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Archive for china

At the Edge of the Clouds

By Linda Tancs

“At the edge of the clouds” is an appropriate translation for China’s Yuanduan skywalk, the world’s longest glass walkway. The horseshoe-shaped glass bridge in Chongqing extends nearly 88 feet from a cliff edge standing 2,350 feet above the valley floor. It edges out the Grand Canyon Skywalk in length but is likely its equal when it comes to chills and thrills. Don’t look down.

China’s Grand Canal

By Linda Tancs

Officially known as the Beijing-Hangzhou Grand Canal, the route of China’s ancient thoroughfare (dating as far back as 495 B.C.) runs from Beijing in the north to Hangzhou in the south and is the longest man-made waterway in the world. Although much of the Grand Canal is no longer in use, various sections running through Suzhou can still be toured. In fact, canals are such a prominent part of this ancient city in eastern China that it’s been dubbed “Venice of the East.” More than 50 miles of scenery dot the waterway, including hundreds of old-world river dwellings, 10 ancient city gates, dozens of stone bridges and two of Suzhou’s crown jewels, Hanshan Temple and West Garden Temple.

Backpackers’ Paradise

By Linda Tancs

China’s Old City of Dali is the capital of the former kingdom of Dali and a gateway to the Silk Road in southwestern China. Its city gate is an iconic symbol of the ancient city as is Wuhua Tower. The Bai ethnic minority folk houses are another favorite. Aptly named Foreigners Street is where Bai crafts (and their makers) are in ample supply. Widely known as a backpackers’ paradise, foreigners spend weeks, if not months, in the ancient town to study Bai culture.

New Glass in China

By Linda Tancs

Twenty-five times stronger than other forms of glass, the glass-bottomed suspension bridge at Shiniuzhai National Geological Park in southeastern China’s Hunan province is aptly named Brave Man’s Bridge (Haohan Qiao). It stands, after all, 590 feet above a valley, a vertigo-inducing attraction in a land enamored with skywalks these days. But, as the saying goes, you ain’t seen nothin’ yet. The skywalk to end all skywalks is afoot (no pun intended) in Zhangjiajie National Park. Spanning a gap between two cliffs at a height of 984 feet and a length of 1,410, it will be the world’s highest and longest glass-bottomed bridge.

China’s Hawaii

By Linda Tancs

Virtually at the same latitude as Hawaii, China’s Hainan Island has no winter. Not surprisingly, it’s affectionately known as the “eastern Hawaii.” The beaches, tropical scenery, and yes, coconut plantations are all reminiscent of America’s 50th state. Coconut has been so prevalent since ancient times that the island is also called “Coconut Island.” In late March or early April there’s an annual international coconut festival celebrated in Haikou.  As yet unspoiled by rampant tourism, the island’s primary visitors are Chinese and Russian.

The Care and Feeding of Pandas

By Linda Tancs

Less than 2000 in number, the giant panda (native only to the six major mountain ranges in Sichuan, Shaanxi and Gansu provinces of China) is a national and international treasure subject to intense conservation efforts.  That’s why the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding was established in March 1987.  The 92-acre verdant parkland is dotted with ornamental green lawns and greens, wild bamboo forests, woods, man-made dens, rocks, caves and plant pits along rivers, lakes, and brooks, all intended to mimic the gentle creatures’ natural environment.  Visitors get a close look at their movements through winding paths flanked with bamboo and ornamental plants.  Red pandas (called “lesser pandas”), a much smaller cousin, live at the base as well, as do other endangered wildlife, including swans, peacocks, birds, butterflies and hundreds of insects.

Asia’s Largest Transnational Waterfall

By Linda Tancs

Spanning China and Vietnam, Detian is purportedly Asia’s largest transnational waterfall.   Surrounded by karst mountain peaks, the three-tiered cascade reaches its most rapid pace in June and July.  On the Chinese side, a walking path through tropical foliage lands you great views; just bring lots of mosquito repellent.  To get there, go to Nanning and then take the coach at North Passenger Transportation Center to Daxin County.  Upon arrival at Daxin, you should transfer to the bus route Daxin – Qilong – Detian.

Bienvenue à Shanghai

By Linda Tancs

Following China’s loss of the Opium Wars in 1842 and the opening of its port cities to international traffic, the government of Shanghai granted land comprising today’s Xuhui and Luwan districts to the French consulate.  Known as the French Concession, its cafes, boutiques and tree-lined avenues are possessed of a certain je ne sais quoi, an attractive respite from the otherwise bustling and futuristic-looking metropolis.  Bienvenue à Shanghai!

Hong Kong Foodies

By Linda Tancs

If you have no idea what a Chinese menu says but want to eat like a local, then maybe a Hong Kong Foodie tour is for you.  Lasting nearly four hours, these guided walking tours are conducted by a local.  You’ll taste samples at six local restaurants serving Hong Kong food.  All participants will receive a map with the tour route and directions to the closest MTR stations.  Bring your appetite.

A Roar in China

By Linda Tancs

There’s a roar in China about four hours northeast of Xi’an that can be heard for miles.  That’s where you’ll find Hukou Falls , the second largest waterfall in China.  The Yellow River roars at a junction where it meets the Hukou Mountain and the range on both sides chokes the river’s width, creating a surge as it plunges over a cliff.

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