Thursday, 30 July 2015

My Trip to China // Part 2


Here's the second half of my trip to China! First half here.

Saturday. On Saturday morning, we headed out of Shanghai to Tong Li, a little watertown nicknamed "Venice of the East" for it's waterways. It was really sweet and beautiful, all the streets were so lovely to wander around. We were also lucky enough to go on a boat trip around the town, which was a lot of fun, the scenery felt so relaxing, especially with all the red lanterns along the sides of the canal. Later on, it started tipping it down and we had to make a run for the long golf carts to take us back to the bus. We then headed to our hostel in the bamboo forest of Moganshan, where we spent the night next to the cicada filled bamboo trees.

Sunday. The next morning we set off on our epic hike through the bamboo forest. The heat and humidity was intense and I will spare you the less than pleasant details of how we were looking by the time we reached the top. Most of it was pretty steep and it was the most physically gruelling exercise I had done in a very long time! Despite all this, the bamboo forest was amazing and all of us felt like such a team, tackling it all together. We eventually made it to the top and taught our American tour guide what a "cheeky nandos" is, while waiting for the bus. That night we got back on the bus to Hang Zhou, stopping off at various points to see the amazing lagoon and rice fields.

Monday. I woke up in the slightly dodgy Hang Zhou hostel with, quite literally, over 50 bites on my legs. They definitely all came from the hostel room and they were very obviously red but they looked worse than they actually felt (TMI? Okay, moving on ...) We went to visit the West Lake and the Mount Wu Pagoda in Hang Zhou before going to the train station to get on a sleeper train. These trains are pretty common in China because it's such a huge country. Each cabin has 6 flat beds, 3 on each side and very little head room between each. It was actually such a cool experience despite the lack of doors between the cabin and the corridor!

Tuesday. After arriving in Xi An we met our new tour guide, Sophia, and headed straight to our hostel to shower. After that we went to visit the Terracotta Warriors which was really cool. We all found it crazy that each one had a completely unique face. After dinner we went to visit the Muslim Quarter of Xi An. It was really vibrant and crowded, there was so much street food on offer, marinated meats, different varieties of teas and juices, most of which we avoided for fear of an upset stomach.

Wednesday. In the morning we headed out to an orphanage where we met some of the kids and learned about how it was set up. It was actually for the children of people who were serving life sentences for drug crimes but all the kids seemed very happy, it was amazing to visit them. Later on, we hired bikes and rode the entire distance around the city walls. That was so much fun and I would highly recommend it to anyone visiting Xi An. That evening we got on another sleeper train to Beijing.

Thursday. We met our new tourguide, Lisa, as soon as we got off the train and we were immediately taken aback by how beautiful she was and how young she looked, despite apparently being 32! After showering at the hostel, we headed out to the Summer Palace to learn more about imperial China. I'll spare you the history but Lisa knew so much about the lives of the Emperors, it was really interesting! Later we had a little time to shop on one of Beijing's shopping streets, where some of the boys tried fried scorpion and I settled for the safer green tea ice cream.

Friday. Out of all the days on this trip, I think that this one will be the one that will stick in my mind forever. We travelled to an incredible section of the Great Wall that barely any tourists come to, for reasons that I can't understand. We climbed up a long section of it until we were at the highest point that was accessible, right near the peak of the mountain. It was an unforgettable experience, you could follow the wall with your eyes for miles and miles. On the way down, the boys started to play Bad Blood on one of their speakers and then Blank Space followed by Snoop Dogg and much more. There we were, singing along to these songs, watching our teacher dance as if she had no cares and then it hitting us that this was happening on the Great Wall of China! Such a surreal feeling, let me tell you ...

