The Grand Tour of China map

9 years ago 17


We had an incredible trip to China this August! Having been invited by friends from Beijing to show us around the country, the four of us traveled from North to South to see some of the most beautiful places in China. It was so exotic, vibrant and different from all the other places we’ve been to before, that I can’t wait to go there again!  I drew this map of our journey to remind me of it. Click to enlarge it.

I loved it there so much, that I couldn’t even choose a favorite experience, but one of the highlights of the trip was in Huangshan, where we were guests of a film producer Zhang ZhenYan, who has worked on such films as the House of Flying Daggers and Hero, at his boutique Xiuli Village resort, which originally started out as a movie set for either the Curse of the Golden Flower or Hero, I can’t recall exactly, but has since evolved into his private conservatory project of cultural heritage.

Set in a lush valley at the foot of green mountains in the southern Anhui provice, the village was assembled from parts of authentic 400 year old Chinese buildings that were rescued from disrepair and brought there to be preserved and reassembled into new structures, creating interiors in a unique fusion of ancient Chinese and contemporary architecture, all set inside seemingly ancient buildings.

As parts of the village are still under construction, with the exception of some staff, the place was empty. Alone, we wondered through a disorienting maze of narrow streets, bridges, ponds, great halls and tiny rooms, as if walking through a dream filled with humid summer heat and an incessant singing of a million Cicadas all around us. Insulated from the world in the quiet country side, staying there felt surreal and kind of magical, like being inside of a painting or a movie.


It struck me as very sentimental that Mr. Zhang was using his knowledge of film set production to bring his fantasy to life and build his imaginary place in a real world for people to visit. It’ll be a lovely place to stay at once it’s finished. I’m grateful for Mr.Zhang’s hospitality and for allowing us to see his work in progress.

Although our first tour of China wasn’t really that grand in terms of the distance we covered relative to the size of the country, it was truly grand in terms of the experience it gave us. Gongli and Lily, thank you for being our guides on this unforgettable journey!

17 Responses

  1. Your an outstanding artiste, there is no limit as to what you can do. Are you also a good cook, is there something you are not good in….

  2. Tina says:

    what a lovely map. did you paint it? the colors look so soft. i find myself green with envy ~ wanting to travel like that as well.

  3. Marina says:


    Actually you nailed the one thing I can’t do very well or have a slightest desire to learn: Cooking. Chad does all the cooking for us. I’d starve without him.

    I think my visual sensory abilities have evolved at the expense of some other senses, particularly taste, which prevents me from cooking delicious meals. For example: I can’t tell the difference between chicken, pork or beef. They taste the same to me. It’s like a disability, but on the other hand, I’m not a very picky eater because of it.

  4. Annina says:

    what a beautiful map of impressions again, i’d love to look at it in even more detail!

  5. Isabel Pacheco says:

    It is fascinating to see the map, I loved his explanation this should be a new sensation as pleasant emotions, is gratifying to know that your trip to China was great experience.

  6. Merri says:

    Love, love, love this map. So creative and beautifully rendered.

  7. Nune2010 says:

    a very cyte map indeed;-)

  8. ranjiangzi says:

    A beautiful map of my country!Thank you Marina,my friends and I love this map as your dolls~~~and I’m very happy you’re enjoyed this travel.I’v send you a postcard when I’m traveling in Tibet this month,hope you can see that great landscape oneday for yourself!-v-
    You even meet Gongli!That great beauty!So Lucky~

  9. Anna says:

    This is such a beautiful map, a work of Art, rendered with such care. We loved looking at the photos of your trip. :) It made us want to visit China. It sounds like you had such an amazing experience! Such a gorgeous map!:)

  10. The Old Maid says:

    The map is beautiful and I as I can read your trip was great too:) Thank you for sharing it with us, Marina!

  11. Astera says:

    Just looking at your map, I feel like starting on an adventure. :)

    As for the distances you travel, I think what you say is very true. Usually, it’s better to spend more time in just a few places and really absorb the flavors, the atmospheres, than see many locations but just rush through them.

    And how cool is it that you got to meet Mr. Zhang and visit his “village”! Quite a remarkable and uncommon highlight is such a wonderful trip.

  12. Orangey says:

    Holy crap. That’s incredible, what a beautiful site! Definitely something out of a movie. Your experience sounds AMAZING. I am very happy for you, your life is filling up with great memories which I’m sure will serve in your line of work especially. The more influence and experience, the most colorful and rich your work will be.

    Another beautiful map, graceful rendition.

  13. Marta says:

    Oh my, this map is truly magical :3 All the colors and fairy details look wonderful.
    You should create a story for Your upcoming doll collection that would include a map. Something like a far and unearthly island composed of several magical kingdomes, each ruled by a wise and beautiful princess, each with it’s own incredible story and filled with magical creatures.

  14. Eilinor says:

    Hi!It’s look like a fantastic trip!
    I see tha you’ll be in Hangzhou for a wile: It’s a fantastic place to visit!
    I studyed there for a fiew months and I think is’ one of the most wonderfull place I have ever visited!
    You’ll love it!

  15. Jia Liu says:

    Hi, Marina,

    Your map looks wonderful, you truly knows how to make fine art! Did the famous Chinese movie star Gong Li showed you around China? Wow! I believe she is a big fan of you too!

    Glad you like China! Hopefully you will come back soon!! :)

  16. Julia says:

    That’s really amazing map and great trip in China. Unbelievable Gongli been ur guider in China. You are really a wonderful artist! Welcome to China again and I hope I have the honor to meet you one day and show you China more.

  17. I simply want to say I am all new to blogs and definitely liked this web page. Almost certainly I’m want to bookmark your website . You certainly have very good articles. Thank you for sharing with us your website page.

Leave a Reply to check out the post right here Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *