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  • Day27

    Nightmare in Erlian

    September 21, 2019 in China ⋅ ☁️ 16 °C

    Well when we left you last we were on a high, enjoying ourselves in the elaborate Mongolian Dining Car. It’s fair to say things went downhill from there!

    We spent a pleasant afternoon back in our lovely compartment sipping coffee and watching life on the Gobi but in the back of our minds we knew what was coming later in the day.....Border control and the changing of the bogeys on each carriage from Mongolian to Chinese gauge. Now we knew this was going to be a palaver (great word) lasting some time but we weren’t prepared for the scale of the shenanigans (even better word).

    Exiting Mongolia was fine. We pulled into Zamyn-Uud Station around sundown - just before 7pm - and remained in our compartment for about an hour and a half reading and using the last of our mobile internet. A border control lady collected our passports on arrival, checked that we looked like the photos and took them away. Passports duly returned some time later we departed on schedule at 8.45pm knowing that it was 30 minutes to Erlian Station in China where we would spend several hours going through border formalities and the train would be taken to an engineering shed where it would be hoisted while the wheel transformation takes place.

    The big surprise was when ‘Mr Woo’ came into our compartment with his trusty mobile phone to show us one of his translations. We thought maybe it would be ‘Hope you are having a nice time’ or maybe ‘Is there anything I can help you with?’ but no, unfortunately it was something along the lines of ‘when we get to Erlian Station you have to take all your belongings off the train’!!

    Shock, horror. Now we need to give this context. Compared to most Trans-Mongolian passengers we are not travelling light, although due to our multi-movements we are quite well practiced in the art of packing. Train compartments do cause an issue as even if you are in first class they can in no way be described as being flush for space. What this means is that on arrival in a compartment we have to break down our two big cases into several smaller chunks which can then be stored in varying small shelves, cupboards, nets, hooks, under berths and in any other hidey holes we can find. With our train journeys taking between 24 hours and four days it has not been too much of an issue to break down the bags on boarding and to re-pack prior to arrival.

    Mr Woo’s instruction gave us a challenging 20 minutes to get all of our stuff together back in our cases, plus gather together our food, drink, flasks, books, electronic devices, toiletries etc (hand baggage) which were dotted around the compartment and we assumed would remain there for the 31 hours of our journey. We knew we would have to leave the train for a while but nowhere in our research and advice did it say we had to clear everything out of our compartment in the process.

    We completed the task exactly at the time we pulled into Erlian and we disembarked with several hundred other travellers (almost exclusively tourists). It was 9.15 pm and strangely the station buildings were tastefully covered in flashing neon lights (Las Vegas sprang to mind) and there was Chinese music playing through the speakers. I guess this is their reasonable attempt at ‘Welcome to China’.

    Fortunately we were near the front of the queue to enter the main station building and what we discovered to be Immigration. We queued for a while, went through passport control where we underwent facial and fingerprint recognition before or passports were stamped, then had our baggage x-rayed. We were now officially in China.

    Then it got interesting, but not in a good way. Quite simply we were confined to the station building with no information on where to go and how long we would be there, albeit we had a schedule in our itinerary that indicated a 1.20am departure (it was now 10.20pm) so we always knew it would be a long wait. We plonked ourselves down in reasonable railway station seats as did all of our fellow passengers (in various places around the building) and passed the time away - not very peacefully however as we had a large group of Spanish women sitting next to us who did not stop talking for 3 hours (all at the same time and very loudly!). There was nowhere open inside the station to buy anything (talk about missed revenue opportunity) however there was a drinking water fountain! Oh, and all external doors were locked! They obviously didn’t want you wandering around the town!! We eventually deduced from an electronic information board, that our departure time was in fact 2am. This did not help our spirits. Fortunately games on our iPads saved the day, particularly ‘Virtual Lawn Green Bowls’ - highly recommended!

