SJ Mobilità Travel Diaries

August 24, 2020

China, should you or should you not travel?

Filed under: Travel,Visa — jani @ 10:38 am

When you think of China, keeping in mind the current political tension and the little news that we hear are mostly being negative as these are just restricted to political news, I was not sure about China and I was completely ignorant about the country and didn’t have any encouraging news either with the limited news that media reports.

When my extended family decided to visit China for their annual international trip, only one question came to my mind, why China? But I didn’t have any say in the choice of the country, so I tagged along reluctantly.

But I was in for a surprise and my admiration and love for the country grew when I visited. I had read about stories of business men/women who, when became successful in their venture, started giving back to the society where they came from, they never forgot their roots even though they shifted to the cities for their business. They helped their own town/village with better housing, employment etc to help their old neighbours to make a better living. The lovely rose garden on the side and middle of the roads, skyscrapers beating one from another with their architecture, amazing hospitality, just made us feel awe of the country. The rich history, beautiful temples are mesmerizing. I also heard every new building that gets built cannot be the same from the exisiting one and it has to beat the current ones in every possible way. Hence people are pushed to their limits to bring the best in their field. I wished we could have spent more time as it was never enough to explore the places and hear more about inspiring stories around and how the country had built by themselves. My respect for the people of China and am glad I visited in person so now I can proudly say, please visit whenever things become better after the Covid. Leave the politics aside for politicians and let us become ambassadors of peace and spread the love and happiness wherever we travel.

About China:

China officially the People’s Republic of China, is a country in East Asia. It is the world’s most populous country, with a population of around 1.4 billion in 2019. Covering approximately 9.6 million square kilometres, it is the world’s third or fourth-largest country by area.

Visa:

In India, you can apply from Mumbai or New Delhi, however it depends on the consular jurisdiction as well. So do follow the jurisdiction.

Mumbai – West & South Region

New Delhi – North & East Region

Below link will help you to download the visa application form (same form applies for both Mumbai and New Delhi consulate), also help you with the fees and checklist

http://in.china-embassy.org/eng/lsfw/qz/

Checklist:

Document checklist are mostly the same for both Delhi and Mumbai except the bank statement requirement. Do find below the documents for reference, however before applying do verify the exact requirements as per the consulate requirement as it varies time to time.

Passport (minimum 6 months validity) and at least 2-3 blank pages for the visa stamp,

Filled application form,

2 colour photograph with white background,

Self-attested letter detailing the purpose of visit, itinerary etc (complete travel details),

NOC letter from employer,

confirmed air ticket,

hotel confirmation,

original bank statement with minimum balance of Rs. 160,000 (per person) in the bank account (not required for New Delhi)

Travel Itinerary:

Beijing:

We were glad that we chose Cathay Pacific Airlines and I was impressed with the service and the quality of food since this was my first experience with Cathay.

After a stopover in Hong Kong, we landed in Beijing and headed to the hotel which is in close proximity to Tian’anmen Square. I also had an amazing small bar cum restaurant close by, which helped me to sneak out in the evening to explore the Non-veg food since my extended family is strictly Hindu vegetarians. They had one of the best pork dishes and I didn’t get tired of eating it every day for dinner while in Beijing. Beijing is best known for roasted duck which I missed as this restaurant didn’t have it and were available at other restaurants during lunch time when we were exploring the city and I couldn’t try with the family due to their food restrictions. Finally I was in for a surprise when the return flight had the same menu and I was relieved that I got to taste and just loved it. So airline made up for me which I missed in Beijing. Thank you Cathay Pacific.

If you are in Beijing, do not miss out the below sightseeings: –

Great Wall of China:

The Great Wall of China is an ancient wall in China. The wall is made of cement, rocks, bricks, and powdered dirt. It was finished in 1878 and it was meant to protect the north of the empire of China from enemy attacks. It is the longest structure humans have ever built.

It’s a good walk in morning and walking through one of the historical place is mind blowing. There are lot of viewpoints and you can just sit and chill out and be proud to have visited this place and admire the manmade wonder. This is pretty long and you can return whenever you feel tired as the stretch is never ending.

