Our time in China was amazing and frustrating in equal measure – with a bit of terrifying thrown in for good measure! Here are the best and most interesting of our pics – I’ll add more as I find them. I’ve broken it down into sections, as there’s quite a few already 🙂
The Great Wall!
It’s so hard to imagine the size of the Great Wall. Statistics just sound like statistics. But in shots like this, where you can see it vanish off into the distance over every hill… that gives you some sense of scale. And of awe.
Once past the heavily restored sections, the road along the top of the Wall became more uneven.
Then it became a bit more uneven…
Walking even this short length of it was magical – all the more so because we stayed ahead of the tour groups, and had most of it to ourselves.
When the Great Wall Management want to close off a section, they know how to do it in style – with a pice of A4 paper taped to a brick. Which we ignored, of course!
A more official sign warned against the next bit – it really did look in rough shape, and was steep as hell.
From the top of it, looking down, you can really see why the Wall is slowly disappearing. The stone surrounds a core of hard packed sand, so once the outer skin is gone, the rest turns to dust very quickly.
Beijing to Xi’an
Roo’s hair had faded a fair bit since we started on the trip, so we were forced to spend our first afternoon in Beijing making it purple!
My first meal in the country! Ahhh… Comfort food. A Mc Sticky Rice and Pork Rib box!
The infamous Tiananmen Square – I just couldn’t help myself!
One of Beijing’s atmospheric Hutong alleyways
Big Brother Is Watching You… on the toilet??
“I’m just obeying the sign,” she explained.
I couldn’t help but notice, as we explored the Summer Palace, that all wasn’t exactly as it seemed…
The Tower of the Fragrance of Buddha, inside the Summer Palace. It’s a beautiful structure – but somewhat predictably, only the ground floor is open to the public.
The Forbidden City was so unbelievably vast, it still makes my legs hurt just thinking about it.
This map of the Forbidden City was utterly mystifying! It was the only one, unless you paid extra for an English brochure.
The Forbidden City was so huge, I borrowed this bike-thing to get around. No-one seemed to mind.
Here we see the typical naked-from-the-waist-down infant. This means that, somewhere in the Forbidden City, is a big pile of baby shit waiting to be slipped in.
The Large Stone Carving, was, as this sign suggested, both large, AND a carving. And stone. The blurb almost writes itself…
Roo inadvertantly ended up in a photo-duel with a monk!
The Beijing Silk Markets have been transformed – well, demolished and rebuilt – into a flashy, glass-boothed shopping centre. Which kind of defeats their reason for being.
Here’s the souvenir Beijing t-shirt I bought for Gill’s husband, Chris – modelled by me, as I had a sneaky suspicion he’d never actually wear the thing… Though I can’t imagine why!
Shaolin Temple is good enough to provide backdrops for wannabes like us to pose in front of!
The incredible physical prowess of the Shaolin monks cannot be overstated. They really are the masters!
Iron Shirt Kung Fu – by gathering Qi force into his stomach, this monk is able to survive being balanced on the point of a spear… and being spun around on it!
This lucky lad is training in the Shaolin school itself – he’s on the fast-track program to becoming a fighting monk.
It’s pictures like this that make me think China could take over the world one day. Six-year-old kids, training with swords… and there were thousands of them.
Look at all this great stuff that’s inside the Shaolin Temple! Who knew?
I went for a high kick, when I heard a terrible tearing sound coming from behind me…
And so I walked home, tail between my legs. Or hanging out, to be more precise.
Boy, when I rip shorts, I do it good!
Xi’an City Walls are absolutely MASSIVE! Here you get an idea of their height.
One of many senior’s dance classes we observed from atop the Wall.
After dark, Xi’an City Walls lit up spectacularly. Some areas were more tasteful than others.
Yup – that looks to me like somebody skinned an Alsatian… Anyone need a rug?
In the Terracotta Warriors museum, over half the display cabinets were empty.
Pit One contains the most complete (or rather, completed – as in, put back together) Warriors. There are hundreds of ’em!
Every face was unique, being sculpted by hand after the mass-production firing of the separate body parts.
