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Mike's China


Chinese tour guide had not taken pity on us. He included our passports with
those of his (overseas) party and we went up with them.
Once on top you have to walk. That means taking a small bag if you are
staying at one of the hotels. Your other luggage can be left below in a locker.
The walk to the hotels is long and if you can't manage it you should stay at the
bottom. There is a lot of climbing and descending but the going is easy. The
paths are worthy of an emperor. No expense was spared creating steps and
walkways from blocks of granite.
If you don't want to carry your bag you can use the services of one of the
many porters. These are immensely fit people of all ages who carry stuff
around on poles slung across their shoulders. I was told that much of what
they do could be done by vehicles but that would put an end to their jobs. The
official policy is to provide work for the locals and not displace them by
machines.
If you like a bit of solitude in beautiful places then stay on the mountain for
at least one night. The crowds melt away towards evening and it's quite
peaceful after the last cable car has gone back down. It stays that way until
the first cable car arrives the next morning. Then the pressure builds up as
more and more people are disgorged.
6 Grand Canal
The Grand Canal is part of an extensive system of waterways that criss-
crosses eastern China and links the four major rivers. Large parts were
in place during the Tang Dynasty, a thousand years ago. The ancient
towns along the banks are favourite destinations for Chinese tourists
but attract few visitors from overseas.
They are picturesque, historically interesting and easy to visit. You can get
a travel organisation to arrange a guided tour or you can make your own
arrangements.
My preference is for the latter. It's cheaper and you don't have guides
breathing down your neck and taking you to places where they will receive a
commission if you buy something.
My wife and I recently toured the canals in the Shanghai region. We took
trains and stayed in tourist and business hotels, making our bookings on the
 
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