Broken By China
Trip Start Jan 06, 2008
77Trip End Jul 13, 2008
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Despite the problems, I seem to have achieved a lot, and here's the lowdown (Pics are coming soon):
So I started in Yuanyang (near the Vietnamese border) where I saw the awesome rice terraces and then moved on to Kunming, a souless city where I was the only white person I saw for 2 days, before moving on to Lijiang, which was really beautiful old chinese village (despite the shit that went with it-see below)
Next moved to Chengdu to see the Giant Pandas at the breeding sanctuary - the baby pandas were just too cute!! Then did a 3 day cruise along the Yangtze river and through the 3 gorges (which are about to disappear forever thanks to the damned 3 gorges dam). Next went to Xian to see the Terracotta Warriors, which was really cool. Then Pingyao another ancient village with lots of chinese lanterns everywhere. Next was Datong where I saw the Hanging Monastery and the Yungang Caves and finally Beijing, where I have been to the Great Wall, Forbidden City, Summer Palace, bla, bla, although the highlight for me was the Temple of Heaven park on Sunday morning where all the chinese come together to sing, perform, fly kites, exercise, dance, etc. People watching took on a whole new level.
So next I go to Japan. Tomorrow morning in fact although I could really do with a holiday..
By the way, where are you all, I haven't heard from anyone in yonks??
Love you long time
-Most chinese people do not speak English, do not seem to understand Western style gestures and often don't even understand when you point at the thing you want to say or the place you want to go in chinese script (courtesy of the Lonely Planet phrase book of course). Essentially you are often completely incommunicado which I can't even begin to explain how frustrating it is.
-Even if you have been understood, if they don't know the answer, people will often make it up so as not to 'lose face'
-The Lonely Planet has many, many mistakes-many of which are critical. And when it is all you have the guide you in this crazy country, it makes you curse a lot.
-The distances to travel are massive, the sleeper buses are an oxymoron (the trains are pretty good though).
-Chinese food is not what you might expect. Don't order chicken as most of the time it is just bone with a bit of meat if you're lucky and when the stars are really shining on you, you'll also get the head and the feet thrown in for free
-Whilst I have met some really wonderful, kind Chinese people here, many many of them can be rude and agressive.
-Spiting is the norm, toilets frequently contain mountains of shit on public display, etc... (you get the picture)
-Many internet sites are blocked, phoning home cheaply is a nightmare which became the straw that broke this camel's back (my bank decided China would be a good time to block my credit card).
As an example, 1 day I went to a quaint little village called Lijiang. Once I was done with my sightseeing, I decided to go and collect my luggage and book my onwards ticket. Except for it took me 4 hrs to find the bus station where I had left my luggage. This tiny town had 4 goddamn bus stations (this is normal), of which only 3 featured in the Lonely Planet of which 2 were drawn in the wrong place on the map. With only this map to point to, no English speakers and many locals simply inventing directions, disaster ensued. And by the end of this, it really wasn't such a quaint little village anymore.