A trip along a very few of the key plaxces to see in China with only a few days to speare.
  • Day15

    Guilin to Hong Kong

    August 23, 2019 in China ⋅ ⛅ 33 °C

    We slept in a bit since we had the gay train to Hong Kong at 1.30 pm. At 9 we went for a good breakfast again then decided to go for a walk.
    There is a beautiful park with a lake right in front of the hotel, we walked the and were enchanted to hear soft music, people singing together, people dancing, old people practicing Tai chi.
    Unfortunately the Shanghai restaurant was still following me and I was not that well. I stayed at the hotel while Robbie and Oleg went out again for half an hour. They rushed back last minute, we checked out and here we are now on the train. The pictures going by were firstly very green, lord of rice fields, but now all I see is grey, grey buildings, grey roads, grey weather. I am arriving at the border of mainland China. I hope I don't see soldiers amassed there like they are saying..
    We arrived in HK, it was so hot you could hardly breathe. We changed, went for a walk and arrived to Central, Admiralty, to see some shops and the famous light spectacle from Star Pier. I haven't seen in many places the opulence, the absolute extravagance, I saw that night. From the stores to the people to the cars to the restaurants. To the freezing air that blasted out of the stores in this sweltering hot night. We reached the Star pier and found a spot, the light show was similar to Shanghai's on a much larger scale but you couldn't ignore the pathos of the thousands of young people holding hands on a miles long daisy chain pleading to look at them
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  • Day14

    1 day in Guilin

    August 22, 2019 in China ⋅ ⛅ 34 °C

    Very early rise to get to the boat cruise in time but oh weekday a lovely breakfast. Yes, Chinese understand breakfast. West and East together, rice and soups and noodles and bao and dim sum and steamed buns of all sorts (I especially lovely the sweet corn steamed buns) joined with a full English breakfast. The Guilin Bravo hotel was great.
    Our nice guide Boulin was waiting for us and we went to the docks (an hour away stuck in traffic). Major rush to get onto the boat and off we went. It was a 4 hour long cruise along the Li River, otherwise Yellow River, with sweet hills, small towns, verdant crags, and these odd peaks with names of animals or people, Dragons dancing with joy, Old man scolding his wife..
    I didn't spend that much time outside, it was very hot and with mosquitoes, the ship was moving very slowly so there wasn't much air. I say at our sofa and table and spoke to our guide and looked outside listening to a soft music and the cruise guide's explanations.
    We had lunch on the boat, rather yuck but still better than that awful lunch in Shanghai.
    We arrived at about 2 pm on Yangshuo, a small river town that was so crammed with people that in Italy they would have shut the entry to the masses. Here no.. Stalls upon stalls on nothings. Finally we reached the town itself, streets of shops upon shops. It must have been over 40°, were found a small green realise and day there in the shade. I read that it was a perfectly normal little town work nothing until Lonely planet talked about it in the'80s and it because the tourist trap it is today.. meh.
    The cruise was amazing though.
    We went back to Guilin by bus and took Oleg to the hotel swimming pool for about an hour, he deserved it.
    Yesterday evening we went by ourselves to a typical Guilin restaurant that Boulin recommended and had a great time trying to make ourselves understood. I never did get my tea, just a lot of Google's when I tried to order Chassis
    After we went for a walk looking for the night market. We found it, a pedestrian street not far from our hotel with lots of stalls. We bought Oleg a magnetic toy that needs some skill to handle for about a euro and a side flute.
    Welcome sleep after a hot, great day.
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  • Day13

