Trip to China of the Frauenclub Rielingshausen
23. 8. – 9. 9. 2001

Following an invitation by the city of Tongling, friendly related to Marbach upon Neckar, the Frauenclub Rielingshausen has visited Tongling near the Yangtze-River, Anhui province, and other Chinese sights.

The trip was organized by the CTS Travel Agency in Tongling and the Heidi Ziegler Travel Agency in Marbach. We were accompanied by Mr Wu, CEO of the CTS Travel Agency, and by Mr Zhao Hua, a well-known person in Marbach. In every visited city, a local travel guide joined the group together with a German-interpreter, so that we were very comfortable.

The trip started in the Chinese capital of Beijing, home of more than 12 million inhabitants. Of course, Beijing itself would be worth a trip, but for visitors like us, wanting to travel to the very centre of the country, it has been only the first of many stops. It would be an enormous fault, to take the Chinese capital for the whole country. Two worlds are colliding, drifting apart more and more. Beijing the metropolis could be located in every other country of the world. Modern, tolerant, generous, gigantic, but no more Chinese.

Of course, the Forbidden City, the Palace of the Emperor, the Great Wall, the Heaven’s Temple or the Lama Temple are still a proof for a great Chinese history and tradition. But today, Beijing is proudly preparing for the 2008 Olympic Games. Every building, not fitting into the vision of the responsible of a modern metropolis is going to be blown away and rebuilt with a new face. We were lucky to be able to visit one of the so-called Hutongs (typically old-Chinese flats with courtyards) with a bicycle-rickshaw.

The house was chosen by the local guide and it contained in addition to the traditional interior a wide-screen TV-set, an air condition and of course a personal computer.

The next point on the schedule was a pearl breeding farm and a hospital for traditional Chinese medicine.

By plane, we travelled from Beijing to Xi’an, the so-called “Western Gate of China”. In ancient times, Xi’an was called Chang’an and has been the world’s largest city with an estimated number of inhabitants of two million. It has been a melting pot of the religions of the world, and a wealthy trading place as starting respectively ending of the legendary Silk Road.

In 699 B.C., a Chinese poet wrote: ” Before you leave, come and drink with me my boy, in the far of the west, there’ll be no joy.”

Xi’an’s greatest sight is the very well preserved city wall, dated back to the Ming-Dynasty. Inside the walls, there’s a chance to meet this Old China, which today has been more and more erased of the country, especially in the eastern parts. We took a walk on the mighty wall, which is eight kilometres long and can still be walked on at its complete length.

The Great Mosque was built in 742 A.C. situated in an area of 12 000 square metres, it is a kind of an island of silence and calmness within the trouble of the city. The visitors of the Frauenclub were also deeply impressed by the Great Pagoda of the Wild Goose, which was built in the year 652 by a Buddhist monk on a pilgrimage to India.

A must-see, and the highlight of every visit to Xi’an is the Terracotta Army of China’s first emperor Qin Shi Huangdi (259-210 B.C.). In 1974, farmers had discovered parts of this overwhelming graveyard by chance. The size of the whole area is more than 225 square kilometres and it contains, separated into an inside and outside city, many grave holes: 17 for the horses, 17 for earthenware and 14 for the legendary Terracotta Soldiers.

Visiting this great sight would be reason enough, to visit Xi’an.

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By plane, we travelled from Beijing to Xi’an, the so-called “Western Gate of China”. In ancient times, Xi’an was called Chang’an and has been the world’s largest city with an estimated number of inhabitants of two million. It has been a melting pot of the religions of the world, and a wealthy trading place as starting respectively ending of the legendary Silk Road.

In 699 B.C., a Chinese poet wrote: ” Before you leave, come and drink with me my boy, in the far of the west, there’ll be no joy.”

Xi’an’s greatest sight is the very well preserved city wall, dated back to the Ming-Dynasty. Inside the walls, there’s a chance to meet this Old China, which today has been more and more erased of the country, especially in the eastern parts. We took a walk on the mighty wall, which is eight kilometres long and can still be walked on at its complete length.

The Great Mosque was built in 742 A.C. situated in an area of 12 000 square metres, it is a kind of an island of silence and calmness within the trouble of the city. The visitors of the Frauenclub were also deeply impressed by the Great Pagoda of the Wild Goose, which was built in the year 652 by a Buddhist monk on a pilgrimage to India.

A must-see, and the highlight of every visit to Xi’an is the Terracotta Army of China’s first emperor Qin Shi Huangdi (259-210 B.C.). In 1974, farmers had discovered parts of this overwhelming graveyard by chance. The size of the whole area is more than 225 square kilometres and it contains, separated into an inside and outside city, many grave holes: 17 for the horses, 17 for earthenware and 14 for the legendary Terracotta Soldiers.

Visiting this great sight would be reason enough, to visit Xi’an.

