Joined May 2017
  • Day31

    Day 31: A final note...

    June 28, 2017 in England ⋅ 🌧 10 °C

    Last day in Hong Kong. Both exhausted so went out for brunch, then enjoyed the hotel facilities and relaxed by the pool. Ended our stay with happy hour cocktails, snacks and entertainment.

    A great month of 'firsts', 'bucket list ticks' and cultural contrasts.
    Emma's first Panda selfie, chicken's foot, Disney experience; Gill's first swimming in mud bath/hot springs, bamboo raft ride and hot tub on a skyscraper.
    Bucket list: Terracotta warriors for Gill and worlds highest bungee for Emma.
    Too many great experiences...few comparing to camping on the Great Wall.

    We've walked through forests, hiked up mountains, cycled through villages and cities. Swam in rivers, lagoons, pools and the sea; sweated up 1000 steps, and in the metros underground. Prayed in temples, drank from coconuts on a beach, cocktails on buses and in hotels; visited hospitals, village homes and designer shops. Slept in hostels, tents, mud houses, trains, taxis and swanky hotels.

    China has surprised, inspired and amazed us. We've laughed at FOMOs, shed tears along our personal journeys, and cried with joy at the wonders we've seen.
    True happiness is an experience shared, and we're so glad we shared it together.

    What a great adventure!

    Gill & Em x
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  • Day30

    Day 30: DISNEYLAND!!!

    June 27, 2017 in Hong Kong ⋅ 🌙 28 °C

    The bestest most magical day!

    Gill wasn't taking any queue jumping nonsense today - told a woman straight at the queue to our first ride 'Winnie the Pooh', and put a large shoving family in their place in the hustle and bustle of the (amazing) 'Festival of Lion King' show.

    A few of our favourite rides were 'Mystic Manor', 'Big Grizzly Mountain Runaway Mine'... for Emma the Slinky Dog Spin', and for Gill it was nice to see 'It's a Small World' again. Emma very proud of Gill's willingness to brave the roller coasters and high rides - 'Toy Soldier Parachute Drop' and Star Wars 'Hyperspace Mountain' (where Gill's hilarious Wookiee impression and reference to the "smoking slug" occurred) were so worth it!

    Disaster struck around 11am... Emma's camera was full - quickly needed to go through the 3000 photos and make some room!

    Everybody should see a Disney parade at least once in their lifetime. They're so grand and happy and fill the whole streets with magic! Enjoyed the 'Flights of Fantasy Parade' in the afternoon, and ended the day with 'Disney Paint the Night' Parade followed by the grand finale: 'Disney in the Stars Firework Spectacular'. Wow. A wonderfully magical way to spend our last night of what has been a fantastic trip.

    Gill & Em x
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  • Day29

    Day 29: Lost in the shops of Hong Kong..

    June 26, 2017 in Hong Kong ⋅ 🌙 28 °C

    As it says in the title, spent the majority of today completely and utterly lost in several of Hong Kong's shopping plazas.
    Wow. Never seen so much choice, variety and labels - as far as fashion goes It's free for all here and anything goes (colours, slogans, tassels, layers, pom-poms, sparkles, etc). Also never seen so many designer shops, (two Gucci's on the same street?!), selling beautiful, wacky and expensive wares. Some cool shops in our budget too - had lots of fun in the cosmetics department of one in 'Times Square' testing the wine flavoured lipsticks mmm.

    After wandering the plazas and boutiques started to make our way to Kowloon to see the famous 'symphony of lights'. What a complete ball ache!! After asking several concierges and information points still managed to get lost and ended up on the pool deck of a swanky hotel! Not bad but in the wrong place so had to leave and got caught out in the lifts for some very exclusive apartments. Emma got fed up of the metro, so we tried the bus but that would take too long so found ourselves in a taxi hurtling towards central pier to catch the show.
    Was it worth it? 3/10 to be honest...Gill's critical appraisal included "it's not really Disney". The view was good, however the music, 4 lasers and couple of flashing skyscrapers were not...

    To add to our many modes of transport today, took the ferry back across to the island. On the way back, managed to find discounted tickets for our trip to Disneyland tomorrow...very excited!

    Gill & Em x
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  • Day28

    Day 28: Hiking in Hong Kong...

    June 25, 2017 in Hong Kong ⋅ ⛅ 30 °C

    Awoke to fantastic views from the hotel window, and had a final farewell breakfast with our travel buddy Marissa.

