Dawn breaks over the corrugated roofs of the pagodas of the Forbidden City. Near the water lily ponds, the Pekingese invade the place. They practise their physical exercise, creating a heteroclite gathering where we can spot Tai Chi, Qi Gong and sword handling… In the nearby suburb of Tartar, on Sundays, the Hutongs are full of local people riding to the flea markets. The city described by Marco Polo abounds in palaces decorated with threatening dragons, historical temples, museum and gardens. It is facing an increasing modernisation and a “Chinese Manhattan” is growing like a flash. On the doorstep of Beijing, the ramparts of the Great Wall meet the mountainous landscape as far as the eye can see. The Great Wall, masterpiece or sheer craziness, spreads over thousands of kilometres, impossible to quantify, from the east of China until the border of the Gobi Desert. We can almost imagine it under the assault of the invincible army of the dynasty’s emperor. These warriors can be found sculpted in the Xi’an remains, where we can admire the astonishing place filled with terracotta soldiers : an impressive army of 7000 infantrymen, each of them made in clay. We then fly over to the tireless Shanghaï which celebrates verticality. High rises size XXL, building and their art deco style, neo classical or baroque, the city is running the construction race. We walk on the Bund, on the border of the Hangpu River and on the alleyways bordered with plane trees from the French colonial times. The historical heart of Puxi, abounds with stalls of vegetables, flowers, antiquities, ironmongery and old books. A few hours away from there, the delta of the Yangzi River, taking its source on the Tibetan plateau, baths the region of Hangzhou and punctuate the countryside with picturesque canals, rice paddies ad tea plantations. We very happily immerse ourselves in the ancient atmosphere of the Amanfayun hotel, this former village which has been restored and converted in villas with wooden framework and raw stone flooring. A poetic stroll on the Western Lake, a visit to the tea museum or an outing to the silk market, this is how we finish this foretaste of the Far East, smoothly.
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