Guilin 1 week in the city, and it was bigger than expected. But not in a good way. we expected it to be small and quaint, more friendly and natural. We wanted to go to places like elephant trunk hill… Just a rock in the water with an arch hole in it and some walkways on top. We didn’t assume it was a paying thing, you couldn’t even see it from the path as they had blocked of any possible ways of seeing it.at around £20 for a 1 hour visit in a tourist ridden place… Which was so commercialised it was unreal- you could see in to the entrance gate where people were swarming-. Story of china… Nothing’s free. Ever. All the parks where charging we done a couple things, wasted money. Best thing about the city was our apartment, spacious and washing facilities.. Home cooking at last as well…

yangshou in guilin

Yangshou was meant to be the more remote part. Again not so small. Nevertheless we did have some fun. On the first day we rented bycicles, got lost looking for points of interest and cycled 24 miles I think it was.

Day two we went out on two petrol scooters, drove past the attractions… Thought better of paying and just had fun driving around.

Day three was rain day. Although it was not meant to be. We had the one bike, and were driving to Huxian, a small water town with paddy fields and pretty mountains. The drive was about 1.5hours. We got to the village and just as we did it started spitting. We drove through looking for a mountain to climb. Then it started to pour. We headed back to the tiny village and took shelter in a small food place run by a mum of two, who didn’t speak English. She was so happy to see us and we were able to communicate a little and also use the ipad for some translation. Her son was adorable, we let him play games on the ipad, he seemed to know his way around the different games well! We had a lovely time, and showed the woman our parents back home, which she loved seeing. We ate a soup with pasta in it which was delicious, as we couldn’t say what we wanted she just prepared us something, which was really nice of her. At the end she was trying to say we don’t have to pay and was saying in English “welcome to china” and holding our hands. She was so kind to us. Of course we paid for our meals -£1 equivalent for the two…

The rain was still pouring, we took photos with the woman’s boy as she wanted one on her phone, then we photographed the pair outside their business and home (they lived up stairs) we waved good by and drove off in to the rain ponchos intact.

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Drive was four times as long on the way home the rain was hitting our faces like shards of ice even at 10mph. Eventually we came across a supermarket. In there we found one of the ponchos all the Chinese have on their bikes. Two head holes with hoods and a sheet that goes over the front of the bike also so you don’t really get wet, the difference was amazing! We were soaked to the Coker but the bags were safe and it was a lot warmer driving along. We got back at 7:59. The bike had to be back by 8pm…just made it! £12 days rental maxed out!

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Cooking class
Spent the morning in cooking class, starting with a drip to the market to get ingredients, made dumplings and sweet and sour pork

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Off to xingping

xingping in Guilin “BAMBOO YANGDI?!?!.!”
Day one waked up the mountain… Long long way… Foggy at top couldn’t see a thing. The plan was to go back one early morning for sunrise but we never returned. The walk was steep and uneven steps some of which you had to climb as so big, to get to the bit to get a veiw for photos you had to climb up the rocks to a part that’s dangerous and off limits where the signal pole is. We climbed, but it would have been difficult in darkness in the early morning… Plus weathers not on our side, would be such a disappointment if it looked rubbish if we had to be up at 3am to go.

We planned a trip to see comorat fishing which had to be a tour. This is because commorant fishing is no longer practiced in china it is all for money from the tourists, yet dispite this we liked the look of some pictures we saw and wanted to witness it for ourselves and get some photographs. On the day we met the fisherman at 4 in the morning and waked down on the bay, we rode a boat into the pitch black with the fisherman, the boat man and the small bamboo boat strapped to the side with the two commorants on it.the experience was definitely different, but the weather didn’t play ball.. It rained, so one of us had to be holding the umbrella while the other took pics… The sky was foggy and the mountains were not visible,.. A fun morning but not photographic for us again. I guess we must be so unlucky…

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Whilst in xingping we also went to river driftage, which was amazing! We went in the afternoon for 90mims. We got the bus to the top of the river and then got in little boats with air edges and a holy bottom where water goes in and out. The boat flowed down the river over gorges and round bends, we only just managed to stay in!

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Next day we planned to walk to yangde from xingping as it was the nicest walk you could do according to the reviews. This ones a long story.. But to keep it short… We were followed by a woman for miles. Tried to loose her in a field… Couldn’t. Then when we reached a crossing point (by boat only for a charge) she told the woman she was guiding us and tried to charge a fee. Good old china. Bamboo boat to yangde, then came all the way back by raft too. Off the boat and instant hassling “bamboo yangde, hello!” This will haunt us forever just four days and we heard this a thousand times wherever we walked!

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Beijing Friday 27th June
Pretty city! When we got there the forecast for the week was sunshine and blue skies. As we were higher in the country we assumed this was the norm, and had a day of shopping. The sky was a brilliant blue and the clouds small and puffy it was lovely. However when we awoke the next morning it had all changed, although you could see the harsh shadows created by sunlight on the ground the sky was grey with smog… Photo opportunities ruined! 🙁

Day 2 Saturday 28th of beijing we went to price gongs mansion

Day 3 29th June dentist and shopping then dance centre photos

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Day 4 Monday 30th June

Day 5 1st July forbidden city

Day 6 2 July wednesday – summer palace. Cinema for transformers – expensive!

Day 7 3 July Thursday

Day 8 4th July – travelled on the metro with our bags to somewhere close to the airport for transfer pickup the next day to Mutianyu.

Day 9 Arrived and was cooked dinner by the staff who didn’t speak English but had a translator person on the phone!

Mutianyu. Sunday 6th July
Walked two miles down the hill to the Mutianyu roundabout for the wall, but it wasn’t wall day.. So we went straight across and down to a small village and had a look round got dinner then walked the 4 miles back -as there were no taxies!

Monday 7th July the wall. We arranged the night before to go the wall… It was a strange experience, we tried to arrange a cab through the people running the hotel which they seemed to be all good with. Ten mins later they come back, kraig arranged some weird and wonderful trip to narnia through secret passages instead through the mountains… No idea wat happened there! The owners were saying there are no taxies but someone can show us the secret entrance where we do not need to pay for entrance… But have to leave super early. So we were up at 5am. The sun was up, it was too early after a restless sleep. We met someone we had never seen before at the front of the hotel and were ushered up the road. We followed a steep concrete road for over a mile, and me and kraig were exhausted. The man was like 60 odd and he seemed perfectly fine. We kept trying to take breaks, but he pushed us along. Very difficult to explain we couldn’t do it as he didn’t speak English and we didn’t speak Chinese! So we soldiered on, eventually we were granted a stop by some stone wheel clothes press. He sat down and lit up a fag. 5mins later the man pointed to the cliff face behind us. It meant, ” your going up that now”. We were off once again. The man now had a styropome box he collected that a local must have left for him. The path was narrow rocky and with some makeshift rock-steps. It was exhausting we both thought our backs were going to explode, and I couldn’t breath at all with the lack of breaks. We actually thought we were going to die. The man pushed us onwards and upwards when we stopped, gesturing that the top was just around the corner. It never was. So half hour later (I assume although it felt a lifetime.) we saw a glimpse of the wall through the cloud and the smog/fog. It was barely visible and we were nearly on it. Bad weather day. We went a little further and we was at the base of the wall. Walked along and then came to a archway leading into a turret base with a metal ladder going up it we was now finally on the Great Wall of china! It was certainly an achievement, but the hard work was far from complete! We looked over the side and could see the wall winding down the hill towards the Mutiyanu area of the wall (the part open to the public) looking the other way was about a thousand stairs ascending upwards to another turret. The top was foggy, but at this point visible. We sat down and had a well earned break. 15 later and the crazy man was ready to go again. He gestured right and said “muitianyu” and right for Jishou. The old and unrestored section of the wall. He then started ascending…. And we started to panic. Were we meant to follow? Was he with us for the day? We couldn’t have survived at his pace! No way! He looked back to us half way up we held our ground, there’s no way we were ready for the hill of death.

He got to the top and looked down. He didn’t stop for a break the whole way (when we did it we stopped 4times and sat!) he dropped of the box and came ploughing back down, it seamed he was just dropping something off, Phew, relief!

Some time later we went up….along…up more through more turrets… Up… Over… Along…past more of the no tourists signs… Past the people flogging trinkets fans and drinks… And then eventually got to part of the wall which had not been fixed at all… The completely unrestored section. It was so nice to see it without the restoration. In a way (though probably not seen like that by others) in its true glory. Just the origins of the wall… What’s left from the past. We looked for a while walked along then agreed to turn back as the path become less safe, and we had to get back to do the other side of the wall. Back down we went… As we did the no tourism areas were getting busier and busier more people flogging goods and souvenirs, more people snooping around. The wall was nicer when we were the only ones at 7:15 am… When the gates open at 8 all the way at the other end 4 miles the other direction.

On our way down the wall we opted for the bob sled . We were both excited as the last time the speed was restricted on the other mountain so we was really looking forward to a speedy ride. No such luck. Woman in front was holding up the break. Annoying as it cost us £14 to use it.

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Tuesday 7th July
Next day we were leaving. The sky turned blue and clear, we could see the wall from the road, when before we didn’t even know it was there. Just our luck. Always the way with the weather in china. Got dropped off at the depo to get the 916 bus to beijing, jumped on the metro (too long….) to the train station and headed to shijiazhuang. Taxi to the hotel and checked in.

Shijiazhuang

Wednesday 8th July.
Shopping day again, I got a new waterproof coat as mines not waterproof and a new necklace in the mall.

Thursday… More shopping, waterproofed for backpacks, clothes washing and general looking around the city.

Friday Canyanshan mountain

Got two buses to e mountain as the hotel gave us the wrong stop to get the taxi to to catch the one direct bus a day – all confusing and we even left ourselelves an hour and a half to get a 15 min cab ride… Things always go wrong. Place was pretty, weather surprisingly good for a change! Wooh! Amanda for some strange reason has decided to start carrying various cat foods and treats in her camera bag, which made for one very happy cat at the top.

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Xian

We have now arrived in xian…. More posts to follow, will try keep on top of them from now on!