MF's travel blog

What’s not to like about travel - good for the heart, mind and soul.
Living in: Brisbane City, Australia
  • Day5

    Beijing to Wuxi

    August 25 in China

    Up early for a flight to Shanghai and then a bus trip to Wuxi. Have to say that Chinese airline travel (international and domestic) is more than fine - food is great and seat room (particularly international on China Southern) is good. Good selection of movies, wifi and USB power.

    The 2 hour bus trip to Wuxi is almost one continuous metropolitan area - hard to describe the amount of high rise apartments etc - just incredible. Urban Shanghai itself is 25M people (that’s Australia).

    Arrive at Wuxi and had a look at Lake Tai - a huge fresh water lake (2250 sq km but average depth of only 2 meters). A place for boating, families and picnics.

    Dinner at another fantastic restaurant - great selection of food. You know the meal is finished when the watermelon comes out.

    A chance after dinner to wander around near the hotel (which is in central Wuxi). There was some sort in festival going on with fireworks dancing and lots of people.

    Another great day.
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  • Day4

    Beijing 3rd day

    August 24 in China

    Another early start with a trip to the Beijing Zoo for a visit to see 🐼. The enclosures aren’t huge and the Pandas weren’t exactly energetic but maybe to be expected on a warm humid summer day. I’ll d think they’d be happier in the wild.

    After (another very good) lunch a visit to a Chinese traditional herbal institute. A foot massage, a short health consultation and the opportunity to buy $350 worth of “medicine” that would last a month - not for me!!!!!

    A chance to visit a “street food” area - roasted scorpion or centipede on a stick anyone? A chance to walk around an upmarket shopping mall - same as in any sizeable world city. Same brand names with same high prices, it really shows the disparity in living standards just one street away.

    Tired - dinner in the room.
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  • Day3

    Bejing 2nd day

    August 23 in China

    A big day climbing the Great Wall. Wow it’s spectacular, long/high, hard and busy - it’s nearly 1800 steps for the part we climbed. The bus ride is about 35 km outside Beijing (quite a long time ride to get out of the city - the traffic is pretty horrendous).

    Age doesn’t seem to have a big effect on climbing the wall, it seems to be all about perseverance. Climbing in late summer on the hottest part of the day probably not ideal - I started off well, but about 2/3 of the way up I was passed by a Chinese grandmother who must have been on the older side of 75!!! Needed a few rests on the way (bring 💦). Ther’s a souvenir shop selling drinks at about 1,500 steps - a necessity. The photos below really don’t do it justice.

    We also had a visit to a jade factory - okay if you’re into jade🤔. Aside from jewellery there were statues etc as well as a jade aquarium (pic below) if you have a spare $1.45M (not including fish).

    We also managed to include a trip to the “Summer Palace” - the Emperors sure hade a pretty good life (when they went to the summer palace they got to take their favourites of the 3000 concubines with them - along with their wife 😮).

    Had a free night for dinner and Anne, Carl and I walked to a “local” area and found a small very traditional Chinese restaurant. We had a few surprised looks when we walked in. Not sure what we ordered but one dish was offal and another sure had a lot of very hot 🌶.

    Back to the hotel and I went to a bar to relax with a soft drink - listened to some John Denver, Beatle songs etc being sung (very well) in a strong Chinese accent.

    Tomorrow - more Beijing.
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  • Day2

    First day in Beijing

    August 22 in China

    A big first day visiting some of the major sights of Beijing - Temple of Heaven, Tiananmen Square and Palace Museum. Also went to the “Golden Mask Dynasty Show” which was absolutely fantastic. Had lunch of Peking Duck at a great restaurant - food was great.

    Squat toilets take some getting used to 🤔.

    Tomorrow’s highlight day s a visit and a walk on the Great Wall.

  • Day1

    Landed in Guangzhou

    August 21 in China

    We’re on Chinese soil. From the air the city is huge, on the ground the airport is pretty big as well. A little layover time then fly out to Beijing - if we manage to work out how the transfer to domestic works.