    Now a quick aside. Up to last year you had the option to remain on your carriage and go into the shed whilst the bogeys were being changed. However if you took this option the toilets were locked throughout and you may have a rather uncomfortable three/four hours. Anyway this option is now off the table.

    Back to present day Erlian Station and at 1.15am we were alerted to the fact that boarding would recommence. With unbridled relief we reloaded our bags onto the train with Mr Woo’s kind assistance (the low platform is unhelpfully over a yard below the train) and then unpacked to be able to get everything away so we could get to bed. The train pulled out of the Station we never want to see again at exactly 2am.

    It was a quick coffee and lights out for 2.30am. The good news is that the berths are comfortable. The bad news is that our first 5 hours in China were bloody awful! There are no photos of any of this as the ‘no photographs’ signs looked extremely non-negotiable. To put the frustrations of these past 5 hours into perspective it represents just 0.7% of the overall trip and on an adventure like ours things will not always be exactly as you hope.

    After an exhausted sleep we returned to good spirits on Friday morning and enjoyed tea and porridge around 9am. We had obviously missed a few hours visibility of China due to sleep but what we saw first thing was a mix of large towns with factories, big out of town industrial units and arable land (mainly corn). A lot of housing that looked very poor indeed and the amount of general rubbish dumped in ditches, river banks and by the railway line was quite depressing. Not quite Mongolia. Also Mr Woo’s number two (now that doesn’t sound very nice but you know what we mean) is on duty this morning and he is a right misery guts, although he does allow us to alight for a couple of minutes at one stop.

    With a scheduled arrival at 2.35pm we enjoyed our last pot noodle lunch on the train. Whilst in Ulaanbaatar John decided that he needed something with a bit more heat so he purchased a ‘2 x Very Hot Spicy Chicken’ which did not lie as it was just about the hottest thing he had ever eaten in his life bringing tears to his eyes. Perhaps the clue was in the title. We are hoping for no repercussions.

    We arrived at Beijing Station exactly to schedule (overall punctuality has been excellent), said goodbye to Mr Woo and his number two, and were met by our new guide Ben and then our driver Yang. They will be looking after us for two days now as we embark on the last leg of our journey.
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  • Day27

    A long Lucky, Ducky Day

    September 21, 2019 in China ⋅ ⛅ 27 °C

    So we jumped into Yang’s car at Beijing Station at 3pm and Ben gave us some important information about our afternoon City Tour straight away. Two of the main attractions, Tiananmen Square and Forbidden City were to be closed from tomorrow for 11 days so today was our only chance to see them!

    The reason for the closure of these areas is rehearsals will be taking place for the big parade to be held on 1st October to commemorate the 70th Anniversary of the establishment of the People’s Republic of China.

    We were very lucky to have the chance to see these places, however last entry into the Forbidden City is 4pm and you have to be out by 5pm. There was obviously no time to check into our hotel we just needed to get a shift on despite having just come off the back of a 31 hour train journey.

    Now came another surprise. Ben told us that although we had been due to stay at the Kapok Hotel right in the City Centre near the Forbidden City (which had been booked at least 6 months ago), because of traffic restrictions caused by the Anniversary celebrations our booking had been transferred to another hotel (the Citadines) 3.5 miles further out from the centre.

    This caused much jumping up and down and whinging from us about our disadvantaged location and wasted pre trip research but Ben kept calm and told us that it’s not like the UK and if the government say something must be done then it has to happen. We have subsequently learned that all the hotels close to Tiananmen Square are having to ship out foreign tourists for two days (Saturday and Sunday) in part to stop them taking photos of the parade rehearsals. Quite bizarre really.

    Anyway this couldn’t allow us to be diverted from our high speed, race against the clock, sightseeing Tour. Our first stop was the vast Tiananmen Square, the biggest Square in the World. It is mighty impressive with iconic buildings flanking it’s sides, Mao Tse Tung’s Mausoleum and The Great Hall of the People being the two best known.

