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Please log in to access this feature, if you’re a Free member then you may have to upgrade to a Full member to be able to access this. Before leaving Beijing, a British Saudi mom opened a window for people around the world to see China's capital through the innocent eyes of her little girl. Lana Sultan, a 37-year-old author, translated her daughter's adventures of discovering the city, as well as her feelings and inspirations, into a bilingual book, What a Place! Maria Trabulsi moved to Beijing with her parents when she was 7 months old, and has lived here ever since. Friendly, cheerful, precious, blissful, delightful, fun, festive, charming, legendary, lovely - in these words Sultan and Trabulsi describe the city in the book, which describes 10 different typical scenes in this city throughout a year with only 165 English words. The scene that Sultan and Trabulsi like best is the park in autumn: a group of old ladies dance, a band of the elderly play instruments and sing, young men play table tennis and fly a kite, girls kick shuttlecocks and play Chinese yo-yo, an old man writes brush calligraphy on the ground and walks around with a bird cage. Sultan writes in a way that a lot of people can relate to: Expats can connect it to their experience, Beijingers can enjoy that someone else appreciates their city and culture, other Chinese people who don't know Beijing can learn about the city, and so can people who don't know China at all. Readers, especially Chinese readers, might find little surprises in the book while reading, as there are so many Chinese elements that Chinese people are too familiar with to actually notice. In an illustration page about Chinese New Year, you can see a temple fair that is full of people and the color of dangling red lanterns, while people enjoy the festive foods, kids buy little gifts with their hongbao (red pocket with New Year gift money), and others marvel at a traditional lion dance as drummers march along. The illustrator of the book, Xu Wendi, is a young woman in her 20s who has been living in Beijing for more than 10 years.
Xu says that she got to observe Beijing more carefully while she was doing the illustration, for example, paying detailed attention to the shape of tiles on the roofs, the meaning of animal sculptures on different buildings, and even what breeds of birds are in the trees. The panda clasped in Trabulsi's hands, which appears on the book's cover, is one of her favorite stuffed dolls.
At the end of May, Sultan and Trabulsi took a day to travel around Beijing, which they had never done so deliberately, taking pictures at the places they love so that they can take the memories back to Saudi Arabia. However, she didn't give up, calling all the publishing houses she could reach out to, and she finally found someone who appreciated her efforts.
Li Xiangang, an editor with the Daylight Publishing House, was touched by the feelings Sultan's family has for China, and of course more importantly, the content of the book. Li says that the publishing industry in China has been faced with challenges from electronic reading devices and the changes of people's reading habits in recent years. At the end of May, the mother and daughter took a day to travel around Beijing, taking pictures at the places they love so that they can take the memories back to Saudi Arabia.
A time-honored ointment produced in China that relieves an embarrassing condition is gaining popularity in the United States.
Such success is overshadowing chili sauce Lao Gan Ma, which has been in favor in the US and many other countries for at least a decade.
Over the past decades, Chinese products, from food to daily commodities, have been bought overseas through either well-planned promotions or gradually by the growing number of Chinese people going abroad. Some of the US customers, who had suffered from hemorrhoids for as long as seven years and could only resort to surgery, according to doctors, felt much better after using the product for only a couple of hours. Mayinglong Pharmaceutical Group, based in Wuhan, Hubei province, declined to take media interviews about the sudden fame. Natalie Simon recently became a firm fan of Xiaomi, a Chinese technology pioneer, buying a Xiaomi smartphone four months ago and later a fitness-tracking wristband.
In Australia, where there are abundant local options for health products and medicines, and people generally have strong trust for local brands, Kate Brooks said she recently tried a Chinese ointment to relieve burns and found it very effective. Unlike these newcomers, Dragon and Tiger brand balm from China has been popular overseas for decades. Zhang Nan, who runs a small shop near Yu Garden, a must-see spot for first-time visitors to Shanghai, said the balm is popular among foreign tourists.
Information on the company website showed that the balm, also known as qingliangyou, has been exported to more than 80 countries.
Will Covey from North Carolina had never thought someone could be addicted to a sauce until he met his Chinese wife from Shanghai.
Covey often saw her put spoonfuls of red spice from a jar with an old lady on it into everything - stir fry, rice and even pasta - when they met five years ago. Now, he eats it almost every day - on top of eggs for breakfast, mixes it with garlic and eats it with dumplings, and sometimes just puts a spoonful of the sauce directly into his mouth. More than 1,100 people from all over the world established a Lao Gan Ma Appreciation Society on Facebook. Shi Hao, who was born and raised in Shanghai and has lived in Sydney for nearly two decades, said that until around five years ago, the chili sauce was only found in Chinatown, but now it's everywhere. Another thing that inevitable gets mentioned when talking about popular Chinese items in Sydney is Din Tai Fung, a chain restaurant selling xiaolongbao (steamed pork dumplings), a favorite Shanghai treat that has become popular in many parts across China.
Qian Ying, a Shanghai native who moved to Seattle five years ago, also reported people's affection for the chain restaurants selling the little dumplings known for thin skin and meat filling with juice inside.
She said long lines are unavoidable for lunch and supper, even on workdays, and suggested people arrive before 4 pm for supper unless they want to stay in line for an hour. British and German business people first started to manufacture the clear and icy beer in Qingdao, Shandong province, in 1903, with quality raw materials and Laoshan mineral water. First manufactured in 1943, the milk candy soon became so famous that it was used as a gift item during the 10th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China. The 89-year-old Shanghai shoe brand Warrior, also known as Huili in Chinese, became fashionable in Europe after Hollywood star Orlando Bloom wore a pair of sneakers on the set of a movie that looked exactly like the classic style of Warrior, the canvas shoes with rubber soles and toecaps that Chinese born from the 1960s to the 1980s were proud to own a pair of in their childhoods. The pure black vinegar produced by Jiangsu Hengshun Group is popular among US residents as well as many in Europe as a perfect dipping sauce for jiaozi and xiaolongbao. Xiaolongbao(steamed pork dumplings), a favorite Shanghai treat that has become popular at home and abroad, is a signature dish served in Din Tai Fung, a chain Chinese restaurant. So when 28-year-old Liu Xiaoxi left her embassy post as an attache late last year to start a career in photography, she quickly became a popular topic among the Chinese online community. Liu, from Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan province, studied Spanish at Beijing International Studies University and was recruited by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in 2010. The seeds for Liu's photographic passion were implanted in her mind much earlier - when she was an exchange student in Cuba during her senior year at college.
She was deeply impressed by Cuba and the Caribbean island nation's cheerful people, which motivated her to photograph them. When Liu went to work for the ministry, she had the opportunity to visit different countries, including Spain, Italy, France, Turkey and Greece. She added that working at the embassy called for precision, and she could not afford to make mistakes. After leaving her job, Liu used her savings to open her own photographic studio in Beijing.
The grandness of the Moreno Glacier is captured by photographer Liu Xiaoxi during her trip to Argentina last year.
Dragon boat racing, an important folk culture activity especially during Duanwu Jie - the traditional Chinese Dragon Boat Festival - is becoming increasingly popular among non-Chinese people because of the way it inspires teamwork and the profound history and culture behind the activity. David Butler, a British businessman based in Guangzhou in Guangdong province joined an international dragon boat team in the city in 2009 after considering it to be a "good window into South Chinese culture". He says there were few foreign paddlers in the club when he joined the Guangzhou International Dragon Boat Team, which was founded in 1999. In addition to competitions in China, the team has raced in Malaysia, Thailand, the Philippines and Australia. Ouyang Hui, the team's manager, joined in 2003 and has witnessed the way in which dragon boat racing has become popular around the world during the past 10 years. She and her husband helped with training at dragon boat clubs in Hamburg in Germany and Amsterdam in the Netherlands when they toured Europe in 2013.
A friend of hers in New York has also sent her photos of dragon boat races on the Hudson River. Jon Hanlon, an American-Australian paddler with the international dragon boat team in Guangzhou, went to Adelaide in Australia for a race in April along with two of his teammates. He said it was interesting to see the many non-Chinese people walking through the streets of Adelaide with dragon boat paddles on their backs.
