Joined May 2017 Message
  • Day21

    Day 21: Weary wander around the waterway

    June 18, 2017 in China ⋅ ☀️ 27 °C

    Day out to Zhujiajiao. Both equally underwhelmed, as we were told this water town is the Chinese Venice. It was nowhere near as impressive, but still a pleasant Sunday stroll. Enjoyed sitting on the waterfront outside Starbucks, where Emma sampled a delicious iced green tea java chip.

    Of all the shops in Shanghai Emma found the local Tesco to pick up some conditioner and her new favourite crisps - lime Pringles.
    Had a much needed lazy evening to recuperate after 21 days on the road - it's going so fast...unlike Gill's cough!

    Gill & Em x
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  • Day20

    Day 20: Moganshan, the calm before...

    June 17, 2017 in China ⋅ ⛅ 27 °C

    ....the Shanghai Storm!

    Tickled by another Chenglish translation at breakfast for the cocktail sausages as "breakfast bowels" (see photo).
    Speaking of bowels, Emma has discovered the best remedy for constipation to be excessive watermelon consumption.

    As planned cycled to the lagoon this morning. Gill decided to rest up, as cough still raging and have a busy few days in Shanghai ahead. Very determined to get better, Gill is taking all shady Chinese medicine and immunity boost sachets religiously. See photo of bamboo forest view from window for Gill's Moganshan contribution.

    The lagoon ('Big Wu Reservoir') was stunning, and Emma couldn't wait to go for a dip! However, the relief from the cool mountain water didn't last long, as a community officer soon came down to inform her that swimming is prohibited. Emma reluctantly climbed out, and Cassie explained that we were unlucky as this rule only seems to be enforced on weekends, and the lagoon is safe! Bought more delicious watermelon on the ride back and freshened up for lunch.

    After a 2 hour bullet train from Dequing to Shanghai we check into our hostel.
    You would have thought at Gill's age she would have learned to go with her gut instinct, and in signing up for the 'drunken dragon pub crawl' it would be just that. Never one to shy away from a night out on the town, she did enjoy meeting people from different trips, but did not like the last club. Why is it always English men that want to feel your backside?! Emma was thoroughly entertained by some crazy dancing by a large Chinese man, and 3 bars, a party bus and a very noisy club later we made it home around 3.30.

    Gill & Em x
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  • Day19

    Day 19: Bumpy ride to the bamboo forest

    June 16, 2017 in China ⋅ ⛅ 26 °C

    After the night train opted for Chinese fast food breakfast, which google translated to 'black black black you are my little pepper proud intestinal" (chipolata sausages).

    Both felt a bit ropey after a 2 hr bumpy drive from Hangzou to Moganshan.
    Changed minibus half way, as the first rickety bus would probably not have made the mountain drive, at least not at the driver's bullet train-esque speed!

    Lovely accommodation nestled in the bamboo forest. Gill made the right choice choosing to rest her ever worsening cough in bed, whilst Emma Marissa and Cassie (our Mogashan and Shanghai guide) set out on a bike ride. The road to the lagoon was closed due to filming, so we'll all try again opting for a walk through the bamboo and a watermelon feast.

    Chilled in the bar in the evening, in spite of Cassie's questioning beer will cure Gill's chesty cough, she's determined! Had to call Cassie to the rescue at 10.30pm as locked out of our hotel....quickly resolved but an interesting end to the evening.

    Gill & Em x
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    💚😊 great pic x

  • Day18

    Day 18: Strolling in the Beijing sun

    June 15, 2017 in China ⋅ ⛅ 38 °C

    Spent a lovely morning exploring the Temple of Heaven. We braved the roads again to cycle there and back along cycle 'paths' as wide as our roads running alongside the 8 lanes of traffic. A thrilling way to get around!

    Really enjoyed strolling through the surrounding park, which was equipped for the health and well-being for the 'aged population'. New special interest in gerontology....seriously considering introducing the same in museum gardens when we qualify! There was space for dancing, aerobics, tai chi, card and board games, a musical area, knitting and crochet...bringing people together to enjoy or spectate. Very OT.

    Beijing hostel our least favourite so far - bit of a dingy building site, poor food, damp laundry - glad we got out to make the most of our limited time in the capital. Enjoyed a typical Beijing lunch of noodle platter and walnut chicken, followed by a relaxing wander around the immaculately clean centre adorned with lanterns, engraved stonework and brass statues. Escaped the heat and stopped for a delicious iced tea where we nattered and watched the people and trams pass by.

    Health update: Gill finished course of little green pills, which have also turned her pee radioactive green colour and may be the cause of her new chesty cough ailment. Emma sneezing more then usual, but determined not to get ill! No more bug bites. Gill loving new UV umbrella - no sunburn!

    Beijing central station is huge! Like an unfamiliar crowded Kings Cross, and luckily we could say goodbye to Peter after we were safely on the correct train. Another night train tonight, 14 hours then we'll be exploring the bamboo forests of Moganshan.

    Gill & Em x
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  • Day17

    Day 17: Boiling in Beijing...

