Welcome to China Icons’ first ever 4K video, and what a subject to start on!
The UK is the latest country to ‘get connected’ to China’s latest global innovation, the One Belt One Road Initiative. It’s a rejuvenation of the ancient, 2,000 year-old Silk Road, arguably made famous by the traveller and explorer Marco Polo. China and the UK are now connected via one of the most innovative rail links in the world.
Join us as we travel 12,000 km to the other side of the globe from London in the UK to Yiwu on the eastern edge of China.
From electronic equipment to toys and games, the train will be transporting almost anything you could possibly think of.
Find out what it takes to launch one of the most ambitious projects the world has ever seen and re-live the celebrations in London as the train departs to Yiwu.
Don’t forget to check out our other blog on some of the highlights along the 12,000 km route, from the Russian wilderness to the mild climate of China’s eastern coast. This isn’t the only celebration of China’s ‘New Silk Road’, horticultural designers have created a Silk Road garden at the world famous RHS Chelsea Flower Show. Check out their incredible efforts here.
The RHS Chelsea Flower Show has returned to the UK this week, a show famous for outrageous landscapes and gardens constructed from scratch in a matter of days (not to mention the appearance of every celebrity you can think of).
This year, China are making a special appearance in the form of a beautiful Silk Road garden showcasing Chengdu’s legendary history.
The RHS Chelsea Flower Show is one of the most famous and most prestigious landscape garden and flower shows in the UK. Since 1912, the competition has showcased gardens from some of the biggest designers, architects and horticulturists around the world. How famous I hear you ask? Well, enough to bring the British Royals back year after year…
This year, architects Laurie Chetwood and Patrick Collins have created a garden to end all gardens. It celebrates the ancient and ongoing links between east and west, featuring landscapes and flowers from both the east and west with a ‘Silk Road’ bridge to link the various elements. This is also one of the only gardens at the Show which can be viewed from all angles – nowhere to hide any of those pesky dead plants then…
All of the plants throughout the garden come from Sichuan Province in central China, an area famous for its rich and fertile environment. Many of the plants in the show garden actually first arrived in the UK hundreds of years ago via the ancient Silk Road, which is no surprise considering 20% of the world’s plants originate in China.
At the centre of this stunning miniature landscape is the symbol of the Sun and Immortal Bird Legend of Chengdu and the rising red platforms throughout the garden symbolise the mountainous paths in China and along the Silk Road. Both designers admitted that the road leading to the Show was a bumpy one and that many late nights were endured – They were even forced to line up cars with their headlights glaring on to the garden as the nights crept in!
The medals have already been awarded with the Silk Road garden achieving an impressive Silver Gilt (only one short of the tantalising gold). Nevertheless, Collins admitted he was slightly disappointed with the award which is understandable, I mean, the garden is huge!
You can take a look at some of the other highlights from this year’s Show below.
What’s your favourite element of the garden? If you have visited Sichuan Province before, does this garden take you there? Let us know in the comments below!
Today marks the end of a historic 7,500 mile freight train journey from London, UK, to Yiwu, China. Carrying everything from pharmaceuticals to milk powder and soft drinks, it’s the first ever journey on this route and marks a significant moment for trading relations between the UK, Europe and China. But its not been without difficulty – the train has ventured through 9 countries, from freezing Russian wilderness to the mild climate of China’s eastern coast. This blog visits some of the highlights along its route and looks at why this train journey is so important.
This is the first ever direct cargo train carrying British goods from the UK to China. This may seem like a modern innovation, but the train is actually reviving the 2,000 year-old Silk Road, an ancient link between the east and west. As well as contributing to the recent Chinese initiative of the New Silk Road, transporting goods to China from the UK via freight train is twice as fast as transporting them by sea and the costs are tiny compared to transporting by air. This is a time and cost effective solution, not to mention it passes through 7,500 miles of glorious scenery.
After leaving London Gateway, the train passes through the bright lights of Western Europe, from Paris and Brussels to Duisberg and Warsaw. This sounds like a great opportunity for a whirlwind tour of Europe, aboard one of the most important freight trains in the world today.