Saturday. On our last morning we went to the Temple of Heaven which was really beautiful and we saw lots of people who were meeting near the temple to chat to their friends, play cards and chess. It was a real community space. Later we walked through Tiananmen Square and visited the Forbidden City (the Winter Palace). I was pretty upset when walking through the Square and it was a pretty emotional visit for a lot of us. For our last night, we got to have traditional Peking Duck which I had been looking forward to for the entire trip! It was delicious and after dinner we presented some jokey awards to everyone, (best banter, least chill, best appetite etc.) It was such a lovely atmosphere and I like to think we all got pretty close on the trip so we were sad to leave.

I missed my family a lot and the comfort of my own bed. The main food I missed while being away was definitely good ol' British tea, I know it is Chinese but all we had was green tea and other herbal ones. We also missed cheese a lot because nobody eats it in China apparently?

I had an amazing time and I would highly recommend going to China as it really is a beautiful country. We went with The Dragon Trip and they really made sure we had the best time ever, it's completely worth the money!

Have you been abroad recently? Would you ever consider a trip to China?
Have a wonderful week!
Hattie xo

Tuesday, 28 July 2015

My Trip to China // Part 1

By the time you read this, I'll be back from my two week trip to China! I'm on the bus to see the Terracotta Warriors in Xi'An right now and it's at least 35 degrees outside. Today I'm going to take you through some of the cool things I've done on this trip.

Monday. After 2 long flights we arrived in Shanghai in the late afternoon, though we felt as if we were in the middle of the night. We met our main tour guide, Eve, who is American,  and our Shanghai tour guide, Steven, a local with a wonderful habit of placing the word "wow" in almost any sentence, not necessarily where it should be though. In the evening we went for our first dinner and explored the area near the Yu Gardens. 

Tuesday. The next day we headed straight for the propaganda museum. We weren't all too sure what to expect but it was actually pretty interesting. It was crazy to see firsthand the propaganda that was fed to the public for so many years during Chairman Mau's life. Later we went up the most iconic building on the Shanghai skyline, the Oriental Pearl Tower. It was incredible up there, there was a lot of smog but it was still an amazing way to see the city. There was also a section with a glass floor that was super cool. We also got asked for pictures with people a lot, our tour guide said it was because there were a lot of tourists from faraway provinces of China that don't get to see us Westerners all that often. It was very weird at first, I thought they wanted me to take a picture of them.Later we went on an amazing boat trip down the Huangpu River. All the buildings were lit up and I honestly felt like I was in some kind of crazy James Bond film with three amazing friends right by my side. 

Wednesday. We were lucky enough to go to a local Chinese school to have a look round and meet some of the students. So the first thing that struck/embarrassed us was how good they were at English and how awkwardly bad we all are at Mandarin. We tried to ask some questions in Mandarin but they would just reply in really eloquent English. We taught them to play Wink Murder and gave them gifts from England, they showed us round their school and took us for a spot of badminton. Later we went to visit a Buddhist temple which was pretty cool.

Thursday. In the morning we went to Shanghai's biggest shopping street, Nanjing Road for some free time. It was a really cool place and I bought some really cool stuff! Later on we went to the Shanghai Museum where we met this Chinese guy called Huan Rui, whose English name was Ted. After this we went to a spot along the river which an incredible view of the Shanghai skyline. We took a bunch of group photo's but loads of people started taking pictures of us when we were all posed up in a line. It was weird and as we walked further on, more people asked for photo's with us! It was crazy because it was clear they only wanted a photo with us because we look different. I couldn't quite figure out if we were being treated as if we were famous or animals in a zoo.

Friday. On this day we went to a chocolate factory! The company was called Zotter and it was family owned so we met the creators daughter, who introduced us to the company and showed us a video about it. It was really quirky and cool, the company seemed like a really cool place to work. We got to try the chocolate at each stage of creation, the cocoa beans, the unsweetened melted chocolate, each variety of melted chocolate (different percentages and sweeteners) and finally all the different flavours of the finished product! They all tasted amazing and I wish I could have bought the whole collection! Later we headed to the fake goods market to try out our haggling skills. I managed to get some fake Toms for £5 and some Ray Bans down from £18 to £5 simply by walking away.That night we watched an amazing acrobatics show that completely blew all our minds. I can't even begin to describe some of the fantastic stunts that they pulled off but I can tell you that my heart rate didn't calm down for a while after the performance!

