Published: August 10th 2010August 10th 2010
After Yangshuo we went to Hong Kong but instead of the usual policy of staying in the City, we hot-footed it over to one of the outlying islands called Lamma. This place was wicked as for the first time in a few months we finally got to relax on a beach. Of course we then had to take a ferry back to the mainland every time we wanted to do something but this was more than worth it. It was also nice having just a bit of "British" again. For example, I got my baked beans, Sarah cooked a Jacket potato and it was just nice people being able to communicate with people again! While in HK, we went up Victoria Peak (good), went to Macau for the day (rubbish), found an H&M (strange) and went to the cinema to see that new Angelina Jolie film (utter utter rubbish). Amazing stuff. A typhoon also blew through while we were there which cripped the whole island for a few days, but we also managed to see the International Dragon Boat Racing Festival which had a great atmosphere - shame we couldnt afford the beer!
Our plan was always to spend a
week or so there and then head up the east coast of China to Shanghai. Unfortunately we decided that a tenner commisssion to book our train tickets in HK was too expensive, so decided to wait until back in China proper - this is where the problems began. We hadn't realised the Chinese summer holidays had begun, and as such all trains were booked for days and days. After trying to find ANYBODY who spoke English, some teacher took pity on us and booked us onto another sleeper bus for 460 RMB which is 46 blimmin quid - so expensive! Of course when the bus turned up it wasnt a sleeper (just a normal coach), Sarah hit the roof and started on the poor Chinese kid who had sold us the tickets. I dont think he knew what had hit him but eventually we got on a sleeper bus going in our general direction but to a town that wasn't on any of our maps. 22 hours later we arrived in a little town (still not knowing the name of it or where we were). We eventually managed to leave for the right place the next day but not before
almost getting in a punch up with some old man who wanted us to pay loads of money for him giving us a lift
Then to Hangzhou which the Chinese tout as "paradise on Earth". It wasn't. Theres a mist enshrouded lake and its pretty nice to look at but we didnt really understand the plaudits.
We stopped once more between Hangzhou and Shanghai at the mountain of Huang Shan which is a local mystical Buddhist moutain and has the usual Chinese names for all the views you see. For example, we saw "Purple Cloud Floating On Tree Leaf", and "Beginning to Believe Peak". Sometimes Iwe wonder what the Chinese are on when they come up with these names. The walk down Huang Shan was by far the hardest thing we've ever done - millions upon millions of steep steps which seemed never ending for the vast majority of it. Our legs were still aching for the next 6 days.
And then on to Shanghai which was just way too hot and way too expensive. We also stayed in dorms again for the first time in ages and had to listen to some bloke coughing his guts
up all night. While in Shanghai we went down to the Bund, ate loads of street food and went to the World Expo. Dont know if anyone back there has even heard of it but its an event where every country gets to market themselves and is incredibly popular with the locals. It was ok but pretty busy and the UK pavillion was the most boring by a while. Still, didnt see a Guernsey one anywhere...
So from there we went West to a place called Chengdu. The choice was either a 40 hour train journey on a Hard Seat or a 2 hour flight. We went for the latter - it was so nice arriving somewhere the same day we set off!!
Chengdu is famous as the home for the Giant Pandas and we went spent one morning going to see them but apart from that we just drank beer with a few people we'd met.
Then yesterday we got a day bus to Songpan which is on the border of Tibet, which is where we are now. Tomorrow morning we are going horse-riding and camping in the wilds for a couple of nights. Considering neither
of us have ridden a horse in twenty years it could be very interesting.
There are more photos below