The Freezing Russian Winter
Just as you’ve got used to the mild climate of western Europe, the train was fully immersed in the gloriously tropical -40°C winters of the Russian wilderness. Beautiful it may be, there’s no doubt the train driver need their winter woolies.
After 7,500 miles, the train has travelled through virtually every landscape and climate imaginable, and has finally arrived in Yiwu, one of China’s manufacturing and international trading centres. We can expect the train to make many more trips over the next few years, with other Silk Road trains making the trip up to 500 times each year! Judging from the photos of highlights along the route, one thing is for certain: whoever gets the job of driving the train halfway across the world is the luckiest person in the world.
The Grand Canal is quite possibly one of the most impressive man-made constructions on earth. It’s 1,400 years old and throughout that time, not only has it been one of China’s most popular tourist attractions, but it continues to be the lifeblood for many of the people transporting precious goods from north to south.
As a workplace
The ‘Canal People‘, also known as the ‘Chuanmin’ call the canal their home, staying on their barge for as many as 350 days of the year. One lady is reported to have given birth to two twins on her barge – understandable given she only has 15 days on dry land! For her, the job is more about making memories than money from working on the canal.
If farmers rely on the weather for a good harvest, then the canal people rely on economics. Although the chuanmin rarely have to worry about a lack of rainfall, they often have to keep track of the price of their goods. They transport anything from oil and coal to rice and other foods.
It’s a challenging and unpredictable way of life, but one that the chuanmin of the Grand Canal seem to cherish and thrive on.
As a tourist attraction
Do you see yourself as something of an athlete or sportsperson? If so, cycling along the Grand Canal might just be for you. Although the journey will most likely take a hefty 20-25 days, some of the sites you will encounter along the way will be second to none. It’s described as one of the best cycle routes in China, and the 1,700km journey should definitely be on your cycling bucket list (if you have one!)
Since 2014, the Grand Canal has been recognised by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. Many canal people including Zhu Bingren, a co-writer of the proposal to UNESCO, wanted to determine the Canal’s place in history and to ensure future generations understood and looked after what has been one of China’s most important waterways. Today, the Grand Canal continues to be vital to the Chinese economy.
Join us at China Icons as we explore China’s waterways, including China’s Grand Canal, from a very special perspective. Our unique drone footage allows you to soar over some of the most impressive natural and man-made features in China. Experience the mighty roar of the Yangtze and the pure tranquillity of the Xun River at the Longsheng Rice Terraces.
Have you visited any of the other World Heritage Sites in China? Or do you plan on visiting the Grand Canal anytime soon? Let us know in the comments below!
Join us next week for celebrations as the first ever London-Yiwu train arrives at its destination after 18 day, 7,500 mile journey.
The Great Wallis one of the most hyped films of the year, drawing a stellar international cast and will be released in the US and UK on Friday 17th February. It’s sure to pull in the audiences far and wide, but is it on your must-see-films list for 2017?
The Great Wall, starring Matt Damon (Bourne, The Martian), Pedro Pascal (Narcos, Game of Thrones), Jing Tian (Pacific Rim, Kong: Skull Island) and Andy Lau (As Tears Go By, A Moment of Romance), is China’s biggest Hollywood export to date. It’s already been released in China and will hit the big screens in the US & UK on the 17th of February. The film tells the story of mercenaries William Garin (Matt Damon) and Pero Tovar (Pedro Pascal) after they are captured by an elite army guarding the Great Wall, known as the Nameless Order. Garin and Tovar become entangled in the Order’s task of defeating the Taotie, beasts that rise from the Jade Mountain every 60 years to destroy humanity.
