Xi’An Day 2: The Terracotta Warriors – Do’s and Don’ts

As you may have read in my previous blog post about my arrival in Xi’An here, you might expect a visit to the Terracotta Warriors for sure, which I was looking forward to see for quite a long time already.

I knew about the Terracotta Warriors way before I even planned to go to China. And now, it was finally time.

I woke up early and took my breakfast at the hostel. Then the group arrived to pick me up. Here, I want to say that I wouldn’t recommend to book a tour to the Terracotta Warriors, neither from your hostel/hotel, nor online. Here is why:

  1. Money:
    It’s gonna be more expensive than going there on your own. The amount of money they take from you might not seem much, but it would be even less if you went there on your own.
  2. Time:
    You’re not only gonna save money, but also time. Although I was picked up really early, we didn’t only go to the Terracotta Warriors and back. We first went to a factory where they produced and sold replicas, statues and figurines of the Warriors which was actually not so bad to see. But after that we stopped at 2 more archaeological excavations which was soooo boring, omg!!! I can’t believe that this was actually included in the price. I would have saved so much money -.- AND time of course. Even after visiting the Warriors, our trip was not finished yet. We still went to another tourist sight, which we would have to pay EXTRA if we wanted to get in. And because some idiots in our groups have already pre-booked a ticket (they were germans, of course), we had to wait for them finish and exit.
  3. Making you own decisions:
    I could have decided when to wake up, when to take the metro, and when to leave the warriors. If I went on my own, I even would have had time to explore the Muslim Square a little bit more again -.- I actually regret taking that group trip more than probably anything that I did during my time in China.

Of course, tours can often be very handy, informative and a great way to meet new people. I did meet an interesting woman from England. She was hilarious and as crazy as me, so I always hung out with her. Our guide was also great. Her english was almost perfect and she gave us a lot of information about emperor Qin and the Qin dynasty. 

So, if you don’t wanna make the same mistakes as I did, make sure to inform yourself about the stops on the tour you are taking, and only take it if you really wanna see the additional sights.

After this little lecture, let me show you some snippets of that day:

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES
The little figurines being painted here
SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES
The end product

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES
That guy made me try my calligraphy skills. I got to keep that work of art I created without having to pay anything :)

IMG_20160325_131132

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES
One of the many excavation sites. As you can see, nothing interesting here…
SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES
Spring was starting, so the first flowers were almost in full bloom already :)

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESSAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

IMG_20160325_135116
Finally at the Terracotta Warriors

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES
Headless warriors. There were several stations here. One of the stations was the hospital, where broken or incomplete warriors were mended. 
IMG_20160326_154021
We were able to pose with replicas in exchange for 20 RMB
SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES
The UNESCO World Heritage Sight is for the grave of Emperor Qin which is supposed to be in the hills and mountains in the background. He wanted to be buried close to the Warriors, so they could protect him in the afterlife.
SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES
That place we had to wait for that elderly german couple to finish their sightseeing. This statue depicted the importance of belly dancing in Xi’An. 

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

At the end of our trip, our guide offered us to book a seat at a traditional dance show that included a dumpling Dim Sum. I love dance performances, and I love chinese food, so I was quite intrigued by that. I seemed to be the only one interested, so I asked about it. The price was a bit expensive, but it really sounded good so I did it. It was really worth it guys! If you are looking for some evening activities to do in Xi’An other than exploring the food market, I can highly recommend you to visit this show. Apart from the show, the food was DELICIOUS! The dumplings were beautifully prepared and I kinda felt sad eating them.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES
Unfortunately, the duck-shaped is very out-of-focus in this one. I don’t know what my camera did here :’D
SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES
Deliciousness <3
SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES
The two amazing bamboo baskets in one picture. 

You don’t have to book that show through a tour. I guess you can also do it online or through your hostel. You also don’t have to include the food, but I recommend. It is a great atmosphere as well, since it takes place in an old chinese opera house with tables at the front part and normal seats at the back part.

For me, going to the show after the trip was a bit stressful. I barely had 1 hour to get changed until I was picked up next. That was insane. But I made it!

The show was great as well. The music was not as weird as the typical chinese opera music. The performances were utterly beautiful, as well as the dresses they were wearing. It was awesome!

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

At the end of the evening, I was full but super tired. I was so happy that my driver was actually waiting for me outside and brought me back to the hostel. I immediately prepared my bags and got bed-ready.

This amazing trip ended with a busy last day in Xi’An. I would like to revisit this city just because of the food alone. It was fantastic. Definitely one of the best cuisines I got to try in China. I would even say that, together with Zhejiang food, Xi’An food is my favourite. 

What about you guys? Have you ever been to Xi’An? Do you have a favourite chinese cuisine? And have you ever had bad experiences with organized tour groups? Let me know below!

Thanks for reading and travelling with me!

Merveille.

Advertisements

From Beijing to Xi’an: First evening in Xi’An

As you might have followed my previous blogposts about my trip to Beijing and my 3 days there, you know that the city was a very exhausting one. There is no denying it, that it is beautiful, has a lot of culture and history and I saw so many different things I couldn’t have seen anywhere else, I can be sure that I would never want to live in this city, even if the smog disappeared one day. This also doesn’t mean that I dislike big cities, quite the contrary actually, I really love big cities. I am in love with Shanghai for example, and I could seriously imagine living there, but Beijing was something different. It’s nice for a trip, but that’s all.

If you have missed the posts, you can read about them here:

Arrival | Day One: Great Wall |Day Two: Forbidden City

When I woke up on my fourth day in Beijing, I took my bags, checked out and headed to the train station to catch my early train to Xi’An. The train station was smaller than expected and super busy. There were almost more foreigners than chinese people. I also saw like three travel groups full with german people.

Taking trains in China is so convenient and the prices are pretty good. Way cheaper than the trains here in Germany. That’s one of the things that I miss the most about China.

