Chapter 13 Geography and Tourism in East Asia.
* East Asia has a long tradition of civilization aid human occupancy, with China being the world's most populous country
* The regions cultures developed essentially in isolation and reflect the influence of China.
* Modern Chinese, Japanese, and Korean cultures are each distinctive.
* Japan illustrates that a limited resource base does not doom a country b poverty.
* Individual countries (Singapore, Soup Korea Taiwan and China) have rapidly developing economies.
MAJOR TOURISM CHARACTERISTICS
* Fast Asia is part of the Pacific Asia region. which had the world's highest growth rate for tourism arrivals in the 1980s.
* The mystique of the Oriental culture attracts merry first time tourists, especially to China.
* The opening of China to international tourism at the beginning of 1978 changed tourism destinations in the region.
* Cultural tourism is a major factor for international tourism.
* China's population makes its potential for domestic tourism the largest in the world.
MAJOR TOURIST DESTINATIONS
Kyoto, Osaka and Tokyo in Japan
Puyo and Kongju in Korea
KEY TERMS AND WORDS
East Asia consists of North and South Korea, the People's Republic of China, Japan, the Republic of China (Taiwan), Hong Kong, and Macau (Figures 13-1a and 13-1b).The region had the greatest growth in inter- national arrivals of tourists in the 1980s and 1990s. The opening of China to mass tourism in 1978 and its tourism development was the primary reason for this rapid growth. The interest in China led to increased numbers of visitors for all the countries of the area. Japan and Hong Kong serve as gateways into China and visitors from industrialized nations normally combine a visit to China with visits to several other countries in the region. Hong King became a Special Administrative Region of China in 1997 by agreement with the United Kingdom. The agreement provides for a continuation of Hong Kong's unique social, economic, legal, and other systems for 50 years. This will have considerable, but unpredictable, impact upon tourism to the region.
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East Asia is a very diverse region economically and geographically. It contains one of the most successful industrialized countries of the world in Japan, a number of growing newly industrialized countries (Hong Kong, Taiwan, and South Korea), and a developing country--China. Japan, and to a lesser extent South Korea, Taiwan, and Hong Kong, share in the greater wealth and higher standard of living of industrialized countries, and they are an exception to most of the countries of Asia. China's economy is increasing the most rapidly, however, resulting in dramatic economic changes in the country.
TOURISM IN EAST ASIA
The most significant feature of tourism to East Asia has been the opening and development of tourism to the People's Republic of China. Although the region had one of the highest rates of visitor increases in the 1990s, it is somewhat difficult to interpret. Various data sources indicate different numbers of visitors depending on whether or how they count day visitors who cross international borders between China and Hong Kong and Macau. The numbers used in this text are the World Tourism Organization's estimates of visitor numbers, including those tourists from Hong Kong and Macau who are considered bona fide tourists even if visits may be only one day. By whatever measure, East Asia accounts for the highest percentage of all tourists to the larger Pacific Asia region. Figure 13-2 shows the character of international tourism to East Asia during the 1990s.
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Government: Parliamentary democracy
Size: 145,856 square miles (slightly smaller than California)
Ethnic Division: Japanese, 0.6% Korean
Religion: Shintoism and Buddhism, 0.8% Christian
Tourist Season: April through October
Peak Tourist Season: October
Population: 127.1 million (2001)
TRAVEL TIPS Entry: Visas are not required for stays less than 90 days with proof of return or onward transportation. Transportation: International air service connects Tokyo and Osaka with North America and the rest of the world. New developments include the new Kansai International Airport at Osaka, which opened in 1994, and a second terminal at Narita (Tokyo) which opened in 1993. These should increase Japan's accessibility. An express train began operating in 1991 from Narita Airport to Tokyo, carrying passengers to Tokyo in 53 minutes. This has greatly improved access into Tokyo from Narita. Japan has excellent domestic air service throughout the country. Japan has one of the most efficient and convenient rail services in the world, headed by its Shinkansen bullet train network. Shopping: Common items include Japanese handicrafts and art objects, jewelry, silks, furs, pottery pieces, paper lanterns, dolls, and hand-painted dishes and bowls. The manufactured items known the world over can be purchased, but they are expensive and can be purchased for less in other cities such as Hong Kong. CULTURAL CAPSULE Japan is one of the most densely populated nations in the world with a population of 127 million (nearly half that of the United States), living on less than 5 percent of the total territory of the United States. The three major metropolitan areas of Tokyo, Osaka, and Nagoya contain nearly 45 percent of the population of Japan. The Japanese, about 99 percent of the population, are a Mongoloid people, closely related to the major groups of East Asia. There are small numbers of Koreans (675,000) and Chinese. Buddhism and Shinto are the major religions. Most Japanese still consider themselves members of one of the major Buddhist sects. Shintoism is an indigenous religion founded on myths, legends, and ritual practices of the early Japanese. Neither Buddhism nor Shintoism is an exclusive religion, and most Japanese observe both Buddhist and Shinto rituals, the former for funerals and the latter for births, marriages, and other occasions. Confucianism also influences Japanese thought. About 1.5 million people are Christians. Approximately 50 percent are Protestant and 40 percent Roman Catholic. Devotion, conformity, loyalty, and hard work can best describe the Japanese people. The society is group oriented, and loyalty to one's superiors takes precedence over personal feelings. Conformity in dress is the general rule. Businessmen wear suits and ties in public. The traditional kimono or wafuku, which is a long robe with sleeves, wrapped with a special sash, is worn on special occasions and at leisure. Cultural Hints: * A bow is the traditional greeting. Japanese will shake hands with Westerners, but avoid an overly firm handshake. * Avoid direct eye contact. * Formal titles are important. * Do not show signs of affectionate physical contact in public. * It is impolite to yawn in public. * Beckon with the palm down and waving all fingers. * Point with the entire hand. * Do not chew gum in public. * Lines are respected. * Avoid loudness and excessively demonstrative behavior. * An open mouth is considered rude; cover your mouth when yawning. * Correct posture is important. * When counting, the thumb represents the number five. * Blowing your nose in public is considered rude. * Present gifts and business cards with both hands. Also, bow slightly. * Eating and foods: Snack foods sold on the streets are generally eaten at the stand. Toasting is common in Japan. At public restaurants or private homes, remove your shoes before entering. Traditional meals are eaten with chopsticks from bowls that are held at chest level. Western foods are eaten with Western utensils. Typical foods are rice, fresh vegetables, seafood, fruit, and small portions of meat. Some typical dishes are miso (bean paste) soup, noodles, curried rice, sashimi (uncooked fish), tofu, pork, and sushi (combination of fish, cooked or uncooked, and rice with vinegar).
Japan is a series of islands extending 1,400 miles from north to south, Figure 13-3. The islands are the peaks of a volcanic chain known as the Pacific "Ring of Fire," resulting in periodic destructive earthquakes. The hilly and mountainous terrain of three-quarters of Japan limits the area that is suitable for agriculture. Settlement is concentrated in the coastal plains, the level land in the small valleys between hills, and in the narrow river valleys. Rivers are short, and their steep gradients make them unsuitable for navigation, but they are important for the generation of electricity.
Japan extends through a wide latitude if all the islands in the archipelago are included, but the main four islands extend from just north of 30 degrees north (the latitude of New Orleans, Louisiana) to just north of 45 degrees (just north of Green Bay, Wisconsin). Climate ranges from humid subtropical to humid continental. There is sufficient rainfall for agriculture on the main islands, with no true dry areas. Precipitation totals range from 40 inches in the north to 100 in the south. Hokkaido and northern Honshu have cold winters, which limits agriculture to a single crop yearly. This northern area of Japan has a humid continental climate and commonly experiences snowfall in the winter season; in northern Hokkaido and in the higher elevations of the northern third of Honshu, there are many ski resorts. Sapporo on Hokkaido has hosted the Winter Olympics.
The southern two-thirds of Honshu and the islands of Shikoku and Kyushu have humid subtropical climates. They are warm and humid in the summers, and moderate and wet in the winter season. Snow in subtropical Honshu is limited to higher elevations. The level land of the coastal plains and interior valleys in this area is intensively cultivated, utilizing double-cropping with irrigated rice in the summer and dry grains or other crops in the winter.
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Japan has not historically looked to tourism as a major foreign income earner as it had such a huge trade surplus in the 1980s. However, in the 1990s it has taken a more active role in promoting inbound tourism. Japan has a well-organized tourist industry. The government is involved with both domestic and international tourism, with offices in many cities of the world outside of Japan to promote and provide information about tourism to Japan. The government has also established a number of programs and offices to develop a broad variety of tourist attractions in Japan while maintaining the quality of its natural environmental settings.
The effort of the government of Japan can be illustrated by the following excerpt from Tourism in Japan:
Development of International Tourism in Japan: The rapid expansion of Japan's economy in recent years has exerted significant influences on other nations of the world. Frictional problems between Japan and other nations pose a problem of grave concern among the Japanese. The current lack of understanding about Japan by other nations indicates that Japan has been rather negligent in positively projecting itself to the world. International tourism is viewed by the Japanese as one of the most effective means to promote international cooperation and understanding. Japan provides overseas promotional activities to motivate potential travelers to visit Japan and reception services to provide foreign visitors with opportunities to better understand the country upon arrival. Promotional activities to increase foreign tourist traffic to Japan are run by the Japan National Tourist Organization (JNTO), a nonprofit organization established by a special law and subsidized by the government. Since the language barrier is one of the biggest problems for foreign visitors while traveling in Japan, JNTO operates three Tourist Information Centers for foreign visitors (Tokyo, Kyoto, and the New Tokyo International Airport at Narita), where visitors are given free, multilingual information on travel in Japan.
Three factors appear to limit Japan's growth from the main generating markets of North America and Europe: (1) its prime attractions are culture, history, customs, and traditions that appeal to a relatively narrow segment of the long-haul tourist market; (2) there is a language and cultural barrier that deters some people from visiting; (3) high travel and land costs limit market demand. The image that Japan is expensive limits the number of visitors to the country.
Tourists arrive in Japan from throughout the world. The largest origin countries are South Korea, Taiwan, and the United States, which combined for about 55 percent of the total visitors in 1999 (Figure 13-4). The United States is third, accounting for 16.2 percent of all foreign visitors. Increased travel to Japan has come from neighboring South Korea and Taiwan. Europe, led by Great Britain, accounts for 13.7 percent of visitors. Most of the European visitors are business travelers. Europeans have the highest incidence of business travel of any region's visitors to Japan.
The most popular time for visitors is October, followed by July and August. The winter months are the slowest, and the government desires to encourage and promote more winter events and conventions to level out the seasons. Travel to Japan increased in the 1990s due to the Asian Games in 1994 and surged again during the Winter Olympics in 1998.
Both domestic and international tourism have risen dramatically in Japan over the past ten years. The decreasing work days and increasing prosperity of the country are beginning to overcome the traditional cultural restraints against taking vacations. However, many Japanese still work on their days off and refuse to take vacations. This is changing slowly, which has an important effect on tourism. Tokyo's financial firms are no longer open on Saturdays. The government is encouraging the establishment of a five-day work week. Government offices are now closed two Saturdays a month. Since 1993 students must take one Saturday a month off. The average annual holidays per firm is about sixteen days. Domestic tourism is characterized by short stays, and small groups are preferred over other groups.