I'll post the second week of my trip soon!

What trips have you been on recently? Have you ever been to China?

Have a wonderful week!

Hattie xo

Sunday, 12 July 2015

The Summer Edit

The Summer Edit


I'm currently writing this from my flight to Dubai and hopefully uploading this from Dubai so you will probably be reading this while I'm flying to Shanghai. I don't really know when I'll post next but today it's a short one for you. I put together a little edit on Polyvore of some things that just scream SUMMER to me!

Current Vibes

Film: Right now, I'm bidding Britain goodbye by watching the quintessentially british, Disney classic, Mary Poppins. Julie Andrews never fails to make me feel as though I am at home when in fact I'm precisely 2423 miles away. There's something about those dancing penguins which puts the biggest smile on my face. I also watched The Imitation Game last night with the gorgeously talented Benedict Cumberbatch and I watched The Last Five Years earlier in the flight. Anna Kendrick and Jeremy Jordan really dazzle in this low key musical with more emotion than any other big movie musical. 

Music: I'm loving Black Magic by Little Mix, Fight Song by Rachel Platten and Good For You by Selena Gomez. Gotta represent the women in the music industry! Also on this flight they have playlists with all the number ones from the past few years so I'm currently jamming to 2010 (Bad Romance, Fireflies, Pass Out etc) 

Book: I just finished (and loved) To All The Boys I've Loved Before by Jenny Han. It's such a cute novel and I really enjoyed reading it. 

What have you been loving recently? What are your summer style staples?
Have a wonderful week! 

Hattie xo

Sunday, 5 July 2015

5 Things That Always Happen On School Trips


Next Sunday I will be on the plane to China! I take Mandarin at school and I'm lucky enough to be going on a school trip for two whole weeks! It's going to be the longest time that I will have gone away without my family but I am so excited. I'm really lucky to have had lots of opportunities to go on school trips so I pretty much know what to expect from them. I've noticed a few things that usually happen when you go somewhere with your school.

The coach journey is the best part of the day. This only applies to day trips and it depends on the trip but I've been on plenty of trips where the journey is better than the trip itself! It's super fun because you're sat with all your friends, listening to music and eating loads of good food. Sometimes me and my friend Evie spend ages jamming out to High School Musical 1 - 3 because it's iconic okay? 

If it is summer, all the girls will show up in short shorts. The majority of them will also be sporting a crop top. Don't get me wrong, I do it too but I'm still waiting for science to figure this one out. 

The teachers are always super strict or really relaxed, there is no in between. I've been on trips where the teacher go crazy at the slightest thing like eating on the coach but I've also had teachers that have got us lost and where completely chilled about the whole thing. You can tell which one is preferable!

The two essential things that are always forgotten are a bath mat and a hairbrush. The hairbrush seems obvious but when sharing a bathroom, a bath mat or just a designated towel, is necessary otherwise the bathroom will completely flood. Believe me, I've been in enough dorm rooms to know that keeping it clean and hygienic has a huge effect on how happy everyone in the room is!

Sleeping on a coach is never painless. It's so hard to find a comfortable sleeping position without the risk of hurting your neck. There's also the awkwardness of waking up in the middle of the night and making awkward eye contact with someone who can't sleep either.

The best school trips I've ever been on have been to:
Rome (Year 8)
Austria (Ski Trip - Year 8,9 & 10) 
Drayton Manor (Year 7)
Chinatown, London (Year 8) 
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, London (Year 9) 

I've been so lucky to go everywhere I've been with school and I would highly encourage you to take all the opportunities that you can!

What school trips have you been on? Can you think of any things that I've missed? 
Have a wonderful week!
Hattie xo