Anyway, I arrived in Xi’An in the late afternoon. By the time my taxi driver took me to my hostel it was almost early evening. While I was on the train and on the taxi, I was texting my friend Qiqi, who lives in Xi’An. I met her on my travels to Suzhou in September as I posted on this blogpost, and I promised her to visit her in Xi’An before I left China.

She told me that her friend would pick me up and show me around town until she made it out of work.

By the time I got my things inside my dorm room which was huge by the way and very clean and almost empty (only 2 other people with me there), Qiqi’s friend texted me that he arrived and waited in the lobby for me. We planned to go visit the Drum Tower and Bell Tower and then go to the Muslim Street Food Square. I was starving, so this was a great idea.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

IMG_20160323_155829
This guy was legit fire spitting in front of the Bell Tower
IMG_20160324_005815
Drum Tower

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

It was really nice of him to show me around. His english was also quite good, so he could do a little bit of translation between Qiqi and me. Qiqi’s english was around the same level as my chinese. We somehow managed to communicate, even if it was just through smiles, gestures and hugs. But it was nice to somehow be able to communicate with her through her friend.

The Muslim Square actually blew my mind. It was my favourite part about Xi’An, and I would love to return just for the food sold there. They have everything from Kebap, Nut Candies, Muslim noodles, soups, pita-like breads, Fruits, Juices, Milk drinks, Fried stuff, just EVERYTHING! I was so overwhelmed, I didn’t know where to look at and what to eat.

12080442_531486327032434_361316694_n(1)
This is how the nut candy is made. The white stuff is a sugar mixture they use for any kind of candy. It was very relaxing to watch this. 

We sat down at a traditional restaurant that sold soups and meat. My friend told me that this place was a very old family restaurant, and all the locals knew about it. I ordered a normal noodle soup, my friend ordered the spicy version and he also ordered a dish made of intestines. He didn’t know that I don’t like intestines, but I tried to see how it tasted. I definitely didn’t like it :D But he appreciated that I tried.

The food was delicious. We continued to roam around the streets a little bit more. I found a stand with the pita-style bread and bought one. It looked yummy, but it tasted a little bit dry.

Then I saw something fried. It was dough filled with vegetables and it looked sooooo yummy! We ordered some, shared it, but could only eat a little bit since it was really oily.

IMG_20160324_230513SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

The Street Food market has a lot to offer. I was so full after only 3 dishes, that I could neither eat nor drink anything. I regret not having tried the pomegranate juice and the milk drinks that are really famous here.

I still wanted to buy some boxes of the nut candy though. I love them and I wanted to bring them to Germany so I bought two boxes, one with sesame and one natural.

After that, we finally went to meet Qiqi. She came with our friend’s car which was a Jeep. We then drove to the Wild Goose Pagoda, another famous sight in Xi’An.

IMG_20160325_020110SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES
The Wild Goose Pagoda does have its charm when it’s dark

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

Bascially, on that first evening, I saw all the famous sights you can see inside of the city of Xi’An.

We took a lot of pictures there, walked around the square, and even found a park which had funny sculptures to pose with.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES
One of the few nice pictures of me that day. I looked just so tired and exhausted, that I didn’t want to upload the pictures showing me in the park. 

It’s one of the best things you can do during your travels: Hanging out with locals who can show you around.

Unfortunately, it was getting quite late already, and I was feeling really sleepy. I had an early start and I had to wake up early the next morning as well, to go see the Terracotta Warriors.

Have you guys ever been to Xi’An? And let me know about your favourite street food you ever had.

Thanks for reading and travelling with me!

Merveille

Beijing Part 3: Beautiful people, 600-years old cat, and Kung-Fu Boys

After the very tiring second day, I woke up with only slightly hurting legs. I expected them to be more painful, but it was bearable.

I woke up early and headed to the Temple of Heaven. It was really close to my hostel. Not even 10 minutes walking distance.

I paid the entrance fee and was at first overwhelmed by the natural beauty of the place and the activities that the locals, especially the seniors were practicing early in the morning, including Badminton, Taichi, Water caligraphy and more.

20160315_091425-01IMG_20160319_095318

I enjoyed watching them which I found way more interesting than the Temple of Heaven itself.

20160315_091852-01

IMG_20160319_183403

20160315_092234_Richtone(HDR)-01
Inside the Temple of Heaven

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

So definitely make sure to visit this sight as early in the morning as possible. I think I was there at around 8 or 9 am. 

After you are finished taking photos of the Temple of Heaven, you can also have a look at the Temple of Good Harvest. There are also many people exercising.

20160315_091938-01

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

Some women were playing an interesting game wich looked like a hybrid between badminton and dancing. And the ball had a chiffon tail, so when it went flying up in the air, it actually looked like a beautiful singing bird.

I have all of that on film, so if I ever get to find a cool video editing program, I will just edit them all together into one video and post it here. If you guys have any suggestions for a good video editing software that is not too hard to learn and not too expensive, then please let me know.

Anyway, after leaving the Temple of Heaven, I took a taxi to the Forbidden City. I could have taken the metro, but the station was kind of far away, and I honestly didn’t feel like taking the metro again. The metro in Beijing is very cheap, but also quite inconvenient since you always have to change lines. 

Arriving at the Forbidden City, I was first confused because it said Palace Museum. I thought the Palace Museum was something different, but then quickly found out that it actually was the Forbidden City. I also bought a beautiful map that looked like drawn by hand. And I also got a electronic guide with a gps function that always told me where I was and gave the most important information about that certain place.

It was nice walking around the grounds and snapping photos of the intricate and unique architecture.