    June 14, 2017 in China ⋅ 🌙 30 °C

    ...sightseeing, shopping and 'very British problems'.

    Spent today taking in the main sights of China's capital. First we explored Tiananmen Square seeing the congress hall, Mao's mausoleum, the museum of Chinese history and revolution, and of course the gate to the Forbidden City.

    Forbidden city was huge. 980 buildings to be precise, the largest palace complex in the world. Peter guided us through the hustle and bustle, pointing out key buildings throughout the beautiful complex. Experienced the Chinese authorities in action when we - the 'common people' - were herded out despite buying tickets due to visiting French dignitaries. We had to comply as Peter had already pointed the numerous CCTV cameras.

    Warning: Upcoming 'very British problem'...
    So far we've been pretty tolerant of the lack of queues, though today Gill had a justified outburst in the toilets in the forbidden city....people shoving past to get to the cubicles ignoring the obvious queue, pulling open the doors when people weren't even finished - very rude! Emma was barely out of her cubicle when someone shoved past to get in!

    Then took the bus to Hong Chao Pur market where we picked up some tourist bargains and had some lunch. Emma was excited by the food court and let Peter choose her lunch, a delicious moderately spicy noodle dish and 'Chinese hamburger'. Gill was obviously still poorly as had to eat English food, and appreciated the blandness of her first Subway.

    All enjoyed shopping in Minso for facial treats then made our way to a fabulous Silk shop. Gill spent thousands in her head on new bedding, quilts and pillows - but managed to resist despite being told it will help keep her looking young!
    Emma was in love with the silk dresses...unfortunately out of a student budget, so will have to return when a rich qualified OT!

    Opted for an unplanned bike ride back to Hostel in 37^ heat - Katie Melua was in fact wrong, it felt like there were far more than 9 million bicycles in Beijing! Gill seriously hoping P20 was still working and chest would hold out! Great fun and beats the bustle of buses. Helmets not a thing here, so some positive risk taking necessary.

    Enjoyed some much needed relaxation and a bit of a pamper tonight, followed by a short mosey to a nearby hostel for a bite to eat and drinks.

    Gill loved speaking to Jen & Caris on What's App video.
    Special birthday wishes to my beautiful Jenni xx Love you from Mumbles

    Gill & Em x
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  • Day16

    Day 16: Battling on in Beijing

    June 13, 2017 in China ⋅ 🌙 20 °C

    Cloudy sunrise on the Great Wall. It was fully light by 5am, and the mist made the distant mountains fade from luscious green, to distant grey silhouettes.
    Despite our thermal ground cover and sleeping mats Emma was colder than expected through the night; Gill was quite snug though this might be due to still being poorly.

    Emma loved spending the early morning taking photos on the wall, and particularly the guard tower. It was so peaceful, the only sounds being the squawking and singing of the birds, the buzzing of insects and distant aeroplane rumbles...bliss!
    After catching another hour in bed we were woken with rain at 7.20 so quickly packed away the tents and made our decent.

    Gill thought the Great Wall was phenomenal and really appreciated seeing both unrestored and restored sections away from the tourists. Took a walk on Juyong Pass, but Gill was beaten by the stairs so instead opted for a more leisurely stroll around one of the pavilions.

    Stopped off at the Olympic park, built to host the 2008 games. Pretty cool, the birds nest stadium was very unique. Emma very proud of Gill...despite feeling like death and a more appropriate pass time would be being curled up in bed with a hot lemon, she battled on along the Great Wall and through the park without a peep. Emma hoped snuggles in the minibus back to the hostel would help.

    Delicious roast Peking duck for dinner followed by a farewell drink for Jordan, who leaves us tomorrow. Will miss his northern banter!

    Gill & Em x
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  • Day15

    Day 15: Campfire and sunset....

    June 12, 2017 in China ⋅ ☀️ 20 °C

    ...on the Great Wall of China!
    Okay, so it's illegal to camp ON the wall, but Peter assured us we were within our rights to use it as a wind shield

    After another night train arrived in Beijing's second largest rail station at 6am. Necessary for the 25 million inhabitants of the city. Met our next guide, Peter.

    Dropped bags at Leo's hostel - Gill reckons it seems a bit touristy, but will wait until we've spent the night to offer her critical appraisal.
    Enjoyed a relaxing mandarin lesson learning calligraphy with wolf hair brushes and parchment. Gill won the challenge for her neat and and accurate handwriting, donating her prize of a beginners calligraphy set to Marissa.

    After freshening up, set out on the 2 1/2 hour drive to our secluded campsite for the night, an unrestored section of the 5000km long Great Wall. All feeling pretty exhausted - fell asleep in minibus in bustling busy Beijing...woke up in countryside surrounded by mountains. Soon after we got our first glimpse of the Great Wall, a tiny distant structure snaking through the hills.

    An hours hike to our wall-side oasis. Gill struggled a bit due to sore throat, and the shady green pills given by Chinese pharmacy had not yet kicked in. Emma stuck close by the keep an eye and offer encouragement. Very pleased and emotional to make it to the top.

