quarta-feira, 20 de junho de 2012

A trip around China

Finally, China

After finishing my experience here in Cambodia - further posts will talk about that - I will get into an 1-month trip around China.

This trip it's probably the one that most required me to get prepared and plan ahead compared to all trips I've done in the past year. To keep the costs under control, many nights will be spent on overnight trains, and so the trip could have a local taste, always when possible I will go with Couchsurfing (For those who don't know what it is I recommend to read this Wikipedia article). And to avoid the need of having to check-in somewhere and making me very flexible I invested some money in a medium Deuter backpack which will carry only the basic stuff: some clothes, photography gear, hygiene stuff and food, just that. No, I won't become a dirty backpacker so I will do my laundry on the way.

One of the challenges of travelling in China is the language barrier. Most people don't speak English. I know that this is not a perfect solution but I will take an iPad with some download app's which will make very easier for me to access maps and translate most things to comprehensible Chinese so I can request or ask anything. 

Well, maybe what make you most anxious about is the itinerary! I've designed under my Chinese friend Zhengyu supervision. The idea was to have all the steps planned especially due to budget concerns. I'm not any Philleas Fogg but I'm really commited to that plan. In case I need to change it, it will be much easier because I can know where there is flexibility, where the trains depart from, etc.

The spreadsheet is very good and if anyone is planning to go to China just ask me and I will send it to you. I will try to track my budget to check if I can make it under it and then I will post the result. The actual estimative is 8,248 yuans which is around US$ 1,200. That includes everything besides getting in and out from China.

View Untitled in a larger map

29/06 - Bye Bye Cambodia:(
30/06 - Hong Kong
01/07 - Hong Kong and flight to Beijing. From here to below just trains.
02/07 - Beijing
03/07 - Beijing
04/07 - Beijing
05/07 - Beijing
06/07 - Beijing
07/07 - Datong
08/07 - Pingyao
09/07 - Pingyao
10/07 - Xian
11/07 - Xian
12/07 - Xian
13/07 - Nanjing
14/07 - Nanjing
15/07 - Nanjing
16/07 - Suzhou
17/07 - Shanghai
18/07 - Shanghai
19/07 - Shanghai
20/07 - Huangshan Mountain
21/07 - Huangshan Mountain
22/07 - Xiamen
23/07 - Xiamen
24/07 - Xiamen
25/07 - Yongding
26/07 - Hong Kong
27/07 - Hong Kong

China is a huge country, bigger than Brazil. This North-South East coast tour is just one of the many others you could do within 1 month. It's extremely difficult to decide the best way to go and everytime you search, Google will find more wonderful and incredible sceneries that China can offer. Among other possibilities one could go in the Mongolia direction, with plains and mountains, or follow the Silk Route to the desert in the West, or even Tibet in Southwest and all the Southern region visiting Guilin, and going West until Dali.

Below I will make an introduction to all the places so you can have an idea what will be coming up in the next month.

Hong Kong (K)

Source: Destinosdeviagem
My initial kick-off will be through Hong Kong, the gate to China. Besides being a former British colony which was returned to China in 1997, it's one of the world's most famous financial center reflected on its skyscrapers and sophisticated features. However Hong Kong is still a special administrative region and kept its right to be almost independent from China for the next 50 years after being returned. There are many contrasts and conflicts between Mainland Chinese and Hong Kong Chinese. The social indicators are obviously very different and therefore are very famous some cultural shock issues. My friend Julia Ferraz's blog is especialized in Hong Kong and it's a good source of actual and relevant information for everyone going there. 

Beijing (A)

Source: CNReviews.com
Beijing is the second largest city in China, and besides its title as the administrative capital it could also be said as the cultural capital. Spread around the city are temples, palaces, museums, ruines, etc., that can show the history of the Chinese people. In 2008, Beijing hit the news constantly as the host of the Olympics and because of that the city went through massive transport invesments and attemptives to curb pollution. The cultural attractions there are many and this will be the city in which I will spend most of my time during the whole trip. I will visit the Forbidden City, the Temple of Heaven, the Tianamen Square, the Summer Palace, and of course, The Great Wall of China, among others.

