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Asia » China » Hunan » Fenghuang June 19th 2015

"First Lone Train Ride" I have mentioned before the timelessness of a place, but a night time train rides are more like a stagnant time period. Seating in an aisle seat with only a few more words added to my Chinese vocabulary scared me. This was unfortunately the adventure I had agreed to take by accepting my friend's invitation. It was like the times I had walked alone on the streets of Paris or the streets and parks of Jinhua because of the freedom it gave me. Unfortunately, the language barrier seemed more heavy on my shoulders in this confined space in time. The lack of my heavy suitcase was the only boon I received during this first lone ride. I travelled much lighter this time with only my courier bag, black trench coat, and my ... read more
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Asia » China » Hunan » ChangSha May 3rd 2015

Hi All, We moved on to Changsha to go and see our final founding father of the Communist Party Liu ShaoQi. Liu was a poiltician through and through. In the 30s he was involved in politics both locally and nationally. On the formation of the People's Republic of China he was Vice-Chairman. Liu spoke in favour of the Great Leap Forward and was thus made President in 1959. Along with Deng XiaoPing he lead the economic reforms which dragged China out of the mire after the great famine. By 1962 it was widely accepted that he was Mao's successor. However he began to disapprove of Mao's policies and as Mao's prestige grew again in the 60s it became inevitable that Liu would be toppled. by 1966 it became clear that there was a need for policies ... read more
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Asia » China » Hunan » Xiangtan May 3rd 2015

Hi All, Day two of our tour of Communist Party heroes. Peng DeHuai. Peng DeHuai was a a professional soldier who came from a poor farming family near Xiangtan in Hunan. He started a s a soldier for the local warlord and later joined the Red Army and aligned himself with Mao Zedong and Zhu De. General Peng, as he was to become, was a very good commander, being a straight talker and nort taking fools lightly. He would always w\make sure his soldiers had food in theoir bellyd and this made him very popular. He was involved in the Long March and defended the soviet set up in Shanxi province from the nationalist and save Mao's life on at least 2 occasions. He was also leader of the Volunteer Force in North Korea holding back ... read more
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Asia » China » Hunan » Shaoshan May 3rd 2015

Hi All, I know I've been before but this time I stayed in Xiangtan and didn't just go for the day. Xiangtan as a city is nothing remarkable but it is a great place to set up base camp to visit the former homes of the Communist party's founding fathers. So first on the list, the big one Mao ZeDong. It's remarkable how this man geld, and to some extent still does, such a power over the Chinese people. The young and old come to lay wreaths and say prayers in front of the statue in Mao Zedong square. The museum is full of Mao's possessions. Amazing that he had a huge library of books, smoked continuously, drank and ate only the best, the way his trousers waistline grew over the years being testament to swaths, ... read more
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Asia » China » Hunan » Shaoyang May 3rd 2015

Hi All, Situated in Loudi county only a 4 and a half hour bus ride away is the former residence of Zeng GuoFan. Zeng was a soldier in the late Qing dynasty being loyal to the emperor and helping to quell the Taiping rebellion. For his loyalty he was made a Marquis and had this wonderful house built. It is the largest house of this type remaining in China. It only survived the ravages of the Cultural Revolution because it was used by the Red Guards as a barracks and meeting place. There are some faded Chinese characters on the front of the building from this era although it is impossible to see what they actually say. Inside there is some Mao ZeDong Thought graffiti that has survived and has been preserved. Zeng was a devout ... read more
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Asia » China » Hunan » Shaoyang May 3rd 2015

Hi All, Up in the mountains of LongHui county live the HuaYao Chinese minority. I have been here before 4 years ago so it was good to go back and see if anything has changed. The answer not really. The bus ride from Longhui to Xiaoshajiang takse around 3 and a half hours and the first half of the journey is done on what I can only describe as dirt roads. The road is under construction and it is very bumpy and very uncomfortable. On the way there we had to stand up all the way too. It is all worthwhile as the scenery around Xiaoshajiang is simply stunning. We hired a motorbike taxi for the day, 200 rmb and we bought him lunch, and he took us all around the local sites. I do enjoy ... read more
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Asia » China » Hunan » ChangSha April 25th 2015

Today is a little bit of a sad start to the day for me as I hear news of my friends mum passing, my thoughts will be with him today. Yesterday was another relaxed start to the day, Marcus disappeared to teach some lesson which left us to get showered and dressed and pack our bag. When Marcus came back and was ready we went off to the school canteen for a spot of lunch and then to his last lesson of the day, towards the end of the lesson Marcus decided to play the "one frog jumped in the pond kerplunk" game, I will post a video on facebook later for those who don't know what this is, Marcus decided to use myself and Claire to demonstrate, the funny thing was the kids who got ... read more
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Asia » China » Hunan » Zhangjiajie April 24th 2015

As we sit in Marcus apartment waiting for him to finish a lesson and go to lunch in the school canteen I though I would update the blog with yesterdays news. Day 2 in Zangjiajie was another relaxed start to the day, not up to early but early enough. Once we were all ready we checked out, left our bags with Cozi at the hotel and headed off to the cable car lift to Tianmen Shan. First stop was at the little restaurant on the edge of the street round the corner from the hotel for breakfast noodles and something that resembled deep fried doughnut sticks which you dip in the sauce of the noodles. From there we headed round to the start of the cable car to collect our tickets and queue for the next ... read more
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Asia » China » Hunan » Zhangjiajie April 22nd 2015

Today was a relaxed start to the day, no getting up to early. Once we were all ready we headed round to the bus station via a food hall for breakfast, Claire and Marcus decided to opt for dumplings and I had noodles, the food was lovely and for about £2.80 you can't complain. After we finished we popped into the supermarket for supplies and onto the bus for Zangjiajie national park. Thank god for having Marcus with us who can speak a bit of the lingo. Once we got to the park and paid to get in we headed to the cable car, there was no way Claire was going to walk up this mountain and to be honest I'm glad we didn't, whilst walking to the cable car a guide stopped us and offered ... read more
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Asia » China » Hunan April 21st 2015

After a restless night on the train we woke at about 6.30ish and packed up ready to depart. Once we arrived at the train station and headed out I suddenly saw a little man waving at us, it was Marcus, yah we done it. After Claire gave him the biggest hug he marched us away from the station and flagged down a taxi driver an we headed of towards Marcus school. That was an interesting drive, I think he was at the end of a long night shift, whilst travelling along he started slapping himself round the back of his neck, hanging out the window and splashing water on his face and at one point he actually nodded off at a set of traffic lights but in spite of this we get her safe. We jumped ... read more
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