I had been intending on solely writing my own journal during my time outside the Shires, but I love reading other people's travel stories, so I thought I'd add my penny to proceedings. I've no expectations as to who will be interested enough to read it but I'm guessing my main audience will be procrastinating friends and family wondering where I've bogged-off to and who fancy reading something other than TFL's latest update on engineering works on the Bakerloo line...
For those who don't know I have a 9 month AIESEC internship in Beijing with a Chinese company and hopefully good solid adventures will ensue.
Expect Wind turbines
, the Orient
and chicken feet
all to feature strongly. Hazzah!
“People travel to faraway places to watch, in fascination, the kind of people they ignore at home.
” Dagobert D. Runes
If you have a strong constitution, you can even subscribe
to being prodded whenever I put something up.
September 28th 2010
Leg 1: Beijing-South Korea-Japan-Shanghai An Auspicious Start We were sitting on the deck of the Suzhou Hao, plying our way past craggy islands and bobbing fishing vessels, whilst gulls (with South Korean accents( squawked overhead when a Korean dude gave us a nod and a hearty hello. We beckoned him to sit down next to us, and he took up the offer with a warm smile. Alas, though, conversation was never going to flow smoothly. He did know fives times as many English words as we knew Korean, but that only made 10. However he was keen to know where we were from, so he took a stab. Uzbekistan? I was flabberghasted. Of all places. Here we were sailing from Qingdao on the Chinese coast to Incheon on the start of 2 1/2 months bumbling around ... read more
September 1st 2010
Beijing In a Photo I was looking for a photo that really represented Beijing and China for me, and this is definitely it. I love the fact that on one hand you have a little girl's balloon which sums up the colour, vibrancy and positivity that floats around the place at the moment. But on the other hand you still have Mao, and his old ways, keeping a watch Reflections on my Time As I finished the drink and looked round for the nearest bin I fell straight into her stare. The stare was piercing, and came from deep inside her eyes. I knew immediately what the old woman wanted. She wanted my empty plastic bottle. While I sat outside that tube station waiting for my friend I watched this little old lady as she scanned ... read more
August 21st 2010
We were in Inner Mongolia for the open spaces of the grasslands and the fresh air they bring. To reach them we had taken a bus 2hours north from Hohhot to the little tourist settlement of Zhaohe. On reaching Zhaohe the coach dropped us off in a large, developed camp. I’d read that slightly smaller, more bijou camps could be found further north in more peaceful surrounds, so we left, leaving a trail of unhappy hawkers to search further afield. In the town itself we were approached by a masked woman on a motorcycle wanting to sell us a Ger for the night (or as it is in Chinese - Menggu Bao, Bao being the word for white steamed bread buns). Both negotiating parties then played their part to the textbook; she was insistent with initially ... read more
August 19th 2010
Mongol Vs Conductor We had taken our seats and were waiting for the bus to fill when the old Mongolian got on. Every craggy feature on his wizened old face had a story to tell - none more so than the large cleft in his left ear. Aimless, incoherent mutterings fell from his toothless mouth. Here was a character who had many a battle behind him. Bent double, he slowly lurched down the bus before listing heavily and landing with a bump in the corner of the back row. But soon there was some discontent. There was one more person than seat, and our Mongol didn’t have a ticket. He was stubborn and stoic though and wasn’t about to give in. And thus the problem had been defined. On one side of the negotiating table ... read more
August 13th 2010
There is a buzz around China at the moment. No, not that misfiring scooter that’s just gone past, but a more permanent buzz - Shanghai’s World Expo. The World Expo is showcase for the World. Each country has a pavillion (the size of which being dictated by the size of it’s political ego), showing tit-bits that aim to represent and flaunt each country’s virtues. It’s only held every 5 years, the last one being in Japan, and as with the Beijing Olympics China has made sure no-one can accuse them of undercooking their hosting of the event. The World Expo is everywhere. Television adverts run between documentaries about the Expo and its effect on Shanghai. The news brings updates on how queueing visitors are coping with the heat, and snapshots of the country who’s Pavilion day ... read more
August 10th 2010
During my time in China I had until this point only had weekends to travel. Though with sleeper trains your range can be large - Harbin, Nanjing, Hangzhou, it is nonetheless limited. But a two week holiday really allowed for some exploration further afield, namely the South. Beijing - Hong Kong I enjoy long distance train rides far more than is natural, or within fair reason. I’d been secretly looking forward to my 21hour journey from Beijing to the southern city of Guangzhou since I’d got my paws on the ticket. On a train your time is your own, and there is no pressure to do anything. You can on one hand sit for hours, staring out the window, watching the landscape develop as the world drifts by while on the other still feel remarkably productive ... read more
August 3rd 2010
The coach driver was insistent that this was our stop. I was less convinced. For starters it didn’t look like a bus stop. Bus stops normally have rickety shelters and old ladies discussing the price of vegetables. At the very least there should be a disaffected teenager dragging on a fag. This had nothing. In fact, casting a gaze up and down the road it appeared we weren’t in a town at all; our current location looked more like a highway. There were two lanes of traffic rumbling past in both directions, a central reservation and a hard shoulder. The next we knew of it we were stood next to our bags contemplating our predicament as the coach door wheezed to a close and the bus spluttered off on its way. There are certain things I ... read more
July 7th 2010
Beidaihe, Hebei Province For me there are three main activities which make a trip to the seaside so much fun. Firstly there is building sandcastles, secondly there is skimming stones and thirdly there is watching other people. In Beidaihe, northern China’s premier beach resort, the sand is entirely the wrong consistency for structural endeavours and there isn’t a pebble anywhere in sight. This means all your time is free to concentrate on watching your fellow beach dwellers as they flit undecidedly between the beach and the sea. It was a splendid way to spend a weekend. Political Escape Beidaihe is only 2 hours by fast train from Beijing. It is known for its sandy beaches and has been a favoured get away for communist politicians over the last few decades. Mao himself spent much time at ... read more
June 24th 2010
The Quest Goes South, and Other Tales from the Middle Kingdom The festival of DuanWuJie is a time for racing dragon boats and eating zongzi - nuggets of rice wrapped in bamboo leaves. Alas I didn’t achieve the first, but I did achieve the second on my trip to Zhengzhou. I took the trip 700km south of Beijing to Henan province to visit a friend, and to see the sights the province (which has a larger population than Germany) has to show. Kaifeng After I had arrived by overnight train to the bustling station at Zhengzhou we took a morning bus for a day trip to Kaifeng. Kaifeng is an old capital of China - centre of the Northern Song (Bei Song) dynasty a thousand years ago. Though it was built 25km south of the yellow ... read more
June 21st 2010
I’d like to describe to you the little area of Beijing where I live, a functional area of town that has gradually become my home. With a bit of luck it may even give you a little insight into my day to day life in the process. YiZhuang Business Development Area I live in an area of the city called YiZhuang. It is a Business Development Area in the far south east of the city, lying between the 5th and 6th ring roads and about 15km from Tiananmen square (a 3 hour walk if you’re wondering). The area has no natural soul whatsoever, it is heavy on multinationals, factories and tower blocks packed with apartments. No building here is more than a decade old yet it is bought to life by the collection of people who ... read more