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Tourist Destinations and Attractions
The attractions most frequently visited by the Japanese themselves are temples and historical and cultural places, especially in the older cities of Osaka, Kyoto, and Nara. Each of these was at one time the capital of Japan, and they have great historical value and ancient treasures. In Nara, for example, the Horyuji Temple, which was built over 1,350 years ago and is the oldest of all wood buildings now existing in Japan, attracts Japanese. National parks are the second most important vacation attractions. There are 28 national parks, 55 nationalized parks, and 299 state parks. National parks are maintained by the Natural Environment Preserve Committee. Another major attraction is hot springs, which have been popular for generations. Japan has an outstanding internal transportation system, by rail and by air, for both domestic and international visitors.
One of the remarkable achievements in the Japanese travel industry has been the increase in international travel by the Japanese. Since restrictions on overseas travel were reduced in 1964, overseas travel by the Japanese people has grown dramatically. One factor encouraging the Japanese to travel is that goods can be purchased abroad more cheaply than at home. The most popular destinations for Japanese are the United States (particularly Hawaii), Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong, China, Malaysia, Indonesia, and New Zealand. One of the characteristics of Japanese travel overseas is that it too is seasonal, with August as the peak and April the low point.
There are eight travel regions in Japan that serve as the major destinations for foreign visitors. First is Hokkaido, the northernmost island in the Japanese archipelago. Sapporo, the capital city, was the site of the 1972 Winter Olympics. Its annual winter carnival (Snow Festival) is a major attraction. It has a variety of gigantic snow images created by artists. Other attractions in the city are the Hokkaido University, Botanical Gardens, Historical Museum (illustrating Hokkaido treasures of Ainu and Giliak costumes, canoes, harpoons, and other objects), and Odori Promenade. The promenade is decorated year-round with flowers. Below it, there is an underground shopping arcade with some 150 restaurants, souvenir shops, and coffee houses. The characteristics of Hokkaido as a vacationland are its natural beauty and unique fauna and flora. The volcanoes, lakes, and spas form a rich variety of outdoor activities for the tourist. Hokkaido has five important national parks with a variety of volcanoes, caldera lakes, hot spring resorts, forests and wild flowers, and spas.
A second travel region is Tohoku, which is located in the northeastern section of the main island of Honshu. It has scenic areas that include three national parks and many hot springs. The parks offer mountaineering and skiing. The Tohoku region also boasts handicrafts, historical and traditional festivals, and folk dancing. The major tourist center in this region is Sendai, the capital of Miyagi Prefecture and the cultural, economic, and political center. Formerly a castle town, the city is very popular and serves as a center for trips to scenic spots in the district.
The third tourism region in Japan is Tokyo and the surrounding area. It has many shrines and temples along with the attractions of a great modern city. Historically Tokyo first became the seat of the Shogunate government in 1603. Under the Shogun's great influence, the city (then called Edo) enjoyed all the privileges of a virtual national capital for the next three centuries even though Kyoto remained the legal capital until 1868. Today Tokyo is the center of national politics, education, and finance. Although it is a highly westernized metropolis, it still retains much of its Oriental charm. Tokyo is particularly attractive to visitors because of its unique capacity to blend the East and the West, the old and the new. Side by side with the bustling activity of its business sections, there remain traditional ways and habits of old Japan interspersed with many colorful festivities.
An important attraction is the Imperial Palace surrounded by a high stone wall and moat. While visitors cannot enter the palace, the surrounding area is pleasant and interesting. The Meiji Shrine, which is located in a thickly wooded parkland and flower garden, is a popular attraction for Japanese and foreign tourists. One of the most popular attractions in Tokyo is the Ginza, the famous shopping district of Japan. It has many prestigious department stores, large and small specialty shops, restaurants and coffee shops, and bars and nightclubs. The Asakusa Kannou Temple, founded in 645 A.D., is surrounded by a multitude of souvenir shops, theaters, and amusement spots, indicating the importance of the temple as a tourist attraction. The surrounding area has lovely mountain scenery, hot springs, and many historic spots.
The most famous symbol of Japan is snow-capped Mt. Fuji, Figure 13-5. Five lakes on the fringes of Mt. Fuji and the mountain itself provide a variety of outdoor recreational activities. Hakone is a mountain resort and spa town with Mt. Fuji as a backdrop. Lake Ashi, boiling hot springs, and a splendid reflection of Mt. Fuji are among the attractions in Hakone. Kamakura, a small quiet town, was once a feudal government headquarters. It has a number of old temples and shrines. Some highlights are the Great Image of Buddha, the colorful Tsurugaoka Hachimangu Shrine, and the picturesque Enoshima Island. The gorgeous Toshogu Shrine, Lake Chuzenji, and the beautiful Kegon Falls, which fall 330 feet, are in and around Nikko.
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Kamakura, 30 miles southwest of Tokyo, was also a seat of a feudal government. Today it is a lovely seaside resort. Kamakura is the site of Daibutsu or Great Buddha, a huge 700-year-old bronze image of Buddha, and the Tsurugaoka Hachimangu Shrine.
The fourth region, Chubu, is the center of the main island of Honshu, in which there are seven national parks and the "Japan Alps." The area has splendid mountain scenery, beautiful plateaus, swift rivers, hot springs, mirror-like lakes, and excellent ski resorts. The largest city of central Honshu is Nagoya, with a history that dates back to the seventeenth century when Ieyasu Tokugawa (1542-1616), the generalissimo who established his government in Edo (now Tokyo), built an imposing castle, which is now the city's symbol. Ise is considered the most sacred city in Japan. The Ise Grand Shrines, sacred to mythological creators of the country, are located there. The Grand Shrines have numerous pilgrims year-round.
One of the most scenic mountain areas in Japan is often compared to the European Alps, causing them to be called the Japan Alps. The center for travel into and through the Alps of Japan is Matsumoto. Matsumoto is a castle town, with a distinctive local culture and an unexploited countryside. Japan's oldest medieval castle is in Matsumoto and provides a panorama of the superb countryside. In the valley, from Shiojiri in the south to Otari in the north, there are charming old post towns and villages surrounded by lush agricultural land and flowing rivers. There are summer and winter resorts in the Japan Alps.
The fifth region is Kansai, with the metropolitan cities of Kyoto and Osaka on the southern half of the island of Honshu. This is a major destination for international visitors. The area has superb scenic beauty, like Ise-Shima National Park with its seascapes. In addition, the ancient capitals of Japan are in this area. Kyoto, the capital of Japan from 794 to 1868, has some 400 Shinto shrines and 1,650 Buddhist temples, as well as villas with elaborately designed gardens. One of the most impressive sites is the Kinkaku-Ji Temple (Temple of the Golden Pavilion). In the early 1300s the pavilion was constructed as a villa for the aristocrat Saionji Kintsune. It was purchased in 1397 by the third shogun of the Ashikaga, Yoshimitsu. Yoshimitsu used the pavilion as a place to store his art and literature collection. After his death the palace became a Zen temple and remains the most recognized site in Kyoto. The gold-leafed temple consists of three different types of architecture: the first floor is traditional fujiwara court style; the second is Kamakura period samurai house style; and the third floor is Chinese Zen temple style. Kyoto is a city of festivals as well, with many centuries-old events to remind the visitor of life in the ancient world (Figure 13-6). It is Japan's top center for folk arts, silk fabrics, brocades, lacquerware, earthenware, porcelain fans, dolls, and bronze, all of superb workmanship.
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The city of Nara, just south of Kyoto, is a popular day trip from Kyoto. Nara has an even older history than Kyoto and was the cradle of Japan's arts. It contains ancient tombs, ruins, and other historical relics. The most widely known symbol of Nara is the Kofukuji Temple, built in 710 A.D.Moved from Asuka to its present site, its five-story pagoda is a distinctive landmark.
Osaka serves as an excellent base for trips to Kyoto and Nara. Osaka has a long history as a commercial and transportation center of Japan. Contact between Japan and the countries of Korea and China took place in Osaka, and several emperors established their courts here. Kobe, near Osaka, is also an important port city. Its business and shopping centers vie with its architecture reflecting foreign influence, preserved from the Meiji Period, to attract visitors.
The sixth region is Chugoku, the western end of the island of Honshu. It has beautiful beaches, coastal plateaus, and the Inland Sea National Park. It includes Hiroshima, site of the first atomic bomb used in warfare, and one of the three most beautiful Japanese landscape gardens, Korakuen Garden. The central city in the district is Okayama, an old castle town. The attractions in Okayama include the Korakuen Garden and Washuzan Hill, which provides one of the best views of the Inland Sea. Hiroshima has been restored and has adopted the name "the City of Peace." The attractions in Hiroshima include Shukukeien Garden, Hiroshima Castle, Peace Memorial Park and Hall, Atomic Bomb Dome, Memorial Cenotaph for the A-bomb victims, and Memorial Cathedral for World Peace.
The seventh region is the island of Kyushu, which has a subtropical climate and six national parks and offers spectacular scenery, hot springs, and numerous historical sites. One major city in this region is Fukuoka, which is divided into the modern commercial district and the old trading port. Fukuoka has been undergoing development to stimulate more tourism. It is known for its Hakata-ori silk textiles and gala festivals of Hakata Dontaku. Nagasaki also contains a number of attractions, including some memorials to the suffering caused by the atomic bomb dropped on the city.
The eighth region is the Okinawa Islands, which have many historical ties to Japan. Okinawa has a wealth of natural beauty, including coral reefs and emerald water, sunny skies, and subtropical plants. Tourist attractions include Naminoue Shrine, dedicated to a god of land management, and Sogenji Temple, the mausoleum for successive Ryiukyuan kings and others.
Government: Republic with centralized power
Size: 38,000 square miles (about the same as Indiana)
Ethnic Division: Korean, Chinese minority
Religion: Buddhism, Christianity, Shamanism, Confucianism
Tourist Season: Year-round
Peak Tourist Season: April through October
Population: 48.8 million (2001)
TRAVEL TIPS Entry: Visas are required. Transportation: International connectivity is good between North America and other countries and Korea at Seoul, Pusan, and Cheju Island. There is extensive inter-city air, rail, and bus service. Cities have excellent local bus, taxi, and in Seoul, subway service. Health: Malaria precautions should be taken. Water outside of major cities and hotels may not be potable. Shopping: Common items include lacquer boxes, costume dolls, brass and imitation antiques, tailor-made clothes, and Koryo silk brocade. CULTURAL CAPSULE Korea is one of the most homogeneous countries in the world (ethnic Korean). Korea was first populated by a Tungusic branch of the Ural-Altaic family, which migrated to the peninsula from the northwestern regions of Asia. It has a small Chinese minority (50,000). Korean is a Uralic language remotely related to Japanese, Hungarian, Finnish, and Mongolian. The language uses numerous Chinese words. Many older people retain some knowledge of Japanese from the colonial period (1910-1945), and most educated Koreans can read English. Shamanism and Buddhism are the traditional religions of Korea. Shamanism, a folk religion, involves geomancy, the process of divination, avoiding bad luck or omens, warding off evil spirits, and honoring the dead. Nearly 30 percent of the population is Christian. The Confucian ethic of hard work and filial piety is important to the society. There are many rituals of courtesy, formality in behavior, and customs regulating social relations. Cultural Hints: * A slight bow and handshake is a common greeting between men. * Women shake hands less often than men, usually just acknowledging with a nod. * Good eye contact is important. * Avoid touching, patting on arm, shoulder, or back unless good friends. * Beckoning is done with palm down and a scratching motion. * Do not place feet on desks or chairs. * Use both hands to pass and receive objects. * Cover mouth when yawning or using a toothpick. * Lines are not common. People will push to enter bus. * Shoes are removed before entering home. * Avoid loud talking or laughing. * Do not eat while walking along a street. * Do not blow your nose in public. * Remove your sunglasses during conversation with another person. * Eating and foods: Periods of silence are common. Pass food and other objects with right hand. A service charge is usually included in the bill. Tipping is not expected. At a restaurant, one person usually pays for all. When dining, the elderly are served first and the children last. Typical food is spicy. Common foods are rice, spicy pickled cabbage, red beans, chicken, marinated and barbecued beef, barley tea, and fruit for dessert.
South Korea occupies the southern portion of a mountainous peninsula. It consists of two major landforms: a coastal zone and a hilly backbone. The population of both South and North Korea is concentrated in the coastal zone. The most rugged areas are the mountainous east coast and the central interior. The climate is hot and rainy in the summer and cold and dry in the winter.
Tourism to South Korea is recognized as a national industry, and the government works to improve the industry and promote increased tourism to Korea. The South Korean tourism industry has increased dramatically for both outgoing and incoming tourists. The combination of Asian Games followed in 1988 by the Summer Olympics greatly benefited tourism to the country. Tourism in South Korea developed much later than in Japan. The Korean War, from 1950 to 1953, devastated the country and its economy. In 1962, there were only 15,000 foreign visitors to Korea. In 1999, there were 4.6 million. Today, Japan dominates the market, accounting for 46 percent of total visitors (Figure 13-7). Japan's proximity and the similarity of culture and language attract Japanese travelers, as do low prices for travel and consumer items. The United States accounts for 9.5 percent of the total foreign visitors to Korea. Presently few Europeans visit Korea, with only about 9 percent of the visitors being European. Visitors arriving for tourist purposes account for 72 percent of total visitors (Pacific Asia Travel Association, 1999).
The Olympics in Seoul (held in September 1988) helped the country develop accommodations and other tourist infrastructure, as well as showcased the country in Europe and North America as the pageantry of the summer games received broad coverage in those regions. The 600th anniversary of Seoul as the nation's capital took place in 1994, and as such it was designated as the "Visit Korea Year." The government has undertaken an extensive campaign, especially in the United States, to stimulate travel to Korea. Spring and autumn have been the peak seasons, but seasonality does not represent a problem as it has not overloaded the accommodations to date.
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Tourist Destinations and Attractions
There are three main attractions for tourists to South Korea. Seoul, the capital, has palaces and folklore museums with Korean architecture (Figure 13-8 and 13-9). Now an Olympic city, Seoul is the gateway to the Republic of Korea. Seoul's historic heritage is evidenced in the palaces, shrines, and monuments still standing through the city. A number of palaces are important attractions. Toksugung Palace blends both Western and Korean architecture. The Kyongbokkung Palace was built in 1395 by King Taejo of the Choson Dynasty and was rebuilt in 1868 (Figure 13-10). Many of the nation's historic stone pagodas and monuments, including a ten-story pagoda, are on its grounds. The Secret Garden within the Changdokkung Palace contains 44 pavilions scattered amid small streams with bridges and other idyllic spots. Changgyonggung Palace has been restored and depicts the life and arts of the ancient royal family.
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There are many other attractions in Seoul. One of the attractions is a museum to commemorate Seoul's 600th anniversary. The Great South Gate of Seoul (Nandaemum) has been designated as the foremost National Treasure. Chogyesa Temple (a large Buddhist temple) and the Temple of Heaven are two highly visible Buddhist temples in the city. In the vicinity there are the royal tombs, with the Tonggurung or East Nine Tombs as the best known and most accessible. The royal remains are entombed in huge mounds of earth, each surmounted by an altar stone on which sacrifices used to be offered on ritual days.
West of Seoul, at Inchon, is Chayu Park and the MacArthur Monument, commemorating the American Army's landing at Inchon in the Korean conflict, and the Memorial Hall for the Inchon Landing Operation. South of Seoul, the fortress city of Suwon boasts a restored fortress that was originally built in the late eighteenth century by King Chongjo to honor his father. The Korean Folk Village just outside of Suwon provides a view of Korea's past. Here in reconstructed farmhouses, residences of the nobility, and other buildings of several centuries ago, a functioning community of potters, millers, weavers, blacksmiths, pipemakers, and other craftsmen work as their ancestors did. At the Yongin Farmland, the Global Town exhibits various traditional cultural scenes from 21 different countries around the world. North of Seoul is the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ). P'anmunjom, in the middle of the DMZ, is the site of the armistice negotiations. East of Seoul, there are a number of lakes, providing a water vacationland for the visitor.
The second major area is the southwest area centering on Puyo and Kongju, former Paekche Kingdom capitals, known for their temples, museums, monasteries, sacred mountains, and royal tombs. Puyo, the last capital of the kingdom, has many ruins dating back to 600 A.D. A fortified castle sits on a steep hill in Puyo's city center. The Puyo National Museum is a fine example of Korea's modern architecture. Also, the government is building at Puyo an exhibition hall highlighting the Paekche culture, which flourished from 57 B.C. to 668 A.D. At Kongju, the Kongju National Museum houses the valuables of King Muryong's tomb. Near these ancient capitals at the town of Nonsan is the massive Unjin Miruk Buddha, Korea's largest stone Buddha, dating from the tenth century.
A third major area is the southeast area centered around Kyongju. Kyongju was the capital of the Shilla Kingdom and at one time was one of the great cities of the world. In 1979, UNESCO selected Kyongju as one of the ten ancient historic cities in the world. The Chumsungdae Observatory, a bottle-shaped stone tower, may have been used for observing the stars. The layout of a series of stones around the base creates an attraction comparable to Stonehenge in England. Kyerim Forest, the remains of Panwolsong Castle, Anapchi Pond (a pleasure resort), and Tumuli Park (site of large royal tombs) are all impressive reminders of the Shilla period. Some of the tombs have been excavated and are open for viewing. At the Punhwangsa Temple, one of only five brick pagodas in Korea still stands. The Kyongju National Museum houses a treasure of objects from Shilla tombs, including the famous gold crowns, gold girdles, jewelry ceramics, sword hilts, and other artifacts. The countryside is dotted with temples, tombs, and fortresses, each of which is impressive in its own right.
At Pusan, the United Nations Memorial Cemetery serves as a reminder of the Korean conflict. Today Pusan is Korea's principal port, and its warmer southern location extends the season for ocean beach resorts and hot springs in the vicinity.
Throughout the country, there are many natural and cultural attractions that provide a rich potential for travelers. There are spectacular mountain scenery, clean sandy beaches, many natural harbors and waterfalls, distinctive cuisine, and many historical and archaeological sites. Health spas are in abundance and along with winter sports are important to a developing domestic market. One area the government feels has a tremendous potential is Cheju Island, which is an exotic semitropical island known for its female deep-sea divers, and Mt. Hallasan, the tallest mountain in Korea. Its striking scenery, lack of pollution, and warm climate make the island an important potential tourist attraction for Korea.
North Korea (Democratic People's Republic of Korea)
Government: Communist state
Size: 47,000 square miles (about the same as Mississippi)
Religion: Buddhism, Shamanism (religious activities nonexistent)
Population: 22.0 million (2001)
TRAVEL TIPS Entry: Travel from the United States is discouraged. The United States does not recognize the government and does not maintain diplomatic or consular relations with North Korea. Transportation: International connections are through countries that have diplomatic relations with North Korea such as China. Internal travel is mostly by rail. Shopping: Common items include lacquer boxes, costume dolls, brass and imitation antiques, and Koryo silk brocade. CULTURAL CAPSULE Korea was first populated by a Tungusic branch of the Ural-Altaic family, which migrated to the peninsula from the northwestern regions of Asia. The Koreans and Manchurians are physically similar. Koreans are racially and linguistically homogeneous. Korean is a Uralic language remotely related to Japanese, Mongolian, Hungarian, and Finnish. North Korea differs from South Korea in that it does not use a mixed script of Chinese and Korean. Russian, Chinese, and English are taught in the schools. Although religious groups (Buddhism, Shamanism, and Chondogyo) nominally exist in North Korea, the government severely restricts their activity. Chondogyo is an indigenous religion founded in 1860 as an eclectic combination of Buddhist, Confucian, and Christian beliefs. The government allows Christians to meet in small groups under the direction of state-appointed ministers. Foods and customs are generally similar to South Korea.
The Democratic People's Republic of Korea occupies the northern portion of a mountainous peninsula. It consists of numerous ranges of moderately high mountains and hills separated by deep, narrow valleys and small cultivated plains. The climate is temperate in the summer and cold in the winter.
Data are not available concerning North Korea's tourism. Entry is extremely limited and by invitation only. In the 1990s, North Korea averaged about 125,000 visitors a year. Few visitors are South Koreans or Americans. The major market is Koreans living in Japan. A few Korean-Americans have been allowed to visit their families in North Korea. Few people visit beyond Pyongyang, the capital. The major attractions in the city are reconstructed Buddhist temples, which are no longer used as places of worship, and the Grand Theater. North Korea wants to increase its tourist industry and is offering group tours for rock climbing, bird-watching, sunbathing, and lessons in the martial arts.
Government: One-party presidential regime
Size: 13,900 square miles (about the size of Connecticut and New Hampshire together)
Language: Mandarin Chinese, Taiwanese, Hakka
Ethnic Division: 84% Taiwanese, 14% Mainland Chinese, 2% Aborigine
Religion: 93% mixture of Buddhism, Confucianism, and Taoism, 4.5% Christian, 2.5% other
Tourist Season: Year-round
Currency: Taiwan dollar
Population: 22.5 million (2001)
TRAVEL TIPS Entry: A visa is required for stays up to two months. A transit visa is issued upon arrival for stays of less than two weeks. Transportation: International connections are good from North America and other Asian countries to Taipei. Transportation within Taiwan is good, but most travel is by comfortable passenger express trains. Health: Drinking water in major hotels is safe, but care should be taken elsewhere to drink bottled or boiled water. Caution: Do not take photographs inside Buddhist temples without permission. Shopping: Items include rosewood furniture, textiles, rattan, rare books, classical Chinese musical instruments, and traditional Chinese art and handicrafts. CULTURAL CAPSULE The native Taiwanese (20.5 million) are descendants of Chinese who migrated from the crowded, coastal mainland areas of Fujian and Guangdong provinces in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. There are also more than 2 million mainland Chinese who migrated after World War II. About 425,000 aborigines, inhabiting the mountainous central and eastern parts of the island, are believed to be of Malayo-Polynesian origin. The official language is Mandarin Chinese. Most native Taiwanese speak a variant of the Amoy (Hokkien) dialect of southern Fujian. Hakka, another Chinese dialect, is also spoken. Many Taiwanese over age 50 also speak Japanese. English is taught in urban areas as a second or third language. The predominant religion is a combination of Buddhism and Taoism brought to Taiwan by the original Chinese settlers. The Confucian ethical code is considered by some to be the official religion of Taiwan. There are more than 600,000 Christians, mostly Protestant, in Taiwan. Cultural Hints: * A handshake is the most common form of greeting. * A nod and a smile are considered appropriate for first meeting. * Business cards are exchanged and should be read carefully. * Use titles and full names. * Remove your shoes before entering a home. * Avoid touching a child on the top of his or her head. * Use the open hand to point. Using the index finger is rude. * Beckoning is done by waving all fingers with the palm down. * Do not put your arm around the shoulder of another. * Shaking one hand from side to side with palm forward means no. * Winking is impolite. * While sitting, place hands in your lap. * Present and receive gifts with both hands. * Avoid loud, boisterous, or rude behaviors. * A balanced posture is important. * Eating and foods: Toasting is common before and during dinner. Chopsticks are the normal eating instruments. Don't stick chopsticks upright in rice. When finished eating, place chopsticks parallel across your dish. Hold bowls of food directly under your lower lip and use the chopsticks to push the food into your mouth. Refusing food is impolite. Poke it around and move it to the side of your dish. Place long, slippery noodles in your mouth and slurp or suck. Don't use your chopsticks for communal dishes of food. Host will place food on your plate, or a separate pair of serving chopsticks will be near the serving dish. Bones are placed on the table or in a dish provided. When finished, leave a small amount on your plate or it will be refilled. Do not eat while walking in the street. Typical foods are rice, soup, seafood, pork, chicken, vegetables, and fruit. Sauces are important, and most foods are stir-fried.