IMG_20160320_004834

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESSAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

IMG_20160321_215406

IMG_20160322_100624
It’s said that his cat is as old as the Forbidden City itself (~600 years)
SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES
Inside the buildings of the Palace Museum
SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES
Mostly, the concubines lived in here.
SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES
A Pixiu with its baby, garding the gates

I would still advise you not to fall into the traps of the souvenir shops inside the Forbidden City. They are pros, and they will seriously make you buy stuff that you don’t really need. They will actually follow you, run after you to make you buy that thing they are trying to sell you. In the end, I was so pissed, that I just bought it. The best thing is to not even step foot inside those shops.

When I wanted to leave the Palace Museum, I was kind of confused. I couldn’t find the exit right away, so I ended up strolling in the park right before the exit and took some photos of the surrounding.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES
These trees were all around the garden right before the exit
SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES
Ceiling decorations of a Pagoda

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESSAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES
Unfortunately, this place was closed :/

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

Some high school students then wanted to ask me some questions and take photos with me. They also offered me some delicious chocolate as a thank-you.

In the end, I finally managed to get out of the Museum and headed up to Jingshan Park to get a view of the Forbidden City from above.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

The walk up was a bit tiring, but it didn’t take too long and soon I found myself at the hill. After having climbed up the Great Wall, this ascension was a piece of cake :’D

The views from up there were unfortunately not as perfect as the views I got at the Great Wall the day before. Everything was smoggy and foggy and the pictures just didn’t turn out as well as I expected.

20160315_143727-01IMG_20160322_215613

Still, you can easily grasp the gigantic size of the Forbidden City. It literally is bigger than a german suburban town. I am sure that it is bigger than the suburban town I come from.

After the Palace Museum, I actually planned to visit the Summer Palace, but I realized that I probably wouldn’t have enough time. I still took a taxi and told the driver that I wished to go to the Summer Palace. He then started talking in chinese and told me that it probably wouldn’t be worth it, since it was quite late, and the Palace closed in like 2 hours or so. He also said with this traffic, it would probably take us around 1 hour to even get there. He then offered to drop me off at the nearest metro station. I was really impressed by myself that I understood everything he told me :’D It seemed like he was impressed, too, because he was laughing and talking to me as though I was a local. I then decided to go to Sanlitun, the main area for shopping and restaurants.

When I arrived there, I was kind of disappointed. It was quite a let down and not at all comparable to Nanjing Road in Shanghai. The whole area felt too westernized and kind of out of place.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

I chose to roam around the sidestreets to find a restaurant to eat at. Most places would serve food at 5pm (it was around 4.30). I didn’t want to wait, because at 6.30 pm I had to be at the hostel to be picked up for the Kung-Fu show. I was lucky with a Japanese restaurant which was quite small but very, very cute.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

I ordered rice and sushi (as I can remember), quickly finished my meal, went to Starbucks, got a drink and then stopped a taxi.

That was probably one of the longest taxi drives in my life. It took me 1 hour and around 80 (!!!) rmb to get to my hostel. If I knew how long this would take me, I would have taken the metro. I was almost late for the pick-up. I still had to get changed and leave all my bags in my room, but I made it in the end.

Upon arrival at the Kung-Fu show, I went inside and looked for my seats. The last few hours didn’t go well with the let-down that was Sanlitun and the long taxi ride, but I met Lisa again! The girl I met on the Wall. I also met another friend of hers, Lynette, a french girl who stayed at the same hostel as Lisa. They also just met at the Kung-Fu show. How random! That was the best finish to that rollercoaster trip that was Beijing.

The Kung-Fu show was amazing! Waaaaay better than the opera. I can only recommend you guys to visit it. Here are some pics:

IMG_20160322_220611
Before the performance, we could watch the performers practice

20160315_195847-01

IMG_20160323_124310
At the end of the show, everyone was allowed to take a photo with the crew.

After the show, we walked all the way back, trying to find a metro station. By the time we found a metro station, I realized that we were right in front of the Temple of Heaven which meant that I could walk to my hostel from there. It was quite late in the evening, but I wasn’t scared at all. I said goodbye to my newly-found friends, bought fruits and snacks for the train ride the next day and then headed to my hostel to pack and go to sleep.

Although my trip to Beijing included a lot of fails (Getting lost, wrong hostel, longest taxi ride ever,…), I can say that I truly enjoyed Beijing. It is not my favourite city though, and if it wasn’t for the Great Wall, I probably wouldn’t have visited.

This was my last day in Beijing, and the next morning would start with a train ride to a different city.

Stay tuned to find out where I was headed to next.

Have you guys ever been to Beijing? What were your experiences? Tell me in the comments.

Beijing Part 2: The Great Wall and the Great Duck

I was really excited for this day since I have arrived in Beijing.

I woke up early in the morning, had breakfast and waited until it was time to be picked up by the driver.

20160315_072225-01

I remember that the pancakes were bitter as hell. At first I thought it was the chocolate sauce, but I realized it was the pancakes. I guess they forgot to put sugar inside or something. I have no clue.

Anyway, there was another family of four waiting with me. They were speaking spanish and their 2 sons were around the same age as me. I started talking to them in the bus and found out that one of them was actually working in China and his brother and parents came to visit him. Now they were travelling around China together. As fas as I can remember, they were from Madrid. They were really friendly.

Our driver let us out at one point so we could change into a bigger bus. There were different young people from different hostels all being picked up into this one big bus. Most of the people seemed to be from the US, but there were some Europeans as well.

With this bus, we drove around 1 hour again until we arrived at the Mutianyu Section. This is one of the oldest sections of the Great Wall, that’s also why it was so far out of the city. There are different sections you can choose at your hostel. There is a renewed, more touristy section, close to the city which seems to be always very filled up with people though.

When we arrived, we got our tickets and took the cable car up the Wall. Walking would take too long and we wouldn’t be as high up with such a great view over the great Great Wall. We had to pay extra for the cable car, but it was okay. Some people walked up, but I am glad I didn’t walk. I would have been pretty exhausted, and I think I couldn’t have made it back again, since our meeting time would be after 3 hours (which, in my opinion, is quite enough for a massive wall like that, because I just possibly, couldn’t walk any further after those 3 hours).

