Day 1: Arrival day. This journey begins in Shanghai. If you need advice or assistance getting to Shanghai then please contact us. Arrival transfer: You will be met at the airport and taken to your meeting point hotel. Our representative will answer any questions that you may have and ensure that you are checked-in before leaving. Please note: You may only actually be able to check-in after the hotel's standard time. If you will arrive in the morning and want to be able to check-in immediately you should consider booking the previous night as an Extra Service.
After check-in you are free to do as you please. Please do look for a message from your Guide about a Briefing this evening. In the evening, your Guide will meet with the group and take you to dinner. After eating the guide will brief you all on some important aspects relating to your Journey. This should only take about half an hour. Meals: dinner.
Day 2: Shanghai City Tour and Acrobats. We have a full day city tour. We will visit Shanghai Museum where the collections are presented clearly and with good information in English. We then move across People's Square to the Urban Planning Museum where the displays bring to life the exciting plans for the Shanghai of the future. With the plans in mind we head off to Jinmao Tower where we can get a bird's eye view of the city as it is. The model, then the reality.
We have chosen to visit the Longhua Gardens in the afternoon rather than the more famous Yuyuan Gardens so as to avoid the crowds as best we can. Those who want can be dropped near to the Bund for a look before dinner. The day ends with a visit to the world famous Shanghai Acrobats, a performance that will have you at the edge of your seat. Meals: breakfast, lunch, dinner.
Day 3: Free day. Visit the World Expo? This is also a free day for you to do your own thing. You may choose to see more sites in the city, go shopping along Nanjing Lu or head out to a nearby town for an adventure of your own. In the evening you could choose to take a cruise along the Huangpu River. These leave from the Bund. Meals: breakfast.
Day 4: Gardens and Silk. We catch a train to Suzhou where we can enjoy gardens with a very traditional Chinese style and also learn something about Silk. Our first stop is the Lion Grove Garden named after the distinctive rocks that form one of the many features here. These may also be a reference to the Lion's Roar Sutra: but that is a matter of speculation. Later we visit a Silk Factory to see the various processes that lead to the manufacture of this celebrated fabric.
Many beautiful items made from silk are also on display. In the evening we head to the Master of the Nets Garden. These gardens provide a wonderful setting for a range of performances that will have you enthralled. A perfect combination. This will be our first train ride in China. Fear not: we normally travel soft-seater class for short journeys and this is comfortable enough. For more details see Trains in China. Meals: breakfast, lunch, dinner.
Day 5: Water Town. Today we have an excursion to a water town; one of the few local towns to retain its original canals, bridges and streets so as to have a very traditional feel. Tongli lies on the eastern shore of Taihu the third largest freshwater lake in China. The town is split across 7 islands which are connected by 49 bridges. Many of the houses date from the Ming and Qing Dynasties. The finest is probably the Tuisi Garden built by a retired official at the end of the nineteenth century. Later we catch a train to Nanjing where we will spend the evening in the lively Fuzi Miao district. Meals: breakfast, lunch, dinner.
Day 6: Nanjing. This morning we visit a site that offers a poignant reminder of the horrors of war. The "Rape of Nanking" was a horrific period marking the Japanese invasion of China's mainland prior to the Second World War. For the six weeks after they captured the city, the Japanese military went on a brutal rampage. Hundreds of thousands were killed and tens of thousands of women raped. We visit the superb Nanjing Massacre Memorial Hall to this event which somehow manages to capture the horror without resorting to gruesome images or angry words. Recognizing that we cannot leave such a place and head straight off for a jolly, instead we take a cruise on the Qin Huai River and have a chance to contemplate.
This afternoon we visit the Xiaoling Tomb. Lying at the foot of Purple Mountain, this complex was built by the Yongle Emperor to honor his father, Hongwu, the founder of the Ming Dynasty. The Xiaoling Tomb has a magnificent "Sacred Way" with pairs of beast statues guarding the 1800 meter approach. The mausoleum at the end is no less glorious and has many features worth visiting in their own right. Meals: breakfast, lunch, dinner.