After leaving Xi’an, we took a plane to Chongquing, near the upper Yangtze. This city is the biggest one in the world, with more than 30 million inhabitants partly living in houses built directly beside the rocks. Here, the group went aboard the Yangtze ship MS “Queen”, continuing the trip on the river.

With its 6300 km, the Yangtze River is the longest in China and the third longest in the world. The Yangtze River and the more than 700 tributaries is a river of life for six Chinese provinces. Today, you can find cargo ships and cruisers as well on the river.

Fengdu, “City of the Ghosts”, was the first stop. In former times, the Chinese believed in bringing the soul of the passed-away in front of the God of Hell. So they started to build a residence for the King of the Underworld. In the year 704, a first temple was erected on top of the holy, daoistic mountain Ming and consecrated to the King of the Underworld.

The next day, we’ve passed a jewel of Chinese temple-architecture – Shibaozhai – the Stone-Treasury-Fortress-, built aside a 30 m high and narrowing rock.

In the evening, we reached Wanxian, our stop for the night. Two nine floor high pagodas are protecting the city. But even they couldn’t prevent, that Wanxian will be most affected by the building of the new 3-Gorges-Dam. More than 1,2 million people have to move and a third of the city will be drowning in the floods.

In the early morning, we passed the Qutang-Gorge, one of the most dangerous passages. Here, the mighty river is only about 107 metres wide. An impressing scenery. At both sides, the rocks are nearly upright and the roaring water right in between.

Near the city of Wushan, we entered small boats, driving on the Daning tributary. In the walls, you can see 2000-year-old sarcophagi at an enormous height. Today, nobody knows how they had been placed up there.

Back on the cruising-ship, we passed the Wu Xia-Gorge. An overall length of 40 kilometres is formed by six mountaintops at both sides.

Sometimes later, we discovered a male body in the water. Were only we horrified at that?

The last of the famous gorges is the 76 km long Xiling-Gorge. A very beautiful sight. The three-day stay aboard the ship ended up in Yichang City.
Yichang became famous by the building of the world’s largest dam. Some people call this a “project of megalomania”.

Of course, the group from Marbach visited the world’s largest working site. 15 000 workers are working here in three shifts 24 hours a day.

After completion in the year 2008, the Yangtze River will be dammed up by a wall which is 1,8 km long and 185 metres high. 1,3 million people have to move, 2000 square kilometres of arable land will be destroyed, 13 cities, 140 villages and historic sites will be drowning in the floods. And the reason for this all is to gain the capacity of producing electricity for an area of the size of Germany.

Deeply impressed by this enormous building, we left Yichang by bus, destination Wuhan.

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Wuhan, one of the so-called oven-cities, with very high and wet temperatures, is a town with more than one million inhabitants, too. Wuhan is representing the most important economic centre in central China. There, we visited the Tower of the Yellow Crane (Huanghe Lou), where we had a wonderful panorama over the flourishing city, and its impressing dimensions.

Then, the trip went on, passing nearly forgotten villages, fertile rice fields and beautiful countryside towards the city of Tongling, Anhui province, situated beside the mighty Yangtze. Tongling is very friendly related to the city of Marbach upon Neckar since 1990.

We arrived in Tongling with a 2-hour delay, caused by two breakdowns of our busses.

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wir werden anfangs noch von der Bevölkerung bestaunt
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bei eine Schluck chinesischen Weines war alles kein Problem mehr
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Rielingshäuser und eine neugierige chinesische Schülerin kommen sich näher

The first breakdown gave us the opportunity, to discover a village, completely unspoiled by tourism. Very friendly people took their own furniture and chairs from their living rooms, to offer a seat to the strange ‘long nosed’-people from the far western Europe. Shopping in the one and only village store was a special experience.

A new bus, quickly organized by our special guide from Tongling, took us back on the road. But not very long- only about 20 kilometres away, this bus broke down, too. Now it was the turn of our expert Udo Zabukossek. A quick analysis of the problem and exact instructions to the working drivers, and we could go ahead only half an hour later straight towards Tongling City.

The Tongling officials felt very embarrassed about the breakdowns, but we arrived there, save and secure. The new lord mayor of the city, Mr. Liu was already waiting for us.

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Gruppenbild mit Bürgermeister

Not very much time was left for the visitors from Marbach, only 30 minutes later, the big banquet was began.Every official and prominent figure of Tongling took part, including two local TV-stations. The good reputation of the Frauenclub and the importance of the relations to the city of Marbach were not only shown on this evening.

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Brigitte Wolf im Gespräch mit Bürgermeister Liu

Mrs Wolf handed over a present and a letter from mayor Poetzsch to the lord mayor Mr. Liu. He was very pleased and told us his pride and happiness about this visit of the delegation from Marbach. 

The next day started with the visit of a local kindergarten. Of course, everyone was prepared for the guests. The Children were wearing their best clothes and with great pride, they were presenting us the Chinese pre-school education programmes. Computer lessons, foreign languages, physical education, music lessons are only some of the offered subjects. Even environmental and health education are very important.

