China 2007 – Part 2

CactusThe flight northwest from Hong Kong to Guilin, in the northeastern part of the Guangxi province, took about an hour. Like all of the five flights we took in China, the plane took off and landed on schedule and the flight attendants were pleasant and gave you the feeling they sincerely wanted to be of maximum service to the passengers. I never for an instant saw any signs of grumpiness in any Chinese employee.
Guilin, by the banks of the Li River, is considered to be one of the most beautiful tourist cities in China. With more than 2,000 years of cultural history, Guilin has gained a reputation for its unique scenery: green hills, rocky cliffs, clear water, numerous caves, stones of various shapes. After breakfast we began a day cruise and saw the dramatic limestone peaks. I have never seen anything like this anywhere in the world. Unfortunately, it was a cloudy day and the pictures are not great. After a short tour of Yang Shuo village and what would be a string of traditional Chinese dinners, we headed to the airport again, this time to fly to Shanghai.
The flight from Guilin to Shanghai was nearly two hours. Shanghai — second largest city with a popluation of 17 million people — is on the coast of East China Sea about equidistant between Hong Kong and Beijing. It is truly a great city offering tremendous contrast between the "old" Shanghai and the "new". Driving and walking along The Bund showed us part of the city’s elegant riverside promenade. The gardens in the old section were stunning. Equally impressive was the Maglev train which runs from downtown to the new Shanghai Pudong Airport — in 7 1/2 minutes at 268 mph. It is the fastest train in the world. The maglev train floats about 3/8 of an inch above the guidway on a magnetic field. The magnetic field of the guidway changes direction continuously and "pulls" the train forward — there is no onboard engine. The ride was smooth as could be and the acceleration and speed were dramatic. We got off the train, crossed to the other side and rode the Maglev back to the city and then took a cab back to our hotel. The Shanghai Museum contained jade, bronze, caligraphy, porcelain, and a history of the development of Chinese culture. Hundreds of school children in their uniforms paraded through the museum. Many of them enjoyed saying "hello" and then giggled when we said ni hao. We also learned to say “boo yao xie xie“.
The 90+-story sky scrapers all over the city were full of people. All seventeen million people were busy at something — the Shanghai Stock Exchange continues to set new records. The Chinese acrobat show was something you would have to see to believe (a few pictures will be in photo gallery later). Next was a flight to Yichang.