A picture really can tell a thousand words… here are a few of my favourite snapshots taken on my unforgettable trip to China in August.
The Great Wall
A definite highlight was seeing the Great Wall at Mutianyu. It was incredibly hot in August but that didn’t matter to me! The Great Wall was something that I had seen on numerous TV programmes, films and in books but to see it in the flesh is truly amazing, it really took my breath away. It is one of the new 7 wonders of the world and it is easy to see why. After wishing to go for years, I was truly ecstatic to actually be there! It’s amazing to think that the construction of this wall began in the 5th century and that it stretches for over 6,000 Kilometres. Walking along the wall and seeing it winding up and down the hills for miles and miles is one of those unforgettable moments that will stay with you forever.
Here I am in Xi’an at the Terracotta Army site. Behind me are thousands of Terracotta Warriors and Horses that date back to the 3rd century BC. They were discovered by a farmer in 1974 and have been a popular attraction ever since. They are replicas of the first Emperor of China – Qin Shi Huang’s army, and there are over 8,000 soldiers, 520 horses and 130 chariots. There are 3 different excavation pits at the site and I spent ages looking around at the different figurines – every single one has a different face and facial expression! There is also a museum on site where you can find out about the history of the army and the different ranks of all the soldiers. I was sure that visiting the Army would be a highlight of my China holiday, but it really did exceed my expectations.
Panda Research Centre
Holding a panda was one of the greatest moments of my life! I got the opportunity to do this whilst in Chengdu at the Panda Breeding research centre. This panda in the picture was only a year old but he was already quite big and heavy. He was incredibly friendly and playful and seemed very content to be hanging around with humans. The money it costs to visit goes straight back into the centre, helping to pay for medical equipment for the pandas including medicine and ventilators, so it is important that the centre brings in necessary funds. There are only about 1,600 pandas left in the wild and it is one of the most endangered animals in the world. Therefore, I feel extremely privileged that I have had the chance to hang out with one on my trip.
Sampling local cuisine
This photo was taken in Chengdu in the Sichuan province in a traditional restaurant that my guide had recommended to me. The Sichuan province is famous for its spicy food and it’s something you just have to experience when travelling in China. The most famous and popular dish is the hot-pot which translates from Chinese as ‘fire-pot’. The broth is made from chillies and Sichuan pepper and is quite spicy. There are various plates of vegetables, meats and tofu and you choose the plates you like the look of and then you can then cook them in the chilli-filled pot.
I am looking happy in this picture as I am eating some of the best food I had during my trip to China. This was taken at a restaurant on the way to the Great Wall at Mutianyu and we were served a fantastic selection of Chinese dishes. As a vegetarian, I found it a bit tricky navigating menus as they were in Chinese, but at this restaurant I was served all types of vegetables cooked in different sauces, and also tofu and bean curd cooked in black bean sauce and oyster sauce. Mmmm!
Giant Buddha at Leshan
This is me in the town of Leshan, home to the Leshan Giant Buddha. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and it is also the largest Buddha statue in the world, drawing millions of tourists and pilgrims from across the world. The Leshan Buddha is carved out of a cliff-face and is really impressive. You can’t really picture how big and tall he is until you actually get there and look at it. It took 90 years to carve and is 71m tall – the shoulders are 28m wide, the head is 15m high, the nose is 6m long and even the fingers are 3m long. This is a picture taken at the top but when you walk down and look back up at it, it looks even bigger!
Rafting down the Yulong
This photo captures our trip down the Yulong River in Yangshuo on a bamboo raft. The trip was extremely peaceful and it’s a fantastic way of seeing the dramatically beautiful scenery of this area. All you can hear is birds and wildlife and the slowly floating water whilst taking in the sight of the stunning Karst Mountains, definitely a great way to relax. This really is the best mode of transport in Yangshuo!
Trekking through rice terraces
This was taken about 3 hours into a 4-5 hour trek around the Ping’an and Longji rice terraces. The rice terraces are also known as the Dragon’s backbone terraces due to their resemblance to a dragon’s backbone. The area is incredibly fertile with lots of plants growing as well as red pepper plantations. It is also very rural with chickens running around and horses running around in fields. The village of Ping’an is home to the Dong minority and it only has an incredibly small population and everybody is incredibly friendly. Visiting Ping’an will really give you an insight into Chinese village life.
Here I am outside the Forbidden City at Tiananmen Square. You can see the iconic picture of Mao behind me. Before I travelled to China if I thought of Beijing, this was one of the first images that popped into my head so it was great to actually be there. Tiananmen Square is the largest public square in the world and it takes a while to walk around. The Forbidden City is even more impressive though. It consists of 980 buildings and you could easily get lost walking around inside there!