We can today go from Paris to Beijing in 10 hours by plane. If China seems less and less distant, its power of attraction and its mystery remain. Since its economic opening began in 1992, it has finally become accessible to travelers and backpackers. To go to China, a simple visa is enough.
The trip to China often begins with a trip to Beijing, Shanghai or Hong Kong. You have to walk long hours in cars and bicycles to measure the speed of change in the country today. From Yunnan to Jiangsu, the wind of technical progress also blows in the countryside.
Fortunately, in Pingyao, Dali or other small cities in the interior, one would still believe in old prints.
This is a country of 1.38 billion citizens who wants to integrate into the global economy, but is he not likely to sell his soul too fast to the devil?
Not easy to discover in 3 weeks a vast country like 17 times France. There are historical and artistic treasures that must be seen, no matter what, despite the huge distances. North and Beijing, the Great Wall, the Forbidden City, the Summer Palace, museums and temples. In the center of the country, the buried Xi’an Army. Not far from the sea, Shanghai, city symbol of the new Chinese capitalism. Finally, it is another China, refined, secret and poetic, which hides in the gardens of Suzhou or on the banks of the river Li, in the South, near Guilin or along the rice fields and tea plantations of the Yunnan.
Hong Kong Travel
The legendary name of Hong Kong means “scented port”, “incense holder” or “scented side”. Here is one of the names of this ancient rock by which generations of English adventurers passed entire cargoes of opium before giving way to all the businessmen and self-made men of the planet.
British colonial confetti that became one of the beacons of capitalism in Asia and returned to the Chinese Communist fold in 1997 with a special status, more and more submissive to the central power.
Despite the retrocession, Hong Kong continues to cultivate a particular identity. Behind the tunes of the London City or the small New York of Asia, it is a Chinese city where the heart of a population mainly comes from Canton and Shanghai.
What future in the middle of the empire? Since the handover that has raised many questions, Hong Kong can not quite hide its fear of the future: autonomy and freedom vis-à-vis Beijing and, of course, the constant concern to preserve its prosperity economy, not to mention the problems of urbanization that are linked to it.
Nevertheless, Hong Kong wants to remain this symbol of success in Asia: how to cultivate prosperity and a separate identity, while integrating in Greater China.
Macao is opposed to Hong Kong, its turbulent neighbor, it is distinguished by its Portuguese history, its heritage half a millennium, the charm of its small cobbled streets, the Portuguese character inscribed on the facades of houses and palaces, and by the baroque style of its churches.
The Anglo-Chinese culture on one side, and the Sino-Portuguese culture on the other side of the mouth of the Pearl River, and a huge road bridge that connects these two juxtaposed but separate cities above Chinese waters. by history and geography.
Macau has changed since the Chinese, helped by the Portuguese, have rebuilt the arteries and architecture of the city. Mushroom buildings, shopping malls, modern casinos have appeared, casino-hotels, like the Venetian. This over-modernization did not kill the soul of Macau, whose Portuguese heritage has been carefully maintained.
Some arid figures to start: the municipality of Beijing covers 16,800 km² and had more than 21.5 million inhabitants in 2014. The population is composed of 92% of Han and 8% of ethnic minorities (55 in number) . It’s a concentrate of China!
Absolute political center, magnet of the elite of the country, showcase of development, the “capital of the North” was also a great imperial city where history left deep imprints, from Genghis Khan to Mao.
Pekingese are said to be grumpy, proud and rough … a bit like our Parigots, what! However, despite the frenzy of the current Beijing, they have maintained in the old neighborhoods of hutong an almost village atmosphere where laughter and jokes.
Beijing will always have an extraordinary architectural and cultural heritage, notwithstanding the sanitized ocean of modern buildings. If you look closely, shreds of old Beijing survive here and there.
Certainly, these final testimonials tend to become tourist traps where glittering cyclo-shoots travel mostly in organized tours. So, do not wait to catch the last real postcards of this warm Beijing we love.
At the top of the towers of the Pudong district, one could think oneself on the warhead of a rocket ready to conquer the third millennium. As far as the eye can see, the new city of Pudong is following the same wave of madness. Like the rest of Shanghai. This urban jungle that seeks to emulate Manhattan has sprung up in a decade.
Mirage or miracle? A vision is needed, that of a futuristic Shanghai, bubbling and explosive, a megacity caught up in the whirlwind of money and boosted by economic growth.
But where is the mysterious city of the Blue Lotus? What happened to the mythical Shanghai of gambling halls, opium dens? This city no longer exists. From this time of the 1930s, only the walls of a deserted decor by his actors remain: glorious facades on the Bund, villas drowned in beautiful gardens in the former French concession, shops at the bottom of the lilong, these alleys village.
And yet, Shanghai did not sell its soul to the devil. Stroll in the old French concession, where there are many islands of greenery and tranquility. Just out of the crowded avenues, we enter a world of small streets lined with plane trees and lined with bars, cafes, fashion boutiques and art galleries. It is a cosmopolitan rendezvous where you still take the time to cycle.
Shanghai is considered to be the Chinese city where everything is being experienced, including the new lifestyle of city dwellers. And if this exuberant and hectic city is not all China, it embodies its brilliant human, commercial and financial showcase.