After visiting the kindergarten, we were guests at the profession academy. This is a kind of vocational school with 3000 students, educating cooks, traders, businessmen, mechanicals etc. This school is searching for very close contacts to vocational schools especially in Germany.

Later, we had a look at Asia’s largest spinning mill. The two managers were guiding us through their fabrication area. Some ladies of our group were allowed to take a piece of their favourite fabric with them.

Connected to the spinning mill is an estate agency. So we had the opportunity, to visit a brand new district with extremely beautiful buildings, flats and parks. The Homes are going to be sold like here in Europe. The price is at about 3000 Yuan (450 US $ per square metre). There’s no doubt about the fact, that there is no difference between the Chinese and the European higher standard of living. The local news magazines were very interested in that fact, so that the chairwoman of the Frauenclub Mrs Wolf had to repeat this in front of the cameras.

Proudly, the new city districts were presented to us. The sports arenas, the kindergartens, the schools, the youth- and women estate, the not only large, the gigantic parks with artificial illumination, reminding us to the Christmas time in Germany. Another evening, the chairwoman of the local women association invited us for an opulent meal, which was a great pleasure for us.

Another interesting experience was the visit of the Tongling Hospital for Traditional Chinese Medecine. The Chinese way of healing is the very counterpart to the European. The pharmacy e.g. uses rather exotic substances for nearly every kind of illness

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The Women- and Youth-Centre gave us another pleasure with a presentation of some musical highlights of great Chinese masters and from the Beijing Opera. Unfortunately, this is a very unusual joy for European listeners. Of course, the members of the group made a spontaneously donation for a local children welfare programme. You can hardly believe, but poverty and neediness are still increasing.

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At the last evening, we were told to receive a special honour. The party leader of Tongling County gave a special reception for us. Mr Chen has already been visiting Marbach upon Neckar in 1999, as lord mayor of Tongling.

This reception gave us the opportunity in finding out more about the hierarchy of a city. Mr Chen gave his appreciation for the good co-operation and the friendship with the city of Marbach, and was sending his greetings to the mayor Mr Poetzsch. He also gave kindest regards from the former mayor of Tongling, Mr Wang Yang, who in the meantime became a secretary of foreign contacts and business relations at the central government in Beijing. With great interest, Mr Wang is still noticing the friendly relations between Marbach and Tongling. Mrs Brigitte Wolf failed not to send her compliments to secretary Mr Wang and the best wishes for the future. The question, if Mr Wang was part of the delegation signing the contract about the new German magnetic suspension railway in Shanghai, was proudly affirmed.

A final talk with Mr Zhang Shanglian from the Tongling foreign department showed us the new interests of the Tongling city council for future relations with the city of Marbach. Today, exchanges in the sports sector have first priority. Obviously as a part of the preparations for the 2008 Olympic Games in China. The officials suggested inviting Chinese sportsmen from Tongling for special events of the local German sports clubs. Of course, they will be invited to visit China, too. Proudly, they told us of an event in Tongling with sportsmen taking part from Great Britain, Portugal, Sweden, Chile and Australia. Slightly disappointed, it was reported from the last international soccer tournament in Tongling. The Chinese team couldn’t win a single match. The only possibility to cope with that was to fire the coach!
Mrs Wolf gave her promise, to tell the wish for sports exchanges to the officials in Germany.

In addition to that, there’s a great interest in students and teachers exchanges. Prerequisite is a good knowledge of the English language at both sides. These facts have been submitted to the schools in Marbach, too.

By train, the group left Tongling, and arrived in Shanghai after a 7-hour drive. With its 17 million inhabitants, its big harbour and the largest TV tower in Asia (465 m) Shanghai was the last stop of the trip. The world’s largest suspension bridge (8346 m long) connects the old city with the new Pudong district, a forest of skyscrapers. Here, the city is changing visible for everybody, day by day. Some Chinese say, Shanghai is going to overtake Hongkong one day.

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The rest of Shanghai has become pulled down, and no other Chinese city has changed its face that much, like Shanghai. Nobody knows if the demolition and the old-style-rebuilding around the Yu-Gardens is a curse or a blessing. We visited the Yu-Gardens with the legendary Tee house and the Jadebuddha Temple.

As a visitor, you cannot imagine where the money for these projects is taken from, but if you ask the people, they’ll tell you that most of the investors are foreign companies and banks.

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Flughafen von Shanghai

In the early morning of September 8th, we left Shanghai on our KLM-flight from the brand new Shanghai International Airport towards Amsterdam. After 10 ½ hours of flight, we arrived in Amsterdam. Here, a last surprise was waiting for us: Our flight back to Stuttgart was cancelled because of bad weather conditions. So we took our entire luggage and took a train back to Stuttgart.

With a 12-hour delay, but deeply impressed, we finally arrived at home.