Friday, September 28, 2007

GUILIN

We arrived safely the airport facilities were good and the plane was only delayed 15 minutes - so all in all a pretty uneventful flight.

We got to the hotel about 3 in the morning so the fact that we had reserved the room was perfect - the room itself was not --- possibly the worst for the whole trip --- so far, but we decided to stay for 5 nights as there was much to do.

Guilan is in fact the tourist spot that most travellers head for.

On the first day we went to the famous reed Flute Cave - it was very impressive, on the second day we saw some of the beautiful parks and canals and the 2 Pagodas - the Sun and the Moon - the sun is made of copper - so was pretty shiny.

During our stay at Guilan it was the Chinese Mid Autumn Holiday - where Moon Cakes are given out - the hotel gave us one too - they are ok - but a bit over rated and a bit pricey for what they are.

On the next day we went on our first organised tour - starting at 8am we were picked up by a coach then via other hotels we headed to the start of the boat trip on the river LI, we chose the Chinese tour and eventually found the boat we were on - probably the last people on.

Then we listened to the tour operator for about 15 minutes before we were allowed out on deck.

The scenery was absolutely fantastic - just as seen in the books and mags - the Karst scenery was wonderful - the mountains were all around us with sheer drops and just everywhere - its sort of difficult to explain - I will post pics later.

After 4 hours on the boat and a rather average sort of meal - though eating the live prawns was something else..... we arrived at Yangshou, where there was a bit of a scramble to find our coach, fortunately Suri had befriended a 2 women who were on the same coach and same boat - so they helped us find the coach - after a frantic attempt to get on our electric buggy into the town from where the boat had docked.

We thought that was it - but no - on the way back to the hotel we visited a temple, a garden, a ornament shop and went through some more caves - this time on a boat - inside the cave.

By 7pm we got back to the hotel - absolutely knackered....

Other things we did was to have a foot massage each - Suri really did love this - 1 hour for 60 Yuan - amazing.

Time to log off as we have checked out of the hotel and in an hour we set off for Hong Kong - on an overnight bus - we thought we were booking up the train - but it turned out to be the bus - so this might be a very long night.

We are both well and enjoying ourselves - into our final week now....

Bye 4 now...

Saturday, September 22, 2007

NANPUTUO TEMPLE & HULI SHAN FORTRESS

These were the two places visited today, this was after sorting out our next hotel and booking a flight to GUILIN - Suri's idea, so far so good on this - but as I write I am still awaiting the tickets for the flight tomorrow - promised to arrive 2 hours ago.

The temple was really quite impressive - as it was Saturday - it was pretty busy with many locals lighting incense and saying a few words to each of the Buddhas and other heavenly kings.

This is a working temple so there were many monks wandering around - there was supposed to be some chanting - but we must have missed that.

As we went through the temple we were climbing higher and higher up the hill, I eventually arrived at the top - Suri waited for me half way down - it was hot and pretty steep. Once up at the top there was a pretty good view of the coast around XIAMEN.

Returning to the bottom we saw some terrapins and loads of cat fish in this large lake, and in the next lake there were many water lilies and loads of Lotus leaves - unfortunately the flowers have finished now - but they must have been amazing, with thousands of fish swimming about - this was truly a marvelous sight.

One of the things we have noticed is there is very little wildlife - including bird and fish - I think it's 'cos the Chinese eat everything and anything - yesterday I saw a bucket full of frogs or they could have been toads ( they were pretty big) waiting outside of this restaurant.

After a quick bite to eat we set off for the fort - we found the correct bus which was good, and got off at the right stop - that is not as easy as you might think - so a bit of a success there.

The fort was pretty much rebuilt and had been landscaped into gardens with a lot of old cannons scattered about, but there was also - so they claimed the largest ever in the world cannon - which did look pretty big and there were photos of it being used against the Japanese, all in all well worth the visit - oh and there were thousands of these enormous dragonflies - I took a picture but it was difficult to focus - but they were everywhere.

We then wandered down to the beach and lounged about a bit - lovely beach and the sea was pretty clean - though I did not go for a swim..........

For our evening meal we decided to check out the Huang Zehe Peanut Soup Shop - which describes the place exactly - as recommended by the Lonely Planet. The peanut soup was sweet and better than expected - the cafe / shop was amazingly busy and somehow you had to buy a ticket for each buffet item - very difficult - believe me - luckily for us the teller took pity on us and instructed one of the waitresses / helpers / cleaners to help us out.

