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China

Sidney and I first went to China in May 1993.  We flew to Beijing, and visited the Great Wall of China.  Then we joined the small cruise ship 'Ocean Pearl' and visited Tianjin, Dalian, Nanjing, Wuxi and the Yangtse river, Shanghai and Ningbo.  We ended up in Hong Hong, entering the harbor at dawn standing on the bow of the ship,  watching the skyscrapers appear through the mist - a great sight.

We found China to be very different to what we had expected.  The Chinese people were up-to-date and very friendly.

Tiananmen Square in Beijing, with Chaiman Mao. He's the one at the back.

Tiananmen Square was the center of the 1989 Chinese uprising. Government guides now say that the 'events of 1989' were the start of the new China.

The square is always busy with tourists, mostly Chinese. Some of them insisted on having their pictures taken with us!

We stayed at the Beijing Shangri-La, a big hotel on the outskirts of the city.

Within walking distance we found a 'people's park' and watched everyone enjoying their Sunday.

Chinese girls seem to dress up a lot.

Here I am trying to not looked miffed when I wasn't allowed to try local Chinese ice cream in the park. It did say 'Walls'!

These are little toys for sale for kids.

Beijing's Forbidden City was the home of China's emporers and off-limits to ordinary people for more than 500 years.

Now, even foreigners are allowed in!

Many people are in uniform in Beijing.

We had dinner with Roland Decorvet in Beijing. He works for Nestle there, and we met him through a mutual friend.

The Great Wall of China was our next stop. It is known in China as 'The Wall 10,000 Li Long', about 3,700 miles. It look over a thousand years to build, though they took a long break in the middle.

The red & white badge this brave explorer is wearing is a 'tour visa', which they asked us to wear the whole time we were in China.

The wall stretches as far as you can see.

The cruise ship 'Ocean Pearl' was to be our home for the next ten days in China.

We had a very nice cabin with a big window.

The route would take us from Tianjin, to Dalian, Nanjing and the Yangtse river, Shanghai, Ningbo and end up in Hong Kong.

Life boat drill!

The Ocean Pearl was a small cruise ship based in Asia, with just 400 passengers.

Dalien was our first port of call...

We were met by a band and dancing girls...

And curious dock workers!

Dalien was occupied by Japan in World War II, then by Russia until 1954. There are still signs in Russian, and this park is called 'Stalin Square'.

One of our group wore this jacket to make sure she would not get lost.

Military life starts young in China!

Our guide explained the 'One couple one child' policy in China, and took us to a kindergarten run by an Industrial Cooperative.

Lots of young doctors and nurses in evidence.

These young Chinese doctors will soon be in a medical building near Newport Beach's Fashion Island!

Back on the Ocean Pearl. We quickly learned that an advantage of having the ship is to be able to go 'home' every night.

We sat with some Australians, and Sidney learned to say 'Yeah' in Australian. They talked about cricket, mostly.

Jackets were required each night for dinner.

Rubbing Buddha's tummy for good luck - a necessary precaution before visiting the ship's casino.

Travelling up the Yangtse river to Nanjing.

Dr David Dean (white shirt) is a China expert and a former US ambassador to Taiwan.

Nanjing is China's southern capital. Beijing is referred to in these parts as 'the northern capital'.

Everyone in China rides bicycles - there are trucks and buses but very few private cars.

Nanjing is known in China for the mausoleum of Sun Yat-sen, a former president and national hero. Sidney walked all the way to the top. I sensibly stopped half way.

Manu Chinese men still wear blue 'Mao suits'.

We gave some of our tour group nicknames, like 'Giggling girls', 'Leica man' and 'The Duchess'. This is 'Wall man' - he would stand on a wall, everywhere we went.

We took the train to Wuxi (Wushi). While we were there, the ship moved to Zhang Jiagang, further down the Yangtse, and we joined it there.

The train was two-level and modern.

There are two classes on Chinese railways, hard and soft class. Fortunately we were in 'soft seat class'.

We visited a silk factory - from silk worms to finished silk. The girls had their hands in hot water all day long.

It was like visiting an English cotton factory 100 years ago.

When I was growing up in Walsall in the 1950s, I saw many factory windows just like this.

Wuxi is the 'Venice of China' - it's on the Grand Canal, once one of China's main trading routes, stretching over 1,000 miles from Beijing to the south.

Most of the canal barges are made of concrete, and house whole familes with kids and dogs, and sometimes a potted plant or two.

Shanghai is the largest city in Asia, with over 11 million people. Before the war, Shanghai was 'sin city', and many of the buildings on The Bund are unchanged. We went to a jazz night at the 1920's 'Peace Hotel'.

Shanghai has many busy shopping streets like this. It reminded us a lot of Nathan Road in Hong Kong.

Hey, I still have that shirt!

We saw many interesting signs in China!

Chinese currency is the Yuan (top), though tourists are supposed to use Foreign Exchange Certificates (bottom). Chinese traders will have none of that, and will take only US dollars!

In the back alleyways of Shanghai. As in every Chinese town, almost everyone seems to be buying or selling food, carrying food home from market, cooking, or eating.

Our last stop in China was the little town of Ningbo. We were the first overseas group to visit Ningbo, and were warned that they had no idea what kind of reaction to expect.

They need not have worried, several hundred people turned up to meet us....

Grandparents dressed in their best clothes, bringing kids!

All of the many people we met in China were pleasant, and happy to see us!

Everyone was smiling and laughing to see so many strange foreigners!

We think that Chinese people are not so different from us, after all!