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China was a culturally sensational trip, yet we only scratched the surface of this ancient empire and ultra modern People’s Republic, visiting Shanghai, Hangzhou and Beijing. China is vast and complex – the world’s most populous country, the second largest in land area, with nearly 300 living languages and 7 mega cities with over 10 million inhabitants.
We went on our way back from Australia and visited two ex post grad architecural students, Wendy in Hangzhou and Yingying in Beijing.
In Shanghai we had a glimpse of Britain’s imperial past in the Art Deco architecture, for example in the Fairmont Peace Hotel (formerly Shanghai Cathay), along the Bund and Nanjing Street. In Hangzhou we spent a day in the rain on West Lake and had our photo taken on ‘the most romantic bridge in China’, the Duan Bridge.
The high points of the trip were the Great Wall, Summer Palace, Forbidden City and Temple of Heaven in Beijing, trying new tastes and learning about life in modern China.
Steve had been invited to give a lecture in Tsinghua University by Yinying, a PhD student he supervised. We had a meeting with Professor Yin Zhi, President of the Urban Planning & Design Institute of Tsinghua University and Yingying’s boss who presented us with a scroll of his calligraphy.
Our brief visit made us realise that however often one returned, China would be new and fascinating.