Beijing, Paris, London & New York

The Cities above are so placed in an alphabetical order

and not by any means on an arguably competitive basis

 

In hindsight, having travelled to Beijing, Paris, London & New York, the four major metropolitan cities in the world, I just can’t begin to take stock as to which city I like best. I guess each one has its own unique attractions to offer and likely too because of differing love & interests, each individual will have have a different opinion.

I asked my wife for her choice of the appealing attractions of each place and she indicated the following:

Beijing

Forbidden City

The magnificent Forbidden City is the largest & the best-preserved imperial palace complex in the world. It has 9,999 rooms during the flourishing period, just one room short of the number that ancient Chinese belief represents ‘Divine Perfection.’ It is surrounded by a moat six metres deep & a ten-feet high wall. For five centuries, this palace functioned as the administrative centre of the country.

The Great Wall of China

The Great Wall of China is one of the ‘Eight Wonders of the World’ and is enlisted in the World Heritage Directory. This immense wall was built to keep out invaders as well as to retain the inhabitants. It spans five provinces from Shanhaiguan Pass in the east to Jiayuguan Pass in the west, looking like a gigantic dragon across deserts, grasslands and mountains. In the downtown area of Beijing, it is possible to climb Badaling Great Wall.

Tiananmen Square

The solemn and respectful Tiananmen Square is the largest central city square in the world, which serves not only Beijing’s symbol but also the whole of China. This immense courtyard is surrounded by a variety of significant edifices such as the Tiananmen Tower, Great Hall of the People, Mao Zedong Memorial Hall, Monument to the People’s Heroes and National Museum of China.

Paris

Paris

Eiffel Tower

Probably the best known landmark in Europe, the Eiffel Tower is the symbol of Paris and one of the city’s must-see attractions. You can climb up the stairs or take the elevator after waiting in the (long) queue.

Louvre Museum

One of the not-to-miss sights in Paris is the Louvre Museum, possibly the most famous museum in the world with a fabulous collection. It is housed in the Louvre Palace, once home to France’s Royal Family.

Notre Dame Cathedral

The Notre Dame de Paris is one of the first Gothic Cathedrals ever built.

Construction started in 1163 and lasted for almost two decades. From the lookout at the north tower you have a great view over the city.

London

Big Ben

The Clock Tower of the Palace of Westminster, known as the Big Ben, is one of London’s most famous landmarks. At the time the tower was built in 1858 its clock was the largest in the world.

Tower Bridge

London’s Tower Bridge is one of the most recognizable bridges in the world. Despite being disliked by many when it was built in 1894 the bridge soon became one of the London’s most famous landmarks.

Piccadilly Square

Piccadilly Circus is a busy square in the heart of London. It is famous for the fountain that was installed here at the end of the 19th century and for the neon advertising that turned the square into a miniature version of Times Square or Beijing’s Tiananmen Square.

New York

Empire State Building

Tired of staring up at New York City skyscrapers? Check out the view of New York City from atop the Empire State Building. The Empire State Building is a classic New York City attraction, and offers visitors wonderful views of New York City and the surrounding area.

Statue of Liberty   The Statue of Liberty was a gift to the United States in honor of the friendship established during the French Revolution. The Statue of Liberty has become an American symbol of freedom and welcome to the immigrants who come to the USA looking for a better life. While the interior of the Statue of Liberty is closed for improvements, you can still visit Liberty Island and nearby Ellis Island.

Grand Central Terminal   Renovations since its opening in 1913 have turned Grand Central into more than just a hub for transportation — there are shops, dining and more available to visitors. Grand Central is both an essential transit hub and a beautiful example of Beaux-Arts architecture.

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Beijing Then and Now (Beijing-Chengde-Tianjin Tour)

(BeijingChengde-Tianjin Tour)

20 – 27 October 2011

By P Chong     1 November 2011

"Bird's Nest" Beijing National Olympic Stadium

I first visited Beijing in May/June 1989 when I led a tour party of 10 there. The most memorable thing about that trip was the infamous Tiananmen Square demonstration which disrupted our sightseeing of the place. Tiananmen which means “Peaceful Heaven Gate” & which demonstration if not cracked down by the then Paramount Ruler, Deng Xiaoping would have spelt a different China we see today. It would be reminiscent of the last days of the weak Qing Dynasty which saw some eight foreign countries or more carving out Chinese motherland for themselves & looting away China’s precious treasures & heritage.

Beijing CBD

Now what a difference 22 years made? I saw then a city of millions of bicycles transformed to a city of millions of vehicles. Everywhere high rise buildings tower the sky, multiple lane thoroughfares, highways, express ways, traffic jams and as one of my Aussie friends said, “I have never seen so many Chinese.” Then in 1989, any significant modern structure was that of modern 5-star hotel, such as Kunlun Hotel where we stayed.

With increasing affluence & growth of capitalism, tourism is a great revenue source from foreign tourists as well as the locals. Wherever we went in our recent October 2011 tour, be it the Tiananmen Square, Forbidden City, Temple of Heaven, the Great Wall, Shopping Malls or Centrers, Summer Palace . . . there were jostling crowds & seas of heads. In a way, I was kind of disappointed as I was really looking to a more leisurely holiday.

The tour covering Beijing, Chengde & Tianjin, sponsored by the Chinese government, is designed to encourage the overseas Chinese to return to motherland China to see for themselves the phenomenal leap of progress that China has made in the last 3 decades. China may be Communist in name, but capitalism with Chinese characteristics is evident everywhere. The popularity of the tour is evident by some 34 luxurious coaches averaging 45 – 50 passengers.

When Deng Xiaoping coined the words “Xiang Qian Zou” (basically meaning Forward March), he changed the same sounding word “Qian” to mean money. The “Road to Riches” has since taken on with frenzy pace. Never has the world seen such rapid changes & progress anywhere in the last 30 years or so!

Presumably, the Chinese government has the ancillary support of some of the major corporations & manufacturers like the Chinese Tea industry, silk manufacturers, jade & pearl industry . . . in offering such cheap & good valued tours initially at AUD99 per head and then increasing to AUD198 excluding the AUD10 tip per day for the tour guide. The tour period is 7/8 days.

The tour would have been par excellent if more time was accorded to sight-seeing rather than taken to all those named factories where we spent unlimited time listening to sales presentations & demonstrations. As a matter of fact, in a previous similar tour of Shanghai, I found the tour guides were real professionals & skillful in their sales pitch. By the time you got to the jade or silk factory you were already succumbed to buying!

The food provided was good & the 5-star hotel accommodation at Radisson (Blue) Hotel excellent. One night accommodation plus the breakfast is worth every cent paid for. The day began at 6.00AM and so packed with activities that we didn’t get to bed till 10 or 11PM.

Parting is such sweet sorrow. All too soon, the tour came to an end, as with the mountain resort in Chengde & the ultra modern Tianjin with its impressive high rise. Friendships were made & though we parted, memories would linger on from the hundreds of digital snap shots we took.