Shanghai Social Diary: Treasures of China’s Heritage Part 5

On a uniquely enriching and memorable trip to China, I explored some incredible off-the-beaten-path historical sites, including several sacred temples such as this Shuanglin complex, a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Treasures of China’s Heritage: Touring with the Global Heritage Fund
(
Fifth of a Seven-Part Series)

Fujian and Shanxi

In anticipation of a return to China, I’ve been revisiting my past travels to the country. Some of my best memories of the “Middle Kingdom” include my nine-day tour of historically significant sites with the Palo Alto-based Global Heritage Fund (GHF)—an organization devoted to supporting underdeveloped rural areas worldwide.

DAY 6: HISTORICAL TEMPLES IN THE ANCIENT WALLED CITY OF PINGYAO

After spending a third day in historic Pingyao, we wrapped up our exploration of this ancient walled city with tours of several historically significant Taoist and Buddhist temples in and near the Old City.

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Exploring Palm Springs, Part II

Palm Springs, long a glamorous retreat for Hollywood stars, is now a flourishing arts community that has recently drawn a new surge of tourists.

I want to abandon New York this winter and join the international snow birds in flying to Palm Springs, in Southern California’s Coachella Valley (which locals call just “The Valley”), to enjoy the ultimate in resort pleasures: natural beauty, year-round sun, golf courses, tennis facilities, spas, hiking, gambling, and vibrant nightlife.

The nine desert towns that compose The Valley include Palm Springs, Desert Hot Springs, Cathedral City, Rancho Mirage, Palm Desert, Indian Wells, La Quinta, Indio, and Coachella.

It’s just a two-hour drive from Los Angeles and San Diego to Palm Springs, situated amid the dramatic peaks of the Santa Rosa, San Jacinto, and Little San Bernardino Mountains.

The temptations of the city’s Uptown Design District include shopping, dining, and cultural events.

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San Francisco Social Diary: Art Happenings in Palm Springs, Coachella Valley (Part I)

Palm Springs, long a glamorous retreat for Hollywood stars, is now a flourishing arts community that has recently drawn a new surge of tourists.

ART HAPPENINGS IN PALM SPRINGS, COACHELLA VALLEY (PART I)

I’m making vacation plans now to leave Manhattan once winter arrives. One of the places that beckons is Southern California’s Coachella Valley, the desert resort area that lures international snow birds drawn by its natural beauty, year-round sun, golf courses, tennis facilities, spas, hiking, gambling, and vibrant nightlife.

The Coachella Valley (locals simply call it “The Valley”) is a string of nine desert towns — the best-known Palm Springs, as well as Desert Hot Springs, Cathedral City, Rancho Mirage, Palm Desert, Indian Wells, La Quinta, Indio, and Coachella.

A mere two-hour drive from Los Angeles and San Diego, Palm Springs is surrounded by the dramatic peaks of the Santa Rosa, San Jacinto, and Little San Bernardino Mountains.

The Uptown Design District of Palm Springs offers tempting shopping, dining, and cultural events.

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Shanghai Social Diary: Hiking in the Chinese Countryside

Living in a city the size of Shanghai, with over 20 million inhabitants, requires an occasional escape. One weekend, my hiking group took a trip to Tai Hu Lake for some peace, quiet, and fresh air in the countryside.

HIKING IN THE CHINESE COUNTRYSIDE

Early one autumn Saturday, venture capitalist Jennifer Yan, publisher Andrea Mingfai Chu, and I went on a day trip to the countryside with our hiking group. Our destination was Tai Hu Lake, west of Shanghai, to visit an authentic farming and fishing village.

Tai Hu Lake is third largest freshwater lake in China, has 90 islands, and empties into the Yangtze River.

China is the world’s leading source of wild-caught fish and aquaculture, and Tai Hu Lake is a source for several fish species, including the seasonal delicacy, hairy crab.

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Shanghai Social Diary: Treasures of China’s Heritage Part 4

On a nine-day trip to China with the GHF (Global Heritage Fund), I explored some truly incredible, off-the-beaten-path historical sites, including three days at my favorite stop, the stunning ancient walled city of Pingyao.

Treasures of China’s Heritage: Touring with the Global Heritage Fund
(Fourth of a Seven-part Series)

Fujian and Shanxi

I recently had the privilege of taking a nine-day trip to China in the company of board members of the Palo Alto-based Global Heritage Fund (GHF)—an organization devoted to supporting underdeveloped rural areas worldwide. Although I’d previously traveled extensively in China, this unusual excursion was uniquely enriching and memorable. It’s my pleasure to share this experience with you in a series of recollections illustrated primarily by my personal photographs. Links to the other installments in this series can be found at the end of this article.

After resting up from our first magical day in historic Pingyao, we looked forward to more experiences in the ancient walled city, including an up-close encounter with the walls themselves.