After being up after the cable car, we were rewarded with an amazing view.

IMG_20160314_233852
Almost alone on one of the Seven Wonders of the World.

IMG_20160317_221437

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESSAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURESSAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

If you think these pictures are breath-taking, then you should try climbing up that wall, and you will know what it means when your breath is literally taken away :’D

It was a very, very exhausting ascension. At first, I walked together with the two guys from Spain, but the steps were getting steeper and more irregular, which means that the height and width of the steps is irregular, so it is  more exhausting to climb them up.

At some point, I had to tell those guys to just go ahead and not wait for me, since I had to pause every 5 minutes or so.

A little recommendation for the future: if you plan on climbing up the Great Wall, be prepared. Run marathons if you want to, but make sure your condition is good, because that Wall is a huge chunk, even if you only walk a small section of it. I wasn’t fit at all, and I actually thought I was gonna faint and tumble down the steps.

But while I was trying to climb up the stairs and pausing every 5 steps, I met a girl from America, Lisa, and she was struggling as well. We started talking and motivated each other to climb up the stairs. Before the last watchtower, there were almost vertical steps leading up, and I actually thought twice before climbing them up. I felt like a goat (which I actually am regarding my chinese zodiac sign :’D)

Anyway, we did it together, and up there, a man was selling drinks and snacks. Since I felt quite dizzy, I really wanted that snickers. It was around 4 times more expensive than a regular snickers you could get at a shop, but I really, really wanted it. And I don’t regret it until this day, because it was the best snickers I ever had. After that day, I started to have a special appreciation for snickers :D

At that last watchtower, there was a sign that using the following path is on own responsibility, since that part has not been restored properly, and it said that parts of the rocks could break which was actually true. Lisa and me decided to continue walking after a short break. The next part of the Mutianyu section was pretty isolated and really old. It was still a wall, but some parts were so broken, that it was quite dangerous walking on them.

We came across a woman who sold snacks and drinks as well, but what caught my eye were the red wish ribbons she was selling for 20 rmb (around 3€). I really really wanted to do something like that in China, so I bought one. You could choose a character (Love, Family, Fortune, Luck, or Career), and could write down names or a wish on the ribbon. I chose Family and wrote down the names of my parents and siblings. Then, we could tie it around on one of the trees around there.

20160314_115757_Richtone(HDR)-01

Lisa did it as well, and then the woman took a picture of us. She was actually really friendly and such a cute woman. We got into talking to her, how she walked ALL (!) the steps up there every morning to sell her stuff to the true travellers, the heros as she called us and others who made it up to her. I was madly impressed by her and I am sure that this woman is probably gonna live at least until her 80s. I decided to buy a souvenir for my cousin there, since she really wanted a magnet from China and that woman was selling some beautiful ones. She was also selling beer and she kept them in the wall between the stones :’D pretty clever!

IMG_20160319_011342

Soon, we had to say goodbye to her and head back to the cable car to meet up with the group for lunch. Lisa and me collected the last bits of our strength and walked down. Of course it was easier, but we could feel how heavy our legs were getting and we still had the almost-vertical steps at the last official watchtower.

IMG_20160317_075546

This was after we walked down the steepest and longest part of the stairs. After I stood still, I realized how my legs were shaking. It was insane. I have never been so exhausted before.

When we finally met for lunch and had all the food in front of us, I was delighted. It was probably the best-tasting lunch I ever had. It was just the most simple chinese food you can think of, but everything was infinitely delicious.

Unfortunately, our trip was already over, and we soon found ourselves back at the bus. This time, I sat next to Lisa and we talked all the ride through about why we came to Beijing, what else we wanted to see here, and what our next travel plans in China were. She only came to travel, but she wanted to see as many places as possible before returning back to the US. We both wanted to see the Kung-Fu show, so we thought we might see each other again. That would be funny, actually.

When I got back to my hostel, I decided to sleep for a little bit again until it was time for the Beijing opera show. The driver took me to the place again. I was there pretty early, so I lost myself in the souvenir shop and bought SO. MANY. THINGS! I want you guys to be cautious with your money in Beijing, because those sales people are pros. They will manipulate you in such a gentle and smooth way into letting you think that you absolutely need that picture or tea set or whatever it is you are going to buy.

20160314_184424-01

Yes, I bought a beijing opera mask, not this one on the picture though, but a similar one, and it hangs on my wall now. I actually don’t regret it. To be honest, the stuff they were selling at the opera shop was pretty useful and of very nice quality. I did buy a lot though. A mask, a bunch of bookmarks, 2 pouch bag sets, and one tea cup set that I actually bought as a gift for my father’s aunt.

The Beijing opera itself was actually a bit disappointing. I actually liked the Sichuan opera way better.

IMG_20160318_224543

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

After the opera, I still wanted to have some good dinner, so I took a taxi to the famous duck restaurant, DaDong Roast Duck Restaurant. It looked extremely fancy and I kinda felt weird there, all alone, but I just ignored it and tried to have a fab time, which I did.

First of all, they cut the duck into its pieces right in front of you. Plus, you get a lot of free stuff, like that red bean soup or strawberries for dessert.

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

 

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

 

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES
This was chiezi, an eggplannt dish.
SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES
I forgot what this was, but I didn’t like it.
SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES
This was the red bean soup I got for free. It was yumm!
SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES
And these the fancy strawberries on ice.

The restaurant was a bit expensive of course. I spent around 200 rmb for all of that (around 25€), which I think is quite okay for the location, the food and the extraordinary service. If I didn’t buy the extra chiezi and that other yellow dish, I would have even paid less.

This dinner was the perfect end to that adventurous day.

Have you guys ever been to the Great Wall? Would you like to go?

