China

Traveling In China

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We spent our last 4 nights in Mainland China in Lijiang.  Lijiang is another old city located in the Yunnan Province and full of Chinese tourists.  We found it to be another hard city for a foreigner.   The first night we walked around for 2 hours trying to find a menu in English or at least with pictures with no luck.  We ended up grabbing noodle bowls from a convenience store and eating in our room.  Here are some things we learned in China:

  1. China is a hard place for non-Chinese speakers to travel alone.  With a tour group and a guide, travel would have likely been much easier.  We just aren’t really tour group kind of people and they were way out of our budget!
  2. Chinese tourists in their own country are just like the tourists you run into outside of China.  They are truly oblivious to those around them and will walk right into you.  We can’t even count the number of times we were hit with a purse, elbowed in the side and poked in the head with umbrellas.
  3. Water sources throughout the cities we were in (Rivers, streams, lakes, fountains) were all used to clean babies, wash laundry, brush teeth, wash hair and clean vegetables.  Perhaps this is why our stomachs didn’t feel too good the entire time we were there.
  4. For a pretty developed country with prices that rival those in the USA, we were shocked to find things like squat toilets in a huge, beautiful and modern brand new airport.
  5. Another shocker was the spitters.  We had heard that people spitting on the sidewalks was something to expect, however we quickly learned that this was an accepted practice on the subway trains and inside buildings as well.
  6. The prices are HIGH!  Coming from several months in south-east asia, we were shocked to find the prices in China so expensive.  Things like entering a park, going up on a cable car, or entering a temple complex were typically at least $20USD each!  Food was very high as well if you went anywhere with an English menu.  We stumbled upon a Starbucks in a mall with prices equal to the US.  We found non English-speaking drivers for the day to be well over $100 compared to the $50-60 for an English speaking driver that we had paid in other parts of South East Asia.
  7. There is a lot of beauty in China and some truly amazing places to see.  There are just people everywhere and for us it wasn’t worth trying to fight the crowds.  We skipped going to the terracotta warriors and the great wall because of this.
  8. People in China as a whole are friendly, they smile and stare and will try to help if they can, but more than likely they don’t speak any English and may just giggle and walk away.
  9. They like to stare!  We often felt like aliens due to the intensity of the stares.  Many starting at the feet and slowly moving their gaze up.  We went days without seeing other foreigners so we were truly a novelty to many people.

10. We likely will not go back to China.  It was a hard place to travel and we found it impossible to escape from the hoards of people.

Shangri La

Shangri La

In January of 2014, Shangri La was devastated by a fire that ripped through the “Old City” where the narrow streets hindered the efforts of the fire department.  This fire lasted for more than ten hours and completely wiped out building after building.  Our Hotel, the Eight-Symbol Lotus was extremely lucky and survived the ordeal and now has a front yard that is rubble that used to be neighboring buildings.  Our accommodations at Eight-Symbol Lotus were fantastic with a rustic feel and an extremely nice staff.  Breakfast was included each day and they did their best to communicate with us and help us out with anything we needed.  The area we were in Continue Reading

After two nights in Kunming, we were off again, heading west to the town of Dali.  This destination was pretty uneventful, especially since Jason had come down with a cold.  The popular attractions in Dali are the three pagodas, which cost 120 ($20usd) yuan/person and a cable car that takes you halfway up a mountain for Continue Reading

Magical Yangshuo Karst Mountains

Magical Yangshuo

After several nights in Shenzhen we left the big city for Yangshuo, a much smaller town on the Li River,  a 2-hour plane ride away.  We were lucky to have Bob, Simone’s dad, with us to show us the area and introduce us to his friends, he was also nice enough to pay for our plane tickets!  We spent 5 nights in Yangshuo and 2 nights in Guilin (where the airport is).  The weather was a little overcast and rainy so Jason wasn’t able to get the photos he had been dreaming of. Continue Reading