Sino-American Transcultural Institute - Continuing Education

Sino-American Transcultural Institute - Continuing Education

Day One – Saturday, 9/13 – Shanghai to Huangshan
Depart from Shanghai Hong Qiao Airport for Huangshan Tunxi Airport. You will be met at the Huangshan Tunxi Airport by your Tour Guide and personal Driver, who will transport you to your hotel in Huangshan City. Your evening will be free to explore the city on your own.

Day Two – Sunday, 9/14 – Huangshan Mountain
Following breakfast, you will travel to Huangshan (Yellow Mountain), located in the South of Anhui Province, and take the Yungu Cable Car to ascend to the main peak of the “Back Hill”. The scenery is magnificent on your 10-minute cable car journey. Upon your arrival, you will start to hike from Beginning-to-Believe Peak to your hotel on the mountain.
Mount Huangshan, often described as the “loveliest mountain of China”, has played an
important role in the history of art and literature in China since the Tang Dynasty around the 8th

In 747 AD, its name was changed from Yishan to Huangshan by Imperial decree. The name is
commonly thought to have been coined in honor of Qin Shi Huang Di (The Yellow Emperor); the
first Chinese emperor and the father of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). Legend has it that
Qin Shi Huang Di collected herbs here and formulated the Pills of Immortality. Obviously, his
formulation was not terribly effective! We will visit his tomb in Xi’an, and see his army for the
afterlife: the Terra Cotta Warriors.

Mount Huangshan became a magnet for hermits, poets and landscape artists, fascinated by its dramatic mountainous landscape consisting of massive granitic boulders and ancient pine trees which are often further enhanced by cloud and mist effects. This dramatic landscape includes formations of natural stone pillars, grotesquely-shaped rocks, waterfalls, caves, lakes and hot springs, formed by its complex geological history.

The Huangshan Reserve features numerous imposing peaks, 77 of which exceed an altitude of l,000 m, with the highest, the famous Lianhua Peak (Lotus Flower Peak), reaching up to l,864 m.
See these videos Huangshan1 Huangshan2 Huangshan3 CCTV Travelogue
Your hotel, the Beihai Hotel Huangshan ****, is on the mountain in an unbelievably beautiful location.
It is only a 5 minute hike to Xizifeng, a prime area to watch the sunrise over Huangshan tomorrow morning.

Day Three – Monday, 9/15 – Huangshan to Xi’an (via Hangzhou)
Plan to get up early this morning to view the spectacular sunrise over Huangshan. The vivid colors of the sunrise paint the mountains and valleys with burnt umber hues. Mist and fog add to the ethereal effect. A tripod is valuable for serious photographers.
You will descend the Mountain and travel by private car to Hangzhou Airport. En route, you will stop at Hongcun Village and Xidi Village.
Hongcun is an ancient village, over 800 years old, leaning against Mt. Huangshan. Surrounded by a picturesque moat with bridges to the village and a half-moon shaped pond in the center, it is a favorite destination for artists and photographers.
Hongcun has been recognized by UNESCO for its beauty and largely undeveloped traditional streets and houses. Various halls, dwellings and an old school are open to visitors. Due to its historic architecture, parts of the famous film “Crouching Tiger and Hidden Dragon” were shot here.

The village is arranged in the shape of an ox with the nearby hill (Leigang Hill) interpreted as the head, and two trees standing on it as the horns. Four bridges across the Jiyin stream can be seen as the legs whilst the houses of the village form the body. Inside the “body”, the Jiyin stream represents the intestines and various lakes such as the “South Lake” (Nanhu) form the other internal organs.
Much older than Hongcun Village, Xidi Village was first built during the Huangyou era (1049–1053) of the Song Dynasty.
The rise of the village was closely tied to the fortunes of the Hu family. By 1465, during the Ming Dynasty (1368–1644), family members had started in business as merchants, leading to construction of major private buildings and a public infrastructure.
By the middle of the 17th century, the influence wielded by members of the Hu family expanded from commerce into politics.
The prosperity of Xidi peaked in the 18th and 19th centuries, at which time the village comprised about 600 residences.
The street pattern of Xidi is dominated by a main road which runs in an east-west direction and is flanked by two parallel streets. These major streets are joined by many narrow alleyways.

Small open spaces are confined to areas immediately in front of the main public buildings, such as the "Hall of Respect", the "Hall of Reminiscence", and the "Memorial Archway of the Governor".

Today, 124 well preserved wooden residences from the Ming and Qing dynasties, with beautiful carvings, form the major attractions.
Following your visit to Hongcun and Xidi, you will drive to the Hangzhou Airport and fly to Xi’an. Your flight leaves at 20:45 and arrives at 23:05.