Thanks for reading and travelling with me!

Merveille.

Beijing Part 1: Getting lost and overwhelmed

As promised, I am writing about my final trip I did around China in March, before I headed back home last year April. I still had Beijing and Xi’An on my list to tick off, so I decided to do the typical trip to those two cities. I heard many tourists and travellers take that route between the two cities via train, and I decided to do that as well.

That was not all, though. Last minute, before I left for Beijing, my boss told me that I had to go to Hong Kong one last time, because I had to extend my visa once more, for only a few days. That did piss me off, because I have already booked all the planes and trains already, and I could have taken the plane from Shanghai airport. This way, after arriving in Shanghai from Xi’An, I’d have to take the train to Yuyao, my boss would pick me up, take my suitcase, and take me to the hotel for me to catch the bus to Ningbo airport. Such a hustle can only happen in China :’D

During that one week, I took 4 trains, 4 planes, and 2 busses in total :’D If it wasn’t enough, we even planned one last Shanghai trip after I came back from Hong Kong :’D That was insane! Never travelled to so many cities in such little time :’D Almost felt like funforlouis :’DD

Anyway, my flight to Beijing was early in the morning from Shanghai Hongqiao Airport. I took one of the earliest trains to Shanghai, and upon arriving at the check-in, I was happy to see a great seat which turned out to be an emergency exit seat. The views from the plane were great. The sun was blasting and the sky was clear blue. A pity I didn’t use my camera to take a photo.

I flew with China Eastern Airlines, and I really liked it. Everything was on time, the stewardesses were friendly and the flight was smooth.

I think everything was just too good.

After landing, I took the metro to find my hostel. I had the directions and I also had the address in chinese. I was doing fine, but then, I completely lost my way. It was ridiculous. I was already on the way for almost 3 HOURS!!! Walking around in circles, asking for the way, trying to stop taxis to take me there. Nothin worked.

Because I was so stressed, I didn’t take so many pictures. I was despairing. Finally, a taxi stopped and took me to my hostel. But he was driving in the opposite direction that I came from. I was starting to get really confused. Then, he just let me out in front of a construction and told me I had to walkd behind it to get to the entrance of the hostel since cars couldn’t drive there. It was ridiculous. Ive had enough. I walked and walked through bumpy streets with my huge suitcase and finally, FINALLY found the entrance. It was very hidden, the taxi driver was right.

I entered, relieved and they were looking for my room on the computer. And the bad luck didn’t stop. They said there was no room unter my name. I was panicking. I showed them the e-mail and the girl understood. I was at the wrong hostel. It had basically the same name.

Happy Dragon is a hostel name that is used for three different hostels in three totally different locations in Beijing. They called the hostel and asked if there was a room booked and they confirmed. The receptionst was so kind to organize a driver for me to take me there. And again, they took me back to where I came from.

As it had turned out, I had the directions to the right hostel, but wrote down the wrong chinese address. So guys, please, if you decide to book a room at Happy Dragon, double check which one it is you are staying at and make sure you have both the right directions and the right address.

I paid for the drive at the reception and was told that I got a room upgrade. I actually booked a dorm, but I got a private room. And I didnt have to pay anything extra. I was so happy, and even happier when I saw how clean and beautiful it was. The bed was soft as well. I was so tired and exhausted that I could just lie down and sleep. Even my hunger couldn’t keep me from sleeping for around 2 hours.

When I woke up, I was still tired, but I had to get something to eat and I wanted to explore the city a little bit. It was slowly getting dark, so I got out of bed, got dressed and left. First, I also signed up for the Great Wall trip the next day.

I walked to the metro, and since it was already around 7pm, the streets were full with people. The metro as well. I thought Shanghai metro was full, but the one in Beijing was even worse. I couldn’t believe when I saw how many people were still getting in.

I somehow got off at my station which was the entrance to the Forbidden City.

IMG_20160313_234626

SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

Of course, I wasn’t planning to get inside, since it was already closed, but I just wanted to explore the area. I guess I would have done a better choice if I went to get some street food somewhere.

After walking around the area, I quickly got bored and felt my hunger. I took the metro again, this time to find a restaurant somewhere. I didn’t have to walk too far from the metro station. It was a modern american-korean-mexican fusion restaurant in a Hutong. The area was very quiet and old but it looked very authentic.

IMG_20160313_235345

Nachos and a salad, Although I was pretty hungry, I didn’t want to eat anything too heavy at that hour.

When I was soon finished with dinner, the only thing I wanted to do was go sleeping in my warm, comfy bed. I took a taxi and enjoyed the late night views I got from Beijing. A beautiful, big city with a huge history, but very overwhelming for me. I saw the beauty of Beijing, but it was still very confusing to me.

What about you guys? What were your first expressions of Beijing?

ABC Travel List: X,Y,Z – Xinjiang, Yangon, Zanzibar

Because the last three letters are rather poor, and it is already May today, so I will just wrap the last three letters up as cities, because there aren’t really a lot of countries here.

Lets start!

X

Xinjiang

Bildergebnis für xinjiang landscape
Source: farwestchina.com

Xinjiang is actually a province in West China, mainly populated by Uighurs and Han Chinese who are mostly muslim. The landscape of this province has everything from deep blue lakes to bright orange deserts.

Ähnliches Foto
Source: china-silkroad-travel.com

These are the rainbow mountains of Dnaxia Landform. An amazing sight that I have never forgotten from the moment I first saw them on pictures.

Ähnliches Foto
Source: youtube.com

And of course, there are a lot of mountains. This is the Changbai Mountain with lake Tianchi on top of it. Looks more like a friendly volcanoe to me. I would probably not dare climbing this gigantic thing, but it surely looks impressive.

Bildergebnis für Aksu China
Source: visitourchina.com

This is the city of Aksu which is famous for its rock formations and it kinda reminds me of Cappadocia. The name Aksu actually sounds turkish as well. It even has a meaning in turkish, which means something like flowing water. Very ironic, since this place looks as dry as it wouldn’t see any flowing water for months.