The film plays with the myth that The Great Wall was not intended for keeping out the Mongol invaders from the north, but was in fact needed to protect China from supernatural forces, in this case from the ravenous Taotie. In reality, the Wall did successfully repel invaders of all kinds for hundreds of years. But there are many legends surrounding the Great Wall, so who knows? Maybe that’s what we’re meant to think and the Taotie continue to attempt to destroy humanity every 60 years. I think I prefer the Mongols…
The Great Wall is one of the most eagerly anticipated films of the year and, predictably, was a massive hit at the Chinese box office. The film took $66 million in its opening weekend in December, making it 2016’s 4th biggest opening weekend in China. Only Warcraft, Captain America: Civil War, and Stephen Chow’s phenomenally successful The Mermaid. It’s also the first Hollywood blockbuster to be set entirely in China. China’s recent increase in box office takings comes against the backdrop of Jackie Chan receiving an Honorary Award at the Oscars. The future certainly looks bright for the film industry in China.
The Great Wall might have been the first Hollywood film to be completely set in China, but can you recognise any of the locations below from other international blockbusters?
We all know that Tom Cruise is famous for outlandish and dangerous stunts, climbing the Burj Khalifa in Dubai during Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol, but did you know Shanghai was also a location for one of these outrageous stunts? The Bank of China tower in Shanghai is now famous for the jaw-dropping role it played in Mission: Impossible III, when Tom Cruise used the building for a bungee jump!
Although not a Hollywood film, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon was a huge hit in Western cinemas, taking $85 million in foreign box offices and was nominated for 10 oscars, winning 4. One of the most famous scenes in the film is set in Shunan’s Bamboo Forest, one of the largest bamboo forests in China, covering 120sq km.
Finally, Transformers: Age of Extinction was riddled with stunning Chinese scenery, including breath-taking aerials of Beijing where you can catch a glimpse of the Bird’s Nest Stadium and of course, the Great Wall. We also witness some of China’s more scenic wonders including the Natural Three Bridges, one of the most spectacular geological sites at Wulong Karst, before heading to Hong Kong for one of the final epic battle scenes.
Are you looking forward to seeing The Great Wall or do you have any other must-see up and coming movies from China that we should talk about? Do you have any favourites set in China that we haven’t talked about in this blog? Let us know in the comments!
The world famous Harbin Ice Festival is well underway in China’s northernmost province, Heilongjiang. We have been treated to some spectacular sights in the past and this year is no exception. Check out some of the stunning shots captured at this year’s festival so far.
This is the 33rd Harbin Ice Festival since its inception in 1963. At the start of every festival, an ice sculpture competition is held, showcasing some brilliant creations. Although the Harbin Ice Sculpture Competition is over for this year, the festival itself won’t finish until February 25th, so there’s still plenty of time to take in the sights across the 200 acre park.
Here are our favourite images so far of this year’s festival.
Swimming competitions take place in a pool cut out of the frozen Songhua River. Just looking at this makes me feel cold.
Next week, our very own Coco will be giving you some top tips on stocking up for your Chinese New Year celebrations as you get ready to welcome in the Year of the Rooster. We’ll also take a look at some of the myths and legends surrounding Chinese New Year, including what NOT to do if you’re given a red money envelope…
Time feels like it has flown by since my last news round up, and with good reason – it’s been a very busy month! From gold medals to grapes in space, there’s been a lot of big stories this September. Here’s my pick of the best stories to come out of China in the last month:
It was announced this month that Chinese acting legend Jackie Chan is getting an honorary Oscar for his extraordinary achievements in film.
I have decided to reconsider my career choices after hearing that Chinese Team ‘Wings Gaming’ won millions of dollars playing a game called DOTA 2 at an e-sports tournament. Who wants to join me for next year’s competition?
The G20 took place in Hangzhou. For everything you need to know about the city and the conference, have a look here!
How far will you go for the perfect glass of red? China has begun sending vines into space on a quest for perfect wine
China dominated the Paralympic Games winning a total of 107 Golds and a staggering total of 783 medals!
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – SEPTEMBER 13: Gold medalist Wenpan Huang of China celebrates on the podium at the medal ceremony for the Mens 50m Freestyle S3 Final during day 6 of the Rio 2016 Paralympic Games at the Olympic Stadium on September 13, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)
Curious to try first-class food in an airplane, without leaving the ground? You’ve got to visit Wuhan’s brand new airplane restaurant.
