Broken By China

Trip Start Jan 06, 2008
Trip End Jul 13, 2008

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Thursday, April 3, 2008

China has been quite an experience. I have seen some of the most fabulous things on all my travels so far. But I have also had the worst, most frustrating, bang-my-head-against-a-wall experiences on my whole trip. China is a big country but 1 month in China is a long time and the intrepid traveller (me) is feeling broken by it all. Why how could this be I hear you ask? Basically, independent travel in China is tough going - the problem is manifold but essentially its a ghastly combination of things (see my 'list of complaints' at the bottom of this blog entry!!). And on top of this I got shit from my parents for not phoning cos they assumed I had been killed or something in Tibet (despite it being like 4000 Km away).

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 on to Guilin and Yangshuo for the awesome scenery of Kart Limestone peaks and misty rivers. Met 2 crazy Spaniards who I had a lot of fun with. And saw the coolest thing of my trip so far. A show performed on the Li river by 900 local people (fisherman, farmers, children, etc). Yes that's right, they perform on the river! Check out this youtube link for a snipet of one of the acts

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

Bloody China

-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.
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acg_uk on

Hey mate

There's definately something weird going ob b/w this website and your email. I,ve only received a couple of messages from you when you forward on the 'fatal error' thing. How's life?? Things good with me but I'm feeling knackered after China!

Try my email directly


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