Ähnliches Foto
Source: thecrowdedplanet.com

Xinjiang is famous for its muslim food, especially the Kebab. Everyone in China loves these grilled meatsticks which are famous in other muslim countries as well. I would love to go on a food trip to Kashgar, which seems to be the cultural centre of Xinjiang.

Y

Yangon

Bildergebnis für yangon
Source: amicimieiphukettravelagency.com

Yangon is one of the more popular cities in Myanmar and looks pretty majestic. Myanmar is actually climbing the stairs on my travel list, the more I see and read about this country. The architecture looks so unique, and I don’t know anything about their food which makes it so intriguing.

Bildergebnis für yangon
Source: eoinbutter.com

This is the Shwedagon Pagoda and it probably is the most beautiful pagoda I have seen on a photo. It is white and gold, almost like liquid.

Bildergebnis für myanmar yangon sehenswürdigkeiten
Source: myanmar-rundreisen.de

Probably inspired by the hot air balloon rides over Bagan, it seems like getting sights from above might also be possible here.

Z

Zanzibar

Bildergebnis für zanzibar beach
Source: de.oyster.com

Just recently I have seen an instagram picture of a friend who went to Zanzibar which is in Tansania in Africa, and it looked gorgeous!!! The water looked like a mirror, a mirror of the sky. And the pale sand of the beach matched the pale blue colour of the sea perfectly.

Ähnliches Foto
Source: zanzibar-tanzania.holiday

This just looks unreal.

This place would also make a great honeymoon getaway or just a couple’s retreat.

This post has actually been quite short despite covering three different letters and cities. But it’s time this challenge comes to an end now. It was a lot of fun, and I actually discovered a lot of places I haven’t known before.

I hope I could also give some of you inspiration for new travel destinations you haven’t known of.

But I would still like to know what other XYZ places you would recommend, if you know of any, since it is really hard to find places that start with that letter. I would be delighted, so feel free to comment below.

My next post is gonna be about my travels in Beijing in Xi’An which I haven’t posted yet. I know, I am late, but you can definitely look forward for some great picture and stories. Stay tuned!

Thanks for reading and travelling with me!

Merveille.

ABC Travel List: W – Wales, Warsaw, Wulingyuan National Park

This post is not going to be very long, I guess, since I have chosen, or let’s say, had to choose places that do not interest me as much as some other places I have already mentioned in this challenge. Still, these places are worth to be seen. And here they are.

W

1.Country: Wales

Bildergebnis für wales landschaft
Source: hotelausflug.de

Wales is famous for its beautiful natural landscapes. This is one of them, and there are even more…

Bildergebnis für wales landschaft
Source: iha.com.de

This is Snowdonia landscape in North Wales. Very typical with green mountains and hills and little blue lakes in the middle.

Bildergebnis für wales landschaft
Source: artikelmagazin.de

This looks very atmospheric.

Bildergebnis für wales sehenswürdigkeiten
Source: englandjournal.de

Plus there are many ancient castles that look like straight outta Winterfell :’D

I think a weekend trip to Wales would be an accurate way to get to know the culture and everything this often ignored country has to offer.

 

2.City: Warsaw

Bildergebnis für Warsaw
Source: hilton.com

Warsaw, together with many other Polish cities, has evoked my interest throughout the last few years. Warsaw actually seems to be quite similar to german cities, but the buildings look even older and more beautiful than its german counterparts. Or maybe it just seems like this to me because I have lived in Germany all my life.

Anyway, here are some of the beautiful sides to Warsaw.

-Culture Palace

Bildergebnis für kulturpalast warschau
Source: franks-travelbox.com

This is a culture and science Palace, is actually the tallest building in Poland. It doesn’t seem to be a palace, nor a museum of any sorts.

-King’s Castle

Ähnliches Foto
Source: pl.wikipedia.org

The red building on the right side it is. It has been the place where the kings used to live. Now, it kind of reminds me of the typical german city halls we have in oldtowns.

-Lazienki Park

Bildergebnis für lazienki park
Source: warsawcitybreak.com

WOW! This park looks amazing!

Bildergebnis für lazienki park
Source: de.123rf.com

I can only imagine how beautiful this park must look like in summer. I would probably spend most of my time at this location.

-Wilanow Palace

Bildergebnis für wilanow palast
Source: 123rf.com

This must then be the polish answer to Versailles. I love the colours, the arrangement of the garden and the structure of the building. Everything fits into perfect harmony with each other.

Warsaw seems to be a beautiful city with an impressive historical past, but also a vibrant place with a buzzing nightlife.

3.UNESCO World Heritage Sight: Wulingyuan National Park

Bildergebnis für wulingyuan national park
Source: backroadsofchina.com

By now, everyone has probably seen these mountains at least once. No surprise, since these are the mountains that inspired the movie Avatar. Many people call these also the Avatar mountains. Wulingyuan is the name of the town as far as I know, and the mountain area is actually called Zhangjiajie. It is breathtaking, and one of the things that are still on my China travel list.

So, this was a short post. I hope you still enjoyed it.

What W-destinations are on your travel list? Let me know in the comments below.

Thanks for reading and travelling with me!

Merveille.

ABC Travel List: V – Vietnam, Vienna, Venice and its Lagoon

V is all about Europe and one Asian country this time.

V

1.Country: Vietnam

Bildergebnis für Vietnam
Source: urlaubart.de

Vietnam is definitely on my current to-travel list. I am just so in awe of its raw nature, that somehow reminds me of China a little bit. But also the food and its people.

 

Bildergebnis für Vietnamese cuisine
Source: ids.uni.edu

Every vietnamese dish I have tried until now, has tasted so fresh and healthy. It was sooo yummy! <3 But there is still more to do in Vietnam other than just eating.

