Day 2 – Bejing: Forbidden City, Swiss Embassy and Beijing duck restaurant

Our first official day in Beijing started with a wake-up call at 7am. After breakfast with sushi and noodle soup we met at the lobby to walk to the Forbidden City. With myriads of Chinese people we walked through the large historic sight. Our kind tour guides gave us interesting information about the Chinese history. The Forbidden City was the Chinese imperial palace from the Ming Dynasty to the end of the Qing Dynasty. It is located in the middle of Beijing and now houses the Palace Museum. For almost five hundred years, it served as the home of emperors and their households, as well as the ceremonial and political center of Chinese government. In ancient times, there were over 8’000 houses within the walls and it would have take about 6 days to see the whole place. After the tour we climbed the “Kohlenberg” which is located right behind the Forbidden City. Everyone was exhausted when we reached the summit, but the view was teriffic. Continue reading

Day 14 – Quiet Beijing & Near Sights

One day after Lunar New Year, Beijing was empty. But the fact that there where just few cars driving was a perfect precondition for our sightseeing day in and around Beijing. We got to our destinations quickly and there was almost no smog! The first stop was at the Badaling site of the Great Wall. It was simply impressive to see a small part of the 8851km long wall. We were very astonished by the imagination of how many hours of work had to be put into this monument. Sporty people of the group started to talk about how it were if one would organize a (half) marathon on the wall; those were also the people who felt the urge to run instead of walking slowly. The decision to take the steeper route rewarded us with an even better view, plus we had a good laugh looking at the other side, where the majority of tourists went.

After an unsatisfying lunch (one of many in China so far) at a huge tourist restaurant, we proceeded to the Ming Tombs where 13 emperors are buried. One of them is Zhu Di, also called the Yongle emperor, who changed the capital from Nanjing to Bejing in the 15th century. To have a glance on his burial place, one has to pass various gates and buildings. Continue reading

Day 10 – Can Tho at its Best

The breakfast took place in the rear deck of the boats, the crew had already prepared everything in advance. The views as well as the ambiance were stunning, as the two heavy vessels, still tied together, gently floated upwards on the quiet Mekong River. The fresh morning breeze helped everyone to wake up quickly.

It took another one-and-a-half hours until we reached our anchorage, where we changed to small boats that would allow us to travel further river upwards and see Vietnam’s largest floating market.

There were an uncountable number of little barks and small rowing boats that sold almost anything related to Vietnamese food. There was a diversity of sights and scents, which carried on as we went onshore to visit a typical market in Can Tho. Pigs and chickens were taken apart with bare hands on the open street. The smell of this was not easy to take for everyone.

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Day 10: Haining leather companies

Haining City is known as the leather manufacturing cluster of China and is located about 60 km from Hangzhou. First we visited Haining City Lili Leather Garments. At the beginning of the tour we were given the chance to have a glance at some of the company’s products, such as leather jackets, vests, hand bags and many more. After that the tour continued through the various stages of the clothing production. Overall we were surprised by the good working conditions and the good atmosphere amongst the factory workers. We were able to cheer them up even more by distributing candies which was highly appreciated. Continue reading

Day 5: Handan Iron & Steel Group

On Saturday, 3rd July, after a short night of extensive karaoke singing we met at 7:45 am in the lobby. Scheduled departure was 8:00 am to avoid traffic. On the bus we received a brief introduction about the city of Handan by Mr. Wang, our translator. Continue reading