Thursday 20 December 2007

Xian and Hong Kong

The highlight of my trip to China was seeing the Terracota soldiers. The first pit was amazing. Felt so surreal being there. There are over 6000 soldiers in the pit. Spent half a day there just lookin around the complex.

Only 2 pits were open sadly, and the museum. Also saw some important government offical there (not sure who exactly, but high up from the mass security and road cade). Afterwards headed back to town and went to the city walls which were massive. 12m high and about 3 lane car widths wide. And they are completely intact around the whole old Xian. Walked around a bit and also went to a Feng Shu museum where I also got a lecture on feng shu,. most interesting. The to the east bell tower,which is the dead center of town.

That evening went to a Chinese show/opera and had a fancy meal of the local delicacy which is special dumplings. The taste was amazing and there were over 30 different ones that I got to try. The show was very nice as well. My final day in Xian I went to seethe white goose pagoda which was very large and even saw some buddists from Thailand praying. Very interesing. and the provincal museum, which had a large number of fascinating artefact, as Xian was the captial of China for 13 dynasty's. Had a proper Chinese tea ceremony ( bought a very interesting one)., and went to a silk carpet factory.
Headed off for HK late in the evening.

In Hong Kong I did a heritage tour which went to places not normally seen by tourists. That took half my time and with the rest I walked around, walked along the avenue of stars (chinese version of Hollywood walk of fame), and went to the Space Center.

Monday 17 December 2007

Yongshau and Guilin

China was amazing. I was very lucky arriving in Guilin with my luggage as they were having trouble transfering it from my flight from Hong Kong/London. But made it safe and had no problems as my guide was waiting there to pick me up.

The first real day in China started by a lovely view in the morning. Guilin is a small town of 5 million, and is surrounded by karst stacks. This was the view from my hotel room. After getting up headed off for a cruise down the River Li. Which definately is, one of the most scenic areas in China. The river cuts thru the karst stacks which are amazing. Its really hard to describe the feeling you get in such beauty, the fog gave the area an errie mystical feeling. Very nice trip.

After that headed to Yangshao. Here I did a bike tour thru the countryside (thankfully very flat). It is amazing the difference between the countryside and the city. Much prefer the countryside for the absolute quiet and beauty. The lifestyle there is completely different. The lifestyle is very hard, with people growing and producing everything for themselves. Something really amazing was the building of their own houses, making the bricks and mortar themselves in some cases. A unique fact abut this area is that size is of all importance. If a farmer wants to show that he has money he will build a big house, like 4-5 storeys, but this usually results in the lack of funds to complete it. SO you just get these massive shells of houses everywhere in the countryside. Its all about status. Went shopping that evening down the West road which is the one of the oldst in the province. Spent a bit too much of course but oh well. Only there once.

The next day we headed back to Guilin (by we I mean me, my guide and the driver, I LOVE private tours). There we saw the elephant truck hill (legend goes that a giant elephant was drinking the river water when killed and turned to stone, hence the mountain looks like an elephant drinking from the water). At the top of the hill was a really small pagoda called Guilin Buddha. Altho not many chinese are religious these days.

From there we headed to the reed flute caves. The lighting in these caves were amazing. Look spectacular (I urge you to look at my facebook photos). This cave was also used by the resistance back in the day. Then headed to Xian that late afternoon