    Pitched tents and had our first mosey on the wall. Emma particularly enjoyed foraging for wood, and Gill cremating her marshmallows on the fire. As the sun set over the rolling hills, we got an early night with every intention of getting up at 4.30am to watch the sun rise...

    Gill & Em x
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  • Day14

    Day 14: 1010 steps up to the Dharma Cave

    June 11, 2017 in China ⋅ ☁️ 18 °C

    Awoke to the sound of cockerels crowing - definitely not in York anymore.
    Misplaced room key - Emma was convinced Gill was first in last night. Key inexplicably turns up in Emma's leggings pocket.

    Hiked the 1010 steps over 2000km elevation to the Dharma cave at the top of the Song Shan mountain. Incredible views and worth the sweat, heat, and in Gill's case altitude induced panting and vertigo. Despite almost collapsing on the way up Gill was pleased to make it to the top to enjoy the views. Emma was impressed with Gills resilience and we sourced some local honey to help Gills raging sore throat.

    On the descent viewed the pagoda forest where the ashes of 250 of the highest and most respected monks are buried, and visited the 1500 year old Shaolin Temple, comprising of many architecturally beautiful and colourful buildings / shrines.

    Finally saw another show of Shaolin Kung Fu. It was very different to our intimate performance yesterday, with over 300 spectators, lights and music; though the same traditional weapons and routines. Emma was not phased by the crowd, and shot on stage to battle it out with two others to mirror their respective mentors. Emma's moves (and roll) in tiger style won over the audience, and she was very happy to win a DVD of the show!

    Back to the guesthouse for yet another delicious meal before packing for our night train to Beijing.

    Gill & Em x
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    Oh wow 😍😍😍 stunning view

  • Day13

    Day 13: The road to Shaolin...

    June 10, 2017 in China ⋅ ☀️ 22 °C

    ...the home of Kung fu!

    We said goodbye to our Xian guide Leilei, then endured a very uncomfortable 6 hour bus ride. Sore bottoms, limited legroom, people doing strange things like cutting their nails, and only 1 squat toilet stop. Gill was wishing she hadn't shared a bottle of (very nice) red wine with Leilei the night before. As we approached our next destination, and drove between the rolling green mountains, Emma was getting very excited about tomorrow's hike. Finally arrived in Shaolin and was greeted by Vicky, our next guide.

    Visited a local Kung Fu school, of which there are over 100 in the area. We had to giggle when we noticed the Shifu (Kung fu master) had also been our taxi driver earlier. 30 students (age 10-17) wowed us with their martial arts talents. Much hard work and discipline necessary to move with such power and grace. Among other things they broke concrete slabs with their hands and bent bamboo spears with their throats (made Gill squirm) - wow!
    We were surprised to learn that Kung fu is more than a sport, providing an honourable vocation which can enable positions in the army, police force, roles in film and television, and teaching both in China and overseas.
    The school is located in such a tranquil scenic place, we enjoyed being able to watch the sunset over the mountains too.

    Completed the evening with another enjoyable mandarin lesson. Enjoying home made Chinese food cooked by hostel owners - haochi (delicious)!

    Gill & Em x
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  • Day12

    Day 12 - Terracotta dream come true

    June 9, 2017 in China ⋅ ⛅ 22 °C

    Emma awoke with a sore frou frou/ moo moo from cycling yesterday. Marissa and Jordan later confessed their similar affliction and we're waddling like pandas today. Strangely Gill unaffected.

    Had a yummy international breakfast - full English and French toast joined by Popa the hostel cat. Hoping he's not for dinner as very cute.It was a drizzly misty day, but this didn't dampen our excitement and the mountains still looked beautiful en route to the terracotta warriors.

    Wow! After 43 years Gill finally gets to see the terracotta warriors and meet the farmer who discovered them, grinning like a Cheshire Cat. We were blown away by the vastness of the pits, even though the 3 we saw only represents a tiny fraction of the entire army. Impressed by the detailed craftsmanship, each being individually modelled on one of emperor Ching's warriors. Leilei told us the fascinating history of the warriors which allowed us to appreciate the cruelty of China's first emperor, but also admire his leadership and intellect. This really brought the experience to life. In some way perhaps the Chinese beliefs around afterlife are being realised for these warriors, through this awe-inspiring archaeological discovery. The life of the farmer and his family was changed irrevocably by this, as he now spends his days as an additional tourist attraction...or celebrity? Unsure whether this is a blessing or a curse.

    A lovely evening relaxing and playing cards with the group. Leilei took us to another great restaurant. Food has been excellent in Xian. All packed and prepared for a 6 hour bus ride to Shaolin tomorrow. The adventure continues...

    Gill & Em x
    P.S. Got told to 'keep the noise down' tonight as we celebrated receiving our year 2 results with whoops of delight. Prayers to Buddha for academic success clearly worked! Both very pleased.
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    Lynne Newell

    Wow how wonderful. Can imagine your delight Gilly. I know how much you have wanted to see these warriors xx well done on the results too. Xx


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