When you visit Great Wall of China, do head to the Great Wall section of Mutianyu. Here, you can take a cable car to the top, and hop on a Toboggan (luge) ride to get back down to the bottom. We loved it so much and some of my family members went for a second ride as well. This remained one of the memorable experiences.

Forbidden City:

The Forbidden City  is a palace complex in central Beijing, China. It houses the Palace Museum, and was the former Chinese imperial palace and state residence of the Emperor of China from the Ming dynasty (since the Yongle Emperor) to the end of the Qing dynasty, between 1420 and 1924.

These are architectural wonders and there are no words to explain as you have to be there in person. It’a a huge palace and you can spend almost half a day there going around admiring the beauty and the great work.

Temple of heaven:

The Temple of Heaven is an imperial complex of religious buildings situated in the south eastern part of central Beijing. The complex was visited by the Emperors of the Ming and Qing dynasties for annual ceremonies of prayer to Heaven for a good harvest.

So this is one of the must visit place to come and pray for any wish that you might have to seek God for. Do not forget to enjoy the local ice creams from the vendors. I think we spent more time in trying out various ice candies and ice cream than praying here.

Tian’anmen Square

Tiananmen Square or Tian’anmen Square is a city square in the centre of Beijing, China, named after the Tiananmen (‘Gate of Heavenly Peace’) located to its north, separating it from the Forbidden City. The square contains the Monument to the People’s Heroes, the Great Hall of the People, the National Museum of China, and the Mausoleum of Mao Zedong. Tiananmen Square is within the top ten largest city squares in the world. It has great cultural significance as it was the site of several important events in Chinese history. Outside China, the square is best known for the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests that ended with a military crackdown, which is also known as the Tiananmen Square Massacre or June Fourth Massacre.

This is a historical place and we ended up being there during one of the anniversaries, so there were lot of security beefed up to ensure there are no protests or anything. We just sat there, remembering People’s heroes, enjoying the views, garden etc. Ideal to visit in the evening as it would be very warm in the afternoon under open sun.

Summer Palace

The Summer Palace is a vast ensemble of lakes, gardens and palaces in Beijing. It was an imperial garden in the Qing dynasty. Mainly dominated by Longevity Hill and Kunming Lake, it covers an expanse of 2.9 square kilometres, three-quarters of which is water.

It was a place to enjoy the scenery and lake. We were blessed with a nice shower while we were strolling near the lake so had to rush out quickly without getting drenched. 

Beijing Zoo

The Beijing Zoo is a zoological park in Beijing, the capital of the China. Founded in 1906 during the late Qing dynasty, it is the oldest zoo in China and oldest public park in northern China. The zoo is also a center of zoological research that studies and breeds rare animals from various continents.

The popular animal here is giant pandas and that is the crowd puller as well. This is must especially for kids, they would just love it.

Qinglianggu Valley Glass bridge:

This is for adrenaline junkies and it’s fun to walk on the glass bridge along the valley and it’s an another memorable experiences. It does scare you if you look down and you will also have a laughing riot when you watch others getting scared and you are trying to be brave to ensure others don’t laugh at you with all the screams and noises. You can trek both ways but also cable car is available to go on top and to come down. The day we reached return cable was not working so we only used cable one way to go up and had to trek to come down. Even if you are taking the cable both ways, you have a little climb to do, hence be prepared with a good footwear for a walk which is little steep. Since it’s a valley with lots and lots of trees, it’s fun to trek and enroute we had picked up ice creams from the small stalls to give us company. There was a temple once we reached the ground, visited, said a prayer and headed back to the hotel as it was getting dark.

Lama Temple:

The Yonghe Temple also known as the Yonghe Lamasery, or popularly as the Lama Temple, is a temple and monastery of the Gelug school of Tibetan Buddhism located in Dongcheng District, Beijing, China. The building and artwork of the temple is a combination of Han Chinese and Tibetan styles.

This is the place must visit for students as it has an academic significance as there is a statue of the Geluk school founder is there.

Pearl Market (Hongqiao Market)

This is one of the largest shopping complex and each floor has different items for sale, from pearls, accessories, luggage, clothes, tea and many of the things that you might want to buy for. This is the best place to try out your bargaining skills as most of them have to be bargained for a better deal.

You can spend almost a day if you love shopping and most of the things that got picked up were in good quality. Also the sales people (most of them were young and beautiful girls) very friendly and warm and they were very happy to help since we didn’t know Mandarin. Bargaining with them was fun and it was more of a friendly banter and yes, it worked as well.

I had noticed in China, there were hot water dispensers everywhere and hardly I found lukewarm water dispensers. Then I realized most of the locals were flowering tea lovers as every one walked with transparent flask and we could see flower inside, they were filling up with hot water and were sipping constantly. Except in star bucks, hardly saw anyone drinking coffee. No wonder most of them looked healthier and hardly found any obese people. This is a big takeaway for a healthy living and yes, I did go and pick up few flowering teas to try out and it was great.

Flowering tea or blooming tea  consists of a bundle of dried tea leaves wrapped around one or more dried flowers. These are made by binding tea leaves and flowers together into a bulb, then setting them to dry. When steeped, the bundle expands and unfurls in a process that emulates a blooming flower, and the flowers inside emerge as the centerpiece. Typically they are sourced from the Yunnan province of China. Flowers commonly used in flowering teas include globe amaranth, chrysanthemum, jasmine, lily, hibiscus, and osmanthus. Flowering tea may be either a modern creation or a much older Chinese invention. Flowering tea is generally served in containers made of glass or similar transparent materials so that the flowering effect can be seen. The bundles can usually be reused two or three times without the tea becoming bitter.

If you are a coffee lover, do carry your own coffes sachets unless you are ok with star bucks as very few shops sell coffee or coffee sachets, thankfully we found one small grocery store and we picked up the entire coffee sachet carton as most of us were coffee lovers, that helped for the entire stay in China.

Do sample the local delicacies and also if you are a vegetarian, don’t worry, every meal has enough fresh vegetables served along with the main. For an Indian palate, Beijing doesn’t disappoint as their food has little spiciness and that is a comfort. Try out evening stalls which has lots of local delicacies from seafood, to meat and other stuffs. Since I was the only non-vegetarian in the group, when I tried the seafood especially octopus, every one ran away from me as they felt creepy and I had a laugh and enjoyed my food and then I had to give away ordering non-veg food while eating with them so that they don’t feel uncomfortable.

Xi’an:

If Beijing is actual capital for China, Xi’an is a historical capital. We travelled from Beijing to Xian by train. This itself was a different experience, if you get a chance do take the train. We felt we were in the flight as the cleanliness and hygiene was at par. We did have a stewardess who was making sure we had help in case we needed any. As usual you needn’t carry a hot water in case you need it, as hot water dispenser are available everywhere including in the train and there were snacks available on sale. We were so impressed with the hospitality and cleanliness. We just spent a day and that was a biggest mistake, since this place had lot to explore with rich history. don’t ever make a mistake that we did, do spend few days otherwise you won’t do justice to Xi’an.

We had booked a guide in Xian, as that would help us to explore as much as possible since we just had a day and then had to head back to Shanghai in the evening

Mausoleum of Qin Shi Huang

The Mausoleum of the First Qin Emperor is located in Lintong District, Xi’an, Shaanxi province of China. This mausoleum was constructed over 38 years, from 246 to 208 BC, and is situated underneath a 76-meter-tall tomb mound shaped like a truncated pyramid.

During excavation, they found various pits with the status of hundreds and hundreds of terracotta warriors, the work is still in progress and it’s amazing to hear the story, why there were these statues were created in the pit. This is a must visit and it’s historical findings. The place has lot of greenery around and we enjoyed the shower as it as raining the whole day.

