Once again, it started not really like we imagined it. The morning was a complete disaster. We went with Jessy and Lyes for breakfast and had to face our small bill of just 114Yuan (for 3 coffees!!!) but were able to negotiate it down to 60Yuan (=6€). Still very expensive but there was somehow no way to get out of this situation without paying at least something. Then we went for some serious food and got into a noodle stall where Annika and me ordered soy bean noddles and made clear that we want no meat inside. Don’t know if the man from the stall just didn’t understand us or if minced meat for him is just no real meat but we got noodles with meat. Our time was running short, too and started with empty stomachs. We had to catch our bus at 14.30 at the bus station and it was very hard to find a taxi at that time. Like always – if you don’t need or want a taxi hundreds of cabs surround you and almost try to pull you inside their car and when you really need one there is none. But we made it in time and found even some food for us before our sleeper bus left. A sleeper bus is, as the name says, is a bus where you can sleep inside. In a usual 50 persons bus they manage somehow to squeeze 32 beds inside. The beds are not very long and not very comfortable but still better than a regular bus when you have to spent 18 hours in the bus. The most annoying thing was the driver who honked every ten seconds and drove like mad. Not just one time we were seriously flying around in the bus. The street conditions were not the best, let’s say it like this but for him it was no problem at all, slowing down was something he probably never heard about (I’m sure this guy considers the honk as more important than the breaks). Good luck I was reading a good book, otherwise it had been really awful. Sleeping was just impossible (just all the chinese in the bus slept, but they were all much smaller than me and sleep everywhere they can anyway) until 6am the next morning when I napped in but two hours later we already arrived Jinghong. Noodles made a welcoming breakfast and an ATM was found quickly too so we went on just two hours later to Mengla, what takes three hours, we arrived there at 1pm. There we really needed some sleep and decided to stay overnight. It wouldn’t have been possible to go to Luang Prabang the same day anyway. After a two hours rest in our cheap but good hotel we had to find a place to exchange Yuan into US$, what’s easier to say than to do. But we found a Western Union office in a bank and spent the rest of the day mostly with eating. In a small bar we met Peter, a local guy who learned english from watching movies (and he spoke almost perfect) and spent a very nice evening with him, exchanging travel hints and tips with each other because he knew Laos pretty well and we know Europe pretty well where he plans to travel to in near future. The next day we had to get up early. Our bus to Oudomxay, already in Laos, left Mengla at 8.30am and it took 4,5 hours. Inbetween we crossed the chinese-laotian border, for us it was no problem at all, we paid 32US$ each at the border and got our permit to travel Laos for 30 days on the spot. It looked different for a traveller from Ghana who left China and wanted to obtain a lao visa at the border, too. What he (and probably nobody else in world) didn’t know was that Laos changed the entry regulations exactly at this day (the 15th of October) and announced that with a letter at the window of the visa desk. As they quoted, they don’t issue visas on arrival for 29 countries and the best was that one custom officer told him that it would have been no problem yesterday but today there’s no chance to get one from now on anymore. I can’t tell you how much I hate this most unnecessary thing in the world that is called borders. He was really fucked up, it’s not possible to get a visa at the chinese border and his old visa was already stamped invalid so he couldn’t go back to China either and was stuck between two communist, bureaucratic countries. I got his mobile number and his e-mail adress but were not really able to help him out of this situation because there is no embassy of Ghana in Laos. Already before I heard stories that had some similarities to this case and the stories I heard all are pretty frightening. If I can find out what happened to him I’ll keep you up to date. In Oudomxay we waited a couple of hours for the next (and last this day) bus to Luang Prabang and met an australian couple who went out in a small city the name I forgot after 3,5 hours. We went on for some more hours (all the time through the jungle – a breathtaking landscape) and finally arrived in the world heritage city at 10pm, after, at all, 54 hours.
