This guidebook disc usses China's political landscape post-Deng and the Hong Kong handover. There is expanded information on history, culture, architecture and arts, with detaile medicine, techniques and therapies.
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What We Believe
We believe that travel leads to a deeper cultural understanding and compassion and therefore a better world.
China is not so much a travel destination as a mind-boggling phenomenon. It's home to on of the world's longest continuous civilizations, with an impressive heritage of art, architecture, language and cuisine. It's a country of great contrasts: picturesque rural landscapes and congested cityscapes; and natural beauty that ranges from the untamed to the idyllic - from the windswept plains of the Gobi Desert and the notorious northern face of Mt Everest to Yangshuo's gorgeous karst scenery.
China is huge and wild enough to satisfy your explorer instinct, but criss-crossed with an extensive transportation network so you won't be left high and dry.
Whatever China does to you - entertains, stimulates, appeals or bemuses - you will come away with priceless memories of a country in the throes of reinventing itself. The last decades of the 20th century saw China open up to an eager world that was gazing through the portcullis, visa application in hand.
These past years have been a ceaseless drama of energetic development, economic contortions, an invasion of Western culture and the resurgence of mass inequality. China has never been so transformed, except perhaps when the Mongols passed through with their own blueprints for change.
A light-headedness lingers from the rejection of the austerities and craziness of the Mao era and the effects of that new opiate, carefully named 'socialism with Chinese characteristics'. The currents of change run deep. See for yourself while sipping cappuccinos from Starbucks in Beijing or perusing the latest fashions in Shanghai.
An increasingly confident China knows the importance of engagement with the world. A gold rush of rewards in 2001 has yielded a feel-good factor: China joined the World Trade Organization, Beijin will stage the 2008 Olympics and the national football (soccer) team made it to the World Cup for the first time ever.
Domestic tourism is in a state of supernova, showering sights around the land with much-needed investment, and less-needed noise pollution and litter. Sadly, some destinations have been disfigured as the tourist industry swamps them with garish sideshows and commerce, and some previously idyllic locations have perhaps irreversibly lost their magic. Massive investment has brought transport quality a long way over the last 10 years, and routes have become steadily speedier and more comfortable.
The coercive nature of the Chinese State remains, however - placing serious limits on freedoms. China has chosen to embrace modernity without allowing political evolution; dissent is brutally expunged, debate stifled and information carefully controlled. This may not be of great interest to short-term travelers, but will explain why the BBC Web site is blocked (both in English and Chinese), why foreign newspapers are occasionally trimmed of opinion and why there are no demonstrations or political debates on TV.
Also be aware that travel in China can present difficulties, with language the single most difficult barrier. This guidebook has undertaken to facilitate the ease with which you master some basic Chinese by providing tonal marks to aid pronunciation. Chinese script is also provided, where it can come in handy (on maps, to show to taxi drivers, for example). Familiarizing yourself with the Chinese words for hotel, restaurant, park, temple, station and so on will make getting around a little easier and, hopefully, will lead to greater interaction with Chinese people.
China is a great rollercoaster ride for anyone with a little time and an instinct for travel. So take a deep breath, plunge in and have a great trip!
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