Taiwan (the Republic of China) is a mountainous island in an archipelago on the east side of the Asian continent. Its high mountainous backbone is oriented north-south and has elevations exceeding 10,000 feet. On the west side of Taiwan, there are low hills and an important coastal plain. The coastal plain is much narrower on the eastern side of Taiwan, concentrating the population on the west side of the island. The climate is subtropical, with a rainy season from June to September.
The government of Taiwan encourages and promotes tourism as an excellent source of income and a means of displaying Chinese culture. Originally called Formosa (meaning "beautiful") by Portuguese explorers, its first people were Polynesian. However, through time the population became dominated by Chinese influences, creating a distinctive Taiwanese population. Mainland Chinese fleeing the Communist Revolution in 1949 seized the island's government and ruled until 1987, when a Taiwanese native was elected president. Distinctive population groups today include the Taiwanese (84 percent of the population), Chinese (14 percent), aborigines, and sizeable communities from Korea, Vietnam, and Japan.
Taiwan's tourism industry has grown from a meager 15,000 visitors in 1956 to over 2 million visitors per year in the 1990s (Figure 13-11). Taiwan draws mainly from the East Asia region, which accounts for about 62 percent of its visitors. Japan is the major country of origin, accounting for 36 percent of Taiwan's visitors. North America, led by the United States with nearly 13.5 percent of the visitors, accounts for 14.9 percent of all visitors. Europe only accounts for 7.3 percent.
A unique feature of Taiwan's tourism trade is the large number of "overseas Chinese" who account for about 17 percent of tourists. These overseas Chinese represent mainlanders who have migrated throughout Asia to major urban centers. The vast majority of the overseas Chinese arrive in Taiwan from Hong Kong. It is difficult to assess the linkages other than ethnic in that many of the overseas Chinese do not state the purpose of their trip. For those that do state the purpose, 33 percent are for business. Taiwan has one of the highest average visitor expenditures in the world. The peak number of visitors occurs in the spring and autumn. This is largely caused by the climate, which is subtropical. There is a rainy season in May and June, and the highest temperatures occur between May and September. The December-to-March period is the coolest time of the year, but the Chinese New Year in February attracts some visitors.
While Taiwan has an excellent airline network to facilitate travel, entry visas are required of all visitors and in many cases they are difficult to obtain. The overseas Chinese have to produce an economic guarantee before a visa is granted.
Taiwan has a sizable domestic market. The increasing standard of living has been helpful in the growth of the domestic market. The government has created a network of national parks and resort development areas to facilitate travel. The leading attraction for domestic visitors is the China Lake (just outside Kaohsiung), which is visited by nearly 2.5 million people per year, followed by Yangmingshan outside Taipei), with 2 million visitors annually, and Shihmen Dam, with 1.7 million visitors.
[FIGURE 13-11 OMITTED]
Tourist Destinations and Attractions
Taiwan has three main tourist areas. North Taiwan, an urban/rural region, contains the capital, Taipei, and has mountain resorts, a wildlife park, and numerous beaches. The main attraction in Taipei is the National Palace Museum, which contains a magnificent collection of Chinese art. Other important attractions in Taipei are the Presidential Mansion and the Taiwan Jinja Shrine. Lungshan Szu (Dragon Mountain Temple) is the oldest and most famous Buddhist temple in Taipei. The Martyr's Shrine is modeled after Beijing's Forbidden City. The aristocrats' compound in Panchio; the Taoist Chihnan Temple, 1,000 steps up Monkey Hill; and the ten monasteries atop Lions Head Mountain are near Taipei.
Central Taiwan is the second region and is an area of great natural beauty. Taroko Gorge, a twelve-mile-long, marble-sided natural feature, is the centerpiece of the region. Skiing and forest recreation are popular in this region. The city Tai-chung, in the center of the Sun Moon lake district, is one of the most scenic areas in the world.
The third region is in South Taiwan. This area around Kaohsiung is the intellectual center, the industrial center, and the main port of the nation. South Taiwan has Kenting National Scenic Area and some good beaches. The aboriginal villages of Taoyuan and Orchid Island are also in the south.
Government: Hong Kong Special Administrative Region
Size: 411 square miles
Language: Cantonese and English
Ethnic Division: 95% Chinese, 5% other
Religion: 90% Eclectic mixture of local religions, 2% Christian
Tourist Season: Year-round
Peak Tourist Season: Year-round
Currency: Hong Kong dollar
Population: 6.9 million (2001)
TRAVEL TIPS Entry: Visas are not required for stays up to 30 days. Proof of onward or return transportation is needed. Arrival and departure taxes are collected. Goods may be imported duty free except alcohol and tobacco products, motor fuels, cosmetics, and soft drinks. Transportation: There are excellent international connections to North America, Europe, and other Asian countries. Buses and streetcars provide inexpensive local transportation. There is a modern subway system. The Star Ferry is used to travel between Kowloon and Victoria Island. Taxis are inexpensive and plentiful. Trains connect Kowloon and the New Territories. Shopping: Hong Kong is a shopper's paradise. Items include rosewood furniture, textiles, rattan, rare books, classical Chinese musical instruments, and traditional Chinese art and handicrafts. CULTURAL CAPSULE Hong Kong is ethnically homogeneous with nearly 98 percent being ethnic Chinese and 2 percent mostly European. Cantonese is the official Chinese dialect, and English is widely understood and also official. The religious characteristic is one of diversity. Strong elements of Taoism and Confucianism with folk religion practices are widespread. Ancestorial worship is important. Many homes contain brightly decorated boxes with pictures of deceased relatives, smoking incense sticks, or symbolic offerings of fruit to venerate ancestors. About 10 percent of the population is Christian. Cultural Hints: * Handshakes are a common form of greeting. * The Chinese are reserved and modest when dealing with others. * Aggressive behavior is offensive. * Good posture is important. * To beckon someone, hold the palm down and wave your fingers. Never use the index finger to beckon. * Winking is impolite. * Use an open hand for pointing. * Place hands in your lap when seated. * The people of Hong Kong are familiar with many Western popular gestures. * Eating and food: Toasting is common. Chopsticks and knives and forks are used. For customs associated with chopsticks see section on Taiwan. To obtain check or bill, make a writing motion with your hand. Service is generally included in the bill, but it's still customary to leave a tip. Do not eat on the street. Typical foods are rice, fish, pork, chicken, and vegetables.
Hong Kong is on the southeastern coast of China. It consists of Hong Kong, the Lan Tao Islands, the Kowloon Peninsula, and more than 200 smaller islands. The islands are hilly and steep sloped. The only significant flatland is located in the New Territories. The climate is tropical, with a cool and dry period from September to March and a rainy hot season between March and August.
Hong Kong is a unique state, a special territory of China occupying the northeast side of the broad estuary of the Xi (Hsun) River, Figure 13-12. On July 1, 1997, the United Kingdom relinquished its claim to the territory, handing it back to China. China has pledged to keep Hong Kong's situation practically the same as under British rule, including tourism. Although skeptics claim that China will try to convert Hong Kong into a communistically dominated area, others maintain that China cannot afford to lose the strong economy of the area and therefore won't change anything.
[FIGURE 13-12 OMITTED]
Hong Kong is one of the most densely populated areas in the world. The majority of the population is concentrated on the island of Hong Kong itself, which is only 32 square miles in area. Geographically it is part of China, and even the population is 98 percent Chinese. Economically, it lacks natural resources and relies on China for food and water.
Hong Kong provided China access to the West during the life of Mao, when the government nominally refused relations with the industrial world. Contacts with Western firms were handled through the firms of Hong Kong Chinese, enabling China to gain needed technology without loss of face. Since the change in view of the Chinese government after Mao's death, China does not rely on Hong Kong as much, but the colony still provides an important arena for trading with the West. Hong Kong's own industrial productivity provides important technology for China and makes it one of the rapidly industrializing countries of the world. The continued importance of Hong Kong to mainland China as a supplier of manufactured goods and technology, as well as the potential for China to show Taiwan that former territories can rejoin China and still have local autonomy, suggests that China will fulfill its promises concerning the status of Hong Kong within China after reunification in 1997.
The government's Hong Kong Tourist Association is charged with the task of promoting, monitoring, and stimulating tourism. Hong Kong is second only to the People's Republic of China in the Pacific Asia region in number of tourists. It has had a long history as a tourist center because of its nature and relationship with mainland China. Tourism is the third largest earner of foreign exchange for Hong Kong after garments and electronics. Arrivals jumped from just under 2.3 million in 1980 to 11.3 million in 1999. Hong Kong has benefited from the increasing tourism to China as of its visitors also went to China. The future of the tourism industry in Hong Kong depends upon its future as determined by China. However, as more direct connections are established between the industrialized countries of the world and China, Hong Kong's importance as a gateway to China may decline.
[FIGURE 13-13 OMITTED]
In terms of origin of visitors, China, with 27.1 percent, and Taiwan, with 18.9 percent, are the largest sources. Taiwan's numbers can be accounted for by increased travel to China by the Taiwanese and a liberalization of travel restrictions by the Taiwan government. The United States and major European Markets account for over 70 percent of visitors, Figure 13-13.
The main purpose given for visiting Hong Kong is pleasure, but the role of the city as a financial center can be seen in the fact that during 1996 about 25 percent of visitors came for business reasons. The average length of stay is short, suggesting that it is a transit area combined with a large tour package or visit. The Hong Kong Visitors Bureau has adopted a major slogan, "Stay an extra day," in an attempt to convince tour operators to increase the stay in Hong Kong.
Tourist Destinations and Attractions
Hong Kong's attractions are shopping and the scenery, including the skyline from the top of the peak reached by a tram ride. Hong Kong is synonymous with shopping. Merchants in Kowloon (across the bay from Hong Kong) and in Hong Kong present a variety of goods from stereo equipment and cameras to fine watches and jewelry. Ocean Park, an oceanarium and fun park, and Sung Dynasty Village, a model Chinese cultural village, add to its shopping attraction. Tiger Balm Gardens are a complex of statuary and tableaux, depicting tales from Chinese mythology. The harbor offers fishing, restaurants, and an outstanding view of the skyline.