A good meal for two - all for 14 Yuan ( less than 1 pound sterling) - though no drink - but the soup was a sort of a drink.

Ah .... the tickets have just arrived we can sleep better now knowing that tomorrows travel arrangements are sorted - we just have to find the airport........

Friday, September 21, 2007

GULANG YU

Today we went to a small island called Guland Yu - we went down to the ferry terminal - almost by accident as we were not sure where we were going - anyway we arrived at the ferry terminal after about 30 minutes walk and got on the ferry - the trip across was about 5 - 10 minutes only and was free on the lower deck or 1 Yuan on the top deck. Coming back however it was 8 Yuan plus 1 Yuan to go on the top deck - each that is- there is no other way back so they have got you by the short 'n' curlies......

When we disembarked we decided to take the island tour - on an electric buggy - by comparison this was 60 Yuan each ( 15 Yuan = 1Pound Sterling) but you could get off and get back on at a few different places - with hindsight this was a good choice as the island is small but when walking - may well be not.

A good day was had - a bit of sitting on the beach - checking out this enormous statue of General Koxinga ( who apparantly kicked out the Durch a few years back) - a bit of looking round a museum - a bit of window shopping - not a bad way of passing the day.

In the evening when we returned to Xiamen, we went to a Lonely Planet recommended restaurant - the Lujiana Hotel Restaurant - it was a bit posh ..... where we sat on the roof top and looked across the straights to Gulang Yu - when the lights came on it was pretty good - better than the Bund in my opinion - but much lower key - oh and the meal was pretty good too.

We are thinking about flying to our next destination, as by train or bus I think it would take ages and involve 2 or 3 changes - we will decide tomorrow -

Just 2 weeks left now .... time flies by

- still no luck with the pictures - this PC will not let me connect the camera for some reason.

More sooooooooooonnnnnnn.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Rain, rain and more rain - it's a Typhoon - WIPHA - the most powerfull storm to hit China in recent years.

Well we left Suzhou and travelled the relatively short distance to Hangzhou.

Hangzhou according to the adverts we have seen on the Chinese TV is the most beautiful city in China, well it may well be but when its raining then there is not a lot to do or see, especially when the wind is blowing and everything closes up, including the boat trips on the lake which we were looking forward to.

We had 2 days here the first was the worst - weather wise, the second was only a little better - The West Lake did look good bit with the rain lashing down then it was a bit dreary, so although the hotel was good and Suri had negotiated a 10% reduction - we decided to leave and escape the worst of the typhoon as the limited amount of weather forecasts available said the typhoon was heading towards us then would vear north to Shanghai - so best to head south.

So we set off again this time on the soft sleeper which was pretty good and we had a well deserved rest - travelling can by very tiring..

This is still a communist country but as in Animal Farm - some are more equal than others so if you can pay for a bit of luxury ( if that's the right word) then why not - so we decided to - especially as it was almost a days travel - and it was well worth it there was even a separate almost clean waiting room especially for those who had the money to pay a little extra - by the way it was 780Y about 45 Sterling.

I was on the top bunk - Suri was on the bottom bunk and we shared the cabin with a young very quiet boy, who had no luggage - no food and no water just some photos and a couple of whistles, and a woman.

Suri struck up a conversation with the young boy and showed him how to do Sudoku - he picked it up pretty quick - he gave Suri one of his photos of him in Hangzhou dressed up with a sword in his hand.

It was supposed to be fast train - but it was not - but the scenery was much improved - sub tropical - banana plantations and sugar canes plus tea plantations and some highish hills and big rivers.

So now we have arrived in Xiamen, which is quite far south - I think we have done over 2000 of our 3000 miles now. It's not raining, though it is threatening to......

We are going to stay 3 nights and recuperate, as it is by the sea and there is a small island that the book suggests we should visit.

Although this is not the best hotel we have stayed at - we have our own PC / TV - so maybe I will be able to post some pics now - but don't hold your breath..

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Staying a little longer in SUZHOU

Just a quick update.

We like it here so much that we are going to stay a little longer - the hotel is the best we have found on our travels and the pace of life is a little slower than we have been used to so we are just going to chill out for a bit....

The weather is hot and humid - with a little rain today but nothing much - though it does up the humidity noticably.

There are some lovely gardens to see plus today we went on a gondola style canal ride - it was very calming.

Friday, September 14, 2007

The latest train journeys in China......