Yao Ming was inducted into the NBA Hall Of Fame with a little help from the only man tall enough, Shaq
In perhaps my favourite bit of news so far this year, it was announced this month that Pandas are no longer endangered in China. I love Pandas, as you can probably tell from my previous posts, and fingers crossed they’ll be more furry friends for me to ‘aww’ at on the China Icons YouTube channel soon!
This concludes another round up of in the news this month. Did you spot a great story I missed? Is there something you can’t wait for coming up in China in October? Let me know in the comments below!
China’s e-sports team Wings Gaming have been crowned the new Dota 2 world champions at The International 2016, beating Digital Chaos in the grand final to claim the prestige, the glory and an enormous prize of $9.1 million
World’s oldest woman Fu Suqing from Chengdu celebrated her 119th birthday on 22nd August🎂
The world’s longest and highest glass-bottomed bridge has opened in Zhangjiajie, Hunan Province . Don’t look down.
Ghost Festival, or Hungry Ghost Festival, has been taking place across China and celebrating through the burning of paper money and other offerings. Want to find out how to survive it? Don’t say we didn’t warn you 👻Have we missed out your favourite story? Let us know in the comments below!
See you next month for another roundup of China Icons news.
Every month, China Icons collates the most exciting and surprising news stories from China. So, what’s been happening in July?
‘Tap and Ride’ app Uber has unveiled plans to roll out hot air balloon and boat travel in China. These new services are part of ‘Uber+Travel’ and are released at a time of fierce competition with rival company Didi.
China surpassed the US to become the world leader in the mobile gaming market. Market research company App Annie suggest this is likely a result of a growth of multiplayer collaborative games.
Drivers raced from approximately 6000km from Moscow to Bejing for the Silk Way Rally , where Cyril Despres and David Castera (Peugeot DKR 2008) were crowed champions.
Loretta Yang , a Chinese Film star, left acting to pursue ancient art of liu li, also known as Chinese glassmaking
A Giant Statue of Guan Yu, the ancient Chinese ‘God of War’, has been completed in Hubei. The structure towers at 90ft tall and weighs over 1,320 tonnes.
China is heading to Mars for 2020. Or, at least, that’s the plan – to orbit Mars, land and deploy a rover – all in one mission.
The world’s first smart car has arrived from Alibaba in China! It will be available from August, and allows the driver to automatically pay for fuel, parking, and tolls, and recommend vehicle settings and destinations for each individual occupant.
More football stars have joined the Chinese Super-league, including former Southampton player Pelle and Brazilian forward Hulk.
Mr Suo from Chengdu won a chilli eating competition in Lijiang, Yunnan province, by eating 47 chilli peppers in 2 minutes. Why anyone chose to enter, we can only guess.
Over 9 million students across China took on the infamous Gaokao exam this month. The two day exam is the ONLY way for students to gain access to Universities across China.Want to see if you’d pass? Have a go here http://ow.ly/iFqI300Y3Uk
The Dragon Boat Festival fell in June this year. The festival celebrates the life and death of Poet Qu Yuan. Locals paddled in boats to him after he committed suicide,inspiring the Dragon Boat Racing we know and love today.
Theme parks have made big news this month, with Disneyland Shanghai and Wanda Cultural Tourism City in Nanchang going head to head. Disneyland Shanghai promises to be different to existing Magic Kingdoms, and news has spread of some of the incredible technology on display at the park.
Great news for Panda lovers, the world’s first Giant Panda Twin Sisters have been born in Chengdu Congrats to Mum, Yali!
In the world of film, huge box office success in China has helped make ‘Warcraft’ the highest grossest video game movie of all time (over $378million taken so far)
It’s been a busy month in the world of science, too. Chinese Scientists are turning plastic pollution into fuel! http://ow.ly/fSdt301tSUp.
Science and Buddhism unite with Xian’er, the robot who chants mantras and answers your questions http://ow.ly/En91300KWS8
Natural wonders, jaw-dropping engineering, delicious food, bustling cities, ancient temples, glamorous fashionistas, visionary thinkers. This is the site to meet China's icons – past, present and still to come