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Changchun Jinan is the capital of Shandong Province and has been a major urban center for thousands of years. As early as the Tang Dynasty the city was already the social and cultural focal point of Shandong and this has continued up to the present day. Today the city is a modern metropolis and one of the most intriguing cities of Eastern China due to its size and relative lack of Western influence.

The city sits at the base of the Tai Shan Mountains over one of the most concentrated natural spring areas of Asia. The Yellow River passes just to the north of the city. The surrounding region is one of the oldest settled and most traditional areas in the whole of China. Fertile farmlands of the Yellow River delta and the river and spring systems generated in the nearby mountains allowed for settled agriculture, and then advanced civilization, to develop here at a very early date in human history. The region has been a main center of Chinese civilization for more than three thousand years.

Today Jinan is a massive urban monster complete with frenzied markets, congested streets, vibrant atmosphere, and pollution. The pace of life on the streets of Jinan can at times seem utterly incomprehensible as masses of people surge through traffic, bicycles, and the occasional farm animal. This kind of madness can be bewildering to those who first arrive and it tends to leave a lasting impression.

The travel literature you read on Jinan does it no justice. At first glance, or if you are merely passing through en route to tourist sites, the city may seem too frantic and complex for comfort. It is after you spend some time here, to get to know the people and figure out the logic behind it all, that appreciation of the city and its inhabitants really begins to blossom. Behind the surface can be discovered hidden hutong neighborhoods, quiet traditional alleyways, entire markets devoted to tea culture and exotic medicine, and some of the best hole-in-the-wall restaurants in the country. The people of Shandong are known throughout China as being a particularly friendly bunch and the life they bring to their city is what makes being here so special.

The climate of Jinan is a contentinal monsoon system with four distinct seasons. Winters are cold but see little snow. Summer is hot and humid with powerful thunderstorms coming through in the afternoons. Spring and autumn tend to be rather short and the transition of seasons can feel rather abrupt. Generally this is a dry region and most precipitation falls in the summer monsoon.

Jinan is the transportation hub of Shandong Province and has convenient links to the rest of Eastern China. Beijing is 4 1/2 hours to the north and the beaches of Qingdao are about 3 1/2 hours away. The UNESCO recognized Tai Shan and Confucius’ hometown of Qufu are each about an hour south. Very convenient and comfortable overnight trains will have you at destinations as diverse as Shanghai, Shenyang, Wuhan, Hohot, Changsha, Hangzhou, and Zhengzhou in the morning. There is also a brand new airport with scheduled destinations throughout the country.



 
 
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