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We arrived in Lijiang pretty late. It was raining and we had no idea where the concert of the three or four announced bands should take place, the only thing we knew was that it should be somewhere in the Old Town and the venue’s name is Mammamia. We were surprised that no one knew a location like that in Lijiang, just outside of the city in nearby towns there would be two pizza restaurants with that name. Already a little bit frustrated and annoyed of the masses of tourists in the Old Town (yeah, as you guessed it now, Lijiang is another of these nice little tourist cities) we found an old hippie who settled down here who knew about this concert and was able to organise us someone who wrote down the directions to that place for a taxi driver. It really was, different than announced on the poster, not in Lijiang but in Shuo He, another town about 10km from Lijiang. The taxi to there costs less than 2€ and we finally made it there in time. We were surprised, the place where the concert was going to be held really was an ordinary (and even upscale) pizza restaurant with a terrace to the street what today was the stage. And there were not four or five bands this evening, just one. In Yangshuo we got to know a guy from Quebec and his girlfriend from Kunming who should play there this evening, too, but the guys girlfriend (who was there) told us that her boyfriend drank a little bit too much the day before and screwed up to come here and that his gig is cancelled. The only band that was left now was “Smegma Riot”, an italian expat band from Kunming, but they made a great show. The whole band was dressed in bathing suits and really gave all, even if the sound quality was not that perfect, it was just great and somehow hilarious to see. In the 50 people audience were a handful foreigners and otherwise chinese people who really didn’t look like if they would listen to punk music. They mostly were standing around in a half circle around the stage and probably were not really believing what these strange foreigners are performing in the middle of street. Men in bathing sutis, going totally crazy, rolling on each other on the ground, flashing their ass, jumping around producing a not understandable music in a worse quality. We loved it! It was something so different to equvalent concerts at home, just funny and hilarious to see! Unfortunately the police heard about the concert (what was not hard – it was in the middle of the city centre and really very load) and showed up after one hour and told the owner of the place that this song will be the last song – too bad. But after the concert we went with the band and some other people to a local pub where the party was going on. Bella Ciao accapalla for half an hour, a couple of beers and relaxed and interesting people. A great evening! Unfortunately it ended not so nice because when we went back to Lijiang the taxi driver just brought us to the Old Town where it’s extremely hard to find anything if you’ve just been in the town for maybe two hours. The narrow streets and ways somehow all look the same and it really is a Labyrinth. Good luck Jessy and Lyes took care of us two drunken and stoned people and picked us up in the main square at maybe 3 o’clock in the morning. But the show was not over yet, together with them we went to another small snack shop and joined the group they were drinking with for a few more beers.
The next day began (and ended) slowly with two or three breakfasts and coffees and slow walking around the ancient town. We bought our sleeper bus tickets for the next day to Jinghong (close to the Lao border) and made not so much more. I was not really feeling well either so I decided to stay in the room during the evening to chill out a little bit and to keep this blog more or less up to date . Annika went to a strange hotpot restaurant with the others, the speciality in this restaurant was some special meat that hang around somewhere for days and should be especially delicious. But anyway, she got lily blossoms what was good, as she reported to me
We tried to hitchhike up north to the Tiger Leaping Gorge but that was not really successful. We were too late and had a small money problem and our local ATM machine refused to give us some cash so we had to head back to Dali to get some Quay (the nickname for the Yuan). We we were back in business it already was almost to late to hitchhike so we decided to take a bus. Anyway, China probably is one of the worsest countries to hitchhike. It’s definitely not common, the traffic is murderous and everybody will expect money for the ride so it’s usually even cheaper to rely on public transportation. From Dali theres no direct bus to the Qiaotou (the first villlage in the gorge), we got to Lijiang where a guesthouse night was necessary. But in the next morning, after a breakfast (potatoes with grilled tofu – great!) we took the bus to the mentioned village and stayed there for the night in a nice small guesthouse. In the evening we already took a walk down the lower road into the gorge and already got a first impression which marvellous landscape and nature will expect us the next 3 days. We left our luggage in the guesthouse at the beginning at the gorge and just took our small backpacks and the most necessary things with us, a good decision. The Tiger Leaping Gorge, a tale sais that once a tiger jumped over the Yangtse river (the longest river in China) here, is definitely a spot not to miss. The river flows very wild and loud (the hardest water rafting area in the world, just one time some Japanese managed it to get through) through up to 3900m high walls of mountains that rise up to 4500m. The gorge is one of the deepest canyons in the whole world. There are two trails you can take to complete the 16-20km long way (depends which way you take), the old tibetan tea trading pass high up with very steep sections and small paths that allow just horses, donkeys or humans to walk or the newly build mostly paved road down at the river which is much easier. Of course we decided to take the old traditional possibility. For this route you should calculate two days of walking but I guess it’s easy to spent more time in this area. On the high trail there are guesthouses every two to three hours so it’s easy to have a rest inbetween or to stay overnight. Our goal was to reach the “Halfway