Hanlon joined the Guangzhou dragon boat team in April 2015 after a friend urged him to get involved.
For Hanlon, dragon boat racing is "unique" because it involves such large teams paddling together.
He said the drumming is also a special feature that adds a feeling of theatre to the sport, and the boat itself looks quite special with the shape of the dragon's head and tail at the front and back.
Main Haddad, an industrial engineer working in Guangzhou, joined the international dragon boat team in April 2015, also after being invited to join by a friend. Having been in China for 14 years, he had heard about Duanwu Jie and had watched dragon boat races often, but had never taken part. Huang Youbin, the Chinese coach of the international dragon boat team in Guangzhou, said he is not surprised about the popularity of dragon boat racing among foreigners. Huang's birthplace is in the Gaoyao district of Zhaoqing city in Guangdong province, which is at the heart of the dragon boat racing culture. Traditional dragon boat racing uses wooden boats and engages 50 paddlers, but in most races held nowadays, boats are made of fiberglass and take around 20 paddlers. And traditional dragon boat racing involves many rituals, which few young Chinese people are familiar with, let alone the foreigners who take part, said Huang. To help non-Chinese team members learn more about these traditional customs, Huang has been sharing his insights with teammates, such as telling them about some of the rituals, including the eye-dotting ceremony they held when the club bought its new boat in March.
Paddlers with the Guangzhou International Dragon Boat Team sweat in the scorching May sun during a weekly training session. After the work was finished, the completed traditional handmade wooden vessels were pushed onto the waterway to the sound of firecrackers that were lit for good luck.
Shangjiao village in the Panyu district of Guangzhou is one of the two major production bases for traditional dragon boats in South China's Guangdong province, the other being Zhongtang town in Dongguan. It is a village with a history of dragon boat production dating back 140 years and, alongside the boats from the Pearl River Delta area, its products sell in the provinces of Hunan and Zhejiang, the Hong Kong and Macao special administrative regions and throughout Southeast Asia.
The superb skills of the village's dragon boat masters were selected as the city's intangible cultural heritage last year and attract admirers from thousands of miles away.
One buyer drove all the way from Zhejiang province to invite Lu Haoying, one of the master craftsmen, to Wenzhou in Zhejiang to build a dragon boat there, which ended up being more than 10 seconds faster than boats made in Zhejiang's workshops. The most demanding part of making a dragon boat is cutting the wood for the keel and sides of the boat, Lu said.
It takes years for a boat-builder to grasp the secrets, but few young people today want to inherit the skills their fathers and grandfathers want to pass on. Men wearing shirts soaked in sweat or bare-chested who work in the village's shabby sawdust-covered workshops are all middle-aged. But there are fewer than 10 workshops left today, thanks to a fall in orders that boat builders attribute to the financial crisis and the limited space available for dragon boat racing because of the city's expansion into the rural areas. Water pollution has also played a part in the decline of the sport, according to Yi Wen, manager of the Chen Hanhui Dragon Boat Factory, which is the largest in Shangjiao village. The privately-owned factory used to produce between 30 and 50 boats a year but currently receives fewer than 20 orders during the same timeframe. Yi, 48, began work at a State-owned dragon boat factory when he was 13 in the hope of learning skills that would stand him in good stead for the rest of his life.
Chinese investors are making unprecedented inroads into professional football in the UK and elsewhere in Europe.
They are being spurred on by the twin goals of investing overseas and President Xi Jinping's stated aim of making China a football powerhouse. In the latest example, Reuters reported Chinese brokerage Everbright Securities and Beijing Baofeng Technology, an internet entertainment company, as saying they are behind a deal to buy a 65 percent stake in MP & Silva, a sports media rights firm. A Chinese group has also agreed to buy an initial 70 percent of Italian Serie A club AC Milan from former Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi, a person familiar with the negotiations told China Daily. Behind the sudden surge of interest is Xi's determination to create a sports economy worth nearly $850 billion by 2025, according to Simon Chadwick, professor of sports enterprise at Salford University.
He has seen a change of emphasis in Chinese investment since the start of this year, from the straightforward acquisition of clubs, or stakes in clubs, to investing in football service organizations such as sports agents.
A relatively unknown Chinese businessman, Xia Jiantong, paid a reported 70 million pounds ($102 million; 92 million euros) for English club Aston Villa, according to the club's website. The takeover must be approved by English football authorities, who will decide if he is "a fit and proper person" to exercise control over a club. The Villa case is significant in that it is the first time a club has been acquired virtually at the same time it has been relegated from the top tier of English football, and the first time a Chinese investor has acquired a 100 percent stake in a club.
Meanwhile, the AC Milan deal has a deadline of June 16, and the Chinese group is negotiating a price with Berlusconi's Fininvest Group. Italian media report the price is about 700 million euros ($778 million), but Berlusconi has told reporters he wants to stay on as club president for another three years and that was originally the main sticking point. He has owned the club for more than 30 years, but was forced into discussions to sell it by shareholders of Fininvest and family members, according to the Football Italia website. He later said he wanted to sell the club to Chinese investors, because he did not want to put more money into it.
The person familiar with the talks says both sides agreed that Berlusconi would remain as president for the next two or three years, until the Chinese investors acquire the remaining 30 percent. Fininvest has also requested a list from the Chinese side of the investors involved and the percentage each would take, the source says. Wang Jianlin's Dalian Wanda paid 45 million euros just over a year ago for a 20 percent stake in Spanish La Liga club Atletico Madrid, and Chinese Media Capital acquired a 13 percent stake in the company that controls English Premier League club Manchester City for 265 million pounds. Control of UK-based Stellar would give its owner serious influence in player transfers, according to analysts. Although no formal price has been announced, figures in the region of 900 million yuan ($137 million, 122.8 million euros) are being discussed, and Stellar founder Jonathan Barnett is planning to travel to China to meet potential buyers, Reuters reported.
Stella Group brokered the 86 million pound move by Welsh international Gareth Bale from English Premier League club Tottenham Hotspur to Real Madrid in 2013.
Last year, so-called super agent Jorge Mendes, whose clients include new Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho and Real Madrid star Cristiano Ronaldo, said his Gestifute management firm was forming an alliance with Fosun, the Chinese conglomerate part-owned by billionaire Guo Guangchang. Manchester United has an estimated 100 million-plus fans in the country, with vast marketing opportunities for replica shirt sales and other memorabilia.
Both Inter Milan and archrival AC Milan have said they were approached by Chinese groups either seeking a financial stake or offering strategic partnerships. Talks between Inter Milan's majority owner Erick Thohir and Suning were described as having been positive, according to Italian media reports.
Thohir, an Indonesian businessman, and his advisers - including Inter's CEO Michael Bolingbroke, Corporate Director Michael Williamson and Chief Football Administrator Giovanni Gardini - have been in China recently to try and close a deal to complete the sale of shares to Suning, according to the Italian reports.
A 12-member delegation from Suning, one of China's largest privately owned retailers, visited Inter Milan in April. Zhang was quoted as saying the company's interest in international football is the result of the sport's many fans in China who are potential retail consumers. Connections with European football clubs and celebrated football players will strengthen Suning's brand in European countries, Zhang says. Last year, Suning bought the Chinese Super League team Jiangsu from Sainty Corp for a reported 500 million yuan ($76 million; 68 million euros). AC Milan said it had received several expressions of interest in acquiring a stake, including some from Chinese groups. In response to reports that Fininvest, an investment group controlled by the family of former Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi, had reached an agreement for a period of exclusivity with a group of Chinese investors - including Evergrande Real Estate Group - over a stake in AC Milan, Evergrande said in a statement that the news was hype that was cooked up by Italian media to raise AC Milan's price, which has performed poorly in recent years.
