A Travellerspoint blog

Back to Beijing.......

overcast 36 °C

After nearly a month in China we are finally back in Beijing and ready to head back to Bangkok, for a few days shopping before going home!! Back to mums lamb roast and some warm clothes, looking forward to it!
We left our kiwi and welsh friends in Shanghai and flew to Beijing, and it took us 2.5hrs to get from beijing airport to the city center, so we finally arrived at 1am. Walking through the streets at that hour was an eye opener as to just how many homeless people are sleeping on the streets. Back to the same hostel we stayed in last time, the bathrooms are awful but it has a central location, you cant win them all.
We met up with some english girls that we met in Xi'an and spent most nights with them in the hostel bar. After talking to quite a few fellow travellers we are all ready to leave china, our impressions of this place are the same, Beijing is so not ready to host an olympic games!! the transport system is outdated with tiny paper tickets, no ticket vending machines you have to line up at the window with a hundred other people pushing in front of you. They definently dont know how to queue in china, we learnt that the hard way so its all elbows and pushing till you get to the front of the line. There are even ads on tv trying to teach the chinese how to be respectful and let people off the trains before you surge on, and help old ladys cross the street. We think it will take a little more than an ad to change the way these people do things.
All the main attractions in Beijing are getting a bit of a face lift so its a bit of a shame for us as there are barricades and mesh fencing around beautiful temples. We went to the Temple of Heaven the other day, which has lots of great gardens and temples, the emporers used to come here and make offerings to the heavens for a good harvest. It is quite pretty inside but so huge we didnt see it all. We tried to go to the underground city today but couldnt find it and no one could help us with directions, and apparently it is closing for renovations.
The highlight of our trip to Beijing has to be the Acrobatics Show we went to last night. It was amazing, children as young as 6 or 7 were performing. They somersaulted through hoops, twirled plates, rode unicycles while kicking bowls off their foot and catching them on their heads! And the little diablo girls were fantastic, they must have been 6-12 years old and were using those yo ho diablo things while dancing around and doing flips. It was just so good.
Our last day here tomorrow so we are going to the silk market and see if we can find some cheap souvenirs.

Posted by shell. 05.07.2007 00:05 Archived in China Comments (0)

Xi'an to Shanghai

sunny 36 °C

We finished up our time in Xi'an by going to the panda conservation park. it is run by WWF so we thought it was better than going to a horrible zoo. Saw a couple of pandas, mostly just sitting there eating bamboo and sleeping alot. We werent allowed to see the ones in the new enclosure as they were sleeping and not to be disturbed! there were a few other endangered animals there but it was a very quiet place with not many tourists so it was very empty. it rained most days we were in xian and the weather was much cooler than shanghai.
we took the overnight train to shanghai, 16hours long and it was the greatest thing to be able to get off that train. we decided to go hard sleeper this time which was nearly half the price of the soft sleeper. the top bunk which i was in was like sleeping in the luggage rack, i was so close to the roof i couldnt sit up properly. the middle wasnt much better where daniel was. 2 bunks of 3 high in each section and there were about 15 sections, so over 60 people in the carriage- all chinese speaking so loud. i was the object of a lot of staring and pointing so just hid under the doona with my ipod on as the constant chinese music was getting too much. All night long you could hear men spitting, it was really gross.
Arriving at our hostel was great, the hot trip from the station left us running for the shower. we are staying in a really nice hostel, almost hotel quality.
Spent a day sightseeing - went to the shanghai museum, the propoganda poster art museum which was really cool, east nanjing rd which is a pedestrianized shopping strip and took a walk down The Bund, shanghai's most famous mile. it is basically just a promenade along the egde of the river and its best to go there at night when the city is lit up. The contrast from the old heritage sandstone buildings to the metallic, strange sky scrapers is huge.
we went to the Jinmao tower, the tallest building in shanghai and went under the river using the "Tourist Sightseeing Tunnel". Quite hard to describe but it is a tunnel filled with neon lights of every colour, flashing strobes whilst you sit in a little carriage and get to the other end. Nothing touristy at all about it, it was the most bizzare thing, but very asian-they love their lights.
we have met up with some friends that we met in xi'an and have been hanging out with them which is nice.
Back to Beijing next and we managed to find some cheap flights so dont have to relive the train experience!

Posted by shell. 28.06.2007 03:00 Archived in China Comments (0)