Giant Wild Goose Pagoda

Giant Wild Goose Pagoda or Big Wild Goose Pagoda, is a Buddhist pagoda located in southern Xi’an, Shaanxi, China. It was built in 652 during the Tang dynasty and originally had five stories. The structure was rebuilt in 704 during the reign of Empress Wu Zetian and its exterior brick facade was renovated during the Ming dynasty. One of the pagoda’s many functions was to hold sutras and figurines of Gautama Buddha that were brought to China from India by the seventh-century Buddhist monk, scholar, traveller, and translator Xuanzang. Today, the interior walls of the pagoda feature engraved statues of Buddha by the renowned artist Yan Liben

This is another architecture marvel and a place of worship and do say a prayer here.

Then we headed for lunch and we asked the guide to take us to local good Chinese restaurant, she was surprised as we were the only Indians who said we were ok with local cuisine and not insisting for Indian restaurant. So we had to tell her, we came all the way to China to try their cuisine as we have enough time to try our dishes in India. My request to all of the tourists, do try out the local cuisine, I understand some of you would have food restrictions like being vegetarians etc. which gives you limited options and let me reassure you with my personal experience that you will find your kind of food and you might end up finding another delicious dish which you may not get in your country.

Shanghai:

It’a financial capital of China and you would see lots and lots of high-rise building, beating one after another with their design, architecture and innovation.

The Bund:

We stayed close to the bund hence it was nice evening walk to go around the bund. This is the place near Huangpu River, to view the skyscrapers and the best is in the evening with the lightings it looks spectacular. Do try out lots and lots of food stalls near the bund specially momos, local delicacies and it does have other options like star bucks, sub way etc. Later for other attractions we had used hop in hop on buses which takes you almost very major attractions.

Oriental Pearl TV Tower

This is the highest observatory level for the skyline view, we were too lazy to go up and hence just lazed around viewing from the ground before we headed to the next place.

Shanghai tower:

This is the highest building in China and second tallest building and it also has fastest elevator in the world which takes to 119 floor, this is a must visit and inspite of going to such elevation, there is no jerk movement or anything in the lift. It was one smooth ride and before we realize, we reached the 119 floor.

Yu Garden:

Yu Garden or Yuyuan Garden is an extensive Chinese garden located beside the City God Temple in the northeast of the Old City of Shanghai at Huangpu Qu, Shanghai Shi. It abuts the Yuyuan Tourist Mart, the Huxinting Teahouse and the Yu Garden Bazaar.

This is one of the beautiful gardens with lots of lots of flowers, trees, lake, fishes etc. It felt like some movie shoot locations which was done so beautifully and every place was picture perfect.

Nanjing Road:

This is the main shopping street of Shanghai and you can get almost anything. Also there is few old malls which has mostly wholesale items and you couldn’t bargain and not very friendly comparing to Beijing, so we didn’t spend much time.

Also this has lot of other options including items with fixed price which was reasonable and you could spend the entire day to shop until you feel satisfied. There were few friendly independent stalls where we ended up chatting, bargaining and shopped until the family was satisfied.

Shanghai food was a little let down for us as we love spicy food, but other members of the family enjoyed as they have zero tolerance towards spice. It was less spicy among other 2 cities and it was almost bland however had good options like momos and other local delicacies.

The Shanghai Maglev

China has the world’s fastest commercial maglev service. The Shanghai Maglev, with a top operational speed of 431 km/h, has been carrying passengers on a 30 km stretch between Shanghai’s Pudong airport and the city centre since 2003.

The best experience in Shanghai is getting onto this train to reach the airport, you never feel like you are in the fastest train except the speed reading that gets displayed in the screen. It’s a smooth ride and one of the best experiences. We wanted to do more rides but we had to rush for our flights.

The awesome China trip came to an end and we as a family inspite of our differences, had a blast and this trip made the family bond stronger.

Do appreciate the local culture, food, people and do not afraid to give a try on their local cuisine. You will thank me later.

Stay Safe, Stay happy.

 

 

1 Comment »

  1. […] China (May 2019) […]

    Pingback by Happy World Tourism Day 2020! « Suramya's Blog — September 28, 2020 @ 9:46 am

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