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.

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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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.

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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

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ABC – Travel List: I – Indonesia, Istanbul, Ibiza Biodiversity and Culture

The letter I was probably the easiest to do so far, with so many places that are very very high on my travel list. Let’s begin!

I

1. Country: Indonesia

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Source: go-today.com

Indonesia is second place on my travel list right now, right after Japan. There are so many beautiful places to see on this island country, that consist of seventeen thousand islands in total. So, you can imagine the range of beauty here.

Here are all the places I wanna see in Indonesia:

Ubud

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Source: all-that-is-interesting.com

Ubud is famous for its lush rice terraces surround every hotel, restaurant, cafe or any other location you go to.

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Source: thepuristvillas.com

Bali

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Source: baliluxuryvillas.com

In Bali, you can do anything you want: Living in beautiful villas, hang out on paradise-like beaches, eat healthy and delicious food, visit rice terraces, pet adorable, wild animals, and more.

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Source: ferndurst.de

Seminyak

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Source: theseminyak.com

Seminyak also belongs to Bali, as well as Ubud, and is famous for hip and beautiful locations. It might be the more upper-class part of Bali as I heard, so if you wanna have a fancy vacation, you should book a hotel here.

Gili Islands

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Source: thenationalstudent.com

This swing in Gili Trawangan has become extremely famous on social media platforms now, and I think many people come to Gili mainly to see this speciality. But the Gili Islands have way more to offer than just this swing.

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Source: indonesiad.com
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Source: tommyschultz.com
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Source: off-the-path.com

Snorkelling and Scuba Diving are popular activities in Indonesia, especially in Gili Air, and are definitely on my Bucket list.

Java

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Source: kawah-putih.com

In Java, you can visit rice terraces, beaches, as well as its famous volcanoes and the craters, just like this one, the kawah putih (white crater) which is actually a crater lake and it just looks mesmerizing.

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Source: fliegen-sparen.de

One more famous sight is the temple Borobudur which is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Sumatra

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Source: travee.co

There are actually some pretty amazing beaches in Sumatra which should not be missed when in Indonesia.

Lombok

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Source: pinterest.com

You have probably seen this pink beach somewhere on instagram, and now I can tell you that it’s located in Lombok. The colour looks so strong and deep, almost like a Lush bath bomb.

By the way, you can reach all three Gili Islands by boat from Lombok, so it’s definitely worth a visit.

I will stop here with all the painfully beautiful beaches, or I will just book my next vacation to Indonesia :’D

Anyway, it’s definitely a great way for me to keep track of all the places I want to see in one place, and I can always come back to this post when I seriously plan to travel to a specific country on my travel list. I actually wanted to include some pictures of Indonesian food, since I have only heard good things about it, but I won’t do it now, or else the post will be too long.

Plus, I wanted to add that the people of Indonesia are known to be one of the friendliest and laid back ones. I myself have met two people from Indonesa, a good friend of mine from uni and my current co-worker, and they are all such kind, fun and down-to-earth people.

2. City: Istanbul

“If the earth were a single state, Istanbul would be its capital” – Napoleon Bonaparte

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Source: haberler.com

Istanbul is probably the only famous city in Turkey that I haven’t visited yet, and it makes me so angry and frustrated. All my turkish friends tell me that I can’t be a true turk if I haven’t visited this city, and they might be right. From all the cities on my travel list, Istanbul is very high on my list. Here are some reasons why.

Bosphorus Bridge

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Source: istanbul-tourist-information.com

This is the living proof for the connection between two continents, and you should definitely have glimpse at it from a far, or even take a bus ride across it. Also a must-do, is a boat ride along the bosphorus to admire all the residences located at the shore of the sea.

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Source: istanbuldagez.com

Sultan Ahmed Mosque/Blue Mosque

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Source: franks-travelbox.com

This mosque has established itself to the most popular landmark of Istanbul, and has a very significant importance in Ottoman history.

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Source: fotocommunity.de

The inside of this mosque is a dream for any architecture-enthusiast, with its huge dome and the blue stained glasses from the rooftiles. It looks magical, and I can only imagine what a goose-bumpy experience it would be to be inside this mosque.

Ayasofya/Hagia Sophia

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Source: ensonhaber.com

The former greek, byzantine church that was famous for the old city of Constantinople, has been turned into a mosque when Constantinople has been renamed Istanbul. It’s been turned into a mosque, but now serves as a museum.

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Source: ensonhaber.com

Topkapi Saray/Topkapi Palace

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Source: worldwanderista.com

Probably the most famous palace in Turkey, has been the main residence of the sultans of the ottoman empire. It doesn’t have a breathtaking view from the outside, but looks incredible beautiful on the inside. Definitely worth a visit if you wanna see something less touristy in Istanbul.

Cisterna Basilica

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Source: wikipedia.org

This place looks like something out of a greek mythology. It is said to be a sunken palace, and actually has some elements of greek mythology hidden inside, like the head of Medusa. A very impressive sight, and should definitely be on your Istanbul list.