    Then set out to do the "Dragon's Back" hike. It was clear why this hike is so popular - amazing views of Hong Kong's surrounding islands, beaches and high rises nestled in vast green vegetation. The hike itself was strenuous in the heat, Gill sensibly protecting herself with her UV umbrella; Emma, despite reapplication of suncream frazzling her shoulders in the mid day sun. It was well worth the effort after 3 hours, when the beach came into view where we enjoyed a well deserved lunch, swim and sunbathe (and Gill's coconut water..from a coconut). We were surprised to find that this bustling city was surrounded by clear blue sea and soft sandy beaches. The smell of the BBQs and sound of the waves were bliss. Both enjoyed cooling off from the hike in the sea.

    It was a very soggy day - after taking a short bus and metro trip we were back at the hotel - Gill couldn't wait to go for another dip in the outdoor pool, and Emma soon followed suit.

    Across the road for some local food for dinner, then more relaxing and planning the next few days over a cup of jasmine tea overlooking the city lights across the bay.

    Gill & Em x
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  • Day27

    Day 27: A day in magnificent Macau

    June 24, 2017 in Macao ⋅ 🌙 28 °C

    Night trains now seem strangely normal, got off our last one at 6.30am.

    Swift encounter with guide Kayleigh who helped us buy bus tickets for the 2 1/2 hour journey to the China/Macau border. We met our next guide Felix and crossed into the former Portuguese colony, Macau around 10.30.

    Freshened up in the washroom of the Galaxy casino - wow! Very impressed by the fountains and lights, little did we know we'd spend the next couple of hours blown away by the elaborate Venetian (enjoying lunch next to a tiny Venice complete with gondolas, shiny marbled floors and slot machines). Gambling is illegal in mainland China, and Macau is known as China's Las Vegas.

    Then we took a taxi to Macau tower where Emma did her long awaited 232 meter "worlds highest" Bungee Jump (sorry Dad couldn't resist!) Fearless until leaning over the edge then tumbling weightlessly through the air...a weird feeling but fantastic experience! Gill soldiered on at the bottom of the tower for over 2 hours becoming more sunburned and dehydrated by the second, daring not move, camera at the ready, in case she missed Emma's 50 seconds of free fall.

    Said goodbye to Felix and made the 1hr ferry crossing to Hong Kong.
    Rosanna met us to debrief - that's the end of our dragon trip! She was great and helped us find our hotel, Harbour Plaza. Upon check in we were informed we'd been upgraded - what a treat after 25 days of hostels and night trains! As Gill relaxes on the chaise lounge sipping a cold beer, Emma is drooling over the gourmet menu anticipating the harbour view in the morning. One things for sure - we'll be taking a dip in the rooftop pool tomorrow morning!

    Gill & Em x
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  • Day26

    Day 26: Farewell Fujian

    June 23, 2017 in China ⋅ ⛅ 20 °C

    Very relaxed start to the day with steamed bread and eggs to see us on our bumpy 9.6 mile bike ride down a tea growing mountain aahh. Stopped on the way to enjoy a temple, the largest round house built in the 30s, and a paddle in the river.

    Came back to the guesthouse, to find the owner's mother suffocating a chicken on the driveway...guessing that's for tea, talk about fresh!

    In the afternoon enjoyed some fresh fruit including pineapple sprinkled with salt (we thought it was sugar) - strangely nice!

    The mosquitoes of Fujian have managed to penetrate Gill's bug spray force field and she has gained 4 bites.

    Special trip back to the local round house for Emma to purchase 'an awesome souvenir', a sword. Has done her research on the Cathay Pacific website and shouldn't have a problem bringing this home...we'll see!

    Enjoyed fantastic home made food in Fujian, and the transport (Karaoke taxi) making journeys much more fun (even though Gill hates Karaoke)! Experienced our first Chinese storm whilst packing. Just about ready for our final night train tonight, then a jam packed day in Macau.

    Gill & Em x
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  • Day25

    Day 25: Fooling around in Fujian

    June 22, 2017 in China ⋅ ☀️ 25 °C

    In complete contrast to the bustling city of Shanghai we awoke in a 300 year old round house deep in the rural tea growing hills. Fujian has a much more relaxed pace and breathtaking green scenery.

    First stop, tea tasting at another round house. These huge structures are more like self contained villages, and have been built by the Hakka minority to house and protect generations of family. We were both tempted by the tea and purchased fresh jasmine, black and smokey tea.