  • Day81

    Florence

    October 2, 2016 in Italy

    Nice ride to Florence even though I did see two motorcycle accidents within 15 minutes of each other. One on a roundabout and one on the Autostrada. Both looked serious and served as a reminder to be careful.

    Stayed in one of the smallest hotel rooms of the whole trip. The bathroom was so small you could use the toilet and have a shower at the same time!!!!!

    Really beautiful city just full of history - not enough time to see it, maybe a return visit. Found a great little restaurant not far from my hotel and had spaghetti with a wild boar sauce - had it 3 times in a row, who says I'm not a creature of habit.Read more

  • Day77

    Marina di Massa - Tuscany

    September 28, 2016 in Italy

    So, when I think of Tuscany I think of vineyards, hilltop villages, castles, Leaning Tower of Pizza as well as great food and wine. Well, it also has a coastline and beaches. It might be the Mediterranean, but I have to say good old Aussie beaches beat it hands down. I'm not saying the costal villages and cities aren't fabulous, just the beaches are really pretty ordinary - mostly pebbley or with dark dirty looking sand (and old rich prole that should no bether than be wearing bikinis or budgr smugglers).. Having said that, the road hugging the coastline from Genoa to Massa is fantastic with small towns hanging precariously off cliffs overlooking the sea. It was a slow ride but the scenery was breathtaking.

    I stayed in a hotel at Massa - it was late off season so they upgraded me to a balcony superior room...very nice. The room had the most sophisticated shower I've ever seen...7 nozzles (4 strong horizontal for a body massage, 2 head high jets (no idea what for..ear cleaners?) and 1 large ceiling rain shower. I usually turn on the shower to get the hot water running (often takes a while in these old buildings) then undress and hop in. This was a room sized shower so turn the water I had to get in - I thought I was turning o the hand held shower, but instead I got soaked from the ceiling rain shower - unexpected but was okay, clothes I was wearing needed a wash anyway.

    Next stop - Frienze (Florence)
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  • Day76

    Genoa

    September 27, 2016 in Italy

    Mostly staying of the autostrada (except for about 30 kms) and motorways meant it took almost three times as long to get here, but also meant really nice country side, mountains and villages to ride through. I did see the terrible sight of two fellow riders (separate incidents about 25 minutes apart) lying on the road after having been hit by a car. The first at a roundabout, the ambulance had just arrived, and he looked in a bad way. The second crash involved a car merging onto the autostrada that side swiped a motorbike at probably over 100kmh. Happened maybe only a couple of minutes before I got there, no ambulance yet, and doesn't bear thinking about the outcome. I rode gingerly for a while.

    Stayed for 3 nights to have enough time to wander properly around this very old port city of some 600,000 people (of which I would guess 400,000 ride a scooter. There are just scooters everywhere, they out number cars at least 3 to 1. I rode pretty much as you would drive a car (it's still pretty nerve racking in such a busy city) but the locals took lane splitting to new hights. They make liberal use of the other side of the road, footpaths as well traditional lane splitting. It's actually amazing to watch. All the scooters and bikes, at traffic lights, filter to the front then it's their version of a motogp race start as they all hurdle into the first corner. Some of those 125 and 200 cc motors must have a very short life span. There's no where enough parking do they are just everywhere, including in the stree, and I mwan in the lanes. Ohh, and I think I found a car (if that is what it is) even smaller than the one in Turin (see the bottom middle pic).

    Another thing I've discovered is that Italians love mobile phones, you'll see them texting as they ride. They don't bother with expensive helmet headsets for talking, they simply dial and then slop the mobile phone between their helmet and their head and then ride off talking whilst gestulating with both hands off the handle bars.

    I did a lot of walk (determined to drop some of that weight from my stay in Asti/Turin but it's going to take more than 3 days....). Lots to see and I spent an afternoon at the Genoa aquarium but it was really sad to see dolphins and sea lions in very small indoor aquariums.

    Next it's down the Ligurian coast-line to Marina di Massa.
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