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GT Adventures: China
Anyone with a thirst for travel and adventure will surely have China near the top of their ‘must-visit’ list.
The most populous country in the world offers fascinating juxtapositions, from futuristic megacities to timeless landscapes and cultural sites older than those found almost anywhere else in the world. It’s a land of contrasts, and there’s no better way to experience its diversity than in a McLaren GT.
China’s road infrastructure has developed at the same pace as the rest of the country, and there is now a huge network of expressways. Beijing has seven ring roads, with the outermost of these – the G95 Capital Area Loop – being 940km in length. Yet this is a country that also contains some truly spectacular
scenic drives for those willing to explore. The 36km Hangzhou Bay Bridge is one of the longest in the world – it even has an artificial island at its midpoint, with restaurants and a viewing tower. Further inland, Henan Province has a series of famous ‘hanging tunnel’ roads carved into cliff faces, offering both
spectacular views and a proper driving challenge. Even more extreme adventures are found deeper within China’s vast interior. The Tarim Desert highway crosses the Taklamakan Desert in Xinjiang Province – at 550km, it is the world’s longest road across a shifting-sand desert.
The combination of modern and traditional lies at the core of China’s character and appeal to visitors. The country’s vast cities are some of the most developed and heavily populated on the planet. But travellers can also enjoy unspoilt landscapes and spectacular historic structures (parts of the famous Great Wall
are just 60km from Beijing). China’s combination of long distances, frequently heavy traffic and summer heat can make longer journeys stressful in conventional supercars, but the McLaren GT’s combination of luxury and performance makes it an ideal companion for such a trip.
The Car Culture
The expansion of car ownership in China has been dramatic, and the country has fitted the bulk of its motoring history into a much shorter space of time than most other parts of the world. Yet that doesn’t mean there’s a lack of appreciation for more interesting machinery.
Chinese buyers have tended to prioritise prestige and comfort over power and speed, with more affluent areas filled with both European brands and stretched wheelbases. But, in recent years, younger buyers have developed increasing enthusiasm for supercars – and for using them to their full potential. Shanghai is one of the best places in the world to spot exotica, and China’s growing number of racetracks and experience centres is proof of owners’ desire to test performance cars in their natural environment.
Sitting on the outskirts of Shanghai, Amanyangyun is one of the most extraordinary luxury hotels in the world. The dozens of Ming and Qing dynasty buildings which make up the resort’s guest rooms were all transported 700km from an area threatened by a new dam, then reconstructed brick by brick. Even more remarkably, the forest of 10,000 camphor trees in which the resort nestles were replanted here after making the same journey.