    From Shanghai to Guilin

    August 21, 2019 in China ⋅ ⛅ 34 °C

    Gisella didn't show up this morning. An older man called Peter came and took us, as I requested, to the MagRail station, instead of taking us to the airport by car I had asked to take the train. Instead of an hour assuring in traffic, we took the fastest train in the world, it reaches 440 km/hr without ever touching the rails. It levitates magnetically over them and it feels like flying. We reached the airport in 8 minutes and took our flight. I really was but well at all after that terrible lunch from the day before, we all felt poorly but took a nice Costa Coffee and things started to look chipper. We hadn't managed to get Oleg sitting with us but a nice stewardess moved 3 men around in order to place him with us and we had a good flight. When we arrived this lovely young man called Bouling picked us up, and since the flight was a bit late he took us immediately to Elephant Hill. This city is yet again completely different from what we have seen so far. The air is very hot and humid, 38°C and 90% humidity, stifling, with luxuriant foliage all around it feels tropical. It sits between 2 rivers, and we saw many people, families with children bathing in the Yellow River, probably not recommendable..
    Elephant Hill is called so because it's in the shape of a slerping elephant that suits on a lake. We climbed all the way up, not easy in the stifling heat with my airplane shoes. They kept sapling water at us to cook the steps but this made them so slippery that as soon as Robbie offered me his arm I list my concentration, skyped and cracked my phone screen. The view was amazing. It is not legal to build high rises here, so on the river fronts there are villas with gardens and terraces. This city center numbers just 1 Mln inhabitants so it's considered a tiny village by their standards. It like like a holiday place, festive, clean and happy.
    At the top of the step stairs there is a Ming tower, our guide couldn't tell us much about it. It was probably a pagoda knows down after the war.
    Going down he was going to take us to our hotel but we mentioned that in our program we had another hill, the Fubo or Waves hill, so he quickly organized and we were happy he did.
    This was even more beautiful than the last full of caves and books to visit. The view from above was even more spectacular than Elephant Hill and underneath we visited the caves where the age the famous local Osmanthi wine, which is really not a wine at all but a rice, 45° liquor.
    We then went for a very quick shower at our hotel, the Bravo hotel which was great, the best we've had so far. The room was perfect and we finally had 3 beds. Bouling wanted to take us to a good local restaurant but there was an hour wait so he quickly reorganized and he found another place downtown where only locals eat and were finally had a truly local meal. And wow do the locals eat well. Rice, fish, bao, soup, everything very good.
    Our guide was just lovely, he are with us and was so descreet that we had to insist to get him to eat something.
    At the end of a very satisfying meal the 3 of us went out in heavy rain to get to the hotel before, we promptly got lost. By the time we were at the hotel the rain had finished and the pool was closed by it was fun. A nice shower and a comfortable bed ended our day with news of Italy's government doomsday destruction.
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  • Day12


    August 20, 2019 in China ⋅ ☀️ 33 °C

    Giselle our bad guide arrived late and started out quite annoyed. It was easy to see she did not want to be there. We took a bus to the Jade Budda pagoda, quite tacky. I find it embarrassing to be there taking pictures with a Lloyd guide talking while people are trying to quietly pray. The jade Budda, a 19th century gorgeous jade statues coming from India was worth the trip, really beautiful.
    After we went to a silk laboratory. It was interesting to see how the whole silk making process works and at the end Robbie bought 2 duvets stuffed with silk. Meh
    After this we went to see the Yuyuan Mandarin Garden in the old city. In all honesty I was a bit disappointed. It must have been lovely once but now it's a shambles, in full restructuring, with too many people, too much noise. It's supposed to be a place of peace. It's not.
    After the guide gave us 45 minutes to walk around in the old city but we just sat in a toy store and checked our flight in. Oh and we bought Oleg a huge umbrella shaped like a katana. What on earth are we going to do with it?
    Fur lunch Gisella took us upstairs in a very dirty smelly place full of screaming Indians, African tourists and Chinese. We sat and waited and waited and finally they brought us the worst lunch we ever had. Everything was deep fried in a smelly heavy grease, looked very old, cheap meats, disgusting mushrooms, frozen peas and corn. Oleg are something and threw up. We were all so upset that when Gisella came back we asked her and the waiter how much this lunch had cost. We looked in the menu and found none of the plates that were brought us. A waiter who spoke a little English told us that he didn't know, to ask his boss Because the food was not from the restaurant. What happened was that the agency day us there and then ordered rank junk from who knows where. We were quite upset.
    After lunch we went to the Shanghai museum, beautiful. I was particularly impressed with the ancient pottery and statuettes, the paintings and ancient jades.. Worth the 2 hours we spent there.
    When we left, Gisella have 400 RMB each to the people who took the train to Shanghai and asked us again to accept the 100 RMB but I replied curtly that we were waiting to get home.
    The guide wanted to leave us at the French concession since she was angry that we made her arrive at 8 am instead of 9, but we reminded her that the program provided for a walk through the area. The French Concession was literally an area that was given to the French in concession in the 19th century and now is a big tourist trap full of expensive shops and bars. I looked for a teahouse fur Oleg but there was none. Finally I left the quarter and went back to the main Street and immediately found a funny tea House where I got a delicious cold Jasmine tea with coconut milk.
    We took the subway and went back to the game market with Half the group while the other half took a taxi. We walked around, Robbie got a bit upset because the phone he bought yesterday was a knock-off. It's a nice phone and I am sure he will enjoy it and paid a quarter for it..
    We just got some T shorts for Oleg, a hoodie and track pants and left. I wanted to go back to old Town, but I was squashed so we went to Pudong and went again to a hot pot place. It actually was delicious but I definitely ate too much and too spicy. Half the group took a tuktuk, we jumped into a taxi and went to our hotel, packed our cases for an early morning departure.
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  • Day11