Xi'an

Home of the Terracotta Warriors

rain 25 °C

We finished off our stay in Beijing, met a friend of a friend (who is chinese) and she took us out to dinner for beijing roast duck. Amazing!! it is such a delicacy and they prepare it very well. There are 3 different ways to eat it and the waitress shows you how - requires a bit if dexterity with the chopsticks!! def our best meal in china so far.
we arrived in Xi'an early friday morning after a long train trip down from Beijing. The hostel we are staying at picked us up from the train station which was really good, as the train stations are packed to the rafters with people and boxes and suitcases it is a crazy place!
Xi'an is a great city, only 9million people live here so it is not quite as big as the other cities in china. We went to see the Terracotta Warriors which was really cool. A farmer was digging a well on his property in 1974 and came across a pit filled with terracotta warriors in battle formation, then they found 2 others. There are thousands of life size warriors and a few horses but the chariots disintegrated as they were made of wood. An emporer built them thousands of years ago and buried them, he was the kind of guy that wanted to be talked about in the afterlife, mission accomplished! We both have little warriors to bring home and stand guard. Our guide that took us was hilarious and called us 'youth group' says he likes taking tours as it makes him feel younger. Chinas population has reached 1.3billion, isnt that crazy! so they have the 'one child policy' but he says that you can get around this and have another child if you know a doctor in the hospital and say that your first child is sick in the head or the heart. then u can have another!
Met some nice people here at the hostel and learnt a chinese dice game. There is a big muslim population here so they have a muslim quarter which has really good road side food stalls. Beef kebabs, naan bread and chicken sticks for the 2 of us cost a whole $2. The city is surrounded by the original city walls and a moat and we are going to ride around on bicycle tomorrow. Also going to a panda conservation centre on thursday.
Leaving for Shanghai on friday so will update you when we get there.

Posted by shell. 19.06.2007 05:54 Archived in China Comments (0)

China

Beijing.......

overcast

We arrived in Beijing on saturday and was surprised that it is not quite as hot as bangkok but there is a permanent blanket of white/grey smog in the air, so far we have not seen any blue sky or the sun. apparently the air in china is equivalent to smoking 70 cigarettes a day, nice....
we are staying in a youth hostel near the main train station, and have managed to navigate the subway but not yet the buses, they are just too complicated. China is much harder to get around than Thailand, hardly anyone speaks any english, even cab drivers dont know where to take you when i try and pronounce the word myself. it is very frustrating to say the least.
We spent a day in the Forbidden City which was nice, very big place we didnt see it all. The emporers used to live there and it was forbidden for common people to enter. lots of old relics and things to see.
also saw Tiananman square, and the big portrait of chairman Mao.
Yesterday did a trip to the Great wall. Was a huge day we piled on to a mini bus and make the trek out to Jinshanling about 130km out of beijing. Traffic is chaotic and the drivers are terrible here, lots of honking and driving off into a ditch on the side of the road to overtake trucks on a skinny road. its best to keep your eyes closed. we trekked from jinshanling to Simatai which is 10km and it was hard going. About half way i was beginning to think this was not such a great idea, i had thongs on and daniel chose the bare foot option, the hard core hikers with sticks and packs thought we were crazy. The wall itself is amazing, the walk was literally up 120steps, down 100 or so steps then up and down again for 10kms. the wall at jinshanling was built around 600 AD so is in pretty bad shape. some parts you had to hold on to the sides so u didnt fall. The local mongolian farmers have taken to harrassing tourists. Each person attaches themselves like a leech to one tourist and follow u for kms till u buy a book or tshirt or bracelet.Once u buy something they turn around and leave u alone. we got rid of 2 and then another one found us for the last few kms, she was hard core. it is very annoying to say the least. the view is amazing, rolling green hills and the wall just goes on forever. the smog was still lingering in the air so photos could have been better.
after 4hrs of walking we were knackered and today i can hardly handle the stairs in the street without wincing in pain!!
but was such a great experience.
off to Xian tomorrow night on the sleeper train.

Posted by shell. 03:20 Archived in China Comments (2)

Phi Phi, Phuket & Bangkok.....

sunny 37 °C

we finished up our last few days on phi phi, celebrated daniels 21st birthday - we went on a boat tour to Phi Phi Leh which was so nice. Unfortunately it had been raining in the morning and was still a little overcast when we got to Maya Bay but was still beautiful. Did some kayaking, snorkelling and had to swim to the shore and climb through a little cave to get to Maya Bay. we were practically the only people there which was a nice change from all the other marine parks we have been to that get swamped by japanese, life jacket wearing tourists. the boys played soccer on the beach and we watched the sun set from the boat....very nice.
We also hiked it up to the viewpoint on phi phi don and it has the most amazing view of the island, and the sunset from there was gorgeous too.
We stayed in phuket for 3nights, splurged on a nice hotel in Kata (loz the Kata Thani can u believe it!) and it was paradise! 5 pools, 5 restaurants, the resort runs the whole length of the beach and the beach actually had waves!!! there is a 1st time for everything!
we caught up with brent, (a friend shell met last time in thailand) and he took us out to the catamaran he has been captaining all season. this boat is amazing, its airconditioned, full kitchen the works, only $700,000 AUD!! so we had a beer out there and watched the sun set, lots of sun sets i know....
went out for dinner in Patong with brent and some other friends of his and had mexican and a stroll down 'Soi Kathoey' with all the lady boys flaunting themselves. some of them were just down right nasty and u could tell they were definately half man, half woman.
But u cant go to phuket with out a look.
we are now in Bangkok and have met up with daniels dad for a few days (he is returning from Israel) so it worked out well. Did lots of shopping and saw some movies, Shrek 3 and Pirates of the Caribbean 3. Cinemas are very cheap here, $8 for a VIP seat and a blanket!!
Got our visas for china sorted and are off to Beijing tomorrow morning! so will keep u all posted on our adventures in China.

Posted by shell. 08.06.2007 02:42 Archived in Thailand Comments (0)

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