Galata Tower

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Source: istanbul-tourist-information.com

If you have ever wondered what this tower here is, that is seen on basically every Istanbul picture, it’s easy to answer: It’s the Galata Tower. It is said to be used as a lighthouse which would make sense since it is high up on a hill and oversees the harbour.

Maiden Tower

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Source: wikipedia.org

Another famous tower, or rather a lighthouse, in Istanbul is the maiden tower which is located on a small island in the middle of the sea. It has always reminded me of the tower of Rapunzel, and since then, I have always wished of visiting that place.

The Grand Bazaar

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Source: lonelyplanet.com

Your trip to Istanbul would be inclomplete without going shopping at the Grand Bazaar. Trust me, you haven’t been to turkey, if you haven’t really visited an authentic bazaar.

Eminönu

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Source: istanbuldelisi.net

This is the place to be if you want to have a snack – THE snack! Balik ekmek, a.k.a. fish sandwich. It is the must eat thing in Istanbul, even before kebab. And you have to eat it here at Eminönu, where they catch the fish fresh out the sea, grill it, and serv it to you in an instant. And then, with the view across the Bosphorus, you can enjoy your little delicious snack and dream of the next time you visit Istanbul.

If you want to know more about turkish food, check out this informative post on Buzzfeed to have a little introduction to turkish cuisine.

It’s finally not only the sights that make many people lose their hearts in Istanbul, but the overall atmosphere and the feeling that you get in this city that is on two continents, is surrounded by two different seas, and has been influenced by european, asian, and arabic history over the past 2000 years.

3. UNESCO World Heritage Sight: Ibiza Biodiversity and Culture

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Source: whc-unesco.org

Ibiza is not only famous for its parties, but also for its natural diversity which is obviously amazing. Look at these colours on this photo which doesn’t seem to be photoshopped.

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Source: 4gress.com

Still, I wouldn’t refuse to go club-hopping when in Ibiza.

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Source: myibiza.tv

I can imagine that Ibiza is probably one of the best party locations in the world, keeping it class, but still fun as hell.

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Source: ibiza-spotlight.de

Alright, I know this post has become quite long, so I had to keep Ibiza short, but what more is there to see except the ocean and parties (both very amazing of course). This was one of my favourite, but also the most detailed post in this challenge. I already can’t wait to visit all these places soon.

What do you think about these places? Are they on your Travel List as well? If not tell me your future destinations in the name of the letter I.

Thanks for reading and travelling with me!

Merveille.

ABC – Travel List: H – Hungary, Havanna, Historic Ensemble of the Potala Palace in Lhasa

It’s been quite a while since my last post. I was busy working the last few days, and when I came back home, I just fell into my bed, dead!

Now, I have time to continue my ABC – Travel List posts and I will even plan a few posts for next week.

Today, we have reached the letter H. Enjoy!

H

1. Country: Hungary

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Source: lonelyplanet.com

Hungary is one of those european cities, that perfectly display ideal Europe. Budapest, being its capitol city, is considered by many travellers as the most beautiful city of Europe. It’s not only due to its beautiful architecture, but also because of its famous nightlife and the beautiful thermal baths.

Danube

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Source: danubechurch.org

The famous river flowing through Budapest, and its banks with the bridges and the architecture in the background, is a setting that many tourists must be falling in love with. It does remind me of the pictures of the Bosphorus in Istanbul, and I’d say that these two cities are actually quite similar when it comes to architecture and atsmophere.

Thermal baths

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Source: myportfolio.ucl.ac.uk

The bath on the picture is the Gellert spa and looks pretty romantic and antique. These baths originated from the classical turkish baths, but pretty popular in Budapest as well. They do have a different twist these days, with huge party events located in such ancient baths.

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Source: bathsbudapest.com

I guess there are many haters against these events. I personally think that it’s a clever idea for party tourism which is constantly growing in Hungary, and worth an experience. But I think this should be limited to only one or two baths organizing such events, and only for a limited time of the year.

Budapest Royal Palace

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A role model for eastern european architecture, the royal palace is probably automatically on the list of every tourist and traveller alike.

I’d say that Budapest is quite a relaxed city with not too many sights to see, but more the city to enjoy the surroundings and the atmosphere, the delicious food and the people.

Because this part has become more of a Budapest guide than a Hungary one, I will just include a link about hungarian food in general.

Here is a guide to Hungarian food which sounds amazing <3 especially its sweets.

2. City: Havanna, Cuba

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Source: stuttgarter-nachrichten.de

Is there anything to say, to justify the choice for the H-city? I don’t think so. I’d say that Havanna is just like from another world. The colours, the cars, the streets, the people, the beaches, the drinks, everything seems to be made for free-spirited people with a love for the beautiful and nostalgic. Enjoy the following photos I found online.

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Source: skr.de

I heard that Cuba is slowly starting to welcome the new world, together with internet, smartphones and modern american Landrovers (yuk!). I do have to put Havanna veeeery high on my soon-to-travel list, before all the nostalgic vibes will vanish :'(

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Source: bucher-reisen.de

The beaches are still there, though. So if you are not interested in oldies anyway, you can visit the beaches, with a Cuba Libre in your hand, anytime you want.