The New Territories provide an opportunity to observe Chinese rural culture without entering China. The oldest village in the New Territories, Kam Tin, is a miniature walled city, with the women still wearing large straw hats.
Government: Macau Special Administration Region
Size: 6 square miles
Language: Cantonese, Portuguese
Population: 0.4 million (2001)
Macau was a Portugese territory until its return to China in December of 1999. United States passport holders (and those from most of the other major Western tourist markets) no longer need visas to stay up to twenty days.
Macau is located on the southern coast of China at the mouth of the Pearl River. Macau consists of the municipality of Macau, situated on a narrow peninsula, and Taipa and Coloane, two islands to the south. About 99 percent of Macau's population is Chinese, primarily Cantonese and some Hakka. The official language is Portuguese, although Chinese (Cantonese) is spoken extensively.
Macau, the oldest European settlement in the Far East, has a reputation for gambling and nightlife. Most visitors stay a very short while (1.5 days) and are usually on excursion from Hong Kong. Tourism and gambling account for 25 percent of its Gross Domestic National Product (GDNP). Since Macau was a Portuguese colony, many shows feature Portuguese folk dancing and Fado singing in addition to the Chinese shows.
China (The People's Republic of China)
Size: 3.7 million square miles
Language: Mandarin, Cantonese, other Chinese dialects
Ethnic Division: Chinese
Religion: Traditional Chinese religion consisted of a combination of Confucianism, Taoism, and Buddhism. Under
communist rule the role of religion has been minor.
Tourist Season: Year-round
Peak Tourist Season: June to September
Currency: Yuan (foreign tourists use FEC)
Population: 1,273.3 million (2001)
TRAVEL TIPS Entry: Visas are required for all purposes, even transits that do not leave the airport. Transportation: China has direct flights from North America, Europe, and other countries to Shanghai, Beijing, and four other international airports. However, 88 percent of its visitors come by rail, mostly from Hong Kong. Domestic air service is provided through 195 domestic routes serving more than 90 cities. Efforts have been made to upgrade service and safety. China has added a number of new aircraft with orders from Boeing. The major form of travel between cities, except for the long distances for visitors, is by rail. Public transportation within cities is excellent. Health: Concern should be taken for malaria and cholera. Outside of the large hotels water is not potable. Shopping: Common items include Chinese handicrafts, art, historical artifacts, handwoven bags, hats, clothing, carved chess sets, leather coats and bags, and a host of souvenirs at major attractions. CULTURAL CAPSULE The largest ethnic group is the Han Chinese, who comprise about 94 percent of the total population. Fifty-five minorities make up 8 percent of the population, of which 15 have a population of more than a million people. They include Zhuangs, Hui, Uygurs, Yi, Mio, Manchus, Tibetans, Mongols, and Koreans. The national language is Putonghua (based on Mandarin). Other principal dialect groups include Cantonese, Shanghainese, Fujianese, and Hakka. Chinese does not have a phonetic alphabet. It uses characters to express words, thoughts, or ideas. A romanized alphabet (pinyin) is used to teach Chinese in school and for international communication. Cultural Hints: * A handshake is a common form of greeting. * A nod or a slight bow is also used as a greeting. * Use a person's title and last name when addressing him or her. * Business cards are exchanged. They should be printed in both English and Chinese. * Avoid touching or prolonged form of contact. * Posture is important. * Clapping is a sign of approval. * Avoid direct eye contact in public. * Ask permission to take photographs of people. * When pointing, use the open hand, not one finger. * To beckon someone, hold palm down and wave the fingers. * Spitting and blowing the nose in public is common. * Pushing and shoving in stores or boarding public transportation is common. * Thumbs-up signal means everything is all right. * Eating and foods: Chopsticks are used. (See outline under Taiwan for use of chopsticks.) Bones and seeds are placed on the table or in a dish. Refusing food may be impolite. Just poke it and move it to the side of your plate. Toothpicks are common, but cover your mouth when using them. Toasts are common. Chinese will hold bowls directly under their lips and push food into their mouths with chopsticks. While dining, guests sit at the left of the host. Typical foods are rice, potatoes, corn meal, tofu, pork, beef, chicken, and fish. Specialties vary from region to region, including duck in Beijing or spicy dishes in Sichuan. Fruits and vegetables are eaten in season. Sauces are mixed with vegetables and meats and eaten with rice.
The central core of the region stretches from the deserts of West China through the Siberian Far East of Russia. This area is a series of desert basins, the largest of which is the Tarim Basin with elevations as low as 500 feet below sea level. South of this region is the Qing Zang (Tibetan) Plateau, consisting of plateaus over 12,000 feet above sea level. High above the plateaus are the Himalayan Mountains, reaching elevations of over 20,000 feet. East of the Qing Zang Plateau are two plateau regions averaging from 4,000 to 7,000 feet above sea level, separated by the Quinling Mountains from the important Sichuan Basin to the south.
North of the Quinling Range are a number of plains that are a major part of the populated East China area. In the far northeast, there is a large basin, the Dongbei Plain (formerly called Manchuria), surrounded by mountains on the north, west, and southeast. The mountains to the south of the Dongbei extend into the central region of both North and South Korea. South of the Dongbei Plain in China is the Huabei (North China) Plain with its level lands along the Huang He (Yellow) River. This North China plain is the historic core of Chinese civilization.
Southeastern China is a hilly country with only limited areas of level plains. Much of this hilly region is cultivated. The Chang Jiang river (Yangtze) flows through this hilly region, and the second great population cluster of China is in the river valley. The Huang He and Chang Jiang River floodplains are home for approximately one-half of China's population. The Huang He of northern China originates in the high plateaus of west central China. From its source to its mouth in the Huang Hai (Yellow Sea), the Huang He is 3,388 miles long and drains an area of 290,519 square miles, an area of more than 49 million acres of agricultural land with a population of nearly 250 million people. The Huang He has always been important to the development of China. The ancestral home of today's China was in the Huang He basin.
The interior of East Asia is isolated from potential sources of moisture by either high mountains or the great Eurasian landmass. As a result of this continental influence, the large interior basins of China are deserts. In addition, because of the large landmass and northerly locations, winters are severe in northern China and Mongolia. The coastal areas of China have a more humid climate as a result of the effect of the summer monsoon. This eastern portion of China is commonly called humid China, while the north and west are called arid China. The monsoon in China does not result in the sudden onset of a persistently rainy season, but signals a wetter, more humid period. The precipitation of the summer monsoon is insufficient for consistently reliable production of crops in northern China, but is much heavier and more reliable in southern China, affecting crop types and yields.
Based on temperature and precipitation, it is possible to distinguish five climatic types in China, Figure 13-14. The largest is the desert of western China. In Mongolia and north central China, there is a transitional zone of steppe (almost desert), with typical grasslands. In the northern part of humid China, north of the Chang Jiang (Yangtze River), there is a humid continental climate. Dongbei (the northeast) has extremely cold winters with continuous winter snow cover influenced by Siberia. In Beijing (Peking) and along the Huang He in east China, there is a humid continental, warm summer climate.
South of the Chang Jiang River, China and Hong Kong have a humid subtropical climate with hot, humid summers and mild, humid winters. Xizang (Tibet) is typical of mountain regions, with a highly undifferentiated climate varying as a function of elevation and exposure.
[FIGURE 13-14 OMITTED]
One of the most significant features of world tourism has been the opening and development of tourism to China from the West. The first important year for Chinese tourism was 1978. In 1978, the Eleventh Party Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party decided that tourism was a means to earn much-needed foreign currency. By 1984, China was receiving over $1 billion annually from tourism. This growth is remarkable not only in numbers but also because starting in 1978 there was little tourist infrastructure. The Civil Aviation Administration of China was operating with eighteen-year-old Soviet and British airplanes. In an effort to modernize, China needed currency from other countries and felt that tourism would help to provide this currency quickly.
The importance China has placed on tourism was demonstrated by its holding an International Tourism Conference in 1983, to stress to the world that tourism had arrived in China. A committee, the National Administration of Travel and Tourism, was organized directly under the State Council to formulate tourism policy, review plans, and coordinate the work of the governmental departments involved. Three organizations were established under the National Administration of Travel and Tourism to handle incoming visitors. They were the China International Travel Service, the China Travel Service, and the Youth Travel Service. Although the China International Travel Service (CITS) was founded in the 1950s, it played only a minor role in China until after 1978. Most foreign visitors prior to 1978 were Soviets or overseas Chinese. In 1978, CITS handled 120,000 foreign tourists, best by the mid-1990s, some 22 million foreign visitors (excluding overseas Chinese) visited yearly. About one-third are handled by CITS.
The growth in tourism results from the deregulation of tourism in China. State and locally sponsored tourism agencies can also negotiate and promote directly with foreign producers, issue visas, and receive payment in foreign currency. Branch offices of the CITS also have authority to deal directly with tour operators and issue visas. It has been estimated that by 1985, CITS branches handled 50 percent of the tour groups in China, utilizing 176 offices and more than 4,000 guides and interpreters. CITS also operated hotels and had contracts with foreign management groups for hotels in all the major tourist spots and major tourist cities of China.
The National Tourism Administration was reorganized in 1989. This led to significant changes in China's tourist industry structure. It allowed 44 new state-owned Grade "A" travel agencies (those allowed to deal with foreign operators, take foreign currency, and issue visas) to be established in each province and autonomous region and in the cities of Beijing, Shanghai, and Tianjin along with 14 other major tourism cities. The branch offices of CITS provincial branches were downgraded to a "B" status (permitted to handle foreigners, but not to allocate visas or do direct business). This was to decrease competition within its own ranks. Grade "C" handled domestic tourists only.
The China Travel Service (CTS) was established to handle overseas Chinese and Chinese compatriots from Hong Kong, Macau, and Taiwan, which accounts for the largest volume of travelers for their clients. CTS was created to permit overseas Chinese and compatriots special privileges, including a more generous import allowance, lower air and rail fares, and lower hotel prices, in part because they did not need to be of the same quality. Overseas Chinese were defined as ethnic Chinese living outside China apart from those living in Hong Kong, Macau, and Taiwan, who were designated compatriots, which the Chinese government officially maintains are part of China. By 1985, CTS had 270 offices with 20,000 personnel and 3,000 buses and cars. It also has offices in Hong Kong, Macau, the Philippines, Thailand, and the United States. Both CITS and CTS maintain different accommodations and levels of service for their clients. The Youth Travel Service (YTS) is responsible for helping young people to explore China at a lower price. It is also responsible for a number of exchanges between colleges and universities and China.
When China first began a major tourism program in 1978, it was designed for special interest groups such as doctors, nurses, and teachers. In October of 1982, China simplified admission procedures to allow individuals to visit and increased the number of cities that could be visited. In 1982, there were only 29 cities allowing visitors, although there were 120 cities open to foreign visitors. This was in part due to the lack of trained personnel and adequate facilities (both accommodations and air service), to provide proper service to visitors. Further liberalization occurred in 1986 when the State Council approved a law allowing foreigners to travel to all 274 open cities' areas without a travel permit. Today approximately 700 cities and places are open for visitors.
