Category: Travel

China Travels: Sanya

China Travels: Sanya

The last stop of our trip was Sanya, the southernmost point of China. Sanya is a city on the tropical island Hainan. It is sometimes called “China’s Hawaii” due to the year round nice weather and beaches. So while we couldn’t make it to the real Hawaii due to travel restrictions, we still got to enjoy some time at the beach 🙂

We stayed at the Sanya Edition for 3 nights and didn’t leave the hotel except to go to the beach. The complex is huge with palm trees, 5 pools, several restaurants and all sorts of entertainment. We were pretty lazy and mostly laid in the shade (Thorben may have also gone to the gym but whatever). I think I read 3 books throughout our vacation, it was great 🙂

Even with wearing sunscreen and staying under a tree, I somehow managed to get a pretty bad sunburn on the first day. So the second day, I spent mostly on our balcony. It wasn’t really a burden with a view like that:

Once the sun went down, I dared to leave the shade again for some more beach time. The temperature is pretty much the same night and day and the water is really warm. I didn’t really expect the beach to be so nice and it was really good to have a few relaxed days after a lot of sightseeing and hiking.

The food was also really good at the Edition! We spent 2 hours each morning having breakfast. The buffet had a lot of choices and the restaurants were also great. This was our dinner the last night we were there:

Sanya is definitely a great getaway and made for the perfect end to our South China trip. It’s a 3 hour flight from Shanghai, so in case we ever have an emergency need for sunshine and the ocean, we may just have to go back.

China Travels: Longji Rice Terraces

China Travels: Longji Rice Terraces

The second stop of our week long vacation in Southern China was the Longji Rice Terraces Scenic Area. From Yangshuo, it is a 2.5 hour drive to the foot of Ping’An village and then we had to hike up the hill a bit to get to our hotel.

Ping’An Village

The whole area surrounding Ping’An village is beautiful and very peaceful. When we were there, we barely saw any other tourists. In the beginning of May, the rice terraces are getting flooded and prepared for planting the rice. That means we couldn’t see lush green fields but some reflection in the water and people working in the fields. We did an evening hike through the village and up to some view points to enjoy the scenery.

Nine Dragons and Five Tigers

Our last stop of the hike was a viewpoint called Nine Dragons and Five Tigers. I’m not sure exactly which shapes are the dragons and tigers but it was really pretty. 🙂 We stayed a while to watch the sun set behind the hills and see the reflections changing, before heading back down the hill.

More hiking through the rice fields

The next day was cloudy, but still a good day for more exploring. I don’t know the names of the places we saw, but we hiked mostly downhill, passing more villages and rice terraces and other fields.

It was really worth the trip and I’d love to go back once the rice is planted and has grown. It probably won’t be as quiet then, so I think we picked a good time to go!

China Travels: Yangshuo

China Travels: Yangshuo

Originally, I wanted to travel for the first 2 weeks in May. Between my project ending at the end of April, a 5 day holiday in China for May 1st and the big 3-0, it seemed like a great time for a big trip. Plan A was to go to Hawaii, Plan B was Australia and Singapore … Here comes Corona and therefore we were in need of Plan C: The COVID-19 contingency plan.

Luckily, domestic travel is still possible, so we decided to stay in Shanghai for most of the holiday, and then went on a week-long trip to the south of China. Our first of three stops was Yangshuo which is located in Guangxi province. Yangshuo might not ring a bell, but usually Guilin does. Guilin and the surrounding area is famous for its beautiful nature with the Li River and its surrounding karst formations. It’s even on the back of the 20RMB note, that’s how beautiful it is. (Yes, we went to the 20RMB spot like the good tourists we are, picture proof below).

Yangshuo Mountain Retreat

Our vacation started right as we arrived at the hotel. Built directly next to the river and surrounded by mountains, having breakfast was already the first sightseeing activity of the day.

Big Banyan Tree

To make things easier, we hired a guide to take us around. The first thing she showed us was a 1.500 year old Banyan Tree. It was really cool to see with roots growing everywhere. From further away it looks like several trees, it is truly a Big tree.

Gold Water Cave

Walking up to Gold Water cave was already worth the trip there. The surroundings are amazing (we realized they are pretty much everywhere in Yangshuo) and I really liked the wall art of the local people.

