Ok I know Im seriously behind in my blogging! Its been a crazy few weeks, racing through China...having limited internet access in the countryside..and being quite sick!! Im better now :) So I can update -
Spent the last day in Xi'an visiting the Little and Big Goose Pagodas...Well we didn't really know what we were looking at and we were hungry so we kind of half-heartedly went to the big pagoda after the little one...and just got KFC! Then we jumped in some taxis and decided to spend our last afternoon ice-skating!! Lol it was fun. We then got an overnight sleeper train to our next stop, Shanghai. This was a really glossy, fun city, with Beijing Olympic fever everywhere. On the first afternoon we went up the Oriental Pearl Tower for some beautiful views across the city. This was accessed via the Bund Sightseeing Tunnel - mentioned in our guidebooks. A rather questionable underground mode of transport: we sat in a little glass bubble moving along a tramline, surrounded by flashing coloured lights, moving giant bodies that floated out of nowhere, all the the while being educated about magma in the earth and stars in the sky....?? Slightly weird! Oh well it had to be tried! We then finished the night with another crazy one at the Windows Too Club - beers for 10 Yuan! Thats like 80p!
The next few days in Shanghai were spent browsing the antique market and French Concession (the Oxford Street of Shanghai), taking a river cruise along the Huangpu River and eating muffins in the park! Where we came across lots of locals gathered around a sign together singing traditional music to a soundtrack being pumped out of speakers. That was interesting. We also watched the famous Shanghai acrobats one evening - they were so talented! And the little ones were so cute - all of us girls had picked one we each wanted to take home with us hehe.
On 18th March we arrived in Yangshuo - a small, sleepy, but touristy town heavily overpopulated with market stores, where we stayed at the Fawlty Towers hotel! It was so strange to see so many non-Chinese people here...I was just getting used to blending in and not getting attention anywhere I went in China! On the first morning we got up early to take a cruise together along the Li River...There was some really stunning scenery here and it was very quiet and peaceful. We stopped off at a little local village to wander around, before heading back at lunchtime. Here in Yangshuo we had the opportunity to try any activities we wanted to, so I tried a Tai Chi class in the afternoon! We did it in the local park, where we got stared (and probably laughed) at by all the locals, but it was fun! Its all about the energy you collect for yourself. It was so humid though and I was reaally tired after an hour, so I don't know how convinced I was lol - clearly I need a lot more practise! Anyway, we had another night out sampling the local cocktails so it was a lazy day the following day browsing the markets. We made our way to a simple, pretty guesthouse in the afternoon in Chaolong where we just played pool and had a quiet night.
The next morning was really fun - we hired bikes and cycled through the Guangxi countryside, which was awesome! There was mud, rocks, dirt and slopes to manoever through, while all the time you were also trying to absorb the gorgeous green mountains and paddy fields surrounding us. I had a great time! We also stumbled across another local village, where we handed out marshmellows to the little kids that came to greet us! They were so cute! Except then they started fighting over the sweets, lol...maybe not such a good idea?! We carried on and got to a rest point, where we had the option to climb Moon Hill - an hour hike up to a funny shaped mountain with great views apparently. Unfortunately, even though I wasn't feeling brilliant today, I ignored my gut, bad feeling, and adopted my new, positive, can-do-anything attitude I had had since hiking the Great Wall and overcoming so many challenging things, exclaiming we were only here once! But the humidity was overwhelming, and I felt pretty dizzy the whole way...the bike ride home tired me out and from then on I think exhaustion just took over! :S
After a nap, we went to watch a Light Show - a spectacular show of colour and light, with a mountainside back-drop, designed by the man organizing the show for the Beijing Olympics. I had to miss half of it though, as I was leaning over a squat toilet, unfortunately...arghhh! So yeh I was pretty sick for a few days..in the middle of the night, in the street...I just wanted to go home! But everyone was so good to me. The next destination was in the hills of the Longji Rice Terraces. Luckily there was less to see here, so I missed the hike with the others and just rested for a few days. When I felt better I took a walk with the others one sunny afternoon. We came across a pig being slaughtered! The smell really didn't help me feel better! Nor did the sound of another pig squealing in pain the next morning as I woke up in bed! Proper countryside experience!
However, it wasn't all like that! It was very peaceful...I sat down on the hill one afternoon and a farmer walked past me, towing a little pony with him...it just trotted down the stone steps as if it were second-nature! I was very impressed lol. On our last day there it was Easter Sunday - so we shared some lovely chocolate cake and watched a local minority village cultural show in our guesthouse. It was quite amusing - especially when they wanted us to teach them something of our local culture. What could we do?! We taught them the hokey - kokey! Lol.
Anyway, at the end of our stay there we travelled back to Guilin where we had our last group dinner together. Such a fun time - such an amazing group. We sat round the dinner table, with a movie running on a camera spinning on the revolving glass table top, dancing and singing stupid songs and being laughed at by the waiters! Aw. It was then our very final sleeper train to our last destination - Hong Kong!
I've been here a few days now..we've been to Victoria Peak, shopped at the Temple Street and Ladies Markets, been to the Light Show and the Avenue of Stars by the harbour, enjoyed mantis shrimps and other seafood in the street cafes and obviously had some late nights in Central on Hong Kong Island! The Rugby Sevens have been on this weekend so the atmosphere has been mental - but fun! I arrived here getting over the last of my sickness, only to come out in a weird skin rash at night which faded by morning..very scary and icky! But went to the doctor and its cleared up - so hopefully everything will be fine now! Saying our final goodbyes to the group has been hard as everyone has parted their separate ways but we'll all keep in touch. I'm now being looked after by some uni friends Tracy and Clara who have taken me shopping and out to eat some gooood food! I have my last full day in Hong Kong tomorrow and then I'm off to Sydney!!!!