The How and Why of the Overland Silk Road

Any serious discussion of the history of the Silk Road (Silk Road tours) route needs to address the question of how and why the Silk Road route originated in the first place. The "why" of the Silk Road route is a story in stages, the shortest explanation of which is that the trade aspect of this grand opening up of China over 2000 years ago to the outside world happened by accident, that is, the trade aspect was incidental to an entirely different aspect of what was going on in the China of the Qin (BCE 221-207) and Han (BCE 206 - CE 220) Dynasty period...


The Xiongnu tribes (Turkic tribes, though the Xiongnu were later referred to as Huns, when they pushed/ migrated westward into first northern, then southern Europe, even sacking Rome in CE 451 under the leadership of Atilla (the Hun), aka the Scourge of God) of the north had moved into the region located immediately north of late 3rd century BCE China (note that whereas the 3rd century CE denotes the period CE 200-300, the 3rd century BCE obviously denotes the period BCE 300-200), driving out the Yuezhi tribes living there who had maintained friendly relations with their Han Chinese neighbors. The Xiongnu tribes, in contrast, were hostile toward their Han Chinese neighbors - very aggressively so, in fact - which is what prompted China's first emperor, Emperor Qin of the Qin Dynasty, to erect the first Great Wall in BCE 214. This wall, initially a makeshift wall that was constructed out of whatever scraps could be found locally, and which therefore had to be repaired constantly, was designed to keep out the bands of marauding Xiongnu that were plaguing the northernmost villages of China.


Eventually, Emperor Wu Di of the Han Dynasty (learn more via China guide), who ruled from BCE 140-87, hatched a clever plan to unite the Han Chinese and the Da Yuezhi ("Great" Yuezhi, but most often written as Dayuezhi) - the latter of whom had not forgotten their enmity toward the Xiongnu - against the selfsame Xiongnu, but Emperor Wu Di's plans were much broader than a simple alliance between the Dayuezhi and the Chinese - he wished to form a picture for himself of the nature of the tribes that lived farther west, what form of society they lived under, what was their form of rule, what they produced, what they ate, what kind of houses they lived in, etc.


Accordingly, a cultivated diplomat, Zhang Qian, was sent westward south of the area controlled by the Xiongnu, partly with the aim of locating the Dayuezhi and partly to simply explore the region, to learn about how the different peoples lived, and to record all of this for the sake of the emperor. At the same time, Zhang Qian was to serve as a a Chinese "ambassador", or model representative of his country, toward his various hosts.


It was years, going on decades, before Zhang Qian returned to the court of Emperor Wu Di to present his "findings" (but the emperor reigned for many, many years, so he was there when his emissary returned). In the meantime, the emperor had lost interest in the alliance with the Dayuezhi, mainly because the Xiongnu problem had been contained with bigger and better fortifications along the new Beijing Great Wall (one well might advance the theory that the westward push/ migration of the Xiongnu cum Huns was owing to their eastern advance being blocked by the Great Wall).


But the emperor was highly interested in the things that his emissary could tell him about China's neighbors to the west (Central Asia) and to the southwest (India). More emissaries were sent out to these capitals bearing gifts, including silk, and slowly an interest in exotic goods from China was sparked in such faraway places as the Parthian capital of Nisa (situated near the city of Ashgabat in present-day Turkmenistan, near the border with present-day Iran) and Rome. The travel accounts - and "findings" - of Zhang Qian appear in the Early Han Dynasty historical chronicles, Records of the Grand Historian (aka Shiji) compiled by Sima Qian, the 1st century BCE "Grand Historian" himself, aka the Father of Chinese Historiography, whose chronicles sketched the ancient history of China from the earliest times - i.e., from the time of the legendary Yellow Emperor, aka the Father of China - to the time of Emperor Wu Di.


The "how" of the Silk Road route (how it came into being) is less complicated but is also inseparable from the "why" of the Silk Road route: the Chinese people, by the time of the Qin and Han Dynasties, had become master craftsmen, skilled in the art of weaving and in the art of silkworm husbandry, which in turn required the careful planting and nurturing of the mulberry tree (family Moraceae) - whose leaves was the food on which the silkworm larvae feed - leading to the creation of that most fantastic of fabrics, silk. But the Han Chinese were also master craftsmen in the use of precious metals, precious stones and ivory to be used in the fashioning of exquisite objects of art. In other words, once the kings of Europe and the princes of Parthia had set their eyes on silk, had discovered the exciting taste of spices, and had seen the exquisitely crafted Chinese works of art made of gold, silver, jade and ivory, they coveted these exotic things.


There are two other subsidiary factors that played a significant role in the opening of the overland Silk Road trade route: the fact that a near-complete route had already been opened from west to east by Alexander the Great, all the way to city of Alexandria Eschate ("Alexandria the Farthest"), aka Khujand in present-day Tajikistan, about 100 kilometers south-southwest of Tashkent in present-day Kyrgyzstan; and to the acquisition of larger horses.


Khujand lies at the western entrance to the Fergana Valley, which in turn lies just north of the narrow, east-west mountainous strip, the Alay Mountains, that divides the Fergana Valley from the Kyzyl Suu Valley, the latter of which, according to Herrmann (as we will see in the next section), is the site of one of the first routes of the overland Silk Road.


The other subsidiary factor that played a significant role in the opening of the overland Silk Road trade route was the fact that the Chinese traders in question, as indicated, had acquired larger horses, which they obtained from the Dayuan people who lived in the aforementioned Fergana Valley; while the Levantine trade caravans used camels, since they crossed vast deserts, their Chinese counterparts preferred horses.


The Dayuan were a large-specimen, fair-haired people who were neither of Turkic or of Chinese origin. This fact, plus the fact that they bred large horses, has convinced many historians that the Dayuan are the descendants of Alexander the Great, blended with the local Bactrians (hence the designation "Greco-Bactrian"), themselves Indo-European migrants who had entered parts of India (India at that time was much larger than present-day India) and the northeastern fringes of what eventually became part of the greater Persian Empire.


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  1. 2013/10/31(木) 12:46:11|
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Breath-taking sand dunes, camel rides and sunsets II

During the night it wasn’t so cold in our tents and super warm sleeping bags but in the morning the Russian Mafia coat required again. We watched the sun rise from the small sand hill, another beautiful moment before eating our breakfast of bread and fruit. It was not long after waking in the morning that we were back on our camels to leave, while we watched sunrise the guides packed up the camping things and that was that. The camel trek back was just as beautiful, the colours on the sand dunes amazing but it was not long before we were brought back to the city and reality.


Our train was due to depart at 130am ish so we had the whole day, annoyingly the trains heading west departed from LiuYuan which was 130km from Dunhuang and the latest taxi we could get left at 8. That basically wrote out the night market unfortunately. I still wanted to visit the famous Mogao caves (must-see for Silk Road tour) and although Ben didn’t the German boys did. They needed to book tickets and wanted to shower first so while they did that I checked out some more of the town and it really is such a beautiful town. I met them back at Charlies (the owner is so friendly we used her café like a home for two days) and together we took taxi’s to the caves. It took a little longer to get there than we thought it was going to then we had to walk to the ticket office while he had dropped us off at the furthest part of the carpark away from where we wanted to be. Then the queue to buy the tickets was big so by the time all this added up we missed the 12o’clock English tour and had to wait until 2o’clock for the next one. We took this time to eat lunch, it was erm… not the best meal I have had China vacations. Anyway by the time we had finished lunch, took a few photos and walked down to where the caves were it was not far off 2o’clock.


The caves were caves in a sense but not caves as you would automatically think. They were underground but king of built into a mountain side so on the outside there were stairs and steel doors that you accessed them through. There are only around 40caves open to the public all the other 700 or so are permanently closed in order to protect them, you can’t take photos inside them as this will slowly destroy the paintings. There were 8 of us on the tour and although the guide spoke good English she had learnt a script very very well! There was only me that spoke native English and some of the English words she used I have never even heard been used, I just know they must be English; this made it really difficult for the others to follow. She took us around quite a few caves and they were all unique and interesting, many of them had been painted and re-painted over hundreds of years, one had the second largest Budda in it in China (and it was pretty big!) another told a story from that time in history. I found the paintings really impressive, how they painted on roofs with every picture the exact same like they did I have no idea but the artwork inside them is amazing. Each time in Chinese history has a different type of art and the caves were all very different.


After the tour we headed back for dinner, we wanted to try and fit a visit to Cress Lake in before 8o’clock and it all seemed possible. All until the point when we realised it would cost us 120rmb to get into the lake and then if you actually wanted to do anything in there you had to pay extra. In the end I met up with Ben and we found the night market for an hour. We were surprised by how expensive the BBQ’s were 5-10 times more expensive than in Baiyin.


The time spent in Dunhuang (famous travel destination for China vacation deals) was truly amazing but I just wish I could have had one more day there! There is so much to see and do there and we only touched on it. But we had to keep going, our train tickets were booked and we had to be back for school.


Dunhuang for me was the part of the trip I was looking most forward to, we just had to get there. I was only around 5hours by train from Jiayuguan but the train times were all really stupid times. In the end our train was supposed to depart around 5am infact it was delayed and departed just before 7 and even then became further delayed so we eventually arrived around noon.