Lodge” in the first day, that, not like the name assumes, is a longer way than just the half of the high trail. But still it’s pretty easy to reach in a 6-8 hours hike. Most of the time the hiking is pretty alright and not really demanding, the most exhausting sections are the “28 bends”, that whirl you up to 2650m and the way up or down the trail. The other sections are very enjoyable but shouldn’t be taken too easy, several people already died in the gorge. When hiking most of the way you’re just by yourself and have the really stunning landscape for your own as well. In the evening you meet fellow travellers in the cheap guesthouses what is pretty nice, too. From the rooms (which costs like 20-30Yuan each in a double room) you most of the times have fabulous views (the same for the toilets ) and you really meet interesting persons here and a nice evening with a couple of beers after so much hiking and very nice talks is almost guaranteed. Now greets to Jonathan (I definitely will visit you in Iowa!) and Mon Yew (I’ll visit you even earlier in Singapore!), Laszlo and the finnish-chinese guy, the swiss family Annika already met on the Trans-Sibirian Railway (Karin, Roland, Eric and Simon) and Jessy and Lyes. It was a great pleasure to meet you all! We finished our hike already at the early afternoon of the second day so had enough time to relax in Sean’s guesthouse before we organised our way back together with Lyes and Jessy to Lijiang, where they already have been longer than just one day and organised a very nice homestay for us. The way to Lijiang takes around 2 hours, plus the way from the end of the gorge back to Qiatou what’s around 30minutes on the new paved road.
For me, the Tiger Leaping Gorge definitely is THE mother of hikes in China (but ok, I haven’t hiked so much there) and more than worth to go for it. For both of us it was one of the big highlights in our travels so far. And in general, if I had to recommend a nice relaxed and still interesting place to go on holiday for a couple of weeks I would now definitely recommend Southwest China, Guangxi and Yunnan province!
It was a strange week this first week of October. The CCP (Chinese Communist Party) gives a whole week holiday for the whole country (of course except for the poor people who can’t even think about a day off because they need something to eat the next week as well) every year after the national day and the people who can efford it all seem to use this week for travelling. At first we were even thinking to leave China before the first of October to avoid this week totally but than we decided to go to a nice, and hopefully not too touristy, village at the shore of Lake Erhai Hu (the 7th largest lake in China in an altitude of 1950m), called Caicun. This village is just a couple of kilometers away from another tourist hub (Dali) and we were not really sure if that would jump out of a frying pan into the fire but we were positively surprised that in our guesthouse, named Dragonfly Garden, we were the only guests (at least for the first night) so there was nothing in the way for a chilled week. Our guesthouse was just great, with a big garden, swings and hammocks, a pool table, great cheap food opportunities and very great and relaxed stuff. We had the hippie-city Dali a few kilometers away, the mountains (up to 4400m high, we were already at the foothills of the Himalaya) to the west and a great lake to the east, it was as good as it just could be. No wonder that we paid four days when we checked in and checked out seven days later It was easy to fill the days with some leisure activities like exploring Dali, climbing the nearby mountains with great views into the surrounding landscape and onto the lake or simply to relax in the garden. By the way, a smokable plant that is legal to smoke in the netherlands and illegal to smoke in Germany grows in this area just alongside the streets… I guess now maybe a few people who read this will open a new tab or browser window and will have a look at googlemaps where exactly Dali in the Yunnan province is located . On the 3rd of October in China the “Mid-Autumn festival” was hold this year what is a very special thing for the chinese, as well. We were just sitting in our bungalow (I forgot to mention, we had our own bungalow for 2,50€ each during this week!) eating our munchies away (you know, this plant that grows at the side of the street) when the big boss of the guesthouse, a tiny, sweet middle-old and warmhearted lady that was always afraid that we would starve and that we called “Mama” after two days, knocked at our bungalow door to get us out of there to celebrate the moonfestival with her family and to get some better food than our peanut butter sandwiches. The evening was great fun, we understood almost nothing (just one person in the round spoke a little bit english with a very strong chinese accent) and were feeded with the traditional moon cake in three or four different variations, walnuts, grapefruits, peanuts and pots of local wine and had to take plenty pictures with all members of the family and who we all say “Cheers” to each other
The town of Dali is really something like a tourist city, but not as worse as Yangshuo. Not soooo many westerners come here but quite a few (mostly hippies, that makes Dali to something like a real hippie-city) found this city likeable enough to settle down there, what I somehow can understand. We also got the first impression about the great chinese province Yunnan here and than decided that we will need more time here. Getting more time was connected to extend our visas what was connected to two 30 minutes journeys into the next bigger city Xiaguan to visit the Public Security Bureau and a visit to the local police station to get a temporary resident permit for another 30 days in China. At all it was not a big deal, just the usual bureaucratic shit for what we had to pay 160Yuan and give away another page of our already well visa-sticked passports. The big advantage that came along with the visa extension was that we would have enough time to hike the Tiger Leaping Gorge (supposed to be gorgeous, and it truly was) and, a really very special pleasure for both of us, to visit a punk concert in Lijiang. Punk in China! The country is not totally lost yet…
From me all the best for the future! I really wish you a new (or no) government, human rights and a free media!