Day Four –Tuesday, 9/16 – Xi’an
Xi’an is an ancient city and the gateway to the Silk Road to the West. Today you will ride bicycles on the Xi’an City Wall, explore the Big Wild Goose Pagoda, Muslim Quarters and the Shaanxi History Museum.
The ancient Xi’an City Wall is the most complete city wall that has survived in China, as well being one of the largest ancient military defensive systems in the world.

When Zhu Yuanzhanq, the first Emperor of the Ming dynasty(1368-1644), captured Huizhou, a hermit named Zhu Sheng admonished him that he should 'built high walls, store abundant food supplies and take time to be an Emperor,' so that he could fortify the city and unify the other states. After the establishment of the Ming dynasty, Zhu Yuanzhanq followed his advice and began to enlarge the Xi’an City Wall built initially during the Tang dynasty (618-907).

After the extension, the wall now stands 12 meters (40 feet) tall, 12-14 meters (40-46 feet) wide at the top and 15-18 meters (50-60 feet) thick at the bottom. It covers 13.7 kilometers (8.5 miles) in length with a deep moat surrounding it.

Every 120 meters, there is a rampart which extends out from the main wall. All together, there are 98 ramparts on the wall, which were built to defend against an enemy climbing up the wall. Each rampart has a sentry building, in which the soldiers could protect the entire wall without exposing themselves to the enemy. The distance between every two ramparts is just within the range of an arrow shot from either side, so that they could shoot the enemy, who wanted to attack the city, from the side. On the outer side of the city wall, there are 5948 battlements which gave soldiers outstanding offensive and defensive positioning.

Since the ancient weapons did not have the power to break through a wail and the only way for an enemy to enter the city was by attacking the gate of the city wall. This is why complicated gate structures were built within the wall.

Initially, the wall was built with layers of dirt, with the base layer including lime and glutinous rice! Throughout history, the Xi’an City Wall has been restored three times. In 1568, Zhang Zhi (the government officer of that period) was in charge to rebuild the wall with bricks. In 1781, another officer, Bi Yuan, refitted the city wall and the gate towers. More recently (since 1983) the Shaanxi Provincial Government restored the city wall again. A circular park has been built along the high wall and the deep moat. The thriving trees and flowers decorate the classical Chinese architecture of the wall, adding additional beauty to the city of Xi’an.

Big Wild Goose Pagoda is one of the most famous Buddhist pagodas in China. Originally, a pagoda was built on the site in 589 A.D. in the Sui Dynasty. It was called Wu Lou (Five Story) Temple.

Later, Big Wild Goose Pagoda replaced this early structure in the Tang Dynasty (618-907) for the study of Buddhist scriptures. The original structure was finished in 652 A.D. Its five stories were 60 meters in height.

The decay of the earth-cored pagoda prompted new construction of a 10-story pagoda from 701 to 704 A.D. However, the winds of war in the years to come, not to mention a massive earthquake in 1556, reduced that pagoda to ruins. This massive destruction resulted in the construction of a 7-story, 64 meter-tall structure in the latter Ming Dynasty. This pagoda is the one we see today.

An interesting legend surrounds the naming of the pagoda. During the Tang Dynasty, there were two Buddhist schools of thought. Members of one school ate meat, while the others were strict vegetarians.

At one point, there was no meat to be bought in the Xi’an area. Pious monks saw a flock of wild geese flying overhead one day. One monk silently prayed to the merciful Guan Yin Bodhisattva to provide a goose for them to eat. Immediately the leading goose fell to the ground with broken wings. The monks were horrified at the goose’s death and believed this was a condemnation of them eating meat. From that day, they changed their ways and became strict vegetarians. They built Big Wild Goose Pagoda on the spot where the wild goose fell, to honor its life and to thank the merciful Guan Yin Bodhisattva for guidance.

Historically, Xi’an is the eastern-most point on the ancient Silk Road trading route, used for hundreds of years as a trading route between the east and west.

As such, this brought many traders and businessmen from other parts of Asia and the Middle East to the area. This influx of the Hui Minority is still apparent today, illustrated by the ethnic and cultural makeup of Xi’an. The descendents of some of those families are still living in Xi’an, with many concentrated in what is now called “the Muslim Quarter”.

The Muslim Quarter consists of narrow streets lined with market stalls and vendors. It is famous for an amazing selection of tasty snack food. Since the vast majority of merchants and vendors are of the Muslim Faith, you will not find pork products or alcohol served.
The streets are lined on both sides with a seemingly never-ending selection of sweet and savory snacks, ranging from dried fruit, to meat kebabs, to fried pancakes, to dumplings, to a number of cake-like creations, many of which are unique to this part of China. The fresh-baked

Muslim-style flat breads are incredibly delicious!