3. UNESCO World Heritage Site: Historic Ensemble of the Potala Palace, Lhasa

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Source: indien-reise.de

The Potala Palace in Lhasa is on the list of any enthusiastic backpacker, as well as spiritual traveller. I’m neither of both, but I am a sucker for cultural architecture and its significance, so this has always been on the back of my mind. Unfortunately, I couldn’t make it to Lhasa during my time in China, but it’s definitely on my list, and I still have many years of travelling awaiting me. I did get the chance to meet Tibetans in Jiuzhaigou in Sichuan province, and they were the nicest people I have ever met. You can read about that incident here. Hopefully, by the time I will get to visit the place, Tibet might be freed from China :)

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And this was already all the places for the letter H. I hope you could enjoy it.

Tell me about your H-letter places on your Travel List below in the comments.

See you in the next post!

Thanks for reading, and travelling with me!

Merveille.

ABC – Travel List: G – Greece, Guilin, Galápagos Islands

The letter G is getting more and more difficult from one category to the next. Country was pretty easy, and city wasn’t too hard either. But choosing the UNESCO Site was quite hard. Choosing the Galápagos Islands was quite hard, since it hat to contest against the Grand Canyon and the Great Barrier Reef, just to name a few. In the end, I chose Galápagos Islands because I love animals and I find the evolution theory extremely interesting and fascinating, and finding out more about it would be so great.

Enough with the ranting. Here are the G-letter spots.

G

1. Country: Greece

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Source: EasyJet.com

With the greek legends and the philosophers being the centre of Europe’s current situation, Greece has always been an important country for the EU, maybe even the most important one. The name Europe itself comes from a greek legend, a daughter of king Agenor, and the one that Zeus fell in love with. Plus, the democracy itself, the most important political ideology in Europe, came from greek philosophers (Aristoteles, to be exact).

Greece doesn’t even have a significant importance in European history, but it also amazes through its sheer natural beauty.

Here are some places I definitely wanna visit in the future.

Zakynthos

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Source: truegreece.com

I am sure that you have seen this place on instagram, in a travel video, in a commercial or a music video. This might be the most paradisical place in Europe, at least in my opinion. I would go to Greece only for Zakynthos. Definitely at the top of my Greece Travel List.

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Mykonos

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Source: urlaubsguru.de

This is probably the most typical summer villa vacation city in Greece. But Mykonos is not only perfect for families, but also for a group of friends, looking for a party vacay.

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Source: BaroqueLifestyle.com

If you’re open for anything, you should know that Mykonos is secretly known as the party mekka for gay people.

 

Santorini

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Source: itka.pl

The most iconic picture of Greece is this, literally! Every tourist who doesn’t know anything about Greece thinks every city there looks like this. There are actually many cities in Greece that have that typical blue-and-white look, but not all look as iconic as Santorini I guess. People from everywhere come here, especially for honeymooning, also for a calm family/friends holiday. Definitely on my list, but I’d rather visit the places mentioned above first.

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Source: de.escapio.com

 

Elafonisi

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Source: creti.co

This pink beach is located on the greek island of Crete, and you have probably never heard of that before. Now, it’s been a pleasure to introduce this spot to you. I definitely wanna go to Crete, and if I do, this beach is gonna be first on the list.

 

Rhodes

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Source: truegreece.com

Last but not least, Rhodes is still on my greek list. It’s probably been the first greek island I have always wanted to visit, since it is probably the most popular one for the turkish people.

2. City: Guilin

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Source: diveprice.com

Guilin is one of the provinces in China that I haven’t visited yet, but which is very high on my China travel list.

Guilin is in the Guangxi province which is in the south of China, borderin to Vietnam. It’s famous for its mountaineous valley-river areas and its picturesque rice fields.

Here are some beautiful must-see spots:

Li Jiang River

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Source: tripadvisor.de
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Source: terravista-erlebnisreisen.de

 

Yangshuo

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Source: edeltrips.com

This place of Guilin is extremely popular in ancient chinese poetry and paintings. I can’t blame it, cause it feels like everyone would turn into a poet or an artist after seeing this place.

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Source: holidaychinatour.com

 

Reed Flute Cave

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Source: placestoseeinyourlifetime.com

I think this might be the most interesting cave on earth.

 

Sun and Moon Twin Pagodas

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Source: chinatourguide.com

Again, one of the most amazing set of pagodas in the whole of Asia probably. I have known about this sight even before I went to China and I actually wanted to see this place really bad, but I couldn’t manage to go, unfortunately. Next time, Guilin will be my first go-to city for sure.

3. UNESCO World Heritage Site: Galápagos Islands

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Source: tentree.com

The Galápagos Islands, located in Ecuador, are the centre of the evolution theory. Even Darwin himself visited this set of islands during his studies and could therefore confirm his theory about the survival of the fittest. Since the evolution theory has always been my favourite topic at school, I have to visit the Galápagos Islands at least once in my lifetime, and definitely before they start changing too much.