On the first of October 1949 Mao Zedong proclaimed that “the chinese People have stood up” and called out the new “People’s Republic of China”, another of the lot totalitarian communist states that spread out all over the world in these times. Now, 60 years later, the same party is still in power, even when the society they once tried to estasblish in the most populated nation never became true and China now is a hypercapitalised state, maybe by far worser than for example the western capitalist states. But of course, the anniversary 60 days later is a huge thing to celebrate and the whole country (maybe except the “few” minorities that are surpressed in this nation every day) prepares for a huge fest. Annika and me didn’t want to celebrate with them and decided to take a night train from Guilin to Kunming in the evening of the 30th September. The train arrived in Kunming around noon the next day and we directly headed forward to Dali by bus which took another 6-7 hours so we were just travelling at that awful day. But anyway, it was not possible to flee totally from the hysterical masses because the train and bus stations were crowded like hell (it was a national holiday of course) and the streets all were flagged with chinese flags, pennents and other patriotic bullshit. In Beijing the main military parade and a huge choreography (in what a lot of Beijing students had to take part and there semester holidays were just cancelled) was held and in the most other cities there were at least some other spectacles to glorify the great history of the last 60 years. In the main celebration which was repeated again and again on TV during the next days they gave great four minutes for the culture revolution and not a single second for “the big leap forward” afterwards a huge famine hit the country. Really a great self-reflexion.
Anyway, how to describe the chinese state of today? I guess it’s pretty modern, at least much more modern than I expected it to be (and that at least in the cities), but you still feel the pressure of a totalitarian state everywhere around you. The police present on the street is huge, on public places you find CCTV cameras everywhere and Mao is honoured all around in a totally ridiculous way. Some internet pages don’t open (maybe this blog after this critical words, either) and you see communist symbols etc. everywhere. The big contrast to that is that China seems to be not a communist state at all. It really seems to be a business state in worsest way you can imagine. It sometimes seems that it’s all about money here and without money you’re just a total loser. Not that it’s not the same in Germany or France but there you’ve got at least something like a social care system what is completely missing here and someway the people seem to be satisfied with the system they have and seem to like it. I see, at the moment the chinese maybe face so much “freedom” as they never had before and they feel like surfing on huge wave that is growing and growing but somehow someone has to notice that with this government this all is just nothing more than a big theatre. It’s obvious, for example, the government make you pay for EVERYTHING. You want to enter this park? Of course, you just have to pay 30Yuan! You want to take a picture? No deal, 5Yuan! You wanna climb this mountain? Have fun and give me 20Yuan before! Entering the old town? Just 80Yuan! Do some trekking through this gorge? It’s great, but pay the entrance fee of 50Yuan! I could list much more examples… That all doesn’t really fit together and makes China somehow a strange place.
That’s about the state and the political and social system in China, please don’t confuse it with the people’s attitude. The people really are very helpful, friendly and show a great hospitality and they are the ones who have to live under this strange government inside this strange state. They somehow have to deal with it and suffer most and I really hope that it won’t take another 60 years from now until everybody can say again “the chinese people have stood up!”