    After an aerial view of a unique and particularly famous cluster of round houses, we wandered down through the village. This was followed by a hike around a mountain exploring the tea plantations with more amazing views.

    At our guest house we found a new buddy that we named Teddy. He is the cutest stray dog, though needs a shave as very matted. Also found the insect from hell, even Damon (our guide) couldn't identify (see photo).

    Fabulous swim to end the day in the natural mineral water of the river. Emma enjoyed battling the waterfall and jumping off the rock.

    Gill & Em x
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  • Day24

    Day 24: On the road again...

    June 21, 2017 in China ⋅ ⛅ 23 °C

    On the metro saying goodbye to Shanghai by 6am. Managed to liven up the 9hour bullet train ride a little with cards, and by working out that we've been in transit for 107 hours (4.4 days) since we arrived in China. Some silly song writing too, but overall a very dull trip, with weather to match!

    Met Damon, our friendly Fujian guide. You'd think after the long train ride we'd be fed up of traveling, but the minivan had an awesome surprise....Karaoke (KTV) and a kick ass sound system which put the Shanghai pub crawl bus to shame!
    2 hours later, after travelling on a road still under construction we arrive at our 300 year old rural round house. Not what we were expecting. Much more wood than mud, plus we have beds. Reminded me of the Shakespeare's globe. We are sleeping in the tiniest of rooms on the forth floor and have decided it's haunted due to inexplicable bikini swaying and cat noises.

    Ended the night with a beer, and for Emma a long awaited chicken's foot which was surprisingly spicy and more skin than meat. Goodnight from our plush mudhouse room, complete with 90's television, air con (a fan) and kettle.

    Gill & Em x
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  • Day23

    Day 23: Shanghai

    June 20, 2017 in China ⋅ ⛅ 23 °C

    Shanghai is a very big city, best enjoyed from the comfort of a hot tub on the 32nd floor of the Vue Bar at the Hyatt hotel.

    Visited two archaeologically and historically distinct concessions, the French (Tianzifang) and the British (The Bund). Walked down Nanjing Road, the busiest shopping street in the world, then took in the skyline from the riverside before ascending to the Vue Bar for an ariel view.

    Both impressed by the iconic city skyline, but didn't feel we got to know the real Shanghai, perhaps because 'story time' (one of our previously favourite ways to learn about the history and culture) was missing.

    Tested Cassie's leadership skills as only her 3rd ever group. She's had to deal with us getting locked out of our guesthouse, Emma being told off for swimming in the lagoon by the authorities, changing schedules, Gill's hospital trip and today's shutting down of an ATM and swallowing Gill's card!

    An early start tomorrow as back on the road. Next stop Fujian!

    Gill & Em x
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  • Day22

    Day 22: Showers in Shanghai

    June 19, 2017 in China ⋅ ⛅ 23 °C

    Kicked off the day with another Mandarin lesson on the rooftop. Then a change of plan due to weather as decided the Gardens weren't the best option in the rain. Opted for Shanghai museum instead. Emma went for a solo wander around the city - very proud she made it back with her sense of direction (and a little help from google maps). Emma discovered an underground mall with a huge amusement arcade, like nothing she'd seen before. It seemed the whole adolescence of Shanghai was there with armfuls of cuddly winnings from the claw machines, singing in the sing star booths, and playing an array of noisy unfamiliar games. Emma was very pleased to walk away with a Shaun the sheep toy - souvenir for Ben sorted!

    Gill spent most of the day in a daze and decided, after several hours of coughing needed another trip to the pharmacy as current drugs were not helping!
    However, Cassie decided a trip to the hospital was in order to see a Dr. So hospital it was...
    The hospital was in the British concession area so very old building and strangely quiet.
    Gill was checked in by a receptionist who took her temperature then told to find the Dr who was sitting in a little office. Blood pressure taken, throat checked, chest listened to in full view of other patients. No client confidentially here! Sent off for blood test and x-ray.
    Relieved to find the blood test was just a finger prick but again this was done in the corridor.
    No health and safety precautions for the x-ray here all were able to watch!
    Impressed with the instant results identifying only an infection. Antibiotics and 2 other tablets prescribed and collected. All very efficient costing only 187.50 yuan which is less then the prescriptions charges at home!
    A curious way to spend an evening, sussing out the healthcare system in China!

    Gill & Em x
    P.S. Belated birthday wishes for my little buddy Sacha!
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