China


China23 Jan 2007 08:15 am

Out of EVERY country so far – I have enjoyed meeting the locals where I can and trying to get to know them. Beijing, excuse my language F**** that trend up for me.

It’s an incredible city- clearly. Poets have written about it for .. years.

You think of the name and it conjures up thoughts of millions of bicycles, the Great Wall, Forbidden City, Tiananmen Square… what it DOESN’T do is prepare you for the countless scam artists.

If there was a genuine Chinese person who wanted to speak to me out of friendliness in Beijing… I can honestly say they must have found me rude, abrupt and not interested.

As soon as you get your guidebook out, or if you have your day-pack on – you are a tourist target.

Many people come up to you, pretending to want to learn English, practice their English or just find out where you are from.

Then, when they have spoken to you for 5 mins – they say they want a cup of tea… One, that if you are not careful could cost you $$$…

Or are selling art. These people, truly, are ruining China’s image and – I can see, will have a field day when the Olympics goes live.

Moving on from that rant – the city was truly amazing.

Everything you would expect and more so. Again – these people love to build BIG.

I got lost in the forbidden city it was so large. The Great Wall… HOW did they do that?!?

Tianamen Square… yes, I got the idea of tanks on there… and judging by the security presence – not much demonstration gets started there.

I swear that a group of plains clothes police talked to me… maybe that’s because of the video footage I boldly took as students were told to lower their banners (see Beijing video).

 

As you can see -too many photo opportunities and not enough space for them all.

 

I had a few hiccups with trying to get a train onwards into Mongolia – but that is in the next posting!

 

 

 

 

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Title: Mag-Train
Description: Journey to Beijing includes 430kmh train!

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Title: Great-Wall
Description: yeah…it’s winter.

China16 Jan 2007 02:40 am

Wuhan – literally exhausted me.

I had some choices to make…. Continue travel up through the middle of China towards Beijing… or divert across to see Shanghai whilst I was in China.

Having had a very good taste of real China, I took

a cheap flight straight to Shanghai, where, Anna, a friend lives…

What a city! The largest and most expensive in China. BOY do they like to build things big in this country!.

Entire buildings were television billboards, rich kids drove around in rich cars – whilst beggar kids chased you for a bite to eat.

What a relief to speak English, read an English menu etc..

The vibe here, I could only liken to a frontier town in the gold-rush.

 

I was taken to several bars / nightclubs – where the ex-pat community was on fire. Such a young invigorating vibe.

I stayed here a week. It was like a holiday from traveling and a much needed one at that.

Despite the new, there was also the old however – and i marveled at the museums and old houses.

WEIRD fact: In the museum – there was a carving called ‘1000 buddhas’ – clearly, a stone with 1000 small buddhas carved into it.

If you remember the ‘magic eye’ pictures…. you may understand my creepy feeling when i looked absently at that relic and they all jumped out towards me.

 

 

Next stop- Beijing.

 

 

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Title: Flight-to-Shanghai
Description: from Wuhan

China13 Jan 2007 03:08 am

Plan = catch a train to ChangSha heading north towards Beijing.

Ticket in hand, I board the train and settle down for the journey across scenery reserved for “Monkey Magic” tv shows. Lots of finger pointing, gesticulations and underlining character symbols in my guidebook, I determine that the train arrives at the destination at 3.30 in the morning.

3.30 am …. I couldn’t see myself locating a hotel…, getting settled and relaxing in the middle of China at that time. So- I look on my map and choose another destination. 30 mins later and my arms are tired from more gesticulating, pointing and underlining characters with the train guard. My wallet is also slightly lighter, as I had succeeded in bartering my bed-bunk till a city called Wuhan, where we would arrive at 7.30am… a much more civil time. MUST watch the video below to get an idea of the task.

WUHAN! You could not be further from the Western World if you tried. Roman Alphabet? What is that? Holding 8 fingers up to say ‘8’ – no, you just use your thumb and forefinger of course!

What a remarkable experience, to wander through a city of 8 million people – all with their own language and writing…. And just you with yours.

You tower above them and can be seen coming a mile off. You get a feeling akin to minor celebrity status. This is not a tourist destination. People in the shopping malls, as busy as London’s Oxford St on Xmas eve – part for you slightly like Moses and the Red Sea. It’s not impolite for them to stare – so they do.

Do as the guidebook says and get lost… these people were so friendly and in shock at seeing a westerner, I had no concerns about wandering down back alleys in the older part of the city.

Tubs full of frogs, turtles, whatever you want to eat – overflowing. Stalls bbq’ing chicken tongues on a stick – looks lovely, but no thanks. Cats outside restaurants on display, as we would have lobsters in our own Western version… yes – (see Average-Day-In-Central-China ) video below.

If there was ever challenges to your own upbringing and way of life, culture, civilized nature – this city is the place to explore those to the utmost.

Spend a week here uttering not a word of your native tongue nor reading a menu or sign in your own language (what AM I eating if I point to this menu item?!?) and you leave a changed person.

China11 Jan 2007 07:04 am

China. The big challenge. I knew that SE Asia would be tough, but also a well traveled route with plenty of English speaking travel agencies to use if need be.

China would be and was, a different story.

Entering by train.. through the border at DongDang the change was instantaneous. No-one (repeat…. NO-ONE) speaks English.

Your train tickets are now all in Chinese, the destination on the ticket and announcement boards = Chinese. The videos demonstrate below the difficulty.

Pictures and videos here are from Nanning, Guilin and Yangshuo in Guangxi Province as i moved north towards Central China.

Be sure to watch the ‘china entry’ video to give you an idea of task at hand and the school-boy mistakes that i made. The “Yangshou” video gives you an idea of the rewards that you get however.

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Title: China-Entry
Description: Train from Vietnam