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

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