12 Destinations that Make the Continent What it is...
They are the places that cry Asia! And if you want to be able to say that you've seen Asia (as opposed to being able to say that you've seen Thailand or India), you simply have to visit these places. None of them are perfect. Some of them are not all that great if you're looking for a pampered resort vacation. But these are the locations that personify the continent...1. Guangzhou, China. At a point in time when Hong Kong was still an unnoticed piece of rock, ships came to this port not far away on China's Pearl River to trade. They brought the outside world to China and took some of China (silk, for example) back with them. Back, not to Lisbon, Amsterdam, or London, but to Bombay and Karachi, to Shiraz and Baghdad, to Damascus, Cairo, and Mekkah.
To the British it was Canton. The city is over 2200 year old. It is littered with temples and pagodas - and with old markets and new shopping malls. If Shanghai is the Whore of the East, this is where she bought her dress...
- The Summer Palaces - The Old Summer Palace on Fu Hai Lake was sacked by the British in 1860 during the Second Opium War. Today the site is a public picnic ground. Close by, on Kunming Lake, the New Summer Palace (and the Garden of Cultivated Harmony) was started in 1888. Pink and green lotuses cover the lake during the summer.
- The Temple of Heaven - Among the city's most visited parks. The Temple's complex covers an area of close to 700 acres.
- Tiananmen Square - The spot where Mao proclaimed China a people's republic in 1949. His image still looks down upon the Square. The Goddess of Democracy was erected by students here in 1989; it was eventually torn down after the military dispersed democracy protests.
- The Ming Tombs about 30 miles from the city.
- The Western Qing Tombs about 80 miles outside Beijing.
- The Great Wall not far away.
The list is by no means complete. A trip to Beijing is essential in any well rounded Asia experience.
- The Shaolin Temple, where both Zen Buddhism and Kung Fu were born.
- Dengfeng and the Songshan Mountains Scenic Area with some of the world's most enthralling landscapes and a scattered collection of ancient temples.
- The Longmen Grottoes, one of the most developed Buddhist historical sites in Asia, listed by UNESCO as a World Cultural Heritage Site.
- Kaifeng, the ancient capital of several dynasties, with its Memorial Temple of Lord Bao and the Iron Pagoda (Tie Ta) and Xiangguo Temple.
- Luoyang, a capital more ancient than Kaifeng, with its Guanlin Temple, its Ancient Tombs, and the White Horse Temple.