Guilin and Shanghai

Our last two stops in China! The contrast between the two could not have been bigger as you will see below. 

Let’s start at the beginning: After 4 days in Yangshuo we headed for Guilin, a town not too far away. We used most of our time there to make plans for the following weeks, stroll around the lakes and watch groups of elderly people dance and do tai chi. We also booked a driver to bring us to the Longji rice terraces for a day. The area was beautiful and we ended up doing a 6 hour walk (with a 1,5 hour detour ;)) along the rice fields. Great day!

After a 9,5 hour train ride (our last!!) we arrived in Shanghai, our final destination in China. Since it was the Golden Week, when everyone in China has their holidays, we had set our expectations low in terms of what we would be able to see and do in two days. Turns out we were right: people everywhere! We still managed to see the Shanghai museum, the Urban Planning Center, the Bund and much more :). Overall a fitting ending to our amazing time in China.


Zhangjiajie and Yangshuo

We arrived late at our hotel in Zhangjiajie after a train ride from Chengdu. It was pitch dark and all we could hear were cars…no people…ahh just what we needed! The next morning we woke up early, excited to visit Zhangjiajie National Park: they say the mountains in this park were the inspiration for the floating mountains in the movie Avatar..although this was never officially confirmed, we could definately see the resemblance! (Although I don’t remember seeiing any tourgroups in Avatar? ;))

Anyway, despite the millions of Chinese tourists, the park was amazing, well organised (we saw the whole park in two days) and we had a great time with two fellow dutchies we met at our hotel :)

After Zhangjiajie,  we were still in need of some peace and quiet and decided to change our plan a bit and spend some extra time in the Yangshuo area. After a loooong day of traveling by car, bus, train and car again, we arrived at our cozy hotel in the countryside…perfect! The next few days we walked, cycled, drank coffee and just relaxed. Such a beautiful place! We also made a trip to Xing Ping and Yangshuo city, which were just too touristy for our liking……so glad we decided to go for a hotel outside of the city!

(dead, but HUGE!)

Xian, Chian and the Yangtze

So, after Pingyao we took another bullet train to Xian, to see the famous Terracotta army. We had been warned that it might not be as impressive as we thought it would be, but I guess having low expectations works, because we really liked it! Especially since we could see the archeologists at work :)

We were a bit done with walking, so the next day we cycled on the city walls of Xian, before getting on the high speed train to Chengdu.

Our visit to Chengdu was all about food (the famous Sichuan kitchen) and pandas! It was so much fun to see them playing and climbing (never knew they were such great climbers!) and watching the fluffy newborns getting fed and just helplessly lying around :D

Some streetfood photos:

The next day we took the train to Chongqing for our Yangtze river cruise and I have to admit: it could not have come at a better time. After four busy cities we were tired and in need of some quiet time..We (and another couple ) were the youngest of the cruise, but it didn’t matter: we had a great time with our fellow senior travellers! The food was great, the karaoke nights were fun, the trip on shores of the river were interesting and the Yangtze was beautiful :) Just what we needed!

During our last night on the boat, we woke up at 2 am to watch the 5 giant ship locks (sluizen) as we made our way past the Three Gorges Dam. Amazing to watch! The next day we did a little tour to see the ship locks and dam up close.

the ship locks from above

Beijing and Pingyao

Hello from China! A country we had been curious about for quite a while now…and so far it has not dissapointed! 

About 1,5 weeks ago, we said goodbye to Iris, who was flying back home, and took the train from Ulan Bator to Beijing. A beautiful train ride from the Gobi desert in Mongolia to green hills and buzzing Beijing in China. In the middle of the night, at the border, the whole train carriage (including us) had to be lifted in the air to change the wheels as China has different tracks than Mongolia…. Fun experience!

We had four days in Beijing and decided to take our time, especially since I was coming down with a cold. So we used our days to (hang by the pool) (drink a lot of coffee) have Peking Duck and see the Temple of Heaven, the Forbidden City, the Drum and Bell Tower, the Hutongs and the Great Wall of China :). The weather was amazing, the people were friendly (and everywhere ;)) and the the sights mentioned above were simply stunning. 

The Temple of Heaven:

Tianamen Square and the Forbidden City:

Around the Drum and Bell Tower:

These outdoor gyms are everywhere :)

Roasting ducks

The Great Wall of China:

Next stop: the ancient city of Pingyao. After a 4 hour ride on the bullet train we arrived in Pingyao, a well preserved city from the Ming dynasty. The old city is currently buzzing with Chinese tourists and tourist shops, but is still worth a visit! Especially when you’re staying in a quiet little courtyard hostel :). Another great way to see the charming town without all the hassle is to walk the city walls. We loved it!

Selling chestnuts to people on the wall

Thanks for reading! Next blog: Xian and Chengdu :)