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  1. 2013/10/30(水) 15:46:31|
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Breath-taking sand dunes, camel rides and sunsets I

Dunhuang for me was the part of the China trip I was looking most forward to, we just had to get there. I was only around 5hours by train from Jiayuguan but the train times were all really stupid times. In the end our train was supposed to depart around 5am infact it was delayed and departed just before 7 and even then became further delayed so we eventually arrived around noon. Then according to all the information that I could find we wanted to head for Charlie’s café which was apparently across the street from the bus station. Unfortunately the bus station moved 3years ago and the café is no longer opposite it. So after we took a taxi to the bus station we then found out from two German guys that we had to walk a further 20minutes to find the café! Anyway their directions were pretty easy to follow and we found the café no problem, when we finally got there we were starving, the whole morning had ran on China time. So while eating lunch we organised to head into the desert on a camel for the night.


It sounded amazing, we would take a sunset ride by camel into the desert for 1-2hours, we would then climb to the top of the dune to watch sunset while our guides prepared camp and dinner, then after spending the night there we would wake to watch sunrise and then ride the camel back to the town. While booking everything six German guys walked in and booked on the same trip of Silk Road travel as us, that now made the total 16 for the trip. It was going to be a good night, but we needed to do a little shopping first. Top of the shopping list was gloves and socks plus a bag to take with me. First I went with Ben but soon realised I was never going to get what I needed shopping with him so after he got what he needed he headed back to the café while I did some more shopping and had a look round for an hour or so. Our trip was to depart at 5 and as we arrived so late in the end it basically wrote off doing anything else that day. But even only walking round for an hour or so it’s not hard to tell how beautiful the city it, and touristy too.



So back to the café before 5 we all sat around and got to know each other, the German’s were studying in Shanghai (the city of 72-hour China visa) and like us were on holiday for National Day. Not before long and we were off, loaded into two cars, off to find our camels. It was only a short drive and we were there just in time to see them loading up the quad bike that would be going ahead of us with the camping gear and food. Quickly they got each of us on to a camel; they are such beautiful, friendly creatures. The trek was absolutely breath-taking! There is no other words to describe it, it just made me realise even more how much I love my life and how lucky I am to be able to see and experience such amazing things! Everything about the whole evening and night was amazing. First we trekked through an old grave yard by the famous sand dunes before eventually reaching the sand dunes, they are incredible. I was at the back, which gave me the opportunity to take photos of all the other camels in front of me trekking into the sunset. The colours on the dunes as the sunset made you want to constantly take photos, I think in that one evening I took almost 200 photos. The guide that was with us was running up and down the line the whole time taking cameras from us and taking photos of us, he was great and even though he spoke barely any English he was good fun.


When we arrived at camp and got down from the camels it was time to hike to the top of the sand dune for sunset and we had made it just in time. It wasn’t really a long walk up but it was really hard work especially when the sand is constantly coming down due to the fact that there are people in front of you, your feet just push the sand down and it just seems to get steeper and steeper. But finally I reached the top along with the others. Looking from the top of a sand dune over the town and desert is truly spectacular! Amazingly it was to be a full moon and as the sunset the moon rose making it even more special. Going down the boys were boys and ran down or did anything else to get down than just walk. At the bottom dinner was awaiting us, instant noodles, ‘sausage’, bread and some yummy moon cake. We ate sitting on mats with little fold away stools and tables around the camp fire, it was great! After eating the guides came round and offered everyone a beer, can’t go camping without the beer! We then all sat upon a small sand hill where we had the perfect view of the moon rising in the sky, it was getting into winter and in the morning and at night it gets pretty cold. Kindly the guilds knew this and brought with them Russian Mafia type coats for all of us, they were great, so snug and warm. So there we all were stood on top of a sand bank looking like the Russian Mafia had just arrived. Before bed we sat around the camp fire the only thing missing been marshmallows but this was definitely going down as one of the best trips I’ve done (I’m already trying to work out when I can do a week camel trekking trip!).
So you can consider this place for your China vacation deals



  1. 2013/10/30(水) 15:41:44|
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Must not miss - Mogao Caves II

Now that I think about it, I am occupied with all these questions, is protecting the paintings from further damage more important that protecting the caves themselves with all their eroded beauty. And even if renovation was inevitable for the protection of the paintings, did we have to make them accessible to everybody? and therefore destroy the natural beauty of the exterior completely. I could imagine Indiana Jones type sequences when he has to really physically and mentally endure the ruins and the various traps laid to protect a treasure which is truly worth seeing and experiencing.. the community who it belonged to, lay every trap to ensure only a person worthy enough gets to see it. And then I woke up from my thoughts to the memory of the large Chinese tourist group piling into a cave we were already in, like a wave that could drown you inside that cave! The treasure was still there, but making it easy to get to has destroyed half the thrill. Every coin has two sides. How much is too much ?


Nancy took us to a cave of Mogao Cave (the best attaction in China for China vacation deals) with a 15 meter statue of Buddha lying on the ground while he attained nirvana. There stood 72 people behind him witness to this. She explained that these people were actually put in later at a certain time in history when Buddha and Confucius were actually considered to be one person! And the 72 people were actually the famed 72 disciples of Confucius !


Not only this, there was even a time when unlike the stories I'd heard of the Taoists resisting the Buddhist monks with all their might, Taoist mythical characters actually helped Buddha. What a beautiful coming together of thoughts, ideas and stories. Nancy showed us paintings of the four Taoist gods of fire, water, rain and lightning alongside the Asura with four hands standing guard to statues of Buddha. I was wondering about how rare this cave might actually be and the beauty of it. Maybe this was just out of one artist's imagination who had been drawing Taoist images all his life and had now been commissioned to a Buddhist cave. But how beautiful the thought was, as against the fighting and bloodshed usually associated with Buddhism sweeping over Taoism through the middle kingdom.


The final cave we saw housed the second largest Buddha, about 35 m tall! This being second largest in the area was less popular and therefore in a much better state than the largest. (Unfortunately the largest was closed for renovation, the one I had seen a picture of, because of which I'd decided to come here in the first place!!) As we entered the cave, the darkness slowly revealed two large feet. As I looked up to see the rest of the statue, I was awed by its monumentality. You can only see the statue while standing near Buddha's feet. You look up to see Buddha's gigantic body and hands and face. The statue has been carved out of the cliff and then layers of clay reinforced with reeds give curves, textures of clothes, details of dress and features.


Slowly as, we got over its size, we realized how stunning the patterns of the roof and walls of this cave were! There were appropriately large paintings of bodhisattvas in elegant postures and rich colours on either of the two sides.


We ended our China trip to the Magao caves with three bottles of delicious sweet yoghurt each. The cold delicious curd is really a life saver in the harsh landscape and it comes in a smart little glass bottle too.


As we left the caves behind, I realised we have just enough time to see the Crescent Lake! The lonely planet description talks of one of the most picturesque dunes in the area!



Even though we were tired and hadn't had a proper meal for more than 24 hours, we told the cabdriver to turn towards the lake.


The dunes here, are the tallest in this part of the world. Panting and battling the urge to sit down, looking back again and again to see how far up we'd come, we climbed up to the top of a dune! On one side was the entire oasis of Dunhuang (must-see destination for Silk Road tours). On the other, the dunes and valleys of fine sand stretched as far as we could see. The forbidding, lifeless, engulfing desert. The idea of getting lost in that sea of sand where the dunes towered hundreds of metres above you, made me shiver! I cannot imagine how people travel across these for days on end. And I wish I knew what joy they would get when finally arriving at this point where you stand at the threshold of the oasis. On one side the fatal desert and on the other the life giving Oasis! Oh And I must not forget to mention the lake itself. A small, curiously crescent shaped lake partially hidden by the Chinese building made to highlight it!


We almost rambled down the dune on our way back. Taking a fraction of the time we took to climb up but ended up with shoes splitting with sand ! As we sat pouring out the sand from our shoes one by one, the true nature of its fine grains shown through.


It was time to go back to Urumqi. First to Dunhuang, a quick meal of rice, chicken and that delicious yoghurt, then the ride back to Liu Yuan and the overnight train to Urumqi. What a longgg, mind blowing day!


While looking for places to visit around Urumqi, the place that struck me most was the Mogao caves near Dunhuang. Although mentioned as a 2 to 3 day trip included in popular China travel package , I figured if we go by the overnight train we should have the good part of one day enough to be able to see the caves.


  1. 2013/10/29(火) 15:40:32|
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Must not miss - Mogao Caves I

While looking for places to visit around Urumqi for last minute China travel deals, the place that struck me most was the Mogao caves near Dunhuang. Although mentioned as a 2 to 3 day trip, I figured if we go by the overnight train we should have the good part of one day enough to be able to see the caves. One image of a 9 tiered pagoda embedded in a cliff was enough to make me want to go there.


We reached Liu yuan at 7 am, the station seemed small and the weather outside was cool. After 'Unexpected Urumqi', I'd almost forgotten why I'd booked these tickets-to come all the way here. Looking at the available options for a ride to Dunhuang, we took the most inexpensive and fast option, a minibus.