On the inside, Gold Water Cave is basically an explosion of colors. Add a DJ and it would be a unicorn rainbow disco cave 🙂 The formations are beautiful and the cave itself is quite big.

Moon Hill

Moon hill is a pretty formation of karst mountains which we passed on our way to the next stop. It’s called moon hill because the opening in the rock is like a moon which changes based on where you stand. You can hike up but we were promised a better view point the next day, so we just snapped some pictures.

Local market and Xingping Old Town

Up next: a local market with all sorts of interesting foods and stuff. Toys, rice, rat poison, dried tofu, live chickens and ducklings, a hot lunch, plants, produce or a haircut? The market got it covered.

Afterwards, we had lunch in Xingping Old town. I’m not sure how authentic it still is but the streets are definitely pretty. The local food and special eggplant our guide recommended were quite tasty.

20 RMB Spot

No trip to Yangshuo is complete without seeing the beautiful scenery depicted on the back of the 20 RMB note. Obviously you have to take a picture while holding a 20 RMB note. Because of the wonders of WeChat and Alipay we never have any cash but our guide had us covered 🙂

Bamboozle Boat Trip

We didn’t just see the 20 RMB spot from land, we also saw it from the river. A trip on a bamboozle boat down the Li River was the next order of business. Bamboozle boats are made out of plastic pipes shaped like bamboo and have a (very loud) motor. The boat ride isn’t exactly peaceful but the views are amazing.

Impression Sanjie Liu

In the evening we met up with friends from Shanghai who were also in town. Together we went the an impression show which consisted out of lights, music, singers, boatmen and of course the river and the karst mountains. I didn’t understand what was sung, but the show was great nonetheless.

View points

Our second day started with the promised view points. On our way to Xiangong Hill, where you are supposed to have a great view over a bend in the river, we made some photo stops. I don’t know if they have any names but the views were amazing. The landscape around Yangshuo is just incredible to see.

Da Mian Mountain

When we arrived at Xiangong Hill, they told us we couldn’t enter the area because no foreigners are allowed. Thankfully, our guide came up with a Plan B, which meant a much longer hike but in return we were also promised an even prettier view. The climb to the top consisted of lots and lots of stairs and in my case lots of breaks to catch my breath. The view from the top was definitely worth all the efforts. You could see a horseshoe bend in the river and many many mountains. It was truly spectacular.

Jiuxian Ancient Village

After a very sweaty hike, we drove to Jiuxian Village for some lunch and pretty scenery. We had the local specialty, beer fish, which was so tasty we had it again for dinner. After lunch, we took a walk around the pretty village. As with many of the spots we visits, we were almost the only people there, which made it even better.

Bamboo rafting on Yulong River

Besides the amazing views from Da Mian, my favorite activity might have been the bamboo rafting on Yulong River. Rafting might give the wrong impression, as it was a very quiet and serene boat ride for the mot part. Other than the plastic boats with a motor, these little rafts are made out of bamboo and are moved by the boatman with a long bamboo stick and lots of arm muscle. We did go down some little rapids, which was refreshing in the heat (36 degrees!). The scenery was again beautiful and we had even more clear weather that afternoon.

Tea tasting at the tea farm

On our last day, we drove back up into the mountains to visit a tea farm and taste some teas. We learned about white, green and black tea (or red tea as it’s called in Chinese), and tried at least 5 different kinds. It was really relaxed and we may have ended up buying 2 bags full of tea to take home.

And that was Yangshuo, truly a beautiful spot in China!

I’m very glad we went there and were lucky to have such clear weather. To wrap it up, here are some pretty sunset pictures from our trip:

Incredible India – Part II

Incredible India – Part II

After Agra, I thought, that we’d already done the best part and did not expect too much else. While seeing the Taj Mahal and enjoying the Baby Taj in the sunshine was definitely one of my highlights, India had a lot more incredible things in store that blew me away.

So here is the rest of the trip:

Day 4: Fatehpur Sikri, Abhaneri and a Night of Camping

Our next destination was Dhula Village to experience the rural life in India. On the way there we stopped in 2 places to do some more sightseeing.

