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: Commodity Heaven. We get moving straight away with a short train ride to Yiwu. Yiwu is the center for trade in petty commodities and its open markets are of enough interest as to have received a special designation as a tourist destination in their own right. We will visit a number of the markets, not so much as a wholesale shopping experience but as to get an idea of the range of products for sale, and the sheer scale of the trade that takes place here.
We could go to any of the markets, perhaps including the following: arts and crafts, bags and leather, small home appliances, toys, fashion jewellery or artificial flowers. 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. Meals: breakfast, lunch, dinner.
Day 3: Coastal Delights. We drive to Wenzhou. This prefecture contains three National Scenic Areas and two National Nature Reserves, a sure reflection of its charm. Today we have an excursion to the gorgeous Jiangxinyu Island, set in the Oujiang River. The island has both its own natural beauty and the attraction of some magnificent cultural sites such as the Jiangxin Temple and the East and West Pagodas. Meals: breakfast, lunch, dinner.
Day 4: Reserved Nature. Today we head out to Wuyanling Nature Reserve, named after the Black Rock found here. Wuyanling contains a wide range of flora and fauna including several endangered species. We would be very lucky to see a leopard but rest assured there are two species here, well-protected. Whatever the season Wuyanling offers something special: flowers in the spring, a respite from the heat in summer and abundant fruits in autumn. Meals: breakfast, lunch, dinner.
Day 5: "Mountain", "Water". In Chinese the word for landscape is Shan Shui; literally "Mountain", "Water". Today we visit a scenic area that combines these two elements in delightful ways. The Nanxi River Scenic Area is located in Yongjia County. The area includes wonderful natural scenery as well as artificial landscape in the form of ancient villages. Our visit will include a mix of sites and a bamboo raft ride down a section of the crystal-clear Nanxi River. On our return we take a train to Fuzhou, our next city stop. Meals: breakfast, lunch, dinner.
Day 6: Fuzhou explored. This morning we have a guided tour of Fuzhou's main attractions. We start with two famous hills: Black Hill and Yu Hill. We then enter the area known as "Three Lanes, Seven Alleys". The afternoon is free for you to take in other sites of your own choice. Meals: breakfast, dinner.
Day 7: Via Putian. We drive to Quanzhou, via Putian where we stop to visit: the Ancient Gate Tower, the South Shaolin Temple, and Mazu Temple on Meizhou Island. Meals: breakfast, lunch, dinner.
Day 8: Cosmopolitan City. Quanzhou has one of the finest natural harbors anywhere. This base has given its merchants a huge advantage especially in matters of international trade. We visit the Maritime Museum which has a magnificent collection of items related to the history of Chinese Overseas Exploration and Contact. Other minor displays include Coastal Culture and Religious Sculptures in which representations of Mazu, the Chinese goddess of the Sea, features heavily.
We then get a glimpse of Quanzhou's cosmopolitan past with visits to a range of religious institutions. We mix these with a couple of fun visits for a bit of light relief. We will visit: Kaiyuan Temple: with its magnificent and huge stone-work, Mausoleums of the Islamic Saints, Luoyang Bridge: secured by oysters, Tianhou Palace: dedicated to Mazu, and Tumen Street: where we can visit an ancient mosque, a Taoist temple and the Puppet Museum. Meals: breakfast, lunch, dinner.
Day 9: Exquisite Porcelain. One of the products shipped out of Quanzhou in vast quantities was, of course, China: the western name given to the lower quality pottery emanating from Zhongguo, the Middle Kingdom. We know the superior quality pottery with its translucent white color as Porcelain. Today we head up into the hills to Dehua one of the most famous centers of porcelain production in China, and therefore the world.
Much of the land around Dehua is mountainous and protected as a National Nature Reserve and so our drive is well rewarded with great views. Ceramic production continues in Dehua to this day although the technology has changed considerably. Modern furnaces produce more even heating with less skill required from the operator, and also consume much less of the valuable forest timber. Of course, you will learn much more on the day. Meals: breakfast, lunch, dinner.
Day 10: Iron Brew. Fujian Province produces the best Oolong Tea, and the most famous of these is probably the one named Tieguanyin or Iron Guanyin: where Guanyin is the Buddhist goddess of Mercy. This does not contain high concentrations of the element iron but the name is a reference to the color of the leaves after processing. Regular consumption of Tieguanyin Tea is believed to inhibit the development of certain cancers, with the tea grown in Anxi County believed to be the most effective. We visit one plantation before driving on to Xiamen via Tong'an Qu, another area of outstanding natural beauty. Meals: breakfast, lunch, dinner.
Day 11: Facing Taiwan. The city of Xiamen faces Taiwan across the Straits bearing that name. In fact, the division between the People's Republic of China and the Republic of China here is not that clear-cut with some islands in-between belonging to one side or the other. This morning we take a boat trip out into the Straits for a look into Taiwan territory. Unfortunately, for now, foreigners are not allowed to disembark on the nearby Jinmen Island but this may change. The afternoon is free for you to explore the downtown, or further afield if you wish. Meals: breakfast, dinner.
Day 12: Hakka Roundhouses. We leave the city for a visit to some Fujian Hakka Tulou (Roundhouses) that form such a major feature in this region. The Hakka people are Han migrants from Central China, most of whose ancestors were forced away from their homelands by constant warring. On their arrival in the coastal lands these migrants found themselves subject to attacks by the incumbents.
They therefore developed a unique style of architecture: the Tu Lou or Roundhouse. Hakka Roundhouses were designed with defence of the clan in mind. Each Roundhouse is large enough to contain an extended family and is built like a fortress. The outer walls are made of rammed earth and sheer, with only small windows. Usually there is only one entrance. Most Roundhouses are round though a few are square. Meals: breakfast, lunch, dinner.
Day 13: Old Men and Pianos. This morning we head to Nan Putuo Temple on the slopes of Wulaofeng Shan (Five Old Men Mountain). There has been a temple on this site for over 1000 years but many of the current buildings date back only to the Qing Dynasty when a local admiral ordered that the site be converted to a Buddhist one. In the afternoon we take the short ferry ride over to Gulangyu Island which has become famous for its ban on vehicles and for the musical appreciation of its residents; it is even sometimes listed as 'Piano Island'. We extend our stay with an overnight in one of the lovely old buildings that has been converted into a hotel so you should bring a small bag with a change of clothes. Meals: breakfast, lunch, dinner.
Day 14: On to Guangzhou. We take a flight down the coast to Guangzhou, the provincial capital of Guangdong: home of the Cantonese. (N.B. Guangzhou's Baiyun International Airport is fast catching up with Hong Kong's as a transit hub for Asia and beyond. Make sure you check out flights to and from here when considering the overall price of your journey.) Lunch will be a selection of Dim Sum, the tasty snacks that are taken with tea as a traditional Cantonese brunch.
Later we visit Shamian Island, previously the British and French Concession area of the city. We have a walking tour of this island and of the Qingping Markets across the bridge. In the evening we eat aboard a Pearl River Cruise boat for a very special last dinner together. Meals: breakfast, lunch, dinner.
Day 15: Journey's end. This Journey ends after breakfast. Check-out is usually 12:00 (noon).
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