China was unbelievable! My head is still spinning from everything I saw and did. I can hardly wait to show you all my photos!

Beijing was surprisingly beautiful. Everything is mega-sized, from the Forbidden City, to the Great Wall, to the Summer Palace. However, I liked my pedicab ride through the ancient, winding "hutongs" most of all. (You need to see them before they all disappear, my dear.) After my shopping spree at the Silk Market I needed an extra bag to take all of my treasure home.  On my last night there I met and fell in love with the dumplings of my dreams--big platters of succulent, steaming little bundles of pleasure  washed down with icy beer. I will be dreaming of them again tonight.

Shanghai is different in almost every way. The Bund, the charming colonial-era part of the city, was a fascinating place to explore on foot. However, new parts of the city exploding in every direction make Shanghai so exciting. There are space-age towers of gleaming glass and steel as far as you can see, and fashionable walking streets lined with fabulous designer-label shops.

For me the best part of my visit to Shanghai was a full-day trip to the ancient town of Zhouzhuang.  "Old" China has been lovingly preserved, complete with jade-green canals and ancient homes, temples and shops. You will love the tea I bought for you there.

On the last night my guide took me to several fashionable night spots.  People are friendly and surprisingly hip. Of course I fell in love at least ten times during the evening. Everyone seems so young, optimistic and full of energy.

I am already planning my next Purple Dragon China adventure... Hong Kong, Xian and maybe a Yangtze River cruise. I really hope you will turn off the TV and join me.

photographs courtesy of our guest Steve Oppenheim