China, Hong Kong S.A.R. · 17 Days · 18 Moments · September 2017

Nelly's adventure in China

30 September 2017

A GIANT day in Honkers today. Caught the hop on hop off bus at 9.30am and got off 10 hours later! In the interim, we managed to see skyscrapers galore ( twice as many as NYC); the food/fish markets; the view from the Peak ( hundreds of people in the queue!); trip on the Star Ferry; the beaches and Repulse Bay; Stanley waterfront; laser light show on Kowloon waterfront. And then a late dinner at Jamie Oliver's restaurant - not too far from the hotel - we'd already done over 20,000 steps! What a way to end a holiday.... That all calls for two lots of photos for the big Moment. Thanks for being there with me.
The end of the Journi..
Whirlwind stopover in Guangzhou with our delightful guide Betty. Another big, sprawling city. Then a drive to the border for our half day tour of Macau...a city of 1 million people and 47 casinos!! Saw some interesting spectacles at two of them...a dragon and a giant diamond. All the high-end shops with seemingly no customers too. Portuguese influence everywhere. Very hot and humid traipsing around but for once we got a real sense of a city. A smooth and quick sailing across to my final stop, Hong Kong.

28 September 2017

Worth getting up early to catch the sunrise. It is almost harvest time and the rice has turned golden. October 1 is a National Holiday and apparently you can't move up here for the masses of people who visit on that day.

27 September 2017

And then there were 2....Farewelled the rest of the Aussies yesterday morning and then flew to Guilin. No delays this time. A good night's sleep followed by a visit to Elephant Trunk Rock. Our guide Tina kept telling us to use our imagination... Then to the impressive Reed Flute Cave. Tina thought that my imagination was very active! There was a short screening of the Sleeping Beauty ballet, reflected beautifully in the pool in front of it. After a 2-hour drive along a mountainous, windy road, we arrived in Longjin. Rice paddy fields very reminiscent of Bali. So calm and green - it was great to be in the countryside. The climb up to our hotel was almost as tough as the Great Wall. A one-night stand, thankfully, so we took only a small bag each. An illegally-built hotel is blocking lovely views from our hotel - the establishment here is fighting its completion. I hope they are successful. If we have the energy, we'll get up for sunrise at the top of the hill tomorrow....

25 September 2017

And then there were 9.. The six Ruskies left today and the rest of us paid a visit to the old Water Town, about an hour's drive away from the city. It's been dubbed the Venice of Shanghai. One advantage of the continuing rain was that we didn't have to contend with crowds. The house of a noble family had several impressive rooms and the most beautiful garden. Lots of stalls and small shops; bridges and canals. A short "gondola" ride after lunch at a waterside restaurant rounded off our tour. The weather did prevent us from booking a river cruise on our last night here, unfortunately. What else to do but taste the local dumplings????
A wet and soggy day greeted us and after breakfast it was straight down to the waterfront to view the mass of skyscrapers on the other side. Some more interesting older buildings on our side of the road. French quarter was charming; main shopping street could have been in Sydney or Melbourne. Highlight of the day was the spectacular acrobatic show after dinner. A Chinese Cirque du Soleil. Breathtaking stunts. Then a drink in the fancy bar of the the hotel with an impromptu karaoke session carried along by the girls in the group. No-one else in the bar, obviously. Hoping for better weather tomorrow.

24 September 2017

Visited the site of the Gate of the Three Gorges Dam this morning and had a couple more relaxing hours to watch the world go by on the Yangzte River. Then a visit to Yichang, where our charming guide Betty lives. Their museum houses relics dating back as far as 7000 years, which were discovered during the excavations for the dam. A delayed flight to Shanghai meant a bedtime far too late....

22 September 2017

Special excursion to the Three Gorges today. A misty but atmospheric display. We started on a ferry , then transferred to a sampan for the narrower "lesser" gorges. Our skipper had an amazing voice and serenaded us part of the way. Captain's Table Dinner followed , capably served by our waiter Dean. We have been spoilt by everyone here.
The Captain's Welcome Party was a hoot and a few of us were coerced into having photographs taken with the locals. Tall, grey-haired John was particularly popular. The crew showed off how multi-talented they were in the Dance Show after dinner. Most of the dances were based on the traditions of the minority groups who live in this Three Gorges area.

