Tuesday, August 23, 2011

china wrap up:

To put it simply China is epic. First of all, it is HUGE! We travelled through China for a month, journeying from Beijing in the north-east to Kashgar in the west. We travelled thousands, and thousands of kilometers and still, I feel, only scratch the surface. China is country that seems to have it all travel-wise; firstly, an amazing array and variety in landscape (the tallest mountains, deserts, rainforests, epic rivers, major cities...), history, culture, food (!), shopping and it is very affordable.

China is very well connected with an extensive train network. We used the overnight train to get from Beijing to Xian, and it was an extremely modern, clean and comfortable ride. In Xian we joined a Dragoman overland truck (called Asima), on which we travelled all the way to Kyrgyzstan where we would be on our own again. We travelled with ten people from around the world and it was a really cool way to explore China. However, we did miss using a variety in modes transport like we had when we were travelling on our own previously, but it was a different and unique way of travelling which we did enjoy.

Ah the food. I must admit we were both a little worried we would get sick of the food, seems we would be spending so much time China. This has happened to me on previous visits, BUT the food was just so, so good - we couldn't get enough! I think part of it being that we were travelling through so many different regions, where it changed and there was always a massive variety for us to try. So tasty and so cheap. In particular we really enjoyed noodle stops and perusing the night markets most nights for yummy snacks. We were never, ever disappointed and the whole experience has opened up a much larger scope of Chinese food for us to eat back here in Sydney.

We mixed it up a little bit, staying in hotels and camping. I hadn't done much camping before so it was  a good experience. There aren't really any camp sites in China, so it mostly wild camping that we did with Dragoman crew. We camped in some pretty epic spots which made it quite a special and unforgettable experience.

The shopping is pretty unreal. Especially the markets. An in particular the Panjiayuan antique markets in Beijng! Amazing. That was probably where we did most of our shopping while in China, only buying a few knick knacks along our way to Kyrgyzstan. In Kashgar you could buy carpets, suzanis and all sorts of Silk Road souvenirs, however as we were heading to Uzbekistan we thought we'd wait until there.

It was a dream come true to travel the Silk Road and head towards Kashgar like so many before us. Most of it was extremely interesting but there are parts that area bit 'meh' as most of the cities do look very similar (most having being practically demolished and rebuilt with no sign of the old, unfortunately). It was also incredibly interesting to not only see the landscape change, but so to the people and the culture.
The people are extremely friendly, warm and generous. However, not many speak english, including the younger generation, including those in big cities like Beijing. So we do recommend learning a few Chinese phrases and getting any particular places you want visit written down in Chinese at your hotel to give to the cab drivers and such.
China is an amazing destination, with so much to see and experience. You have the super-modern mega cities of Beijing and Shanghai but also the historical and almost time warp like areas such as Xiahe and Kashgar's old town. It really does have it all. Each time I visit, I fall in love even more. We can't wait to go back and explore more, with the hope to visit southern areas like Yunnan province and Tibet.

1 comment:

  1. china hands down best food on the planet
    and so cheap!!!!!
    i lived there for 6 months
    hunan province
    and every day i wanna go back


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