Datong (B)

Source: Wikipedia
Datong  is a 3 million people city and it's not that far from Beijing. Besides there are some more attractions there I will spend just 1 day and not even 1 night becasuse I want to visit just only two big monuments. One are the Hanging Monasteries and other are the Yungang Grottoes.

Pingyao (C)

Moving on the next stop will be Pingyao, a tiny little city for Chinese standards with only 50,000 people. It has more than 2,700 years of history and appointed as the world's best well kept ancient city. To start, its wall was kept until today. This city was also China's first financial center, keeping more than a half of the country's financial institutions until 1914. Just walking around the city, or over its walls it's something special, however there are many temples and courtyards to visit.

Xi'An (D)

Source: Wikipedia
Xi'An it's a metropolis in China's central region and also known as 'West Capital' in the past. It was the end (or the start) to the old Silk Road that connected China to Europe by land. Because of that, Xi'An was always marked by an intense exchange of ideas, culture and religions, which in fact is reflected in the presence of mosques which were brought with the Islam practices of the traders from Middle-East. With a more than 8 million people population it keeps one of the most valuable archeologic treasures of China, the Terracotta Army.

Nanjing (E)

Source: Wikipedia
Other Chinese metropolis, Nanjing also has more than 8 million people and its name means 'South Capital'. It's located in the margins of the Yangtze river and it's an important historical city as much as Xi'An or Beijing, serving as administrative capital many times. Besides its many museums, temples and ancient cultural attractions there are two highlights for the city. First, this is where the Japanese occupation war crimes were worse and second, this was the final stage where the Comunist party took control over China and the dissidents ran away to Taiwan.

Suzhou (F)

Source: Wikipedia
Suzhou has around 4 million people in its urban area and 10 million people in its expanded area being part of a satellite centurion of cities around Shanghai. The city has more than 2,500 years of history and presents the apex of Chinese garden architecture. My focus during the tour will be basically to go around the gardens in the historical area of the city.

Shanghai (G)

Source: topchinatravel.com
Finally Shanghai, China's true symbol of development and economic power. Around 23 million people and the title as the biggest Chinese city besides its global relevance as poltical, economical and cultural center. It's located in the end of the Yangtze river and because of that it always ensured a strategical importance to the country. During the 19th century, England, Germany and French imposed diplomatic deals in which they could hold parts of the city and make profit with Opium trade. Monuments, avenues, neighborhoods and the 2nd tallest budiling in the world will be on my 'to-dos' list.

Huangshan Mountain (H)

Source: Wikipedia
Not so far away from Shanghai it's Huangshan Mt also known as "Yellow Mountain". In 2007 this place received 15 million tourists and this will be my nature scenery highlight during the trip. Climbing it up during 2 hours of steps, an extensive trekking through the many peaks and sunset and sunrise in the top. If everything's ok and my agenda follows my plans I will spend my birthday there.

Xiamen (I)

Source: Wikipedia
Included recently in my itinerary, Xiamen it's a 3 million + city and one of the contact points between Mainland China and Taiwan. It's appointed as the cleanest and well kept city in China. One of the interesting aspects about going there is paying a visit to the Gulang Yu island, which mixes European and Chinese influence due to its past after the Opium war.

Yongding (J)

Source: Wikipedia
My last stop is Yongding, a montaineous region in the province of Fujian, original land of the Hakka people. The main attraction in the region are the 'condominiums' built as fortress in many different formats: circles, squares and elyptical.

Well, I hope you got at least curious about how the trip will be. After I leave Cambodia I probably won't write any detailed post before getting back to Brazil. During that period you keep your imagination wondering how things must be going on! hehe

Liked? Any suggestion or idea? Leave a comment! ;]

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