A Travellerspoint blog

By this Author: jkerkin

Journey into the Ancient Worlds

Day 5 Xi An and we're on our own

sunny 28 °C
View Tom & Jen's "Continental Drift" on jkerkin's travel map.

Up to now we have had Huiliang and Angela look after us. Now it's just Jen and I to fend for ourselves. We need to be more careful, observant and struggle with the language. Saying that I have surprised myself with the number of words I remembered from being in China 20 years ago. The airport check-in went smoothly (despite being well over the domestic weigh limits) and arrived in Xi An, negotiated a driver and 1 hour later through dodgem car traffic we got to our very plush hotel. First impressions of Xi An is it is definitely not as modern as Shanghai, construction work everywhere, more pollution, more noise and cars with push bikes being replaced with electric motor bikes. As an electrical engineer, the local approach to wiring still leaves me bewildered!
Although, the streets are clean and regularly water trucks spray the dusty streets with water to keep the dust down. This reminded me of Beijing 20 years ago.

Dropped the bags off and walked Into the centre of town where we found the tourist offices and booked a day tour to the terracotta warriors for tomorrow and then kept walking the streets. Xi An is the start of the Silk Road and one of the oldest cities in China.

Most famous for the Qin or Ch'in Dynasty (likely origin of "China") which came to power as a dynasty (221-206/207 B.C.) by unifying China under its first emperor, Shi Huangdi (Shih Huang-ti). The Qin is the start of the imperial period. This guy unified China, created their currency and moved the country away from being ruled by war lords. The city has a mere population of 10 million plus, surrounded by a massive 12m high stone wall with a moat around the whole city. The wall goes for about 4 km in length and you can walk along it. Also beautiful gardens along the moat edge that you can also walk along.
The Bell Tower near the centre of town is akin to the Arc du Triomphe, with a crazy washing machine of a round-about around it. There is no such thing as give way, just merge with care,
Lots of walking this afternoon earned us a beer and successfully made our way to Xi An and looking forward to seeing the terracotta warriors now regarded as the 8th wonders of the ancient world!

Posted by jkerkin 03:26 Archived in China Tagged history wonders china Comments (2)

Tiger Hill, Zhouzhuang Water Township and Farewell for now

Day 4 Suzhou and back to Shanghai

sunny 25 °C
View Tom & Jen's "Continental Drift" on jkerkin's travel map.

Angela organised a car and driver for the whole day so thankfully a train trip back to Shanghai was avoided. First stop was Starbucks for a coffee and then onto Tiger Hill. Main attraction is the Yunyansi Pagoda, built in 959 AD during the Song Dynasty, and the beautiful gardens surrounding it. The pagoda has quite a lean (more than 3 degrees) but they dare not excavate to restore it as the tomb of the Emperor buried beneath is believed to have booby traps.
Gardens like these are a great retreat from the constant noise, traffic and people of everyday life in China.
Halls and garden areas are given names inspired from famous poetry, which when translated into English is clumsy but quite beautifully profound.
Angela shared stories of visiting this place as a kid, climbing on the rooftops and exploring the various areas. It is a place she holds in her heart.
Next stop was onto Zhouzhuang Water Town. This was an old village restored with water canals, arts and crafts, street food, museums and Chinese traditional theatre where we enjoyed an impromptu performance of a famous old Chinese legend. The quiet narrow streets, water canals and the old buildings meant we got a great appreciation of olden times.
Lunch was really special, a little restaurant situated on a balcony over the roof tops.
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Trick is to always find a restaurant with pictures of the food to make sure you don't get something that is way off the normal menu - but we can never quite be sure what we're getting. A highlight of the trip so far has been the food and this was no exception: whole river shrimp, brewed local greens, local chicken, pork balls and most of all, Angela's company. Lots of reminiscing.
A final stop at a Rice Wine Brewery for some samples. Rice wine is dark and semi sweet, akin to a fortified wine with a roasted soy fragrance. The longer it is aged, the darker and stronger it is.
Then we had to say our goodbyes to Angela who was going to catch a bus back to Suzhou while we had a private car and driver take us back to Shanghai. Angela was so nice and we got to go off the normal tourist trail. We cannot thank Angela enough and hopefully we can repay her hospitality someday soon.

We had about a 1 1/2 hour drive back to Shanghai and saw more of the massive apartment blocks that have been built recently and a convention centre laid out in 4 part clover design, and from what we could figure, about 16x the Brisbane Convention Centre. Everything in Shanghai is on a massive scale. Roads, apartment buildings, airports, shopping centres, everything. This is about the most modern city that both Jen and I have been to.

We got to our hotel just 10 minutes from the airport so easy for our early flight onto Xi An to see the terracotta warriors.

Posted by jkerkin 03:02 Archived in China Tagged food china friends suzhou Comments (0)

On Our Way

Day 1 - Brisbane to Shanghai.

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View Tom & Jen's "Continental Drift" on jkerkin's travel map.

We finally got packed, Rick graciously dropped us at the airport and started on our 110 day travels. Great relief to get on the plane and just shut off home life, well for a little while, and just enjoy each day as it comes. We now need to get into travel mode, check your passport 10 times, check you have all your bags, where is my next stop and hotel, food, get money, pack and unpack your bag etc, etc. Sounds simple! Its been 20 years since I "back packed" and a lot has changed. Looking forward to seeing how China has changed since I lived in Beijing for 6 months in 1995.

We arrived in Shanghai, after a short stop in Singapore Airport, our driver was there and we finally arrived at our hotel at 12.30 am, 14 hours of travel, and looking forward to a shower and sleep. Fortunately Jen has Platinum Virgin so we got lounge access and priority access onto the planes. Overall no missed flights, got through customs, got our international roaming phone working and got to our first hotel.

Posted by jkerkin 14:51 Archived in Australia Tagged china holiday plane shanghai airports inn Comments (9)

Welcome to our Travel Blog

In two weeks we embark on our Epic Adventure...T-14 and counting! The excitement is building.

rain 20 °C



'Whatever you dream you can do, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it. Begin it now!' [Goethe]



Life is not about the Destination, its about the passengers you travel with.

Posted by jkerkin 16:21 Archived in Australia Tagged honeymoon adventure countdown Comments (1)

The Countdown - 18 Days to Go!


sunny 20 °C


Posted by jkerkin 15:33 Archived in Australia Tagged countdown wanderlust Comments (3)

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