| A Brief Introduction of Shanghai
The largest city in China, Shanghai contains the most striking blend of oriental and western cultures and of the past and present. In this city, European-style buildings can be seen standing alongside typical Chinese structures and ancient temples. Modern ocean-going vessels sail past junks. A flourishing commercial and industrial center, Shanghai has a population of over 12 million and a land area of 3,355 square miles.
The Bund (Wai Tan) waterfront area is a sweeping area along the Huangpu River that became the center of Shanghai’s foreign business establishment and the symbol of Shanghai’s identity as a modern city. The name “bund” is derived from an Anglo-Indian term meaning “muddy embankment,” but after the 1920’s the area became a showcase for foreign enterprises, with impressive Western-style banks, trading houses, hotels, consulates, and clubs filling the shore, with promenade along the river. British, French, American, German, Japanese, and Russian facilities were built here, in styles ranging from Neo-Classical to Art Deco, giving the area a pronounced European flavor. Foreign enterprises and facilities were forced out after the Communist victory in 1949, and many of the buildings were occupied by government offices and banks. More recently many of the stately old buildings have been renovated in recognition of their status as historical and tourist sites.
Nanjing Road is Shanghai's busiest street. It starts at the Bund, south of the Peace Hotel, and runs west. It is the city's main shopping area with department stores, small shops, restaurants, theaters and cinemas lining up the street. To the south of Nanjing Road is the Renmin (People's) Park. To the west is the Municipal Library, which was built in 1849.
YU GARDEN Yu Garden is one of China's loveliest private classical gardens. Its name means Garden of Contentment, and it is indeed a pastoral world apart from modern and hectic Shanghai. Its construction was completed in 1577 by an official, Pan Yunduan, as the private estate for his father, who served in the Ming Dynasty as the Minister of Punishments. The portion known as the Inner Garden (Nei Yuan) was added in 1709. It is a remarkable maze of gorgeous Ming Dynasty pavilions and elaborate rockeries, arched bridges, and goldfish ponds, encircled by a massive, undulating dragon wall. Occupying just 2 hectares (5 acres), it nevertheless seems as expansive as a small town, with room for 30 pavilions
CITY GOD TEMPLE BAZAAR / THE OLD CITY:
Located to the south of the Bund, the old Chinese city was a walled fishing town when the British arrived in 1843. Modern Shanghai grew up around it. It used to be a maze of tiny alleys, but the streets have been widened in recent years and are crowded with tourists. This daily market offers hundreds of vendors and hundreds of chances to bargain for curios, collectibles, and an occasional museum-quality relic.
XIANGYANG （CLOTHING） MARKET: Shanghai's version of Beijing's famous Silk Alley--and a real find. In Shanghai, the starting price is low, and the range of goods is broad. This is an outdoor market, but many of the stalls are covered. Designer-label clothing and accessories are the draw. The Western-branded merchandise (jeans, shirts, coats, shoes, handbags) sells for a fraction of retail, but of course the labels may not be genuine (that silk tie or scarf may prove to be synthetic, for example). Still, some of the best deals are genuine, hustled out the back door of Shanghai factories.
THE SHANGHAI MUSEUM, established in 1952, is located in People's Square, reputed to be one of the four largest museums in China. Covering a construction space of 38,000 sq m, the museum is 29.5 meters high with five floors aboveground and two underground.
Opened to visitors at the end of 1995, the museum contains 120,000 cultural relics of all the historical periods in ancient China, in which collections of bronzes, ceramics, paintings, calligraphy and ancient sculptures are among the best in China.
SHANGHAI GRAND THEATER： Boasting the largest stage in the world, Shanghai's Grand Theatre is a space-age complex with three theaters (the largest seating 1,800). It has quickly become the city's premier venue for international performances, dramas, and concerts. Self-guided tours enable you to get a view of the main auditorium (2nd floor), the VIP Room (3rd floor), and the Ballet Studio (5th floor). You can use the elevators or take the white marble stairs. Because the tour is self-guided and there are few signs, it seems terribly overpriced (although the facilities are grand). Better to invest in a combination ticket that covers entrance fees to one or more other attractions.
ORIENTAL PEARL TV TOWER: Situated within the Pudong Park in Lujiazui, Pudong New Area, Oriental Pearl TV Tower, with a giddy height of 468 meters, is the world's third tallest TV tower after the 553-meter CN Tower in Toronto and the 535-meter Moscow TV Tower.
With a unique design composed of balls and columns, the tower has become Shanghai's newest landmark and a big magnet for tourists. The designers magically set the eleven beautiful spheres of various sizes up from the green grassland to the blue sky with two giant spheres shining like two rubies. The whole design is rich in poetic and pictorial splendor, which gives the tourist the impression that pearls of various sizes are dropping onto the emerald plate.
HUANGPU RIVER CRUISE: The Huangpu River, the undulating, muddy dragon that divides the two Shanghais, east and west, past and future, serves as the city's shipping artery both to the East China Sea and the mouth of the Yangzi River, which the Huangpu joins 29km (18 miles) north of downtown Shanghai. The Bund and its promenade are landmarks of Shanghai's 19th-century struggle to reclaim a waterfront from the bogs of this river (which originates in nearby Tai Lake) and the streams that feed it. The Pudong New Area on the river's opposite shore (east) is evidence in glass and steel of the financial power of the river.
The ancient towns of ZHUJIAJIAO was built on top of the crisscrossing waterways that run from Dianshan Lake. The towns are filled with every type of bridge imaginable, from wood to stone to marble, in differing sizes and unique styles. The towns still have simple and elegant Ming and Qing dynasty (1368-1911) architecture that is quintessentially southern Chinese. Periodically, small wooden boats sail down the waterway, passing right under the eaves of the houses on its banks
A Brief Introduction of Suzhou
Suzhou, Venice of the East
Suzhou is located in the south of Jiangsu province, some 50 miles west of Shanghai, along the old Grand Canal. The city has been famous for its gardens for many centuries. According to a Chinese proverb says: “In heaven there is paradise. On earth there are Suzhou and Hangzhou.” Suzhou has also long been noted for its beautiful women. The city is dotted with lakes and ponds connected by a spider's web of canals. And all the canals are lined with whitewashed houses with gray-tiled roofs.
The canals of the town eventually join up with the famous local waterway known as the Grand Canal, located to the west of the city. It is believed to be the largest internal waterway in the world, and was originally constructed to carry tribute grain from the Yangzi plain to the capital. Marco Polo, who visited Suzhou in the 13th century, wrote that “the great Khan... has made a huge canal of great width and depth from river to river and from lake to lake and made the water flow along it so that it looks like a big river. By this means it is possible to go ... as far as Khan-balik” (as Beijing was known in the Yuan Dynasty). Although the canal is not used for long-distance transport today, it is still heavily used by a great number of flat-bottomed boats under sail and engine power conveying agricultural produce to nearby towns.
Garden of the Master of the Nets
Located on Shiquan Street in Suzhou city with a total area of 0.54 hectares (5400 sqm), is the smallest garden in Suzhou - half the size of Canglang Pavilion and one-tenth the size of Humble Administrator's Garden. Being the most exquisite and the best-preserved garden in all old residential gardens in Suzhou, the garden is divided into three parts. The eastern is residential area - originally with side rooms for sedan-chair lackeys, guest reception and living quarters. The central part is the main garden and the western part is an inner garden where a courtyard contains the Dianchun Studio, the master's study.
Humble Administrator's Garden
Located in the northeastern part of Suzhou city, Humble Administrator's Garden, with a total area of 51,950 sqm, is the largest private garden in Suzhou, as well as one of the four most famous classic gardens in China (the others are: Summer Palace, Mountain Resort of Chengde and Garden for Lingering In in Suzhou). The garden is most representative of Chinese classical gardens in the Ming dynasty. Focused on a central pond with pavilions, terraces, chambers, and towers located nearby, the garden is divided into three parts: the eastern, middle and western parts.
Humble Administrator's Garden is a typical example of the art of horticulture south of Yangtze River as well as a treasure house containing arts of architecture, calligraphy, carving, painting, and bonsai. It was listed as cultural relics of national importance in 1961.
A Brief Introduction of Hangzhou
Hangzhou, capital of Zhejiang Province, is the southern end of the Grand Canal and one of China's seven ancient national capitals. When Marco Polo came to Hangzhou in the 13th century he acclaimed that "it is the most beautiful and elegant city in the world". There is also a popular saying: "Above there is heaven, below there are Hangzhou and Suzhou." Hangzhou's "heavenly" beauty attracts hundreds of thousands of tourists to its exquisite West Lake (Xi Hu) vicinity each year, to enjoy the placid lake, beautiful gardens, reflecting pools, lavish temples and friendly lakeside teahouses. Hangzhou is also famous for silk and tea. Main tourists attractions include West Lake, Lingyin Temple, Feilai Peak, Pagoda of Six Harmonies, Yue Fei Tomb, Baoshu Pagoda, Huanglong Cave and Hulong Well.