-Hoi An

Bildergebnis für Hoi An
Source: reisennachasien.com

Hoi An looks like the perfect mix of a city between beach and oldtown.

Bildergebnis für Hoi An
Source: blog.bucketlistly.com
Bildergebnis für hoi an strand
Source: lotusreisen.ch

-Ho Chi Minh City/Saigon

Ähnliches Foto
Source: skyscrapercity.com

Ho Chi Minh City, or the former Saigon, is the bustling centre of urban life in Vietnam, as it seems to me. I heard a lot about how fast this city has been rising with its skyscrapers, industries and buzzing nightlife. I also heard that Ho Chi Minh City has some of the most amazing rooftop bars around the world.

Bildergebnis für ho chi minh city rooftop bar
Source: vietcetera.com

This rooftop bar is called Chill Bar, and it might be one of the most instagrammed rooftop bars. At least what I have seen on the internet so far.

-Ha Long Bay

Bildergebnis für Ha Long Bay
Source: gapyear.com

In my opinion, the Ha Long Bay looks even more atmospheric than the bays in Thailand. Vietnam has always looked like an amazing mixture of the cultures of Thailand and China. At least that’s what it seemed like on the pictures. I am sure that in reality, it is even a thousand times more impressive, unique, and totally different from what I have imagined in my little head.

-Hanoi

Bildergebnis für Hanoi
Source: getyourguide.de

Hanoi seems to be the cultural, spiritual and historical centre of Vietnam, since it is the capital.

From lakes, museums, pagodas, and mausoleums, this city has everything for any tourist or traveller alike.

-Hue

Bildergebnis für vietnam hue
Source: timetravelturtle.com

This enormous statue of a dragon is the remaint of an abandoned water park.

Bildergebnis für vietnam hue
Source: faszination-südostasien.de

And this is the forbidden city of the former emperor’s town. Looks pretty nice.

Vietnam surely has some diverse places to offer for every taste.

2.City: Vienna

Bildergebnis für Wien
Source: wien.info

Vienna has much to offer. Not only city-wise, but also cake-wise. The famous Sachertorte has been invented in Austria, and I have even liked the german version of it. I don’t know what amazing tastes I can expect after eating it in its hometown.

Bildergebnis für Sachertorte
Source: ichkoche.at

OMG! I need this right now.

Before my cravings get too strong, I will just continue with listing the must-go sights.

-The Castles

Bildergebnis für schloss schönbrunn
Source: viennasightseeing.at

On the one hand, we have the castle of Schönbrunn…

Bildergebnis für schloss belvedere wien
Source: kaiser23.at

…and on the other hand, we have the castle of Belvedere. Pretty amazing, huh? I think I’d prefer visiting Belvedere first, what about you?

-Mozart

Ähnliches Foto
Source: pinterest.com

I’d love to listen to an orchestral performance of Mozart’s work at the Vienna Philharmonic Opera House.

Seriously, visiting Vienna would probably result in a huge cake orgy at one of the castles’ banquet, with classical Mozart playing in the background:’D

3.UNESCO World Heritage Sight: Venice and its Lagoon

Bildergebnis für Venice and its lagoon
Source: pinterest.com

In Fact, it’s not Paris that is the city of love, it’s Venice. I would love to go to Venice one day, but I have the perfect image of going there with my significant other. It is truly a romantic city with the atmosphere of the water and the intimacy of sharing a gondola, it looks just so unique and inspiring.

Bildergebnis für Venice at night
Source: twoupriders.com

I hope you enjoyed this post, about some of the most beautiful places in the world. At least in my opinion.

What are you V-letter travel spots to see very soon. Let me know below!

Thanks for reading and travelling with me!

Merveille.

ABC Travel List: U – USA, Ulaanbaatar, Upper Middle Rhine Valley

This post, I will try to keep a bit short, because it’s bedtime soon for me, and since I have been at work the whole day, and have to wake up early tomorrow as well, I will try my best to keep it as short as possible. Let’s start.

U

1.Country: USA

 

Ähnliches Foto
Source: travel-dealz.de

The Hollywood sign is probably the most iconic collection of letters on a hill in the world :’D It is practically the symbol for the American Dream.

Bildergebnis für route 66 karte
Source: google.de

Driving along the Route 66 has always been a dream of mine, being influenced by everything involving the 60s and the whole Hippie scene. Going on a roadtrip from L.A. to Chicago is probably one of the most amazing things to do in America.

-California, San Francisco, Las Vegas

Bildergebnis für usa sehenswürdigkeiten
Source: usatipps.de

Since watching Full House as a kid, San Francisco has always looked like such an idyllic place to live at.

Bildergebnis für las vegas sehenswürdigkeiten
Source: lasvegas-city.de

Vegas, the playground for adults. I would just love to spend one night partying here, just to see if it’s really THAT fun, as it’s shown in media all the time.

Bildergebnis für venice beach sunset
Source: fotocommunity.de

These palm tres and sunset at Venice Beach are THE dream!

-Arizona

Bildergebnis für arizona
Source: arizonawaterawareness.com

Going to Arizona, seeing Cactus trees and the Grand Canyon and being left in awe are very high on my USA list.

-Florida

Bildergebnis für florida strand
Source: usatipps.de

Hard to imagine that this place is in Florida. I actually heard that Florida is mostly populated by retired people and alligators, but it still looks awesome. Plus I’d love to visit Disneyland with the Universal Studios and the first Harry Potter World inside of a Disney World.

Bildergebnis für florida disney world harry potter
Source: youtube.com

If I should ever make it here, or to any Disney World’s Harry Potter Studios, then I’ll be the happiest person on earth <3

And these things are somewhat the top things on my to-do list when in the USA. I already mentioned New York in the N-letter post, so I won’t include it here again.

