghai. Eighty-two years ago, meetings held inside one of the old Shikumen at Xin Tian Di were chaired by the original Chairman, Mao Zedong. Attending were the first comrades. Together, they formed the CommunistParty, which transformed all of China. Already, it's set a new benchmark for style that is fast being replicated around China. And the success of the project could have even greater impact as a role model for historical redevelopment not just in China, but across Asia. The outlets range from a Vidal Sassoon salon to the requisite Starbucks. There are flashy French and Italian restaurants, (La Maison and Va Bene), plus nightclubs like Star East, a sort of 'Planet Hong Kong' theme club launched by Jacky Chan and other Cantonese stars. Not to forget contemporary art galleries and showrooms devoted to a range of Rolls Royce models, Lamborghini’s and the like! The result is a magical cornucopia recalling this city's former reputation for fusion, of East and West, old and new. And it satisfies at every level with surprises at every turn: an old door hinge or stunning balcony view of surrounding skyscrapers soaring over rounded doorways and century-old roof tiles. Visit the European Quarter, including the French Concession Rue Moliere, the amazing villa of Dr Sun Yat-sen. We explore the diversity of Shanghai today by visiting the ancient Yu Bazaar shopping area (great chance to purchase teaching resources representing many facets of Chinese culture) and with our guide, wander the delightful classical Chinese Garden the Yuyuan, an oasis of tranquillity in this pulsing metropolis. The garden was finished in 1577 by a government officer of the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) named Pan Yunduan. Yu in Chinese means pleasing and satisfying, and this garden was specially built for Pan's parents as a place for them to enjoy a tranquil and happy time in their old age. There are sublime pavilions, halls, rockeries, ponds and cloisters which all have their unique characteristics. There are six main scenic areas inthe garden: Sansui Hall, Wanhua Chamber, Dianchun Hall, Huijing Hall, Yuhua Hall and the Inner Garden. Each area features famous several scenic spots within its borders.

Upon entering the garden, you will encounter a rockery, which is called the Great Rockery. With a height of 14 meters it is the largest as well as the oldest rockery in the southern region of the Yangtze River. Wandering in the area of Yule Pavilion and WanhuaChamber, you will find pavilions, corridors, streams, courtyards as well as many other natural features. Spring bamboos grow beside the cloisters. The Dianchun Hall area is located east of Wanhua Chamber, and includes Hexu Hall, Relic Hall, Ancient Well Pavilion, and the 'Acting-and-Singing' Stage. Dianchun Hall was once the headquarters of Xiaodao Hui, a group who fought against the government of the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) during 1853-1855. The coins made by Xiaodao Hui and the bulletins they proclaimed are currently displayed in the hall. The true treasure of Yuyuan Garden is the Exquisite Jade Rock. Located across from Yuhua Hall, it is one of the 'three famous rocks' in the southern region of the Yangtze River. The rock is 3.3 meters in height and has 72 naturally occurring holes. What is interesting about this rock is that if you burn a 'joss stick' just below the rock, the smoke will 'magically' float out from all of the holes. Similarly, when you pour water into the rock from top, the water will flow out from each hole creating a spectacular sight. Pan Yunduan was very fond of the Exquisite Jade Rock, and he built Yuhua Hall facing the rock so it was convenient to sit in the hall and admire it. The furnishings in the hall were made of top grade rosewood of the Ming Dynasty, appearing both natural and graceful.

We continue to dinner and then in the evening we take in the famous Shanghai Acrobatic Show. The Acrobatics at Shanghai are not to be missed. The Shanghai Acrobatic Troupe, established in 1951 is one of the best in China. It frequently tours internationally and performs routinely at Shanghai and other cities in China. You can enjoy gravity-defying contortionism, juggling, uni-cycling, chair-stacking, and plate-spinning acts - and much more. Transfer to the airport.

Day 15: 30 April 2016, Shanghai to Kuala Lumpur

Depart Shanghai with MH 361 at 01:30, arriving in Kuala Lumpur at 07:40. Transfer to your overnight flight home at 22:20, arriving the next morning at 07:00.

Day 16: 1 May 2016, Arrive Adelaide or your home city

Indicative Tour Cost Per Person Twin Share AUD 4990.00
Single Supplement AUD 995.00

COST INCLUSIONS:

• International flights to and from Adelaide to Beijing and return from Shanghai
• 4-5 star hotels and Yangtse River cruise by Deluxe vessel, sightseeing, high speed train and entry fees as per itinerary
• Day use of hotel in Kuala Lumpur on the in-bound journey
• All meals in China except for one dinner in Beijing
• Local Guides in China
• Tour Leader from Australia subject to 16 passengers

COST EXCLUSIONS:

• Extra meals and Beverages
• Photo and video charges where applicable
• Personal expenses
• Any services not included in the above itinerary
• Tips and gratuities
• Travel Insurance (compulsory)
• Visa fee

CANCELLATION POLICY:

On International Flight tickets

• Anytime prior to departure: Loss of Deposit. (Or if there is anyone on the waiting list we may be able to waive this for you).

On land package cost

• Between 55-15 days: 50 % of the land package cost
• Between 14-8 days: 75% of the land package cost
• Within 7 days: 100%of the land package cost
 
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