Published: July 21st 2008July 20th 2008
Gulin to Yangsho
China!! What a country, even after talking to people about it who we'd met along the way we still werent sure what to expect? What we can say after spending 3 weeks here is that its truely amazing and every single person we have met and talked to has been super friendly and helpful and every place we have visited has been a pleasure!
Our three week Hong Kong to Beijing trip was led by our leader Bobo from Intrepid Travel. http://www.Intrepidtravel.com/
Bobo made sure we (and the other 10 in our group (1 welsh, 2 great danes, 2 german, 2 english & 3 ozzies) had a safe and enjoyable trip through China. To be honest it was a god send having Bobo doing all the organising, ordering our food and general making our trip easy.
We took in 7 cities, 5 overnight trains, 2 nights on a boat, 3 nights in monestaries, 10 nights in 3/4 star hotels and countless busses, here goes the biggest blog yet!.......
A nice way to ease into China it was probably the most touristy place full of people either starting their trip North or finishing their trip south but
all the same a nice place to start, and after a bike ride around the stunning countryside and a short hike up to moon hill we got to chill in our hotel and cafe bar which was much nicer than we were expecting, and the accomodation only got better from then on. We also squeezed in another cooking course - the best we had!
After the 18 hour night train we were in Yichang, only four hours by bus to the Yangzi river and the start of a slow cruise through three stunning gorges. The boat was basically a hotel on water and they fed us tons of food and drink 3 times a day in the massive restaurant and abused our ears at night in the bar with some dodgy kareoke. After reaching the end the boat cruised back through the night to the start whilst we slep and we visited the biggest dam in the world the Yangzi three gorges dam which will be operational by 2009.
Home of the Pandas! we were expecting to see some damage or after effects of the recent earthquake but all the scenes from the T.V reports
were roughly 50k's west of the city and it was strangely business as usual (although a little quite). First stop was peoples park with our new mate Alice in towe (who we couldn't get rid of from then on.... Ha just kidding! lovely girl). Peoples park is a shaded haven away from the noise of the big city where people meet in their hundreds to ballroom dance, sing, watch theatre, play bambminton, play cards and games etc etc.... and this is where we got our first taste of celebrity. By this I mean chinese people wanting to have their picture taken with us (lots of victory signs, handshakes and scared children being pushed our way) we never grew tired of the fame game throughout China and it makes me smile to think Me Emma and Alice will be on some Chinese people mantlpieces some day. Other attractions were the local hot pot restaurants (dipping various meats/vegs into Sichan hotpot - not the best!), snank street (Pory pitters!) and the Pandas which were so funny to watch clumsily falling and playfighting around it was time to head on.
Leshan & Emei Shan
Next stop Leshan the massive budda carved into the
Cormorant Fishing Man
side of the mountain, then onto Emei Shan where we stayed 3 night in a genuine monestary. Here we saw loads of Temples, had a good walk through the mountains & relaxed at a Spa! We was under the impression that waking up to monks would be a relaxing experience, however after 3 mornings of GONG GONG GONG at 4.30am it was heads under the pillows...the chanting that followed did put us back to sleep though!
Home of the Terracotta Warriors. We spent a whole morning visiting 3 pit sites containing the warriors (or the remains of), believe it or not they were only discovered in 1974! Archeologists are still uncovering more pits (open to the public next yr), however the Emperor Qui Shi Huangdi tomb still remains unfound. The rest of our time in Xian was spent bartering at the market and eating Kebabs in the Muslim Quarter, as well as cycling the ancient city walls and singing away at Chiense Karoke! Private room, cheesy songs and plently of Vodka!
Our final desintation. But no rest for the wicked! Bobo had us all up early visiting the great wall, Olympic stadium, Tiananmen Square, the Forbidden
Market we visited before Cooking School
City and a acrobatics show. The great wall was a definate highlight - clear blue skies and great scenery. It was suprising to see very few tourist on this part of the wall (Jinshanling to Simatai) and at times we had the wall to ourselves!
And so our 3 week journey had to come to an end and all that was left was to have a final group meal and hit the bright lights of the beijing bars to talk about our travels and say our goodbyes. Everyone went their seperate ways but our trip continued in Beijing. We moved to a hostel with Alice in tow (we just couldn't shake her off) and spent our finals days bartering at the silk market, relaxing at the brillant Pecking Youth Hostel and cycling through the hutongs of Beijing. Oh, one more thing Beijing is famous for crispy duck pancakes but like most of the food in China it was nothing like "english" Chinese! - They eat everything - Duck Tongues, Chicken bones, Dogs, Intestines, pigs throat and every part of anything that moves!
Overall, we have throughly enjoyed our adverture through China - our favorite parts was the actual
"travel" through China - The overnight trains were brillant! and meeting the friendly people who made us feel more than welcome.
So there is only one thing to say "I'm a celebrity get me out of here......"
See you all very soon, we fly back to England on the 24th July
There are more photos below