Day 7: Yichang and All Aboard. We fly to Wuhan and then drive to Yichang. Yichang is the city closest to the Three Gorges Dam Project and has seen many changes since construction began back in 1994. We have some free time to explore the city center and do last minute shopping before dinner. After dinner we board our cruise boat which is due to sail the first short section at around 21:00. Meals: breakfast, lunch, dinner.
Day 8: One Big Dam. After breakfast there will be a shore excursion to the site of the Three Gorges Dam Project. You will get as close as is permitted to this massive construction and be able to see some amazing statistics in the site's small museum. Once back on-board we will head upstream stopping for the night once through the remainder of the Xiling Gorge. Meals: breakfast, lunch, dinner.
Day 9: Gorges and Tributary. Today we pass through the Wu and Qutang Gorges. We will probably go through the first gorge early so be sure to get a time from your river guide if you want to see that. We will also have an excursion up one of the Yangtse's tributaries on smaller tour boats. These were flooded just as much as the main river and so now these moderate-size craft can travel far upstream where once only shallow-draft wooden vessels could venture. Much of your afternoon will be spent enjoying the lazy pace, either in your cabin or, far better, from the viewing deck where you are likely to meet and talk with your fellow ship-mates. Meals: breakfast, lunch, dinner.
Day 10: The last leg. Our cruise continues throughout today arriving in Chongqing, the final destination, at some point this evening: water levels permitting. We will have a shore excursion today. This is normally to Fengdu, hailed as the "Ghost City". Local tradition has it that all recently deceased pass this way for judgement before their next reincarnation. The guides introduce a series of activities, many of which must have been dreamed up purely for entertainment value. Meals: breakfast, lunch, dinner.
Day 11: Where two rivers meet. After breakfast we say goodbye to the crew of our cruise boat and disembark at Chongqing docks situated at the confluence of the Jialing and Yangtse Rivers. We will stay and explore the city today. This morning will be a guided excursion. Later you will have some free time to see other sites on your own. Our first visit is to the Three Gorges Museum, a new complex with interesting details about the route you have just completed. Next stop is Ci Qi Kou a village overlooking the Jialing River famous for its porcelain during the later imperial years.
Much of the village's main street remains lined with traditional architecture, leading to the nickname for Ci Qi Kou: "Old Town|". We return to the city for a walk around Loquat Hill Park, previously known as Goose Neck Park. In your free time you may like to explore the area around People's Liberation Monument. Those with an interest in the Second World War will find many sites related to the period. Meals: breakfast, lunch, dinner.
Day 12: Sichuan proper. Although Chongqing used to be the capital of Sichuan Province it is now a municipality in its own right reporting to Beijing directly. We catch a train from Chongqing to Chengdu the new provincial capital of Sichuan Province. On arrival we take a private vehicle out to Dujiangyan. This site is often described as an irrigation project though that truly is an understatement. In ancient times Chengdu used to suffer from catastrophic floods on the Minjiang River.
After careful study a local official came up with a brilliant solution which not only mitigated the destruction caused by surging water levels but also provided irrigation water for a large area of farmland nearby. Only diagrams and an on-site inspection can help you understand how a new channel and some clever manipulation of the water flow diverted only an appropriate amount of water in each direction. Intrigued?: Well now you just have to visit. Meals: breakfast, lunch, dinner.
Day 13: Pandas, Mysteries of a Lost Civilization and Tea with Taoists. We start early to catch the pandas whilst they are still active and because we have much to do today. The Panda Breeding And Research Center on the outskirts of Chengdu is the ideal place to see these wonderful creatures up close. Many visitors also enjoy their lesser known cousins, the Red Pandas. We return to the city where an exhibition shows the artifacts found at Jinsha. This is believed to be a site of a mysterious civilization known only from the finds here and further out of the city at Sanxingdui.
Our final stop is at Qing Yang Gong, a delightful temple where Laozi is meant to have expounded upon his emerging philosophy/religion: Taoism. Since drinking at a tea-house is a local tradition this is included in our afternoon's activities. We finish the included activities for this China Journey with a flourish. This evening we watch a Variety Performance which includes Chengdu Opera's "Changing Faces", shadow puppets, comedy and many other routines. Meals: breakfast, lunch, dinner.
Day 14: Journey's End. This Journey ends after breakfast. Check-out is usually 12:00 (noon).
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