    Then it was a quick dash to the Forbidden City (arriving 10 minutes before last entry) which was the work place and home for Chinese Emperors over the Centuries until their removal during the revolution of the early 1900’s. It is a huge site filled with Palaces of different meanings and functions. Despite the time constriction we had a good look round and then walked to a nearby hill to look down on the Forbidden City and really grasp the scale of the complex.

    We then checked into our ‘new’ hotel and to cut a long story short we have calmed down in our objections. The bottom line is that our new hotel is fine and the rooms are very well appointed (breakfast is top class too). We also know that all the reasons behind our hotel switch are absolutely true and that our UK Agent also only found out about the change yesterday.

    We realised how very lucky we were because if we had arrived in Beijing a day later on our schedule we would have missed these two top iconic sights which would have been a disaster.

    Tonight we wanted to visit a particular recommended restaurant named Siji Minfu for Peking Duck. Now this would have been a 7 minute stroll from our original hotel, but a look at the map showed that it would be nearly an hour walk from our new location. With the help of reception we got a cab which arrived there in less than 15 minutes. We had read there is usually a big queue for tables (this was correct!) and when we got there at 8pm we were told it would be an hour and a half wait. They gave us a ticket with our queue number and we headed about 100 yards to the bar of the Crowne Plaza Hotel for an hour (regular street bars don’t seem to exist here) before returning to Siji Minfu and waiting just 10 minutes for our table. It was worth the hassle. After a prawn starter our duck was carved in front of us and melted in the mouth. As per usual we were the last people left in the restaurant and paid the bill as the chairs were being piled on tables and the kitchen staff were leaving the building. It was then a taxi back and in the room by 11pm.

    It has been one hell of a 24 hours for us since entering China but after some ups and downs we ended on a high and are looking forward to another trip highlight tomorrow, The Great Wall.
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  • Day28

    We hit the Wall

    September 22, 2019 in China ⋅ ☀️ 26 °C

    It’s Saturday and our last day of sightseeing as we have left the final full day of our journey, tomorrow, absolutely free.

    Ben and Yang were ready for us at 8am and our first port of call was the Olympic Park and an outside view of two adjoining Stadia constructed for Beijing 2008. Firstly we saw the Bird’s Nest, a very recognisable and impressive stadium which accommodated the track and field events. Then we saw the adjoining Water Cube which looks like it is covered in bubble wrap. This housed the swimming and diving. The Chinese are very proud of holding International events and nationals still travel from all over the country to see landmarks such as these, in fact there is an average of 80,000 people per day who visit the Olympic Park (you have to pay to even see the stadia from the outside and even more to go inside).

    From here we had to travel 70 kilometres to The Great Wall of China. Our Tour Company does not visit the closest section to Beijing City due to over crowding and for this we are thankful. There was some interesting scenery on the way as we travel through hillsides famous for large scale production of all kinds of fruits and nuts.

    Now we arrive at the location known as Mutianyu and enter a world of a well oiled Chinese machine. Our first view of the Wall is a very long way above us and you can just pick out the line of the wall and a couple of turrets. The first stage is an efficient shuttle bus that transports us 5 minutes up the hill to a drop off point. From there you have an option of walking an hour up steep steps to the Wall or taking the cable car. Fortunately our Tour already included tickets for the latter. Well organised queues are of course the order of the day.

    We have been to several ‘Wonders of The World’ and iconic sights and one consistent theme is that we have been prepared to be disappointed but never have been. The Taj Mahal and Macchu Picchu spring to mind. The Great Wall is no exception. When we dismounted the cable car we got our first proper view and it was breathtaking in it’s scale and construction.

    Ben walked with us for a while and then left us to trek off on our own for an hour. The walk along the Wall is particularly interesting because the gradient and surface varies all the time. Sometimes it is a slope, sometimes steps (shallow, steep, narrow, wide) with gentle and sharp gradients. There were towers of varying sizes every couple of hundred yards apart as the Wall stretched ahead and behind us out of view. You have to keep remembering that this wall is many centuries old and runs for around 5,000 miles.