Zhang Qing, founder of Key-Solution Sports Consulting, says it is good timing for Chinese investors to seek opportunities in the European sports industry, where their assets mostly have been undervalued because of the economic slowdown. Acquisitions in the sports industry provide better options for Chinese investors who have previously been interested more in natural resources overseas, Zhang says. China's ambitious investment in professional football overseas is likely to pay off at home with a boost in the domestic game, thanks to expertise gained from being close to the action in well-established foreign clubs, industry insiders say. They were responding to critics who say football-obsessed Chinese tycoons have been scrambling to buy stakes in European clubs. But James Johnson, head of FIFA's professional football department, says China will end up reaping the benefit of the overseas investments. He spoke in Beijing recently as part of a delegation from the game's world governing body attending the 2016 Professional Football Law and Governance Conference.
The event was hosted by Beijing-based Sodasoccer, a company providing data analysis for the professional football industry. Han Qingshan, Sodasoccer's CEO, says becoming a shareholder in European clubs offers direct access and the chance to learn from professionals at the highest level.
Despite assurances that such investments will end up benefiting the Chinese domestic game, some pundits are not convinced. Wang Jianlin (center), chairman of Dalian Wanda Group, with Atletico Madrid's President Enrique Cerezo (right) and Managing DirectorMiguel Angel Gil in Beijing in January 2015. When Zhou Fengying took the 320-kilometer train ride from Wuhan to Yichang about 35 years ago, her employer gave her a day off - to sleep off the rigors of what seemed like an impossibly long journey. Zhou was an employee of the urban construction administration of Yichang at the time and she frequently made such trips to the provincial capital of Hubei on local government business.
So in the 1990s when long-haul bus services began running, they were like a breath of fresh air, and Zhou seized the opportunity to use them.
Another couple of decades on, those buses, which had seemed so advanced, themselves took a back seat when Zhou decided to travel to Wuhan to see her son. In this 21st-century travel, too, noisy arguments over seats had given way to peace and civility, Zhou says. As the arteries of China's high-speed railway network have continued to grow over the past eight years, they have also delivered efficient and punctual service at highly affordable prices, and have greatly changed the way Chinese regard getting about the country. The first high-speed railway line, 120 km long, between Beijing and Tianjin, opened in 2008, and by the end of last year another 19,000 km of high-speed rail lines had been laid and put into service. Indeed, China now has the world's longest high-speed rail network, and it accounts for 60 percent of the world's total, Sheng Guangzu, general manager of China Railway Corp, said in January.
One change this sprawling network has wrought is people going on sightseeing trips far away from home over three-day holidays, or attending weddings far away over the weekend, which in the past would have been regarded as impractical.
Zhou's son, her only child, moved to Wuhan several years ago, and she says she had thought it would be difficult for her to see the family that often or for her to take care of her grandson. The fast rail transport network is also having a significant impact on the way the country does business. That all changed in 2009 when the Wuhan-Guangzhou high-speed railway opened, and suddenly Chenzhou found itself just 90 minutes away. Experts say there are many other small cities in China's western and central provinces and regions that can benefit from the sprawling high-speed railway network as Chenzhou has.
Liu Bin, a researcher at the comprehensive transport institute at the National Development and Research Commission, says the high-speed railways can help make inland areas more competitive in raw materials and manufacturing.
The Government Work Report that Premier Li Keqiang delivered in March said the high-speed railway network will be 30,000 km long by the end of 2020, linking 80 percent of major cities nationwide.
The country's first high-speed railway, between Beijing and Tianjin, starts operation on Aug 1.
Mid- and long-term railway planning is revised, changing the goal to building at least 16,000 km of high-speed railways by 2020.
The Beijing-Shanghai High-speed Railway - China's longest high-speed rail line stretching 1,318 km - opens to traffic on June 30.
The Harbin-Dalian High-speed Railway - the world's first high-speed railway in a frigid zone - starts operating on Dec 1.
And my recall can actually be pushed back to 1983 when I spent 18 hours overnight on a "direct-express" train to Beijing to start college and the train stopped at 22 cities along the way. Elbowing ahead among huge crowds in waiting rooms and dozing against the shoulder of classmates in the stuffy and jammed compartments were typical.
In 1990, when I landed my first and current job in this newspaper, I managed to use the "special-express" train to and from Nanjing, then a 2-hour bus ride from my hometown. Reporting China to the world has been our primary mission in the past 35 years; and the Chinese New Year rush has been a favorite staple of our coverage which is picked up around the world. Beyond the new year period, the railway industry itself was not a subject of frequent media coverage until 2008, when the first high-speed line, from Beijing to Tianjin, opened. I am a firm fan of Chinese high-speed trains, my first choice for a trip of less than 1,500 km.
It will not be surprising at all if you, in two or three years, read our story about a high-speed train opening along the west coast of the United States or from Kazan to Moscow.
When Zhejiang Geely Holding Group started making cars about 15 years ago, its head, Li Shufu, saw cars as little more than a couple of sofas with four wheels attached. Taking on board that reductionist view, what can we expect this mobile furniture to look like in, say, 15 years from now? In China that technological leap is all the more remarkable in that it will have come so soon after the motoring revolution of the past 35 years or so in which the number of private cars on the road has grown from just 20,000 to about 125 million now. Boston Consulting Group predicts that by 2025 vehicles with some autonomous features such as highway autopilot or autonomous valet parking will account for 12 to 13 percent of car sales globally, and by 2035 sales of fully autonomous vehicles will account for nearly 10 percent of the market. Just a few weeks ago an autonomous car owned by Changan Automobile of China completed a 2,000 km trip from Chongqing to Beijing, part of the company's efforts to produce highly automated vehicles.
In California at least 13 companies have been given permission to test autonomous vehicles. Xavier Mosquet, a senior partner in the Boston Consulting Group's automotive division, says autonomous cars that drive at low speeds are likely to be on the road by 2021 or 2022. New-energy vehicles, including pure electric ones and plug-in hybrids, are already part of people's daily lives in many countries, and experts believe they will eventually overtake or even replace petrol-driven ones. The US company Tesla delivered 14,820 cars in the first quarter worldwide, up about 50 percent year-on-year, and aims to deliver 80,000 to 90,000 cars this year.
At the recent Beijing motor show, new-energy models accounted for more than 10 percent of all cars displayed. Traffic authorities in Beijing say that nearly half the city's license plate quota for electric cars for this year were used up by the end of April, indicating local residents' growing acceptance of new-energy vehicles. Public data show that major Chinese car makers have made new-energy vehicles one of their strategic objectives in the next five years, and international ones are bracing themselves to get a decent share of the market. Matthias Muller, CEO of Volkswagen Group, says: "China will be the fastest-growing market for new-energy vehicles worldwide.
Volkswagen is helping regional markets to be more responsive to customer demand and tastes, particularly those in China, where 15 new locally produced new-energy vehicles will be rolled out by 2020.
Another thing that car makers agree on is the necessity of onboard connectivity, which they say will alter the automotive industry. William Li, founder of NextEv, a Chinese startup aspiring to make electric and smart supercars, says connectivity is something carmakers have to provide to meet the demands of a customer base that grew up in the age of the internet. Harald Krueger, chairman of the board of management of BMW AG, says: "Our technologies will learn to learn from people.
More than 24 million vehicles were sold in China last year, but the auto market still has much room to grow, according to an industry expert.

An auto show in Beijing this April attracted more 1,600 auto companies from 14 countries and areas. The overall market has slowed compared with previous years, when double-digit growth had been common.
He says the central government has demanded local authorities lift bans on used cars, which proved a hurdle to sales last year. Reasonable growth "should not be and will not be too fast" and should stay consistent with GDP growth, he says. Dong believes Chinese automakers will see the most rapid progress in their capacity for innovation during the 13th Five-Year Plan (2016-20), because "we'll see more money spent on innovation". He says the auto industry should be a major player in the Made in China 2025 plan, which the central government unveiled last year to improve manufacturing and shift the country away from low-end manufacturing to more value-added production. An Qingheng, a veteran of China's auto industry and the former chairman of BAIC Group, says the next five years will be key for Chinese automakers to advance technologically and for the country to become not only a large auto market, but also a nation where quality cars are produced. The industry veteran says many people think South Korea has done a good job in developing its own brands, but they did not realize it has taken the country more than 30 years. He suggests that the Chinese government introduce policies to boost research and development, saying the reliance of Chinese automakers on foreign engines and transmissions hinders development. An also urged Chinese companies to focus on new energy vehicles and smart cars, as there is a chance of success in the new wave of car making initiated by internet companies.
