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 ๐Ÿ™‚

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 ๐Ÿ™‚

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. ๐Ÿ™‚ 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 ๐Ÿ™‚ 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. Itโ€™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. Iโ€™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 ๐Ÿ™‚

Bamboozle Boat Trip

We didnโ€™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 isnโ€™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 didnโ€™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 donโ€™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 couldnโ€™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 itโ€™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!

Iโ€™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:

April

April

I’m a bit behind with my blogging, so I thought I’d do just a post about the whole month of April. Due to the current situation we didn’t leave the country or even the city, so it was a month full of Shanghai adventures.

Qingming Festival Weekend

The month started with a long weekend due to Qingming festival. Our friends Ling and Hutch had us over for dinner at their place. Ling first did a Chinese tea ceremony with us and then we ate lots and lots of food they had made. Friends who can make great food are the best friends ๐Ÿ™‚

The next day, we had an early birthday brunch for Thorben at the W hotel. As always, the food and views were awesome. We had fun taking pictures on the terrace. I don’t think I’ll ever get tired of seeing the skyline.

On the final day of the 3 day weekend, we had a little Grรผnkohl party at our house. Originally, we had planned it for 12 people the day Thorben got back from Germany. Due to the rules at the time, we couldn’t have anyone over and it all went into the freezer. Half of it has been completely demolished now and hopefully round 2 will happen soon ๐Ÿ™‚

Thorben’s Birthday

We extended the long weekend by another day to celebrate Thorben’s birthday a bit more. We had some cake at home and then dinner with friends at our favorite Chinese place, Lotus Eatery.

Easter

Easter Sunday was exciting for Thorben and many of our friends because that’s when archery finally started again. To properly celebrate the occasion, Thorben brought Brezeln to archery – it was a big success. Overall, Thorben was on a Brezel mission and made some 4 times in April … Someone is trying to steal my title of baking queen of the household ๐Ÿ™‚

I had a great, sunny Easter brunch with friends, ate some ice cream, went pack to Jing’An Sculpture Park and then stopped by to watch some archery. It’s fun to watch but I’m definitely sticking with not playing and staying bruise free on the side lines. Also, we had a family Easter WeChat Video conference ๐Ÿ™‚

3 More Birthdays

Besides Thorben’s birthday, we went to 3 more celebrations. 2 belated ones, now that everyone is back in town and places are open again, and 1 on the actual birthday.

For Boramy’s belated birthday we had brunch, which turned into drinks, which turned into ordering pizza at her place and binge watching Hulu ๐Ÿ™‚ Sadly, I neglected to take pictures of any people. I guess I was too busy eating and having fun!

For Lars’ birthday, we had dinner at a Sichuan restaurant and then there was cake, which means, my all time favorite birthday tradition. Not just eating the cake (which is pretty great, too), but cutting the head of the man, who is drawn onto the cake while everyone screams. Gotta love Denmark.

And finally, for Kate’s very belated birthday, we went for drinks and dinner at Heritage. It was my third time there this year – the food is so good! Also, there was cake (but no killed cake men) and a photographer, so there are actually more pictures of people than of food.

More Lunches and Dinners

Besides supporting the local economy and going out to eat, we also cooked and baked. I tried out some new recipes as my weekly meal prep continues. I stopped going to the canteen because it was operating on a very limited scale for a while due to Covid-19. And now I don’t want to go back, so cooking it is.

Boramy had us over for amazing lasagna, veggies, dips and salad, plus she made her version of Disney’s Dole whip. It was super good and I managed to sneak another piece of lasagna for lunch (Yes, that’s Thorben in the background finishing up a call while we had Prosecco).

Freddy made us a Mediterranean/ Middle Eastern lunch plus his grandma’s lemon pie. Yum. His compound is a crazy urban jungle, I think it’s the largest in Shanghai. Also, it’s right by the river and you have a great view of the “1000 trees”, a cool building on Suzhou creek, which is still under construction.

Tiger King

The final weekend of the month was really only a Saturday for me, because Sunday was a make up working day, due to the upcoming May holiday.

We made the most of the one free day … by first having lunch with Freddy (see above) and going to another birthday, that’s number 5 for April. To celebrate his birthday a couple of days early, Hutch had a Tiger King viewing party. Which meant we watched 4 episodes of Tiger King while dressed up in questionable outfits, and then went out for dinner.

So that was April. Looking back, quite a lot of things happened. I guess Shanghai just never gets boring. ๐Ÿ™‚

Not pictured: A couple of girls’ nights, more dinners, WeChat video workouts with my sisters, trying to plan a trip for May, game nights, a Zoom call to Rich in Paris, still wearing a mask everyday … and we also went to work (with masks on).

It’s Spring!

It’s Spring!

The weekend before last was the first day of spring, both in the calendar but also in Shanghai. While we had some nice, warmer days before, that Saturday it was 25 degrees and sunny. I spent half of the day outside walking around, had some ice cream and enjoyed the sunshine. Thorben gave me a quick intro into his smaller camera so I practiced my photography skills on the pretty pretty spring flowers and blossoms.

Around the neighborhood

I took a walk around the neighborhood first, went to a small park close by and then spent way too much time admiring the tulips panted next to the entrance of our metro station.

I met up with Thorben afterwards and we walked over to Jing’An Sculpture park with some photo stops and one ice cream stop on the way. Somehow holding a fancy camera made me appreciate so many little details I just had to photograph ๐Ÿ™‚