    There were quite a lot of people there but it was not overcrowded. The only problem was the heat and it was certainly hard work walking in around 28C between noon and 1pm. The shade of the towers was always welcome. We used our full time there and then descended back to base at the bottom where we enjoyed a nice lunch with Ben and Yang. As we have witnessed before on this tour, any opportunities guides and drivers have for a free meal is taken with relish. As it was an ‘as much as you can eat’ buffet our two helpers attacked the buffet as if they hadn’t eaten for several months. Now Yang is a big lad and decided not to eat at the same table as us, however we were able to see him devouring huge quantities of Chinese food at high speed and thought it would have been useful to wire up his chopsticks to the Chinese National Grid to give it a boost! To be fair I suspect all of our guides and drivers are not on brilliant money and we don’t blame them at all for enjoying plentiful good quality food when they have the chance.

    Then it was 70km back to Beijing which took about 2 hours. Now Ben had about four platefuls at the buffet and that took it’s toll as he slept for almost all the journey back. Fortunately Yang managed to stay awake and got us back to the hotel by about 4pm. We’d really enjoyed our last days sightseeing but were pleased to now have no more organised footslogging.

    We had not booked anything for the evening and took a short stroll from our hotel and fortunately found a precinct about 2 minutes walk away with a number of restaurants as well as, and we certainly found this hard to believe, a bar! So we sat outside this stylish bar with live music being played inside, Janet had a couple of G&T’s and John two cans of Guinness, as we weighed up our dinner options. When we asked for the bill the waiter came and shook his head when John pulled out a credit card. He quickly got his iPhone translator out and showed us the words ‘Cash only’. ‘No problem’ John intimated to the waiter with hand signals ‘but how much?’. The waiter got his calculator and punched in 220 (about £27). Mucking about John took the calculator off him and in the manner of market bartering changed this to 180. The waiter laughed and made gestures that a drinks bill is not negotiable. John took the calculator again and for a joke punched in 200 at which point the waiter said OK and the deal was done. We have never been able to negotiate a bar tab before! He got a good tip.

    After a big Chinese lunch we settled for dinner at the nearby Italian, named Annie’s, for pizza which we enjoyed with a bottle of red. The music selection swung between the Love Theme from The Godfather, Al Martino and Opera in a random rotation which is probably designed to make the locals feel that they are actually in Italy. It caused us some amusement after we’d heard The Godfather theme tune for the 5th time! By the way we were the last people to leave the restaurant....again!
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  • Day102

    Beijing with no cash!

    October 11, 2019 in China ⋅ ⛅ 15 °C

    After a v lovely last train trip ( despite the 5 hour mongolian/ Chinese border crossing where we were off the train until 1am) we arrived in Beijing at 14.35pm. K was feeling a bit better so that was a bonus.
    At a balmy 19 degs it was a lovely temperature.
    We said a sad farewell to our Brisbane tour mates and hope we catch up in the future as we really did enjoy their company (We were endlessly thankful they weren’t like people we encountered from other tour groups- loud, rude and obnoxious).
    Arriving in beijing we had a little ramp off the train instead of 5 neck breaking steps and then an escalator- China put on a v easy welcome... and there it ended!!
    Planning to get cash from an ATM for a taxi we came unstuck as the only ATM at the train station wouldn’t work with overseas bank cards.
    We walked to find a nearby one as per google maps- impossible to access without going through a hospital so we decided to walk to the accommodation - 3kms.
    On the way we found a bank so withdrew enough cash for dinner, drinks and subway tickets to the airport tmrw.
    An hour later ( thanks to the luggage and booking.com having the wrong location of our accommodation) we finally turn up at the Nostalgia Hotel. Their card machine “ wasn’t working” and we needed to pay in cash.... 400 of our 500 yuan!
    No worries we would pay for dinner with the visa.... off we went to find something to eat as we were both starving due to no lunch. To cut a long story short we couldn’t find a restaurant that would accept the visa..... so we ended up in Starbucks with a coffee and a chocolate muffin as our meal!! It did have a rooftop terrace so it was nice!
    Tmrw we have the morning not to need money and then we r off to airport to fly Beijing to Bangkok.
    Photos to follow as I can’t get them to load.
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  • Day137

