My first trip to China: have visited China 3Xs

Trip Start Jan 01, 2014
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Trip End Dec 31, 2014


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Where I stayed
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Flag of China  , Shanghai,
Monday, November 2, 1992

This was my first of three trips to China; all three of my trips to China included Beijing and Hong Kong.   The changes in Beijing and Shanghai were dramatic from my first visit in 1992 and my second in 2000.    Most of Beijing has transformed into a whole new city during this eight year span, except for the Hutong District.   In 1992, our hotel, the 52-story Jing Guang Centre hotel was the tallest building in Beijing.   I was able to see the smog from my hotel window on the 9th floor with smoke stacks spewing black smoke that created a brown haze in the air.   Beijing's population was 11-million, and they had at least 11-million bikes, and they were the primary form of transportation in this city.   By 2000, the Jing Guang Hotel has become one of the smaller ones now hidden behind taller buildings.    Vehicle traffic has taken over the bicycles, but bikes are still extensively used.   In 1992, the streets and sidewalks were strewn with trash, and spit all over sidewalks.  In 2000, one was hard-pressed to find any trash in the streets; the transformation was dramatic.   When I landed at the Beijing International Airport in 1992, they had a shack as their terminal.   Today, it's a huge, modern, airport.

My third visit to China and Tibet in 2007 was made to cruise on the Yangtze River to see the biggest dam project in the world planned for completion in 2009.  Please see my blog on this journey.

The itinerary on this group 15-day tour was as follows: Shanghai, Beijing, Xian, Guilin, Guangzhou, and Hong Kong.   It was a Pacific Delight tour that was a "bargain" in 1992 that cost $2,500.  It included all the meals for 11-days, all the transportation (flights and bus), and hotel accommodations.   

BEIJING:
On this visit to Beijing, I saw more of Beijing than on other trips because this trip included The Temple of Heaven, the Forbidden City, the Hutong, the Great Wall, crafts store, the silk market, the Ming Tombs, and the Summer Palace.  All subsequent trips to Beijing were abbreviated and were included only as optional tours. 






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XIAN:
This was my first trip to Xian to see the terracotta soldiers, Big Goose Pagoda, and the Great Mosque (Muslim section).  I stayed at the same hotel both times, and really enjoyed this joint-venture hotel between the Chinese and Japanese, the Xian Garden Hotel.




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SHANGHAI:
My best friend, George Zeng, was born here, but during the Cultural Revolution, they escaped to Hong Kong.   In the late forties, George's father gave him US$10,000, and told him to come to the US to get his college education.   He ended up spending this treasure, but he worked himself through college at Hope College in Michigan.   When I first met him, we was moonlighting as a waiter at the Hawaiian night club in Chicago called Club Waikiki.   A good friend's parents owned the club, so I moonlighted as the assistant matre'd on Friday and weekend nights.  To make a very long story short, we both ended up in California, and we saw each others family grow.   He attended my wedding in San Francisco in 1963, and I attended his wedding in Oakland several years later.  His love of food finally took his life, because he suffered from diabetes. 

As most of you familiar know that Shanghai was the financial center of China, it was cosmopolitan, and a major trading port.   George's father was the President of the Bank of China, but during the Cultural Revolution, he saw the communists beat his father, and took away many of their family treasures.   I tried to encourage George to visit China after I returned from this trip, but his hate for the communists was too great.   He and his wife did visit Hong Kong several times, and he loved to talk about their High Tea at the Peninsula Hotel. 

George was one of the first to learn how to program on computers back in the late fifties.  After his job in Chicago and San Diego in programming, he was a department manager at Lockheed Air and Space, and also taught at DeAnza College in Cupertino where he finally settled. 

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GUILIN:



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GUANGZHOU (Canton):
This is where I learned that some Asians eat dog.  
One lady in our group from New York City knew the owners of Pacific Delight Tours, and was provided a penthouse suite.   She invited some in our group to join her for a room service dinner overlooking the river.   The White Swan Hotel was made famous, because Queen Elizabeth stayed here on her visit to Guangzhou.   The lobby of the hotel has a huge garden with a waterfall in the lobby.  It's the only one I have seen in all of my travels. 


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HONG KONG:
Hong Kong never seems to change.   Our tours in Hong Kong included Stanley Market, Victoria Peak, jewelry craft store, Star Ferry on Victoria Harbor, Repulse Bay, subway ride, and the main shopping street - Nathan Road, and the many shopping malls on the island and in Kowloon.  No travelogue is worth its salt without mentioning the food in Hong Kong.   They are as varied as in any international city, and meals can be had for a few dollars or hundreds of dollars.   They have everything to satisfy any food gourmet.  

In 1992, Hong Kong was noted as one of the best buys in tailored suits.  I believe Vietnam has taken over that title.     

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Macau (on my own):
I took the hydrofoil boat from the port of Hong Kong to Macu.  When the boat arrived at the port of Macau, I hired a taxi to show me around Macau.  He took me to the check point at the Chinese border, the Notre Dame Cathedral, the downtown area, and some casinos. 


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The major event in the US:  


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