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31/10/2013

Wonderful travel experience - Biking in Yangshuo

The ancient villages and Karst limestone hills in Yangshuo attract thousands of travellers at home and abroad. Yangshuo County which is the famous travel destination for last minute China travel deals, about 60 kilometres far from Guilin city in Guangxi province, has become a popular bicycle base in China. A peaceful countryside journey makes people escape from the boisterous urban cities. Numbers of people head to Yangshuo to explore the beautiful countryside scenery by bike. Jumping on a bicycle and pedalling through the gorgeous landscape in Yangshuo has been fashionable since 1980s. To cycle through the fantastic scenery in Yangshuo comes into millions of people’s must-visit lists.

The bicycle service develops so well that all types of bicycles are easy to rent at a cheap price. Plenty of Chinese style bikes, tandem bikes, mountain bikes and high quality Giant or Merida bikes are offered in bicycle rentals. It is convenient for a family as well because a child can sit on the back of the tandem bike or rent a child-size bike. The price for a bicycle is from 5 to 40 CNY per day, but a special higher quality bike might need more money. Totally, to rent a good quality bicycle at a very low price is quite common in Yangshuo. There are 4 popular bicycle routes to explore the gorgeous landscape in Yangshuo. All routes start from West Street (Xi jie) and take a half-day or a day on the basis of different travel plans and paces.

The biking routes for best tours of China:

Route one: Yangshuo - Big Banyan - the Moon Hill - The Moon Hill Village - Jianshan Temple - Yan Village - Tianjia River - Yangshuo

It is the most classical way with the best landscape, bucolic scenery and pictures of cowboys with buffaloes. The journey is relax and suitable for general physical travellers. Cycling along the highway from Yangshuo to Lipu for 20 minutes, you will see the Gongnong Bridge. The beauty of the scenery around Gongnong Bridge is outstanding. A village which is the best place to see the Moon Hill exists on the left side of the Moon Hill. There are a lot of family hotels and restaurants offering lunch. And a little shop in Yan Village sells a variety of beverages. The sunset in Tianjin River is very attractive during the journey.

Route two: Yangshuo - Gunning Bridge - the Riverside Villa - Yangshuoshengdi - Tongmenyan - Fenglou Village - the Moon Hill - the Big Banyan – Yangshuo

The tour is basically around the Big Banyan and doesn’t need too much energy. The Riverside Villa is rebuilt from a pumping station where many rafts stop along the Yulong River. It is a good place to enjoy tea and beautiful scenery. To cross the dam of the river, you will get Yangshuoshengdi where to have a lunch. Besides, Tongmenyan attracts a large number of rock climbers around the world.

Route three: Yangshuo - Full - Chelan Hill - Xing ping - the Stone City - Patio - Yangshuo

This trip lasts two days and need a high level physic condition. The countryside scenery is excellent while the path between Xingping and Patio is so difficult that rare travellers take this route. Both Chinese and Western food are offered near the pier in Xingping where there is an old street to visit. The small hotels are clean and tidy with a price between 20 to 50 CNY near the pier as well. It is a brilliant idea to rest in Xingping and start the next day's journey from Xingping.

Route four: Yangshuo – Gongnong Bridge - Yangshuoshengdi - Jima – Old County – Xiangua Bridge – Yulong Bridge– Baisha - Yangshuo

The journey is totally 30 kilometres with a splendid landscape. The trip is a difficult classical route and needs a high level physical and spirit condition. The whole trip lasts 5 to 6 hours and some paths are too narrow to ride a bike. There are two options to come back to Yangshuo- go to Baisha and keep riding along the highway or take the raft along the Yulong River to Gongnong Bridge.

More: China guide and popular China tours

04:57 Publié dans Voyage | Lien permanent | Commentaires (0)

30/10/2013

What is Lucky Buns of Hong Kong

After a fairly gruelling day yesterday, I thought a slightly slower pace was called for today, so took John off to the Outlying Ferries Terminus for a ferry to Cheung Chau Island (houses some famous Hong Kong scenic spots). For the princely sum of £2.30 pp return we had an hour’s quiet ferry ride sailing out of Hong Kong Harbour, past the docks and bridges linking some of the closer islands to the mainland, including Lantau Island where the airport is now situated, eventually leaving the skyscrapers behind. When I say it was quiet, it would have been had it not been for the schoolchildren, many of whom were on their first outing on water judging from the theatrical way they were clinging to each other when we first set off on the calmest sea you could wish for. Unfortunately, they got used to it fairly quickly and their natural enthusiasm bubbled up and over ... it was fun to watch and chat to them, but oh, it was so good when we arrived and they chattered off elsewhere!

