A little late in writing this blog but I wanted to at least post my pictures. I did the Geckos Adventures Inland China trip for 17 days which they no longer offer anymore.
The trip started in Hong Kong on a Sunday but I actually arrived one day early so that I could do a little bit of sightseeing. I ended up booking myself at the Intercontinental on HK Island. Well worth the splurge. I really liked Hong Kong but i really didn't have enough time there since I spent most of the next day looking for a battery for my camera. I ended up having to buy a whole new camera.
The tour started at the Salvation Army Hotel on Kowloon, quite a step down from the Intercontinental. The group consisted of about 12 of us Mostly from Canada & Australia. We were to wake up early the next morning to take a ferry to the mainland but a few of us wanted to check out the light show on the harbor.
Next morning we were on a 3 hour hydrofoil ride to Guangzhou to catch a train to Guilin. Boy what a a shock the train
was, we all had to share cabins that were wide open 6 person bunks. This was new to all of us even though we had some pretty seasoned travelers. I've shared cabins before but they have all had doors so at least you had some privacy. There was also a lot of loud spitting going on which by the end of the trip really it annoyed all of us, it happened everywhere we went. Getting up on that top bunk was quite challenging as well. We had a few people in their sixties so we would have to allow them to take the bottom bunks. What was interesting was seeing how the typical local person travels in China, quite different than in the US.
Next morning we hopped on a public bus to Yangshuo for a couple of days. This town ended up being my favorite part of the trip. Its a really cute backpackers spot which some people might hate but I love because of shops and restaurants catering to tourists which at that point in the trip I didn't realize would be so rare. We rented bikes and did a tour of the countryside which was a
fun activity. Oh yes this was also the town where the ATM machine ate my card and left me with only a couple of hundred $. This would prove to be very stressful since most places do not take credit cards and it was difficult getting money from western union which took several Bank trips to get money.
After a couple of days in Yangshuo we took another sleeper train to Wuhan and then caught a bus to Yichang for our cruise on the Yangtze River. Sounds glamorous but this was the worst part of the trip and most upsetting because I thought it would have been the best part. The boat was disgusting and dirty and smoke filled. Still this is how the upper middle class travels here. This was also the only time we saw the sun for the whole trip. China is very polluted so I don't think they know what a clear day looks like. We ended up leaving the boat one day early and staying in Chongqing, China's largest city with 30 million people. It reminded me of San francisco and is built on the side of a mountain in an earthquake zone. Chongqing
ws where our tour leader was from.
Next morning we hopped on a bus headed for Chengdu to visit the Panda Research Center. I really wanted to hold one of the baby pandas but he was sick even though this was definitely one of the trip highlights. Next day we took a side trip to the giant buddha in Leshan, there were so many people here that it was not enjoyable. I got to try Sichuan hot pot which is a really spicy pot of hot oil that you dip various meats and vegetables in like a fondue. We boarded another sleeper car to Xian to see the Terracotta Warriors.
We were all really sick of our long train rides and we actually had one more to go. China is really huge and each off our train rides were about 12-13 hours long And we had 4 total on this trip Including our last overnight train to Beijing.
I am definitely glad i went and saw a lot more of China than most but if I go back to China it will be for a work trip to Shanghai. I would on the other hand go back
to HK in a heartbeat.
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