MORE HIKING, TEA & FISH // Wuyishan, China

We were lucky enough to have two days out in the Wuyishan Mountain area, yet we didn’t come close to seeing everything the reserve had to offer!

This is the view of the town itself from our hostel. Despite the gloomy looking morning we actually had quite good weather!

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Our first stop for the day (once again catching shuttle buses all over the place!) was to the tea plantations. Apparently the tea here is very good quality, because of the rocky nature of the mountains, and is quite expensive. Most of the bushes are various descendents of the Big Red Robe, the famous five tea trees on the stony outcrop below – if you can see them! The tea is only reserved for honored guests in China.SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

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After trying eggs boiled in tea (quite odd, and meat tasting?) we hiked up the road to a newly built Buddhist temple. We were the only ones there and it was beautiful.SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

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We were allowed to take photos inside, so now I can show just how much gold is used in decorating! SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

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It was hot and humid again – just like every other day really! – so we stopped off for lunch in a nearby town before setting off on another hike. Our tour guide told us it wasn’t going to be as intense and steep as the hike the day before. Turns out it was just as steep, but not as long! The views were totally worth our exertions. SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

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There was a little bridge over a narrow crevice at the top. A few locks adorned the bridge, which we assumed were love locks. However, they were all identical in shape!SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

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You can see our narrow path up the rock face! It took us forever to get down because the path was so steep and narrow, so we had to continually stop every few metres to let people pass.

Our final stop was a narrow cave, Thread of the Sky. There was a massive line to entre, as the cave gets so narrow it is hard for some bigger people to get through. Instead of waiting we elected to take a more quiet path off to the side and hiked up past sleeping bats and out to the top of the caves.

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That night we had a group dinner, however the mysterious disappearance of our tour guide (he had to return to the top of the peak we hiked that day to collect something he forgot, though he wouldn’t tell us what!) resulted in us having the fend for ourselves! None of the restaurants in town had English menus, let alone spoke English. We eventually found a local place with pictures of the meals, and had fun – much to the amusement of the locals – picking our meals. SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESAfter eating our fill we headed back over to the street food market to people watch and have some beers. A couple of people from our group were game enough to try the street food, despite watching the cooks kill a live fish on the footpath in front of our very eyes (they also had frogs). They stuck to corn, but apparently it was so spicy it was inedible!

It was certainly fun exploring this town and the nature around it. The street food did admittedly look delicious, but I don’t think my stomach could have handled it! Maybe another time!

– Reanna.

A BREATH OF FRESH AIR // Wuyishan, China

It seems I am slowly getting there with catching up with all my photos from China, Hong Kong and Malaysia! I know I could probably compress the whole trip down into two or three posts, but I would rather not make the posts a million pages long. Plus it is always enjoyable looking back through these memories!

Our sleeper train from Shanghai dropped us off at Wuyishan at about 6am in the morning. This was a good half an hour ahead of schedule, so we were all a bit frantic getting off the train. We were all still half asleep standing on the platform before we realised we had left one of our team on the train! Thankfully the train hung around for a few minutes and our tour guide was able to run back on and wake him up.

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Wuyishan itself as a town has not much to offer other than tea shops and street food, but the main attraction is Wuyishan Mountain, a UNESCO heritage reserve a short bus ride away. Our tour included two days entry into the reserve, and we had perfect weather (despite a typhoon looming in the weather reports!). It was certainly refreshing after spending the past few days in the hustle and bustle of big cities like Chengdu and Shanghai.SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

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We started off our first day at Wuyishan Mountain sitting on rickety looking bamboo rafts down the river. Allegedly one of the most beautiful rivers in China, the views we took in whilst burning basking in the sun were truly spectacular.SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

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Once we climbed off we were straight off for a hike up to the main view point in the reserve. We had to catch shuttle buses between all these locations due to the size of the place! However, the shuttle bus didn’t go anywhere near the top on the mountain, so it was a steep hike ahead of us! SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

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As you can see in the photos below, the path was pretty steep! It was also quite narrow and crowded, making climbing up and down a bit challenging. However, it was thoroughly enjoyable (despite also being covered in sweat from the scorching heat!) and the views at the top were 100% worth it. It was also pretty hilarious watching some people trying to hike up in high heels – it seems they missed the memo about the 800+ steps to the top!SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

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Sweaty, hot, hungry, but happy.SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

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SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESThat afternoon we were all pretty exhausted, and collapsed back at our hostel for a rest and a well needed shower. A couple of us ventured out for dinner and wound up at a place allegedly serving Australian steak, before sitting in the neighborhood street market for some beers and people watching.

