We always encourage our customers (fondly known as Ramblers) to contribute travel tales to our blog on their return, and in this post we’re pleased to introduce Bea and Doug who recently returned from their China holiday where they spent their days exploring the streets of Beijing and Hong Kong, getting up close with pandas, trekking the mighty Great Wall and cycling through the stunning Karst Mountains of Yangshuo. They were kind enough to share their travel diary and amazing photos with us, here are a few snippets of their travels:
“Our hotel was situated in a lovely Hutong neighbourhood which is full of life, food stalls and craft shops. It is a traditional courtyard Hutong made up of several small courtyards with all rooms leading onto these. Despite being extremely jet lagged we braved a stroll through the streets. Everybody was eating meat on sticks, drinking iced tea and generally enjoying the sights as much as we were.
Jet lag survived, the next day we managed a great day visiting the Ming Tombs and the Great Wall. Our first stop was the Ming Tombs, where 16 emperors are buried with their wives and their treasures. We started off by walking up the Sacred Way, a walkway lined with statues of guardian animals and officials.
Once we got to the base of the Great Wall we stopped for lunch at a local farmer’s restaurant where our guide ordered our food. Not sure what we ate but it was delicious. The Wall was so impressive. I expected great things from it but it was even better than I thought… and a hell of a lot steeper. Some of the steps are big and steep and never-ending, but worth every little bit of effort.
Lama Temple & Temple of Heaven
The next day, we were completely templed out. We started off at the Lama Temple which is a temple and monastery for Tibetan Buddhism. It was really interesting as there were hundreds of people there praying to Buddha using incense sticks. We then moved on to the Temple of Heaven which I believe is where the Emperors used to come to pray to Heaven for a good harvest.
On Day 5, we took the overnight train to Xi’an and went straight from the train station to the Terracotta Army. I wasn’t expecting to enjoy the Terracotta Army, I thought it would just be a load of stone statues, but it was breathtaking. The sheer size of it was enough to impress but the sculptures themselves are so realistic.
The day was then further improved by the discovery of the Muslim district. Wow! Small streets with food stalls spilling on to them, people everywhere, frogs for sale and strange food. We must have walked up and down for a good hour or two gawping left, right and centre and taking it all in.
We were then further delighted by how beautifully the bell and drum towers were lit up. If you are planning a China holiday, definitely do not miss out on Xi’an.
This was the highlight of my holiday: pandas! Chengdu is all about pandas, the Chinese natural treasure and I can say with confidence that they did not disappoint. The park was wonderful. The pandas had really nice enclosures with plenty of room to hide from humans if they so decided to.
The rest of the afternoon was spent discovering Chengdu. We wandered round some of the parks and discovered that they bottle feed fish!
We stayed at a guest house in Yangshuo with direct views of the Karst Mountains. It is a beautiful location in the middle of nowhere. On day 10 we ventured out on a 40 km guided bike ride which took us through a small non-touristy village and wound its way between the looming Karst Mountains.
We then got on a motorised raft at Li River and enjoyed the scenery from aboard the boat with no fear of falling in.
Later we climbed the 800 steps to Moon Hill which was tiring but we had a little Chinese lady following us the whole way up so we were adamant we wouldn’t stop and let her catch up – a very good motivator. The views from the top were great!
On Day 11 we made our way to Ping’an, a little village in the Longsheng rice terraces. After having a wander through the maze of steps that surround the village we relaxed in the hotel.
The paddy tour on day 12 of our China holiday was impressive. Standing on the brow of the hill looking over the paddies was such an amazing view. It really allows you to appreciate how hard these people work. Everything is built by hand by them: their houses, the paddies, the paths.
On day 13, we arrived in the ultra-modern Hong Kong. Our friend took us out for dinner and we had a lovely meal at a Malaysian restaurant with a host that looked like Elvis. We then wandered down to the harbour and caught the Star Ferry back to Kowloon so that we could get a good view of the skyline – it is most definitely an impressive one!
“Once in a lifetime holiday…”
China has definitely been a once in a lifetime holiday. We have both thoroughly enjoyed it and are sad to have come home. We’ve met some amazing people, some we hope will become friends, and have some brilliant memories to remember and photos to help us remember them. This holiday has definitely made me want to travel more and further. I love experiencing new cultures and China has given me the confidence to continue investigating. Where shall we go next? Decisions, decisions…”
Thanks, Bea & Doug for sharing your adventures with us! We’re so glad you had such a fantastic time!