Lying on the west edge of Hangzhou city, West Lake is the symbol of Hangzhou as well as one of the most beautiful sights in China. Early in the Song dynasty, the famous poet Su Shi compared the lake to Xizi, a Chinese Cleopatra: "Ripping water shimmering on sunny day; Misty mountains wonder in the rain; Plain or gaily decked out like Xizi; the West Lake is always alluring". So the Lake is also known as Xizi Lake. With an area of 5.6 sqkm and a circumference of 15km (9 miles), West Lake, surround in three sides by rolling wooded hills, has captivated countless visitors for centuries.
Legend has it that West Lake was originally a jewel fallen from heaven. Actually it is a lagoon formed as a result of natural changes and human efforts. Ten thousand years ago, the lake was much larger than its present surface . Later, as silt accumulated and weeds overgrew, the lake shrank in size. The present West Lake consists of 5 sections, namely the Outer Lake, North Inner Lake, Yuehu Lake, West Inner Lake and Lesser South Lake.
The beauty of the West Lake lies in a lingering charm that survives the change of seasons in a year, of hours in a day, and of different weathers. In order to display the best beautiful aspect of West Lake, 10 sights were named by people as the most beautiful, which include Melting Snow at Broken Bridge, Spring Dawn at Sudi Causeway, Sunset Glow over Leifeng Hill, Lotus in the Breeze at Crooked Courtyard, Autumn Moon on Calm Lake, Listening to Orioles Singing in the Willows, Viewing Fish at Flowers Harbour, Evening Bell at Nanping Hill, Three Pools Mirroring the Moon, Twin Peaks Piercing the Clouds. Among these sights, Spring Dawn at Sudi Causeway tops the list. Built with silt in 1089 when Su Dongpo supervised the dredging of the lake, Su Causeway extends 2.8 kilometers with grass and peach and willow trees planted along its entire length. The bell rings at dawn as the moon is sinking in the west, weeping willows along the embankment sway in the morning haze, the lake blends in perfect harmony with the surrounding landscape like a roll of ink-and-water painting.
Viewing Fish at Flowers Harbour is to the west of the 5th and 6th bridges on the Su Causeway. Buildings erected in Song times surround a pond in which golden carp are raised. Here visitors can watch fish swimming in the water and flowers in blossom on land.
Possessing such a fairyland in this city, no wonder Hangzhou enjoys the fame "There is a paradise in heaven and Suzhou and Hangzhou on earth.
Hupao Spring (Tiger Running Spring)
Hupao Spring is located six kilometers from Hangzhou city, at the foot of Daci (Great Compassion) Hill which stretches between the West Lake and the Qiantang River.Legend goes that there used to be a temple and a monk named Xingkong once lived in it during the Tang dynasty (618 - 907). Later, owing to lack of water, the monk had to plan to leave the temple. One night, he had a dream, in which an immortal told him two tigers would move a fountain here. As expected, in the next day, two mighty tigers from the Mt. Hengshan ran around the spot and dug a hole which caused the spring to gush forth. Hence the name Hupao Spring (Tiger Running Spring)
While as a matter of fact, Hupao Spring forms as the result of underground water seeping through veins and cracks within quartz sandstone that will not be eroded by acid materials. Due to its low content of mineralized ingredients and high percentage of radon, a radioactive element, the spring water, tasting pure, sweet and cold, is an ideal beverage for health. What is more, the spring water has high surface tension. Put a coin into a bowl filled up to the rim, and the water rises three millimeters above the bowl edge, but it does not overflow.
Since the ancient times, Hupao Spring and Dragon Well Tea, which born to fit each other and showcase each other's best, have been known as two wonders in the West Lake. Today, when locals pondered over all tourist attractions in Hangzhou for the new top ten scenic spots, Hupao Spring was chosen for its excellent temperament.
Peak Flown from Afar (Feilai Peak)
Feilai Peak, also named Lingjiu Peak, stands in front of Lingyin Temple. It was said that an Indian monk by the name of Huili, upon his arrival in the valley, was surprised to see the peak towering in the valley. He wondered aloud "when did peak come flying all the way from India to this place?" Hence the name.
