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Viking Imperial Jewels of China

Author: Beckaj
Date of Trip: July 2009

Our adventure in China this Summer was indeed a look at the “Jewels of China.” This 12-day cruisetour with Viking River Cruises began in Shanghai in mid-July where we spent 2 nights in the beautiful Westin Bund Center. It is located just a five min. walk from the historic Bund waterfront. Our tours here included Old Shanghai, Yuyuan Gardens, and the wonderful Shanghai Museum.

Next we flew to Wuhan, visited their renowned museum where a chime & bell concert was held for us and then boarded our ship the Viking Century Sun for our 5 day cruise on the Yangtze River. The next 5 days were full of new adventures -including visits to Three Gorges Dam, Xiling Gorge, Wu & Qutang Gorges as well as the Lesser Three Gorges with the Twelve Peaks. While in Shabaozhai we climbed the to the 12-story Pagoda built in 1650.

On July 22, 2009 while cruising, another special event was the Total Eclipse of the Sun which we were unaware of until we got to China & found that we were lucky to be on the river where it could be clearly seen. Several of our fellow travelers took this trip just to see this rare total eclipse. An “Amazing” sight!

At the end of the cruise portion of this trip, we docked in Chongqing in the Yuzhong District. Here a visit to the zoo was a real treat to see the Giant Pandas China’s National Treasures. After lunch we flew to Xian, in the Yellow River basin, one of the birthplaces of civilization. Our hotel was the deluxe Shangri-La Hotel which we enjoyed. Xian is the home of the famous Terra Cotta Army of Emperor Qin Shi Huang. Thousands of soldiers, archers, horses and chariots were buried with him some 2,000 years ago. It was worth the whole trip just to see this unique site !

Beijing was our next destination. After a short flight we arrived and went to the Raffles Beijing Hotel for a wonderful experience. It is located minutes from the Tiananmen Square and the service was incredable. Our first full day in Beijing included a visit to the Great Wall and it is just that. We walked along a one of the best preserved sections at Badaling Hills. At one time the Wall was some 6,200 miles long. In the afternoon a visit to the Sacred Way of the Ming Tombs was a real treat as we walked along the Sacred Way and viewed massive stone sculptures of lions, camels, elephants, etc.

The second day in Beijing was just as interesting as the first with visits to Tiananmen Square, the Forbidden City and the Summer Palace. There were many Chinese tourist since it was Summer & school was out which made it even more interesting for us in a good way. This last night included a Farewell Peking Duck Dinner & the Peking Opera. A great ending to this part of our tour.

Wanting to see all that we could after such a long journey from the USA, we also booked the Hong Kong & Guilin extension. After a short flight to Guilin “forest of Sweet Osmanthus,” we checked into the Sheraton Guilin in the heart of this city. The next morning we were off to board our boat for the day to sail the Li River & see the beautiful limestone peaks. Along the way we observed rural Chinese life on the river. After lunch on board the boat we arrived in the village of Yangshuo (Bright Moon) for handicraft shopping. Then we were off to the airport again for our flight to Hong Kong and the Kowloon Shangri-La.

This was my third trip to Hong Kong & I have to say that I am amazed each visit. It is a clean, vibrant & interesting place. Our group had a City tour including Victoria Peak, Stanley Market & Aberdeen where we rode in a “sampan” in the “Floating City.” Our last day there was free for shopping !!! Back to the “Good Old” USA after a Great China Cruisetour. Would I take this trip again ? Yes, I would – I loved seeing these “Jewels of China” !

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