So, after a five hour plane journey across China the previous day, an overnight train, a two and half hour minibus ride to Dunhuang (the main destination for Silk Road tour ) and from there, another half an hour to the caves! As we left the dusty transit town of Liu Yuan, I hoped with everything I had, that these caves we were going to see, are REALLY worth it.


Dad with his usual, 'enjoy the journey and don't worry about the destination', brought my attention to the loud, screeching voices of the group of Chinese women sitting behind us. We were in the desert. The straight road we were on, cut across the nothingness. The desert changed intensities. The scrawny bushes changed into ones that had a lovely crimson glow about them. Dad called it a 'blush in the bush'. It made me think of the red cheeks of the people living in the mountains. It was almost like somebody had used a giant brush to touch up the bushes with a bit of crimson paint. We kept moving on that straight road, the chattering of the women, the occasional grunt of the driver and the smooth sound of the bus took a rhythmic quality. As dad and I crunched away on peanuts.


Soon the desert turned into an oasis, complete with poplar trees, we reached Dunhuang, a small city with extensive facilities. They have one of those typical Chinese night markets and English sign boards swarming the city. It seems like all possible efforts were being made to make it attractive for foreign tourists. After a brief look around, we got onto yet another mini bus for the last leg of our journey to the caves.


A UNESCO World Heritage Site to make a contricution to China tourism
, the Magao Caves seem to have gained a lot of popularity in the recent years. The Chinese Government has yet again left no stone unturned to make this beautiful relic accessible to hordes of tourists. As we left the highway and turned towards the caves, we could see the caves far away like termite homes. The golden sand of the desert, had sandstone cliffs hidden in it and these cliffs when revealed had been dug into to make caves. This place was home to some 1400 Buddhist monks for many many years. The tourist centre is big and the exhibition/museum is a very carefully designed building. Its entrance embedded in a man-made sandstone cliff similar to the caves is impressive. It reminded me of the Egyptian temples we drew at university.


Unlike the caves I'd seen from the road, the 'public' caves have been renovated completely. Made suitable for groups of about 20 Chinese tourists to visit conveniently, the caves look nothing like they used to. I have to say I was quite disappointed with what I saw. Despite the slight breeze and the poplar trees swaying with it, I was slowly losing the last bit of hope I had left for these caves. Everything was paved, there was no evidence of what these caves looked like in the older times. The eves were all new, a whole new facade seemed to have been pasted on the original caves. Fences, staircases, walkways, ventilators, doors, all so obviously new.


We waited about half an hour for the English China tour guide to arrive. A French couple also came in the meantime and the five of us were ready for the tour. By this time I was aching for something to make all this effort pay off. And finally, finally it did.


As we went from cave to cave, our surprisingly articulate guide, Nancy(her English name) did a brilliant job of revealing the magical world of the Magao cave paintings. She talked of the nuances of the statues, whether they had ever been renovated or were original, the differences that helped figure out which century they were made in, the expressions of the Buddha and the changes that were made to his appearance and why.


The Indian influence on the paintings. The bodhisattvas and how slowly they took a departure from the way they were portrayed in India to their Chinese counterparts. The apsaras and their swirly garments floating like clouds above Buddha. The colors, that were natural pigments and their sensitivity to atmospheric gases and fumes. Slowly i started forgiving one by one the various decisions taken to make the caves what they are today. The doors and ventilators that were necessary to avoid as much as possible the increase in carbon dioxide which has a negative impact on the paintings. The eves and frames made outside the caves to cast a shadow on the doorway itself to minimize the damage to the paintings there. She showed us how certain caves had been damaged beyond hope because of the forces of nature. I began to see why they had to do the things they did to protect these cultural wonders which, are no doubt an extremely rich source of history. I still don't agree with the extent of the intervention, but at the time I was truly engrossed in the beauty and wonder of this art work and was just happy I came.


  1. 2013/10/29(火) 15:39:17|
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China Travel - Special Winter Offers for Those Value-Seekers

Winter is low-season to travel for most countries in the northern hemisphere, and China is included without exception. So many budget China travel packages included in China tour deals are provided during winter season. In my opinion, winter is the best time to visit China because of less visitors and low price of hotels, transportation and attractions’ admission. Here I recommended a 8-day tour package to see the essence of China (Beijing, Shanghai, Hangzhou, Suzhou) from $499 per person.


Some one may say “no good cheap goods” but this $499 tour package provide high-quality 5-star hotel like Four Points by Sheraton Beijing and the special meal such as authentic Peking Duck in Beijing.


The package includes: Inter-China Flights from Beijing to Shanghai, 7 nights five star hotels, must-see attractions in four cities, and Peking Duck in Beijing and Shanghai & Hangzhou tasty local cuisine.


Detailed Itinerary Arrangement:

The first day: tour guide will pick you up at the airport and then transfer you to check in Four Points By Sheraton Beijing. You can have a good rest after a long flight journey.


The second day: you journey in China actually starts with Tiananmen Square. After roam on the square, you will be lead to Imperial Palace in the Forbidden City. In the afternoon, you will visit Summer Palace, a UNESCO World Heritage Site which make a contribution to China tourism
. In the evening, you will taste the authentic Pecking Duck in Pianyifang or Quanjude.


The third day: in the morning, you will be transferred to visit the Juyongguan Great Wall. Although the Badaling Great Wall is most-visited and best-known, it is crowded even in the low season. In the afternoon,head to Beijing Zoo to see the giant pandas. The rest of the afternoon is free for your to explore at Wangfujing and try to bargain there when you buy something.


The fourth day: In the morning, fly to Shanghai. After arrival of Shanghai (a city of three days to visit without China visa application), you will visit Shanghai Old Street where you can see the most typical old Shanghai through the quaint architectures and traditional Yuyuan Bazar. After that you will be transferred to Suzhou. In Suzhou, you will first visit Shan Tang Street. With the history of about 1,100 years, its layout and architecture are the best to represent the features of Suzhou’s old alleys. In Suzhou, you will live in GRAND METROPARK HOTEL.


The fifth day: you vill visit the Lingering Garden (the most representative of Suzhou classic gardens) and Silk Spinning Factory. After visiting these two places, you will be led to Hangzhou. In Hangzhou, you will explore the famous West Lake. In the evening, you will taste the exquisite local cuisine and then stay in CROWNE PLAZA XANADU RESORT.


The sixth day: After a stop at the Green Tea Village, you will be driven to Shanghai to visit the Bund and Gem Exhibition Center. In the evening, you will have a taste of the delicious local Shanghai cuisine. Then have a rest in RENAISSANCE SHANGHAI YANGTZ at night.


The seventh day: a free day in Shanghai, or you can choose an optional tour to Xian (starting point for Silk Road tours).


The eighth day: Drive you to the airport and go back your home.


Special Offer’s URL: http://www.chinatour.com/travel-deals/209/13ABS08.htm



From: http://www.articlestars.com/articles/1479818_China-Travel---Special-Winter-Offers-for-Those-Value-Seekers.html

  1. 2013/10/28(月) 15:32:59|
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Warnings and Dangers You Should Avoid in Shanghai

1. DO Eat From the Street Vendors


Do eat food from the street vendors but use common sense. I lived in Shanghai (best destination for last minute China travel deals) for 13 months over a two year period and ate all kinds of things from the local street vendors. The only time I ever got sick in China was from a meal in a very clean looking Korean restaurant.


The street vendors have all kinds of tasty treats for very cheap prices. As mentioned above, use common sense. Foods that are served cold should be avoided. If it's deep fried or comes out of a super hot steamer, however, chances are its pretty safe. I always figured that even if it was crawling with nasty germs once it left the deep fryer it was good to go. Kind of like boiling your water when backpacking.


So, don't be afraid. Eating from the street vendors is a great way to try the local treats while spending only pennies. And remember, you can get sick anywhere. The worst food poisoning I ever got was from a Togo's sandwhich shop here in California.


2. Don't drive and stay alive !


I am fond of risky adventures and actually love driving in Italy, and Rome in particular. But I have been coming to Shanghai since 1999 and still cannot believe drivers in this city. Shanghai has the MOST AGGRESSIVE drivers I have ever witnessed. Period. End of story.


I don't know if it's that owning a vehicle is a relatively new phenomenon in China, but, even I still have not gotren the guts to drive in Shanghai.


That brings me to my DANGER TIP. Driving, in general, is something that should be completely AVOIDED unless you are a glutton for punishment. And if you do drive, beware of the local police, who stand on street corners, highways and busy intersections around the clock, blowing their whistles and motioning for you to pull over for no real reason other than to write you a ticket for something.


Take a cab everywhere you go (see picture), not that cabbies are any less aggressive - becuase they aren't. But taxi prices in Shanghai are very resonable (10 RMB,unit of China money, for a several km journey) and can be found by the seemingly thousands at any time, except when it rains.


Or even try the Metro - if you're in to MEATING new people (as in - welcome to the cattle car), but please do yourself a favor and don't even think of renting a car to see the city. And if you do, enjoy!


3. Tips At Bars


Although there is generally no tipping in Shanghai, it is wise to be careful of the tipping scam that happens in many bars.


