China past, present and future


It’s extraordinary to think that even in a brief tour of China you can see centuries-old buildings and ancient temples alongside the world’s most modern architecture. It’s this remarkable juxtaposition that Intrepid’s Jenny Voelzke found so fascinating…

“Travelling to China was something I was extremely excited about! Although I only had a week, I was going to Beijing, Xi’an and Shanghai to see some of China’s most iconic sights, like the Great Wall of China, the Forbidden City and the Terracotta Warriors.

I believe that everybody has a certain image of a country in their head, like when I thought of China it was the ancient Middle Kingdom that came to mind – a land so old and full of history, with powerful emperors who built magnificent palaces or had entire armies constructed out of clay to protect their grave. But as soon as I landed in Beijing that image of the old, traditional China started to fade as my taxi driver navigated me through the crazy traffic on 5 lane highways driving towards my hotel.

We know that China is the most populated country in the world with more than a billion people, but you don’t really appreciate this fact until you get here. I used the Beijing Metro System quite a lot, since the Olympics it had been extended even further and can take you anywhere, with every 3-5 minutes there being another train!

I also noticed that nobody was reading the newspaper anymore, everybody was on their Smartphone or Tablet, playing some video game, listening to music or the like…

Today’s China is booming in every sense, whether it be their population, resources, economy or modernisation.

When we rode our bicycles on the old city wall in Xi’an, this difference was ever so clear: inside the city walls were all the old, traditional Chinese buildings. Looking at this side of the city wall, you could still imagine that this ancient city that was once the starting point of the famous Silk Route. But looking outside the city walls, there were skyscrapers as far as your eyes can see. And when you then travel onto Shanghai and see the unique architecture of the skyscrapers that make up Shanghai’s remarkable skyline, the Great Wall of China really seems a million miles away!

So I leave this ever-impressing country with more great images in my head than I ever thought of having and, how else could it be, but a fitting departure and taste of the future on the world’s first Maglev train.”

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* Photo by David Bragg from the Intrepid Photography Competition.

About the author

Sue Elliot - Like many of us, Sue contracted a serious travel bug at an early age. She's visited over 90 countries in search of a cure, but her wanderlust just seems to get worse. Thankfully at Intrepid Travel she's amongst people who understand the affliction and since 1998 Sue has enjoyed being our blog and newsletter editor. Here you'll find helpful travel advice and inspiring tales from Sue and other Intrepid travellers.

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This makes me nostalgic for my summer in Xi’an back in ’07. I hope you not only got to see the city differences, but visited the Muslim Quarter as well! The markets, food, and brightly decorated alleyways were always a fun adventure to explore — oh, and don’t forget the dumplings!

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