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Shanghai Social Diary: Treasures of China’s Heritage Part 3

On a nine-day trip to China with the GHF (Global Heritage Fund), I explored some truly incredible, off-the-beaten-path historical sites, including my favorite stop, the ancient walled city of Pingyao.

Treasures of China’s Heritage: Touring with the Global Heritage Fund
(Third in a Seven-part series)

Fujian and Shanxi

I recently had the privilege of taking a nine-day trip to China in the company of board members of the Palo Alto-based Global Heritage Fund (GHF)—an organization devoted to supporting underdeveloped rural areas worldwide. Although I’d previously traveled extensively in China, this unusual excursion was uniquely enriching and memorable. It’s my pleasure to share this experience with you in a series of recollections illustrated primarily by my personal photographs. Links to the other installments in this series can be found at the end of this article.

After exploring the port town of Zhangzhou and touring ancient earthen residences called “tulous” in southeast China, we next travelled north to the ancient walled city of Pingyao.

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Shanghai Social Diary: Treasures of China’s Heritage Part 2

On a trip to China with the Global Heritage Fund, we explored some truly incredible, off-the-beaten-path historical sites, such as Tian Luo Keng, a cluster of round, earthen tulou residences.

Treasures of China’s Heritage: Touring with the Global Heritage Fund
(Second of a Seven-part Series)

Nanjing and Pinghe Counties, Fujian

I recently had the privilege of taking a nine-day trip to China in the company of board members of the Global Heritage Fund (GHF)—an organization devoted to supporting underdeveloped rural areas worldwide. Although I’d previously traveled extensively in China, this unusual excursion was uniquely enriching and memorable. It’s my pleasure to share this experience with you in a series of recollections illustrated primarily by my personal photographs. Links to the other installments in this series can be found at the end of this article.

DAY 2: ARRIVAL IN ZHANGZHOU CITY

After landing in Fujian’s modern city of Xiamen and exploring earthen tulou buildings in the countryside on our first day, we proceeded to the historic port town of Zhangzhou and then to Pinghe and Nanjing counties, where we visited tulous of a different style.

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Shanghai Social Diary: Treasures of China’s Heritage, Part 1

On a nine-day trip to China with the Global Heritage Fund, I explored some truly incredible, off-the-beaten-path historical sites, among them the Xuankongsi Hanging Temple that clings to the side of a mountain in northeast China.

Treasures of China’s Heritage: Touring with the Global Heritage Fund
(First of a Seven-part Series)

For many, a trip to China is a once-in-a-lifetime experience, usually limited to the must-see places such as Beijing, Shanghai, Xian, and the other major cities. But if you have the opportunity to make return visits to this vast and varied country, I highly recommend stepping off the tourist trail and venturing into the provinces.

I first visited China in 1987 and quickly fell in love with its intoxicating beauty, rich culture, and welcoming people. I immediately vowed to return—and not simply as a tourist. Since 2008, I’ve lived in China off and on and have seen many places that are still largely undeveloped and therefore undiscovered by outsiders.

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Shanghai Social Diary: Chongming, the Eco Island of Shanghai

On a visit to the ecological island of Chongming, near Shanghai, my group visited Dao Zhong Dao, a stunning concept hotel and restaurant.

CHONGMING, THE ECO ISLAND OF SHANGHAI

After a late arrival on a flight from the U.S. to Shanghai, I awoke the next morning to an enticing email invitation to Chongming Island. My friend, French architect Jean-Pierre Heim, wanted me to join a group visiting his hotel project there.

The alluvial island, also called Eco-Island, formed from silt and rock, is in the Yangtze River Delta and had long been on my must-see list.

But Heim’s group was leaving in only two hours! I abandoned my plan to spend a few days recovering from jet lag and was soon out the door.

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Shanghai Social Diary: A Day in the Ancient Water Town of Zhujiajiao

Zhujiajiao, one of the best-preserved Chinese water towns, is often called the “Venice of Shanghai.”

Back from another extended stay in endlessly fascinating and ever-changing Shanghai, I’m posting another installment of some of the social, cultural, culinary, and travel highlights.


ZHUJIAJIAO’S HISTORY

Zhujiajiao, founded more than 1,700 years ago, was an important trading center during the Ming (1368–1644) and Qing (1644–1911) dynasties.

Its impressive canal system was originally built for irrigation and travel. Today it is a town of 60,000 with gondolas, arched bridges, centuries-old architecture, and picturesque lanes that give it an enduring charm.

On my first visit, a bicycle trip, our guide told us not even to try to pronounce the name, which sounds like “jew ja je-ow.” I’ve returned a few times, most recently for a day of photographing capped off by a private viewing of Oscar-winning Chinese composer Tan Dun‘s musical production Water Heavens.

Located just 30 miles from central Shanghai, Zhujiajiao is one of the many ancient water towns that dot the landscape of the Yangtze Delta.

Tranquil Zhujiajiao is a mere 50-minute ride but a world away from Shanghai, with its cobblestone lanes, traditional homes, temples, and tree-lined canals.

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