A Travellerspoint blog

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Preparation

Countdown is on......

This is our first ever blog and we have started it for 3 reasons:

1. So that we have a record of our trip that we can look back at and depress ourselves with once we are back home!;
2. So that any family or friends that are interested can look and share our experiences (without having to share the costs!); and
3. so that future travellers to China can hopefully learn from our experiences as we have done from those that have gone before us.

We don't know how much we will get to update our blog as we travel due to not wanting to spend much time at a PC on our hols along with not knowing if we will be able to access certain websites in China. However we plan to keep a video diary as we travel and will then edit and upload these when we get home. In this way it saves us writing to much while we travel, and also I think best shares our experiences. Also other peoples video blogs are generally the ones we have found most interesting. However neither of us like standing in front of a camera to much but we will do our best.

So with that said our departure date for our 3 week trip to China is fast approaching. It still feels like we have so much to plan and learn about. We fly with Emirates from Glasgow to Shanghai via Dubai (on the Airbus A380!!). The following is a rough day by day itinerary of our schedule so far. You can also see our map below as well.

Day 1: Depart Glasgow :-)
Day 2: Arrive Shanghai
Day 3: Shanghai
Day 4: Shanghai
Day 5: Shanghai/Train/Beijing
Day 6: Beijing - Tiannmen Square (Flag Raising), Forbiddden City, Parks
Day 7: Beijing - The Great Wall & Lama Temple etc
Day 8: Beijing - Summer Palace, Hutong incl Nanluogu Xiang
Day 9: Beijing - Sunday Markets, Parks etc. Night train to Xian
Day 10: Xian - Terracotta Warriors
Day 11: Xian/Hancheng/Dangjiacun
Day 12: Xian
Day 13: Zhengzhou/Najiecun
Day 14: Najiecun/Zhengzhou/Train
Day 15: Train/Guilin/Yangshuo
Day 16: Yangshuo
Day 17: Yangshuo
Day 18: Yangshuo/Guilin/Longsheng
Day 19: Longsheng/Guilin/Train to Guangzhou
Day 20: Guangzhou & Hong Kong
Day 21: Hong Kong
Day 22: Hong Kong
Day 23: Depart Hong Kong, Arrive Glasgow :-(

Posted by SeeYouThere 04:52 Comments (0)

Practising.

Practising with chopsticks!

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On our way!

That's us about to board the first leg of our journey to Dubai. Hope its more comfortable than the bus that went all around the world bringing us to the airport! Hopefully we can post on here again soon x

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Posted by SeeYouThere 06:01 Comments (0)

[Untitled Blog Entry]

Here we go!

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Posted by SeeYouThere 06:21 Comments (1)

Dubai!

Waiting to board our flight from Dubai to shanghai. It's 1am here and 33 degrees C outside! Glad we're not staying here! Hope to sleep well on this flight as we're both tired. Had a really lovely first flight though. Can't believe in 9 hours we'll be in shanghai! X

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Posted by SeeYouThere 15:21 Comments (2)

Shanghai

So we arrived in shanghai at 15.45hrs. Both emirates flights were excellent, couldn't have been better. We then got the maglev train from airport into shanghai. It's the fastest train in the world with an operational speed of 268mph. Depending on track conditions etc though it sometimes does less, like today when it only did 175mph which was disappointing. We're staying at the blue mountain bund youth hostel where we have a lovely double ensuite room with a great view of the city lights. We spent the evening wandering along the bund riverside and were blown away by the views across the river to the skyscrapers at the other side. Then after watching a crowd gather around a policeman trying to sort our a vehicle incident (drivers are nuts) we then ate dinner from a street stall, where the food was cooked in front of us. Even with what we suspect were tourist prices it was 3 quid in total for both our meals which were spicy but delicious. And we got to sit and eat it at the street corner on makeshift tables along with locals which made it a great experience. Here's hoping tomorrow brings just as many new and exciting experiences. Good night.
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Shanghai photos.

First evening in Shanghai.

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Posted by SeeYouThere 16:12 Comments (4)

Beijing. Days 5-8

We haven't updated in several days as the internet has been very slow herein Beijing, and also we have been so busy. Burning the candle at both ends as there has been so much to see and do. On Wednesday we got the bullet train from shanghai to Beijing, covering 1300km in less that 5 hours with speeds over 300km/hr. Really great way to travel, so smooth, none of the hanging about like in airports, can see the scenery, and it's more environmentally friendly of course. On the journey we crossed the 2 longest bridges in the world, the longest being, if I remember correctly, just over 100miles long.

Wednesday evening we went to the area around Houhai lake, it was quite beautiful but a bit to touristy and Spanish resort liking for us. But we did enjoy cycling around on a tandem thingy. The roads in Beijing are Just as nuts as shanghai. It's no surprise that there are around 600 traffic related deaths in China every day apparently. But with over a billlion people I guess a who's counting attitude prevails.

Wednesday night the weather forecast was bad through til Sunday which was disappointing and we changed our plans a bit to try suit. But the weather has been great, except for a shower Thursday night so We are not looking at any more forecasts!

Thursday we went to The summer palace. It's over 200 hectares and is really beautiful with a large lake in the centre, and palace buildings and temples in the grounds. That evening we went and met a group of couchsurfers for some drinks which was really good. People from Spain, Korea, Indonesia, Canada, Finland, and of course China.

Friday we did Tiananmen square, Forbidden city, and Jingshan park. Tiananmen square like everything in China is massive, but is broken up by chairman Mao memorial hall and the monument to The peoples heroes, meaning you don't get the sense that's its as big as it actually is. It was really interesting visiting the memorial hall and being shuffled past chairman mao's preserved body. It's hard to comprehend the number of people who que up everyday to do so, and almost all are Chinese who come to pay their respects (regardless of your views on chairman Mao its crazy to witness the impact he still has on many people. I wonder what he would make of modern day China?!). It was a unique experience and one I would def recommend. After that it was off to The forbidden city which is definitely very impressive but unless your a real history buff then after an hour or so each building just begins to look like the last and the crowds get overwhelming. We then went up to the top of Jingshan park, which was created from the soil dug to make the moat around the forbidden city. From here we had a 360 degrees view of Beijing and we could have stayed sitting there all day. Great place just to watch everything happening. And the views of the forbidden city were superb. We then went to Donghuamen market where they serve up on a skewer pretty much everything you can imagine, from octopus to snake to scorpion to silk worms etc. And there was a big bowl of dog meat simmering away-yummy! We stuck with some relatively safe options as the smell of the fried octopus in particular was really off putting. We then went to Wangfujing street where the markets sell pretty much everything. Quite disturbing they had skewers with live beetles on them which were wiggling their legs. Actually pretty sickening to see. We then splashed out on a lovely Chinese tea set which set us back £8, after some interesting bargaining.

Today, Saturday, we went to the great wall. This was definitely the highlight of the trip so far. We had wondered if it would be an anticlimax and not as good as the hype, but it lives up to its hype and more. There is something very special about it. It's impossible to comprehend how it was built. We went to The Mutianyu section although we had planned to go to huanghua. However people we spoke to yesterday advised us they went there and were stopped from getting on the wall and got lots of hassle so we changed our mind. We got the 867 local bus from dongzhimen bus station direct to mutianyu for £1.60 each, great value. The wall was stunning. We got the cable car up to it, and then turned left and hiked along it for several hours, including along a part which tourists aren't supposed to go which is all over grown and in disrepair. This was almost our favourite bit though as it was nice and quiet and very tranquil. The weather was perfect and the scenery was just stunning. Each step providing a new scene. Can't recommend going highly enough and can't imagine anything else on our trip topping it. We also met a German girl who was giving us some inspiration and ideas for our next trip! Coming back the 867 picks people up from a different position which we didn't know. But it was lucky as we got chatting to a Chinese guy who also had missed the bus and we walked through the countryside with him to get another bus which he then paid for us on. He was so kind and so interesting and a real example of all the kind Chinese people we have met. Back in Beijing we went to Bianyifang restaurant which is highly recommended for its Peking duck. And it didn't disappoint. Great service and food and very reasonably priced. And again like everything here, bloody massive.

So 8pm tomorrow we leave for Xian on the overnight train. Looking forward to that. And as much as Beijing has been amazing, it'll be nice to get a break away from the crowds and go somewhere smaller.

Our plan after Xian has changed somewhat as we are now flying to guilin because we couldn't get train tickets from zhengzhou to guilin. Here the Chinese can buy train tickets online 12 days before, while non Chinese national only 10 days meaning sometimes its hard to get them. But we got flights ok even if it is a bit disappointing not to be able to do what we had planned. But it does free up 2 days which we have to decide what to do with so that gives us some more options to explore.

So enough about us, if you read this do reply to us and give us some news from home. Bye for now x

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Posted by SeeYouThere 10:19 Comments (3)

Missing Posts

Just noticed that our account of our 2nd and 3rd day in Shanghai isn't showing. Did anyone read our report of those days or did they not appear at all?

Anyway that is us just checking out of our hostel in Beijing to catch our overnight train to Xian. Chat soon.

Posted by SeeYouThere 02:11 Comments (2)

Day 4 - shanghai.

Woke up to it raining quite heavy this morning. Thought we had left it behind us back home. But on the upside its warm rain. So after buying umbrellas we went to The urban planning exhibition, the high light of which was a huge scaled model of shanghai taking up whole floor. It really gave a good insight into how big the city is. A 3D wrap around video of shanghai was also very good even if it did make us a little dizzy. Later in the day after lunch we went to The propaganda poster museum featuring original posters from the Mao era. It was worth a look but for anyone going in the future its located at number 800 and not 868 as the lonely planet says. We then visited the Jingan temple but didn't go in. Nice from the outside tho. After dinner at a nice local type of Chinese restaurant (well I guess all restaurants here are Chinese?!) We went via the bund sight seeing tunnel under the river to the pudong area. The tunnel was total rubbish and a waste of £10. If your thinking of going, don't. At this stage it had been raining most of the day and we were in 2 minds about going up to the observation deck in the shanghai world financial centre. But luckily the clouds cleared a bit so we decided we would. And we were glad we did. Definitely an experiece going up to the highest observation deck in the world almost half a km up. And luckily the clouds parted and we got some good views. For anyone going in the future, the last entry is 10pm and not midnight as the lonely planet says. So that was our day. Hoping the rain goes away as although it didn't affect our day really, we get enough of it at home. Off to Beijing in the morning on the bullet train.

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Day 3 - shanghai

For our first full day in shanghi we got up early and walked around the bund area, having breakfast along the way. We then walked towards peoples square, the central area of shanghai. On our way we walked through narrow streets, past open air barbers, butcher shops, clothes hanging across alley ways etc. To escape the heat we ducked into an underground shopping centre below peoples square which turned out to be a good find as it was a real warren of all types of shops. It was hard to browse though as if you stopped to look the sales assistants tried hard to sell stuff to you. But they were all very friendly. We then had a quick look at the shanghai museum, quite interesting if you are into museums which we aren't, but worth a look as it was free. Incidentally the urban planning museum is closed on a Monday. It's supposed to be very good even if it doesn't sound it, so we Will go tomorrow. Later on we went to old town and this I think was our high light so far. Venturing away from the more touristy streets we found street markets where vendors were selling all types of meat and veg. Hens in cages, live fish in boxes, crabs, snakes etc. We were made feel welcome at a small street side food vendor and had a nice meal, which included bbq chicken including chicken foot which we attempted but couldn't even bite through! Being the only white people we saw on the street we became a bit of an attraction ourselves, which was a bit intimidating at first but then both they and us got used to us being there. Lovely meal including drinks for £8. Not bad! although we did worry whether we might have a dodgy tummy after it, but we're glad to report we didnt! We then went from that to The pudong area which is the financial centre with the skyscrapers and ferrari garages, so chalk to cheese in the space of a few metro stops. Having planned on going up to The highest observation deck in the world in The shanghai world financial centre we got there at 11pm just as the lights get switched off on all the big sights around so We decided to wait til tomorrow night and make sure to go earlier. Then having missed the last metro back but not realising it and waiting too long on the platform for a train that wasn't going to come we just got to The main door as they locked the shutters-phew that was close. Taxi back to hostel where we were tired after another great day. Weather forecast for rain but let's hope it doesn't dampen things for us.

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Beijing/Xian

For our last day In Beijing we went to the Temple of Heaven park. We had also planned on visiting the Lama Temple and 'Ghost street' but the park was so nice we decided to just stay there. It was a good place to chill out and watch the world go by. We ate in a place near our hostel called Master Wong's Chef's Table. It looks like a chain so I'm sure there is several of them in Beijing. It's basically a Chinese food version of McDonalds - fast and efficient but the food was excellent. A good tip for anyone in Beijing looking for quick and tasty Chinese food. We then made our way to Beijing west railway station for our 20.02hrs Z53 overnight train to Xian. To get there we got the subway to Military Museum station and then walked south for about 20mins. It looks like a new subway line will soon link the stations up though. The station was massive and chaotic, especially at the entrance where you have to show your ticket and passport and have your bags x-rayed. But after that its easy to find where your train departs from. We boarded about 30mins before departure. We had booked soft sleeper tickets which means 4 beds in a cabin compared to 6 in a hard sleeper. We had one lower and upper bed on one side of the cabin. The two Chinese men sharing our cabin didn't know each other and didn't say a word to either us or each other, even after we said ni hao (hello). They lay in their beds listening to mp3 players. We chatted for a while and watched Beijing out the window. We went to bed about 22.00hrs, with what still seemed to be Beijing going by the window. We both slept well and woke to a nice text from our friend julieann informing us that she had a baby boy called Jonah!

