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China Diary – 'A Slow Boat Through China'


The last 6 months of this year have not been the easiest for us. As some of you who followed our South Island Trip will know, half way through the planned 5 week trip Art (hubby) had a minor heart attack. What we didn't publish at the time was that – more or less the same day – my Mum in the UK saw a specialist, who confirmed that the breast cancer that we thought had been caught had, in fact, spread to her lungs. She very bravely decided that 'at 81 we all have to die of something', and refused treatment so she could spend the time that she had doing the things she loved. I was torn between staying to see Art through a major quadruple heart bypass operation, and getting back to look after Mum. In the end, Art had his op in early May, and I flew back to the UK in mid-May, where I spent three weeks with Mum before she died. On top of all this, I was made redundant from my job – so with no reason to rush back, we decided to come back to New Zealand via the slow route.

So the last two months have been spent sorting out all the paperwork that goes with a death. Art flew out as soon as he could, and we've had a busy time chasing up probate, bungalow sales, and (of course) catching up with friends.

The Tour

We wanted somewhere to break up the journey back into shorter steps. So a major consideration was the route and cost of the flights from London to Auckland. We also preferred an organized tour of some sort. There were some we fancied in South America, but we just couldn't get suitable flights across the Atlantic then the Pacific. Each journey would have been as long time-wise as our normal trip from London to Auckland – not ideal at all. For others, the tours just weren't going to run at the right time (we wanted to leave mid-August and/or be back in Auckland by early September). Eventually we found the 'Images of China' tour, from Voyages Jules Verne. We've been on VJV tours before, and although they're not the cheapest in the world, we have always been impressed with the quality and value of what they offer. There were a few of things that swung the decision: 1.the tour was 18 days, starting in mid-August and finishing early September 2.we found reasonably priced flights from London to Shanghai, then on from Beijing to Auckland. And even the flight timings fitted well. 3.The tour itself covered most of the major 'touristy' things that there are to do in China, and didn't do too many 'hotel hops'. We could unpack at each destination, and know we were there for a while. The Tour Itinerary Day 1 Independent Travel - Fly from Heathrow to Shanghai, via Dubai. Overnight in an Airport hotel.

Day 2 Meet the rest of the tour group at the Airport. Visit the Bund and Nanjing Road, then transfer to the 5-star Crowne Plaza hotel for three nights.

Day 3 A city tour including Yu Garden and Jade Buddha Temple. Evening acrobatic show.

Day 4 Optional day excursion by rail to Suzhou including the Garden of the Master of the Fishing Nets, the Garden of Couples, a short canal cruise, a silk reeling factory, ancient Pingjiang Street and lunch.

Day 5 Visit the Shanghai Museum and Xintiandi area. Embark on the MS Victoria Prince.

Day 6 Nanjing; afternoon excursion to the Sun Yat Sen Mausoleum, Confucius Temple area and market.

Day 7 Visit the scenic resort of Mount Huangshan.

Day 8 Sail to Wuhan. Visit the Hubei Provincial Museum or Rare Stone Museum.Day 9 A day of sailing on the Yangtse.

Day 10 Reach Yichang and sail through the Gezhouba Dam. Visit the Three Gorges Dam site project and traverse the new dam.

Day 11 Sail through Wu Gorge with an excursion to the Daning River and Lesser Gorges and later enter the Qutang Gorge.

Day 12 Visit Fengdu and sail upstream.

Day 13 Disembark in Chongqing and travel by road to Dazu to visit the Buddhist Caves. Continue to Chengdu for overnight at the 5-star Tibet Hotel.

Day 14 Visit the Panda Breeding Research Centre, then fly to Xian. Two nights at the 4-star Grand Mecure Hotel.

Day 15 Visit the Terracotta Army and Great Wild Goose Pagoda. Special city wall ceremony and later, evening Tang Dynasty dinner and show.

Day 16 Fly to Beijing and visit the Temple of Heaven. Three nights at the 4-star Radisson Blu and Peking Opera performance.

Day 17 Visit the Forbidden City and Tian An Men Square, then the Summer Palace with a short lake cruise.

Day 18 A full-day excursion to the Great Wall and Sacred Way. Peking Duck dinner.

Day 19 Forward and onward to Auckland, and home.

First Day in Shanghai

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holidays/abroad/china/day_0.txt · Last modified: 2010/08/21 22:19 by art
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