    Yichang to Shanghai

    August 19, 2019 in China ⋅ ☁️ 35 °C

    Early in the morning, everyone left to go see the 3 gorges dam, instead we were picked up by Adam (real name Zou) who took us to the airport. We stopped briefly to see the dam (very unfortunate to miss it, we are raising it with the agency). The flight was late and we reached Shanghai by 3.30. this terrible lady called Gisella (not really) arrived late to pick us up, day us in a car, opened her purse to take out 110 RMB as compensation for missed trip to the ram and missed lunch. I told her to forget it, that the equivalent of 12 Euro was ridiculous and told her to change the program for the next day. She had planned for us to spend the day in a bus travelling from 1 place to the next and had not booked the museum. I insisted on museum and changed the whole schedule around to make the in between times more efficient. Plus asked her to pick us up at 8 and not 9 to avoid the rush at the have budda Temple.
    She was quite miffed and left annoyed. I was more about when I saw that we did not have a room..
    After she left we rushed to the take market where we spent about an hour, Robbie bought a phone and I bought a tea set, rushed back to the hotel then took a taxi to the Bund where I had booked a table for 9.45 pm at Lost Heaven on the Bund. The others meanwhile arrived by train and we had an enjoyable evening.
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  • Day10

    Yang Tse Cruise: Day 2

    August 18, 2019 in China ⋅ ⛅ 37 °C

    Early wake up to go on a morning trip to see the pagoda of the White Emperor, and the temple of the blood of the there reigns. Yes, we saw the movie before leaving and it was amazing to actually be there and see the places for ourselves
    This trip was indeed interesting, the scenery was breathtaking. There were a lot of propone but it was a nice, relatively cool walk in the leafy green.
    Certainly worth the extra money.
    Back fur an early lunch and in the afternoon we went on the best trip of all, a truly magical boat trip (we landed and moved to smaller boats) into narrow side rivers and high gorges. Our lovely guide also told us a lot about the story of their town, an ancient fishing village of less than 1000 people who lost their living when the Three Gorges Dam raised the level of the river by 130 meters, inundated their houses forever and sank them under mud and turned the renowned Blue River into brown must sludge. Now they also live on tourism, what little they get, and live on the renowned mountains. They sang us a song on plastic rafters and we clapped and bought some dried flowers. I'm still thinking about them in their mountain village community dreaming of what they lost and caring so much for their land that they refused to leave, even after they lost everything.
    That last evening, the ship's crew showed a film about the ram but we eat outside on the deck and watched the world lazily go by.
    We sent Oleg to bed earlier, he was playing with some Chinese kids, but when we went back to our cabin we woke him to stand on our balcony and watch the ship arrive in the docks at Yichang, it was quite something.
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  • Day9

