Myself and my girlfriend, bestfriend and travelling companion, Alison are both staring down the barrel of starting careers in the legal profession (yawn), and thus decided that the transition from liberal, care free students to boring, 9-5 droids could only be properly achieved by embarking on the "trip-of-a-lifetime"!
And so it is that we are off to China for the next two months on a gastronomical, cultural, spiritual (blah blah blah) extravaganza!!
Goodbye Aberdeen, friends, family and acquaintances...watch this space!
July 27th 2006
"From there we are looking into entering Guizhou province the hard way (fancy that!) - how this actually pans out, remains to be seen!" ...well, it didn't!! That's not entirely true. We started out in the right direction, we just didn't get very far! There were early signs that things were not going to go to plan. North of Yangshuo, we arrived in Longsheng in the dark and brandishing a youth hostel flyer at all and sundry. Eventually we were ushered into a taxi mini-van which took off into the night at a terrifying pace. It soon became clear that our agreed 6 Yuan taxi fare was most definitely a 60 Yuan one after all. Longsheng Youth Hostel clearly had a bit of the Ryanair airport about it - i.e. it was nowhere near its namesake! ... read more
July 12th 2006
We've covered very little ground since our last update, but we fear that our route over the next seven to ten days may take us past very few modern luxuries, let alone an internet connection. Although we have not travelled very far from Guangzhou, as the crow flies it's probably only a couple of hundred kilometers (or just round the corner in Chinese terms), we have used just about every method of transport imaginable, and seen the landscape turn from the industry and wealth of southern Guangdong, to the "other-worldly topography" of Guilin and Yangshuo. We travelled from Guangzhou to Guilin on an over night bus, which is always a bit of a lottery in China. There are various thing running through your mind as you approach the departure stand: is it going to be a ... read more
July 7th 2006
We have arrived back into mainland China after a few days in Hong Kong, and we have extremely mixed feelings at this point: on the one hand we are sorry to say good bye to the luxuries and ease of living that Hong Kong afforded us (see later), but on the other hand we are excited about getting our travelling boots back on and exploring some more of this amazing country. We arrived into Hong Kong from Kunming, and before that, Dali. Dali is another traveller's Mecca in the Yunnan province, but has a completely different vibe from Lijiang. Whereas Lijiang was the highly polished, finished article, favoured by wealthy Chinese tourists, Dali was a much more laid back and homely place to unwind. The surrounding landscape was so lush - lakes, mountains, rice paddies, and ... read more
June 27th 2006
We've now made it into the Yunnan province, and are nicely nestled in the picturesque and peaceful old town of Lijiang where we are recovering from a gruelling journey across the Sichuan-Tibet Highway and through Tiger Leaping Gorge. We left Chengdu a little over a week ago and headed West towards Tibet and our first stop, Kangding, or Kang-ming as it should be called. Beautiful setting, and the town is carved in two by a ferocious torrent of a river, however the town itself has nothing to offer - grim concrete blocks and squalid living conditions. You can imagine how happy we were when we arrived at the bus station at 6.30am the following morning to be told that the only bus out that day was full. But as so often happens when you hit rock ... read more
June 17th 2006
So here we are in Chengdu - home of the panda, the hotpot and the beautiful Sichuan girls that Alasdair has been promised ever since our arrival in China! But first, back to Xian. We spent a really enjoyable few days in this city. It struck a good balance between the hectic, modern capital of Beijing and the deliberately small-town Pingyao. As an ancient capital itself and the Eastern terminus of the Silk Road, Xian has its own rich cultural and historical appeal. Within the city walls, we climbed the Bell Tower and the Drum Tower and looked at ... bells ... and ... drums! We went up the Drum Tower at night which seems to be the time to experience Xian, and the evening is most definitely the time when the city comes to life. ... read more
June 14th 2006
The 15p per hour internet cafe is providing much welcome relief and relaxation after the exertion of the past 36 hours. At 10am yesterday morning we boarded a minibus outside Xian train station bound for Hua Shan (mount Hua, a famous taoist mountain with 5 peaks, 120km east of Xian). We left at 11:30... We arrived 1 and a half hours later, and the sky was grey and heavy with light rain, even at the foot of the mountain. Looking skyward the peaks were hidden in the mist, which was probably just as well - what you don't know can't hurt you. Aye, right! There are three options that can lead you to the North peak: the first is an Austrian built cable car which takes you up in about 10 minutes; the second, a sweaty ... read more
June 11th 2006
We've taken a little bit of time out from the scorching heat of Xi'an to update you with our progress since leaving Beijing on Thursday night... We took the 'hard sleeper' option overnight to Pingyao, southwest and inland from Beijing. We booked our tickets easily the day before from the ticket office inside Beijing Central Station (the lady at the far right booth spoke English :-)), and got onto the train without any real fuss. The West station (where we travelled from) is very well organised and felt more like an airport with baggage scanners, ticket checks etc... Don't be put off by the crowds in the gate waiting area - ticket checks are thorough and no-one will nick your seat! The sleeper berths are interesting - 2 beds wide and 3 beds high, they are ... read more
June 7th 2006
Firstly, with regards the last blog, I apologise for the lack of stirring photos of the Great Wall etc., but the digital camera was in Alison's bag... (fortunately, we still had the SLR). I guess you'll just have to wait for my return to the UK for me to bore you senseless with slide after slide, after slide, after slide...zzzzzzzz This entry is more for the benefit of would be visitors to Beijing, but may still be of interest to friends and family back home, as it is a few hints and tips that may help you save time, and money in and around Beijing. Accommodation We stayed in the City Central Beijing International Youth Hostel - try saying that with a mouthful of yams! It has a broad range of rooms from dorm beds at ... read more
June 6th 2006
Dair: We've been in Beijing for going on five days now, and I know this sounds cliched, but it seems like an absolute lifetime has passed since we left Aberdeen. It has been an unsettling past few days, mainly because of every traveller's (or any airline passenger's, for that matter) worst nightmare - lost luggage. We arrived pretty much on time in Beijing after an extremely comfortable flight, but all good feeling toward Qatar Airways quickly evaporated with each bagless rotation of the carousel. To make matters worse, it wasn't a mutual seen of desperation... my bag arrived, only Alison's failed to make it out of Doha. Nerves hanging by a thread, we summoned up the energy to go through the necessary reporting procedures and board a bus into central Beijing. It was horribly overcast, and ... read more