‘The Ancient Dynasties of China’ tour with Shona was a huge eye opener.  Joining her for moral support in a communist country was my motivation.  Who would want to see a poor,  poverty stricken, third world, controlled, strictly regimented, military style society.   And what did I see:   massive buildings everywhere, and I mean everywhere;  modern highways, highways on top of highways;  young modern people;  happy people;  heaps of people like millions, the population of Australia in one city and at least 5 of those.  In 2016 new borns increased the Chinese population by 17.6 million.  Imagine 17.6 babies wearing disposable nappies four times a day.  That’s 70.4 million a day.  That’s 25.7 trillion nappies in landfill a year.  You can understand why they are toilet trained from birth.  It’s a culture older than our history teaches us.  They invented things when we were still in the trees.  You have to visit China to understand why they don’t understand ‘personal space’, why they have to push their way to get something, why they can’t flush toilet paper down the toilets (if you wipe yourself twice a day that’s 6 billion pieces of paper going down the sewage system),  why they burp loudly after a meal, why they slurp their soup, spit on the ground.  Bad manners to us but respectful and complimentary to them.

Because of the lack of space, they move vertically more than horizontally.  There parks are used to the fullest with games, shuttlecock, Thai Chi, exercises, acting, musicians, even advertising your children for a suitable partner.  Beautiful music plays throughout the parks through loud speaker sound systems, keeping the populous cities calm and stress free.

They are opening to the world with manufacturing and they are hungry for business.  Every nook and cranny has a machine making something.  I don’t think there is a social security scheme anywhere in China so everyone is fighting for a job.  The young adults didn’t appear to want to be peasants like their parents.  They want what the western children have.  Well, they are manufacturing it for the western kids now they want it too.  In the massive cities of Shanghai and Beijing people dressed well.  We didn’t see anyone living on the street.  Children look after the parents.  It’s just the way it is.

We walked the Great Wall, ate all the beautiful food, slept in ancient motels 600 years old, road bikes around the city walls of Xi’an, saw the fascinating terracotta warriors, the Ming Dynasty tombs, the biggest Buddha in the world,  hanging temples off huge cliffs (scary stuff), ancient artifacts dating thousands of years, the night lights of Shanghai’s financial city,  Tiananmen  Square where after 40 years thousands still line daily to view Mao Tse Tung’s embalmed body,  The Forbidden City,  Temples, Changing of the Masks stage show and held a baby panda!  How cute were they!

Shona ate bull frog, sea slugs and anything she could try.   She even looked for dog meat and deep fried insects.  Thank goodness we couldn’t find any.  Joining our guide William, she drank saki from every town as each town makes their own flavour.

The Chinese were extremely friendly wherever we went.  They loved getting their photo taken with us.  I guess Europeans are a rare find in China.

I flew back to Australia with a totally different view, respect and understanding of China and its people.

This gentleman was one of three peasants working the land when they found a terracotta head protruding slightly out of the ground.  He had found one of the greatest discoveries of the 20th century, the 2,500 year old Terracotta Warriors.  Thousands of life sized soldiers, sculpted, fired in kilns and assembled to protect the emperor in his afterlife.

There are more than 8,000 soldiers, 130 chariots with 520 horses and 150 cavalry horses most still buried in the pits near Emperor Qin Shi Huang’s mausoeleum.  Some in pure bronze.