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Blog 4: China

For the last part of the Trans Mongolian express, we left early in the morning. Although Beijing - UB isn't all that far, we still spent about 30 hours travelling. During this time we made sure that we ate more instant noodles than we could ever want (for breakfast, lunch, and dinner!) and we  stared out of the window for about the rest of the time. At around nine in the evening, we had to leave our train to enter Mainland China. While we were waiting to get through the passport control, our train drove away to change the distance between the wheels. Around 2 AM, we could finally travel further on our way to Beijing, now knowig that this whole passport control and wheel adjustment alone could be a reason not to make this journey again! Once we arrived, our search for Saskia began! Luckily Beijing main station wasn't all that big, warm, and busy (just kidding xD).. We found each other relatively quickly and could take our last transfer to the hostel, which we found in another direction than the driver had told us when we got out of the car.. Oh well, we had arrived, could take a shower and some rest, and were ready to go out for dinner. From day one it was hard to find something vegetarian for Saskia, so she usually ended up choosing something that looked like it had no meat (which was only true for half of the times or so). The next day we went to the Drum and Bell tower near our hostel, walked next to a cute lake where thousands of locals rented small boats, went to the land of endless happiness, which turned out to be a temple, tried to enter the forbidden city from the Tian'anmen square (unfortunately it was sold out already), and had dinner at a foodmarket with and endless supply of scorpions on sticks. All in all a day full of new experiences and a great introduction to the rich culture of China. We found that china displayed this same sense of a nation's pride as Russia did, maybe even more so, but received the results of this with open arms: organisation.

The day after, at 7 in the morning, we started our search for the bus to Jinshanling, the Great Wall. We found the exact location of the busstation only 20 minutes after the daily bus had left.. What we'd read on the internet was apparently wrong, which was a bit painful since we needed a VPN to read it in the first place (The Chinese government blocks all controversial/American things such as Google, Facebook, Youtube, WhatsApp, etc.). Instead, we took a bus to Simatai, which just happened to be right next to where we were!  We already booked accommodation there, since we wanted to walk from  Jinshanling to Simatai, which should take about 4-5 hours. In the end we managed to get to Jinshanling by taxi and started our climb to the Great Wall with the old and slow cable way. This was a trip down memory lane for Tenzing, as he took this same cable car with his family in 2006. We then walked from tower to tower on the wall itself, descending, climbing, then some more descending and climbing again, you get the idea! Luckily, the absolute beauty of the scenery made it so that we barely noticed the sweat (sometimes). In the beginning sections, most parts were restored, but the farther we came from the main entrance, the emptier and older the wall became. In the towers we rested a bit, gaining some energy before we would withstand the sun again. The view was fantastic and although the weather was a bit hazy, we could see the wall stretch out over the hills and count numerous watchtowers. Our plan was to walk all the way back to Simatai, and even though the internet said it was reopened since October 2017, all the locals told us the way was closed (hmm, the internet being wrong, that sounds familiar). We continued until almost the end of Jinshanling's part, at this time it was only us on the wall, we could already feel the fatigue in our feet and legs, but still we didn't want to believe we could not go on (even though we thought it would be better to go back). In the end we saw the wall-keeper walking and he wouldn't let us go on, so we went back having had great experience of the wall, its view, and a feeling of the immensely big project. We stayed in a small hotel in a cute little village not so far from Simatai, where we took the bus back to Beijing the next morning. However, not before taking a look at this designed village (Gubei Water Town) from the highest floor of the five star hotel next to it! In Beijing, we again took a shower and rest around 5/6 in the evening before we had some tasteful but way too much Peking duck. Our last day in Beijing we spent trying to get in the forbidden city (again sold out..), hiking up a hill for a smoggy view, and resting/waiting before we could take our train to Tai'an. With the bullet train we raced to Tai'an at over 300 km/h. Unfortunately, our reservation for an apartment hadn't came through and we ended up spending about an hour and a half in the lobby of a 5 star hotel looking for a way to solve the problem. Around 00:00, after many calls, mails, and english/google translate chats, we could got an email from booking.com telling us that we would stay at the other 5 star hotel in the village (only 5 million inhabitants...)! So hereby a shoutout to our parents and especially Bard for the effort and help we received! We had an unforgettable stay in Tai’an for sure.