    Am Fuxian See durch die Feiertage

    December 31, 2019 in China ⋅ 🌙 6 °C

    Nach einem kurzen Zwischenstopp in Guangzhou rollen wir mit einem Schnellzug Richtung Westen nach Kunming.
    Die Feiertage verbringen an dem von Hügeln gesäumten Fuxian See 40 km südlich der Stadt.
    Von unserem Hotel aus können wir auf den See und den am Ufer gelegen schönen Park mit Sandstrand sehen.
    In diesem Park verbringen wir viel Zeit. Hier lassen sich täglich etliche Brautpaare vor der malerischen Kulisse fotografieren.
    Überhaupt lieben es die Chinesen vor einer Kamera zu posieren und sich mit Hilfe eines Selfie Sticks oder gegenseitig zu fotografieren.
    Außer im Strandcafe zu sitzen, strampeln wir mit Radlkutschen über die gepflegten Wege und die Kinder fahren mit Booten auf einem der Teiche.
    Den Heiligen Abend verbringen wir in unserem freundlichen Stammlokal. Hier kann man über die Internetseite bestellen, was die Verständigungsschwierigkeiten deutlich reduziert.
    Wir lassen unser Smartphone deutsche Weihnachtslieder zum Essen spielen, so dass uns trotz der unpassenden Umgebung ganz weihnachtlich zu Mute wird.
    Das laute Abspielen von Musik oder Videos in Restaurants oder öffentlichen Verkehrsmitteln ist in China üblich und da passen wir uns natürlich gerne an.
    Das Christkind beschert den Kindern dankenswerterweise nur sehr bescheidene Geschenke, wie eine Tafel Schokolade. Den Christbaum basteln die Kinder aus Rosmarinnadeln, die sie im Park geerntet haben. So verbringen wir ein stressfreies und ruhiges Weihnachtsfest.
    Silvester können wir gegen unsere Erwartungen (das chinesische Neujahr wird erst Ende Januar gefeiert) ein Feuerwerk aus unserem Panorama Fenster im 12. Stock des Hotels bewundern.
    Wir können die Raketen aus nächster Nähe explodieren sehen, da einige Chinesen ihre Raketenbatterien direkt auf der Straßen vor unserem Hotel los lassen.
    Insgesamt ist der Einsatz von Pyrotechnik zumindest am westlichen Silvester aber etwas geringer und konzentriert sich weniger auf Mitternacht als wir es von Deutschland kennen.
    So rutschen wir 7 Stunden vor unseren Lieben im fernen Europa voller Vorfreude auf künftige Abenteuer in die 20er Jahre.

    Am Neujahrstag geht es weiter Richtung Norden in die westchinesische Metropole Chengdu.
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  • Day22

    Shanghaï et le Coronavirus

    January 31 in China ⋅ ☀️ 8 °C

    Plus célèbre en ce moment que la bière du même nom : le Corona virus !
    Comment ça ce n'est pas le bon moment pour voyager en Chine ? C'est vrai que nous sommes arrivés sans s'être vraiment renseignés, dans la foulée du nouvel an mais en effet, depuis 10 jours, la Chine vit dans la peur, la psychose même. Les habitants ne sortent de chez eux qu'avec le précieux masque vissé sur le visage et on vous dévisage, voire on vous en offre de manière insistante, si vous n'en portez pas. Chaque entrée de centre commercial ou gare est ponctuée d'une sympathique prise de température : on est donc sur d'être en forme. De Pékin à Shanghaï, les villes chinoises ont renforcé l'entrée des gares et lieux publics et ont surtout fermé tous les lieux touristiques. Musées, expos, tours, temples, cinémas, librairies, même certains parcs ou même les quais du fleuve Huangpu sont cloisonnés sur certaines portions. Impossible donc de visiter les maisons historiques de la ville ou encore d'admirer les collections d'art du musée de Shanghaï. Frustrant au possible.
    Cependant, le virus mêlé aux vacances de printemps dévoile Shanghaï sous un jour inattendu : une ville calme, désertée. Les immenses rues ne sont occupées que par quelques scooters et livreurs de repas, même pas besoin d'attendre le feu vert pour traverser... La ville est silencieuse, on entend juste l'agréable piaillement des oiseaux. Le métro est très peu rempli et un bon nombre de petites échoppes et restaurants sont eux aussi fermés. Compliqué pour nous de trouver où manger végétarien quand les adresses repérées sur internet ont portes closes... Mais on a quand même réussi à bien profiter de la nourriture chinoise ! Dim sum à tout va, soupes de nouilles, riz et même des chow Mai végétarien au champignons, un vrai régal ! Le virus ne nous aura pas empêcher de bien manger, mais peut-être nous empêchera-t-il de sortir de Chine... On croise les doigts.
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  • Day23

    Street Art, Musique et Chine

    February 1 in China ⋅ ☀️ 9 °C

    Voyage rime souvent avec culture ! Ce que nous voyons, entendons, découvrons... Il y a ce qu'on découvre sans le vouloir, et ce qu'on choisit qui nous accompagnera. Un bon livre, un album évocateur... Tout ça fait partie du voyage. Comme cette promenade sur les hauts de Chengde, lors de laquelle je ne peux m'empêcher de penser aux films du studio Ghibli, cette douceur et ces paysages typiquement asiatiques agrémentés de neige. On va peut-être se regarder Pompoko ce soir tiens... Sinon, je sais que j'étais très en retard mais je suis en plein dans les bouquins Harry Potter et effectivement, c'est génial ! Je dois être le dernier des abrutis à ne pas les avoir lu mais mieux vaut tard que jamais (j'ai lu les trois premiers tomes en une semaine) !

    Puisque musées fermés, rabattons nous sur ce qui sera forcément ouvert puisque en plein air : les graffitis ! Nous ne nous attendions pas à voir autant de street art dans une ville chinoise ! Du M50 (hub artistique) à l'artiste Miilo, voici quelques photos des meilleurs murs peints, sublimés par l'absence de touristes (exceptés nous bien sûr).

    Lorsque nous sommes partis, j'ai dû arrêter les trouvailles de Baz, mais l'envie m'a repris et en voici donc quelque unes, pour le plaisir...

    1) You de Superparka. Né sur les cendres de We are Match, Superparka révolutionne continuellement la pop française en la rendant hybride et imprévisible. Le nouveau titre du duo est une pépite pop pleine de douceur et parfaitement adaptée aux montagnes chinoises enneigées.
    2) Momentary Bliss de Gorillaz. Le groupe virtuel et emmené par Damon Albarn vient de lâcher un titre en collaboration avec Slaves et slowthay qui donne tout simplement envie de sauter. Une playlist associée est dispo, avec des sons inattendus... La machine a été allumée dit la voix...
    3) Stay '97 de Bowie. Le légendaire chanteur a eu droit à la réédition de plusieurs de ses titres méconnus. I Can't Read, Baby Universal ou encore Stay ont été réédité avec un mastering datant de 1997. L'occasion de (re)découvrir l'artiste sous un jour plus intimiste. Foncez écouter ça !
    4) Relax le Plexus de Miel de Montagne. Porté par un album franc et dansant, l'artiste français vient de lâcher un nouveau titre qui porte la détente comme idéal de vie. Funky et bourré de bonne humeur, le morceau ne peut que plaire.
    5) Into the light de Yuksek. Électro ou funk, Yuksek compose et remix tout ce qui se rapproche de près ou de loin à une musique dansante. Son dernier tube s'appelle Into the Light et je vous mets au défi de ne pas taper du pied.
    6) Vincent Vega de Jimmy Magardeau. Lyonnais d'adoption, Jimmy Magardeau touche à tout en ce qui concerne la musique : pop, rap, électro, rien ne l'arrête. Son dernier morceau s'oriente rap tout en gardant ses textes qui sont devenus sa marque de fabrique.
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  • Day23

    Shanghaid

    February 1 in China ⋅ ☀️ 9 °C

    Que dire de Shanghaï ?
    Posés pendant 4 jours dans une grande et sympathique auberge de jeunesse à deux pas du métro, nous ne pouvions rêver mieux. Comble du bonheur, le beau temps est de la partie ! Des petites rues authentique typiques aux immenses avenues, Shanghaï est une ville incroyable, unique, hors du commun... (et fermée !). .Nous sommes instantanément tombé sous le charme de "la ville en amont de la mer" où chaque quartier a sa particularité, son histoire.

    Le fururiste quartier Pudong témoigne à merveille du poids financier que pèse Shanghaï sur la scène internationale. En se faufilant entre les buildings, on se sent tout petits, encore plus lorsque les rues sont vides... Les 324m de haut de la Tour Eiffel sont ici bien peu : la tour Jinmao mesure 420m, le Shanghaï World Financial Center, ou Décapsuleur pour les intimes (du à sa forme), 492m... Mais la plus imposante de toutes reste la Shanghaï Tower, culminant à 632m et désormais couronnée plus haute tour de Chine. Ça donne le vertige.

    Héritage d'une occupation prononcée, l'ex concession française et ses multiples parcs est idéale pour se balader et flâner entre les platanes (typiquement français ça aussi). Autre lieu cosmopolite au possible, la rue Duolun. Au cœur de l'ancienne concession internationale, la mignonne petite rue abrite de luxueuses villas d'époque et même une église à la mode chinoise !

    Nous avons egalement déambulé au coeur de la vieille ville chinoise. Ce quartier clairement délimité ressemble aujourd'hui à un centre commercial en plein air qui attire les touristes. Nous avons au moins eu la chance d'être tranquilles, merci le virus. Les constructions en l'honneur du rat de métal (année 2020) côtoient McDonald's, les maisons d'époque surplombent KFC et les temples chevauchent Haagen Dazs. Le quartier a perdu de son authenticité depuis l'arrivée des touristes. Cependant, dès qu'on s'extirpe de ces quelques rues, le vielle ville chinoise se révèle. Plus populaire, les vêtements sèchent partout où il y a de la place et les animaux vont et viennent paisiblement. Ces petites maisons sont cependant en train de se faire grignoter par les buildings...

    Le cerise sur le gâteau de notre séjour à Shanghaï fût sans conteste le petit Chinchilla café. Intégralement dédié à Mon Voisin Totoro (le sublime film de Miyazaki), le café était fermé mais l'adorable gérante du lieu nous a ouvert ses portes le temps d'admirer les énormes peluches, peintures murales et évidemment les quatre petits chinchillas, adorables souris toutes rondes que nous ne connaissions pas avant aujourd'hui.

    Au final, 4 jours à Shanghaï en même temps que le virus et les vacances, c'était inattendu mais terriblement sympa. On a vu et vécu un Shanghaï anormal, pour le pire comme pour le meilleur. On part avec la hâte de revenir. See you soon.
    🎵 We've been Shanghaid ! 🎵
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  • Day59

    Chengdu - Pandas

    October 29, 2019 in China ⋅ ☀️ 20 °C

    An diesem Tag hieß es mal wieder früh aufstehen, da es zu den Pandas 🐼 ging. Um diese auch aktiv und nicht nur schlafend zu sehen, muss man früh kommen. So ging es um 7 Uhr mit dem Taxi, das wir uns mit Anne und Hugo aus Frankreich geteilt haben, zur Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding, die wir dann auch mit den beiden besichtigt haben.
    Wir haben viele süße Pandas gesehen. Das sind wirklich sehr lustige Tiere, die den ganzen Tag essen und schlafen. Neben den Erwachsene und Jugendlichen, haben wir auch kleine Babys gesehen. Neben den bekannten großen Pandas 🐼 gibt es auch noch rote Pandas, die auch sehr cool sind. Die allerdings sind fast schon flink, so dass wirklich schwierig war, ein gutes Bild zu schießen. Danach zurück in Hostel, haben wir mit den zweien noch ein spätes Frühstück gehabt und ein bissl gequatscht.
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  • Day78

    Ankommen im Reich der Mitte

    November 2, 2019 in China ⋅ ⛅ 10 °C

    In der Grenzstadt Eren Hot kommen wir erstmal aus dem Staunen nicht mehr raus. Der Gegensatz zur Mongolei ist erstaunlich: Gepflegte Straßen werden zu einem großen Teil von leisen, elektrischen Rollern und Autos befahren. Es gibt jede Menge moderne Hochhäuser und Hotels und die Chinesen schaffen es überall Bäume wachsen zu lassen, während auf der anderen Seite der Grenze weit und breit kein Baum zu sehen ist. Es ist wie ein Sprung in die Modene.
    Leider spricht auch hier kein Mensch Englisch so dass wir nur mit Mühe und viel Geduld Bargeld, Zugfahrkarten und eine Unterkunft organisieren können.
    Als wir dann beim Abendessen in unserem Hotel reichlich wohlschmeckende Speisen genießen steigt unsere Vorfreude auf China.
    Am nächsten Morgen werden uns beim Sicherheitscheck am Bahnhof, der in China nicht nur beim Fliegen sondern sogar beim U-Bahnfahren vorgenommen wird, alle Messer abgenommen.
    Auf der Zugfahrt sind wir dann die Attraktion des ganzen Wagons und als wir Snacks einkaufen ist das ein Schauspiel das eine Menschentraube erzeugt.
    Es gibt Hünerhälse und etliche andere für uns schwer identifizierbare Köstlichkeiten, alle säuerlich in Plastik eingeschweißt.
    Alle Chinesen essen während der Zugfahrt und es ist üblich die Nachbarn alles probieren zu lassen. Wir beteiligen uns natürlich an dieser Sitte und bekommen so einige chinesische Snacks zu schmecken. Während der Fahrt gibt es Verkaufsshows z. B. für Brillen.
    In der Hauptstadt der inneren Mongolei (eine Provinz Chinas) steigen wir um in Richtung Peking. Wir haben Aufenthalt von 3 Stunden und schauen uns in der Zeit ein bisschen um. Auch diese Stadt besteht in erster Linie aus Hochhäusern, zwischen denen sich auf vielspurigen Straßen der chaotische Verkehr wälzt.
    Man muss hier sehr gut aufpassen, da die leisen weil elektrischen Roller überall fahren, auf Fahrradwegen, Bürgersteigen und sogar auf Fußgängerüberführungen und zwar kreuz und quer.
    Weiter geht es mit dem Nachtzug nach Peking.
    Wir haben keine Liegeplätze mehr bekommen und müssen versuchen in dem vollgestopften Abteil sitzend etwas Schlaf zu finden. Wie immer sind die Chinesen sehr freundlich und stehen um wenigsten dem allseits beliebten Samuel die Möglichkeiten zu geben sich hinzulegen.
    Recht übernächtigt (bis auf Samuel 🙂) kommen wir am frühen Morgen in Peking an, wo uns Miris Freundin Lily bereits empfängt.
    Mit einem Taxi fahren wir zu unserer Unterkunft, zwei gemütliche Apartments im 16. Stock eines Hauses etwa 6 km östlich des Zentrums.
    Auch wenn aus Aberglauben die Erbauer des Hauses den 4., 13. und 14. Stock weggelassen haben ist der Blick auf das Gewimmel in den Straßenschluchten von hier oben beeindruckend.
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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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