A tremendous growth has occurred in accommodations, particularly at the major centers of Beijing, Xi'an, Guilin, Shanghai, Hangzhou, and Guangzhou. More areas have been opened and facilities built with the assistance of foreign investment and management skills established to support a more diversified travel industry. By mid-1990 there were over 250 joint-venture hotels in China. In addition, China purchased new aircraft and opened several tourism programs in universities and colleges, bringing in specialists from all over the world to assist in providing service skills and teaching programs.
Domestic tourism is new for the Chinese, developing in the 1980s. By 1990 it was estimated that there were about 300 million domestic tourists visiting such places as the gardens of Suzhou, the Great Wall, Beijing, the West Lake in Hangzhou, Shanghai, and the seaside resorts of Qingdao, Yantai, and Qinhuangdao.
Some 64 million non-mainland visitors to China were from Hong Kong and Macau. The most significant growth in the past five years has been the increased Taiwan market. Since Taiwanese visitors have been included in the compatriot count, data are somewhat limited. In 1999, it was estimated that 2 million visitors were from Taiwan. It was not until October 1987 that the Taiwan government first allowed its citizens to travel into China via a third country (usually Hong Kong). Travel regulations are continuing to relax, and Taiwanese businessmen were officially allowed into China in 1990.
Of those classified as foreign visitors by China, Japan and the United States are the largest markets for China, accounting for 2.9 and 1.3 percent, respectively (Figure 13-15). Both have declined since 1988. Also, the American market is changing from upscale, high-income, to middle-income, budget-minded travelers. The average length of stay is 8.1 days, and for the foreign visitors, seasonal, with April through June and September through November the peak periods. CTS indicates that there is a large demand to combine sightseeing with visiting friends and relatives for their clients, with major destinations being Beijing, Shanghai, Suzhou, Wuxi (for its lake and picturesque canals), Hangzhou (a scenic city known for its West Lake), Guangzhou, and Guilin. Hong Kong Chinese mostly go to the nearby special economic zones of Shenzhen and Zhuhai and to Zhongshan in Guangdong province.
The most popular regions for foreign groups appear to include Beijing, Xi'an, Shanghai, Guilin, Guangzhou, Suzhou, Wuxi or Hangzhou, and sometimes Nanjing. Japanese tours tend to favor the ancient cities of Luoyang and Datong ("The Economist Publications Limited," International Tourism Reports, 2000). The crushing of student protests during the summer of 1989 (the Tiananmen Square incident) lowered tourism, but by 1991 tourist income of $2.8 billion represented an increase of 26.4 percent over 1988, the year before the incident.
Tourism Destinations and Attractions
The dominant attraction is the Chinese culture itself, as modified by subsequent experiments with socialism. The ten major cities in order for tourism are Beijing, Guangzhou, Shanghai, Shenzhen, Guilin, Xi'an, Hangzhou, Nanjing, Suzhou, and Wuxi. Visitors who return repeatedly to China note the changes that can take place even over a short period. Beijing, the capital with the Imperial Palace (the Forbidden City), serves as the anchor for tourism to China. The Imperial Palace covers 250 acres with golden roofs, marble balustrades, and the Palace Museum. Tiananmen Square is just south of the Forbidden City and is the center of Beijing. Its name comes from the huge gate (Gate of Heavenly Peace) on its north side that was built in 1412. It is a parade ground and has monuments, such as the tomb of Mao, and museums. On the west side of Tiananmen Square is the National People's Congress used for conventions and receptions of foreign dignitaries. In front of the Mausoleum of Mao Zedong are the Museum of Chinese History and the Museum of the Chinese Revolution. Northwest of the Forbidden City is Beihai Park, a beautifully landscaped park of artificial hills, pavilions, temples, halls, bridges, and covered walkways. The Beijing Zoo is one of the world's great zoos. The giant pandas are the star attraction at the zoo. The Temple of Heaven (Tian Tan) is a cluster of ceremonial buildings of the fifteenth century. The most impressive is the "Hall of Prayer for Good Harvest" (Zi Nian Dian). It is constructed entirely of wood without nails. Near Beijing is the Summer Palace of pagodas, pavilions, temples, courtyards, and nearby hills, lakes, and terraced gardens. The Summer Palace was the rest-and-recreation area of the royal families. It dates back to 1000 A.D. The grounds include Longevity Hall and Kunming Lake with the famous Marble Boat and the Seventeen Arched Bridge. The Long Corridor here with its Painted Gallery is most impressive.
[FIGURE 13-15 OMITTED]
Also near Beijing is one of the world's great cultural artifacts, the Great Wall, Figure 13-16, and the extremely interesting Ming Tombs. The Great Wall is 4,000 miles long and parts are 2,600 years old. The 13 Ming Tombs are equally as impressive, with the famous Sacred Way of Stone Animals guarding the entrance to the area. The tombs lie in a natural amphitheater, and the approach is lined with statues of men and animals. The tomb of the thirteenth emperor, Wan (1773-1620), has been completely excavated and can be visited. It is equal to the tombs of the pharaohs in Egypt.
[FIGURE 13-16 OMITTED]
Shanghai, the largest city and most European in design, also has an old Chinese town, with Yu Yuan Yu (the Mandarin's Garden), the Temple to the Town Gods, and the Garden of the Purple Clouds of Autumn. The Mandarin's Garden was built by the Pan family in the sixteenth century. It is noted for its many halls and pavilions, bridges, and towers. The Temple of the Town Gods next to the Mandarin's Garden is one of the few surviving such temples in China. The Garden of the Purple Clouds of Autumn behind the Temple of the Town Gods is known for its ornamental lake and pavilions. The Children's Palace, once the home of a wealthy merchant, is now one of the most famous attractions in China. It is a school for children learning dancing, singing, music, painting, and handicraft. The Temple of the Jade Buddha, the Carpet Factory, and the Jade Carving Factory are other important attractions in Shanghai.
A hundred miles south is West Lake near Hangzhou. The lake is extremely beautiful and is controlled by dikes, some of which were built around 820 A.D. Many pavilions and temples have been built around the lake. The Pagoda of Six Harmonies and the Lingyin Monastery are earlier reminders of the region. Buddhist rock carvings can be seen at the Lingyin Temple. The sunsets, sunrises, and misty days are exceptionally beautiful and are used often on pictures of China. A cable car between the temple and north peak provides a view of the lake.
At Suzhou (Heaven on Earth) is Huqiu Hill (Tiger Hill), the burial place of the father of King Wu. The pagoda on the top was built in 961 A.D. Suzhou has more than a dozen Chinese gardens dating from the eleventh century. Each was designed to represent an idealization of the natural world (rocks = mountains, ponds = oceans, shrubs = forests). Some are very small, while others are large multi-acre parks. The West Garden dates back to the Ming Dynasty and contains some 500 arhats that guard the temple.
Nanjing, an ancient capital, has the tomb of China's first president, Dr. Sun Yat-sen, and the tomb of a Ming emperor, which also has a Sacred Way like Beijing. Around Nanjing, tourists also visit the Yangtze River Bridge and the People's Commune of National Minorities. Wuxi, some 80 miles west of Shanghai, is considered the Venice of China. Lake Taihu and the Grand Canal connect 72 islands with beautiful scenes, pavilions, and towers. Wuxi is noted for its silk factories and cement boats, which float on the Grand Canal.
Some 500 miles southwest of Shanghai, Lushan is a famous summer resort. The best-known attraction is the Fairy Cave or "Cave of the Immortals." The cave is located on a sheer cliff. Near Lushan, Hanpo Pass is the beginning of Poyang Lake, one of China's largest lakes. It is a scenic area, particularly at sunrise. Flower Path Park is one of the most fascinating parks in China. There are miniature trees set in water in porous rock, rock formations, bridges, and so on.
Another region popular with tourists centers around Xi'an. The ancient city of Xi'an is the site of the excavation of Emperor Qin Shi Huang's gigantic buried army of terra-cotta soldiers and horses. Not long ago, bronze horses and soldiers were excavated in its vicinity. The Provincial Museum contains more than 2,000 ancient artifacts, including the oldest collection of stone tables (steles) in China and historical relics and the Gallery of the Stone Sculpture. Also in Xi'an are the Dayan Pagoda, known as the Big Wild Goose Pagoda; the Emperor Qin Shi Huang Mausoleum; the Ban Po Museum, a neolithic village of the Ban Po people who settled the area some 6,000 years ago; and the Bell Tower, which is 119 feet high and constructed of wood and brick.
Another important attraction in the broad region around Xi'an is Luoyang. Figure 13-17 are common views in the rural mountain region. Luoyang has the impressive Longmen Grottoes dating to 494 A.D. There are some 1,300 grottoes and 40 pagodas containing at least 100,000 Buddhas, the largest of which is 56 feet tall. In the Working People's Park, there are two Han tombs dating back to 206 B.C. Lushan is a famous summer resort for the Chinese.
Two of the most scenic cities are Guilin and Kunming. Guilin has been a popular attraction for international visitors since the opening of China in 1978. With its unique karst topography and river cruises on the Li River, Guilin is a delight to the visitor (Figure 13-18). There are sensational views of mist-covered hills and valleys, rock formations, rapids, and bamboo groves. Ludiyan (Reed Flute Cave) has a number of beautiful formations and colors and has a large grotto (Crystal Cave) that can hold 1,000 people. Kunming's most unique attraction is the Stone Forest, which was formed when limestone rose from the receding sea water. In Xishan Park, there are a number of ancient temples set on the shore of Kunming Lake. The atmosphere includes an interesting market, ruined pagodas, the Yuantong Temple, stores selling tribal handicrafts, and traditional Chinese teahouses. Nearby is the Stone Forest of Lunan, which consists of incredible, uniquely shaped rock formations created by erosion.
[FIGURE 13-17 OMITTED]
Far to the west on the Silk Road is Urumqi, the capital of the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, which provides visitors with an excellent view of western China, Figure 13-19. It has an outstanding museum of ancient artifacts dating to the Stone Age. The Lake of Heaven and the Carpet Factory are other important attractions in this remote city. Visits to Xizang (Tibet), under Chinese control, center in Lhasa. The Potala Palace on the slopes of the Red Hill in the Old City originally served as the Winter Palace of the individual Dalai Lama who was ruling the country at a specific time. Norbu Lingka, the Dalai Lama's Summer Palace, is located 62 miles west of the Potala Palace. The Jokhang Temple, with its golden tiles on the roof, was built in the seventh century A.D. Other attractions are the Drepung Monastery, constructed in 1416, and the Ganden Temple, which is one of the three major temples of the Ghelu Section of Tibetan Buddhism in Lhasa.
[FIGURE 13-18 OMITTED]
Many visitors entering China arrive from Hong Kong at Guangzhou (formerly Canton), considered the southern gateway to China. Attractions in Guangzhou include the Memorial Garden to the Martyrs (sometimes called the Red Flower Garden), which has a pure white stone tomb; the mausoleum of the 72 martyrs; the Zhenhai tower, which was built about 1480 and contains both a museum and an observation tower of the famous Pearl River; and the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Memorial Hall. The Ancestral Temple of Foshan, an ancient Taoist temple, is near Guangzhou. The old European section has colonial architecture from the ninteenth century. The Qingping Free Market is an experience. Among the stalls visitors will find snakes being skinned alive, freshly slaughtered cuts of meat, and all kinds of live animals such as monkeys, cats, large wild birds, and so on.