When you go to a bar, girls in many will sit with you. They will ask you to buy them drinks. Of course, they are attractive, and you may be inclined for them to join you for a few drinks.


However, they will dance with you, rub up with you, and do their best to make sure you have a good time after popular China tours. When you are finished, they will demand a tip. Sometimes two or three hundred yuan.


Girls can make a pretty decent living from the tips of foreigners. Although these bars are technically breaking the law, they cover it up by not having a staff list and posting a sign that tips are not allowed. These are both just bogus ways to confuse the police into not shutting them down.


Be aware, if a girl sits with you at a bar, you could be in for an expensive evening. Bars (not the clubs, but the small bars) on Maoming Road, like Diablo and even more notoriously Nelly's are the highest risks. Best advice is to go there accompanied by someone and say you don't want company, or avoid these places altogether.



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  1. 2013/10/25(金) 16:58:42|
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Haunted Beijing: Getting acquainted with the city's spooky side

At first glance, Beijing doesn't seem like the kind of place one would go in search of the uncanny.


At ground level, Beijing (the most famous travel city for affordable China travel packages) completely lacks mystery.


Old buildings and streets are continuously bulldozed to make way for dramatic steel and glass skyscrapers.


But despite the lack of abandoned cobblestone streets or creaky, haunted cathedrals, China’s capital has a rich history of spooky stories -- mostly involving imperial intrigue and traditional superstitions.


?ChinaTour.com explores some of these tales with its recently launched Beijing Ghosts tour, the only English-language excursion for people wanting to explore the city’s eerie side.


“We introduce [tourists] to all of the local ghost stories and folklore and try to scare them a bit while we’re at it,” says Daniel Newman, managing director of Newman Tours.


Guide Christopher Pegg starts the evening tour from the Beihai metro station, leading visitors through two dozen stops in the winding hutongs –- narrow, maze-like alleys -– near Houhai Lake and around Prince Gong’s Mansion for two hours of fright and fun.


Traditional hutong homes and the stunning, enormous Prince Gong’s Mansion provide the perfect backdrop for bone-chilling tales.


The restored historic site may look cheery during the day with its gardens and bright colors, but it has a dark back story, says Pegg.

Death from a thousand cuts


?Heshen, a renowned official during the Qing Dynasty, built Prince Gong’s Mansion in 1777.


"The Qianlong emperor at the time greatly favored Heshen and allowed him to get away with whatever he wanted," says Pegg. "Heshen loved to increase people’s taxes and take the extra for himself; he was rumored to have millions of ounces of silver – a percentage of the national income.


"When Qianlong was very young, he went to play a trick on one of the concubines. He pulled on her hair, and she spun around and she smacked the little child.


"But you’re never allowed to hit the prince, so she was promptly beaten and demoted and, because she was shamed by all of this, she decided to kill herself."


Emperor Qianlong was mortified by her death.


"He was so distraught that he bit his thumb and left a bloody mark on the girl’s neck because he wanted to be able to identify her in the next life," says Pegg.


"Heshen was born the same year the concubine died and he looked a lot like the concubine -- he even had a red birthmark on his neck.


"They say Heshen had Qianlong’s favor because he was a reincarnation of the concubine. Of course, eventually Emperor Qianlong died and Heshen was not so popular any more and they promptly decided to execute him by slow slicing -- death by a thousand cuts."


According to the legend, afterward bloody footprints were later outside Heshen's home -- he'd supposedly returned to look for his silver.


Heshen’s gruesome end sets the tone for the tour, as visitors weave through paths around the apparently haunted home of this poor soul.

Getting hitched with a ghost


Tourists also learn about the twisted past of the Ming Dynasty’s most notorious and murderous ruler, Emperor Yongle, and other horror stories from Imperial China’s ruthless leaders for their popular China travel package .


The most intriguing part of the tour is the chance to interact with Beijing’s spirits -- and even marry them if desired.


Pegg conducts ghost weddings, a tradition in China that allows unmarried spirits to tie the knot with the living. Brave participants can join a ghost in holy matrimony in a traditional Chinese ceremony.


“The main ceremony is honoring ancestors,” Pegg says.


“The head ancestor in heaven is the Jade Emperor; we have a picture of him so people can bow to him and it’s great fun when people bring their parents -- you’re supposed to honor them, as well.”


Sometimes a scarecrow is used as a stand-in for the ghost, but Pegg says often local ghosts are summoned, usually spirits called Mr. and Mrs. E.


“'E' means hungry in Chinese,” says Pegg. “The hungry ghost is a type of Buddhist ghost with a mouth that’s pencil-thin so they can’t eat anything in the afterlife -- we invite these starving ghosts to the wedding.”


Other activities on the tour include burning paper offerings, including money or paper clothes, for ancestors to use in the afterlife.


Pegg also shows participants an example of traditional Chinese medicine for cuts, known for its popularity with headless ghosts who bang on pharmacy doors asking for medicine for their wounds.


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  1. 2013/10/24(木) 16:58:47|
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Explore the East Nanjing Road



East Nanjing Road has been the centre of commerce in Shanghai (the best destination for your best tours of China) for more than a century. This mostly pedestrianised shopping road, was simply known as Nanjing Road before 1945 but then the road west of Xizang Road was called West Nanjing Road and so this section was renamed.


Today East Nanjing Road becomes the first choice for many fashion-seeking shoppers in Shanghai. A great many large shopping malls, time-honoured stores, famous stores and specialty shops cluster along both sides of the road. You can find whatever you want - commodities, home appliances, communication equipment, photographic equipment, fitness equipment, clothing, shoes, fabrics, cosmetics, jewelleries, watches, glasses, books, food, medicine and children's needs.


If you are interested in Chinese culture and art, the specialty shops in East Nanjing Road will gratify your taste when you have Shanghai's last minute China travel deals. You can choose from various Chinese special local products such as China silk, calligraphy, paintings, traditional Chinese medicine, handicrafts and other tourist souvenirs.


When night comes, the stores are decorated with colourful sparkling lights. Even if you don't have any shopping plans you will find the street itself a great attraction. Wandering on the road and hungry? There are a lot of excellent restaurants in the East Nanjing Road offering delicious food and good service. Tired? There are plenty of quality hotels along the road such as Peace Hotel, Sofitel Hyland Shanghai, East Asia Hotel and Ramada Plaza Shanghai.


Word of warning though. As this road is the busiest in the city, watch out for pickpockets and such like plus be aware of people trying to sell you fake DVD's, sunglasses and watches.

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  1. 2013/10/23(水) 17:04:03|
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How much do you know the shopping in Hong Kong

1. Factory Outlets: Granville Road - Tsim Sha Tsui


You may not find what you are looking for but if you are in Nathan Road Tsim Sha Tsui (houses some famous Hong Kong attractions) then walk the short distance to Granville Road, which literally overflows with fashion outlets. The majority of the stores are only interested in getting rid of last seasons factory seconds but there are some very reasonably priced outlets amongst the mayhem so if you are really interested in sniffing out a bargain you will be rewarded.


The shops are predominantly catering to young locals so some of the styles will be a bit quirky and cutting edge but if you have time to browse you can continue walking along Granville Road until you reach Chatham Road South and then walk back along Cameron Road. THE ONE shopping mall is located on the corner of Granville Road and Nathan Road and is a good place to dine as some of its restaurants have nice views of the Hong Kong Island skyline.


What to buy: Last season (but still trendy) young fashion name brands at moderate prices.


2. Airport Duty Free: Some Last Minute Items


For as long as I can remember my wife has been on the hunt for a Red PAnda stuffed animal. She has searched high and low every zoo and animal park we have ever visited with no luck...until Hong Kong (learn more via Hong Kong travel guide). We had some time to kill before the flight and wanted to check out the shops before heading the the club.


In one of the souvenir shops my wife found a display of several stuffed Red Pandas. Needless to say she was thrilled... We wound up buying her a panda as well as her newphew and our friend back at home had to get one too. So three pandas later we left the shop very satisfied.


What to pay: The Red Pandas were $200 Hong Kong Dollars which is equivelent to $25 USD.


3. The Disney Store: For the Young and Young at Heart


As soon as my wife spotted the Disney store; reality didn't exist. My wife got the same glazed over look of happiness that being in Disney World (which is the must-see for Hong Kong tour) brings out in her and off she was in the store. Now that she has a nephew she has her own litle Mouseketeer in training...and she is ready to get him started with his Disney life.


The store had everything you'd find in any Disney store throughout the world: clothing, toys, hats and varous Disney themed merchandise. After my wife had successfully navigated every inch of the store she emerged with shopping bag full of gifts for her nephew at home. It was amazing; this was the first time ever she left without buying a single item for herself....Wow!


4. Supermarket: Buy chocolates in supermarkets


I thought of buying chocolates in one of the supermarkets in Tsim Sha Tsui rather to buy in the Duty Free. So, off I went to the supermarket, making my research if chocolates here would be cheaper than buying in Duty Free. I ended up buying lots and lots of Cadbury chocolate packs, M&Ms and even junk foods, because they’re so cheap! Each pack of Cadbury chocolates costs HK$14 only! Amazing right! Haha! When I got back in the Philippines, I found the same Cadbury chocolates in one of the supermarkets in the city and the costs are a bit higher like about HK$22.