 

I have always loved Cheung Chau - it’s like taking a tiny step back in time, and provides a lovely break from the hustle and bustle of Hong Kong (more via guide of travel to Hong Kong) and Kowloon. Firstly, there are no high rises, although there are some newer apartment buildings which look to have a few floors, most buildings are 2 or 3 stories. There are no cars, so transport is by bicycle or foot ... although irritatingly builders seem to have got round the rules (as they do world over!) and were using rather noisy trailers in which to zap along. There are also fire trucks and ambulances, but you don’t see them very much, and there aren’t many roads as such. Getting around is fairly easy as the ferry comes in to the ‘town’ which you can walk across in 5 minutes to arrive at a wonderful beach.

 

I’m still surprised that Cheung Chau remains a relatively undiscovered gem, with its fishing boats and seafood restaurants - although there were more tourists around at the moment as the island is gearing up for the Bun Festival which will be held on Friday to celebrate the Bhudda’s birthday. The whole place seemed to be in a frenzy of preparation - many lucky buns were being cooked and sold - and many were being built into bun towers, which would be scaled by young men on Friday trying to grab the most buns. There were also the preparations around the temple, with huge paper statues of the deities ready for marching through the streets.

 

We had a wonderful time ambling around, stopping occasionally to sit by the waterfront for a drink and to people watch - we watched the old lady pulling on the ferry rope to get across to her boat house, we saw the fisherman throwing a rope over a bollard to pull his boat in, we watched the fishermen pulling up their net of tiny fish and preparing them for their customers. A little bit of shopping meant that we now have our lucky bun Christmas decoration! We also had the most fantastic dish of minced pigeon in lettuce, which goes down as one of our favourite meals on the trip.

 

A much quieter return ferry trip saw us back to the frenetic activity on the mainland. Another attraction that has become a tourist must is the Symphony of Lights held every evening at 8pm - this consists of music being played whilst the lights on various buildings on both sides of the Harbour flash and blink and various lasers dance around the sky. It was a little worrying to see the clouds rolling ever lower as 8pm approached - in fact they started to creep around the top of some of the higher buildings - luckily they didn’t come any lower until the show finished. Would I recommend it? Hmm - I used to think that just standing looking at the buildings at night was pretty fantastic, I can’t honestly say that this added much to it for me. [For my part, I’d say it’s worth a visit, however, if you go with high expectations, you may come away a little disappointed.]

 

And finally, we were off to Temple Street Night Market (don't miss it for your Hong Kong tour packages)- not just to see what new and quirky items may be on sale in the UK at the end of the year (recordable dolls was my favourite), but also for something to eat in one of the many street stalls - another wonderful meal of smoked duck with fine slivers of ginger and some steamed prawns with enough garlic to ward off a host of vampires ... delicious!

Don't miss Hong Kong for your affordable China travel packages.

08:04 Publié dans Voyage | Lien permanent | Commentaires (0)

29/10/2013

Fantastic Vacation in Huangsha

Last Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday we were finally able to spend a few days with all eight of us together! Although we had been Zhenjiang for nearly three weeks, our sisters had been very busy attending school Monday through Saturday and preparing for their final exams. But as their school year came to a close on Tuesday we were finally able to all be together for the first time since we arrived! To celebrate, Stephanie, Michelle, and Megan’s parents brought us to stay and explore in the Huangshan Mountains (famous attraction for your China travel deals) of the Anhui province, just Southwest of Zhenjiang and Jiangsu.

 

We all set off on Wednesday morning and arrived at our bed and breakfast hotel in a small valley-town just in time for lunch. The weather was wonderful, much cooler than Zhenjiang, and surrounded by beautiful mountains and bamboo forests. We headed out to explore right away, taking a short, guided hike through the mountains nearby. At one point we stopped to rest in front of a bamboo-covered stage and the kind performers from a mountain tribe offered to demonstrate and even teach us their traditional dances! It was amazing to see!

