Chinese legend states that, "In heaven
there is paradise, and on earth there are
Hangzhou and Suzhou". Suzhou, with
a population of about 6 million, has been
praised as paradise on earth since ancient
times. Being only two hours by train from
Shanghai, Suzhou has enjoyed great prosperity
and recognition over the years and this
is an extraordinarily delicate and elegant
city in parts. However, it is an exaggeration
to refer to this pretty place as "paradise".
Like in many other cities of China, bulldozers
and cranes here have been busy everywhere.
There is still a fir amount to see and traditional
Chinese houses and gardens here make a nice
change from the modernity of Shanghai.
Suzhou was founded in about 600 B.C.
and gained a good fame one thousand years later
when the Grand Canal was opened up. The great
location of the city had been great contribution
to its prosperity. By the 14th century, Suzhou
had become the leading silk producer in China
and this quaint little retreat become popular
with visitors from the imperial court at Hangzhou.
Artists, scolars and painters all retreated to
this "Venice of the East" for inspiration
was one of the few cities in China to escape
the ravages of the Cultural Revolution,
and its famous gardens survived without
being damaged. The gardens embody the harmonious
principles of Chinese garden construction
which dictate that gardens should attempt
to create a microcosm of the universe in
a confined space. The best of all are the
Fishing Net Master's Garden and the Humble
Administrators Garden. The fine gardens
here are particularly pleasant on a misty
day and Suzhou's narrow streets and lanes
can be very romantic and relaxing.
However, Suzhou can be packed with
Chinese tour groups who are bussed in and out
on day trips. It's most pleasant therefore, in
the early evening when the sun is going down and
the streets are emptying, to go out and enjoy
the canals and the quaint small houses and alleys.
Get there fast though, as things are changing.
Hotels, skyscrapers and highways are going up
and urban renewal is eating away at this little
area of "paradise".
Yunnan is a perfect showpiece of China's
many natural wonders, rugged, wild, and unspoiled. The province
is famed for its multitude of ethnic groups, of China's fifty-five
officially recognized ethnic minorities, twenty-five can be
found in Yunnan. Here visitors could find snow-capped mountains,
mysterious deep valleys, peaceful highland lakes, magnificent
Karst hills, tropical rainforests, and torrential rivers.
As the capital of China, Beijing is the
political, cultural, and intellectual center of the country.
Beijing has so much to offer travelers. The celebrated tourist
center is filled with historical highlights, the most well known
ones are: Great Wall, Forbidden City, Summer Palace, Temple
of Heaven, Ming Tombs...
Tibet Autonomous Region, a mystical land
called "the Roof of the World", more than 50 peaks in this area
are higher than 7,000 meters, and 11 peaks exceed 8,000 meters.
Mt. Everest - the world's highest peak is located in Tibet.
Tibet offers fabulous things to see, including unique Buddhist
monastery, breathtaking high-altitude lakes, stunning views
of the snow mountains and brilliant Tibetan culture.