G’pa & Micheline’s Guest Blog

Dear Bloggers.

This week I have invited Grandpa and Micheline to contribute to my blog with a review of their holiday in China. It sounds to me that they were a bit surprised about many aspects of life here, starting with our house! Well thank you for coming all the way to visit us and for sharing your thoughts on my blog.

From Thomas.

Visit to China   –   a Retrospective

Entrance to the lane. Um!

Entrance to the lane. Um

Are we in the right place?

Are we in the right place?

Is this really the right place?

Is this really the right place?

Yes it is, and it's really good

Yes it is, and it’s really good

Our top floor suite has a superb bathroom with a very helpful toilet that lifts it's lid every time you enter

Our top floor suite has a superb bathroom with a very helpful toilet that lifts it’s lid every time you enter

The neighbours bamboo washing lines

The neighbours bamboo washing lines

Following the precedent set by Suzie, and at Thomas’s request, we are giving our own impressions of our visit to China.

We were amazed by:

  • The Terracotta Army.  Yes, we had seen the pictures and it was a long and expensive trip for the five of us, but it was definitely worth it.  Not only to see the sheer extent of the warriors, horses, chariots and assorted animals, but to learn that there are still several pits not yet excavated with some known to contain 5,000 figures.
Twenty eight years' work by thousands of people

Twenty eight years’ work by thousands of people

They are life sized

They are life sized

  • The Great Wall.  The section we visited was in a very scenic range of hills.  We only managed to walk between six towers/forts, but , nevertheless, formed a good impression of the monumental effort it must have taken to build it.
The very impressive Great Wall

The very impressive Great Wall

  • The size of Tiananmen Square, which will hold a million people, and the extent of the Forbidden City.
Vast square

Vast square


  • Being in Beijing’s Summer Palace with over 100,000 Chinese tourists.  Our holiday coincided with a national holiday and we have never seen so many people sightseeing.  En masse the Chinese make an incredibly loud noise and do not believe in queuing.  The contrast between the Japanese [quiet, orderly and restrained] and the Chinese [noisy, pushing and shoving] is notable.  The range of different faces and races of Chinese was a surprise.
Amazing crowds

Amazing crowds

  • The airports and stations.  They were all enormous and looked as if they had only just been built.  They put Heathrow’s Terminal 5 to shame.
  • The urban sprawl around Xi’an, Beijing and Shanghai.  Where was the countryside?
Forest of skyscrapers as seen from Elaine's office

Forest of skyscrapers as seen from Elaine’s office

Shanghai at night

Shanghai at night

  • The amount of construction recently completed and taking place.  There were cranes everywhere.  We went to the top of what was until recently the tallest building in the world to look out from 100 floors up at a forest of skyscrapers that had been built in the last 15 years.
Scary.  Standing on a plate-glass floor 100 stories high

Scary. Standing on a plate-glass floor 100 stories high

  • The decay and dilapidation of the fine colonial houses in Shanghai, particularly Mrs Daisy Qwok’s house where she lived with 25 servants.  It is now occupied by 25 families, some living in a single room.
  • The volume of shipping we saw on a trip down the Huangpu river – hundreds of ships, barges and naval vessels.

Ship building

Ship building
  • Shanghai Museum which kept us interested for a day and we still did not see everything.
  • Our ‘last supper’ and seeing five Chinese waiters approaching our table singing ‘Happy Birthday, dear Grandpa’ with a birthday cake put together by Thomas.
  • At Hangzhou at last seeing some impressive countryside and, of course, the amazing show on the lake.
  • The lovely smell of Osmanthus trees.
  • For Micheline, the very high quality clothes made for such low prices.
  • Joining in with a group of Chinese ballroom dancers at 10.00 pm in a park in Xi’an.

The surprises were:

  • The disparity between rich and poor.  Also China is not a third world country any longer – at least in Shanghai and Beijing.
  • The quantity of food that appeared in Chinese restaurants for our ‘light’ lunches.
  • Prices in general.  Apart from local Chinese restaurants, locally-made clothes and taxis, everything else seemed to be similar to UK prices.
  • The chaotic traffic conditions despite massive road building, including ten-lane roads in Shanghai.  There are too many cars and few small vehicles.  It must be the biggest market for Audi, Mercedes and BMW.  Taxis are driven by lunatics.  It also seems to be essential to sound your horn every few yards.
  • The level of pollution, especially in Beijing.  Here we encountered two days of record pollution.  This was in contrast with our first day when there was a clear blue sky which resulted in our guide saying ‘Oh, my god, you can see the mountains’.
  • Experiencing being on the edge of a typhoon  when Shanghai had the heaviest rainfall in 24 hours since 1961.

Lots of thanks go to:

  • Elaine, Bromley and Thomas for their hospitality and attentiveness.  Bromley’s detailed organisation of our trips was excellent.  Everything went like clockwork.  He could be a professional travel organiser.  Thomas’ positiveness, cheerfulness, IT skills and entertainment delighted the old aged pensioners.  Elaine was ever smiling, rarely stressed [like her dad!!!] and, like Thomas, always positive.
  • Our guides in Xi’an and Beijing who were excellent.
  • Elaine’s driver in Shanghai, the inscrutable Mr Huang, who never drove like a lunatic.


  1. Granny Devon · · Reply

    A brilliant blog – makes me want to come and visit you! Your Grandpa and Micheline seem to have had a wonderful time with you all and you will have such lovely memories. X


  2. Your blog, Thomas, has enabled all of us in Grandpa’s office to follow his and Micheline’s trip in such detail over the past three issues, so thank you. I can’t believe how much you have packed in for them to see and enjoy. We are glad he is back safely and he genuinely seems to have had a really brilliant time. Celia


  3. Granny fixit · · Reply

    What a wonderful insight you gave Grandpa and Micheline into Chinese culture. Congrats to all of you for being such excellent hosts, travel guides and entertainers. Knowing that Grandpa only knows how to run – he never learnt to walk – you must all be exhausted. A holiday or treat is definitely in order.


Leave a Reply to Granny fixit Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: