Country Summary: One Month in China (and a few days in Hong Kong)

China

6th August – 4th September 2017

Beijing Temple of Heaven

Beijing Temple of Heaven

Over the course of one month in China we went from huge bustling cities like Beijing down to small towns in the countryside where we cycled through rice paddies, the difference was like night and day.
The language and culture was fascinating and the food was an absolute dream having come from Mongolia, the land of mutton.
We saw many incredible things but the swarms of domestic tourists that descend over the country during July and August meant that sometimes it was a bit chaotic and we’d often have to share these amazing places with a millions of Chinese tour groups.
China felt similar to Russia in its size but not in it’s population, there were just so many people! Even though we travelled a good distance we had to miss out several entire parts of the country so we are looking forward to returning at some point to explore more.

Food and Drink
Steamed Buns

These became one of our goto breakfasts during our month in China, normally filled with some sort of meat but occasionally we’d get a surprise sugary one. Costing about 20p each for the large ones or £1 for a portion of 8 small ones they were a good cheap and filling option.

A portion of small steamed buns in their wooden box

A portion of small steamed buns in their wooden box

Hot Pot

Hot pot is as the name suggests a hot pot filled with broth, normally split into two sides, one spicy and one more mild. You order plates of raw meat, uncooked vegetables and noodles and proceed to cook all of these yourself in whichever side takes your fancy. It is similar to a fondue with the pot sitting on a gas ring in the middle of the table.

A hot pot meal we had in Dali

A hot pot meal we had in Dali

Slimy Chilli Tasty Aubergine

This is a random dish we ordered using our usual point at the pictures tactic which turned out to be one of our favourites we had. The dish consisted of aubergine that had obviously been soaked and cooked in a spicy chilli oil. The aubergine soaked up this flavour and we likened the resulting slimy texture to slugs.

The slimy chilli aubergine dish

The slimy chilli aubergine dish

Places (Things to do) 

Yangshuo

Yangshuo is a town in southern China, known as a bit of a tourist town it’s got lots of bars and western food. The real highlight of the town however is the surrounding countryside. Limestone karsts hills in every direction with several rivers winding their way around them. We spent two days exploring this amazing place, one day on bicycles and then second on an electric scooter we rented from our hostel.

A local man working in the fields in Yangshuo

A local man working in the fields in Yangshuo

Yunnan Province (especially Shaxi and the Tiger Leaping Gorge)

This mountainous region was both a metaphorical and literal breath of fresh air after coming from busy cities we had just been in. The whole region is at an altitude of over 2000m so the temperature was cooler and there were less tourists about and more interesting travellers in the hostels. While the whole area was great we thought Tiger Leaping Gorge, a beautiful two day hike, and Shaxi, a yet unruined quiet market town were the real highlights.

Tiger Leaping Gorge

Tiger Leaping Gorge

Beijing

Beijing was everything we expected from the capital, a busy, bustling city with a million things to see and a million other people also trying to see them. It was especially bad as we were visiting in the middle of the peak domestic tourist season. Crowds regardless the Forbidden City and the various temples in the city were amazing and our trip out to the Great Wall was fantastic. It’s not until you are stood on top of the great wall and can see more wall disappearring over the hills and into the distance that you really understand the scale of it and the magnitude of the task of building it.

Great Wall of China at Badaling

Great Wall of China at Badaling

Things we learnt

  • China has a huge amount of ongoing construction and massive engineering projects. It felt like everywhere we went new buildings were being built and especially in the countryside there was always a new highway or high speed rail link going in.
  • There is always hot water available for free everywhere such as train stations. This is partly because it is unsafe to drink the tap water however also means the Chinese can have tea or instant noodles whenever and wherever they want.
  • Some children are scared of us, Emily had one experience where a child literally jumped and screamed when her mother pointed her out. Another time a small child covered his eyes when he saw us as if in disbelief.

Top three phrases/words

  • Don’t want - bú yào (不要)
  • I don’t understand - tīng bù dǒng (听不懂)
  • How much money? - duōshǎo qián (多少钱)

Travel Statistics for China
Beers drank: 41.5 (each) 
Beds slept in: 18 (each) 
Bribes paid: 0
Journeys:

  • Bus: 21
  • Minibus: 2
  • Train: 11
  • Taxi: 4
  • Car: 5
  • Cable car: 1
  • Ricksaw: 1
  • Mototaxi: 1

Spending in China:
Currency: Chinese Yuan
Currency Conversion: £1 = ¥8.6
Number of days in country: 29
Breakdown of spending (together) -

Accommodation: £392.62
Food & Beverage: £473.18
Alcohol: £38.67
Transportation: £413.07
Visa: £302.00
Activities: £456.83
Other: £71.52

Total (together): £2,147.89
Total (per person): £1,073.95

Average Daily Spend (together): £74.07
Average Daily Spend (per person): £37.03

Hong Kong

4th – 9th September 2017

View of the harbour from Victoria Peak

View of the harbour from Victoria Peak

Hong Kong felt similar to China but at the same time the western influence made it feel very different from the mainland. At times we said it felt a bit like London due to it’s cosmopolitan feel and the number of signs and adverts that were in English instead of Mandarin or Cantonese.
The amazing thing about Hong Kong was that even though the city is a towering cityscape it only took a short ferry ride or metro journey to be relaxing on a beach or hiking across a hilly island.

Travel Statistics for Hong Kong:
Beers drank: 4 (each) 
Beds slept in: 1 (each) 
Bribes paid: 0
Journeys:

  • Plane: 1
  • Bus: 6
  • Metro: 11
  • Tram: 2
  • Boat: 4
  • Cable car: 1

Spending in Hong Kong 
Currency: Hong Kong Dollar
Currency Conversion: £1 = 10,000.
Number of days in country:  5

Breakdown of spending (together) -
Accommodation: £139.30
Food & Beverage: £146.46
Alcohol: £0.00
Transportation: £242.25
Visa: £0.00
Activities: £28.62
Other: £25.65

Total (together): £582.28
Total (per person): £291.14

Average Daily Spend (together): £116.46
Average Daily Spend (per person): £58.23

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