We arrived in Guilin sometime around midnight and we really expected the weather there to be hot but what we got was insane. 27°C at night and totally humid… that’s really too much. We were extremely happy that we had air con in our room in the nice Flowers Hostel where we checked in. Before we went to bed we had a small evening lunch of street food stall noodles which became one of my total favourites during the next days. We planned to stay in Guilin, a nice city on the banks of the undescribable Li River, for two days before we wanted to head 70km further south to Yangshuo where we got something like a job for 10 days. Guilin actually was already nice, just a pitty that it was not really possible to do something in a 36°C heat in the afternoon. In the third day, thank you very much, it rained a little bit and the weather changed. The temperatures just reached 25-27° anymore what was absolutely perfect for our Li River trip in a bamboo boat down to Yangshuo that we arranged together with Max (I knew him already from Mongolia and ran into him in the streets). At first we went out of the city by bus for one hour before we changed to the bamboo boat which brought us in 2,5hours downstream to another old town from where we took another bus for maybe 30minutes to get to Yangshuo. The scenery at the Li River is just spectacular. There are no words to describe it so I simply won’t try. There’s a reason why the backside of the 20Yuan note shows a picture from the Yulong River. The area around Guilin and Yangshuo is famous for the karst strange rock formations you find everywhere. These green hills seem just to grow out of the earth with no warning and make it somehow a surreal place. The reason for this unique landscape is that the whole area was part of the ocean a long time ago and maybe a huge coral reef. Yangshuo is even better than Guilin in my opinion and I was really happy that we made the decision to stay there for some days. The city is squeezed between the mountains and two rivers, the already mentioned Li River and the Yulong River (Dragon River) and is very attractive for all kinds of tourists as a base for trips into the surrounding nature. Climbers, Hikers, Ballooners and Photographers meet here so it think you can imagine that the city is pretty touristy, what might be the biggest disadvantage about this place. The “job” we had was very interesting as well. We volunteered at the most famous english college in town where people from all over China come to to improve their english skills. The only thing we had to do was take part in the so called “English Corners” where we got a topic and talked about that (or mostly about other more interesting things) for two hours four times a week in the evening. For that we got free accomodation, free food (but hardly any vegan or vegetarian options so we self-catered us) and, at that was the best of all, free beers! Beside that, of course, it was a great chance to get to know chinese locals and the chinese culture. Otherwise most of the time pretty hard to chat with locals due to language problems. Our free time during the 10 days in Yangshuo we spent with relaxing, going out into nature by bicycle or swimming in the Li River (at the “Secret Beach”). The nightlife is pretty good aswell, with cheap beers, very nice rooftop or reggae bars and a good bunch of nice people (mostly expats or travellers) we got to know more and more from day to day. Maybe Yangshuo is not the most chinese of the chinese cities and definitely not a standard example for a chinese town but still, for some days to relax and a change to the usual travelling life it’s definitely a welcoming alternative. We stayed there until the 30th of September, one day before the big day for China. We expected hordes of tourists in the city and there was a parade planned as well, so we preferred to escape and head over to Dali in the Yunnan province, just a small 1500km or 20 hour train and 5 hour bus journey west of Yangshuo…
I know, that’s a really stupid sentence – but what can you expect from Mao?
The border crossing was relatively uncomplicated. For 10€ we hired a jeep which should bring us over to the chinese side. Our driver was a true character, pretty stressful but still nice. A funny situation occured when the border police at first didn’t want to let him (and us) pass because he was queue-jumping but with some nice words and probably some money (what he paid, not us) the problem was solved easily. The attention we got from the chinese customs was a little bit more than normal, we had to pass a medicine check (because of the pig flu) and were pulled out of the mass to get “further examinated” where we had to unpack our backpacks. But finally we arrived in the first chinese city after the border, Erlian. From there you have the possibility to take a sleeper bus to Beijing or to find some companions and hire a small van by yourself. We found one finnish, one dutch and one chinese guy so we went with a minivan to Beijing. Usually that takes 7-8 hours (the sleeper bus needs 11) but today we had pretty big bad luck. You should know that the “People’s Republic of China” celebrates its 60th birthday at the 1st of October this year and the government really gets paranoid about that. So we got into a massive 7 hour traffic jam on the motorway because the police checked ALL cars on ALL streets to Beijing for security reasons. That was a pretty good first impression we got from this surveillance- and spy state. Anyway, we arrived in Beijing in the middle of the night at 2.30am, got into a taxi and went to Zack’s place, a couchsurfer who offered us to stay at his place for some days. Thank you very much for that and sorry again that we kept you up so long!