Cash or credit card payments are acceptable in Supermarkets. One thing also I have to mention is when buying stuffs in supermarkets, you must bring your own bag or you’ll be asked to purchase a plastic bag for the items you purchased. The plastic bag costs less than HK$1 and it’s not advisable to use a plastic bag. The supermarket staffs will look at you like you’ve done something very offensive. Well, I just disregarded that since I honestly DON’T know.


What to buy: Chocolates, cookies, junk foods


What to pay: HK$50-100, depends on the stuffs you want to purchase


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  1. 2013/10/22(火) 16:51:56|
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Shopping Complexes in Hong Kong

1. Shopping Complexes: Citygate Outlets in Tung Chung


I have just returned from Hong Kong (learn more via Hong Kong travel guide) and another visit to Citygate at the western terminus of the Tung Chung line. This is the only "mall" in Hong Kong to be made up of discount outlets and most shops offer pretty hefty discounts of up to 70%. A new area known as Tenth Avenue has now opened selling mainly shoes and some handbags and wallets. Previously I have done the bulk of my shopping at the excellent Esprit Outlet. On my most recent visit, summer sales were in full swing across Hong Kong so I was a little disappointed by what the Esprit store had to offer. Generally the most heavily discounted items are last season but that doesnt matter as Esprit styles dont change dramatically.



There are a combination of mid and high range shops, the best of which is a good Coach outlet which was giving out extra discounts card to every shopper on the day after Hong Kong tours I was there. If you are looking for kids clothes there are a handful of dedicated stores including a Chickadee (located on the left of the picture). Quicksilver and Adidas are also good stores to check out.


Many people go directly to Tung Chung to shop while others combine the trip with a visit to view the Big Buddha on Lantau Island. The Ngong Ping 360 cable car station is a short walk from the mall or if you prefer take the number 23 bus from the nearby bus station to Ngong Ping Village.


2. New Town Plaza in Sha Tin


With so many shopping centres to choose from, you may think that NEW TOWN PLAZA in Sha Tin is not worth the extra few minutes on the MTR but in reality its not that far from Yau Ma Tei, though you have to change at Kowloon Tong (houses some famous Hong Kong tourist attractions) to the blue line towards either Lo Wo or Lok Ma Chau.


This large suburban shopping mall has over 350 shops located throughout three sections. There are designer brands but also loads of mid range stores. I've shopped in both Phase 1 and Phase 3 but there is also another section called Grand Central Plaza which houses furniture stores and IKEA's flagship store in Hong Kong. If you like Snoopy, he has his own little world.



I liked the variety of stores. In Phase 1 there are the usual fashion stores like Zara, Esprit and H&M alongside a new Kate Spade store and a branch of Uniqlo (there are 11 throughout HK) which stocks very reasonably priced well made casual wear for the whole family. For jewellery lovers there is Thomas Sabo, Pandora and Swarovski.


In Phase 3 there are loads of smaller boutique style stores. Rabbit (a shoe shop on Level 3) is worth checking out if you are looking for reasonably priced young casual styles. Yata department store which stocks Japanese merchandise is located in this section and is worth browsing as do have many items on sale. I like the layout of the Yata store. Its like a shopping mall inside a shopping mall.


NEWS FLASH: Cath Kidston opened a new store in New Town Plaza


3. ELEMENTS Shopping Centre - Kowloon Station


I like the interior of Elements Shopping Centre but find its location a little out of the way. I have walked there from Jordan MTR which takes approximately 20 minutes but its easier to take the MTR to Kowloon Station. There is also a covered walkway from Austin MTR station. The MTR Corporation owns Elements and has obviously invested a lot of money in the development of West Kowloon.


The mall is divided into five areas, each of which is an "element" of nature. The architecture of each area is defined by either wood, fire, earth, water and metal. The unique features of the mall interior makes ELEMENTS popular with high end retailers and fashion stores are very prominent. There is an excellent Metro Bookstore and some nice restaurants.


As well as shopping Elements has a huge cinema complex and an ice skating rink (similar to one at Festival Walk shopping centre in Kowloon Tong). Wifi is available inside the centre.


What to buy: Designer items. Lucky Jeans has opened their first retail outlet recently.



Don't forget to buy in Hong Kong after your last minute China travel deals.


  1. 2013/10/21(月) 15:49:53|
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Guangzhou Tour and Xiamen Tour for Your November Time

If you have no idea about where to travel at your November time, you can keep reading this article to get more information about the November tour in China as we are going to talk about the tour in Guangzhou and Xiamen with about 8 days. Yes, Guangzhou and Xiamen, these are two popular destinations which have attracted numerous travelers from home and abroad to have a visit there because of its beautiful scenery and charm. Here we are going to talk more about how to make tour to China to pay your visit to Guangzhou and Xiamen. Follow me here!


Wuyi Mountain

You will firstly arrive in Guangzhou (wonderful place to spend your China vacation deals) in your first day and just have a good rest upon your arrival there, and then you will have a visit to Dr. Sun Yat-sen’s Memorial Hall,?Temple of Family Chen,?and Temple of the?Six Banyan Trees and?Shamian Street in your second day and of course enjoy yourself in Chimelong tourism resort?nearby Guangzhou city along with?Xiangjiang Safari Park in your third day; and your fourth day you will take your flight to Xiamen to keep your tour in China continue with the sightseeing of Gulang Islet leisurely along the seaside road including Sunshine Rock, Shuzhuang Garden and Piano Musuem in your 5th day and South Putuo Temple, Xiamen University and Hulishan Fort at day 6 before you take your flight to Wuyishan later that day; then Mt. Wuyishan Scenic Area including Nine-bend Stream raft will be your itinerary of your seventh day; and you will depart from Wuyishan in the 8th day to finish your 8-days best tours of China.

Temple of Family Chen


How do you feel about this plan to tour in Guangzhou and Xiamen? If you want to experience it, you can make full preparation from now, I am sure you will have an enjoyable travel to China!


  1. 2013/10/18(金) 17:01:38|
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Dali - Capital of an ancient Kingdom II

A complete, encircling city wall was built by Emperor Hongwu (1368-98) who founded the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644). The wall is the foundation of today's city wall.


Not only was Dali the political and economic center of two important kingdoms, Nanzhao and Dali (which should be visited after Kunming travel), but it was also the inspiration of many legends and romantic tales, especially in martial arts fiction.


One of the most famous martial arts novels involving Dali is "Demi-Gods and Semi-Devils" (first serialized in 1963) by renowned Hong Kong author Jin Yong (Louis Cha Leung-yung). One of the three heroes is a prince from the Dali Kingdom who refuses to learn martial arts because of Buddhist influence. He runs away from home when his father and the king force him to learn to fight. He gains powers and finds adventure, intrigue beautiful women in the mountainous area. The book was made into TV series and movies.


Dali is always described as a natural paradise surrounded by beautiful mountains and lakes. Colorful flowers bloom everywhere and people of different ethnic groups and cultures live together in harmony.


Judging from the environment of Dali today, the novels of paradise-like beauty were definitely right.


The climate is mild, with temperatures averaging 25 degrees Celsius in summer and 15 degrees Celsius in winter.


From the top of the city wall, you can see the 4,000-meter-high Cangshan Mountains rising to the west. They are covered by green and white clouds and mist floats around the middle like a white ribbon.


Looking to the east and you can see large Erhai Lake (famous attraction to see during Kunming tours), the "mother lake" of Dali, with mountains on the other side.


The wall


Today's Dali city wall was renovated in the 1980s, based on the Ming Dynasty city wall. It had four main gates, one in each of four directions; several streets ran south to north and eight smaller streets ran from east to west inside the wall.


The South Gate is the largest and the entry point where you climb steps to the top of the wall. From there, you have a bird's-eye view of the whole city to the north, with the central street (Fuxing Road) running to the North Gate.


All that's left of the encircling wall is an L-shape consisting of the western and southern sections where visitors can walk.


Since the wall is 8.3 meters high, far higher than most buildings, walking along it is like walking on top of the ancient city.


Many old structures are built in traditional Bai ethnic style with white walls, black tiles and upturned eaves. Courtyards are planted with trees and flowers.


A walk along the wall offers beautiful views and takes less than an hour. When I returned to South Gate, the quiet "sleeping swan" had been transformed into a swarming tourist spot and was more like a magpie. All the tourist shops were open.


The main north-south street, Fuxing Road, is filled with boutiques selling souvenirs, garments, textiles, crafts, silver and stone carving. Famous Yunnan coffee and Yunnan Pu'erh tea are also sold. The famous local marbled stone is called Dali Stone in China and is only found in the area.


Not far from the South Gate is the landmark of Dali ancient city, Wuhua Tower. This tower is a downsized modern reproduction of the vast national guesthouse of the Nanzhou Kingdom where foreign envoys lived during their visits.


The tower was destroyed early in the Yuan Dynasty when Kublai Khan's army conquered Yunnan Province (famous travel destination for best tours of China).