Arriving in Xian the rain greeted us along with a driver from our hostel holding a sign with our name - the first time that's ever happened. That was even considering the train was an hour late arriving. Brownie points for the hostel already. It's the bell tower hostel we're staying at which used to be a former hotel so is a large hostel in a great location and with a nice bar but which is A bit rough around the edges. The drive from the railway station to the hostel felt like we were in a get away car, but that's just how they drive.

After having something to eat and freshing up we made our way by subway and foot back to train station to get a bus to the terracotta warriors about an hour from Xian. It's possible to get either bus 306 or some mini buses there. We saw a min bus with terracotta warriors written on it so got that. It was an experience! Not so much the first one but the one we had to change onto. It didn't have any cages with chickens on it but felt like it should have had! But it got us there for 80p each.

In planning our trip we debated about going to see the warriors as we're not history buffs. But having been to see them we are glad we did. It's definitely something anyone can appreciate and while we wouldn't come to China especially to see them, they are definitely worth seeing while here. But not cheap, £15 entry or half for students etc. By the way a uni student card works for discounts, doesn't need to be sn ISIC card. Like everwhere in China there were lots of people there when we arrived. We got our tickets and then were stopped from going through where everyone else was towards the electric buggys. We couldn't see any other way to go so bought tickets for the buggy, 50p each. Turns out we could have walked from the opposite side, where the shops are. We walked back, takes about 15min. When busy as it was today it would be easier walk down than que for the buggy. Arriving at the entrance to the site you show your ticket and get bags x-rayed. We went And watched the video first which was shown on a wrap around screen which was really good and informative. We then looked at pit 3, 2 and 1 in that order as 1 is the best so left that to last. It I said above it was a really unique and worthwhile experience. There is also a museum on site although we didn't spend to long in it.

The next day we spent the morning walking aroung the Muslim quarter in Xian. That was probably the best people watching experience so far and also some great photo opportunities. Such a great mix of cultures and it felt even more foreign than China had beforehand. The streets were just lined with different vendors ranging from butcher's to bread makers and everything in between. Some of the meat and accompanying flies would make you turn vegatarian. But we also had some lovely snacks and drinks as well. We also wandered this area later in the evening. During the day we visited both the drum and bell tower, nothing fantastic although the drum tower was the nicest. We then spent 1.5hrs cycling aroung the city wall, that is ontop of the wall, its 12m wide. We had also thought of giving this a miss but glad we did it as it was great. It's 12km around so you get a great feel for the city and it got dark as We were finishing and the red lanterns along it were lovely.
Along with wandering the streets and markets that was pretty much our time in Xian.

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Photos-Beijing/Xian

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Posted by SeeYouThere 08:26 Comments (0)

Xian/Yangshou

We got up this morning at 4.40am, tired after only getting to bed about midnight having spent to long wandering aroung the Muslim markets. Having checked out we flagged down a taxi. We assumed at that time of the morning 2 white folk with bags asking for airport would be understood but no. However we reckoned it clicked when the taxi driver flapped his arms like a bird and we agreed enthusatically. In the car however we began to think maybe he was taking us to the zoo lol. Arrived at airport at 5.45am for a 7.55am flight, loads of time right; wrong. Check in system was down so having witnessed tempers becoming frayed and Chinese queing at its best we eventually got checked in about 7.10am. But then a massive que for security. Anyway long story short we made it with 5 or 10 min to spare so all good. Arrived in Guilin and got on bus to city centre. Chinese bloke asks us where we're from, turns out he's wearing an Ireland t-shirt as he has just returned from 2 years studying in Belfast. Small world. We then got a bus from Guilin to where we now are in Yangshou. It is an absolutely stunning area, Google it if interested. We're staying at a hostel called Tippers Carpe Diem, just 15min walk from the town. Although a hostel it feels like a holiday type guest house. It's really lovely and a great setting. We've booked in for 4 nights but may stay longer depending . So that's it for the moment. It's been a long day so shall say goodnight. Hope all is well with everyone and thanks for the comments. We had written and submitted 2 other posts for shanghai so its a pity the went missing. Chat soon. Love to all x

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Posted by SeeYouThere 08:41 Comments (1)

Missing posts appeared.

I just see that for some reason the missing posts have now appeared. The posts are out of order now but hey ho at least they are there.

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Posted by SeeYouThere 08:51 Comments (1)

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