At the heart of the Muslim Quarter lies the Great Mosque, found in the middle of the alley of market stalls, and it is truly an oasis of calm in the surrounding bustling insanity. Built around 700 AD, the Great Mosque is somewhat unique in that the architecture is mainly Chinese in style, lacking the major traditional attributes of mosques such as domed roofs and minarets, though retaining a certain Middle Eastern flavor in some smaller design features such as engravings. Consisting of a central courtyard containing old stone tablets and ornate carvings, and enclosed by several low buildings, it is an actively used mosque with local Muslims still called to prayer each day. However, in exchange for a small fee, visitors are welcome to enter, have a relaxing stroll around and soak up the atmosphere for a while, before heading back into the craziness that lurks just outside.

The history of Shaanxi Province is said to be the history of China. The Shaanxi History Museum is one of the nation’s best. Four major galleries, in large Tang Dynasty-style buildings, house a vast and impressive collection. The majority of item labels are in English. Your guide will provide translation of those which are not.

Day Five –Wednesday, 9/17 – Xi’an to Beijing
Today we will visit the underground site of the Terra Cotta Warriors and Horses. No flash photos are permitted, so bring a tripod for the best shots.

Qin Shi Wang Di was the king of the Chinese State of Qin from 246 BCE to 221 BCE during the Warring States Period. He became the first emperor of a unified China in 221 BCE and ruled China from Xi’an until his death in 210 BCE at the age of 50.

Qin Shi Wang Di was obsessed with immortality, and took many potions in an attempt to obtain his goal. Unfortunately, mercury was a major ingredient of these potions, which probably lead to his eventual insanity and death.

As his guards in the afterlife, Qin Shi Wang Di created an army of terra cotta soldiers and horses. They were discovered in 1974, quite by accident, by a peasant digging a well. Recent excavation has revealed thousands of these soldiers, each with unique facial features. It is obvious that each head was the work of a sculptor and they were not produced from a mold.

The terracotta statues are slightly larger in size than real horses and people. The proportions are extremely accurate. This reflects the high level of sculptural arts at the time of the Qin dynasty. Modern attempts at reproduction of such large sculptures were unsuccessful for quite a few years.

Following your tour of the Terra Cotta Warriors, you will be transferred to the Xi’an Train Station, where you will take the overnight train to Beijing.

Your accommodations will be in a Luxury Soft Sleeper Compartment (pending availability).
Each compartment has an upper and a lower bunk, with quality bedding.
There is a comfortable sofa opposite the lower bunk.
Facilities such as thermos, tray for litter, rubbish bin, LCD TV, headphone, temperature control, reading lamp, and slippers are available.
The highlight of luxury soft sleeper carriage is that each compartment has a private toilet, equipped with wash-basin, mirror, seat-type toilet, and toilet paper (!).
A few trains even have showers in the toilet.
See: for video of the interior.
Your train, Z-20 departs Xi’an at 1955, and arrives at Beijing West Train Station at 0710. The train usually has a dining compartment and bar. Snacks and beverages are also available from the train staff as they pass by your door with a cart.

Day Six –Thursday, 9/18 – Beijing
Be sure to retain your ticket after getting off the train. You will need to present it to Security Personnel to exit the Train Station.
You can take a taxi from the Beijing West Train Station to your hotel in Beijing. It is usually a 15-20 minute drive in light traffic. The taxi stand is clearly marked with signs after you exit the Train Station. Look for the long lines.

Beware of taxi drivers that approach you offering their services. They are known as “Black Taxis”; unlicensed vehicles that prey on tourists. Wait in line to get a real taxi, and be sure to insist that the driver starts the meter. Your fare should be about 20-30 RMB.
The remainder of the day is yours to explore this fascinating city. Since you are a seasoned China traveler by now, you will have no trouble using taxis and the Beijing Subway.

We can discuss options for sightseeing in Beijing that are easily self directed. Feel free to ask if you have any questions or concerns.
We hope that you will enjoy your free time in Beijing and make an effort to seek out those spots that few Westerners ever visit!

Day Seven –Friday, 9/19 – Beijing to USA
Today, plan to arrive at the Beijing International Airport at least three hours before your departure time.
The Concierge at your hotel can arrange for taxi transportation to the Airport. You will depart from Terminal 3; the International Departure Terminal.

Once again, you will cross the International Dateline on your journey back home. This time, you will GAIN a day. In fact, frequently, you will land in the USA before you depart. It’s Groundhog Day all over again


Itinerary for Huangshan, Hongcun Village, Xidi Village and Xi’an Tour Extension