The Charade was an inexpensive model from Japanese carmaker Daihatsu assembled in Tianjin, which was then one of the most popular cars in China. For those born before the 1980s, a car wasn't merely a means of transport but a dream come true.
While I was young, private cars were virtually nonexistent, and taxis were hardly seen on the streets.
Such experiences were unique to my generation or older people who were used to rationing for almost every item of daily necessities. In the early 1990s Ma Ding, now in his 50s, joined a tour group traveling to Thailand - almost the only option the group could find to travel overseas. It was a time when obtaining a tourist visa for the United States or Europe was even difficult for many wealthy people in China like Ma. The couple traveled for 14 days, taking in both the east and west coasts, and splashed out more than 60,000 yuan. Wang Chunfeng, vice-president of Beijing Utour International Travel Service Co Ltd, says the first significant milestone for the country's outbound tourism was when the National Bureau of Statistics first published figures on the subject in 2000. From 2001 to 2015, Wang says, China's outbound tourism market grew by more than 18 percent a year, and it is projected to reach 600 million in total in the next five years. Thanks to rising demand for individual travel and more specialized and even personalized tour products, the ease of booking flights and accommodation on the internet and of obtaining visas, as well as the increase in flight destinations throughout the world, even from smaller Chinese cities, physical travel agencies have been in sharp decline, Wang says.
As recently as five years ago, for many people outbound traveling was still a dream, Wang says, but that has changed.
Jiang Yiyi, director of the China Tourism Academy's International Tourism Development Institute, says China's outbound tourism market is likely to grow rapidly this year, with the number of outbound tourists projected to surpass 130 million, 10 percent more than last year. Developed economies are paying more attention to the role of inbound tourism in boosting local economies and employment. More outbound tourists are likely to emerge from China's central and western regions, especially from second- or third-tier cities and rural areas, she says. The Ministry of Transport forecasts that the country will have 42 high-speed railway lines operating by the end of this year, stretching a total of 20,000 kilometers.
Asian tourists swarmed Waikiki beach and shopping malls in the island but they were mostly Japanese, with a sprinkling of Koreans.
Figures from the World Travel & Tourism Council show that Chinese travelers made 120 million overseas trips last year, spending $215 billion on goods and services. Big-spending Chinese tourists were mostly welcomed in their destination countries where they boosted the local economies but also faced some resentment. For example, mainlanders buying up milk powder in Hong Kong resulted in a short supply for local families and forced authorities to restrict sales to visitors. Overseas tourism of Chinese should be viewed not only from market or economic perspectives but in the context of cultural exchanges. The Chinese, having lived with a closed-door policy for a long time, are keen on knowing more of the outside world - and their rising affluence now makes it possible.
That explains why world news is carried prominently in Chinese media, both in print and TV, with an avid audience running into hundreds of millions.
Interaction between Chinese tourists and local people is also good for Chinese to better understand foreign customs and cultures, and lays a firm foundation for friendships. Tourism on such a large scale helps the two peoples to look at each other in more rational ways.
He said he plans to revamp his city's drainage and I believe millions of residents in his city will benefit - a good byproduct of overseas trips.
Staying in the good graces of butchers was a matter of survival in China in the early 1980s, for it was they who decreed who among their customers got the best cuts. Those were the days when there was a strict rationing system, shoppers being required to buy food and other daily necessities with coupons. Compare that with today, when the range of choice seems almost limitless, particularly as e-commerce continues to revolutionize the way people go about their everyday business.
Jiang, who is now retired, can, smartphone in hand, order whatever meat - domestic or imported - she desires from an overflowing pool of goods online.
As China's retail industry has modernized it has gone through various reincarnations, the most notable being individual stores turning into chain stores and department stores turning into shopping malls. At the heart of the online sales surge in China are the seemingly boundless range of goods and the internet technology that puts it all within ready grasp of buyers.
As many as 460 million Chinese shopped online last year, the center in Hangzhou said, and their spending accounted for 12.7 percent of overall retail transactions in China, almost triple the figure four years ago.
Roy says several factors account for how quickly e-commerce has changed the way people spend their money. The Hangzhou-based Alibaba is one such e-commerce company successfully riding this tidal wave in China.
The huge growth in online sales has obviously had a flow-on effect that has rippled through the Chinese economy and society generally, creating millions of jobs such as those of online sales assistants, in the express delivery business, and in internet financing and personal credit.
Xiong Yuan, 27, a white-collar worker in Beijing, says she buys almost everything online, including groceries, and pays using funds from Ant Check Later, an internet consumer finance product of Ant Financial Service Group. The rise of e-commerce companies and others in related industries has reshaped how people spend their money and has piled pressure on traditional retailing, and in some cases the profits of department stores have taken a severe hit, forcing many to close.
In 2014 Dalian Wanda Group, which runs the largest shopping mall network in China, teamed up with the internet giants Baidu and Tencent Holdings in an effort to forestall the dangers that e-commerce poses. Adam Xu, partner of PricewaterhouseCoopers' Strategy&, says e-commerce supplants some activities once handled by physical stores, but some activities will still need to be carried out on premises and immediately, such as food service or some complex selling activities. Transactions in China's online retail industry for the first time exceed 1 trillion yuan, reaching 1.32 trillion yuan.
Suning, China's leading electronics retailer with 1,600 brick-and-mortar outlets, officially changes its name from Suning Appliance to Suning Commerce Group with ambitions to expand business both online and offline. Alibaba buys 20 percent stake in Suning to form an alliance to combine the e-commerce giant's online strength with Suning's offline resources and to give consumers a better shopping experience.
Alibaba announces in April that it has officially become the world's largest retail platform, with its total trading volume online in the fiscal year ending in March 2016 surpassing Wal-Mart's annual sales. As a journalist, I enjoy online shopping first and foremost because it generates so many great news ideas as millions of people make purchases every day.
My most recent story on the subject in this newspaper was touched off by an e-retailer's ad: "Place an order while at work, and take deliveries when you go home", which prompted me to look at my own and others' online shopping behavior in the office and beyond, and its implications to employers. Almost three decades ago, when I first joined the newspaper as a fresh graduate out of journalism school, I asked Wang Wenlan, a prize-winning photojournalist, for career tips.
Those were hard times when journalists would have to munch on snacks if they missed lunch or dinner in the company canteen. Even laundry, a dreaded chore for young staff who lived four to a room in the dormitory then, is made easy with an app that allows you to stuff tens of dirty shirts into a large bag until it almost bursts at the seams, for 99 yuan. What troubles me most, though, is probably the ethos of the Internet, like risk-taking and innovation, that underpins the success of e-retailers but threatens the livelihood of those in a traditional business, like a newspaper. I've tried to dissect Jack Ma's rise to fame after his e-commerce company Alibaba completed the largest initial public offering in the New York Stock Exchange's history. In my story, I recounted Ma's confrontation with several burly "thieves" who tried to lift a manhole cover on the road more than 20 years ago.
There have been many other anecdotes that illustrate Ma's entrepreneurial traits but determination and risk taking tend to dominate his recipe for success.
Now multimedia convergence is the buzzword in our newsroom, with enthusiastic, internet-enabled colleagues picking up new skills and adopting new operation models.
Expressed in simple language, the book was illustrated by a local young woman and published in Beijing in late April.
