A Travellerspoint blog

Pingyao

When we first arrived in Pingyao it felt like a dusty little backwater. I could see how they'd taken the photos I'd seen from the Internet - this place is truly ancient. We were dropped by the taxi at the South gate of the village wall and told (in Chinese and body language) to walk that way...It was a hot, frustrating walk but people are incredibly helpful despite being wary of the language barrier. We did find our accomodation - it was awesome! An ancient kang bed that slept a family (3)

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The heart of town is a completely different view to the dusty rubbled streets we walked in on. It's colourful, almost completely original to the 14th century and bustling with Chinese tourists and locals alike. Pingyao is an ancient city dating back to the Ming and Qing dynasty, now protected as a world heritage area. There doesn't seem to be many visitors from outside of China. The only other Europeans we saw were French and as Johan said they must have had a special on trips to China last month in Paris.

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Walking through the village people would call out 'Hello' and carry on in Chinese, very friendly despite the language barrier. At one point, we came to a sign at the town wall describing the history in some weird version of English, finishing with 'we hope you trip'. This was a sign leading up to a walk on a 10 metre high wall. This caused Maaike and I to fall about laughing, adding to the joke and giggling more. The guys from the gate even came over to see what was wrong with their sign. Using a translation app we struck up a conversation leading to one of the guys coming with us to a mobile phone shop to buy a SIM card so we could use our apps online.
Pingyao was like a nut cracked open! You buy one ticket to the city (150 CNY) which last for 3 days and allows you to visit every museum, old house, temple or place of interest. You can pick and choose but you really can step into how a day can feel, living this life.

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There is one thing I do think they got wrong. The shop fronts and houses have the big paper lanterns lining every building. There was one street I thought 'BOOM' this would be an amazing place at night and dragged the others back in the dark for a photo of the lanterns....

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It was like the neon fairy had gone mental!

Posted by Vendrig 20:05 Comments (3)

Our new best friend - by Johan

We have a new best friend - managed to get a SIM card with the help of a very friendly local guy that had translation app on his mobile phone. So now we can use our translation app on the go which make the language barrier so much easier to deal with. Yesterday Deborah did an amazing job buying train tickets from pingyao to Xian using a combination of scribbles, our three word Chinese vocabulary and a friendly ticketing lady. This experience did show us though that when neither speaks the others language it does become difficult to buy anything more than some food by pointing at it and typing the price on your phone calculator. So today will be our first day speaking Chinese! Mobile technology really is Changing the world in a hurry and literally every body is carrying one here.

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Posted by Vendrig 17:15 Comments (0)

Beijing

By Johan

Beijing is a pretty cool place. Not as hectic as we expected. Sure there is a LOT of people here; especially at the tourist spots it can get pretty intense with thousands of people streaming through the gates. In most other places though the people seem pretty chilled out and friendly. Traffic is full on and although it's tempting to ride a bike to get around quickly, I am not quite ready to access our health insurance this early in the trip. Pedestrian lights and crossings are present at every major intersection but the rules around these are more like rough guidelines so you end up playing chicken with all turning traffic.
We enjoyed some great sights and some wonderful food. Lots of little restaurants with meals for under NZD 10 per person (and that includes the beer!)
Really loved the visit to the Great Wall. Pretty amazing to see a cool part of it while knowing this thing continues for thousands of miles across ridge lines and peaks.

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Posted by Vendrig 07:25 Comments (0)

The Current Itinerary - Part 2

Deborah

Writing this part from a frosty lounger in Taipei - it's 26 degrees outside but there seems to be no control over the air conditioning so it feels a bit colder than an autumn morning at home!
We heard that Kazakhstan has done a massive amount of rebuilding and remodelling since succeeding from the former Soviet. Arriving in Astana we spend about a week or so discovering these evergrowing metropoli, flying out of Almaty onward to Dunshanbe in Tajikstan on the 5 June. The plan is to travel along the Pamir Highway by jeep, yak and foot - hopefully not in that order out of necessity but by choice to discover hiking in this altitude, the stunning scenery and the people of which are rumoured to be incredibly lovely and hospitable. It should take two weeks before we arrive in Osh, Kyrgystan. We then take to local trains and retrace the Silk Route visiting the ancient cities of Samarkand and Bukhara in Uzbekistan. The plan is flexible but the flight is booked out of Almaty to Amsterdam 30 July.
Amsterdam will be like a mini-homecoming! Josh and Katie arrive from New Zealand the day before. Family and friends in the summertime! Josh and Kate have a 3 week mid semester break at University so will travel this piece with us. I don't really have any say over this part of the planning - just letting it evolve! Josh leaked rumours he would ditch us and head to Greece, Johan is dreaming of Paris.... We're all thinking biking, camping, catching up (ok partying) with the Dutch part of our lives!!
I look at next step as Part 3! Oh God the final boarding call for Beijing now!

Posted by Vendrig 15:55 Comments (0)

Yay it's time and here's the current itinerary - part 1

Deborah


View Our 2015 travel adventure on Vendrig's travel map.

YUSS it's just one more day!! Finally after researching it and sleeping less and less, haha I guess because it's more fun to be awake and conciously planning your dreams... The trip has developed into an epic adventure for us. Not so much a bucket list but a f**kit list - everything we'd love to do but couldn't easily arrange.
The latest itinerary is... We fly to Beijing and spend some time exploring the forbidden city, hiking the Great Wall, eating and acclimatising to being in a city with 21.5 million other people. I just googled that amount and thought holy shit maybe we need to stay less days there - change is always afoot! From Beijing we head west to the start of the Silk Route in Xi'an, stopping in ancient villages and climbing a mountain in between. Is this too much detail? Maybe, so we travel China for just less than 4 weeks. I've tried to incorporate into the trip a taste of how varied and vast this huge country is. A camel trip out to the desert for the night felt like staying true to the Silk Road theme but checking out rice paddies and lush greenery of the South needs to be done too.
From China we take the Trans Mongolian Express to Ulan Batoor in Mongolia. I'm told this is an iconic adventure, spending 32 hours on a train with foreigners and locals alike but vodka smoothes over all the language barriers! Sounds like a STAT order for anti-emetics if you take that advice! In Mongolia we will do like the Mongolians and hop on horses and roam the country for a couple of weeks. Unlike the Mongolians our butts were not born in the saddle so this will be an adventure of extremes. I'm really looking forward to it but have packed pain relief as well (more vodka).
From Mongolia, apparently it's easy to hire a driver and a jeep to drive down through the desert to the Takeshken border with China and on to Urumqi in the Chinese Wild West.
The route between Urumqi and Kazakhstan I had to arrange within hours so I could reapply for a multi-entry visa to China because the Russian embassy doesn't have the same interpretation of 'urgent' as I do! We fly to Astana.
This post is already long... So maybe in two parts or three or four! There is definitely segments to this 'Epic Adventure' so part 2 tomorrow, then I can pack up my bedroom and allow Katie to move in and start the process of making our house into the student flat it'll be for the next 6 months.

Posted by Vendrig 14:22 Archived in China Tagged china itinerary trip_planning_for_china Comments (3)

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