Fatehpur Sikri

Fatehpur Sikri is a town 40 km away from Agra. It was once the capital of the Mughal Empire for a few years. We went to see the beautiful red sandstone fort, which was built in the 16th century.

Abhaneri

There were three reasons for us to stop in Abhaneri: Lunch, the Chand Baori step well and the Harshat Mata Temple. All three things made for a really worthwhile stop 🙂

Chand Baori Stepwell

The stepwell was another surprise of the trip. I couldn’t really picture anything when Mo started explaining about stepwells and how people used to collect water from it. There are many across the state of Rajasthan and we were told this is one of the biggest and most beautiful ones. It’s almost 20 meter deep and definitely something to look at.

Harshat Mata Temple

The Harshat Mata Temple is a small Hindu temple with lots of beautiful stone carvings. We saw a really cute puppy on the way there which distracted us all a bit. Nevertheless, the temple itself was very pretty and the sight of one of my favorite pictures from the trip – an epic photobomb from my fellow travelers 🙂

Dhula Village Camping

We arrived at our campground around sunset and if I ever camp again, this is definitely the way to do it. The “tents” were like little hotel rooms with individual bathrooms and the whole grounds were really beautiful. Just a really peaceful spot, perfect for an evening around a bonfire and storytelling – which is exactly what we did.

Day 5: Dhula Village Bike Ride, Jaipur City Palace & an Indian Cooking Class

Village Bike Ride

The next morning started bright and early with a 7 am bike ride across fields and through the village. We saw a few peacocks, an owl, beautiful ruins of some sort and in the end stopped at our guide’s house for some chai. While I’m not a fan of biking (or waking up early) it was really worth it.

Jaipur City Palace

After enjoying the more quiet rural life, our next stop was another big city: Jaipur, also known as the pink city. Our first stop there was the City Palace, another, I know I’m overusing the word, beautiful place.

Cooking with a Local Family

Part of our group went straight from the palace to our next optional activity: A cooking class with an Indian family. We got to know a lot about Indian spices, had masala chai, and then helped to make vegetable biryani, Shahi paneer and some other yummy dishes I’ve since forgotten the name of.

Streets of Jaipur

After a crazy tuk tuk ride back to our hotel, Mo took us for a walk around Jaipur. It was really interesting and such a contrast to the forts and palaces: Basically, spices, tuk tuks, food stands, noise, craziness, crowds, and lots of hustle and bustle everywhere. Our night ended on a beautiful rooftop restaurant.

Day 6: Discovering Jaipur and Bollywood Dancing

The next morning, we ventured out for more sightseeing. First up was at the Palace of the Wind, or the facade of it to be precise. It was just a short photo stop but a really pretty one.

Amber Fort

The big sight of the day was the Amber Fort, another one of places that blew me away. It was simply stunning with so much to see … and we got lucky with the weather once again and got to enjoy it with lots of sunshine. Instead of writing more about it, I’ll just upload lots of pictures. As always, I took way too many.

On our way back, we made another photo stop, this time at the Water Palace, which is in the middle of a lake.

Bollywood Dancing

To get the full India experience, Mo set up an hour long Bollywood Dance class for us in the afternoon, and it was so much fun. We learned a minute long choreography which we videoed at the end. So far, watching it has not failed to make me laugh 🙂 Here is a poor resolution screenshot compilation:

Day 7: Bike Tour through Jaipur and back to Delhi

Jaipur Morning Bike Tour

The next morning was another really early wake up call because our Jaipur bike tour started at 6:30 am. It was a pretty wild tour. We fed cows, had chai, saw the Albert Hall Museum at sunrise, went to a flower market, joined the morning chanting at a temple and then a sort of laughing yoga circle in a park, ate pakoras and drank fresh lassis … and all of that in the span of 3 hours. Definitely a different and very cool way to experience more of Jaipur!

Back to Delhi

Sadly, it was time to head back to Delhi after that for a final farewell dinner with the group. The next day, it was time to say goodbye to India and I flew back to Shanghai.

Looking back, it’s amazing how much we got to see and experience in only a week. Truly, an incredible trip with so many great memories. Shout out to the fantastic G Adventures travel crew and our guide Mo! You made this trip so fun and interesting, and so much better than I could have hoped for!