[FIGURE 13-19 OMITTED]
Datong on the Mongolian border and Hohot in Mongolia are the major attractions in the Mongolian region. Datong contains the world-famous ancient Yungang grottoes. These cave temples, some of which reach heights of 60 feet, were carved in the period from 386 to 534 A.D. The Nine Dragon Screen, which is 147 feet long and 6 feet high, is colorful and impressive. Hohot provides a good view of the famous Mongolian grasslands and offers the experience of staying in a typical Mongolian Yurt (felt hut).
The Three Gorges on the Yangtze River can be viewed by visitors from cruise ships, but the Chinese are building a dam on the river that will submerge these spectacular attractions. In the western Sichuan tourist district around Chengdu is the world's largest Buddhist statue. It is carved on Mount Leshan and surrounded by a region of unusual scenic beauty. In the tourist district of central Shandong Province is Confucius' hometown in Qufu, Mount Tai and Jinan City. The large palace-like Confucian temple, estate, and tomb are in Qufu. Near Qufu, Mount Tai is an imposing mountain with ancient architecture and cultural relics.
The attractions are as many and diverse as the size of the country itself. From the deserts and grasslands of the north and the high mountain region of Xizang (Tibet) to the hot, humid south, scenic beauty, ancient wonders, and modern ways are inviting to tourists. With the liberalization of the industry, further development of the infrastructure, and prices becoming competitive with other tourist destinations, China could well become one of the great tourist destinations in the world.
Government: Transition from Communist state to Republic
Size: 604,247 sq. miles (slightly larger than Alaska)
Language: Khalkha Mongol
Ethnic Division: 90% Mongol, 4% Kazakh, 2% Chinese, 2% Russian
Religion: 96% Tibetan Buddhist, 4% Muslim
Tourist Season: June through August
Currency: Tughriks (Tug)
Population: 2.4 million (2001)
TRAVEL TIPS Entry: A visa, a passport, and an invitation from a Mongolian host are required. Proof of sufficient funds and further transportation to leave the country are also required. There are currency restrictions in force. Transportation: Most passenger travel is by the Trans-Mongolian Railway, which connects Ulaanbaatar with Naushki, Russia, and Erenhot, China. CULTURAL CAPSULE Over 90 percent of the people are comprised of subgroups of the Mongol nationality. The largest is the Khalkha (79 percent). Other Mongols are Buryads, Dorwods, Oolds, Bayads, Dzakhchin, Uriyankhais, Uzemchins, and Bargas. The largest non-Mongol ethnic group is the Kazakhs, about 6 percent of the population. The Mongols are pastoral nomads. Mongols have practiced a combination of Tibetan Buddhism and Shamanism. The Dalai Lama of Tibet is the religion's spiritual leader. The people practice ritualistic magic, nature worship, exorcism, meditation, and natural healing as part of their shamanistic heritage. While many monasteries were closed under communist rule, many have reopened; and Muslims are allowed to practice Islam. Cultural Hints: * A handshake is a common greeting. * People are called by their given names. * Use the right hand for making gestures. * Passing items with the left hand is impolite. * Use the open hand to point, not the index finger. * Beckon someone with the palm facing down and wave the fingers. * Avoid eye contact. * Avoid touching or contact. * Do not kick another person's foot. * Eating and foods: Tea and milk are common. Guests give the hosts a small gift. At restaurants, meals are served European style. Tipping is not practiced. Typical foods are dairy products, meat (mutton or beef), barley, and wheat. Rice is common in urban areas.
Mongolia is a land of vast semi-desert and desert plains with mountains in the west and southwest. The climate is desert and continental with large daily and seasonal temperature ranges. Its winters are long and cold. The Gobi desert in the south can go years without rain.
Tourist Characteristics and Tourism Destinations
The tourism industry is small, and there is little data available pertaining to Mongolia. The major destinations and attractions are the dinosaur graveyard in the Great Gobi Reserve, the ancient city of Karakorum, the medieval Erdene-Dzuu monastery, and the summer palaces of the last living Buddha. Russia and China are currently the major sources for visitors to Mongolia, although there are increasing numbers of Westerners and non-Chinese visitors (especially Japanese and Koreans).
1. What advantage has Hong Kong's status as a colony of the United Kingdom provided for China?
2. What factors explain the rapid growth in tourism to China?
3. Why has Hong Kong, a tiny nation, had so many tourists?
4. What are the three major classifications of tourists to China?
5. Compare and contrast two of the major tourist regions of Japan.
6. Discuss the economic characteristics of the various nations of East Asia.
7. What are the major attractions of Taiwan?
8. What are the major markets for Taiwan's tourism industry?
1. As China increases its standard of living and starts generating more international visitors to the rest of the world, what countries do you think would be major destinations for Chinese tourists? Why?
2. What three countries would you anticipate becoming the leading generators of tourism to North Korea if it were to open its borders and encourage tourism? Why?
3. East Asia has a much higher percentage of male visitors than female visitors. What factors might account for this situation?
4. South Korea has the lowest percentage of business arrivals of all the countries in East Asia. How would you explain this?
5. Taiwan has the longest length of stay in East Asia, yet one-third of their visitors are traveling for business. Generally, business travelers are characterized by short stays. Why might Taiwan be different from the normal pattern?
INTERNET WEB SITE
Provides tourist information and links for Asian countries.
Through Visitors' Eyes
The Silk Road to Adventure: Arid China's Attractions
When most people think of China, they automatically think of the eastern part of China. Eastern China is known to geographers as "China Proper." It is the China populated by the Han Chinese, the largest ethnic group in the world, consisting of over one billion Chinese. China Proper is the China of Beijing, with its marvelous Forbidden City where the Emperor ruled, carried from place to place and never allowed to walk upon the ground. China Proper is green and fertile, with each foot of ground intensively cultivated. It is home to more than 95 percent of China's citizens and to many of the world's largest cities--Shanghai, Beijing, Guangzhou, Wuhan, and Nanjing. China Proper is the China that most foreign tourists see as they travel to China.
China Proper is one of the most attractive and exciting places for foreign tourists to visit. The magnificent historic sites in and around Beijing (including the Great Wall of China, the Temple of Heaven where the emperor prayed yearly for good crops and good fortune for his people, the numerous Buddhist temples, and the Chinese people themselves) and Shanghai (the Jade Temple, the Bund, the bustling stores and markets) are almost overwhelming for a first-time visitor. Even the worst amateur photographer cannot help but take magnificent photos of the attractions and people found here.
But there is another China, one that shares only some of the characteristics that make China Proper so exciting. Most of China is not green and fertile, or densely populated, for it is desert and mountain country, and many of its occupants are not Han Chinese, but Tibetans, Kazakhs, Uygurs, Hues, and other groups defined by the Chinese government as "minority groups." The land and people of the great western interior of China are visited by only a relative handful of Westerners each year, but these visitors find a veritable wonderland that is amazing in its variety of attractions.
The western two-thirds of China is known to geographers as "Arid China." It is characterized by some of the driest deserts in the world, the Gobi and the Tarim Basin, with its dusty center occupied by the burning Takla Makan desert. The people of this broad region occupy oases on the margins of the deserts or river valleys in the mountains and deserts where streams flow from the high Tian Shan, Altun Shan, Qilian Shan, or Altai Mountains. Many of these mountain chains have peaks above 20,000 feet, which remain snow covered all year. Travel to this arid region has been occurring for thousands of years, most notably as a result of merchant traders who crossed the region to buy silk with goods brought from the west. The routes of these traders are known collectively as "the Silk Route," a series of trails that converged at central settlements but divided to form the northern, southern, and central silk routes. Marco Polo passed this way nearly a thousand years ago, and Buddhist holy men who introduced Buddhism to all of China and Eastern and Southeastern Asia created memorials to Buddha nearly 2,000 years ago in the arid cliffs near villages along the Silk Road.
Modern visitors can only marvel at the tenacity that allows the creation and persistence of settlements and monuments in these arid places. Visiting the region in the summer of 1996, I was impressed by how little we in the West know about the Chinese and other occupants of this land that is larger than the United States. Some of the cities of the Silk Route are more than 2,000 years old. The arid climate has allowed preservation of the ruins of walls, temples, and art created by their early inhabitants. In a cliff on the margins of the farmland of Dunhuang, an oasis in the Gobi Desert, were carved 2,800 Buddhist temples, 482 of which are still in existence. Known as the Magao Grottoes, they are a United Nations World Heritage Site. The grottoes were dug out of the cliff over centuries by Buddhist monks and range in size from a few square feet to one large enough to hold a giant three-story Buddha. A visitor is overwhelmed by the devotions that prompted these artists of yesterday to devote their lives to creating memorials to their gods.
The Silk Route has more than archaeological attractions, however. The sights, sounds, tastes, and smells of these oasis towns are unique. Dress styles often combine styles from Chinese or local cultures with Western casual dress. In Linzia, the Hue Muslim women cover their hair with a scarf denoting marriage status (green, black, or white), while the devout Muslim men cover their heads with a white cap. At Xiahe, the Tibetan Buddhist women wear beautiful white, tan, or grey felt hats similar to the women of the Andes. The monks and their students at the Labrang Monastery, wear red robes, Figure 13-20. Labrang is one of six great Yellow Hat Sect monasteries, and its presiding monk (known as the incarnation of the living Buddha) is the third most important individual in Tibetan religion after the Dalai Lama and the Panchen Lama.
Food and dress vary from region to region along the Silk Route. The rice of Eastern China is replaced by wonderful handmade wheat noodles, some over two feet long. Round loaves of bread about eight inches in diameter and two inches thick are baked by wetting one side and sticking them on the inside of a domed adobe oven. Hot from the oven they are indescribably delicious. In summer melons, apricots, peaches, apples, and grapes are mouthwatering and present at every meal. Garlic is used in much of the cooking or is present at the table to be eaten whole. Some cities such as Hami (Hami melons), Turpan (white grapes and white raisins), or Lanzhou, Xining, and Kucha (watermelons) are famous across China, and Chinese tourists take boxes of delicious fruits back as they fly to eastern China.
[FIGURE 13-20 OMITTED]
Near the western border where China's borders join Pakistan and Kyrgyzstan, the Uygur Muslims are the largest population group. At Kashi (formerly Kashgar), the great Idkah mosque, the largest in China, is rivaled only by the giant concrete statue of China's former leader Mao Zedong a few blocks away. While the latter is increasingly irrelevant to the lives of the local people, the mosque is of renewed importance as a symbol of their distinct culture. Kashi is the western crossroads of the Silk Route, and its Uygur people are joined by Uzbekis, Kazakhs, Pakistanis, Afghans, and Han Chinese, creating an amazing and colorful ethnic mix. On Sundays the Kashi bazaar brings over 100,000 people to this teeming Kashi marketplace. Every imaginable product is on sale, including camels and other livestock, clothing and handicrafts, knives (the Uygur men all carry a knife--although the Chinese maintain that the Uygur are only allowed to wear them for decoration, they are very sharp decorations), spices, food, and even several pelts of the rare and endangered snow leopard.
