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Highlights of China (April - June, 2009)

CHINA | Friday, 3 July 2009 | Views [563]

1.       Laos – China’s border, immigration at Chinese side was unbelievable. First time ever an officer gone thru again and again my passport. She wasn’t satisfied the first officer who took my passport for inspection. She questioned me if I were in china for some other purposes. It was the longest ever I stand in front of officer waiting for her clearance to let me in.

Boten to JiunHong has the most impressive highway with at least 20 tunnels. The longest has 4 km. Also first minor bus accident in China – I was wondering why people just grab their bags and left hitchhiking on the street and then found out a minor accident like that can be 2 hours long waiting for district police and insurance agent to solve the problems.

2.       JiunHong – I have been to the smelliest toilet ever for first time, and get to see squat toilet without door.

JiunHong to Dali – My first night sleeper bus. The bus has 3 double-decker sleepers in a row.

3.       Dali – Been watching too many old ancient Chinese – Hong Kong series, I finally get to experience the old ancient town, like it but feel like it was new with an old style buildings.

Frustrating, you must pay “super” expensive admission fees to every tourist spot in China. One good highlight, we were hiking mountain by-pass the ticket counter thru the apple farm and saved us 30 yuan admission fees.

Dali – Kunming – China’s train soft sleeper was comfy but journey has been whole night and train can be quite expensive way of travelling. Even surprisingly, night sleeper bus and train have nearly similar prices. Of course, train is far more comfy.

4.       Kunming – A great day spent drinking with a mate. A long day waiting for train, got into a hostel and pretending you were staying there, using their free wifi, and shower – sweet…

Also a nightmare for my mate who has been puking and shitting same time on the train toilet.

5.       Yangshuo – It was the best stop so far, with cool people and a lot more fun. Been to 20 yuan note’s scenic area and also very impressive (or maybe not as I been to one in Vietnam) rice paddy fields. The best was Monkey Janes’s bar.

6.       Hong Kong – Impressive with its buildings. Didn’t do much of travelling. The best part was 7 eleven’s pub crawls with cool people. Hostel has been the worst compared to China. Apparently China has much better hostel than Hong Kong and Macau.

7.       Macau – Not so impressive, similar to Genting Casino.

8.       Guangzhou – A lesson learnt, to buy train ticket in advance. Stuck a day in town, looking for an accommodation without internet and no guide book. Don’t quite like the town.

9.       Shanghai – Tried the Jian Long Pao, which was very nice and like it a lot. Got into a disco for free and free flow of spirits. A fun night with cool people. Taste funny but no complaints. Been to people park, found that parents are looking matches for their daughters and sons. Hmm, arranged marriage still happening. Also tried the first bullet train to Hangzhou, up to 170 km/h.

10.   Hangzhou – The most touristy area in China, get to see tour groups wearing the same caps following different colour of flags. Again, thinking of getting to Beijing but no luck with last minute bookings. The best to arrange train to Tianjin but failed to book accommodation for the night, slept on couch back in hostel. It was freezing but staffs have been very nice, provided warm quilt and it’s free.

11.   Tianjin – Jump on a bullet train to Beijing, the fastest train ever tried so far, speed up to 330 km/h.

12.   Beijing – Secret wall has been one of the impressive tour, expensive but worth-it. It is unrestored great wall, very original and no other tourists, very tranquil.

Have learnt a trick, use non-chinese character identity card, or driving licence with photo can get you a student’s discounted admission fees. It has saved few hundreds yuan so far in China. 

Tianmen square has been the most heavily guarded place ever in China so far. Police and army are everywhere, every entry to the square needed xray, army armed with bullet proof vest at night. Curiosity; is Beijing the safest or the most dangerous place in China? Of course, the safest.

Silk market has been the best place to shop for fake stuff. Bargain is a satisfaction also a disappointment when you realized you can get even cheaper.

13.   Xian – Army Terracotta, has been popular but didn’t find it so impressive.

14.   Lanzhou – Planning to go Xiehe but failed to get in as area closed due to Tibetan things. Very dusty town. A Muslim town.

15.   Xining – A stop-by town for Yushu. Very dusty place.

16.   Mardu – Worst night ever this trip; At altitude of 4300 metres, I got headache, diarrhoea, nausea, and freezing cold.
A Tibetan lady invited us to her very Tibetan house, having a yak tea. First time hitchhiking, but China has been different, you need to pay for hitchhiking.

17.   Yushu – Very Tibetan snowy town. Saw the Tibetan monasteries, mountains decorated with praying flags and stones. The most unusual is the sky burial site – Tibetan would place the dead body in an open air and cut the body and feed the birds. Second time hitchhiking but for free this time. Saw the first china’ riot police car, looks like a safe car but with camera and water canon on top. Police – armed patrolling the town.

Yushu to Ganzi – It was the most tiring and longest journey but worth-it. The bus has been very bumpy (sit-dancing) all the way for 14 hours (300 km) – a disco bus huh? It has the most impressive scenic and snowy mountains - one of the best of China.

18.   Ganzi – again very Tibetan. The best monastery I have been so far. The town is another heavily guarded place, maybe more than Beijing’s Tianmen square. Fully armed police, riot police car, and army barracks and army everywhere. According to Tibetan monks, army has moved in last year and has temporary setup the barracks just outside the monastery. Monks want to be independent but China has different views? Hey, they even got the bunkers setup along the bridge.

Ganzi – Chengdu – The worst longest bus trip ever. Bus broke down in middle of dusty and windy road, trucks accident and blocked the whole road and the worst road conditions ever seen in China. The journey took 20 hours(700 km) long pain sitting on the bus instead of 14 hours that been told.  Glad to be back to Chengdu.

19.    Chengdu – Dealing with Chinese bureaucratic over visa extension. My visa was near expired in 2 days and I have to rush 2 hours bus to Leshan to renew my visa. Despite Chengdu has bigger PSB, they were full of bureaucratic. Also the most unproductive trip ever, waiting for Tibet’s permit; I have been staying in hostel doing nothing but online and enjoying tasty Sim’s famous cheese ham burger with egg.

Seen the icon of china, the panda breeding centre; Pandas have been so cute by the way they eating while lying back.

Chengdu – Lhasa, Tibet – Some Chinese had been so fucking idiots. Okay, I am Asian, but were I looked like translator or a tour guide to Westerner. Lost counts of how many times I had been asked past 2 months. Asian travel in China has been hard compared to Westerner, in term of respects.

The highest, the longest train journey ever so far, 43 hours climbing to peak 5000m plus above sea level. Awesome. How to spend the time on the train? Watching a few movies I downloaded the other days and it has been great accompanying for me. Hey, they did provide the oxygen tube for each of the person, the one I usually found in the hospital.

20.   Leshan – Big buddha, big but nothing impressive.

21.   Lhasa – Very Chinese, we were restricted to go monastery by ourselves, armed police and army everywhere, spy camera everywhere.  Potala palace has been amazing.  Jokhang monastery is great, Tibetan are passionate about their religion.

Lhasa to Shigatse – It has been tiring trip; maybe we were drinking a bit too much the night before. But, the Yamtrok Lake has been amazing, very blue. We stopped in Gyantse, nothing impressive but just another small town.

22.   Shigatse – an overnight stop to Mt. Everest base camp. I decided to skip the Shigatse Monastery. I was started to get bored with monastery after so many I seen past few weeks.

23.   Mt. Everest Base Camp – Mt. Everest looks smaller than what I expected. But it was cool to overnight in the tent. Feeling wasn’t great when night was freezing. Not a good night, slightly heavy breathing but no headache. It was a great experience.

Mt. Everest’s base camp to Zhangmu – Views had been amazing, from snowy mountain to desert to very green and waterfall. Frustrated with road block. According to local, the Chinese army was trying to show their power and block any Tibetan’s car to pass thru. We had been waiting for two hours.

24.   Zhangmu – China – Nepal’s border town. An overnight stop. It was nothing but surprised to see prostitutes everywhere on the street; very rare to see elsewhere in China.

End of China




Tags: china, everest, great wall, qihai, tibet

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