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An Overview of Asia

Asia is the largest continent when measured by landmass and human population. Following is an overview of Asia.

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CHINA-A Land Of Wonder And Discovery

by Elana Andersen

China was first placed on my travel wish list in 1969 when I visited Hong Kong's New Territories during China's Cultural Revolution.Tourists were not allowed passage across the border and the only view offered was through a barbed highway barrier and from the "Little Red Book" of Mao Tse-Tung quotations sold by roadside hawkers. After these many years I finally made my journey into China and traveled with Laurus Travel, a Canadian tour operator that specializes in China and small group adventures. The focus of the trip was Tibet and the Silk Road. Every day of the journey was filled with wonder and making connections with the people and places visited. I'm anxious to return and experience more of China's diverse culture,landscapes and heritage.


One of China's premier examples of modernization is quickly regaining its pre-WWII status as the most important business center in East Asia.There remain a few examples of its colonial past, including the buildings along the Bund, the main road fronting the Huangpu River in the old harbor and financial district. In contrast, across the river is the city's new economic zone; the city's iconic structure, the Orient Pearl TV Tour; and the Jin Mao Building, one of the tallest in the world. The city's Shanghai Museum is considered one of the best in the nation.


This city has more than 1,000 years of imperial history and is the nation's spiritual and political center.The must-see attractions include the Forbidden City, Tian'anmen Square,The Temple of Heaven and the Summer Palace. Groups often enjoy an evening at the Chinese Opera,acrobatic shows or dining at a traditional Peking duck banquet. A short distance from the city is the Great Wall and the Ming Tombs.

Hong Kong

Returned to China in 1997, this city has many reminders of its British Colonial times and is an throngs of faithful pilgrims prostrate themselves in devotion and pilgrimage rituals prior to entering the temple. One of the largest monasteries in the world, Drepung, is located just outside Lhasa. It was founded in 1416 and once was the site of instruction for more than ten thousand monks. It received little damage during the Cultural evolution. An interesting and scenic trip is to travel a 70-mile route on the Lhasa-Nepal Mountain Highway to the Yamdrok Yumtso holy lake pilgrimage site. From there travel west to Tibet's second largest city, Xigatse. It sits in a farming area and is home to the Tashilunpo Monastery, headquarters of the Panchen Lama,leader of the Yellow Sect of Tibetan Buddhism.

Silk Road

Xi'an, China's first Imperial Capitol, dates from 2205 B.C. From here, the western territories encompassed the vast Taklamakan Desert, which had scattered oases and a population of nomads. Urged by myths about ivilizations beyond the desert, a 100-man expedition was dispatched in 139 B.C. to seek allies that would help to halt invading forces from the north. Two men returned 13 years later with no alliances but they did have news about Central Asia, Persia and the Mediterranean. It wasn't long before trading expedition routes were set in place. Western caravans brought cucumbers, figs, chives, sesame, walnuts, grapes, wool, linen and ivory to China, and exports included jade, porcelain, lacquer ware, oranges, peaches, pears, roses, chrysanthemums, cast iron, gunpowder, paper and, its most desired commodity, silk.Xi'an was the staring point of China's three Silk Road routes with the main tributary heading northwest and and Kyrgyzstan. Kashgar has been the main trading and goods-transfer hub since the first Silk Road caravan arrival. Because of its remote location, the city's prosperity and ethnicity have alleviated scrutiny from various government and political philosophies. It was first a Buddhist community boasting over 100 monasteries; however, with the Silk Road population influx, Islam entered the region around 1000 A.D. and continues to be the predominant faith.

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