IT’S an incredible country, so vast, so much to see and for Shepparton couple, Bronwen and Michael Timothee, an adventure of a lifetime.

Flying into Shanghai they came face-to-face with the ancient and the new. This is China’s financial centre. Bronwen says there is a vibrant buzz as people go about their daily life.

They walked the Bund, the area that runs around the edge of the Huangpu River, to one side there are huge skyscrapers that announce the city’s wealth.

They went exploring on foot to the city’s water village with its canals and ancient bridges. You can shop here for everything from all the big brands to the local markets with restaurants and food stalls…they even saw on offer barbeque pig’s face.

The hop-on-hop-off bus was a good option taking you to all major sites, or you could sit back in the People’s Square and watch the world go by.

Bronwen says the Metro was easy to use as it was signed in English as well as Mandarin. It was clean, safe and for $1 you could travel the city.

Bronwen and Michael were impressed by how clean the city was. The people were welcoming and would try to talk with you in English.

It was time to leave Shanghai and travel by coach to Taizhou where they would board their cruise ship for the next 10 days on the Yangtze River.

On arrival at the cruise terminal the whole ship’s crew was out on deck to welcome them. Bronwen says the ship was very good and the cabins were big with large bathrooms, much bigger than other cruise ships.

As they sailed along the Yangtze they were amazed at the large number of vessels plying the waters; barges, tankers, other cruise ships and on the banks there were huge cities all with their own local take on local life.

The food on board would reflect local delicacies of each area they visited along with western food. They stopped at one area known as the Yellow Mountain.

You took a cable car to the top for the spectacular views and then walk down greeting hikers along the way. They were told it was 60,000 steps if you walked to the top and that’s just what all the porters had to do to take everything to the resorts on top.

Of a night they would sit in the lounge on the top of their ship and watch the world go by with the rivers’ many bridges lit for the occasion or attend one of the many floor shows on board.

They sailed past the three gorges with its huge hydro-electric scheme and sailed through the five locks that take you to different levels of the Yangtze. Now in the river’s upper reaches they visited a number of towns along the way.

Leaving their river cruise they headed to Chongqing to see the giant pandas. Bronwen says they were just wonderful. The pandas were part of a special breeding program as were many other animals including tigers and colourful birds.

Now on to Xi’an where they saw the famous entombed warriors. Discovered 40 years ago by a farmer digging a well, the roughly 7,000 terracotta warriors are an amazing sight. Each one is individual; a different face and pose sets them apart and they stand in rows to protect their emperor in his afterlife.

They now boarded the high speed train to Beijing. It travels at over 300km/h, but Bronwen says it feels like you are not moving as the ride is so smooth. Five and a half hours later they were in the capital.

Yes they saw the Tiananmen Square where locals would ask if they would pose for a photo with them, then the Forbidden City with its vast pagodas and rooms for the emperor and his concubines and displays of vast wealth.

They went on a night walk of the city’s night markets, and then a day trip to the Great Wall. You are invited to walk the top of the wall to the various towers but it’s a big climb.

Then back in Beijing and a visit to the Summer Palace with its beautiful buildings, covered walkways and a huge lake.

It was a fascinating holiday and both Bronwen and Michael loved the experience; so much to see and do.

Now back home in Shepparton they still have lots of photos to remember China by and would recommend it as an experience of a lifetime.

Until next time,

Safe Travel’n,

Geoff Vallance