John R


John R

I have a list on my wall showing "Things to do before I die", and cycling through China was one of them!

Asia » China » Shanghai April 22nd 2012

Today is the final day of my 3-week trip to China. I occasionally see something that reminds me of an event earlier in the trip (such as discovering my bike pedals in my bag) and I find it amazing that I'm still on the same trip. And I have 1200 photos to prove it! After packing my bags (more about that later) and checking out of the hotel, I thought I'd head to Pudong on the eastern side of the river. That's where all the large office buildings congregate, including the big bottle opener. As I was walking to the subway, someone asked me to take a picture for them. It was a local Shanghai guy with his cousin visiting from Beijing. We had a chat about various things and the cousin admitted that Shanghai is ... read more
Jumeirah Himalayas Hotel
Big bottle opener
Model of Shanghai

Asia » China » Shanghai April 20th 2012

I have a weighty problem. About 10kg of weight. No, it's not what I put on during my trip, and while I had a short bout of tummy problems it's not what I lost either. You see, I have a 23kg weight limit on my baggage when I go home. Coming into Shanghai, my bag weighed 22.9kg. And I just bought a heap of heavy stuff. That's going to be a problem at the airport. My day started with the included buffet breakfast, and it was fantastic! A mixture of East and West, I filled up before I could try everything. They've even got an array of sweet Asian Bread stuff and what looked like cheesecake. I was a very happy boy! I then went for a bike tour of Shanghai. In researching my trip, I ... read more
Doctor Who... with wifi!
Antiques galore!

Asia » China » Shanghai April 19th 2012

I quite like Shanghai. I've only been here a half day but I think I like the 'feel' of this city more than others on my trip. Cars actually stop at traffic lights (except for those turning right, which ignore both lights and pedestrians); it has a nice-looking harbour featuring interesting buildings, with enough bright lights to rival Hong Kong; it has an extensive subway system (but some really mis-aligned changeover points); and there's more foreigners here than any city I've visited. But most of all, it's probably the fact that I now have the freedom to do what I want rather than being on an organised tour. Just yesterday I was contemplating cutting my holiday early and heading home. It had become too much of a slog rather than a holiday. It reminded me of ... read more
Shanghai skyline (with cloudline)
Tourist Tunnel crappiness
The famous Shanghai Apple Store

Asia » China » Beijing April 18th 2012

Boy, this trip has gone on too long for my liking. Partly it's the duration, but it's also the fact that each day is 'organised' and many such things are not to my liking, such as historical and religious stuff. Which basically sums up today. We paid a visit to the Emperor's (ex-) Summer Palace, where he used to relax each year. There's a big lake that people these days hire boats to ride across, the world's largest corridor with handmade paintings on the eaves, a bridge with hundreds of lions, the country's largest pagoda, etc. All very pretty but I've seen so many pagodas they no longer impress me. We next passed through the Beijing 2008 Olympics area and saw the Birds Nest and Water Cube from afar. They didn't make a particularly imposing impression ... read more
Olympic bird's nest... with pollution?
Was she genuine? I'll never know.
Umbrellas appear for sale like magic

Asia » China » The Great Wall April 17th 2012

An early start this morning to head to the Great Wall. While we were originally scheduled to go to the Huang Ya Guan section that is 3 hours away, it was changed to the Mutianyu section, only 90 minutes away. The drive out was fairly monotonous, with no information from Our guide for the day, Cecelia. Once we arrived, Cecelia purchased our tickets, handed them to us and said "You go up this way. See you again in four hours!" Lyle and I were both shocked that our tour guide was not going to be our 'tour guide'. Nonetheless, we headed up the slope, with innumerable steps up to the Wall. Less physical people can opt to take a cable car or chair lift. The Wall was fantastic and exactly what I had expected. It was ... read more
The steep bit
Beijing Apple Store
Look for the tall guy with a sign...

Asia » China » Beijing » Forbidden City April 16th 2012

Sleeping on the train was actually OK. I managed to change into trackpants and T-shirt and had a doona if I felt cold. While I woke various times during the night (including when some of the people went in and out of the room, sometimes stepping on my lower bed), I got a lot of sleep until the attendant came in at 7am and announced the time (we were due in at 7.25am). We were told that our local guide, Leon, would meet us at the platform but once the platform cleared there was no one in sight. Fortunately I had been given his phone number, so I gave him a call. He was running late and advised to wait. Yet another example of the benefits of getting a local SIM card before starting my trip ... read more
Forbidden City
Old Beijing
The "Disgusting Food" market

Asia » China April 15th 2012

Day 14 This was a changeover day from the 2-week cycling portion to the remaining 1-week touring portion. We used our last hours in Yangshuo for some final activities. Some people had massages at Dr Lily ("as seen in Lonely Planet") while I looked at local shops and parks. We farewelled Birgit, who is flying out at night, and we were driven 2 hours to Guilin Airport. Our tour guide pointed Lyle and me to the airport, said "Look for the JD flight" and said goodbye. Thankfully, we found the Capital Airlines flight going to Xi'an and they had our booking. We also said goodbye to Graham and Jane, who are flying back to Australia. In Xi'an, we were met by our new tour guide, George, and driver, Mr Jai. One thing I must say about ... read more
Food in the Xi'an Muslim Quarter
Obligatory Terracotta Warriors statue
Pagodas and Fountains, together at last!

Asia » China April 13th 2012

Now that I've complete the first part of this tour, it's probably worth noting a few of my observations. First, I should explain that I am actually doing an 18-day "China by Bike" tour, of which the first 12 days matches the "Backroads to Yangshuo" tour. Four of the six people in my tour group leave at this stage, with only two of us continuing for the full 18 days. So, what did I think about the trip? Several things... 1. China is not what I expected Yes, I expected riding through rice fields and I got plenty of that. However, I had envisaged it as riding along dirt roads and staying in shanty-like accommodation. Instead, we had paved roads (although in various states of disrepair in certain spots) and all accommodation was safe, clean and ... read more
Gleaming infrastructure
Bicycles transport everything!
Rural homes

Asia » China April 12th 2012

Distance: 30km People who enjoy travelling typically also enjoy immersing themselves in the local culture. This tour group was no different - we have enjoyed sampling the local food and we much prefer ambling through narrow streets with authentic shops rather than visiting large shopping centres. Thus, breakfast became a point of interest. Here at the Li River Hotel, the restaurant serves two types of breakfast. To the Chinese visitors it serves congee, noodles, steamed buns and eggs. To Western visitors it serves fried egg, bacon, tomato and toast with marmalade. Our group didn't like this distinction, so this morning Lyle, Jane and Birgit decided to change the standard by ordering Chinese. It was a fun experience for them, but I suspect that tomorrow they'll be ordering the eggs! Today was our final day of riding. ... read more
Moon Hill, 841 steps later
Bamboo boating

Asia » China April 11th 2012

Distance: 53km As if my sore bottom were not enough, I awoke during the night with a case of "the runs". It might have been due to the lettuce served with our meal last night (if not washed cleanly) but others ate it too. Anyway, I just had dry toast for breakfast and took a couple of Imodium. Today's adventure was a 53km ride to Jin Bao and Baisha. The first challenge was negotiating the roads near our hotel, the Li River Hotel. The roads are a mixture of trucks, cars, motorbikes, bicycles and pedestrians, in order of priority. It's really amazing how I have not witnessed any actual road accidents given the way people drive over here, I guess they're just used to it. The road took us to a countryside area where we ascended ... read more
Automated donkeys
Thousand Year Egg

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