1- The great wall of China – it covers about 8,850 Km across the country and construction of the great wall began over 2000 years ago. It was built between 220-206 BC by the first emperor of China Qin Shi Huang. But only a little of that wall remains now. Majority of the existing wall was built during the Ming Dynasty.
2- The Terracotta warriors – This site was discovered in 1974 when a farmer was digging a well. The Terracotta army buried in 210 BC with the first emperor of the Qin Dynasty. Its situated in Xi’an Shanxi province.
3- Hangzhou, the paradise on earth - Hangzhou is a very beautiful city close to Shanghai where has green gardens, tranquil temples, and pavilions. This city is famous for Longjing green tea.
4- Karst mountains in Yangshuo - This place is situated in Guangxi province and can be viewed from Yangshuo a small town outside Guilin. 20 RMB Chinese money note also has this illustration. Karst mountains are one of the most eye-catching sceneries in China.
5- The forbidden city – The forbidden city or the Palace Museum is situated in Beijing where the famous portrait of Mao Zedong hangs on the palatial crimson wall. In 1987 it was listed as a UNESCO world heritage site.
6- Giant Pandas – If you go to China as a tourist, you must have a visit to this place in Chengdu, Sichuan province. There’s a panda breeding research center too. Great place for panda lovers.
7- Jiuzhaigou Valley – This beautiful landscape is situated in Sichuan province and it is very famous for its crystal blue lakes and beautiful multi-level waterfalls. If you want to spend a quiet and calm holiday, this is the place for you without a question.
8- Potala Palace, Lhasa - This place is now a Chinese museum, but it was the traditional seat of Dalai Lama, Tibetan Buddhist spiritual leader. It was built at an altitude of 12000 feet on the side of the red mountain in the center of Lhasa valley, the capital of Tibet region.
The Great Wall of China
It is the largest and longest lying dragon in the Far East. A man-made structure designed to keep out intruders, fortified with blood, sweat and lives of countless people who built it, the Great Wall of China has been noted to be a structure visible from space. Portions of the Wall have been built and rebuilt throughout the succession of dynasties in China that there have been fluctuations in design and architecture over the years.
However, it has retained its purpose of showing China as a dominant Eastern country in terms of geographical significance and military strength. Its massive mass and structure are made mostly from earth stones, wood and during the later part, bricks. They were cut in rectangular shapes to make them easier to work with and were used to line the foundations, the inner and outer brims, gateways and battlements. Watchtowers and barracks were built at regular intervals to keep communication between a million Chinese manning the Wall at any given time.
Great Wall of ChinaFamiliar with wall building techniques in 7th century B.C., the Chinese constructed the Wall beginning in the now known Spring and Autumn period. Extensive fortifications were added from 5th century BC to 221 BC to defend the borders of Qi, Yan and Zhao from small arms such as swords and spears, strengthened by stamping moist earth and gravel to wooden board frames.
After conquering all opposing states and unifying China in 221 BC, Qin Shi Huang intended to impose the centralized rule to prevent the resurgence of feudal lords, ordering the destruction of portions of the wall that divided his new empire along former state borders. His intentions to protect his new empire were shown by adding new wall fortifications connecting the northern frontier and transporting local materials for its construction. In the course of its building, peasants have died and were buried in its walls. During the Qin dynasty, due to the materials used, parts of the walls eroded over time and few sections remain standing today.
The following dynasties like Han, Sui Northern and Jin repaired, rebuilt and expanded portions of the Great Wall to defend people behind it against invasion. It was revived elaborately during the Ming dynasty after failing to gain an upper-hand battle against the Mongols. It is considerably stronger in its Beijing section as it is Ming’s capital during that time.
Towards the end of the Shun dynasty, Manchu invasions during the 1600 were unsuccessful because of the Great Wall’s existence. Manchus were finally able to cross the Great Wall in 1644 when Gen. Wu Sangui opened the gates of Shanhaiguan because of his dislike of the rulers of the Shun dynasty. They seized Beijing and established the Qing dynasty. Under it, Mongolia was annexed into China and construction was halted.