Hotel accommodations across western China are adequate, and many towns, including Kashi, Xining, Urumqi, and Linxia, have opened new Western-style hotels, often as a joint venture with Indian, Pakistani, or other foreign interests. Food is always abundant and delicious. The best times to visit this area are in April-May or September-October from the standpoint of climate, but then you will miss both the marvelous fruit of the summer and the scenic farms with their lush crops of wheat, corn, cotton, grapes, melons, rapeseed, and sesame seed. Western China is a little-known travel destination, with fewer than 300,000 non-Chinese visitors a year, and most of these are Japanese. Whatever their nationality, however, tourists along the old Silk Road will find friendly people and a culture and history that cannot be appreciated until it is experienced. Tourism along the Silk Road is an adventure that may not be for the faint of heart, but anyone in reasonable health who desires to better understand the wonderful world in which we live will find it the trip of a lifetime.
ITINERARY CHINA DAY 1 SAN FRANCISCO-BEIJING Depart from San Francisco for Beijing. Cross the International Date Line. DAY 2 BEIJING Arrive in Beijing at night. Beijing is the capital of the People's Republic of China. To the northwest are the mountains, and to the southwest are the plains. DAY 3 BEIJING Visit Tiananmen Square. The name of the square was derived from Tiananmen Gate, which is on the north side. It is the largest public square in the world. It covers 100 acres. On the southern edge of Tiananmen Square is Qian Men Gate, which is the front gate. To the north of Qian Men Gate is the Chairman Mao Memorial Hall. It occupies the most important place in the square. Mao's stature as the great leader of the People's Republic of China is symbolized by this memorial hall. On the western side of the Square is the Great Hall of the People, which covers an area of 560,000 square feet. It has a main assembly room large enough to seat 10,000 people. In the middle of the square is the Monument to the People's Heroes. Its obelisk is 118 feet high. It was built to honor heroes who died because of the revolution. Mao's handwriting states: "The People's Heroes Are Immortal." Two large buildings on the eastern side of Tiananmen Square are the Museum of the Chinese Revolution and the Museum of Chinese History. The Museum of the Chinese Revolution is in the left wing, and the Museum of Chinese History is in the right wing. An excellent museum guidebook is available here. The northern gate of the square is the Tiananmen Gate, which is the northern entrance to the Forbidden City. It is a massive stone gate, painted red, which was built in 1417 and was restored in 1651. The Forbidden City, also known as the Imperial Palace, is located in the heart of Beijing. The Wild Moat (palace moat) surrounds and protects the palace. The main entrance of the Imperial Palace is the Meridian Gate, also known as the Gate of the Five Phoenixes. The Imperial Palace has over nine thousand rooms and is divided into two areas--the Outer Palace and the Inner Court. Smaller than the Meridian Gate is the Gate of Supreme Harmony, which is protected by two striking, stylized bronzed lions. Beyond the gate is a huge courtyard. The Hall of Supreme Harmony is one of the main buildings in the Outer Palace. It is also one of the tallest and largest of the palace buildings. It was used by the emperor for state occasions. Going through the Hall of Supreme Harmony one will come upon the Hall of Perfect Harmony. The emperor received loyalty from his ministers in this hall. Beyond the Hall of Perfect Harmony is the Hall of Preserving Harmony, which became the Palace of Examinations, the highest level of the nationwide civil examination system. Next is the Palace of Heavenly Purity. The emperors from the Ming Dynasty to the early Qing Dynasty used to live in this Hall. Many symbolic objects surround the terrace. The Hall of Union displays one of the most marvelous scientific inventions of ancient China--a clepsydra (water clock). The Qing emperors used the hall for birthday celebrations. The palace where the Ming empresses lived is the Palace of Earthly Tranquility. In the Qing Dynasty, it was used as a shrine for worshipping gods. The Imperial Garden is arrayed with statues, rock gardens, pebble walkways, and an artificial hill with a cave, waterfall, and a pavilion. It covers 3,400 square yards. Visit Coal Hill, which is on the northern end of the Imperial Palace. The name of this hill is derived from the fact that coal was once stored here. Five White Pavilions, the Beautiful View Tower, and the Pavilion of Everlasting Spring are the main attractions of the park. The view of the Imperial Palace and modern-day Beijing from the summit is beautiful. Visit Bei Hei Park, which is in the west of the Coal Hill. It is the most popular place for recreation. The Bridge of Perfect Wisdom, which is opened to Qionghua Island on North Lake to the southeast shore, is one of the park's famous places. Tibetan White Pagoda, which was built in 1651, occupies the center of this island. When China was under the Mongol's control, Kublai Khan established his palace in this park. Visit the Temple of Heaven by bus. It is located in the southeastern part of Beijing. This is the largest park in Beijing. It has three main structures: the Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests in the north, the Imperial Vault of Heaven in the center; and the Circular Mound Altar of Heaven in the south. The Hall of Prayer for Good Harvests has a blue-tiled roof. The Imperial Vault of Heaven has the circular echo wall around the hall's outer courtyard. The three large stones known as the Three Echo Stones are in this hall. The Circular Mound Altar of Heaven consists of three marble terraces symbolizing earth, the mortal world, and heaven. DAY 4 BEIJING Today we will visit the Great Wall. This long wall was built for self-protection from the nomads of the northern border. It is the only man-made object that is visible from satellites in orbit. Today it is surveyed 3,750 miles from the Shan Hai Guan Pass to the Ju Yong Guan Pass in the Gobi Desert. The Great Wall has suffered serious damage from wind and water because of its geographical location. The view from the top of the Great Wall is magnificent, and by looking from this historic spot one can imagine the awful wars that occurred. The wall is steep and can be slippery so be sure to wear comfortable shoes with good soles. Helicopter tours of the Great Wall and the Ming Tombs are available for those wishing to see these great views from the sky. Visit the Ming Tombs. These tombs are those of the Ming emperors. Their location was selected by the wind and water levels. There are thirteen tombs of the Ming Dynasty emperors. The road to the tombs is called the Sacred Way, which is 6.4 kilometers long. The largest and best preserved of the tombs is Chang Ling. This is the tomb of the Emperor Ching Zu. The tomb of the fourteenth emperor of the Ming Dynasty, Shen Zong, is called Ding Ling. The emperor's two wives are also buried here. It is also known as the Underground Palace. DAY 5 BEIJING Visit the Summer Palace. The Summer Palace is located northwest of Tiananmen Square. It is a very pleasing place for a relaxing walk. This park covers 632 acres, three-quarters of which is Kun Ming Lake. The remaining fourth is called Longevity Hill. On top of the hill is the Hall of Benevolence and Longevity, the Hall of Jade Billow, the Garden of Virtuous Harmony, and the Hall of Happiness and Longevity, which have been open to the public since 1979. The lake is very popular for swimming and boating in the summer and for skating in the winter. In the afternoon, one may go shopping on the ancient street Liu Li Chang Jie, which is called "Beijing's culture street" because of its famous antiques, books, paintings, brushes, inks, ink-stones, rubbings of ancient inscriptions, and calligraphy known throughout the world. DAY 6 NANJING Travel to Nanjing by plane. Visit Yuhuatai Park. It is also called Terrace of the Rain Flowers. There are many springs in this park. They are like rainbow hues because of the colorfully grained pebbles in the area. Visit Gu Lou. The view of the town from this observation point is very beautiful. It is called Drum Tower and was built during the Qing Dynasty. Visit Nanjing Museum. The Nanjing Museum is located in the eastern suburbs of the city. Displayed and preserved inside are important historical objects discovered in the Jiangsu Province, such as bronze from the Shang Dynasty, Han pottery coins, weapons, and jewelry. Some artifacts date back 5,000 years. DAY 7 NANJING Visit Linggu Temple Park. It is located at the foot of Zijin Mountains. The park has several beautiful gardens with line-tree forests. The Wuliang Temple and Pagoda are in this park. Visit Sun Yat Sen Mausoleum. It is located on the southern slopes of Zijin Mountain and covers an area of 321 acres. Memorial Hall is reached by climbing 392 granite steps. Pines, cypresses, and fruit trees cover the ground. Visit Ming Xiao Tomb. This is the tomb of the first Ming emperor, Hong Wu. A narrow sacred path with twelve pairs of stone animals leads to the tomb. Visit Zijin Shan Observatory. This is on the third peak of Zijin Mountain. The observatory's museum is the main attraction. Collections of ancient astronomical instruments are displayed here. DAY 8 NANJING-SUZHOU-SHANGHAI Travel from Nanjing to Suzhou by train (crossing the Yangtze River Bridge) (approximately a three-hour trip). Visit Suzhou Grand Canal. The Canal is located to the west of the city. This is the longest man-made canal in China and is crossed by cargo ships with agricultural products and raw materials. Its average width is 100 feet. Travel from Suzhou to Shanghai by train. Approximately one hour. DAY 9 SHANGHAI Visit Shanghai Museum. The museum is located on Henan Road. It is a three-story museum, and it has one of the finest art collections in China. The collections from the Shang and Zhou Dynasties are located on the first floor. Exhibited on the second floor are the collections from the Qin and Han Dynasties. On the third floor are the collections from the Tang, Song, Yuan, Ming, and Qing Dynasties. Visit Jade Buddha Temple. This temple is located to the northwest of the city. There are many statues of Buddha in this temple, two of which are very famous. One is seated, and one is reclining. Twenty-four monks live in the temple. Visit Children's Palace. This is the school where children between the age of seven and seventeen who have special talents can have specialized training. The children are the guides for tours of the palace. Visit Long Hua Temple. This is the oldest and largest temple located in the southern suburbs of Shanghai. This is the only temple in Shanghai that has a pagoda. It also has four main halls with drum and bell towers. Visit the Garden of the Mandarin Yu. This marvelous garden is divided into two parts. It was built by the governor Pan Yunduan. A small museum, called the Beautiful Spring Hall, is located in the outer garden. The garden also has a famous artificial mountain made of rocks. Included are streams of clear water, ponds with goldfish, and pavilions. DAY 10 SHANGHAI-HONG KONG Travel from Shanghai to Hong Kong by plane (approximately two hours). Visit Tiger Balm Gardens, a public park built by the man who developed the medicine Tiger Balm. Its Hau Par Mansion has a marvelous collection of jade. Visit Victoria Peak. A late evening ride up to the top of the peak (1,674 feet) is indispensable. The view of Hong Kong is breathtaking. Having dinner with this great view will make one of the great memories of this tour. Stay on Hong Kong Island. DAY 11 HONG KONG-MACAU-HONG KONG The excursion to Macau is by jet-foil, the fastest service available from the New Macau Ferry Pier on Hong Kong Island. Macau is the oldest European colony in the Far East. It is located on the peninsula extending out from mainland China. Its baroque churches, old mansions, and cobblestone streets show that Macau was founded by the Portuguese. Typical examples of the sixteenth-century style buildings are the Church of St. Paul Cathedral, and St. Dominic, St. Augustine, St. Lawrence, and St. Joseph cathedrals. The rest of the day is free for shopping. Hong Kong is a shopping paradise. All the merchandise is duty-free. Enjoy the last night in Hong Kong. DAY 12 HONG KONG-SAN FRANCISCO Travel to the Kai Tak Airport by bus via the new tunnel to Kowloon. Leave for San Francisco.
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|Publication:||Geography of Travel & Tourism, 4th ed.|
|Date:||Jan 1, 2003|
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