Ayutthaya

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Ayutthaya has temple ruins, lots of them, and they are some of the most magnificent in Thailand. Awarded UNESCO world heritage status in 1991, it was the second Siamese capital after Sukhothai. Ayutthaya offers a change in pace from Bangkok, … Continue reading

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Hong Kong markets, markets & more markets

With the rain, heat and humidity, apparently this time of year is not the best time to visit. Its close enough to the factories of southern China that when the wind blows from the north, you won’t see a blue sky for days, which was the case for 4 out of 5 days we were there. We caught the high speed train to Shenzhen, where we crossed the border to Hong Kong.

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Public transport is really easy to navigate and really affordable. We had absolutely no trouble figuring out the maps and working out how to get around and found it only cost a few dollars (AUS) to get around. No trip to Hong Kong is complete without a trip on the Star Ferry – Jump aboard the Star Ferry from Wan Chai to Tsim Sha Tsui. It’s super cheap and a convienient fast way to cross the Harbour, plus you get to see Hong Kong from the water! We did this quite a few times, as it was quick and easy from our shoebox hotel. I confess, it was also probably due to the fact that there was one of the best coffee stalls on the island there as well!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAFood here is ridiculously priced – our first nights Mexican meal came to a grand total of $200 AUD, for burritos! This would be more like $60 at home.

Mong Kok – Hong Kong is a very modern city but it has its older areas that are definitely worth a visit. Mong Kok is an area of old and new, an area plastered with neon signs, just like the Hong Kong you see in 80’s movies.

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Ladies Market is one of the most well-known markets in Hong Kong, with over 100 stalls. They sell knock-off handbags, sunglasses, clothes and plenty of stuff you didn’t know you needed. Be sure to bargain hard. Some people say it’s not all it’s hyped up to be, I have to agree. It is possibly one of the worst market we have been to in Asia, and definitely not the market I remember. Best advice is to go in with very low expectations.

Temple Street Markets is a better option, but still not a patch on other markets in SE Asia. It runs from 2pm to midnight and you can buy everything from gifts, clothes, art, handbags and luggage – we were hard pressed to find anything worthwhile though, particularly after areas of Northern China.

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Grounded in Guilin 

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Guilin’s centre is filled with leafy boulevards and reminded me somewhat of Shanghai’s French Concession area, however that’s where the comparison ends. The multitude of karst hills that rise throughout Guilin city centre is unique, creating a stunning setting. A … Continue reading

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Hiking the Dragon’s Backbone from Guilin

Guilin 桂林 is home to China’s most archetypal scenery, so much so, you feel like you have stepped into a Chinese landscape painting. We planned our visit here around two different places: Longsheng and Yangshuo. We had managed to side step the heavy rains slamming Southern China, flooding rivers and towns, to date, but with Gullin registering over 407 mm (16 inches), and the largest three-hour rainfall of 203 mm, just before we arrived, our plans for Yangshuo needed a rethink as most of our planned activities had been cancelled.

Our trip to the Longji Rice Terraces 龙脊梯田 was an early start. The city scene quickly changed to a karst landscape, as we headed 100km North of Guilin City. After witnessing the striking imagery of the rice terraces in Northern Vietnam, and Iffuago in the Philippines we were hoping these would prove to be as spectacular. The roads if nothing else were proving to be a similar experience. Slow going and windy with quite a few near miss situations as we headed around the narrow bends with shoulders giving way, due to the recent heavy rains.

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We stopped halfway up at PingAn Village for lunch. This was combined with a visit to the long haired women. These women only cut their long black hair three times in their lives. They bundle their own cut hair within a turban style updo and carry it with them.

With a name meaning “Dragon’s Backbone,” the layered rice paddies are said to resemble a dragon’s scales when they are full of water. Construction of these magnificent terraces began way back in the Yuan Dynasty – 12th century, by the ethnic Zhuang people who inhabit the region.

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On our return, a landslide had caused a large part of the road to be closed off. Everyone I’m anything bigger than a minibus had to get off and take a hike to where where another bus was waiting downhill. Thank goodness we were in a small van that managed to scrape past! I hate to think how long we would have been stranded if we had departed later, as I’m pretty sure that road was going to slide away completely.

 

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Basking in Beihai 

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Beihai 北海, is located at the southern end of Guangxi. It officially became an international tourist spot in 1982 i.e. the Chinese opened it up to foreign tourists, although you wouldn’t know it! Researching this place to decide where to … Continue reading

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Shanghai Disneyland – fun with crowds

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Today we visited Disney’s biggest international park. The reason I decided to go to this one and not wait till Hong Kong is because they have many more rides than Hong Kong Disneyland, especially for older kids. I had found … Continue reading

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Scaling Shanghai

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Everyone who comes to Shanghai’s Pudong area goes up a tall building of sorts to look down on this massive city – hopefully on a relatively smog less day. We decided to go one better and hang off the side … Continue reading

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