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Source: huffingtonpost.com
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Source: weinerelementary.org
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Source: wallpaperspider.com

This post was my favourite one so far. I love all the pictures that i used for this post and I actually can’t decide which one of these places I would like to visit first. It’s a very hard decision.

What do you guys think? Would you rather visit Greece, Guilin or the Galápagos Islands first?

Are these places also on your travel list? They should be. If not, please tell me the G-letter travel destinations on your list down below :)

Thanks for reading and travelling with me!

Merveille.

What to do: Chinese New Year | Part 6 Sichuan Hot Pot in Chengdu

After living the adventure in Jiuzhaigou for only 2 days, we were ready for our 10-hour bus drive back to Chengdu.

In the morning, our hostel owner’s driver took the four of us to the bus station. It was quite early in the morning, but we were ready for the ride. Except for Ana, because she was even sicker than the day before, so the next 10 hours would be torture for her.

We were happy when we finally arrived in Chengdu, and the first thing we did was to put our things back in our hostel and ask for a pharmacy.

When we found the needed meds, we went back to our hostel and got changed. We were hungry, so we decided to end our last night in Chengdu with a famous Sichuan Hot Pot.

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The middle pot was filled with spicy soup, the bigger one around with non-spicy one, because I absolutely can’t eat spicy food. Unfortunately, the hot soup kept on spilling into the non-spicy pot while it was boiling. But luckily, we had some coconut milk ready which saved our tongues from burning :’D

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Never order boneless chicken, because it is actually just the chicken feet which we refused to put into the hot pot :’D 
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Other than that, all the ingredients were delicious! <3

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Inside the restaurant
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The entrance to the restaurant.

After our amazing dinner we strolled through the city a little bit. It was beautiful to have a last glimpse on Chengdu at night. It was still very busy and bright, a typical evening in a chinese big city.

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This was the funniest building I have seen. A panda climbing up the Prada building :’D

We returned to the hostel, tired and sleepy from the food. We packed our stuff and went to sleep, ready to fly back to Shanghai the next morning.

What about you guys? Have you ever tried Hot Pot? And do you like spicy food, or are you a sucker like me? :D

Thanks for reading and travelling with me.

Merveille.

What to do: Chinese New Year | Part 5: Jiuzhaigou National Park

After our first adventure of arriving at our hostel (which you can read here), we were now ready to spend our first full day at the National Park. The driver of the hostel took us there for a low fee and after a little breakfast at a cafe near the entrance, we were ready to queue for the tickets. It was okay for chinese standards I guess.

When we were finally able to get in, we had to take a bus to the first sight and from there, it was upon each tourist to decide whether to explore by walking or taking other busses. We mixed it up a little bit.

Here is my little guide to all the little spots in this beautiful park:

1. Arrow Bamboo Lake:

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Our first stop was the Arrow Bamboo Lake which was half frozen and probably one of the most beautiful lakes I have seen.

2. Panda Lake: 

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Panda Lake was right next to Arrow Bamboo Lake and it was completely frozen. It was perfect for taking photos.

3. Pearl Shoals Waterfall:

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These were smaller waterfalls on our way from Arrow Bamboo Lake. The smaller ones were not frozen, but the bigger ones towards the end were quite frozen.

4. Mirror Lake: 

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This lake was a part of the bigger Five Flower Lake. It had all these tree trunks inside, still alive underwater, because of the rich minerals keeping them alive. The whole park in general had such a clean, fresh air which you can probably find nowhere in China.

5. Five Flower Lake:

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Here, we spent most of our time admiring the beauty, taking photos, snacking, observing people and enjoying the wonderful, sunny weather.

6. Long Lake: 

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For this lake, we had to take the bus to the highest peak of the park. When we got out, we were a bit disappointed though. The lake was completely frozen and it didn’t have the vivid colours as the lakes below. The sun has disappeared as well, so taking photos was no use here. We were feeling a bit tired. The thin air also gave us a hard time. We actually started to feel really bad, especially Ana was feeling a bit sick already. We had a small snack and took the bus to the next station.

7. Five Colour Pool:

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We got out the bus to admire this small pool and took loads of pictures. Although the sun has disappeared by now, the pictures still came out nicely, with vivid blue and turquoise colours that blew away our minds.

8. Nuo Ri Lang Waterfalls:

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These were the biggest waterfalls in the park and the now gloomy weather gave it a special atmosphere. The pictures looked pretty amazing on this one. Of course, we made the pictures look so much better since all the chinese tourists suddenly wanted to take pictures with us :’D

After the waterfalls, my friend Ana was feeling sicker and sicker. Her head was aching and we were both getting hungry. We decided to take the next bus to the exit of the park. It wasn’t too late but there were no restaurants to be found inside the park and there was no sense in it all to walk around with starving bellies.

We left the park and a bunch of chinese tourists caught us to take pictures again. We smiled on a couple of pics but then told them that we had to hurry for food. Being famous can be really tough ;D

We were walking, trying to find a restaurant. We found one and ordered several dishes. They were all quite yummy,and we finished all of them. Most of them were typical chinese dishes, but there were some Tibetan dishes as well.