    Yang Tse Cruise: Day 1

    August 17, 2019 in China ⋅ ☀️ 35 °C

    We had decided to go on the optional morning trip to Fengdu, the ghost city. Up bright and early, it was quite hot, we landed on the coast and walked up. The trip was a little silly, more fur children, full of vampire puppets and paper scheletons. Oleg enjoyed it though. We walked up to the pagoda, where these huge sculptures were and heard the story of Mr. Hell and Mr. Door, who founded the town, went to Nirvana together (suspicious..) and the place was called the Door to Hell. Still puzzled by the story but the Chinese really lapped it up.
    Then we went back on the ship for lunch, quick nap in our lovely air-conditioned cabin then left again on the afternoon trip to see an ancient pagoda over the drunken bridge.
    Our guide was a sweet lady who made me a little sad, telling us about the thousand year old town that was completely gone when the 3 gorges dam was built. It was so incredibly hot that I honestly think I have never felt anything like it, must have been close to 50 degrees. When we got off the ship and our guide shows is the pagoda high up on the hills, more than half the people stopped out of the tour. Stoic Bianca went chasing after her son instead. There were a lot of sad looking old people and tiny children trying to sell little nothings and chanting. This town has nothing, it lives on tourism so you can imagine how they get by. The only tourism is the rushed tour coming from the cruises, always too busy to stop.
    The town was quite nice and to reach the pagoda you had to pass along the Drunken Bridge, a larger version of a suspended bridge that was nearly 200 meters long and quite scary to walk on. It's called the drunken bridge because you walk on it as if you were drink, and you must try not to look down at your feet and the gaps through which you can see a high chasm. The pagoda itself has 9 levels and then 2 more. I made it up, quite proud of myself, the steps were wooden, narrow and very steep but it was worth it. Beautiful. We took cable cars to go part of the way, it was just so hot.
    Back to our boat, we arrived in time for dinner. After dinner there were dances by the crew, some really nice ones from local minorities. Then we left to go sit in the quiet of the starboard deck to watch the stars and the Riverside go by. Lovely and peaceful. After, our group came up and told us that Oleg was on stage dressed as a chicken laying eggs.. I'm sorry to have missed this!
    We stayed out and talked and then went to bed.
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  • Day8


    August 16, 2019 in China ⋅ ☀️ 30 °C

    We leave at 9, breakfast was Asian and great. We went to see the Panda House. I don't like to see them in captivity but they are not in cages and China is preserving the very least ones so maybe it's good. They have 11 pandas here and about 2000 who live in a controlled wild. And then there are no more.
    There were also Tigers in cages but I walked around the park and waited for Robbie and Oleg to come back. Oleg was quiet when he came back, and just said it was a dad thing and that earth must be preserved. I hope he gets his dream.
    We are now on our way to Ciquikou, the old town. We will have lunch there, walk around, go for tea and then embark for our cruise.
    Nice early lunch then we went to see, upon my request, the ancient Guild Hall. This was a beautiful building set up hundreds of years ago by the merchants who arrived from the far away provides
    Ciquitou. Completely different from this monster city. Small traditional houses that are now completely commercial. Shop after shop after shop. We went into a tea House and had a lesson on different teas and how to make it.. And how to drink it. Lovely, so delicate. I couldn't resort and bought some flower tea and done have picked green tea. I wanted to buy a tea set but I hate buying with no negotiation so waiting for Shanghai.
    After we went to a supermarket to buy some fruit, drinks and snacks and boarded our ship. The Century Sun, room 451. An amazing nice room with all the comforts and a small terrace with 2 chairs to sit outside and air conditioning. We found out that Tui China had made a mistake with our reservations and had booked early morning flights on Monday 19th fur Shanghai so we would miss the 3 gorges dam and lunch. We decided to go on while the test of the group is doing the tour and taking a 6 and a half hour train (no way).
    After we checked in, we went out again to find a place to eat, walked for miles along unsavoury harbor Ashley's then found a small street did place that amend like dead rats. Everyone wolfed down super hot bushes yum, I just had.. Nothing, a coke. And a sweet bun from the supermarket. But still fun. Then the ship left and there was a party on the boat, we danced and laughed then bed. Fun day.
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  • Day7

    Last day in X'ian and going to Chungqing

    August 15, 2019 in China ⋅ ☀️ 29 °C

    This morning Nan picked us up at 8.30 to take us to the small Goose Pagoda, wonderful garden and structure. In the complex there is housed the X'ian Cultural institute, we went in and had a short calligraphy lesson. The last showed us just a couple of words, the meaning of their writing and we had a go (very rough go). Then we decided to buy a painting done right there in front of us of the China national flower, the peony. Quite pretty.
    Then the pagoda, while everything in Beijing was round here the pagodas are square, the influx from the Silk Road different cultures and styles. The pagoda is set in a beautiful park encircled by a huge rose garden, quite beautiful.

    After this we managed to the the X'ian Museum, quite interesting with many relics from the Tang dinasty. Most objects dated to the 3rd to 6th century Ad, fascinating.
    Then Nan took us to a cooking lesson. We made horrible to look at dumplings, then had an exaggerated lunch (delicious and too much!). And here we are on the train, 5 hours to Chungqing.