The rebuilt version is much smaller, but still at the center of the ancient city. The tower's sign "Dali" in Chinese characters was written by famous litterateur Guo Moruo (1892-1978) and has become the "signature" of the city.


As tourists know, Dali combines features of the exotic East, exotic ethnic groups and the West.


Yangren Street, literally Foreigners' Street, is packed with Western cafes, bars and restaurants. It's the place tourism first boomed as visitors flocked to the small city surrounded by mountains.


Modern bars with flashing lights and music contrast with the ancient city and tranquil mountains.


Streets are always packed with flower vendors since the year-round climate is spring-like. The fragrant flowers add a romantic vibe to the ancient city.


As I walked along Fuxing Road and passed Yangren Street, the tourist bustle and souvenir shops were left behind. It became more quiet and authentic.


Buildings are not prettied up and reconstructed for tourists but retain their original look. People go about their daily lives. There are small, modest (and excellent) restaurants, butcher shops and various stores, schools and a hospital.


Teenagers chat on their way home from schools, elderly women shop with bamboo baskets on their backs, store owners sit at the doorway, smoking meter-long water pipes. There's a church and a mosque.


It's still possible to enjoy the real Dali.


How to get there:


There are direct flights from Shanghai (the city of three day visit without China visa application) to Dali. You can also fly first to Kunming, the provincial capital, and then take a 4-5 hours bus ride to Dali. A taxi from the bus station to Dali ancient city costs around 40 yuan (US$6.45) while a cab from Dali airport is around 150 yuan.


Where to stay:


There are many hotels and hostels catering to every taste and budget. You can book most online. Some visitors stay in hostels in villages near Erhai Lake, a 15-minute drive from the city.


What to eat:


Typical Dali cuisine features sour and spicy fish and braised chicken, and most city restaurants offer good takes on these dishes. Western bars and restaurants can be found on Yangren Street.


Some dishes are cooked with flowers — such as scrambled eggs with roses, a specialty in Dali. Freshly squeezed juice is very good.


Tips:


The center of modern Dali City is Xiaguan, a newly developed administrative center. Shuttle buses from the airport only stop at Xiaguan. From Xiaguan, you can take the No. 4 bus or a taxi to Dali ancient city, which is about 20 minutes away.


Admission to Dali city wall: 2 yuan


Bikes can be rented to explore the ancient city. Many rental stalls are on Bo'ai Road in the western part of the city. Rental fees are 20-30 yuan per hour.


Yunnan coffee is famous and makes a good gift. The province is China's major coffee-producing area, with a climate similar to Brazil's. Don't buy high-priced coffee on popular Fuxing Road, which has many coffee shops. Go to Bo'ai Road where prices are much more reasonable. Another famous Yunnan beverage Pu'erh Tea — a fermented dark tea — can also be found everywhere but make sure you check out a few shops for price and quality before making a purchase.


  1. 2013/10/17(木) 16:19:39|
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Dali - Capital of an ancient Kingdom I

Critics say the ancient town of Dali in Yunnan Province (best destination for China tour deals) has been spoiled by tourism. But we finds that by staying close to the old wall and exploring the byways you can still have an authentic experience.


When I first stood on top of the Dali city wall, I found it hard to believe that the small ancient city below me had been the grand capital of a sprawling kingdom in southwestern Asia for hundreds of years.


Today the wall in Dali, Yunnan Province, is only 6 kilometers long — I could clearly see the far end and almost every building along the way. The original defensive wall encircling the city was built more than 600 years ago; the wall we see today is around 30 years old. It's around 6 meters thick, made of packed earth covered with bricks, standing around 8.3 meters high.


It was early morning, the city was still asleep, shops were closed and only a few tourists were wandering along the wall. In the drizzle and mist, the old white buildings in the ancient town suggested a sleeping swan.


Dali is an extremely popular — some say too popular — tourist destination in Yunnan, as is Lijiang City (which is visited after Kunming tour) in the north of the province. Both are famous for their backpacker, hippie vibe, ethnic culture, crafts and food, as well as beautiful scenery and leisurely pace of life. Unlike Lijiang, Dali was a major political and economic center in southwestern China and Asia.


Some critics say the ancient city of Dali has lost its charm because of the overwhelming numbers of tourists, souvenir shops, faux-traditional structures, modern bars and loud music. But by staying close to the "old" city wall and exploring, you can still have a relaxing and authentic experience in unspoiled areas.


History


Southwestern China, including today's Guizhou, Yunnan and Sichuan (famous travel destination for best tours of China) provinces, is home to many ethnic minorities, such as the Bai and Yi peoples. Many tribes established their own territories and small administrative areas.


In AD 738, the rising Nanzhao Kingdom united five other kingdoms with the support of the Tang Dynasty (AD 618-907) government. The new Nanzhao Kingdom covered all of what is now Yunnan Province, part of Guizhou, and parts of the Tibet Autonomous Region, Myanmar and Vietnam. Dali City was the capital, da meaning big and grand, and li meaning administration or government.


The wish for grandeur came true. Nanzhao was the first united kingdom in southwestern China and the once-backward region began to flourish and catch up with prosperous Central China in the 8th and 9th centuries.


After the downfall of the Nanzhao Kingdom, the kingdom of Dali arose and flourished from AD 937 to 1253. It was an important military and political ally to the Song Dynasty (AD 960-1279). Since the Yuan Dynasty (1271-1368), the kingdom has belonged to the central government in today's Bejing City.



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  1. 2013/10/17(木) 16:17:06|
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Silk Road Exploration from Beijing to Urumqi




If you are a challenger to take risk to travel somewhere, or at least so curious about exploring somewhere, this article will attract your attention I guess, as we are going to talk about the silk road tour from Beijing to Urumqi, a section of the whole Silk Road tour in China, which will spend you fewer days and fewer money but also offer you great excitement. So, let us talk more about it in detail here!


In your beginning of your silk road tour, you will firstly arrive in Beijing (the city of three-day China visa free) for the sightseeing.


Tiananmen Square, Forbidden City (must-see for last minute China travel deals) and Temple of Heaven in your second day, Badaling Great Wall and Ming Tombs in third day and then take your flight to Dunhuang at day 4 to visit the Crescent Spring and Sighing Sand Dune upon your arrival there at that day; of course the Mogao Grottoes visiting and train to Turpan will be your activity of your 5th day in China, then your itinerary in Turpan will include seeing the Jiaohe Ancient City and Karez Well at day 6 and Gaochang Ancient City, Astana Tombs, Flaming Mountain and Bezeklik Caves at 7th day and take your drive to Urumqi in your eighth day to appreciate the charm of the Tianchi Lake and Er Daoqiao Market. Finally you will fly to Shanghai for a easier departure from China to your next destination. If your time and money are enough and available, you can also pay a visit to the Yuyuan Garden, the Oriental Tower, and Nanjing Road and the Bund and of course the quiet and captivating Zhouzhuang water town to enjoy yourself. And do not forget to taste the delicious food in Shanghai if you are there!


Is this tour attractive and amazing to you? If you want to enjoy it, just make full preparation right now!





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  1. 2013/10/16(水) 16:03:00|
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Over the hills to Stanley & Enjoy some Reflexology at Happy Foot

1. When I have a few spare hours I often go to Stanley on the south eastern side of Hong Kong Island (houses many famous Hong Kong attractions). Opinion is divided about Stanley. It is a popular side trip for visitors but while some consider Stanley to be the highlight of their trip, others think its a bit of a disappointment. I'm somewhere in the middle of those opinions.


My favourite part of the trip and probably the reason I go really is the bus ride. For the most scenic route take the No 6 bus from Exchange Square Central. This bus is the only one that doesnt go via the Aberdeen Tunnel but snakes its way through Wan Chai, then above the Happy Valley Racecourse and climbs up and over Wong Nai Chung Gap before it descends again into Repulse Bay and then Stanley. This is also the slowest route taking approximately an hour depending on traffic.


You can get off the bus near Stanley Market (which I have reviewed separately). Easy walking distance from the Market are restaurants, a smallish suburban shopping Plaza, some colonial buildings (most famously Murray House which I have reviewed separately) and a beach. Stanley Beach is not much of a beach really. More like a promenade running alongside the road. On a beautiful sunny day its quite a pleasant spot for a short stroll along to Murray House and Stanley Plaza but thats about all. For swimmers there is a much nicer beach at Repulse Bay.


Stanley Plaza is a newly refurbished shopping mall. On a Hong Kong scale where shopping malls are either massive or really massive Stanley Plaza is quite small. There are both indoor and outdoor shopping arcades but what I noticed most is that there are more than twice as many eating venues as shops. Having said that I did buy some nice jewellery on my last trip of Hong Kong tours from a shop in the Piazza.


2. Please note, there will be no pics inside this location. They can be found on the company website.



This was our first experience with a foot massage in Hong Kong (learn more via Hong Kong travel guide). Although it took a few minutes to find the building when we arrived in the area, but we're glad we stuck with it.


Up on the 19th floor you'll find the a reception desk right off the elevators. Here you'll find your price list and be able to book in for later or walk in depending upon the load. We were the only ones there at this time of morning so they took us right in.