 

2.City: Ulaanbaatar

Ähnliches Foto
Source: keyword-suggestions.com

Ulaanbaatar is the capitol city of Mongolia, and it has interested me since I have heard about it during my time in China.

Not only Ulaanbaatar, but the whole of Mongolia seems so wild and interesting. I’d love to visit it one day. Maybe not in the near future, but one day when I have become a more avid traveller with more experience.

Bildergebnis für gorchi tereldsch nationalpark
Source: reise-reise.net

This is the Gorchi Tereldsch National Park. The nature looks so wild and untouched.

Bildergebnis für winterpalast des bogd khan
Source: entfliegen.de

This is the Winter place of the Bogd Khan. Looks pretty amazing.

Bildergebnis für gandan kloster ulan bator
Source: jnbontour.com

This is the Gandan Monastery. It looks pretty awesome with the birds flying around, and reminds me of the pigeons and seagulls you can see almost everywhere in Turkey.

All in all, Mongolia’s capitol looks very promising. One day, I hope that I can make it there.

3.UNESCO World Heritage Sight: Upper Middle Rhine Valley

Bildergebnis für upper middle rhine valley
Source: germany.travel

I once drove past the Upper Rhine Valley on the train, when I was going to Cologne, and I looked out the window and wondered what this place was. There were rivers and lakes and mountains, such beautiful scenery, that I just wished to exit the train and explore the surrounding.

This must be one of the most beautiful places in Germany for sure.

So what is on your travel list? Let me know down below.

Thanks for reading and travelling with me!

Merveille.

ABC Travel List: T – Thailand, Tulum, Taj Mahal

My T-list seems very typical, but it is a fact that all of these places have been on my travel list for too long. And here is why.

T

1.Country: Thailand

Bildergebnis für thailand
Source: fleewinter.com

The most typical Thailand-picture seen on the internet. It’s almost too clichée for me wanting to experience all of this as well, since it seems like almost everyone I know has been to Thailand. Still, there are so many more things to do there than just beach days and island hopping. Here they are!

-Elephant sanctuaries in Chiang Mai

Ähnliches Foto
Source: elephantsanctuarythailand.com

There are many places in Thailand that abuse these wonderful animals, just for tourist attraction. I don’t wanna be that typical tourist who just rides with them in order to take a disgusting selfie. I wanna see what a typical day looks like for an elephant at a sanctuary. I am pretty sure that if I will ever do it, I will probably cry of happiness and cuteness overload :’)

There are also a lot of sanctuaries in African countries, India, and other south-east Asian countries.

-Lantern festival Yi Peng and Loy Krathong

The Shining Yi Peng Festival in Thailand
Source: placestoseeinyourlifetime.com

I imagine this event to be one of the most magical things a human being can possible experience. It looks so amazing, so divine, other-worldly. I already can’t wait till I will finally visit this place one day in the future.

Loi Krathong Festival Chiang Mai.jpg
Source: theakyra.com

There is also the river version (Loy Krathong) in which candles are released into the river which just looks magical together with the glowing lanterns in the sky. This festival takes place in November eyer year, but there is no fixed date. It always depends on the moon I guess. So I’d make sure to somehow travel around Thailand in November and make sure not to miss this festival.

-Beaches and Bays

Thailand's best beaches - image 01 of 17
Koh Lipe
Chaweng Thailand: The Beach revisited
Koh Samui
Paradise found: Thailand's best beaches
Krabi
Ähnliches Foto
Koh Phangan; Source: topsy.one
Paradise found: Thailand's best beaches
Koh Lanta
Thailand's best beaches - image 121 of 17
Koh Phi Phi
Thailand's best beaches - image 151 of 17
Phuket

These pictures are all from telegraph.co.uk

I would also love to visit the movie set of The Beach, since it looks unbelievably amazing.

Ähnliches Foto
Source: thieunien.vn

Gorgeous!!!

-Wat Rong Khun Temple in Chiang Mai

Bildergebnis für chiang mai white temple
Source: chiangmaitourcenter.com

This must be the most beautiful temple I have ever seen. I have seen a picture of this years ago, and since then, I kept the city of Chiang Mai in my head for a long time.

-Nightlife in Bangkok

Bildergebnis für kaoh san road bangkok
Source: kingswayelem.wikidot.com

From street night markets in Kaoh San Road, to rooftop bars in Bangkok city centre, there is the perfect nightlife activity for every taste.

L'appart
Source: bangkok.com

These would be the main things for me to see in Thailand. Seems like not a lot, but it actually is with all the beaches, the elephant sanctuary and the timing of the festival.

 

2.City: Tulum

Bildergebnis für Tulum
Source: travelicious.com

Tulum is, right next to Cancun one of the most popular beach destinations of Mexico. And there is a reason for that, if you look at the picture.

Bildergebnis für tulum cenote
Source: shuttle.cancunshuttleandtours.com

There are even beautiful Cenotes you can swim in <3 Seems like the best place for a vacation.

Bildergebnis für cenote azul
Source: keepcalmandwander.com

Cave Cenotes, but also open Cenotes. This one is called Cenote Azul. The one above is called Ik Kil. But there are half a dozen more that you can choose from. What a great matter to choose something :D

In Tulum, there is also a city that can be visited, but if I should ever go to Tulum, I am gonna relax on the beach and jump from Cenote to Cenote. No way my feet will lead me to town when I could lie on the beach all day :D

 

3.UNESCO World Heritage Sight: Taj Mahal

Bildergebnis für Taj Mahal
Source: viator.com

The Taj Mahal is one of the Seven Wonders of the World, and a tomb dedicated to a woman. One of the few monuments in the world that has to do with a woman rather than a man, and that makes it even more beautiful.

If I should one day get to India, I will definitely stop by Taj Mahal, wake up early and try to get the best pictures without the tourist crowds.

What destinations starting with T are on your travel list? Let me know below.

Thanks for reading and travelling with me!

Merveille.