Wuyishan Mountain was definitely one of the highlights of my trip to China!

– Reanna

ONE DAY IN ONE HELL OF A CITY // Shanghai, China

Chengdu seems dismally small in the light of bustling Shanghai! Looking back, I wish I had been able to squeeze in another day or two in this crazy city, I feel like I only began to scratch the surface of what it had to offer in my whirlwind day there!SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

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I survived my domestic flight within China easily enough (thankfully they spoke English in plane, even though I was the only international person on board!) and managed to navigate the metro to my hotel. I only had a short time to refresh and check in before I wandered down to the lobby to meet my tour group – the Shanghai to Hong Kong Fujian Adventure, ran by G Adventures. Everyone was lovely – and either British or Irish – and we were soon on our way to dinner. Most of the group had been on a tour, run by the same company, from Beijing. As a result, they had already had an extra day in Shanghai, so myself and the two other newcomers headed down the Bund with our guide to witness the city at night. I was surprised by the European architecture on our side of the river!SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

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The next day the newcomers and our guide headed over to Yu Yuan gardens, a lovely area of historic style buildings, mixed in with modern shops. KFC anyone?SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

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The rain kept threatening to set in, but we were still able to enjoy a quick walk around the traditional gardens.SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

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I loved the architecture, as well as the intricately tiled pathways.SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

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Afterwards we wandered back down to the Bund, which was completed clouded over by the foreboding weather! Our tour guide had suggested we go to a viewing tower the night before, but we opted to avoid it due to the hefty price tag. It was a good thing we didn’t go, we couldn’t even see the top of the building!

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Next stop was the insanity of Nanjing Road, which was over run with shops and people. We checked out a local food shop and M’n’M world (complete with the Great Wall of Chocolate) before joining up with the rest of the tour group.SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

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After some local lunch, we walked over to the French district to visit the first meeting place of the Chinese Communist Party. The rain continued to set in, so we made our way back to our hotel to stay dry and to rest up before our sleeper train. Most of the group had already experienced the fun-tastic mode of transport on their earlier tour, so I was filled with dread and curiosity as we boarded. It was as cramped as it looks, but it was an effective way to travel. I would have slept fine if it weren’t for the snoring man opposite me!WP_20150709_22_00_17_ProAn experience, to say the least!

– Reanna

A POST WITHOUT PANDAS // Chengdu, China

I cannot believe that uni starts back again tomorrow. It was only last week I was still overseas enjoying my freedom, yet now it is time for me to knuckle down and power through the last semester of my undergraduate degree.

These are the last of my photos from wonderful Chengdu! It was my last full day, after returning home late morning from my panda expedition. I caught the metro to what I thought was the correct station for Wide and Narrow Alley – an alleged tourist hotspot – but only to discover I had misread my map! I walked half an hour down the road to the correct location, no small effort in the scorching heat!

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Once I finally found Wide and Narrow Alley it was altogether not as wonderful as I expected. There were plenty of tourists and a great deal of delicious looking street food. I was starving and attempted to buy something to eat from a street vendor, but she all but ignored me and made no effort to help me work out how much the food would cost. Feeling grumpy and tired I ended up eating a late lunch back in the hostel. In retrospect I realise that customer service is a completely different ball park in other parts of the world, and really I should have been more brave in my efforts to try and buy food!

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After lunch I met up with Hamza again, and we checked out Qingying Palace (Green Ram Temple), a Taoist temple. It was just as beautiful as Wenshu Monastery, though more peaceful as there were less people about.

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I wish I knew a bit more about Taoism and Buddhism, as I think the temples are beautiful, and the philosophy of Buddhism sounds quite reasonable and logical to me. There was some information in English around the buildings, but it was mainly in reference to the structure of the buildings themselves.

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Incense lingered around the whole complex!

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Afterwards we headed over to Lan Kwai Fong, an area of upscale restaurants and exclusive night clubs. The precinct aims to bring in the best of various international cuisines, yet it was pretty quiet while we were there in the early evening! We had a drink before hunting down some Western food in an expat bar. It was so fantastic to be able to catch up with Hamza in his new home for the next month or two! Chengdu was a fascinating city, and definitely worth a visit.

– Reanna.