Her family, however, is moving back to Saudi at the end of June, leaving the city where she keeps all her memories in her very short life. I will miss this place so much," says the girl, now 3, who speaks fluent Chinese with the correct four tones, which is usually considered the most difficult part for foreigners. That's how I'm inspired to write, and to publish the book," says Sultan, adding that her child's love of the city has made their connection to China stronger. For example, one told me that he couldn't publish my book because it wasn't a set but just one piece," says Sultan. You will not shift endlessly in your work chair while attempting to crush the evil troll living in your rectum. A manager from the group's marketing department, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told China Daily that "it was utterly a spontaneous eruption of word of mouth and the company never interfered".
Users gave impressive reviews, not only in its camera but the overall performance," said Simon, a PhD student in Paris. They said it was super useful for them to treat burns and cuts," said Brooks, a resident of Melbourne. Their enthusiasm for the balm is as high as Chinese people purchasing luxury bags overseas," Zhang said.
There are three outlets in Sydney and every time I go there for lunch, there are long lines and people have to await at least 20 minutes before getting a table to sit down," Shi said. The company now has more than 50 production centers in 19 provincial-level regions in China, exports to more than 70 nations and has won firm fans. Later, in 1972, then-premier Zhou Enlai gave White Rabbit candies to then-US President Richard Nixon during the latter's visit to China. During the 2008 Beijing Olympics, the shoes were among the top brands that tourists snapped up as souvenirs.
Today, among the 40 or so active members, a dozen are foreigners hailing from 13 countries.
They joined a team from Beijing for the event and competed in the 10th IDBF Club Crew World Championships. Haddad was especially excited because he comes from Jordan, a country where water resources are limited and people rarely participate in water sports.
And he got a chance to experience other aspects of Chinese culture, thanks to the sport, when he got to paint the dots on the eyes of the dragon when the club bought a new boat, symbolizing the beginning of its life.
The 35-year-old businessman, who now works in Foshan, has been participating in dragon boat races for at least 15 years, under the influence of his father who used to take him to races when he was a child. But he fell ill last year after having been diagnosed two years ago with Parkinson's disease. Boat production in the village reached its peak during the 1980s and 1990s, especially after Guangzhou launched its international dragon boat race in 1994. Today, he feels under pressure to keep his factory running and continue employing traditional boat-making skills.
Villa won only three matches last season and was relegated from the Premier League to the second-tier Championship. Reuters reported this month that four Chinese investor groups, including one led by model carmaker Rastar Group, were competing to buy Stellar Group, one of the world's most powerful football agencies.
The move came after e-commerce giant Alibaba purchased a 50 percent stake in five-time CSL champion Guangzhou Evergrande in 2014 for 1.2 billion yuan. Many observers have asked whether the fantastic sums of money involved should have been invested in football within China.
The Group bought a 20 percent stake in the Spanish La Liga club for 45 million euros ($50 million). In addition, those crammed into the trains had to survive the journey in dowdy green carriages that were grubby and had no air conditioning. These buses were more frequent than the trains, they were air-conditioned and suddenly travel time was halved, to less than six hours.
That day in 2012 she took one of the sparkling new high-speed trains that had been put on that year linking the two cities.
That equates to an average of 2,700 km of new lines each year - about the total length of the high-speed rail lines in Japan. Inland cities that had little appeal to investors because of a paucity of good transport links have now become attractive. The city is on the border of Hunan and Guangdong provinces, but is closer to Guangzhou, the latter's capital and the country's economic engine, than to other cities in Hunan. That reduction in travel time and costs has prompted a number of companies to set up production centers in Chenzhou, including Royal Philips NV and Delta Group.
It means 11,000 km of high-speed railways will have been laid out in five years, or 2,200 km a year on average.
The travel between Beijing and my hometown in East China's Jiangsu province during my seven years in college has left me with bittersweet recollections. That was still an overnight train, but travel time was reduced to 12 hours and things seemed better. This year, more than 1.7 billion train trips were made in China - which means the whole population of Europe moved at least once in the two weeks. Premier Li Keqiang, who has enthusiastically promoted the railway, is called its "super salesman". Absence may make the heart grow fonder but it is easier for me to be present there more often.
Well, these sofas are still likely to be in place, but in two significant ways this motor vehicle will be a generation removed from the cars of today. In fact, Lex Kerssemakers, chief executive of North American operations of Volvo, which Li's Geely bought in 2010, says he expects to see self-driving vehicles on the roads of Beijing or New York in little more than four years from now.
Mark Fields, the chief executive of Ford, said in April that the company is in the process of tripling the size of its test fleet to 30 fully autonomous hybrid sedans. Nearly 91,000 new-energy vehicles were sold in the first four months of this year, 131 percent more than in the corresponding period last year, the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers says.
Sales edged 4.7 percent year-on-year last year, but the association estimates the rate will rebound to 6 percent in 2016, Dong said at an auto industry forum in Beijing. A 2015 JD Power study showed Chinese cars on average had 131 problems in a year, 36 more than foreign brands. I didn't even have a driver's license at the time, and a car wasn't something that I could afford with my meager income. I did believe that a resilient Chinese economy would create wealth both for the nation as well as ordinary citizens.
But I was right about income growth of the Chinese people that brought buying a car within reach.
The localized model of the Citroen was nearly triple the price of a Daihatsu and much better.
I remember coming home late during weekends in the 1970s when public buses were too crowded to get on.
Reforms unleashed dynamism and creativity unparalleled in history, which have created fortunes for ordinary citizens.
But when they reached each destination, the group was asked to pay extra for shows or encouraged to buy local medicines. It would not be until 2005 that Ma, who owns two pawnshops in Shanghai, had the chance to visit the United States for the first time. Ma and his family - two children - now travel four or five times a year, and he says that on average they spend about 1 million yuan ($153,000) a year. He has been to more than 100 cities in about 50 countries and regions, and traveled a total of 400,000 kilometers, he says. Last year less than a third of travel bookings made in China were made in a brick-and-mortar travel agency. So neighboring, medium-distance and long-distance destinations will continue to compete for Chinese tourists, she said, thanks to relaxed visa policies and improved Chinese-language services that many countries have introduced in recent years. The rapid development of high-speed rail gives people from once-isolated areas easy access to large cities, which will greatly broaden the source of outbound Chinese tourists. Figures from the National Bureau of Statistics suggest 58 percent of the country's population will live in cities by the end of this year.
Bilateral relations have plummeted to lows in recent years because of the Japanese government's refusal to admit historical mistakes as well as its claims of sovereignty over China's Diaoyu Islands.
So when Chinese tourists see advanced foreign societies, they are keen to learn good practices such as in Japan or South Korea.
He waxed eloquent about the advanced drainage system that protects its cities from flooding.
Not only that, but the curt take-it-or-leave-it butcher and his ilk have been replaced by cyber salespeople who are wont to address her as "dear" and send out all manner of jovial emoji to keep her loyal. However, for James Roy, principal at China Market Research Group, the most remarkable change has occurred in the past five years: the arrival of e-commerce and its hearty embrace by hundreds of millions of Chinese. The online marketplace run by Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba Group sells everything from stamps to furniture, and from cars to overseas islands. As with anything to do with the internet in China, the numbers are apt to set your head spinning. The company, founded in 1999 by Jack Ma, a former English teacher, said in April that it has overtaken Wal-Mart Store, becoming the world's largest retailer, having sold merchandise worth 3 trillion yuan in the fiscal year ended in March.
China's online retail for the first time accounts for more than 10 percent of the overall transactions of the retail industry in the country.
My Huawei Mate 8 is home to apps for e-malls, restaurants, laundry, golf clubs and other service providers that cater to both my needs and wants.
Ma sat twice for the national college entrance exam and only ended up in a third-tier local school.
While Ma and other Chinese Internet entrepreneurs laugh all the way to the bank, people like us with degrees from top Chinese and foreign universities are still figuring out a way so we won't lose eyeballs and revenues to tech upstarts too fast.
He became an instant hero in Hangzhou, because the pilfering was staged by a local television station to capture residents' reaction to crimes. One of the first priorities of the work was a complete examination of all previous exploration and excavation in the precinct, particularly that of Margaret Benson carried out in 1895-7.
