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Published: January 24th 2011
So this is it. How time flies. Back in late September we crossed into China with excitement and slight nervousness. After spending several weeks in Central Asia we were excited for the cultural change as well as the food, but a little apprehensive about the language barrier and population. The food has been great, and the language barrier wasn't really an issue (though it made things interesting every once in a while). Now, four months later we are looking forward to another change of scenery when we fly to New Zealand for summer weather, beautiful nature, fresh air, and low population density.
As our final tourist activity, we went to go visit the giant pandas. Our trip to China would not be complete without seeing them. The last time either of us had seen a real live panda was back in 1988 when the Calgary Zoo was loaned a pair coinciding with the winter Olympics. The pandas are super cute, especially the little ones. The adults just sat there eating, but the little ones were actually quite active and were playing around, climbing trees and chasing each other.
We really enjoyed our time in China and think that we
were able to get a good feel for the country as we travelled from the far north-west all the way through the central, eastern and southern bits. Though the country is so massive, there are many areas that we did not have time to visit. In some respects it’s been a real love-hate relationship. We quickly grew tired of the sprawling, densely populated, polluted cities, yet we really enjoyed our time in the rural farming communities and mountainous areas.
So with that said, we’ll try to summarize some of our highlights, favourites, and frustrations:
Our top ten list of places we've seen and would highly recommend: 1. Karakoram highway
- incredible mountain scenery 2. Kashgar
- awesome animal market 3. Xiahe
- Labrang monastery, Tibetan culture 4. Pingyao
- Best old town/walled city 5. Great Wall, Beijing
- One of the 7 wonders of the world 6. Xingping
- Laid back, small town, great scenery, better than Yangshuo 7. Rice terraces
- both Longsheng (Dazhai) & Yuanyang (Duoyishu) 8. Village of Hongcun
- picturesque old China 9. Hua Shan sacred mountain
- steep climb, crazy crowds, great views 10. Mogao caves, Dunhuang
- intersting well-preserved cave artwork
and buddha statues
Other random thoughts... Most frustrating moments:
Trying to sneak around the ticket checkpoint in Shangri-la (twice).
Trying to find a hotel in the city of Yongding.
Trying to go anywhere on city buses when we don't know the routes or stops. Scariest moment:
Blue screen of death on our netbook, Duoyishu (thankfully recovered after a re-boot) - In other words, China is a pretty safe country to visit. Favorite food:
Jiaozi, baozi, dumplings, dumplings and more dumplings! Best valued tourist attraction:
Badaling Great wall, Beijing 40 yuan each, not as busy as expected Things we will miss from China:
The dumplings, cheap food, cheap accomodation, reliable transportation, Tsingtao Dark beer, cute dogs and their clothes, free wifi everywhere Things that we probably won't miss about China:
Lack of bathroom doors on public toilets or hotel rooms, population density, pollution/poor air quality, entrance fees for nature Most invaluable posession:
Chinese/English food menu (Thanks Ant & John!) Most random moment:
Chinese guy yelling, "Show me the money!" on his mobile phone at the top of the Shanghai World Financial Centre.
...It's been fun, China! See you next time.
P.S. For fun, we've also included some of our favorite photos we've already posted for China.