    Arrived at 8 pm, the city of Chungqing is the largest city in the world. Half an hour before arriving you start seeing endless skyscrapers, all the same, these grey flat pillars, ominous looking, nothing like X'ian or Shanghai.
    The hotel is quite nice, but as nice as X'ian's. Within 15 minutes from arrival we were on a subway looking for the center and a place to eat. Chinese restaurants around town close at 8.30 pm, a little early, so we were towards the river and found bright lights and hot pots galore.
    After getting kicked out of a couple of very full places, we ended up in a nice hot pot restaurant and are really really well. We had a laugh, have a new WeChat friend and are delicious food. We had to take a taxi back because the subway closes early but we spent 20 yuan, not even 3 Euros..
    Oleg fell right sleep but he was so happy. I'm glad he's having a good time.
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  • Day6

    X'ian: The Terracotta warriors

    August 14, 2019 in China ⋅ ⛅ 28 °C

    Slept like logs, the breakfast is unbelievable here, Asian and Western. At 8 our guide Jessica was waiting fur us. We are on our way to see the terracotta warriors in heavy traffic. Hear everyone snoring? 😃
    A but concerned about the IL problem but we are still 9 days away...
    We arrived at about 10.30, nearly 40 degrees C and sweltering hot. The crowds were phenomenal and the toilets..a new benchmark.
    A disorderly queue, our new guide Nan (who told us to call her Jessica) a young just graduated girl, brought us in and we gasped and pushed for a photo but oh was it worth it. Unbelievable.
    Creepy. It liked like the Snow Queen's Palace, all these men turned to stone in one second. They are so real and life-like. We saw the 3 pits, the 3rd bustling with archeologists still unearthing artefacts. After Nan took us to the Muslim quarter for lunch, we had a typical local meal with the Uigur flatbread filled with meat, delicious, large noodles with meat and vegetables, soup, vegetables and fruit. Delicious. Then we walked through the Muslim quarter (they arrived a very long time ago to trade, since X'ien marked the very beginning of the Silk Road, and then decided to stay. Their mosque, stinky canned the Great Mosque, is the largest in China, and a welcome respite from the heart and noise. It was a place of peace, quiet, flowers and prayer. Although we were not allowed in the prayer room, we could walk in the garden and admire the outer gates and gardens. We went out and walked again through the souk, the others started buying junk and getting ripped off as these places go..all of a sudden, I was walking with Oleg, Robbie runs tearing past me screaming: have you seen my ruck sack? I said no, of course not! So he ran back to the mosque. I ran with me preparing to have to go to the police. He had his last remaining phone, the company one, since he forgot his at home, his iPad, his wallet, all his money and cards. I was holding all the passports and visas ..
    Anyway he came out with the rucksack, noone had taken it yet but now we are all watching him like hawks! 🤣😆
    After we went back to the hotel and napped for an hour before going out again.
    We wanted to see the fountain lights show at the Large Pagoda so we took a bus, an adventure in itself, and fit off at this gigantic food court. We managed to secure a good seated place to watch to incredibly magical spectacle. Hundreds of thousands of people gather here every night to watch this and it's just with it!
    It lasted until 9.30 pm then we ventured back to the Muslim quarters and decided to go for Street food since all restaurants close at 9.30 in X'ian. After walking a bit, they all decided to stop at a very smelly grill while an angry guy grilled something that looked like a baby Alien (yes, the one from the movie with tentacles, not cute ET), slathering tons of oil and spices. They all said it was good but the 3 of us kept clear. We still have a ways to go and I don't want us to run into.. Running problems! 🤪
    Robbie stopped for the coloured balls cooked in dry ice and bought some for Oleg who ate one and promptly vomited in the street (which was ok, it was probably the cleanest thing there). We bought him yogurt, drinks and some delicious Uigur hot beads, that was really good. At the end we took 3 rickshaws back to the hotel which was fun. We sent Oleg to bed and went for drinks with the adults. We went to the nearby King Garden Bar, very snappy, all water fountains and garden set against the city wall. We had some good laughs, some locals came to say hello, I had done people ask for my WeChat. Funny. Back to the hotel Oleg was sleeping like a baby. He's really our God both.
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    What great memories of already eight years ago!