Page 3 of MarkandLara Travel Blog Posts

Europe » France » Île-de-France June 14th 2015

After a lovely breakfast in our hotel, we set off to explore Paris, taking the RER to the Eiffel Tower. As was rather predictable on a sunny Saturday in June, the queue was quite long, and by the time we got to the ticket booth they would only sell tickets to the second level. The view was still excellent, and we even braved the glass floor to look over where we'd queued earlier! From the Eiffel Tower, we strolled around the centre of Paris, past les Invalides, to the Champs Elysees, the Louvre and the Notre Dame. It was very hot and sunny, and we paused several times in different parks, and in le Petit Palais. We ended the day in the Latin Quarter, with a very pleasant three course dinner (including ice cream for dessert, ... read more
View to Sacre Coeur
A fancy bridge

Europe » France » Île-de-France June 13th 2015

We're making the most of me (Lara) being in Paris for work on a Friday to spend a weekend here. Having escaped a long day in a subterranean conference centre, I escaped into the heat of the late afternoon sun to go underground again and catch the metro to meet Mark at our hotel!We headed out to Montmartre, a short walk away. Hungry after the rather dodgy lunchtime offering at the conference centre (soggy fried cheese anyone?) we had a lovely dinner including ice cream. Very nice chocolate, coffee ... read more
Moulin Rouge
View from the Sacre Coeur
Ice cream

Asia » Hong Kong » Kowloon September 21st 2014

On our way to Hong Kong airport after a hot and sunny day in the city. Sad that it's the end of our trip :-(... read more

Asia » Hong Kong » Kowloon September 20th 2014

A couple of days ago, we took an overnight train from Guilin to Shenzhen. Sadly this time we were right at the end of the carriage, and the other passengers in our compartment were very loud, so we didn't get a lot of sleep. Overall though, the sleeper trains have been a good way to travel, covering a lot of distance in relative comfort. At Shenzhen station, we walked across the border into Hong Kong - quite a few pieces of paper are used in the process of crossing! From there, we got the MTR to our hotel, near Austin station, in Kowloon. Yesterday afternoon, we walked to the harbour and sailed across on the star ferry. Whilst food here is quite close to prices at home, transport is still far cheaper, and you get a ... read more

Asia » China » Guangxi » Yangshuo September 17th 2014

We arrived in Yangshuo after a scary bus ride, where the driver seemed intent on overtaking everything, regardless of what was coming the other way, on a very bumpy road. We also discovered that the Chinese way to deal with telephone lines down across the road is the driving equivalent of a scrum to be first to have a man climb on the vehicle to pass them over... Anyway, once here we discovered that the weird-shaped karst scenery is really spectacular. Yangshuo itself is quite touristy, in an oddly Western way (it really doesn't feel like China), but it's surrounded by limestone peaks on either side of the Li river - in our first afternoon we climbed up a couple of them for the view. Today we went cycling, first to moon hill, a mountain with ... read more
Man with water buffalo

Asia » China » Hubei » Yichang September 15th 2014

After a very long bus ride from Emei Shan, we arrived in Chongqing. It took nine hours, when it should have been around five, and included a stop at the most horrible ladies toilets ever! It was interesting to see some of the countryside, but we were very glad to get on our boat, the Oriental Emperor. The boat set sail along the Yangtze overnight with about 150 Chinese tourists and our small group. At breakfast the next morning, a few Chinese people stood and stared at us eating - it would have been disconcerting if we hadn't already been photographed lots by Chinese people, including a monk with an iPad... The next day we docked at a couple of places - they weren't keen on letting you off the boat unless you paid for their ... read more

Asia » China » Sichuan » Emei Shan September 11th 2014

After a breakfast of fried egg (with chopsticks) and bread, we set off on a bus part way up Mt Emei. Along with lots of other people, we climbed up a steep path with lots of steps past some pagodas and a temple to an area with lots of monkeys. We walked further up the mountain to another temple - what should have been a peaceful place was over run with Chinese tourists and their guides with loud microphones! After a nice lunch of wanton soup we walked back to Baoguo Monastery where we were staying. Clearly most people don't walk that far, and it was really nice and quiet walking amongst the bamboo and interesting wildlife, and visiting several monasteries with no other visitors. Ate dinner in town, and whilst the food was nice, seeing ... read more

Asia September 10th 2014

We got to the panda breeding center just after 8am, and saw a group of 2 year old pandas as they were finishing eating. They were clumsily climbing around their big enclosure, which was really amusing. We also saw 5 adorable baby pandas on a big bed, and several sleepy adults in trees. From Chengdu, we drove in a minibus for about 3 hours to Leshan, where we went on a short boat trip to see Dafo, a massive Buddha carved into the cliffs over a thousand years ago. We then drove for a further hour to Emei Shan, where we stayed in the Baoguo monastery - nice to wander around in the evening, and early morning when it's quiet, but the toilets and showers were pretty horrible.... read more
Lots of 2 year old pandas
Baby pandas!

Asia » China » Sichuan » Chengdu September 9th 2014

We flew to Chengdu this morning, and arrived just before 9. Once we'd checked into our hotel we headed out to a nearby area with lots of food stalls and restaurants for lunch. We stuck with wanton soup and rice cakes rather than the pigs' snouts on offer... This afternoon we went to the people's square, which has a big statue of Mao, and the people's park. In the park were lots of people dancing, singing, catwalking, playing badminton, mahjong, cards or drinking tea. There were even men painting calligraphy on the ground with water. Dinner was a Sichuan hot pot, a simmering pot of chilli, peppercorns and oil that you cook your own food in. Not as spicy as we feared from the hype, but quite greasy! Tomorrow we're heading to the giant panda breeding ... read more

Asia » China » Shaanxi » Xi'an September 8th 2014

Another early start saw us heading 40km out of Xi'an to the terracotta warriors. There are three pits, one with a large number of figures that have been pieced back together, but the majority still not excavated - it is very large. The second pit is a similar size, but mostly not excavated, and the third is small and has the figures of army commanders. Quite impressive that they were constructed so long ago, although apparently the emperor whose tomb they guarded ordered all books about technology to be destroyed, so it took many years for techniques used in their construction to be reinvented. Back in Xi'an in the afternoon, we had a couple of hours of dry weather, so we cycled 14km around the city walls - it was a good view of the city, ... read more
Terracotta warriors
Terracotta warriors
Terracotta warriors

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