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01/11/2013

This morning I awoke at 7am without an alarm. This must be a sign, I never get up before 10 without serious coaxing. This was possibly what gave me the confidence and courage to go forth (well back really) and find the gate into the Lama temple. With the


This morning I awoke at 7am without an alarm. This must be a sign, I never get up before 10 without serious coaxing. This was possibly what gave me the confidence and courage to go forth (well back really) and find the gate into the Lama temple. With the guidance of a China tour guide I did just that. It was swamped with tourists and locals (I'm assuming) waiting for it to open. There was even one guy who appeared to be sleeping in his car ready to drive through the gate. At 9am sharp the gates open and people start running to the ticket line. Yes actually running. I wasn't quite sure what to do, do I run? is that really necessary? I decided briskly walking would suffice. I wait about 3 minutes to get a ticket (no running was not necessary) and still manage to be the 195th person through the turnstile. Well I do understand why it's popular, the temples and chambers we're astonishing.

My next mission was to catch a bus to the 798 art district and what a mission it was. It took me about half an hour to purchase a ticket, even after I learnt how to say bus and ticket in Chinese. After accidentally buying a ticket to the airport and then having it refunded I eventually found out you just bought a ticket on the bus. The art district was fantastic! Small art workshops, galleries, restaurants and antique stores scatter the alleyways allowing passers-by the opportunity to pop in and have a gander. The area had a contemporary cultural feel to it not unlike Berlin or Soho (London). After a couple of hours of hours I wandered back to the buses only to hop on the exact same bus that I arrived on, which saved a lot of time and hand signalling when getting my ticket as the lady already knew where I wanted to go for my affordable China tours.

At about 1630, after my siesta, I embarked on what I was yet to realise would be the most the terrifying and unpleasant shopping experience, period. Yes I was off to the silk market. I had doubts as to whether I really wanted to go but since it was so iconic I thought I'd better check it out. I arrive at this four story building and work my up the levels. First floor, knock off brand shit- pass. Second floor, "latest fashion trends"- pass. Third floor, silk- what I had come here for, I get within 3 meters of the first of about 50 silk shops and the hassling begins "Lady, pretty lady, you want pretty silk scarf?". I tried not to make eye contact with anyone and just pretended I didn't speak English. This didn't really achieve much and before I knew it I was back on the ground floor heading outside the building. I started planning to head the less touristy tea market nearby instead when I decided I should man up (for want of a better expression) and go and look inside one of the silk shops, it's not like I HAD to buy anything, it's not like I couldn't use my assertiveness and just walk out of the shop without buying anything, right? WRONG! I walk into a shop and ask to look at their pyjamas. The lady shows me their selection of nighties and then continuous asks me which one I like. She pulls out my selection ready to make a sale. I ask her how much it costs, having absolutely no idea of a ballpark figure, "530Y". Holy crap that's like my budget for next four days. This is the point I realise I don't want to be here and begin to attempt to leave the shop. A poor attempt it was as she manages to get a figure out of me of what I would be willing to pay. I tell her 100Y with absolutely no intention of buying the god dam nighty. Then she goes crazy with the selling techniques, once she gets down to 100 she starts demanding that I give her a reason why I said I would pay 100Y and now I won't. Geez. "I don't want it, I was just looking", "why? why would you do that?", "I DON'T WANT IT ARRGGGGGHHH!" is what I should have should have said and then ran away instead I replied with the stupidest thing I could probably say to a vendor this driven, "sorry". I'm not really sure what happened but all of a sudden I was handing over 70Y to the poor sales lady just trying to make a living- idiot!

Tonight is my last night in the hostel before I meet up with the vodkatrain group at a different one, if it's as nice as this one I'll be happy! Instead of being put in an 8 bed dorm they put me in a 4 bed

More: China vacation deals and popular China tours

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

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)