The last time I wrote we were about to catch the train to Shanghai, well I thought it was (only) 15 hours - but it turned out to be 19 hours - and no sleeper - just a hard seat - well it was ok for a few hours but after a while you just start to ache all over.

Suri got talking to a nice student chap from Japan and this helped to pass the time, the previous train journeys in comparison were far better, this one just went on and, and on and ..... it was good to see the sun rise at least we could see some scenery, though this time particularly as we approached Shangai seemed to be heavy industry and power stations.

We eventually arrived in Shanghai, and went to the hotel we had planned - but it was full, so was the next one we tried

We thought we were going to have difficulty - what after the long journey and all we were both pretty knackered..... anyway the next one was ok - so we went up and showered and then went off to see the famous Bund... I have to say it was a bit of a let down, there were road works along the length and in the evening the laser light show was somewhat pathetic - but there again maybe I expected too much. Oh and crossing the road was just crazy bikes and cars everywhere going in all directions - completely disregarding traffic lights and pedestrians - the car definitely has the right of way here........

We tried out the boat trip on the river which was ok - probably the best thing to Shanghai as far as I am concerned.

We decided to have a complete rest the next day - as we were somewhat exhausted and we had both caught a cold which didn't help.

The final evening was spent looking around the shops - on the East Nangin Road, this was ok but for the constant pressures from people to buy watches, handbags, jewelry and flashing skates which seem to be the rage here - why they thought we would buy flashing skates I do not know argh !!!!!!!!

As you may have worked out - we did not take to Shanghai. A bit of a let down.

As we left this morning we experienced our first bit of rain since the trip started, fortunately it stopped as we walked out of the hotel - this was after a tiny row with the hotel receptionist over something called money.....

Anyway we caught the train to Suzhou, about 1 hour away and completely different, canals and parks n gardens say it all. We are having another night here tomorrow - so wil report back again.

David - thanks for sorting out our little problem...

More Soon - hope you are enjoying it - we certainly are..

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Arrived early morning in Quingdao







We could not get a through train to Quingdao so we had to get 2 trains - the first took us to Ji'Nan, it set off at 12 . 05 and arrived at about 6pm - it was a pleasant trip but the scenery was pretty boring - lots of corn on the cob fields and rice paddies - .... that's about it. We were hoping for more of the bullit train but although the diesal train was fast - it was a bit dated to say the least.


Then when we arrived in Ji'Nan we then had to queue up to get the next ticket - fortunately it was a sleeper, but it did not set off till midnight - so lots of time to kill - so a quick meal then lots of haging around - well Chinese stations are not the nicest and the best places in the world - especially the looooooos if you get my drift ( Phooo - in all senses ) plus they have a thing about low voltage lights - so you can't see what you are doing.



Anyway Midnight arrived and we joined the scrum again and eventually found our bunks - not bad considering - better than the previous ones - but - no lights so again how do you see --- during the night - I broke my specs - could not find the screw.



Then about 5.30 in the morning - on come the lights and this chinese - sort of comminist music - I suppose it had some meaning as everybody got up and started stretching their bodies.



At 6 we arrived - we decided to get the next ticket to Shangai whils it was fairly quiet - but I think it is not a sleeper - so the 19 + hour train journey to Shangai should be funnnnnnn...



Then we were sort of accosted / helped by this chap who took us to our hotel - In the end it was pretty good - though a little dated - the room was large with a sea veiw - not bad for 320 Yuan per night ( 21 Sterling)



W have had 3 nights here - sat on the beach - checked out the attractions - including a revolving tower built by the Germans about a hundred years ago - up a cable car to another tower / spire, to a working Budhist Temple and basicaly enjoyed ourselves - oh and lots of walking too - Suri is calculating the steps with her pedomiter - so maybe we will get a chart of all our walking by the end of our 3000 mile across China journey.



We had a rather special crab meal - which was really good but a tad on the expensive side for China - still you gotta splaxh out occassionaly



But now as I write this we are waiting for the train to Shangai

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Last day in Tianjin

Beijing was warm and overcast much of the time - here its hot - during the daytime and warm at night.

Today we caught the bus to the suburbs of Tianjin - what a difference a few miles makes, although it is like a building site here - it is relatively clean, but go a bit out and you notice the difference - now I know where all those plastic bottles go to - into the river and part of someones yard or roof cover.

Any way today we went to Yangliuqing - to see the Shi Family Courtyourd - basically it was an old house owned by a rich person that has now been renoovated - inside included a theatre to entertain friends and dignitaries. It was built about a hundred years ago - it looked pretty good and next to it they have built a shpping area partly in the same style but also in traditional Chinese style - so lots of red everywhere.

