China
China

Curious what backpackers do in China? Discover travel destinations all over the world of travelers writing a travel blog on FindPenguins.

328 travelers at this place:

  • Day20

    Train ride to Tibet

    May 23 in China

    We took a train from Xi'an to Xining and then to Lhasa. Only 28h in total 🚂 🚂 🚂 🚂

    We went past endless sand dunes, then past endless plains, spotted by so many yaks, goats, sheep, a few horses and camels (or dromedaries? 🤔), and lakes, such as the huge and beautiful Qinghai lake. We saw some seriously remote homes decorated with praying flags. We also saw a handful of cities, some rather big, all rather ugly. Still, that's max 4 or 5 isolated cities in almost 2000 km!

    But the real reward for the hours spent in the hard sleeper compartment came at dawn. We saw the sun rise over the golden plains and the many small lakes and streams of the central Tibetan plateau, and started to see some snowcapped mountains in the distance. No photos could ever do it justice (especially taken through the dirty train window) so I'm not giving you any 😁 gotta come here yourself!

    It was also the time of our lives where we felt more like aliens 👽 since we were in the middle class of train tickets, we were surrounded by local families. Eventually the ones in our corridor got used to us and stopped staring 😂 we tried to communicate with them and vice-versa, but we were very limited with zero language in common.

    We finally arrived in Lhasa, which is bigger than we expected. The historical center is surrounded by ugly recent buildings. Today we just lay low and try to adapt to the 3600 m elevation, and tomorrow we'll start exploring.
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  • Day16

    Beijing surprised us. Our expectations were low and we were prepared for a cultural shock. But Beijing was a well organized, architecturally rich, relatively clean city with friendly people and abundant green spaces. The language barrier was huge as almost no one speaks English, but we were able to get what we wanted without too many surprises :) we got lost in the city and its hutongs, visited the Forbidden City and the beautiful Jingshan gardens, the National Museum of China, the Centre for the Performing Arts and hiked for 3 hours a section of the breathtaking Great Wall. We fell in love with Chinese paintings, ceramics and handicrafts, maybe one day we’ll come back for shopping! On the other hand, we felt a lot under surveillance, thanks to the thousands of cameras everywhere on the streets and strong police presence in every corner.

    We leave Beijing in a night train to Xi’an, which should be a small adventure in itself... let’s see what the next episode will bring!
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  • Day26

    Mt Everest

    May 29 in China

    Our journey to Mount Everest, also know here as Mt. Qomolangma, took us 2 days with a sleepover in Xigaze mid-way. The long bumpy bus ride was compensated by the rural and peaceful Tibetan landscapes, frequent stops for sightseeing, visiting the Tibetan Mastiff breeding region as well as the city of Gyangze and its temple (yes, another one 😱). Along the way were the endless barley fields for the production of the Chinese barley wine.

    The weather forecast announced cloudy and rainy weather in the Himalayas, so our hopes to have a clean view (or any view) of the mountains were low. However, when crossing the last pass at 5200m... there they were, the highest mountains on Earth, clearly visible to delight our eyes.

    One hour later, we reached the basecamp just 5 minutes before the end of sunset (what a luck, and hectic dangerous bus drive to get there in time). We finished the day staring at the colossal Mount Everest (even when you’re already 5200 m high it looks colossal) until the sun was replaced by the full moon and stars, what a perfect day ending!

    Sleeping was hard at 5200m and with 6 persons in the same room and half of them snoring. Luckily, we woke up in great shape and full of adrenaline to marvel at the sights of the Everest during sunrise on a blue sky, freezing cold morning. We couldn’t have asked for better, this was probably the best moment of our trip so far!
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  • Day18

    We took the night train from Beijing to Xi’an mainly to take a peek at the Terracotta warriors museum. Once again, the chinese trains surprised us with clean and comfortable 4 bed cabins that we shared with two quiet and kind locals.
    Xi’an is an important landmark of the Chinese culture as it was the capital of the Qin dynasty, the first to unify most of China. The Terracotta army was secretly ordered by the Qin emperor around 200 years BC and only found in 1975. Our curiosity on the lengthy Chinese history and culture is growing as we move around. We read more and more about it everyday.
    In Xi’an we wandered and got lost inside the busy area within the old Ming city walls despite the rainy weather. What we loved the most was the crowded Muslim quarter, where we took some risk to try some local specialities of street food. The Big Wild Goose square Pagoda from the Tang era failed to impress us, and tickets were a rip-off just to access the garden.
    Around one hour away from the city was the place that delighted our eyes and left us speechless and totally amazed: the Terracotta Warriors Museum. This 8th wonder of the world is worth by itself the visit to China. Around 7000 terracotta warriors, human size, all slightly different, made using advanced techniques and science more that 2000 thousand years ago. Most of it is still unearthed as well as the emperor’s mausoleum. The history and facts behind were totally worth a read that made us appreciate this wonder from a different perspective.
    Next: Tibet!
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  • Day22

    Exploring Lhasa

    May 25 in China

    We finally recovered from jet lag and now are only suffering with altitude 😂 as a result we were forced to spend a significant amount of time sitting in rooftop terraces with some Lhasa beers, delicious Tibetan food and nice views over the old town at sunset...

    We spent the first few days exploring the old town, including of course Potala palace and Jokhang temple. We also visited the two largest buddhist monasteries in Tibet - they used to host 5000 to 7000 monks each, but now have no more than 400, in part because 80 000 tibetans left for exile in India along with the Dalai Lama, but mainly because the Chinese government decided to control and limit the number of monks who are allowed to live there. It was weird to realize that our guide was not allowed to talk about the current Dalai Lama, and this prohibition was enforced by cameras and mics in our van...