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These two dishes were not everything. We ordered more later. 

After we finished eating, we heard noises from outside. I looked through the glass doors and saw a group of people coming closer, carrying the dragon costume and drumming on tin and iron sheets. It was a perfect ending to our almost finished Lunar New Year trip.

Back in the hostel, Ana was so tired that she could only lay down and drink loads of hot water. I left her alone so she could rest and stayed in the lobby, talked to the hostel owner, her big family who were tibetan as well and her little son. I saw some handmake tibetan jewellery they were selling at the lobby and chose 3 pieces. Then, two other girls appeared. A chinese girl from New Zealand and an italian girl. Both were travelling for Lunar New Year as well. They were leaving the next morning as well, so we organized a car for the four of us to take us to the bus station.

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I also didn’t stay too long and went to sleep soon. But not before hearing a song from one of the hostel owner’s family members. Then, they wanted me to sing a song as well, so I sang I Follow Rivers by Lykke Li :’D

It was a day full of beautiful colours and people. It was sad that we had to leave this place with its beautiful people. I would love to come back here in the future.

 

What to do: Chinese Wedding

As I have written in my previous post which was before I flew off to China, that I would visit Taipei after attending one of my best friend’s wedding.

Saturday, January 7th: 

So, let me start with my arrival in Shanghai. I arrived on a Saturday, the 7th of January in the late afternoon / early evening hours. It took me quite some time to get to the city centre by metro, but luckily I quickly found my hotel.

Later, my friend Ana came to stay with me and we went out to go clubbing on my first night in Shanghai which was hilarious :D

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We met some korean girls who were a lot of fun :D

We arrived back in the hotel room quite late and had to wake up pretty early the next morning for our train to Yuyao. And I was already jetlagged, so I fell into the bed and immediately fell asleep.

Sunday, January 8th: 

We arrived in Yuyao at around 1pm, and after putting our stuff back in Ana’s apartment, we met our friends to drink some tea with them and put our bags in their car. Then, I had to get my nails done for the wedding, and Ana came with me. After that, our friends picked us up and we all drove off to our bride Veronica’s home to have the rehearsal dinner.

We had amazing food which I didn’t have time to take photos of. And I was really jetlagged and hungover, so I couldn’t be bothered.

After dinner, we went to my friend Veronica’s home to drink some tea and help with preparations.

The family has prepared a table with sacrifices for Buddha. It was filled with food like sticky rice, fruits and some sweet snacks, as well as incense.

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Early the next morning, a living fish would be hung up under the table, before being released into the river. The fish has to come back to life, or else the marriage will be unlucky.

Later, after finishing our tea, we got checked in at a hotel close to their home so we could wake up early the next morning for the picking up of the bride.

Monday, January 9th: 

The day of the wedding started early for us. We packed our things, got dressed up and went down for breakfast. One of Veronica’s cousins picked us up and took us to Veronica’s home. She was in the middle of getting her hair done when we arrived. All of her cousins and some of her closest friends were already there. We were easily around 10 girls in that room, waiting for the excitement to begin.

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No, I’m not wearing white, it’s mint
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Our friend Josie had a Polaroid camera

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In chinese tradition, the bride gets locked up in her room by her female cousins and friends. The groom has to answer a certain amount of questions about the bride and their relationship, in order to be let in. If there are questions he struggles to solve, he can slide red pockets filled with money under the door for us so we can give him a hint.
Since the questions were all in chinese, and the groom’s chinese is not very good, the cousins and chinese friends of the bride did the question-asking. But we also got some red pockets each. I was happy to get my first red pocket ever :D

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The girls blocking the door
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Our first hongbaos (red pockets)

When the groom manages to answer all the questions, he enters the room and proposes to her with a ring and a bouquet of flowers. When she says yes, he has to find her shoes that have been hidden by her friends and cousins in her room. And here again, red pockets can be used for hints. When he finally founds the shoes, he has to put them on her and then they both leave the room, and the father of the groom has to carry the bride out of the house.

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He found the shoes!

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Waiting for the father – in- law
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The wedding car was a Bentley
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Me creeping on the groom and bride :’D

From the bridal car, the couple will go to the groom’s home and after 1 or 2 hours, everyone will meet up at the reception to have lunch together.

The food at the lunch was amazing! Mostly seafood, but the most delicious dishes you can think of. For dessert, we got some delicious sesame balls. I fell in love with those sweets, that I had to know where to get them.
After most dishes were finished, the bride and groom had to walk from table to table to make toasts and drink baijiou (my friend only drank coconut water).

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These were only the cold dishes
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The fruit baskets
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The bride and groom arrive
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That dress *o*
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That hair piece *o*
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This dessert was my favourite part about the wedding. It’s glutinous sesame balls and the taste is heavenly <3
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Group picture!

 

The wedding was over too soon. We went back to my friend’s home, got dressed and took a nap for a few hours. In the evening, we would have one last dinner, and that too only consisted of delicious food, including the eggplant dish that I love so much.