With a height of 209 meters, Feilai Peak, totally different from the surrounding mountains, is of pure limestone while the surrounding mountains are of sandstone. Many grotesque stones, in the shapes of charming dragon, prostrate tiger, walking elephant and scared ape scatter here and there on the peak, with queer colors, making this peak distinctive among all hills and peaks nearby.
The cliffs of the peak are dotted with over 340 stone statues in various gestures: sitting, standing or sleeping. Many of these stone statues are quite unique and have unparalleled values in the art history. The biggest Buddha image is the Maitreya with cloth bag on shoulder, otherwise
known for Buddha of Joy. With exposed breast and belly, it sits on cliff along the brook, laughing from Northern Song (960-1127) up to now.
Legend goes that, the peak had flown all round and destroyed many villages before it settled down in Hangzhou. In order to prevent the peak from flying to other place and causing more damages, over 500 Buddha statues were caved out of the peak to suppress the peak.
It's true, Feilai Peak is so dissimilar from those hills near West Lake. No matter people would doubt if it is truly an extraneous guest.
Lingyin Temple (Temple of Inspired Seclusion)
Situated at the foot of Lingyin Mountain, aside from the West Lake, Lingyin Temple is one of the ten most famous ancient Buddhist temples in China.
First built by an Indian monk Huili in 326 AD during the Eastern Jin dynasty (317 - 420 AD), the temple was named Lingyin Temple (Temple of Inspired Seclusion) for its environment is very beautiful and serene and suitable for "gods rest in seclusion". In its prime, this temple, containing over 1300 rooms and 3000 monks, used to be a large monastery with a scale you just imagine. Due to war and calamity, the temple has experienced about 1700 years of repeated circles of prosperity and decline until its last restoration in the Qing dynasty (1644 - 1911).
On the compound's central axle stand Hall of Heavenly Kings, Daxiongbaodian Hall (Precious Hall of the Great Hero), Pharmaceutical Master Hall and Great Mercy Hall.
Hall of Heavenly Kings: It is the first hall after entering the temple. A tablet inscribed with "cloud forest Buddhist temple", penned by Emperor Kangxi, who was inspired on one occasion by the sight of the temple in the mist and trees, was hung above the door. In Inside the hall is a statue of laughing Buddha who can "endure everything unendurable in the world and laugh at every laughable person in the world." Four heavenly kings stand on both sides of the Buddha and Weituo behind.
Daxiongbaodian Hall : Daxiongbaodian Hall is the main hall of Lingyin Temple. It is 7 rooms wide and 5 rooms deep, with one story, double layer eaves and pinnacle roof 33.6 meters in height, famed as one of China's tallest one-story buildings. A statue of Sakyamuni, carved out of 24 pieces of camphor wood, stands 24.8 meters high in the hall. On the both sides of Sakyamuni stand 20 saints protecting justice and on the back wall sit his 12 disciples serving as guards. In front of the hall are two stone pagodas built during the Northern Song dynasties (960 - 1279) with 9 stories and 8 surfaces and sculptured Buddhist stories on four walls. Scattered outside and inside the temple are numerous relics left from ancient times, in which Pavilion of Cool Brook erected in the mid Tang dynasty, stone pagoda and stone storage for Buddhist scriptures built in the Five dynasties, Pavilion of Greens first built in the Southern Song dynasty, the pagoda of Huili erected in the Ming dynasty (1368 - 1644) are especially worthy of viewing.
The temple also houses various Buddhist literature and treasures including the scriptures written on pattra leaves, the Diamond Sutra copied by Dong Qichang in the Ming dynasty, a wood cut edition published in the Qing dynasty.
China National Tea Museum
Located in the West Lake Dragon Well Tea planting area, China Tea Museum is a national specialized museum dedicated to tea culture. With a total construction area of 3500 square meters, five buildings, respectively for exhibition, tea drinking, tea performance, multiple functions and international exchanges, are sitting in the compound, connected by zigzagging paths, punctuated and colored by lawns and flowers and evergreen tea trees.
The museum has been a fine locale for a number of cultural activities on tea, including a series of international seminars on tea culture and exchange. Each year, countless tea professionals and aficionados from all over the world would meet here in the name of tea, drinking and talking about tea.