This past November, Karen and I spent two weeks in China cruising and flying with Vikings cruises. We had never gone before and we were excited to see what culture and beauty China had to offer. We flew into Shanghai from Chicago and stayed for three nights until we then flew to Wuhan where we were transferred to the ship.
We started our day in Shanghai, China with a tour of Old Shanghai and Yuyuan Garden. The Shanghai museum was on our stops and had displays of art from 5,000 years of China’s history. We also watched a breathtaking show by the City’s renowned acrobatic troupe.
We embarked on the Viking Emerald late afternoon from Wuhan and started our journey to Jingzhou, China. Wuhan is considered the Chicago of China, it is a river city consisting of three adjeacent cities-Hankou, Hanyang and Wuchang. Wuhan is the largest city in central china with more than 6 million residents. The ship offers a variety of regional and fine wines and even a traditional Chinese exercise class known as tai chi.
Live on-board musicians and Chinese painting experts aboard along with lectures on Buddhism in China. We sailed through the Yangtze, the longest river in both China and Asia.
We had the pleasure of seeing China’s next generation on one of our tours of the Viking river cruises school visit. Viking sponsored an elementary school here that we got to saw. The kids were beautiful and very welcoming. We had the chance to sit down in their classroom and meet local children
In another included tour, we saw the three gorges dam, which is the largest hydroelectric damn. This took about 3 hours to view the massive project that destroyed entire villages.
We had the opportunity to cruise into the goddess stream by Sampan. It was a great experience going through the gorges and we had an outstanding tour guide. It was beautiful to relax and watch the nature and waters flow as we were transported through the stream. However, after turning one corner we were bombarded with a ton of stick buildings crowded among each other just outside all the beautiful scenery. It was shocking to see this so close to all the beauty.
On this day we visited a 12-story pavilion and its hilltop temple along the Yangtze. The architecture was beautiful as we entered a yellow gate. There were options for meditation as you looked at the breathtaking views.
When we arrived in Xian, we visited the Terra Cotta Warriors where we saw over 8,000 life-sized sculpted warriors, archers, infantrymen, horses and chariots. This was something Karen had wanted to see for a very long time. It was breathtaking to see what has been accomplished since they were first discovered in 1974. People from all over the world still dig to find unfound warriors. There are only 1,000 that have been uncovered but it is believed there are 8,000. After, we indulged in a meal accompanied by dances and music from the Tang Dynasty. Over 100 performers recreated dances and music from the dynasty with costumes.
We flew from Xian to Beijing where we took a ride on a rickshaw (3-wheeled bicycle) through the Beijing of old where we saw an authentic Beijing house. We were shocked at the housing that we witnessed and couldn’t help but question the communism their government goes by. Our rickshaw driver put it as “our government is communism and our community is capitalism.” Overall, we loved the rickshaw and our exploration of Beijing.
The Great Wall was nothing short of Great! They no longer use cable cars, instead they use a funicular or a cable railroad. It was amazing to see what they built in 1,700 years within 5,500 miles. Our dinners were very good and mostly buffest style with lazy susans.
One of our last days we saw the world’s largest public square and a once-secretive palace also known as the Forbidden City. The day before we watched the movie The Last Emperor which was filmed in the Forbidden City. It really but the whole site into perspective as we walked the walk and talked the talk of the former residence of China’s rulers. To end our trip we watched a performance of the Legend of Kung Fu.
Overall, the trip was amazing. There were 36 people in our group and we spent a lot of time together. One of the best parts was our very accommodative tour guide, Roy, who was with us the whole time for two weeks for our every need.