The next day was our only real full day in Beijing at all but we didn’t know that when we got up in the morning. What to say about Beijing? It was damn hot and humid at that days, the air is the most terrible you can imagine, even when there are no clouds in the sky, the sky has a grey-blue colour (the most air polluted city in the world!) and additional to that the city is unbelievable noisy and it really seems that theres no place anywhere to have a minute for yourself and to relax. I still was more or less fine with the idea to stay in Beijing for two or maybe three days to see at least some of the sights but for Annika this monstrous 15 million city was maybe a little bit too much and she felt very uncomfortable there and in the evening we decided to head to the small town Shanhaiguan, 300km northeast of Beijing, the next day, what was pretty fine with me too.
Originally we planned to stay at Zack’s place for four or five nights but now the next morning was already our last so at least we wanted to have a nice breakfast with Zack. In the supermarkets in Beijing you can find almost everything you find in Europe, too, plus some nice additional goodies like tofu in all imaginable kinds and strange but interesting fruits. The only big minus in China is the absence of good bread. You can just find very soft white bread that most of the time is terrible sweet, as well. But we were good nurtured when we entered the train out of the capital.
Shanhaiguan immediatly was a total different thing than Beijing. It’s a wonderful town of about 150000 inhabitants directly at the Pacific Ocean with a very nice old town and an impressive city wall. The best of all was that there were really no tourists except us in the city. Somehow strange because the city really has something to offer. For example the Great Wall hits the ocean just a couple of kilometres away, passes the first big mountains (known as “The first gate under heaven”) and the already mentioned nice old town and city wall. We found a small unofficial guesthouse were we booked a double room for 35Yuan each for the next days. The facilities all were a little bit shabby but our demands aren’t very high so it was totally okay. In the first evening we found a nice restaurant that served the best food for unbeatable low prices – our first real experiences with the great chinese kitchen. A dinner that was so big that it was hard to finish for two persons was something like 40Yuan (10Yuan = 1€) inclusive beers, it really was no surprise that we visited this place three times during the three days we spent in Shanhaiguan. Another big surprise for us was that there was really something going on in this town. Every evening the main square turned into a open air disco with some stylish chinese techno music or traditional western songs like “Bella Ciao” in techno versions. And really everybody meets there. Old and young, women and men go there and do whatever they like. The younger people very often play a game that I would call “feather hacky-sack” and the older people dance in order to the music with studied simultan moves or do some traditional dances at the other side of the street. Very cool. It took not really a long time until we were involved in the “feather hacky-sack” thing as well and at the next day we bought our own
It was hard to get bored in Shanhaiguan. We spent the second day at a beach where we had our first swim in the Pacific in our life and visited the “Old Dragon’s Head”, the place where the Great Wall clashes with the waves of the Ocean even if we saved the 30Yuan (each!) and did not climb up. At day three we finally climbed the Great Wall. The entrance gate (again, it’s 30Yuan each to enter the wall) to the wall is approximately 2km north of the city and the wall really gets steep here for the first time. With no doubt, the wall is an impressive monument in the history of mankind and I think it’s one of the sights in the world everybody who maybe has the possibilities to see it should see it. Unfortunately it was a pretty dizzy and foggy day when we went up but for that we nearly had the wall for ourselves – we just met a handful chinese tourists during the couple of hours we spent there. It actually was a good legwork as well – it was not a big deal to sleep this night
At the next day we had to get up early because we went back to Beijing and in the evening on to the southwest of China. Our plans were to arrive early, meet up with Iannis and David to pick up our train tickets they organised for us (it was not possible to buy train tickets from Beijing to Guilin in Shanhaiguan, so thank you very much doing that for us!) and to visit the Forbidden City in the afternoon but once again we had no luck in this city. The communist party choosed this afternoon to have a rehearsal for their big 60th anniversary military parade and just closed the whole inner city. The subway stopped running at 1pm and we somehow made it that we found us in the middle of the inner city where usually nobody was allowed to go at that day. Just soldiers, policemen with machine guns, security guards, tanks and us two with our big backpacks beside some people who live there… A really dodgy feeling. We tried to get out of that area as soon as possible but the nonexistance of any public transportation forced us to walk out and Beijing really really is a big city. During our walk we passed policemen who took pictures of us, x-ray scanners (these ones that you usually find at airports to scan your luggage) and hundreds of still standing soldiers. What a crazy country!
Finally we made it to the West Railway Station and met David and Iannis and boarded our train to Guilin, which is 2200km south of Beijing in the southwest of China. The train journey took 27 hours but it was totally worth it. A tropical climate and one of the most stunning landscapes of China was waiting for us…