21 September 2017

Today's excursion was to the Ghost City of Fengdu. The walking stick came out again for the 396 steps up to the top. Nothing like working up an appetite for lunch! Lazy afternoon editing photos before the Captain's Welcome Party, cocktails on the deck, dinner and Cultural Show. Life is hard....

20 September 2017

Another sleep-in, another Bullet train to the departure point for our Yangste River Cruise. Before dinner we visited another old Town (17th Century). A couple of cocktails on the roof deck as we sailed off and I was certainly ready for bed.

19 September 2017

Today, after a few hours' sleep, and a decent coffee with breakfast, we made our way to the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Pandas and spent the whole morning wandering through the verdant park and saw pandas of all shapes and sizes. Caught sight of a red panda too. The Jinli Road is a commercial district dating back to 221AD. Had a ramble through the many shops and stalls selling everything from souvenirs to sheep's heads and traditional Sichuan peppers. The day ended with drinks on the rooftop terrace of the hotel, getting to know our travelling companions a little better over some local brew.
Last day in Xi'an. A rare sleep-in followed by a visit to the Three Geese Pagoda in a lovely park setting; Chinese calligraphy class and a stroll down Moslem Street - a great market near the Drum Gate of the City Wall. Then a flight to Chengdu- delayed - bed after 1am!

17 September 2017

Another thing was crossed off the Bucket List today...seeing the Terracotta Warriors! Each of the three "pits" held hundreds of soldiers, a few horses and plenty of broken bits. Fancy archaeological term, I know. And 2200 years old...the mind boggles. I didn't handle the crowds too well...especially those individuals who hogged the best positions for photos. After another sumptuous lunch, it was back to town to see the East Gate of the 600- year old Town Wall and walk part of the ramparts. And tonight we are going to be served a 14-course dumpling banquet after a traditional dance show. What a Tommy Tourist I have become! But we are seeing and doing so much that would not be easily done independently...I am not complaining.

16 September 2017

It's already Day 4 and I haven't told you about our group: We are 15 Aussies from 4 different states (2 couples who migrated from Russia; 1 couple originally from the Ukraine and one Sri Lankan- born couple). We have bonded very well and the group is an ideal size. Lots of different personalities but none of them overbearing. We just seemed to get along from Day 1 - a good feeling. Today we explored the magnificent Summer Palace in Beijing before setting off at 300km an hour on the Bullet train to Xi'an. A city of bright lights and 8.7 million people. Small compared to Beijing's 24 million! Had an AMAZING Lamb Hotpot for dinner at our very luxurious hotel ( the local restaurant was full of smokers..) Finely sliced meat, fantastically fresh greens and the most wonderful variety of mushrooms poached in a flavoursome stock. Yummy !!!! Another full day; a late night...

15 September 2017

Today I hit the wall - and a Great Wall it was! Not the clearest of mornings, so the photos do not do it justice. And we did see but a small part of it.. The climb was very steep and the risers were of such varying height that it made the going quite slow. Thank heavens for hiking poles. Next was a visit to a jade factory and this time I did succumb, but not after a good deal of haggling. A welcome foot massage and visit to the Olympic complex rounded off the day, followed by another great meal at a local restaurant. Our guide Winnie has chosen very well for us. Our last night in Beijing - catching the Bullet train to Xi'an tomorrow.

14 September 2017

After a hassle-free ( but TOO early) flight from Sydney, Karen and I slept well and were greeted by a rather smoggy and slightly overcast morning in Beijing. Straight on the Tourist Route to Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City. The scale was impressive; the crowds manageable. Traipsed over 6 km before a filling lunch and a visit to a silk factory. We resisted....Then there was just enough time for a swim at the Hotel before dinner. A great introduction to a fascinating city.