Wednesday 29 July
As we departed the hotel four staff came and said goodbye, one asking politely for us to put a comment on trip advisor. As suggested by the hotel staff we stopped at the Hanyangling Museum. This place was incredible, dating from the Han Dynasty, around two thousand years ago, prior to the Qin Dynasty.
The way they seem to do it around here is peasant digs hole, finds artefacts, government takes over. They stick a roof over the area and start digging. In this case the whole thing is underground, temperature and humidity controlled. We walk in viewing the diggings from behind a glass wall. The signs lead us to a corridor with a glass floor from which we can look down at the diggings. Then the passage takes us down some stairs so we are alongside the diggings. All the items in here are miniatures including, people, (men, women and eunuchs), horses, pigs, goats, sheep, cows and chickens. This whole place was a tomb where the emperor’s officials had prepared the place with provisions for his afterlife. The light was low in the place so I apologise for the poor photos.
A Chinese lady who spoke good English asked us to have a photo with her and her family as we were somewhat unusual.
The passages as always lead us to the shop. This shop was a little different, selling artefacts from around the area. Most were around two hundred years old. In one small display there were some eight different arrow heads. Speaking to the sales assistant I discovered they were over two thousand years old and quite pricey as they are only allowed to sell a few off. You got it. I couldn’t resist and now have one – by far the oldest weapon in my collection.
Arriving at the China East terminal check in they kindly put us on an earlier flight as ours was going to be delayed. It turned out this flight was also delayed. Arriving in Shanghai we had a good run into town until we could see our hotel. Then the traffic stopped and it took thirty minutes to cover the last three hundred meters. Waiting for us in the foyer were friends Jim and Liz. Jim has just retired after thirty plus years in the army and Liz is contracted up here with a food safety start-up company.
We dropped our bags and headed to the Bund, a vibrant part of down town famous for the Shanghai tower and other stunning buildings. It’s Wednesday night and the place is buzzing with thousands of people, bright lights and shops. Jim leads us to one shopping centre with a spiral escalator. All the brand shops here are very expensive as there are high taxes on goods. Liz told us the locals say one can fly to Paris and back buy a Louis Vuitton bag and still have change on what you would have spent here. The people here are a lot less aggressive than in Beijing. As Jim puts it, they move like bats never seeming to bump into each other, they sort of drive the same way.
We jump a subway to another part of town. Here we enjoy a pizza meal in a restored hutong area followed by a rather tasty Godiva ice cream.
China has been a real eye-opener. Just the masses of thirty plus story buildings being built in every city and town we passed through blew me away. Then there are the new bridges, roads and flyovers and the non-stop green crops running for thousands of kilometres. Apparently huge amounts of pesticides and hormones are used to grow the impressive fruits you see in the markets. Stock are pumped full of antibiotics and hormones to maximise production. Google maps don’t seem to work here, BBC and CNN news have blank spots when the system doesn’t want one to see an item. Will all this have a long term effect on the people? Will they rise up and undo this currant dynasty which almost has a glimpse of democracy?
Thursday 30 July
Our last day was basically a travel day. After a quiet morning and a leisurely breakfast we headed to the airport and boarded our flight to Auckland. Apart from a bit of a delay all went very uneventfully and we arrived in Auckland early the following morning, tired but very grateful for the experiences we have had,
So this will be our last travel post for a while until we get our next trip together. The one thing we are going to do (for our own benefit as much as anything) is sometime over the next few weeks post a time-line of the dynasties of China and the various empires across Europe.