Heather Parry

Joined August 2017Living in: Victoria, Canada
  • Day11

    Yellow Mountains.... Shanghai dumplings

    December 5, 2017 in Hong Kong ⋅ ⛅ 18 °C

    On Friday we travelled by fast train to Huangshan -which literally means yellow mountain. Located in Eastern China, Huangshan is a frequent subject of traditional Chinese paintings and literature, as well as modern photography. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and one of China's major tourist destinations.
    There is a “ scenic area “ ( think National Park) which hosts most of the tourists in a rather grubby town near the entrance . We stayed in a cheap but cheerful hotel run by a young couple very keen to practice their English and attract western customers. They were typical of all the Chinese people, sincere, warm and very helpful. We even got a “Western style breakfast of scrambled eggs and toast although the concept of jam was a bit confusing for them.
    The Saturday morning bus ride half way up the mountain was the first test of our nerves. We weaved and swerved up a very steep mountain road. Finally we arrived at the gondola station and did the, by now, routine gauntlet of ticket purchases, then security checks then line ups. We were amply rewarded at the top of the gondola ride when we popped through the heavy rain and clouds and enjoyed spectacular views in every direction. After lots of photos, we started what turned out to be 6 tough hours of walking up, down, then up then down, etc a total of nearly 30,000, steps that day said the lovely Maria. Turns out the gondola that was supposed to take us down the hill after 4 hours of hiking was broken and we ended up hiking an extra 2 hours down hill. Tough on the body!The trails were crowded and the toilets very basic. We did stop mid-way for a veeery expensive lunch(everything is hauled up the mountain so you can understand why the prices. ). Our bodies are still feeling the effects of our hiking but it was an experience. Our quads are still screaming at us.
    Yesterday was Sunday and we, again rode the speedy bullet trains - this time to Shanghai our final China stop. Have to say of all the places we have been in China, Shanghai is my favorite. Most likely due to the fact that coffee is readily a available and there is wine for sale in most stores - I know, call me shallow. The feel here is much more international and Westerners feels relatively more at comfortable.
    We are safely ensconced in a hotel near the former French Concession area. Lots of things to see near by. Today we wandered around and hit our favorite dumpling shop for lunch. The Shanghai dumplings contain broth and meat. Then they are steamed and fried. Mmmm m delicious and cheap. We visited a fascinating little museum devoted to preserving Chinese propaganda posters . The posters really reveal the history of China from the Second World War. Very few of the posters survived for various reasons and they are quite interesting.
    Tonight we went on a night cruise on the Huangpu River which cuts through Shanghai. We were treated to a spectacular view of the many magnificent and architecturally diverse buildings in this world class city. Jonathan tells us that Shanghai is actually, at 25 million people, likely the largest metropolis in the world. It is a vibrant, international city with every brand of store, hotel, business you could imagine. Prices are accordingly high. A bit of a shock after our experiences in the rest of China.
    It goes without saying that we’ve really enjoyed our time with Jon and Maria these past 2 weeks. Unfortunately we lost our translator and excellent travel guide Maria yesterday as she had to return to work in Beijing. Jon has patiently stuck with us and will continue to guide us until we are safely in the arms of Air Canada on Wednesday afternoon.

    That’s about all for now.
    Love Heather xx
    Happy Birthday Lindsay xx
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  • Day4

    Xiamen

    November 28, 2017 in Hong Kong ⋅ ⛅ 23 °C

    Hello from the coastal city of Xiamen.

    We had a very pleasant day Sunday with Maria’s folks walking around the Olympic Site and visiting the Llama temple. On our previous visit we had stopped only for a quick photo of the birdnest stadium in the rain during a jammed packed tour day so it was nice to see it in more detail. Lots of lovely public art. Also lots of new building happening for the upcoming 2022 Winter Olympics. Poor Maria was done being a translator by the end of the day. Admittedly, it’s very hard to even begin to know people if you can’t communicate. Maria’s Dad had lots of questions about my Mom’s place, and who’s was paying and what she is doing etc. Maria’s Mom has decided that we should move to Beijing because it’s much cheaper to live. She offered me a key to one of their flats. Very generous people indeed. However, in addition to many major reasons for not moving to China, the main day-to-day barriers for me would be a lack of good, affordable coffee and ditto for white wine.

    We left Beijing on Monday morning bright and early. That is everything left Beijing except for my iPad which I left in the security area which was beyond busy. We were checked, ID etc at least 3 Times. Fortunately, a friend of Maria picked it up yesterday on his way through to Vancouver and we’ll recover it there from him. There is security and checks everywhere here and we were reminded by Maria that we must have Passports on us at all times. We don’t normally think about it. The Chinese have ID cards that they use for everything.

    We are in another great hotel here in Xiamen in what seems to be a kind of expat district in this city. Nice lowers profile city and We have a beautiful view across the river to the main city. There is a Starbucks next door where we found decent coffee. Xiamen is a port city across the strait from Taiwan. There are essentially 2 islands- the larger one with the city and the smaller one was a British Treaty Port from 1842to 1912. Today we took the ferry to this smaller, car-free island called Golangyu. We put on lots of miles steps wandering around the island which is now a UNESCO site because of the many old colonial buildings. We visited a lovely small piano museum which had amongst the collection a Chickering piano - the same brand as mine! The island became a unique hub for pianists because of the large number of pianos brought to the area by the Brits. A number of world famous Chinese pianists came from the area.

    We stopped for some interesting take out food. Fried things mostly . We are wary because of some of the crazy things that are on offer but also because of Mike’s allergy to shellfish.
    Much of the food here is as Jon would say- greasy but good. We’ve tried a few unfamiliar things but mostly on the veg side - bitter melons. We had spicy fish head the other night. We left the lips and eyes to Maria who. Is very adventurous when it comes to eating. Tonight we went in search of some weird sea worms.... evidently a local dish. Everything is served family style and people just pick away at things. I’m getting much better with my cop sticks. The smells here are very strong and I have them hard time with them at times. The Duran fruit and the really smelly tofu just knock you over.

    . Today we head inland on the bullet train inland to a place called Wuyishan. On the way we are stopping at another island . Wuyishan is a Chinese resort city in Fujian province's Wuyi Mountains. It's popular for bamboo rafting on the 9-Bend River and viewing the range's 36 peaks, including high points like Great King Peak.
    That’s it for now.
    Love Heather (Mom)
    Fi, hope the trip to the Uk was uneventful.
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