PANDAS! PANDAS! PANDAS! // Chengdu, China

 

 

If I ever thought crossing the road in the Melbourne CBD could be difficult, I was very, very wrong. Crossing the road in Chengdu was an art in itself. A terrifying, terrifying art. The roads were insanely busy, cars didn’t indicate, and everyone rode scooters and simply did not give a shit about traffic lights. I soon decided acting like a local was the safest and easiest approach to crossing the road, and would frantically follow people across. As you can see below, helmets were also not a thing!SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

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On my second night in Chengdu I met up with Hamza again, and we – along with his lovely flat mate – ventured out for some local Sichuan food for dinner. We ended up going to a restaurant where there was no English on the menu, and spent a hilarious 15 minutes ordering our meal with Google translate. Thankfully the waitress took it all in good humour, and we soon had our fabulous food. Sichuan food is notorious for being spicy, and I can certainly vouch for that now! There is even a local peppercorn that turns your mouth slightly numb.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESAfter dinner we ventured to the top of the nearby shopping centre to visit the face of the giant panda.

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SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESWe caught a cab (again, terrifying) to Jinli Street, a popular tourist attraction. The bustling street is a refurbished shopping and food district around a temple modeled around what it would have historically looked like. It was beautiful to see. In the above photo, I am also the subject of the photo of a number of domestic tourists! Apparently international tourists aren’t overly common.

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SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESMilk tea! Green matcha milk tea with red beans. I became addicted to this stuff.

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SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESThe next day, I went on a tour run by my hostel to the Giant Panda Breeding Centre! This place is the main tourist attraction in Chengdu, and is usually over run with tourists. However, my tour guide got me (the only person on the tour!) to the centre by 8am, and I was waiting by the enclosures before the pandas had even come out. It was great to have a tour guide, as he led me to all the best spots, despite not speaking English.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESI even saw two week old baby pandas!

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SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESThe below panda cubs were energetically playing when I arrived, which was adorable to watch. I probably stood around for nearly half an hour watching them!

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SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESRed pandas as well! Just casually walking right past me standing on the footpath.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESThe panda centre was well worth the visit. I took a million more photos than this initially, but I exercised some self control and cut them down!

– Reanna

THIS COULD TAKE AWHILE // Chengdu, China

Annnnnnd I am back to reality. It has been a whirlwind two weeks away in Asia, filled with so many adventures, experiences, and of course a million photos to go with it. Chris and I touched down in Melbourne yesterday morning, and spent the rest of the day doing washing, eating vegetables and catching up with emails, before heading to bed at an ambitious 8pm. I also began the arduous task of going through all my photos, and I can report that the mission was successful and I managed to cut my collection in half.

As much as I would have loved to have been up to date with my blog while traveling, the reality was I didn’t have time, didn’t have my computer and didn’t have internet access (lookin’ at you China). However, I will catch up with all my adventures on here over the next few weeks. First off, Chengdu! I landed in the capital of Sichuan early on a Sunday morning after a ten hour flight from Melbourne.

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SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESAfter a quick stop off at Hamza’s flat (he is lucky enough to be completing a two month internship in Chnegdu!) I headed into the city centre to check out Tianfu Square and Mao’s statue. Don’t let the clouds fool you, it was well over 30 degrees and humid!

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SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESNext I wandered down to People’s Park, which was a wonderful public garden in the city centre. It was bustling with plenty of other tourists and locals alike. I should point out here that most of the tourists I encountered were domestic tourists. I was definitely a minority!

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SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESLanguage proved to be a difficult issue. Very few restaurants had English, which resulted in me often eating my meals at my hostel (which luckily served an abundance of cheap, local food!). So after lunch there and a quick rest from the heat, I went for a walk along the river.

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SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESI headed to bed pretty early the first night, and was up reasonably early the next day. I decided to walk a few kilometres across town to Wenshu Monastery. It was my first visit to a Buddhist temple, and it was absolutely beautiful. A few hours quickly flew by as I explored the halls (I couldn’t take photos inside, but they were perfectly adorned and filled with gold statues) and gardens.

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SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESThe ponds in the gardens were surrounded by hundreds of baby turtles, so naturally I spend far too much time taking photos of them.

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SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESAfterwards I wandered out to the folk area nearby the temple. It was quite touristy, but I enjoyed looking at all the trinkets on sale and local food on offer.

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SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESI had a bit of time left before the vegetarian buffet at the temple opened at the temple (it was amazing) so I also visited a nunnery close by.

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SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESMy explorations in the heat also required a quick break, so I ventured into a local tea house. $2 for a refillable cup of tea? Yes please.

I have a ridiculous amount of photos to share, so I will be back over the coming weeks to chronicle the rest of my adventures!

– Reanna