On the way back the bus driver stopped to help out another fellow driver - he needed some diesal - so he syphoned some off of our bus for his - you should have seen the expression on his face when he got a mouth full of diesel ... yuuuck. A good deed though. I wonder if Alan does that sort of thing - probably a daily occurence.....

We saw quite a few tourists - non Chinese in Beijing - but I have not seen one other than us two here.

The big thing of course is the population - it is very true there are so many people here - everywhere - but it's not intimidating at all - very friedly in fact - lots of so called students keep talking to us to practice their English. That's ok but its difficult to get away from them.

Sorry still no pics we have taken lots butttttttt - maybe next time - Tomorrow we set off for the seaside to the coastal town of Quingdae, will write again soon.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Writing this from TIANJIN

Yes we have now left Beijing and have travelled about 150 miles SE to Tianjin - we came here by the Chinese bullet train so it was pretty fast and very efficient though there was a scrum to get onto the platform - which was not necessary at all as the ticket was seat specific.

Anyway back to Beijing after the last post .... we eventually caught the bus to the Summer Palace (Lonely Planet states the wrong bus number so we were searching and asking quite a bit) - which is just on the outskirts of Beijing.

The Summer Palace is beautiful, on arriving we clambered up the hill going through a range of Budhist temples and buildings, then we descended down to the Kunming Lake - like everything else in China - it is enormous

We went for a peddle boat ride for about an hour - just to tire the legs - very much so.

Then we walked half way around the lake and back - leaving about 5pm - At least we knew which bus to catch.

For our last day in Beijing we went to the Lama Temple - where everybody lit loads and loads of insence sticks - again the temple was enormous with the tallest Bhuda in the world carved from a single tree - amazing but very difficult to see the top bit. There were in fact many temples on the site.

After this we caught the bus and went to the Drum Tower - the biggest drum in the world so they say, then on to the Bell Tower - again - guess what posibly the biggest bell in the world, both were impressive - but the steps were a bit steep.

For our last meal in Beijing we had steamed Catfish, which we cooked on the table ourselves - I have never seen so many garlic cloves in a meal - hundreds there were - and very hot - but wow so tasty - David ... must try it ourselves when we get home.

After our last night - the next morning we set off to catch the train to Tiangin.

So what have we been doing here - well after arriving we went shopping and searched out the dumpling specialist - good but not as great as we were expecting.

And today we went to the old town and checked out the - guess what - the local Bell Tower and the Guildhall which was in fact a museum for the arts - this was wonderfull - I nearly got up on the stage and danced - but decided - better not.....

We followed this by a little more shopping - clothes are so cheap.

I thought that Beijing was a building site - but Tianjin is even more so - unfortunately they are knocking down the old buildings - including a temple and some old colonial style buildings - which is a crime..........

Still enjoying ourselves - walking miles each day.

We are staying here 1 more day this hotel by the way is better than the one in Beijing.... The star rating is a bit wierd.....

Sorry for any typoes and lack of photoes - but Internet is time - time is money - the internet is not cheap here...

Will update again shortly - We are both well.

Bye 4 Now

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Arrived safely in Beijing



The trip was just fine - a slight delay in Bournemouth when we had to change coaches for some reason, then the fliight out of Dubai was delayed for 3 hours - but apart from that all ok.



Oh yes a bit of trouble finding the hotel - the street map and the tube map could be better if you understand me.



On our first full day we went to Tienaman Square - its very big - but also lots of people - one of the buildings was closed - as you probably recall its the olympics next year so lots of work going on. For the evening we went to the famous Peking duck restaurant - it was very good - though there was a queue.



Yesterday we set off to walk the Great Wall at Badeling - yes very busy lots of tourists but well worth it - as we went on public transport we had some difficulty as we needed to catch bus 919 - but there are dozens of 919 routes - eventually got it after much walking around.



The wall itself is pretty big - and very steep we went up in the cable car then walked one way then the other - oh and John we got your magnet...... In the evening we had sort of showboat meal - dipping in meat in a soup mix - really good.

Today 1st September we went to the Forbidden City - it is huge - too big to do in one day - but we did as much as we could before we were exhausted. Finished off the evening with a similar meal to last night - but a bit different.

Anyway we are both well - though exhausted and we will be staying in Beijing another couple of days - so will post some more soon.

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?