As a kid, someone probably told that if you kept digging a hole, you’d eventually end up in China. Hopefully that person wasn’t your science teacher otherwise you probably also learned that humans hunted dinosaurs to extinction.But my point is, China was another planet as far as you knew — some far-off, alien place that you’d never see. The closest you could hope for was a Panda Express in the food court at your local mall followed by a lame Jackie Chan buddy-cop movie. After your Yangtze River cruise finishes in Chongqing, you could pay a visit to the Chengdu Zoo to see the lovely pandas and interact with them.
Today China travel is almost as common as the clichéd summer backpacking tour through Europe. And with an upgraded tourist infrastructure following the 2008 Olympics in Beijing — China’s impressive coming out party — it’s never been easier to explore one of the world’s most fascinating civilizations.Writers like to describe China as a sleeping giant that has woken from a long slumber. If you’ve been reading the news, you know that China has not only woken up, it woke up with morning wood, had some strong tea, and is honking its horn all the way to work. Yes, without a doubt, modern China is now wide awake and overly-caffeinated. And for better or worse, it’s growing into a global power that will help shape the next millennium.
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