Good wine will always sell itself, and it has become particularly true in today's internet shopping age," said Shun Zi, a native of Shandong province who moved to Los Angeles with her family a decade ago. The candies soon became popular overseas too, with many Americans giving them away as Easter gifts that year. The group has a department operating its sales channels overseas but the group declined to reveal detailed sales figures. The stifling, rackety trip that had once taken as much as 12 hours had now been transformed into a leisurely, smooth jaunt lasting just two hours. Particularly since the central government has called for economic restructuring and industrial upgrading, inland cities linked to the national high-speed rail network have become preferred destinations for traditional industries moving their operations from coastal areas. In 2014 the city shot up in provincial rankings to be behind only the capital, Changsha, in its use of foreign capital, media reported. They will run on electricity, and those seats will have become sofas in a very real sense, something to lounge back on, because the car will be driving itself.
Ford has been in the field for more than a decade, he said, and has proven its autonomous vehicles can work "flawlessly" in the dark. And my job at China Daily would give me a better chance to outpace average social income growth. The relaxation of rules and the continuous rise of incomes have led to an explosive boom in auto production and sales, and China has been the world's biggest auto market since 2009. Ma and his wife returned to Shanghai with a big bag of medicine made of snakes but never had the chance to use them. For instance, they have stayed in Seattle for a month or two in summer so their children could attend a local summer camp. Mid-sized and small cities and rural areas are already warming to the outbound tourism market. And it is not only those in big cities who can enjoy shopping online, but also those in small villages. In his characteristic, self-deprecating way, he confessed that if he and his people could be successful, 80 percent of Chinese could be, too.
Now, I waltz right in the men's room and proudly purge burrito with cheese of last night, and I don't flinch," reads another comment.
To carry on the factory's work, he pulled his son away from his peanut oil business and pressed him into work making dragon boats. This acted as a deadweight on Chenzhou whenever it sought investment, and local officials in charge of attracting investment were often thwarted as they competed with cities with airports or with highway access. And trust is still hard to come by with occasional fake advertising online and inferior offline support services. A thirty year old semi-invalid of a distinguished English family, she had the rare good luck to ask for the concession to a site that seemed unimportant and a site that no one else wanted.
It was assumed that even an woman amateur with no experience could do little harm at the nearly destroyed Temple of Mut, in a remote location south of the Amun precinct at Karnak.
She worked there for only three seasons from 1895 to 1897 and she published The Temple of Mut in Asher in 1899 2 with Janet Gourlay, who joined her in the second season. In the introduction to that publication of her work she emphasized that it was the first time any woman had been given permission by the Egyptian Department of Antiquities to excavate; she was well aware that it was something of an accomplishment. We were frankly warned that we should make no discoveries; indeed if any had been anticipated, it was unlikely that the clearance would have been entrusted to inexperienced direction.
3 A Margaret Benson was born June 16, 1865, one of the six children of Edward White Benson. He was first an assistant master at Rugby, then the first headmaster of the newly founded Wellington College.He rose in the service of the church as Chancellor of the diocese of Lincoln, Bishop of Truro and, finally, Archbishop of Canterbury. Benson was a learned man with a wide knowledge of history and a serious concern for the education of the young. He was also something of a poet and one of his hymns is still included in the American Episcopal Hymnal. Arthur Christopher, the eldest, was first a master at Eton and then at Magdalen College, Cambridge.

A noted author and poet with an enormous literary output, he published over fifty books, most of an inspirational nature, but he was also the author of monographs on D. He helped to edit the correspondence of Queen Victoria for publication, contributed poetry to The Yellow Book, and wrote the words to the anthem "Land of Hope and Glory". Most important to the study of the excavator of the Mut Temple, he was the author of The Life and Letters of Maggie Benson, 4 a sympathetic biography which helps to shed some light on her short archaeological career.
He also wrote several reminiscences of his family in which he included his sister and described his involvement in her excavations.
He helped to supervise part of the work and he prepared the plan of the temple which was used in her eventual publication.
His younger brother, Robert Hugh Benson, took Holy Orders in the Church of England, later converted to Roman Catholicism and was ordained a priest in that rite. He also achieved some fame as a novelist and poet and rose to the position of Papal Chamberlain.
Her publication of the excavation is cited in every reference to theTemple of Mut in the Egyptological literature, but she is known to history as a name in a footnote and little else.A Margaret Benson was born at Wellington College during her father's tenure as headmaster.
Each career advancement for him meant a move for the family so her childhood was spent in a series of official residences until she went to Oxford in 1883. She was eighteen when she was enrolled at Lady Margaret Hall, a women's college founded only four years before.
One of her tutors commented to his sister that he was sorry Margaret had not been able to read for "Greats" in the normal way. 5 When she took a first in the Women's Honours School of Philosophy, he said, "No one will realize how brilliantly she has done." 6 Since her work was not compared to that of her male contemporaries, it would have escaped noticed.
In her studies she concentrated on political economy and moral sciences but she was also active in many aspects of the college. She participated in dramatics, debating and sports but her outstanding talent was for drawing and painting in watercolor.
Her skill was so superior he thought she should be appointed drawing mistress if she remained at Lady Margaret Hall for any length of time.
She began a work titled "The Venture of Rational Faith" which occupied her thoughts for many years.
From the titles alone they suggest a young woman who was deeply concerned with problems of society and the spirit and this preoccupation with the spiritual was to be one of her concerns throughout the rest of her life.
In some of her letters from Egypt it is clear that she was attempting to understand something of the spiritual life of the ancient Egyptians, not a surprising interest for the daughter of a churchman like Edward White Benson. A In 1885, at the age of twenty, Margaret was taken ill with scarlet fever while at Zermatt in Switzerland. By the time she was twenty-five she had developed the symptoms of rheumatism and the beginnings of arthritis.
She made her first voyage to Egypt in 1894 because the warm climate was considered to be beneficial for those who suffered from her ailments. Wintering in Egypt was highly recommended at the time for a wide range of illnesses ranging from simple asthma to "mental strain." Lord Carnarvon, Howard Carter's sponsor in the search for the tomb of Tutankhamun, was one of the many who went to Egypt for reasons of health. After Cairo and Giza she went on by stages as far as Aswan and the island temples of Philae.
She commented on the "wonderful calm" of the Great Sphinx, the physical beauty of the Nubians, the color of the stone at Philae, the descent of the cataract by boat, which she said was "not at all dangerous".
By the end of January she was established in Luxor with a program of visits to the monuments set out.
I don't feel as if I should have really had an idea of Egypt at all if I hadn't stayed here -- the Bas-reliefs of kings in chariots are only now beginning to look individual instead of made on a pattern, and the immensity of the whole thing is beginning to dawn -- and the colours, oh my goodness! The ancient language and script she found fascinating but she was not as interested in reading classical Arabic. Her interest was maintained by the variety of animal and bird life for at home in England she had been surrounded by domestic animals and had always been keen on keeping pets. By the time her first stay ended in March, 1894, she had already resolved to return in the fall. When Margaret returned to Egypt in November she had already conceived the idea of excavating a site and thus applied to the Egyptian authorities.
Edouard Naville, the Swiss Egyptologist who was working at the Temple of Hatshepsut at Dier el Bahri for the Egypt Exploration Fund, wrote to Henri de Morgan, Director of the Department of Antiquities, on her behalf.
From her letters of the time, it is clear that this was one of the most exciting moments of Margaret Benson's life because she was allowed to embark on what she considered a great adventure. A Margaret's physical condition at the beginning of the excavation was of great concern to the family. A Margaret Benson had no particular training to qualify or prepare her for the job but what she lacked in experience she more than made up for with her "enthusiastic personality" and her intellectual curiosity.
In the preface to The Temple of Mut in Asher she said that she had no intention of publishing the work because she had been warned that there was little to find. In the introduction to The Temple of Mut in Asher acknowledgments were made and gratitude was offered to a number of people who aided in the work in various ways. The professional Egyptologists and archaeologists included Naville, Petrie, de Morgan, Brugsch, Borchardt, Daressy, Hogarth and especially Percy Newberry who translated the inscriptions on all of the statues found. Lea), 10 a Colonel Esdaile, 11 and Margaret's brother, Fred, helped in the supervision of the work in one or more seasons. A It is usually assumed that Margaret Benson and Janet Gourlay worked only as amateurs, with little direction and totally inexperienced help. It is clear from the publication that Naville helped to set up the excavation and helped to plan the work. Hogarth 12 gave advice in the direction of the digging and Newberry was singled out for his advice, suggestions and correction as well as "unwearied kindness." Margaret's brother, Fred, helped his inexperienced sister by supervising some of the work as well as making a measured plan of the temple which is reproduced in the publication. Benson) was qualified to help because he had intended to pursue archaeology as a career, studied Classical Languages and archaeology at Cambridge, and was awarded a scholarship at King's College on the basis of his work.
He organized a small excavation at Chester to search for Roman legionary tomb stones built into the town wall and the results of his efforts were noticed favorably by Theodore Mommsen, the great nineteenth century classicist, and by Mr. Benson went on to excavate at Megalopolis in Greece for the British School at Athens and published the result of his work in the Journal of Hellenic Studies. His first love was Greece and its antiquities and it is probable that concern for his sister's health was a more important reason for him joining the excavation than an interest in the antiquities of Egypt.
13A It is interesting to speculate as to why a Victorian woman was drawn to the Temple of Mut.
The precinct of the goddess who was the consort of Amun, titled "Lady of Heaven", and "Mistress of all the Gods", is a compelling site and was certainly in need of further exploration in Margaret's time.
Its isolation and the arrangement with the Temple of Mut enclosed on three sides by its own sacred lake made it seem even more romantic. 14 When she began the excavation three days was considered enough time to "do" the monuments of Luxor and Margaret said that few people could be expected to spend even a half hour at in the Precinct of Mut.
A On her first visit to Egypt in 1894 she had gone to see the temple because she had heard about the granite statues with cats' heads (the lion-headed images of Sakhmet). The donkey-boys knew how to find the temple but it was not considered a "usual excursion" and after her early visits to the site she said that "The temple itself was much destroyed, and the broken walls so far buried, that one could not trace the plan of more than the outer court and a few small chambers".
15 The Precinct of the Goddess Mut is an extensive field of ruins about twenty-two acres in size, of which Margaret had chosen to excavate only the central structure. Connected to the southernmost pylons of the larger Amun Temple of Karnak by an avenue of sphinxes, the Mut precinct contains three major temples and a number of smaller structures in various stages of dilapidation. She noted some of these details in her initial description of the site, but in three short seasons she was only able to work inside the Mut Temple proper and she cleared little of its exterior. Serious study of the temple complex was started at least as early as the expedition of Napoleon at the end of the eighteenth century when artists and engineers attached to the military corps measured the ruins and made drawings of some of the statues. During the first quarter of the nineteenth century, the great age of the treasure hunters in Egypt, Giovanni Belzoni carried away many of the lion-headed statues and pieces of sculpture to European museums. Champollion, the decipherer of hieroglyphs, and Karl Lepsius, the pioneer German Egyptologist, both visited the precinct, copied inscriptions and made maps of the remains.16 August Mariette had excavated there and believed that he had exhausted the site.
Most of the travelers and scholars who had visited the precinct or carried out work there left some notes or sketches of what they saw and these were useful as references for the new excavation.
Since some of the early sources on the site are quoted in her publication, Margaret was obviously aware of their existence. 17A On her return to Egypt at the end of November, 1894, she stopped at Mena House hotel at Giza and for a short time at Helwan, south of Cairo. Helwan was known for its sulphur springs and from about 1880 it had become a popular health resort, particularly suited for the treatment of the sorts of maladies from which Margaret suffered. People at every turn asked if she remembered them and her donkey-boy almost wept to see her.
A "On January 1st, 1895, we began the excavation" -- with a crew composed of four men, sixteen boys (to carry away the earth), an overseer, a night guardian and a water carrier. The largest the work gang would be in the three seasons of excavation was sixteen or seventeen men and eighty boys, still a sizable number.
Before the work started Naville came to "interview our overseer and show us how to determine the course of the work". A A good part of Margaret's time was occupied with learning how to supervise the workmen and the basket boys. Since her spoken Arabic was almost nonexistent, she had to use a donkey-boy as a translator. It would have been helpful if she had had the opportunity to work on an excavation conducted by a professional and profit from the experience but she was eager to learn and had generally good advice at her disposal so she proceeded in an orderly manner and began to clear the temple.
On the second of January she wrote to her mother: "I don't think much will be found of little things, only walls, bases of pillars, and possibly Cat-statues.
I shall feel rather like --'Massa in the shade would lay While we poor niggers toiled all day' -- for I am to have a responsible overseer, and my chief duty apparently will be paying. 18A She is described as riding out from the Luxor Hotel on donkey-back with bags of piaster pieces jingling for the Saturday payday.
She had been warned to pay each man and boy personally rather than through the overseer to reduce the chances of wages disappearing into the hands of intermediaries. The workmen believed that she was at least a princess and they wanted to know if her father lived in the same village as the Queen of England. When they sang their impromptu work songs (as Egyptian workmen still do) they called Margaret the "Princess" and her brother Fred the "Khedive". A PART II: THE EXCAVATIONSA The clearance was begun in the northern, outer, court of the temple where Mariette had certainly worked.
Earth was banked to the north side of the court, against the back of the ruined first pylon but on the south it had been dug out even below the level of the pavement.
Mariette's map is inaccurate in a number of respects suggesting that he was not able to expose enough of the main walls.
At the first (northern) gate it was necessary for Margaret Benson to clear ten or twelve feet of earth to reach the paving stones at the bottom. In the process they found what were described as fallen roofing blocks, a lion-headed statue lying across and blocking the way, and also a small sandstone head of a hippopotamus.
In the clearance of the court the bases of four pairs of columns were found, not five as on Mariette's map.
After working around the west half of the first court and disengaging eight Sakhmet statues in the process, they came on their first important find. Near the west wall of the court, was discovered a block statue of a man named Amenemhet, a royal scribe of the time of Amenhotep II. The statue is now in the Egyptian Museum in Cairo 19 but Margaret was given a cast of it to take home to England.
When it was discovered she wrote to her father: A My Dearest Papa, We have had such a splendid find at the Temple of Mut that I must write to tell you about it. We were just going out there on Monday, when we met one of our boys who works there running to tell us that they had found a statue.
When we got there they were washing it, and it proved to be a black granite figure about two feet high, knees up to its chin, hands crossed on them, one hand holding a lotus. 20A The government had appointed an overseer who spent his time watching the excavation for just such finds. He reported it to a sub-inspector who immediately took the block statue away to a store house and locked it up. He said it was hard that Margaret should not have "la jouissance de la statue que vous avez trouve" and she was allowed to take it to the hotel where she could enjoy it until the end of the season when it would become the property of the museum. The statue had been found on the pavement level, apparently in situ, suggesting to the excavator that this was good evidence for an earlier dating for the temple than was generally believed at the time. The presence of a statue on the floor of a temple does not necessarily date the temple, but many contemporary Egyptologists might have come to the same conclusion.
One visitor to the site recalled that a party of American tourists were perplexed when Margaret was pointed out to them as the director of the dig. At that moment she and a friend were sitting on the ground quarreling about who could build the best sand castle. This was probably not the picture of an "important" English Egyptologist that the Americans had expected. A As work was continued in the first court other broken statues of Sakhmet were found as well as two seated sandstone baboons of the time of Ramesses III. 21 The baboons went to the museum in Cairo, a fragment of a limestone stela was eventually consigned to a store house in Luxor and the upper part of a female figure was left in the precinct where it was recently rediscovered.
The small objects found in the season of 1895 included a few coins, a terra cotta of a reclining "princess", some beads, Roman pots and broken bits of bronze.
