It's been a while since our last entry, again. We are now over half way through our spell in China - and it has been absolutely fantastic. We spent the first 3 days in Hong Kong and did a lot of the sights despite the mist and rain. We were lucky to have a very nice hotel in the centre of Kowloon. We were on the 20th floor with great views over to Victoria Harbour & Hong Kong Island beyond. We had several trips on the Star Ferry which is a great way to travel across the Harbour and all for the equivalent of 15p. Hong Kong is a lively, energetic city which we both love. We spent a lot of time exploring the various markets & food stalls - complete with live crabs, shrimps & other seafood trying to escape their crates (& fates).
We met the rest of our group that we would be sharing our oriental adventure with over the next few weeks on our last day in 'The Kong'. We've been really lucky again and have met lots of friendly, interesting people. Crossing the border into China wasn't as bad as we were expecting, although it was a bit of a faff going through Hong Kong emigration into a no-man's land area, and then through Chinese customs - passing over the river that was once the physical boundary between China & imperial Hong Kong.
From the Chinese border we took a night sleeper train to Guilin, and then a bus to Yangshuo. The train is our main mode of transport here & has been a good way to travel. They are a lot nicer/cleaner than the ones in India - but the squat toilet can still be a challenge when travelling at high speeds.
Yangshuo is a truly beautiful area, characterised by limestone karsts (cone-shaped mountains) - as on the picture above. We spent 3 days here, during which time we had a cruise on the river Li, did lots of haggling for heavy stuff we don't need (eg our nice new Mahjong set), learned to cook Chinese food and do Chinese caligraphy. The food has been incredible - Drunk Duck, lemon chicken, with lots of osmantus tea. We've also been getting through a few banana & chocolate pancakes - perfect remedy for the weather (still raining lots here)
Left Yangshuo for Yichang, where we boarded a boat for a 2 day cruise through the Three Gorges. Saw the world's largest dam & cruised past the new cities made for the millions of people the new reservoir displaced - their old homes & farms now under 175 metres of water.
We are now in Xi'an, ancient capital of China - Our favourite city so far. Explored the ancient city walls, saw perfrmances in the old drum & bell towers, haggled for more stuff we don't need (eg our lovely set of pretty chopsticks), walked around the gardens of the beatiful Great Mosque. Today we saw a 6000 year old Neolithic settlement and then went on to see the famous Terracotta Warriors. We spent several hours looking around the individually crafted warriors, which are over 2000 years old - very cool.
Tomorrow we catch our 4th overnight sleeper train of the trip, which takes us to Shanghai.
Our trip from Beijing through Tibet has now been cancelled, so unfortunately we miss out on seeing the Everest Base Camp. Instead we have booked flights to fly us to Nepal at the end of our trip in Beijing.
We're missing you all back home. Can't describe how gutted I (Adam) am about Albion's unjust FA Cup semi-final defeat, but I'm trying to put on a brave face. We will (eventually) get some photos up. Having big problems with our camera at the mo, but that's another (quite boring) story. We'll be in touch again soon.
We're off to enjoy a session of Mahjong with a pot of jasmine tea.