The next morning in Tai'an, we wanted to go for breakfast in our hotel, but apparently breakfast for only one person was included. Paying for the other two was not an option for us poor students, but in the end we managed to get a take away breakfast! So by stacking a paper bag full with sweet breads, and a box with vegetables and sausages, we still could fill all three of us with this single breakfast :). We discussed our plan and agreed on doing some washing first and then hike up the mountain to see the sunset from the top. So we started filling our bathtub with all our sweaty, sunscreany, and sandy cloths. We had lots of fun washing our clothes, walking around in the bathtub as though we were making wine! We put our clothes on the balcony to dry and went out to Taishan (The mountain we wanted to climb). We wanted to climb the mountain from one of the less famous paths, but after being told that that cable way was closed and not being able to fund the right bus, we agreed to take the more known route. When we arrived halfway up the mountain it started to rain. This coolness was more than welcome for us and we enjoyed the rain. However after some food, a picture with some Chinese people, it became worse.. the stairs changed into rivers and we were getting soaked. It actually was quite funny, standing with a lot of people against the wall of one of the buildings, watching the water fall and flow away while other persons were stil brave enough to move and continue walking. After the rain became less, we decided to go down instead of up, we wouldn't have a nice view anyway and on the way down there would also be some temples, so soon we were on our way home again. Predicting which people wanted to take a picture with us, descending from the steps our feet would barely fit, and and enjoying the coolness around us, we slowly went back to our hotel. In the hotel we made sure to check out the swimming pool and sauna, so we ended relaxed in our 2.40 metres wide bed! xD

Our final stop in China was Shanghai! Once arrived, we had to get used to the many foreigners here (we didn't see any foreigners in Tai'an) and the impressive and sexy skyline which we observed the first night possible. In the few days in this city, we found a good bakery with tasty bread with chicken wool, a very interesting museum about the history and city planning of Shanghai, and we found out that when cycling on a 3 person tandem you can easily go around the biggest park in Shanghai and it is a lot of fun as well! We also explored a park with special designed stones, which didn't seem so special to us, and we retreated to a cinema for the soft seats and airco, where we watched Mission Impossible 6. Even though this is a city of about 23 million people, the area around our apartment was quite and calm. For our last night, we had booked a hotel somewhat nearer to the airport, so on our way there we took the magnetic levitation train (the fastest train in the world!) and went 430km/h for a good 3 minutes! After this short rollercoasterlike ride, we found our way to the hotel, where we stayed until 3:15 in the morning to go to the airport and entered an airplane for the first time during this great adventure! Next stop: Japan!

Reacties

Reacties

connie quant

Zomaar te laat voor een afspraak omdat ik bleef lezen!!wat schrijf je geestig en onderhoudend.Ik ga binnenkort ook naar Japan dus schrijf vooral over de do s and dont s!!ben benieuwd !goede reis,lieve groeten!’

Trees oma Dol

Wat een enig verslag en zo,n heel andere toon dan van Tenzing. Heb er van genoten. Veel succes met jullie studie !

Barbara

Wauw ik heb hier weer zo van genoten. Het zat niet altijd mee, maar jullie hebben je er dapper doorheen geslagen en zijn niet vergeten van alle bijzondere en leuke dingen te genieten

Inge en Bart

Wat een stoere verhalen. Prachtige herinneringen voor later. Veel succes verder.

Opi

Weer een mooi verhaal Myrthe. Veel improviseren en zelf moeten uitzoeken van hoe, wat en waar. Vermoeiend en op tijd uitrusten, veel zien, zweten en wat zullen we eten vandaag. Een hele belevenis. En nu aan de studie, veel succes ermee.
Groetje🌻💋

Omi

Wat een prachtig verslag. Deze beleving zal nog lang nagalmen .
Liefs voor jullie samen ,

Sylke .

Wauw, zoveel nieuwe dingen weer. Klinkt mega gaaf en soms ingewikkeld met de planningen die niet altijd meezitten. 'Stay positive' gaat jullie goed af lijkt het zo :) ben heel erg benieuwd naar de Japan blog! Excited to see you in Okinawa, in a few weeks time (say whaattt) hahaha enjoy xxx

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