Time was spent repositioning Sakhmet statues which appeared to be out of place based on what was perceived as a pattern for their arrangement. Even if they were correct they could not be sure that they were reconstructing the original ancient placement of the statues in the temple or some modification of the original design. In the spirit of neatness and attempting to leave the precinct in good order, they also repaired some of the statues with the aid of an Italian plasterer, hired especially for that purpose. A Margaret was often bed ridden by her illnesses and she was subject to fits of depression as well but she and her brother Fred would while away the evenings playing impromptu parlor games. For a fancy dress ball at the Luxor Hotel she appeared costumed as the goddess Mut, wearing a vulture headdress which Naville praised for its ingenuity. The resources in the souk of Luxor for fancy dress were nonexistent but Margaret was resourceful enough to find material with which to fabricate a costume based, as she said, on "Old Egyptian pictures." A The results of the first season would have been gratifying for any excavator. In a short five weeks the "English Lady" had begun to clear the temple and to note the errors on the older plans available to her. She had started a program of reconstruction with the idea of preserving some of the statues of Sakhmet littering the site. She had found one statue of great importance and the torso of another which did not seem so significant to her. Her original intention of digging in a picturesque place where she had been told there was nothing much to be found was beginning to produce unexpected results.A The Benson party arrived in Egypt for the second season early in January of 1896. After a trip down to, they reached Luxor Aswan around the twenty-sixth and the work began on the thirtieth.
That day Margaret was introduced to Janet Gourlay who had come to assist with the excavation. The beginning of the long relationship between "Maggie" Benson and "Nettie" Gourlay was not signaled with any particular importance. By May of the same year she was to write (also to her mother): "I like her more and more -- I haven't liked anyone so well in years".
Miss Benson and Miss Gourlay seemed to work together very well and to share similar reactions and feelings. They were to remain close friends for much of Margaret's life, visiting and travelling together often.
Their correspondence reflects a deep mutual sympathy and Janet was apparently much on Margaret's mind because she often mentioned her friend in writing to others.
After her relationship with Margaret Benson she faded into obscurity and even her family has been difficult to trace, although a sister was located a few years ago. A For the second season in 1896 the work staff was a little larger, with eight to twelve men, twenty-four to thirty-six boys, a rais (overseer), guardians and the necessary water carrier.
With the first court considered cleared in the previous season, work was begun at the gate way between the first and second courts.
An investigation was made of the ruined wall between these two courts and the conclusion was drawn that it was "a composite structure" suggesting that part of the wall was of a later date than the rest. The wall east of the gate opening is of stone and clearly of at least two building periods while the west side has a mud brick core faced on the south with stone. Margaret thought the west half of the wall to be completely destroyed because it was of mud brick which had never been replaced by stone.
She found the remains of "more than one row of hollow pots" which she thought had been used as "air bricks" in some later rebuilding. Originally built of mud brick, like many of the structures in the Precinct of Mut, the south face of both halves of the wall was sheathed with stone one course thick no later than the Ramesside Period. During the Ptolemaic Period the core of the east half of the mud brick wall was replaced with stone but the Ramesside sheathing was retained. Here the untrained excavator was beginning to understand some of the problems of clearing a temple structure in Egypt. Mariette's plan of the second chamber probably seemed accurate after a superficial examination so a complete clearing seemed unnecessary. Other fragments were found and the original height of the seated statue was estimated between fourteen and sixteen feet high. The following year de Morgan, the Director General of the Department of Antiquities, ordered the head sent to the museum in Cairo The finding of the large lion head is mentioned in a letter from Margaret to her mother dated February 9, 1896, 22. In the same letter she also mentions the discovery of a statue of Ramesses II on the day before the letter was written. 23.Her published letters often give exact or close dates of discoveries whereas her later publication in the Temple of Mut in Asher was an attempt at a narrative of the work in some order of progression through the temple and dates are often lacking. About the same time that the giant lion head was found some effort was made to raise a large cornerstone block but a crowbar was bent and a rope was broken. The end result of the activity is not explained at that point and the location of the corner not given but it can probably be identified with the southeast cornerstone of the Mut Temple mentioned later in a description of the search for foundation deposits.
A Somewhere near the central axis of the second court, but just inside the gateway, they came on the upper half of a royal statue with nemes headdress and the remains of a false beard. There had been inscriptions on the shoulder and back pillar but these had been methodically erased. The lower half was found a little later and it was possible to reconstruct an over life-sized, nearly complete, seated statue of a king. The excavators published it as "possibly" Tutankhamun, an identification not accepted today, and it is still to be seen, sitting to the east of the gateway, facing into the second court.24 A large statue of Sakhmet was also found, not as large as the colossal head, but larger than the other figures still in the precinct and in most Egyptian collections.
It was also reconstructed and left in place, on the west side of the doorway where it is one of the most recognizable landmarks in the temple.
In the clearance of the second court a feature described as a thin wall built out from the north wall was found in the northeast corner.
It was later interpreted by the nineteenth century excavators as part of the arrangement for a raised cloister and it was not until recent excavation that it was identified as the lower part of the wall of a small chapel, built against the north wall of the court. The process of determining any sequence of the levels in the second court was complicated by the fact that it had been worked over by earlier treasure hunters and archaeologists.
In some cases statues were found below the original floor level, leading to the assumption that some pieces had fallen, broken the pavement, and sunk into the floor of their own weight.
It is more probable that the stone floors had been dug out and undermined in the search for antiquities. A An attempt was made to put the area in order for future visitors as the excavation progressed. This included the reconstruction of some of the statues as found and the moving of others in a general attempt to neaten the appearance of the temple. Other finds made in the second court included inscribed blocks too large to move or reused in parts of walls still standing. The statue identified as Ramesses II, mentioned in Margaret's letter of February 9, was found on the southwest side of the court, near the center.
It was a seated figure in pink granite, rather large in size, but when it was completely uncovered it was found to be broken through the middle with the lower half in an advanced state of disintegration. The upper part was in relatively good condition except for the left shoulder and arm and it was eventually awarded to the excavators. A Mention was also made of several small finds from the second court including a head of a god in black stone and part of the vulture headdress from a statue of a goddess or a queen. The recent ongoing excavations carried out by the Brooklyn Museum have revealed a female head with traces of a vulture headdress as well as a number of fragments of legs and feet which suggest that the head of the god found by Margaret Benson was from a pair statue representing Amun and Mut.
Another important discovery she made on the south side of the court was a series of sandstone relief blocks representing the arrival at Thebes of Nitocris, daughter of Psamtik I, as God's Wife of Amun.25A At some time during the season Margaret was made aware of the possibility that foundation deposits might still be in place. These dedicatory deposits were put down at the time of the founding of a structure or at a time of a major rebuilding, and they are often found under the cornerstones, the thresholds or under major walls, usually in the center.
They contain a number of small objects including containers for food offerings, model tools and model bricks or plaques inscribed with the name of the ruler. The importance of finding such a deposit in the Temple of Mut was obvious to Margaret because it would prove to everyone's satisfaction who had built the temple, or at least who had made additions to it. A They first looked for foundation deposits in the middle of the gateway between the first and second courts. At the same time another part of the crew was clearing the innermost rooms in the south part of the temple. Under the central of the three chambers they discovered a subterranean crypt with an entrance so small that it had to be excavated by "a small boy with a trowel".
This chamber has been re-cleared in recent years and proved to be a small rectangular room with traces of an erased one-line text around the four walls. In antiquity the access seems to have been hidden by a paving stone which had to be lifted each time the room was entered. A The search for foundation deposits continued in the southeast corner of the temple (probably the place where the crowbar was bent and the rope broken). Again no deposit was found but in digging around the cornerstone, below the original ground level, they began to find statues and fragments of statues. As the earth continued to yield more and more pieces of sculpture, Legrain arrived from the Amun Temple, where he was supervising the excavation, and announced his intention to take everything away to the storehouse. Aside from the pleasure of the find, it was important to have the objects at hand for study, comparison and the copying of inscriptions.

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