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Ultimate China

With over 1.3 billion citizens and a land mass barely larger than the USA, it would be easy to think China is just crammed with people, but as Globe Trekker’s Ultimate China shows, this is aimage: a rickshaw driversland of incredible diversity.

Megan McCormick starts out in the old capital,Xianyang, which was established over 2000 years ago and is the home of Emperor Qin’s huge mausoleum with its army of terracotta warriors. On a brief journey through the history of the nation, Megan McCormick, Justine Shapiro and Zay Harding visit the forbidden city of Beijing and the centuries of Imperial reign. During these centuries, we find that China led the world in arts and sciences and became rich selling silk, porcelain and tea along the silk route and from ports such as Quanzhou. But the Imperial era was brought to an end by the Opium wars with Britain and the series of revolutions that followed, culminating in the communist revolution under Mao Zedong. Justine meets a teacher who experienced Mao’s oppression in the cultural revolution and Zay talks to one of the original “long marchers” who fought beside Mao against Chiang Kai Shek’s Nationalist army.

Now in the years after Chairman Mao, China is beginning to open up, becoming a major trading nation again. Megan finds shopping heaven in Shenzhen and Shanghai and goes to the races in Hong Kong. Zay meets a Chinese Canadian who has decided to come back to China to live.

As China begins to open up, religion and traditional practices and philosophies are returning. We visit stunning Buddhist and Taoist temples, mosques and churches and see a stunning Megan McCormick hikes the Great Wall of China from Beijing festival to the Goddess of the sea, Mazu. Megan tries Tai chi and a traditional massage, Zay has his skin cleaned by nibbling fish and foot-scraping therapists, and Justine undergoes acupuncture and has a bonfire lit on her belly! They also experience the vast range of Chinese cuisine, from delicious dim sum to scorpion’s on a stick.

China seems to be modernizing at an incredible place, but many millions of Chinese still live peasant lifestyles. Away from the cities, Justine visits the beautiful Miao people of the south west and sees the swinging festival of the Akka people. Zay sees the extraordinary Tolou mud homes of the Hakka people of Fujian. And between them all they see that China has stunning rural landscapes, ranging from jagged mountains to vast deserts. In the midst of that, Chinese ingenuity is everywhere, from elevators up mountains, to the Great Wall of China and, most recently and dramatically, the Three Gorges Dam project which is transforming the Chinese landscape forever.

Places Mentioned - China

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