‘No photos!’ Said the signs. And the crowds gave not one shit.
My favourite sign of the day – a ‘Warm Prompt’!
There are Terracotta Warriors all over the place – I’m guessing most aren’t the *original* ones, but you can never be sure…
Roo, sampling the cold noodles from the everything-served-cold fast food place. Well, it’s certainly faster when they don’t have to cook anything…
The Bubble Bike – Roo’s dream mode of transportation. She hasn’t shut up about it since.
Climbing Hua Shan
This is the sign that SHOULD have shown us how to get to Hua Shan. Only, we couldn’t quite understand it.
The climb consisted of nothing but stairs – immense granite stairs, that took us the whole way up the mountain! We rested a lot.
Halfway up we came to the bit I’d been waiting for – the vertical stairs! They were closed, of course. But I climbed them a lot.
From the top, they didn’t look nearly as steep…
Almost the only sign in English we saw all day, this one warns again masturbating on the footpath. Because you never know.
As the day wore on, we became… well, a bit tired, I’d say. And just a tiny bit sick of stairs.
The porters were incredible – carrying up massive blocks of stone, or crazy lengths of steel rebar. We were knackered from doing the climb once – imagine doing it all day, every day…
Took a sneaky photo when he wasn’t looking – it’s the Propaganda Police!
The Posing Pillars of False Hope – because they mark the summit of the North Peak. Which sounds great, until you realise the other peaks are quite a lot higher…
Dragonback Ridge was our next obstacle – the narrowest, and most dangerous part of the mountain. Yes – that’s people up there!
More of a smog-set than a sunset, but still a beautiful sight from this high up.
After a sleepless night on the mountain, we rushed past the crowds awaiting the dawn…
… and so we came to the edge of the South Peak, where the mountain drops away in a shear cliff thousands of feet down.
And that is the location of the infamous Plank Walk, where a narrow wooden ledge takes you out along the cliff. Very. Scary. And exhilarating!
The Plank Walk continues with footholds carved out of the cliff. The safety lines add some reassurance, but I doubt they’d be much good if anyone actually fell…
There were other steep sections later on though – all were optional. Well, not optional for me 🙂
Roo had been terrified of climbing the vertical stairs – by the time we’d spent a day up there, she was loving them!
Chengdu to Kunming
In keeping with many Asian countries, the electrical supply in China is often a bit hit and miss…
The pandas in Chengdu were gorgeous! This guy is apparently a baby, not that you’d know it by looking at him. But what a softie!
Roo was ecstatic to get this shot of a Red Panda – we waited for over an hour in the pouring rain, her camera protected by a plastic shopping bag, while we waited for the horde of noisy Chinese tourists to bog off!
It was all worth it though, when this bedraggled critter showed itself! Adorable!
There was a strictly-enforced ‘No Teasing’ policy in Chengdu.
The People’s Park in Chengdu was quite a trip. Full of grandmas wielding swords…
…and people writing in water on the ground with sponges on sticks…
And an inter-park dating site. I can’t read this advert, but I’m making a guess about the physical attributes it describes…
…but by far the weirdest was the catwalk area, where a group of ladies in what appeared to be ordinary clothes were ‘modelling’. For no-one. If this is a hobby, I don’t even know the word for it. Not a polite one, anyway…
And right next to them, dancing to no music, was this crazy old dude. He was loving it – the catwalk girls, not so much.
In Kunming we stayed in this incredible, opulent hotel – which was closed for renovation, apparently. Presumably that’s why it was so cheap?
Oh, but the canal outside it was a bit of an eyesore. As was the surrounding area – Roo was convinced I’d be murdered if I stepped outside after dark!
And so, for dinner that night, we shared this apple – which I’d kept because it made me laugh. Why does it have ‘SOD’ stencilled on it? I have absolutely no idea. But I love it!
Lijiang was a gorgeous old town, which has become a picturesque tourist attraction.
Wander far enough thoug,h and you get to the realy old bits, where crumbling original buildings display their humble origins – wattle and daub, in this case.