• EXPLORE eNewsletter from Travel Guard | July 2012

    For many people, a visit to China is the stuff dreams are made of. This beautiful country is rich in culture and ancient lore. With over 5,000 years of history and diverse landscapes, China is sure to pique the interest of almost any traveler. Some of the most popular sites include the Great Wall of China, the Terracotta Warriors, Yangtze River and the Forbidden City, to name just a few.

    The Great Wall of China 

    If walls could talk, imagine the stories they could tell - especially if that wall was the Great Wall of China and the stories were about the rise and fall of empires. Built over centuries from 476 BC to 1644, the Great Wall of China rises up and down mountains, desserts and grasslands in true dragon form. This ancient wonder of the world spans 5,500 miles from east to west China, and boasts a history of more than 2,000 years.

    One visit and you can learn about its inception in the Warring States Period where it was first built as a defensive fortification and how it later went through an extension in the Qin Dynasty when Emperor Qin Shihuang sought to secure his nation from the Huns who were invading from the north. Fast forward to modern times, and visitors can still enjoy walks across parts of the wall but other parts are best enjoyed from a "view only" standpoint as these portions have been reduced to ruins.

    Terracotta Warriors 

    Perhaps one of the most magnificent findings in all of China is that of the Terracotta Warriors. The Terracotta Warriors are a collection of more than 8,000 stone soldiers, chariots and horses that make up part of the mausoleum of Emperor Qin Shihuang - the first emperor of the Qin Dynasty. They date from the 3rd century BC but were only discovered in 1974 by area farmers who were digging a well. What makes the stone army unique is the sheer number of statues, and how each is remarkably lifelike. From their clothing, you can even identify each person's rank and stature in the Chinese army. The statues were placed there by Emperor Quinshihuang whose thoughts of grandeur specified an imperial army be created to accompany and defend him in the afterlife.

    Yangtze River 

    It stretches like a snake through China and its nearly 4,000 miles rival only that of the Amazon and Nile Rivers. The Yangtze River is the world's third largest river. The rumbling water of this behemoth rushes by many major cities in provinces of Qinghai, Tibet, Sichuan, Yunnan, Sichuan, Hubei, Hunan, Jiangxi, Anhui and Jiangsu as well as the city of Shanghai, and has served as a major transportation route for thousands of years. Interestingly, local Chinese may not understand what you mean if you ask for directions to the "Yangtze River" as this was a name given to the river by Western missionaries and traders. The proper Mandarin title for the flowage is "Chang Jiang".

    Great ways to experience the Yangtze include a 4-5 day river cruise. While cruising, be sure to check out the most impressive sections of the river - the Qutang Gorge, Wuxia Gorge and Xiling Gorge.1 Unique sights along the some of the gorges include many ancient archeological sites including the Huangling Temple and the Three Visitors Cave.

    Forbidden City 

    What do you call a fortified city where not a single inhabitant was allowed to leave without the emperor's permission? The Forbidden City- and true to its name, the city was off limits to "common folk" during a 500 year period where mighty emperors ruled from 1368–1911. Situated in the heart of Beijing, this opulent city housed 24 emperors over the years, along with their wives, concubines and entourages of tens of thousands of eunuchs and civil servants, plus government officials, during the Ming (1368–1644) and Qing (1644–1911) Dynasties. The structure was built with the thought that Chinese emperors were considered one step away from a god; therefore gardens and multiple structures with the finest architecture still stand for visitors to view today. Many pieces of jewelry, furniture and other artifacts of bygone rulers can be found on display in the Forbidden City which is now part museum.


    Are you thinking about a trip to China? You can learn about the top ten things to see in China, or the best time of the year to travel there.

    Sources:
    http://www.chinaculture.org/gb/en_travel/2003-09/24/content_34069.htm
    http://www.chinahighlights.com/beijing/forbidden-city/
    http://www.chinahighlights.com/xian/terracotta-army/ 



    What's in a name?

    Well, that depends whom you are asking. If you are asking the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), a name can have a more than menacing meaning if it's associated with a hurricane. Luckily, even though hurricane season is upon us there is good news. According to the NOAA, the number of hurricanes forecast for this year is projected to be lower than last – but that doesn't mean a potentially deadly storm won't occur. To help prepare yourself during storm season (hurricane, tornado, severe thunderstorms), what precautions should you take when planning your summer trip?

    • Review your resort/hotel/vacation home's evacuation procedure and know where you need to go and how to get there in the event of a tropical storm, severe weather or tornado.
    • Pay attention to the daily weather forecast. Is there a tropical storm or severe weather brewing? If the words "evacuation" or "take cover" are mentioned, take it seriously and get yourself to a shelter. If you have time before a forecasted storm hits or need to get out as soon as possible in the aftermath of the storm, call your travel insurance provider for assistance in getting you safely home.
    • After you have reached a shelter, contact family or friends at home to let them know your status/location and what's going on. Chances are your loved ones may have heard about the inclement weather and are wondering if you are ok. Learn how to send a text message if you don't yet know how. A text message is a small burst of information that may get through if a cellular network is overloaded and you're having trouble making a call.
    • Consider bringing a small radio or Smartphone with you to the shelter or basement to listen for weather updates or when the "all clear" is given. You may want to purchase a battery-operated charger so you can keep your phone charged even if the power goes out. These potentially life-saving travel apps might be worth your while to download before you go, too.
    • Remember to pack a travel insurance plan for 24/7 travel assistance in re-booking your flight out of the area or for other types of emergency travel assistance. Travel insurance plans can also provide coverage for medical expenses and evacuation and reimbursement for your pre-paid, non-refundable trip costs in the event that inclement weather causes the cancellation or interruption of your travel.

    To check for inclement weather before you head out, visit the National Weather Service's active travel alerts map.



    Where in the World?

    Where is this massive, gothic-looking cathedral located and what is it called?

    Answer:
    This is the Sagrada Familia in Barcelona, Spain. 






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