    We saw LOTS of Buddhas, inhaled a lot of yak butter and incense smell (often too much really), learned about the history of Tibet and understood how Buddhism is in practice. We were surprised to see every day lots of people doing pilgrimage and prostration around the palace and the temples, and especially to see how much money it involves. People who do not seem to have a lot give significant amounts of money to each Buddha statue and to each photo of one of the past Dalai Lamas. All this money seems to be used in part for the subsistence of the monks, but a big part seems to go to the scandalously rich tombs of each past Dalai Lama and Panchen Lama, some containing more than 3700 kg of gold...

    Overall, we were surprised by the amount of gold, jewels and other expensive metals in the monasteries as well as all the money many poor Tibetans were giving to their gods. We pictured Buddhism way differently, more focused on the soul and not as much on the luxurious, extravagant objects. We don’t have pictures of these because you have to pay high fees to be allowed! I guess these gods are shy and their keepers greedy...

    Now let’s go see some landscapes. Fingers crossed for the weather to allow good views on our next destination 🤞🏼🏔
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  • Day32

    Lijiang is an incredibly cute old town, although extremely touristy. Every single street is perfectly preserved, and most of the shops are of artisanal handicrafts where you can see the artisans at work. The hundreds of Chinese tourists make us realize that this town is not so authentic, but still we had fun walking around and trying weird food. The Black Dragon Pool Park had a totally different vibe, with locals practicing their morning exercise like dancing together or whatever it is they were doing! In the park we saw an innocent-looking hill and decided to see where it led - well, it led to a freaking exhausting 1h of stair climbing 😰 the views at the en made up for it though.

    With our legs prepared, we headed for the Tiger Leaping Gorge. We hiked here for two consecutive days, sleeping in a charming guesthouse along the way. The gorge is almost 4 km deep and it was impressive to walk through it. With our legs trembling, we reached Tina’s guesthouse wishing for a few days of rest 😂
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  • Day16

    People of Beijing

    May 19 in China

    We love people-watching, and Beijing is an amazing place to do it. We see busy people, sporty people, relaxed people, and they seem to find us interesting too since they ask to take pictures with us :)

  • Day28

    Nam Tso lake

    May 31 in China

    We were lucky to see the Namtso lake in all its colors: sunny and warm, windy and stormy, freezing and snowy. It is amazing to see a huge salt lake at 4600 m elevation, with snowcapped mountains on its background. It was a tough cold night in the guesthouse, but we woke up to a beautiful surprise - everything covered with snow!

    Our time in Tibet ends back in Lhasa with night views of Potala palace. I don’t know if we will ever come back, but even if we do, I have a feeling we won’t see the same Tibet... development seems to be going on so fast and the remoteness of places like Namtso and Everest could be at risk. I can only hope it turns out for the best!Read more

  • Day41

    Longji Rice Terraces

    June 13 in China

    Longji was our most authentic experience so far in China. It was a throwback to our childhood memories of the Portuguese rural - the green landscapes molded by traditional farming, wood oven smell, the rosters crowing, home-made food (best noodles ever), the warm and simple people...
    We’re glad we spent 3 nights here. It allowed us to relax from a demanding China and freely hike around the rice terraces and Chinese jungle in different weather conditions. The views were spectacular and constantly evolving as the weather changes and the sun moves.Read more

  • Day35

    Dali

    June 7 in China

    Dali was a place to relax. It was in the same style as Lijiang, but Dali felt more real. Where Lijiang was picture-perfect to the point of feeling fake, Dali has beautiful imperfections, and normal people actually live here and have their businesses and go to the market to buy a freshly killed chicken. We strolled around the town, chilled out at the Confucian temple, rode a bike along the lake, had a mid afternoon beer (or was it mid morning?) with strangers - this is beginning to feel like a vacation!Read more

You might also know this place by the following names:

People’s Republic of China, People's Republic of China, China, Volksrepubliek van Sjina, Kyaena, ቻይና, Cīna, الصين, চীন, República Popular China, Çin, Кітай, Китайска народна република, Siniwajamana, རྒྱ་ནག, Sina, Kina, Xina, Republikang Popular sa Tsina, ᏓᎶᏂᎨᏍᏛ, Čína, Китай Халăх Республики, Gweriniaeth Pobl Tsieina, Folkerepublikken Kina, རྒྱ་མི, Tsaina nutome, Κίνα, Ĉinujo, Hiina, Txina, چین, Siin, Kiinan kansantasavalta, Chine, An tSín, ચીન, Caina, Sin, סין, चीन, Kína, Չինաստան, Republica Popular de China, Republik Rakyat Tiongkok, Chaina, ꍏꇩ, Tsina, Populala Republiko di Chinia, Cina, 中国, jugygue, ჩინეთი, Қытай Халық Республикасы, ចិន, ಚೀನಾ, 중국, Res publica popularis Sinarum, Volleksrepublik China, Cayina, Sinɛ, ຈີນ, Kinija, Shine, Ķīna, Haina, Кина, ചൈന, Хятад улс, Ċina, တရုတ်, Volksrepubliek China, Chinne, Kitai, ଚିନ୍, Китай, Maldang Republika ning Tsina, Chiny, Chunwa, Ubushinwa, Kiinná, Shîna, චීනය, Čínska ľudová republika, Kitajska, Shiinaha, Kinë, சீனா, చైనా, จีน, Hytaý Halk Respublikasy, Siaina, Ol Manmeri Ripablik bilong Saina, Çin Halk Cumhuriyeti, جۇڭخۇا خەلق جۇمھۇرىيىتى, Хитой, Trung Hoa, 中华人民共和国, כינע, Orílẹ́ède ṣáínà, Cunghvaz Yinzminz Gunghozgoz, i-China

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