After the dinner, our friend Libby picked us up and took us home. We went to our friends for games and drinks after that. It was a very nice closure to an eventful day and a great ending of my third day in China.

All in all I can say that a traditional chinese wedding is mainly about food, which I actually like. As a turkish girl used to dancing and loud music that is kind of a different approach to a wedding. I actually did miss all the music and dancing. The part with locking up the bride was almost the same with turkish tradition though. We have the same procedure, with the only difference that only 1 or 2 people are locking the door (usually the siblings or a cousin) and they get a huge amount of money from the groom and his family (in the hundred euro spectrum). There are also no questions, just bargaining.

I know that at some modern chinese weddings, there are bingo games and competitions being held, so that might be a little more lively. But I am happy that I have been to a true traditional chinese wedding.

I hope you enjoyed my post about this extraordinary day.

Have you guys ever been to a chinese wedding? Or to any other wedding of a different culture from yours? I would be happy to read about them in the comments below.

See you on my next adventure!

 

What to do: Chinese New Year | Part 1 Chengdu, Sichuan Province

Chinese New Year, also called Spring Festival, started February 7th this year and ended February 14th. Our last working day was the saturday, February 6th. We could spend that day packing everything and getting ready for our trip the next day. Our destination would be an amazing province in China, namely Sichuan Province, home of Pandas and spicy food!

We had our flight at early afternoon from Shanghai, so we took the fast train from Yuyao in the morning. This is how the sky said goodbye to us:

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Everything went well, our train ride and the flight were very comfortable and we soon arrived at our hostel where we had our own private room.

We relaxed in our room for a while and then asked some questions at the reception, including where to go celebrate Chinese New Year. The girl at the desk told us about the Wuhou temple in the city centre which would be decorated, so we decided to go there. We also looked for a resturant on the way, but couldn’t find it, so we tried our luck findin some place to eat inside the temple.

A lot of people were out in the streets, including police and the military. But we still managed to enjoy the decorations and the festive atmosphere.

After we found the temple, we finally got in. I can’t remember if we paid anything, but I think we did, because we go tickets. If I remember well, it was 20 RMB, so around 4€

We didn’t regret it though. As soon as we entered the temple, we were overwhelmed by the incredibly beautiful decorations! It was so beautiful!

After strolling through the temple a little bit, we realized how hungry we really were, so we tried to find a restaurant, and we actually found a very nice-looking one. It wasn’t crowded, because it was way past dinner time we guessed. We quickly had a seat outside, because the weather was really nice and mild for February, and there were actually seats outside which is pretty rare in Yuyao.

We ordered some food and I tried to take care not to get something spicy. We had some broccoli, eggplant, I think we also had beef and for dessert, we had tangyuan which is glutinous rice balls filled with sesame or red bean paste.

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After dinner, we strolled through the temple and found some beautiful spots and admired a lot of impressive lanterns in form of masks, monkeys and other creatures.

After we returned back to our hostel, we were high on colours. It was so overwhelming. We couldn’t believe what happened to us :’D I literally imagined an LSD trip to be like this: Like a temple in China for Spring Festival.

It really was a glorious evening and everyone seemed so happy and elated. We were wishing random people “Xin Nian Kuaile” (Happy New Year) when walking past them and they returned that wish as well. It was almost like being part of China.

Back at the hostel, we tried to sleep after the colour-flash, but we couldn’t so we stayed up a bit, browsed social media and talked about the next day, which would be one of the most fun experiences we would have: Visiting the Panda Center!

So you can look forward to a post full of cuteness overload!

Thanks for travelling with me!

10 Things that I miss about China

It’s been 9 months now, since I have been back to Germany, and as much as I have missed my parents, I have realized many things that I got used to in China so much that I miss them here now. Here are my top 10.

1 The food:

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Everything from street food, hole-in-the-wall-restaurants, fancy chinese restaurants, or even western-oriented cafes in big cities, I miss all of that.
It is really hard to find real authentic chinese food in Germany. It is also not very easy to find individual and hip restaurants around Stuttgart.
Anyway, if I go back to China, I will indulge in ALL the food <3
I might even write a blog post only dedicated to chinese food one day. Stay tuned!

2 Public Transportation:

Source: couriermail.com.au

Guys, I can’t tell you how important this one is for me and how much I am struggling with this here. In Germany, many people have cars, so there aren’t a lot of possibilities for public transportation. We do have a huge train system, but it is freaking expensive, even for students who get a student bargain. It would be cheaper to take the fast train from Yuyao to Shanghai (which takes about 2 hours) than to take the train from my home to Stuttgart (which takes about 30 minutes).
Other than trains, taxis are always around and so cheap. Usually, we would show them the address in chinese or even talk to them if we knew what to say.
I’d say that public transportation is cheaper in Asia in general.

3 All the Merch:

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Pay-Day meant having the possibility to pay all the totoro- and sailor moon – stuff. And I am not even living in Japan where you can find more than you imagine. If you are not ready for Japan, China is a good place to start getting used to spending your money on Merchandise.