If visiting China for the first time, the North Pass or Joyungguan or Badaling to locals, is striking for its historical significance. It used to have many guards as it was guarding Beijing, Ming’s capital, and was made from stone and bricks from the region’s hills. The Great Wall has various watchtowers (67 in all) and a sight to behold as they rise 980 meters above sea level.
If in the Southeast, the Mutianyu Great Wall gives the view of cragged lofty mountains connecting to Joyungguan to the west and Gubeikou to the east. Notably, Shanhaiguan known as Number One Pass under Heaven is built in the extremity of the Wall. It is where the first pass was built on. Because of its great structure, most of its section is in disrepair and needs reconstruction, thus portions are closed to the public. Prone to graffiti and vandalism, parts of the Wall in remote areas are destroyed and tourist vendors plagued those nearer developed areas.
The belief that it is visible from the moon is not true. This urban legend has persisted but has been disputed by sources like US and Chinese astronauts. It cannot be seen in space as the width of the Wall is smaller to even be seen from 200 miles (320 kms) up in the sky unless you know where to look and is aided by high powered binoculars.
In this day and age, the Great Wall of China helped in preserving the rich Chinese culture and heritage preventing Western influences from coming in and changing the landscape. The Wall has served its purpose of preventing “invaders” from coming into China and influencing them to deviate from their beliefs and practices.
More of a self-preservation idea but the nation’s identity was strengthened however arduous it must have been during that time. The Wall is significant today as it was before because its purpose of building walls to prevent invasion was also built to protect its people. Regardless of when and why it was built, the Great Wall of China instilled pride to a young nation on the brink of greatness.
Dragon boat festival
The Dragon boat Festival is a festival that has long been popularly celebrated in mainland China. But it was only in 2008 that it was given recognition by the Chinese government by declaring it as a public holiday. It is also alternatively called Double Five Festival or Duan Wu Festival because following the Chinese lunar calendar, it falls on every fifth day of the fifth month.
There are several stories about the origin of the Dragon boat Festival. One story tells that this festival was born out of the Chinese’s earlier form of religion dragon worshiping. This was due to the fact that some of the activities in the festival included food being thrown into the river, supposedly to serve as an offering to the dragon god and serving as a sign of reverence were the dragon boat races.
The most popular and widely accepted story of origin related to Qu Yuan. He was a minister during the Zhou Dynasty, a dynasty which ruled major parts of China for over 700 years. Qu Yuan was well-loved by the people and much feared by government officials because of his courageous and outspoken fight against corruption which was rampant during that time.
As a result of this, officials schemed and found a way to force the emperor to dismiss him from the court. Qu Yuan traveled, taught, and wrote about his philosophies and poetry. But later he got to know that the Zhou Dynasty was overpowered by the Qin Dynasty, he took the defeat to his heart and committed suicide by throwing himself into the River Miluo.
Because of this incident, common people and fishermen who loved and respected him a lot, rushed out into the river on their boats, beat their drums supposedly to scare creatures in the water that might feast on Qu Yuan’s body and some people threw glutinous rice balls called zongzi into the water to feed those creatures that did not get scared by the beating drums.
And so it is that the modern Dragon boat Festival, which is one of only three major Chinese holidays, is a colorful and animated celebration which has also come to symbolize a healthy life, a life free from evil spirits and diseases by the other rituals done during this time. People hang herbs like moxa and calamus on their front doors, as well as pictures of Chung Kuei (a demon queller in Chinese legends) to ward off these evil spirits.
Adults also drink wine and children wear fragrant sachets around their necks. There is also a practice of fetching water from the well during noon time of the festival as this water is said well to cure illnesses.
Of course, this festival wouldn’t be complete without the different types of rice cakes prepared for everyone to taste and enjoy.
From the simple zongzi, these glutinous rice balls have evolved into more elaborate and more varied rice cakes. They now come in every imaginable size, shape, flavor, and stuffing. There is also a sport related to dragon boat festival where sports teams ride their boats in synchrony with the beating drums. At the present many countries practice this sport other than the Chinese.