Leaving aside the obvious highlights (like the Forbidden City, the Great Wall and the Terracotta Warriors, which are good, yes, and certainly reasons to visit China), here is the beginning of the countdown of my China Top 10.
Bear in mind that this is outrageously subjective and based only on visiting three major cities in three weeks. It’s just an excuse to post some videos and photos I took.
At number 10 we have: Scrumdiddlyumptious Food
In a country spanning 9.6million square kilometres and having more than 50 ethnic minorities, it shouldn’t be a surprise that there is a massive variety of food on offer. After gorging on Peking Duck and other Beijing delicacies for the first week, we hit the Muslim Quarter in Xi’an for the best eggplant on the planet, and in Shanghai found a wicked little Mongolian place where everything was dressed as mutton for a change.
Here’s dad chowing down on a bowl of noodle soup. This was early in the trip – the same day we checked out the Great Wall. We were starving after all the physical exertion, and didn’t want to do the easy option of eating at KFC or the Golden Arches, so we found a local noodle joint and employed the point-smile-and-pay method. They bought out the broth and all the ingredients separately and then we chucked it all in. Super.
One afternoon, getting slightly over Beijing cuisine for breakfast, lunch and dinner, I went to a ramen bar for some udon. They also served large bottles of Asahi for about $1.80 each. This is extremely cheap. But they wouldn’t let me drink the second bottle without ordering any food, so I had to try these shrunken head biscuit things.
Apart from one Beijing taxi driver and the hawkers in Shanghai, the people of China that we encountered were absolutely lovely. Especially considering I spoke less than ten words of mandarin, and very few people spoke English. I’ve heard complaints that the Chinese don’t smile at you in the street or help you out if you look lost, like some Japanese do, evidently. But then again, when was the last time you helped out a tourist?
My sister-in-law’s parents (on the left) looked after us while we were in Beijing. It’s appropriate that words can’t express how kind they are – seeing as though neither group (besides my brother and his bride) could understand what the other were saying.
This was my bunk buddy on the overnight train from Beijing to Xi’an. She was studying law or something else impressive at Beijing University and helped me out by translating (or paraphrasing) everything the conductors/security guards said. I also got off on the right foot with her mum (also in the compartment) straight away by asking whether she was my bunk buddy’s older sister. Then we kept bumping into each other in Xi’an, so she eventually asked to be in a photo with her.
Number 8 (these numbers are so arbitrary) is: Crazy Shanghai Architecture
The Chinese seem to take a lot of risks in terms of architecture, in Beijing and Shanghai at least, which is a refreshing change from boring Sydney (not including the Opera House of course). The buildings are:
The Shanghai Museum
The view across the Bund to Pudong at a real eyesore (blue sky brought to you by Photoshop). Just to the right of this picture in the Jin Mao Tower, the tallest building in Asia. Instead of going to the viewing platform on the 88th floor, we went to the floor below and had cocktails (Bloody Mary for me) in Cloud 9, the highest bar in the world (though there are higher restaurants).