Remembering China 2002

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In 2002 my mother and I decided to go to China with a Canadian tour group leaving from Vancouver. My mother was 81 at the time and she felt she could manage the trip now, but it may be too strenuous in the future. Additionally she was keen to see the country before the Three Gorges Dam was completed (2008) at which time many towns and cities along the river would be covered with water. We were also excited to experience a culture so very different from ours. By the way, mom mother was a trooper and carried her own very well, she was admired by many of our fellow travelers and we met a lot of very nice people on this tour.

The Three Gorges hydroelectric dam under construction. The dam was built not only to produce enough energy for the growing needs of the country, but also to control annual flooding. The project was huge and would necessitate the displacement of millions of people, only a fraction of whom would be relocated by the government.


Whole cities would be under water including. In some cases the government moved historic buildings but we visited a temple that didn’t have long for this world.

The trip was a huge learning experience culturally, but also because the geography and topography are very different from our own. It was a fascinating and somewhat disturbing trip. China is a huge country with millions of people and at the time it was gearing up with a huge building boom, huge municipal and national building projects, and a political system changing rapidly. It was a little unnerving to be honest.

We started in Beijing, a city with so many cranes on the horizon that you wondered if there would be a square inch left once the building boom was over.
Our hotel was lavish – by the end of the trip I wondered at the huge discrepancy between the cities and countryside of this country.

Shanghai Sky line

Shanghai’s The Bund is an area “which lies north of the old, walled city of Shanghai. It was initially a British settlement; later the British and American settlements were combined in the International Settlement. Magnificent commercial buildings in the Beaux Arts style sprung up in the years around the turn of the 20th century as the Bund developed into a major financial center of East Asia.” (WIKI)

The people of China are hard working and talented. Families and children are important, the elderly are respected and taken care of.


Early morning tai chi

Grandmother and grandson

Many of the ancient arts and crafts have been passed down and are still practiced.

Young women hand painting porcelin


Silk factory sorting larvae for the silk

Creating comforters out of layer upon paper thin layer of silk.

Women in traditional costume Beijing

We went to see the Qin Terracotta soldiers, truly amazing.


And of course the great wall (on a rainy day unfortunately)


We cruised the Yangtze for three days


Wu river peaks – largest tributary of the Yangtze river

I was not really pleased about this part of the cruise. We went off on a tributary where we boarded small boats which were hauled up river by men on the banks. I wanted to say I’ll get out an walk rather than watch them heave us along.


As we were cruising along on out boat we passed a similar cruise boat and I noticed the “kitchen” in the back and wondered where our meals were being cooked!!

The snake wine man – one of our group actually paid the snake wine guy for a glass of this snake wine – he was later sick. Go figure!


Towards the end of our trip we were in the interior of China, in the farming community. It was like going back in time several centuries and the contrast to the booming, modern cities of Beijing, Shanghai and Chongqing was amazing. However I’m not really sure which people had more joy in their lives. The people in the rat race living in the beautiful modern (and hugely crowded ) cities, or the people working their farms subsisting with very little .
Small farm village


Farm kitchen

Mother carrying child – no stroller needed.

The trip was exhausting but fascinating. I’ll likely never go back, but I’ll never regret going. It was also another wonderful trip shared with my mother.