4 Heating Stuff in Winter:

People in China are totally afraid of the cold and the wet. So they will invent all of the things you have possibly dreamed about. One of the things are the heating bottle-pillows that we used everywhere we went to. We also found some heating pads to stick all over your body, even soles for your shoes. These things brought us through the few winter days we had in China.

5 Meeting new people:

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In China, it is very easy to meet new people, chinese and foreigners alike. With foreigners, you will slowly start to talk out of interest about what they are doing there. With chinese people it is even easier to get into conversation since they will always approach you because of your western looks :D

6 The fame: 

Source: Theworldofchinese.com

I mentioned this before in my post about culture schocks, but as soon you get used to it, you will miss it when you’re back in Europe. It is also easier to look ridiculous or dress in an extroverted way, because even if people look at you, they look at you anyway, so do what you want!

7 Fruit shops:

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These fruit shops were life savers. You can find them at every corner, and most of them are open until midnight. You can buy all kinds of fruit here, and if you only want to buy a half of a watermelon, they will cut it for you and put it into plastic boxes. This is the best idea if you want to have a healthy lunch but have no time to cut it yourself. I ate fruits way more often than I do here now.

8 Chinese boutiques and Alibaba:

bread n butter hong kong, Angelababy, La Carmina will be in Tokyo, Japan soon! Keep your eyes peeled for casting notices, so you can join our TV show shoots. :D    But first... Phoenix, Arizona spooky press trip. Got travel suggestions for me??     PLUS photos of Marie Antoinette & Lady Gaga shoes. Enjoy :D    http://www.lacarmina.com/blog/2012/11/press-trip-travel-blogger-phoenix-arizona-tokyo-hong-kong-fashion-inspiration-womens-clothing-shoes-shops/:
Source: lacarmina.com

As long as you have a petite body type, you will find a lot of cute and beautiful clothes here. They are all unique and you can’t find anything like the things here in european countries. I bought some clothes from these shops and you will also get the attention of the shop workers immediately, who will want to take some photos and selfies of you wearing their clothes :’D
Alibaba is the chinese verison of Amazon, even bigger, more successful and with a bigger range of selection. You can literally find anything here, from food to clothes to furniture.

9 Dancing Aunties:

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I just don’t understand why many people are annoyed by them, but I just love them and I would like to hug all of these women dancing in public places. Every evening after dinner time, women in their mid-years will meet up at public places to dance together. And it is not just the dancing aunties that meet up after dinner to work-out; many chinese people will meet up to work-out and exercise outside, especially in the warmer months.

10 Rooftop Bars: 

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The amount of rooftop bars in China, or in Asia in general is ridiculous. If a rooftop bar opens somewhere in Germany, it’s a big thing. And then, you don’t even have an amazing skyline to enjoy here, whereas in China, you have the most impressive skylines.

I hope I could give you my positive experiences I had in China which were quite a lot as you can see, and some of them very important for everyday-life.
If you are thinking about travelling there or even living there, I am sure that this post will help you a lot.

Thanks for reading!

Travel well!

 

8 Times I had a Culture Shock in China

Disclaimer: None of these things listed here are written to present China in a bad light. I left my heart in China and it is an utterly beautiful country that I can’t wait to explore further in the future. To be honest, I didn’t have that much of a culture shock when I arrived in Mainland China. Still, there were some things I had to get used to, and some of these things were a little bit strange, up to disturbing :’D
And they are:

1. All these shiny, new cars:

Yes, you heard right. The first culture shock for me were all these cars I haven’t even seen in Germany before. And I live in Stuttgart, the birthplace of Mercedes. I guess I was just so shocked because I didn’t expect such modern cars from a rather small town (1 Mio. citizens, still a small town in China). It was the first time I saw Lexus cars, Buicks, Maseratis and Jaguars. I even saw some Bentleys cruising through the bustling, small streets of Yuyao :’D

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Well, not exactly like this, but almost :’D

2. The Spitting: 

Oh my, this one is serious. I have read something about that before I arrived in China. My friend gave me a China book as a goodbye present and it was really interesting. They also explained the spitting and why it is so important for many people in China to do that. It is a way to clean your throat and your lungs from all the phlegm inside your body that can cause you to have a sickness later. I can understand that, but I don’t understand why they do it in public :’D It was the only thing I couldn’t get used to when in China.

