Showing posts from September, 2007

Yangshuo's fairtytale peaks and lunar landscape.

Think China! Think Yangshuo! With its famous fairytale karst peaks, one after the other after the other, the landscape is exactly what the mind conjures up when thinking of China. I was just waiting for a man with long braided hair and a long wispy moustache to jump out in front of us and the image would have been complete! The town's otherworldly landscapes are mesmerising! We spent a good week here, staying in various hotels, and seeing Yangshuo as it is seen best, by bike! Despite the fact that several tours abound, a bit of pedal power gets you off the beaten track, and cheaply allows you to stumble across old bridges, fascinating landscapes, and minority groups in tiny villages that look centuries old. Our Chinese is shocking, but a broad smile and a hearty Ni Hao (hello) brought a smile to many of these people's faces, as well as more than curious stares (who are these weirdos on bikes, and why do they seem so interested in us and our dot of a village anyway?).

The centre…

Arriving at "the source"...Welcome to China!

Nothing can really prepare you for it!!!!!! I mean this is the land where 25 million trees are felled annually to make disposable chopsticks ( for the Chinese!!!!!); where it really does rain "acid rain", seriously the water stings your eyes; where personal space isn't really personal; where pollution is so bad that the sky is a continual haze; where pedestrian crossings, are merely a "formal tool" for people to scamper across the road ....whenever!!!!!; where signs read.......Wan Kee (OK, that was under a sign under a Nike sign in Hong Kong); where "negotiating" means handing over what is asked, or actually punched into the calculator! ; where all these characters basically mean jack!; where there is "internet police!! Yes, I am serious!! Open up a "no no" website, and the hand of the law comes a knocking at your screen; where people are still tortured for practising their religion of choice. Hop onto a search engine and check out wha…

Macau........where's that!

Now Macau, where is that? Well, if you thought that Hong Kong was small, welcome to Macau (also spelt Macao). Lying 65 kilometres west of Hong Kong, it has a population of 480,000 and is just 28 square kilometres in area. It is a tiny country steeped in history, and due to its having been colonised by the Portuguese in 1557 and subsequently being governed by them until very recently, it has an interesting and colourful past as well as cultural mix. In 1999 however, it finally passed from Portuguese hands back to Chinese ones, and like Hong Kong, was made an SAR (Special Administrative Region). Although its two official languages are Cantonese (technically a Chinese dialect) and Portuguese, not many people speak the latter. Whilst 95% of the residents are Chinese, the remaining 5% are made up of Portuguese and Macanese (people with mixed Portuguese, Chinese and/or African blood). With a fusion like this, which manages to seep into many facets of the Macanese lifestyle, the total sum of…

Life beyond the skyscrapers of Hong Kong.

Towards the end of our stay in Hong Kong (which at two and a half weeks, was longer than we had originally anticipated) we visited Lantau Island, and I was pleasantly surprised to see that there really is life beyond the skyscrapers, neon lights, consumerism, commercialism and shopping that we had been forced upon us almost continuously. What a relief! Alex and I were determined not to leave HK, until we had seen "another side" to it. As most of the action and commotion are centralised around all of the above (skyscrapers, neon lights, consumerism and shopping), it can sometimes be hard to get away! Like any fast paced city, time seems to go so much more quickly, and before you know it, the day has passed, whilst you are left wondering, "What did I do?"

Back to Lantau. It is Hong Kong's largest island in both size and height. It can be reached by either ferry or metro (which in this case goes underground). As we had not used the metro thus far, we decided to gi…