Behind the reception area is a living room like room where the foot massages are done. There are about a dozen chairs and ottomans in a crescent shape along the windows facing in. They put us in the two middle chairs which was nice. They served us hot tea while we sat but I was too busy relaxing to even notice this until after the massage was over. We went with the cheapest 50 minute massage and this was plenty. I couldn't believe how long it felt when happening and how great I felt after. Maybe next time I'll do a longer one.


In March, 2012 the 50 minute one was 198 HKD each. I gave each about 25% tip.


Tags: affordable China tours
  1. 2013/10/15(火) 15:42:22|
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My travel experience Sandy Beachs, Hike in Mountain, Fresh Seafood


1. If you want escape the busy city in Kowloon or Hong Kong Island (main travel destination for Hong Kong tours), you can take a 25 minutes fast ferry from Central District, or Aberdeen to Lamma Islan.

Lamma is HK third largest island, and its divided to two parts, North and south.

You have two choices either to start with North region at Yung Shue Wan then take an hour walk to the southern Sok Kwu Wan, or the other way around.


The hike between the two side is a must, you will pass through a sandy beach, winds station (Power station which partly damange the sandy beach view), and little villages.


The island is famous for its fresh seafood restaurants, where you can really enjoy some of the best shrimp dishes.


The quick double-decker ferries which I used between Honk Kong Island (the 4th dock in central station) and Lamma either to Yung Shue Wan or Sok Kwu Wan takes about 25 minutes, and the seats were fine.


Actually, you will not be given tickets, you just change your banknotes to coins to put them in the gate which will be open to let you in, and thats it. and In yor way back, you even don't have to pay when you get into the ferry, you just make your change ready to pay upon your arrival to the cenral.


I would recommend that you put on shorts and t shirt and wear sport shoes when you go to Lamma for your Hong Kong travel, otherways you will feel you wearning too much.


Its also a good idea if you carry small towel, and bottle of water if you tend to take the one houre walk between north and south of the Island.


2. Sok Kwu Wan Circular Hike.


The walk takes in the guts of the island, a couple of wonderful beaches and amazing views (main Hong Kong sightseeing). The circular path is a cement walkway - other even more strenuous walks lead off from this (but are not cemented), including the path to the peak of Mount Stenhouse (353 metres). Without a beach stop, it will take 2 hours or so.


Three tips. 1. Buy lots of water at Sok Kwu Wan before setting off. 2. As there is virtually no shade (other than at the eastern coastal part just outside SKW), take head covering. 3. Go anti clockwise! The start of the walk this way is the hardest bit - walk for 20 minutes uphill and then its virtually downhill from there on in (or at worst virtually on the flat). Doing it clockwise gives you 30 minutes of fairly easy flat walking and then, except for the very end, a lot of uphill... Having gone clockwise, I had the negative of all three :) I didn't take enough water (and virtually mugged a little old lady for a bottle - poetic license but... :)), I nearly had sunstroke after 2 hours + in a beating sun and I virtually crawled my way back to town - even downhill after so much uphill was painful!


The walk will include Mo Tat Wan (20 minutes from SKW - if you go the 'wrong' way), a small beach and (infrequent) ferry stop to

Aberdeen (clean beach but not so sure about the water), a cute banana plantation village, the beautiful Yueng Shue Ha beach (also known as Shek Pai Wan in some guides), a hard walk uphill where you are convinced you have ended up walking up to Mount Stenhouse, a breathing space at the top (and shade finally!) which isn't Stenhouse but feels like it is (and then some bugger built a viewing pavillion 48 steps further up. Of course you check it out - you'll only regret it when asked what you thought of the view. But then, feeling like a pilgrim at Santiago delle Campostella having reached it virtually on all fours, the view is totally crap!).


But boy - those fish restaurants back at SKW.... And all those bottles of water. And shade.... :)



Do you have plan to contain Hong Kong in your package of last minute China travel deals after reading the above.
  1. 2013/10/12(土) 15:46:49|
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My food experience in Hong Kong


1. Try the Street Food!


Before this reccent Hong Kong travel, my favourite street food was Egg Balls HK$10 (S$1.90). I would always buy one to eat while I walked from Causeway Bay to the Hong Kong Stadium. Also a great snack to have while you're shopping :)


But on this trip I discovered something new - Spicy Fishballs (Yu Dan, Lat) HK$6-7 (about S$1.30). For that price, you get one stick with about 6 fishballs. The best one I had was at the street stall near Rong Yuan (other post in Restaurants for directions) - the one here is so spicy that my mouth takes a good half hour to recover, but it's so good that I can't help but eat more of it despite the discomfort! My mouth is watering just thinking about it now...



Another one of my favourites is the Deep Fried Squid Tentacles HK$10 (S$1.90). Also a great snack to have while you're shopping :)


On this trip, I finally decided to give Smelly Tofu (chow dow fu) a try. The one from this stall used to be really smelly - approaching it, I would wonder if the smell was coming from a drain - but for some reason this time it wasn't that bad... and as expected it wasn't smelly when I bit into it. It was pretty much just normal deep fried tofu, a bit of a let-down really... but maybe I will change my mind when I try a really good one.


2. Eat to your heart's content !


One of the main Hong Kong tourist attractions is the wide variety of food that it offers. From roadside stalls, to smoke-filled Cha Can Ting (Tea Restaurants), to fast food, to full fledge restaurants.


Hongkongs eat 6 meals a day: breakfast, morning tea, lunch, afternoon tea, dinner and supper.


For breakfast and morning tea, try the traditional dim sum that consists of prawn dumplings, meat dumplings, glutinous rice with chicken etc. You will be spoilt for choice. The recommended one is at Shamrock Seafood Restaurant. Cheap, good and authentic.


For lunch and dinner after Hong Kong tours, you can try the Japanese Ramen (different from that found in Singapore), Roasted Meat Delight (Roast Chicken, Pork, Pigeon, Duck, Goose). Or you can try any of the themed restaurants (like Teochew food - braised duck and pig neck, fish meat noodles etc) or Hakka food (braised vegetables and meat)


For afternoon, head down to the Tea Restaurants for a Pineapple Bun (Bo Luo Bao) or an egg tart, with a traditional Coffee or milk tea. If you cannot decide whether tea or coffee, try the Yuan Yang - a mixture of Coffee and Tea.


For supper, try the steamboat, a unqiue asian dish of dipping raw food into a piping hot pot of soup to cook, then dip the food into a sauce mix before putting the food into your mouth. Hong Kong has a wider variety of food that can be cooked in the steamboat, as compared to Singapore. For example: Fish, Fish egg, Xiao Long Bao (Meat Dumpling), Shui Jing Bao with pork in it (Glutinous Rice Ball), Fried Fish Skin and others.


Hong Kongers love desserts too...hence always end your meal with either a sweet steamed egg custard or a mango dessert !



So you should consider the street food when you travel Hong Kong for your last minute China travel deals.
  1. 2013/10/11(金) 15:14:09|
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Honeymoon Destinatons for new couples in China - Lhasa & Jiuzhaigou Valley

1. Lhasa

Viewing some of the most incredible natural wonders in the world with your loved one is not to be underestimated in the romance stakes. Planning to have your honeymoon vacation in China is awesome. However, as a world in itself, China is a vast land boasting countless wonders which make choosing one destination tricky. But fear not! We have the best option for you – Lhasa! As the last paradise on the earth and the holy land for religious Tibetan people, Lhasa is second to none to witness your sacred love. Book a Lhasa honeymoon tour with us and make your honeymoon a rewarding one in Lhasa, which is one of the top 10 honeymoon destinations in China.

When walking in a clockwise direction at the famous Barkhor Street in a pleasant afternoon for your China travel deals, you must pay a visit to the Makye Ame Restaurant, which is some kind of the romantic representation of the Sun City of Lhasa. Legend has it that the 6th Dalai Lama met a beautiful lady named Makye Ame here. He fell in love with that lady at first sight. But he never saw her again. Many love poems were written by the 6th Dalai Lama in his reminiscing about Makye Ame. A former Chang (Tibetan wine) House and now a restaurant, Makye Ame has witnessed the romantic legend. And the love story of Makye Ame leaves a long-standing “beautiful ancient dream” in the heart of every visitor.

Except for the romantic legends, love birds must visit the famous tourist attractions in Lhasa which have witnessed and reflected the cultural and historical treasures of Lhasa, Tibet. Among the countless sacred temples and monasteries and other valuable places of interest, the highlights are the grand Potala Palace (must-see in Tibet for popular China travel package), the sacred Jokhang Temple, lovely Norbulingka Palace, Drepung Monastery, Sera Monastery, Gandan Monastery, Naga Temple, and Ramoche Temple, Namtso Lake and Yangbajain Hot Spring. If your time permits, make a short excurtion to the crystal clear Namtso Lake would be a great experience. Witness the purity and holiness of Namtso Lake before your very eyes.

2. Jiuzhaigou Valley

When love is in the air, it does not really matter which part of the world you are in. Everything that happens seems beautiful in the eyes of love birds. In case though, when you are lucky enough to celebrate your undying commitment to each, a fantastic honeymoon destination and a little fine activity can make the time more cherished. Honeymooners who are into natural beauty should definitely stop by China’s Jiuzhaigou Valley. As one of the Top 10 honeymoon destinations in China inluced in top 10 China tour packages, Jiuzhaigou Valley is one of the most beautiful national parks in the world and China’s premier national park, astonishing you with its unnumbered natural wonders.

For sheer scenic spots and variety, Jiuzhaigou Valley has it all – dense forest, green meadow, chalky shoals, waterfalls, pure rivers, and ribbon lakes, rare species of animals, and so on. The essence of Jiuzhaigou Valley lies in its waters - crystal clearness, rich colorfulness and pure transparency. The trees in the primitive forest are thick with leaves that block the sunlight. As the height and temperature there vary, there is a distinctive distribution of plants, with the broadleaf forest, at the foot of the mountain, and a coniferous forest at the top. In autumn, the mountaintops are covered with white snow while the hill slopes and the valley are a blaze of color.

For honeymooners who has a feeling for cultural treasures, there are 6 remaining Tibetan villages for you to explore their exotic lifestyle. Some 1,000 Tibetans, of 130 families, live within the site. And to facilitate sightseeing, so-called "green buses" run along special highways within the valley delivering passengers to various scenic spots. Another aid to tourism is a network of raised plank paths and wooden pavilions that afford visitors a proximity to natural wonders that would otherwise be unapproachable.

Accommodation at Jiuzhaigou is something you don’t need to worry. There is a range of accommodation options outside the Jiuzhaigou National Park, rating from 3 to 5 star hotels. In the evening you can enjoy local music and dancing shows which are overwhelming and add more fun to your Jiuzhaigou tour which is the part of affordable China travel packages. In general, the shows are Tibetan themed. They feature wonderful costumes, song and dance, with a mixture of ethnic performance and popular music. It is an authentic and memorable experience of the Tibetan culture.
  1. 2013/10/10(木) 15:50:20|
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Top 10 most beautiful villages in China II



Yuanyang County, Yunnan


Photo taken on June 29, 2013 shows the village buildings in Yuanyang County of Honghe Prefecture in southwest China's Yunnan Province (best destination for last minute China travel deals). The UNESCO's World Heritage Committee inscribed China's cultural landscape of Honghe Hani Rice Terraces onto the prestigious World Heritage List on June 22, bringing the total number of World Heritage Sites in China to 45.


Fujian Tulou


Built on a base of stone, the thick walls of Tulou were packed with dirt and fortified with wood or bamboo internally. The architectural arts of the Fujian Tulou (attracts tourists for top 10 China tours) can be traced back nearly 1,000 years, and their design incorporates the tradition of fengshui (favorable siting within the environment).



Fujian Tulou


Built on a base of stone, the thick walls of Tulou were packed with dirt and fortified with wood or bamboo internally. The architectural arts of the Fujian Tulou can be traced back nearly 1,000 years, and their design incorporates the tradition of fengshui (favorable siting within the environment).



Tuwa minority village, Xinjiang


Located within the Kanas Lake scenic area in the north of Xinjiang which is the main destination for Silk Road tour, Tuwa minority village is a rather primitive village.Tuwa people have lived here for generations and their way of life is well preserved. Their lifestyle is similar to people in Kazakstan, speaking Turki language and dressing like Mongols. Their houses are built with logs and pen in their herds with wooden fences.



Danba Tibetan Village, Sichuan


Danba lies on the eastern border of the Ganzi Tibet Autonomous Region of Sichuan Province. The Tibetan villages here are famous for their gorgeous watchtowers and traditional Tibetan fortress-like houses, which constitute a remarkable scenery with the natural surroundings.





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  1. 2013/10/09(水) 16:06:09|
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Top 10 most beautiful villages in China I


The One-Thousand-Household Miao Village of Xijiang


Known as the biggest Miao village in the world, the One-Thousand-Household Miao Village of Xijiang is located 36 kilometers northeast of Leishan County in the Qiandongnan Miao and Dong Autonomous Prefecture, southeastern Guizhou (famous travel destination for last minute China travel deals). It consists of more than ten naturally formed villages that have been long inhabited by nearly 1,300 Miao households (hence the name).


The village cluster, known as an open-air museum, displays the authentic and well-preserved distinctive culture and customs of the Miao people. Visitors can take a peek at original Miao dances, customs, rites, costumes and silver ornaments.


The Miao people have their typical architectural characteristic: wooden houses built tier upon tier on the hillside, dotted with bamboo groves. Lying amidst green mountains, the village enjoys beautiful settings, with the terraced fields rising up along the slopes and the crystal-clear Baishui River flowing through. It offers a more spectacular view when it's lit up in the evening.


The One-Thousand-Household Miao Village of Xijiang


Known as the biggest Miao village in the world, the One-Thousand-Household Miao Village of Xijiang is located 36 kilometers northeast of Leishan County in the Qiandongnan Miao and Dong Autonomous Prefecture, southeastern Guizhou. It consists of more than ten naturally formed villages that have been long inhabited by nearly 1,300 Miao households (hence the name).


The village cluster, known as an open-air museum, displays the authentic and well-preserved distinctive culture and customs of the Miao people. Visitors can take a peek at original Miao dances, customs, rites, costumes and silver ornaments.


The Miao people have their typical architectural characteristic: wooden houses built tier upon tier on the hillside, dotted with bamboo groves. Lying amidst green mountains, the village enjoys beautiful settings, with the terraced fields rising up along the slopes and the crystal-clear Baishui River flowing through. It offers a more spectacular view when it's lit up in the evening.


Xidi and Hongcun Villages, Anhui


Xidi Ancient Village is situated at the foot of Huangshan Mountain's southern slope and the most popular destination for top China tours. It was originally built during the reign of Emperor Huangyou (1049-1054) of the Northern Song Dynasty (960-1127) and rebuilt during the reign (1449-1457) of Emperor Jingtai of the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644).


Xidi Village contains about 300 buildings in the Hui Style of the Ming and Qing dynasties (1644-1911). Brick and wood dominate, with exquisite stone archways, stone carvings, and stone-paved streets and courtyards. The most popular tourist attractions in Xidi Village include Lingyun Pavilion, Ruiyu Pavilion, Cishi House, Daifu House, and Qingyun House.


Hongcun Village is about 11 km from the county town of Yixian County. The whole village was originally laid out in the shape of an ox. The west end of the village, called Leigang Hill, resembles an ox head and that is where two huge trees stand like ox horns. At the front and rear of the village are four bridges that span a Jiyin stream and resemble four legs of the ox. The several hundred well-arranged houses form the body of the ox, and the 1,000-meter-long Jiyin stream that meanders through the village is regarded as its intestines. A crescent pond in the village is the ox's fourth stomach, and a larger South Lake is its reticulum, the second stomach. The villagers of Hongcun long ago designed this marvelous landscape.


Wuyuan county, Jiangxi Province


Wuyuan county in Jiangxi Province (house famous attractions to attract tourists for popular China travel package) is famous for the large pieces of rape flowers. But in fact, it becomes more poetic when autumn comes. In late autumn, Changxi Village is shore with deep and vivid tints. The maple trees growing in the front and back of the village turn to burning red. The tall trees contrast finely with the Mau Tou Wall (Horse Head Wall). The red maple leaves, white walls and black tiles blend into a unity, making a unique sight in this ancient village.


Nangang Yao Minority Town, Guangdong


Nangang is located in Liannan County and is the largest, oldest and best preserved Yao minority village in China. Built on limestone hills, some 800 metres above sea level, Nangang's origins date back to the Song Dynasty (obtain more via China guide) – well over a thousand years ago.


 


  1. 2013/10/09(水) 16:04:13|
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How to Make a Tour to Climb the Great Wall in October?

The famous Great Wall, as the highlight of China attractions, has attracted numerous travelers from home and abroad every year for last minute China travel deals. It is said that you are not really visiting China if you have never seen the Great Wall during your tour in China, and your tour won’t be perfect without Great Wall visiting. There are so many people hoping to have a travel there, but how really can you plan a suitable and enjoyable tour for you to climb this famous and grand Great Wall? That really is a question. Here, let’s just discuss and solve it!





As there are several sections in the Great Wall including Mutianyu section, Simatai section, Badaling section and more, so just explore and climb the majestic Great Wall in this October with the following itinerary of seven days for your best tours of China:


Your arrival upon Beijing (must-see for popular China travel package) will start your Great Wall tour in China in your first day, and you can walk along this famous capital all by yourself to catch the general view of this city; in your second day, you will view the?Badaling Great Wall in the morning and then go hiking in?Juyongguan Great Wall in the afternoon, in your third day, you will climb the Juyongguan Great Wall in the morning and then to Huanghuacheng Great Wall in the afternoon; for the fourth day itinerary, you will get the chance to see the Mutianyu Great Wall for 2-3 hours and then turn to the Jinshanling Great Wall later that day; in 5th day, you will go hiking in Jinshanling Great Wall in the morning and then drive to Simatai Great Wall in the afternoon; for the next day, that is your sixth day in China, you will climb the Simatai Great Wall for about four hours. Finally your Great Wall tour will come to an end after your departure from Beijing in your seventh day!



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  1. 2013/10/08(火) 16:11:47|
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