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3. The smells: 

Be it from incense smells to the pungent smell of stinky tofu: You can detect fragrances you have never smelled before.
On my first day, the first thing I noticed were the different smells I wasn’t used to, mainly from restaurants. Of course, chinese cuisine is so different from german or turkish one. The way food is sometimes cooked in chinese restaurants can be healthy, but also very oily. The first restaurant I went to with two friends was a fish restaurant. They had a lot of seafood. I love seafood, but that day, I lost my appetite because of the strange oily and fishy smell. On my first day in China I didn’t eat much. I still had to get used to the different smells and tastes. But I quickly got used to it and soon devoured everything on the table :’D

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4. The cockroaches: 

Well, I guess this is something you have to expect when travelling to East Asian, South Asian or South-east Asian countries. What I didn’t expect, though was to find them almost anywhere: They sneek in into your stairwell, on the streets in front of shops, sometimes they will be in juice shops or restaurants and we even had one sneak into the office :'( It was huge and I was alone in the office. I screamed and ran out and all my students looked at me amusedly :’D Someone came and killed it with a broom (number 1 tool to kill a cockroach in China :’D)

Source: boredpanda.com

[I didn’t want to put a picture of a cockroach in here, so you have something fun to laugh about, and maybe some inspiration for funny christmas presents]

5. Kids and men peeing in public: 

Well, obviously, the kids don’t only pee but also poo in public :’D Many laowais (foreigners) seem to be disturbed by this, but I actually found it very funny, especially the kids with the slit in their pants :’D That was so hilarious! Maybe that’s because I love kids, especially the ones in China since they are so chubby <3
The reason for this, I think is to prevent the kids getting rashes from cheap diapers, since I don’t think that everyone in China can afford expensive brand diapers. And I think this makes totally sense.
Still, I have this one experience I will never forget. I was on the plane in Hong Kong, when we got news that 2 passangers wanted to leave the plane. Because of that, we were standing still in a plane, trapped there for 2 hours. Sitting next to me were a mother with her child and he was crying all the time. He obviously had to poo but the toilets were always filled. So she just grapped her kid by his legs, spread them and made him poo into his pants/diapers or whatever he was wearing underneath. I was happy he wasn’t wearing one of these slit in the pant ones :’D Anyway, the plane stank like sh*t the whole time and it was probably my worst flight ever, later trying to land inside of a Taifun. I seemed like the only one freaking out since everyone around me in the plane looked so freaking chill.
Other than this incident, I really don’t care where kids are peeing or pooing. What bothers me more is when I walk past a grown man in a parc or by the river, obviously peeing into the bushes. Sometimes they aren’t even trying to hide it.
I kind of feel like chinese people like to show themselves naked.

Source: travelbugjuice.com

6.The Fame: 

If you wanna go to China (or probbly most of other asian countries), prepare yourself to get touched by strangers. Usually, it is the elder people who are not as educated as the younger ones and have no problems with physical contact. To be honest, I don’t really mind it as long as it is not violent, and most of the time it is not. But I just feel weird when they touch you (let’s say your arm or your hair) and then look at you like you came from a different planet and then they (if it is a group) start grinning and laughing and say something in chinese :’D
Another thing that foreigners are annoyed by is the photographing experience. Expect to suddenly become very famous in China (or any other asian country), since most of the people have never seen a white person in real life. Therefore, a bunch of people will ask you if they can take pictures with you. It can be really funny, but especially when you are a traveller as well, it will take up some of your precious sight-seeing time. Still, it can be a whole different experience and I can only advise you to try it out if the possibility is offered to you :)
What you have to be more careful of are crowds and being pushed and dragged. This can actually be very dangerous and people in China do not shy away from pushing strangers. With this, you also have to be careful of bacteria. It makes a lot of sense wearing a face masks when going into crowds, because there will definitely be some sneezing on you without covering their mouth :/

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7. The pollution: 

Well, it wasn’t really as bad as I had expected it, especially not where I was living which is the east of China, close to Shanghai. Still, I got really bad skin when living in China and we had some serious smog days in December, after Christmas from the 25th – 27th. I woke up in the morning and started crying. It was horrible. I couldn’t see the apartment building in front of me.
Still, if you tavel to China don’t stress about the pollution that much. It is not as serious as shown on tv. I went to Beijing in March and I had the most perfect blue sky on the Great Wall.
Still, I would maybe not try to go to China in Winter, especially in December it is pretty bad.

Source: tokyodesu.com

Fortunately, I have never seen Shanghai THAT smoggy. We had some smoggy days when we went there at the beginning of February, but it wasn’t that bad actually. It rather looked like a low cloud or fog.

8. The streets: 

Actually, I imagined the streets to be worse. In main streets, especially shopping streets and tourist areas, the streets are even cleaner and more modern than in Germany. But I was living in a rather small town for chinese standards, and most of the time you really have to take care where you are stepping on. Especially in summer, it gets really disgusting, with all the rain. I once walked into a loose pavement stone and found myself ankle deep in black, dirty rain water. At least I thought it was rain water. I was just hoping it was not water from the drain.
So, with this said, be careful where you step on!

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Source: scmp.com

 

This post won’t prevent you from having a culture shock, neither of the things I listed here, nor of some other things I haven’t regarded as shocking as other people have (e.g. the traffic, the loud speaking, or the squat toilets which I was used to from Turkey). Still, I think culture shocks belong to a full experience of a new country. Without them, something is missing and it will broaden your mind for sure.
I love remembering my reactions to all the different culture shocks listed here. And how is that saying:
“If you don’t love me with all my flaws, you don’t deserve me with all my perfections.”
I guess this fits perfectly into China or any other country you are travelling to, and experiencing some majoy culture shock.