 

As we reached the bottom of the small mountain we decided to try one more thing: rafting! Oh it was so much more difficult than I had expected, though! I think we completed most of the course spinning in circles, and we probably set a record for the number of times we got stuck on rocks . . . but it was great!

 

That evening we played cards, teaching our sisters “Uno!”, then watched Harry Potter (a common cultural joy, that along with Titianic, as you can see from the picture below), and taught our sisters the fundamental understanding that when your parents say “Go to bed early so you’ll be ready for the big hike tomorrow” it is truly code for “Stay up late and watch two more movies”!

 

We probably could have used a bit more sleep, though, as we were downstairs for breakfast at 5:30 the next morning, then heading off for a 10 km (just over 6 mile) hike through the mountains! We had quite a ride to get there, though: a small van to a big bus and then a gondola up to our starting spot. By the time we were ready to begin it was past 9:00!

 

The hike was amazing, with cool, fresh air and spectacular views looking out into an endless sea of solid rock mountains. We took our time at first, snacking, taking pictures (we were so excited to have our first full group picture!), and resting . . . almost too much, though, as with six kilometers to go we suddenly realized we had just two and a half hours to reach the gondola before the final round to the bottom of the mountain was made at 4:30!!! We pretty much bolted the rest of the way, sliding in coolly with ten minutes to spare.

 

Friday we were out and about again as we drove to visit an old, traditionally-built neighboring mountain town, Hongcun (famous ancient village should be contained in top 10 China tour packages). The tiny settlement was beautiful, with fresh water from the mountains flowing right through and around it. Little canals ran along the ground beside each of the walking paths, bringing water to all of the homes. We toured the old, lavishly built homes of the wealthy families who once lived here, filled with fine wood carvings, colorful scrolls, and displays to honor their ancestors. It was really interesting to witness the paradox between the modern people living in the old homes of Hongcun as the antique buildings which lack running water (unless you count the side canals outside their homes) are filled with wifi, televisions, and cell phones galore!

 

In the afternoon we returned to the hotel, still quite worn from the previous day’s hike. After short naps and a nice dinner we all gathered to watch a scary movie in honor of Friday the 13th! I think it may be appropriate at this point to label this last section as “Our Misadventures in China #6”: Well, as I was saying, we agreed to watch a scary movie, right? Of course, sitting in the middle of the mountains, our options were quite limited, so we consented to watching the scariest movie we had: Pirates of the Caribbean. I think perhaps Katherine, Julie, and I were quite relieved by the limited horror and gore . . . The others, not so much. But it turned out to be quite scary indeed.

 

Around 8:00 we all made our way to Chara and Stephanie’s room where, all eight of us cramming onto their bed, we turned out the lights and each clambered to find a spot where we could view the film on the iPad. About half way through we noticed with surprise that the stormy seas were not alone. The thunder outside nearly blocked out the movie’s sound and the lightning lit the entire room every few seconds. We continued watching anyway, as our surroundings added to the suspense. Then, all of a sudden there was a knock at the door. We all jumped up, each attempting to untangle herself from the mass of seven other girls piled on the bed. It probably sounded like a herd of elephants tumbling down the stairs, but six of us scrambled to hide behind the wall anyway, while Stephanie and Chara answered the door to their room.

 

Then Stephanie screamed! We all sprinted toward her at the door (blowing whatever limited cover we’d had behind the wall, as we were supposed to be asleep right now, not watching movies together), but we were terrified as we looked to see what could have caused such a fright and found a two large men standing in the dark hallway holding candles.

 

“How many girls?” one demanded, struggling to ask in English. We were scared out of our minds! Then as he raised the candle to count for himself we realized . . . It was Katherine and Chara’s fathers.

 

“The light is gone,” Chara’s dad pointed out, reaching inside to demonstrate the lack of response as he flicked the switch.

 

“The electricity has gone out from the storm?” Megan asked. Her father nodded, handing her the candle. There was a collective sigh of relief and a few spouts of nervous laughter. We had not noticed as we had already been without lights, watching the movie from the iPad. Now, sitting around a single candle with lightning flashing through the blinds and thunder blocking out our sound as we watched Pirates together, it was the perfect Friday the 13th.

Tags: popular China tours and travel to China

08:11 Publié dans Voyage | Lien permanent | Commentaires (0)