It feels like a long time but it has only been a month! On sept 4th I left Korea and started my trip. So far it has been pretty fun if not most importantly relaxing. It did feel a bit weird to leave Korea and no matter how much I knew it was coming leaving still felt a bit sudden. Especially when I landed in the airport in Beijing. Which I wasn’t totally prepared for. So it did take a while for me to get into everything again and not being a grouch that I left. Did find the groove eventually. I am going by myself on all of this so it has been a bit different than pretty much all my other trips where I have been with someone.
I started off my trip going to Beijing and have ended up now in Kho Phi Phi in Thailand. In between I haven’t done a whole bunch though. So far I have stayed in China and Thailand only. I’ve been in Thailand for almost the whole month doing what I assume is the usual circuit for people who come over here.
I can say Thailand for me has been a lot more fun than China was. I stayed four days in Beijing and then three in Shanghai. Beijing I wasn’t the biggest fan of for a few reasons. Some might just have been my attitude at the time but I found I just wasn’t enjoying myself as much as I would have liked. If i were to find excuses it would be the hostel that I stayed at was pretty abysmal. It was dirty, unfriendly, didn’t really offer anything and worse case didn’t have a chance to meet anyone there. The location was ok I guess, it was central so I was right next to Tienanmen square and the forbidden city. I was able to see them everyday. However nothing I saw in the city really seemed that cool except for the summer palace. That place was pretty sweet and would recommend it. The square and forbidden city were pretty boring, the history sure is there but to look around it’s all kind of lame.
The city was dirty and I developed a terrible cough that unsurprisngly went away after I left the city. I wasn’t the biggest fan of the aesthetic there either. However it was interesting how hard they tried to reconstruct the traditional feeling of the buildings and keep it in line. For the capital city of one of the wealthiest countries on Earth I was expecting a lot more modernity and just better infrastructure. Instead it felt like I was in a bigger Vietnam all over again.
One of the strangest things I experienced was just the checkpoints in the subway. While I guess it makes things safer and it never really took extra time just the thought of it felt way too imposing. It felt like I was in a really dangerous area and was super uncertain how safe the place actually was. Going through the metal detectors and having to put your bags through screening just to use the subway seems a bit much. Instead of feeling safe it made it seem a lot more dangerous.
However the food was pretty good and the people were all fairly nice. I don’t think my few days in Beijing were totally representative of the city though. I didn’t push myself to do to much and I’m sure that maybe I missed the good areas or fun things. So I’m willing to accept it if someone want’s to change my mind. That being said I found the sites that I saw to be pretty boring and wouldn’t go out of my way to ever see again.
A huge fan of those dumprings, and finally got have duck which I’ve wanted for years after seeing it in London. So it’s been a long wait.
I spent the first day going to the summer palace which was really cool. The palace parts are as same and undistinguished as any other palace or temple you can see so that wasn’t that great. Also a lot of these places have giant walls which make the place seem very grand in scale, but rather boring to look at since it’s just a giant blank red wall. SO pretty bland. The whole compound of the summer palace though is what made it cool. There is a giant lake that it surrounds and the scale of everything is really impressive. It is also very relaxing and nice place to just sit down. That is until some parent lets there kid take a piss in the middle of the walkway. Still there was a lot to see and just enjoy for the most part. The only upsetting part was realizing I had to go back to the center of town again.
Which reminds me, the subway stations never seem to be in the right place ever. Always a block away from where they need to be.
On a good note I did do a tour and did a hike of the Great wall. That was worth it and was actually really cool. We walked for a few hours along the un-restored portion of the wall. It was really great to see and there were views everywhere so it was a good time. The guide was a pretty entertaining guy too. He was very adamant the he buy us Snickers for some reason. He also was very distraught when we didn’t really want to eat the 7/11 sausages that had been cooking in our bags for like 4 hours. The wall is unsurprisingly massive like you can see in pictures, but it was a bit more epic seeing it in person and actually grasping the scale of it all. Unlike everything I had seen in China so far it was large and impressive. Don’t know if I would go back to see it, but if your in the area it’s a must.
Plus i got take love shots with the tour guide with what was probably just gasoline. Whats not to love!
With my time in Beijing up I ended up going to Shanghai for the weekend which was a sweet change and really made China great again.
After being delayed for half a year in Beijing airport I flew into Shanghai. Finally the trip was taking off! I met up with a friend in the airport, after that the number one priority at the time was to take a shower and finally get clean again. It was a smashing success and my hair had never felt better, thanks to some Korean shampoo goodness.
The next day we went to an old town which was really cool. Finally had all the food I wanted and gorged myself on lamb and everything else on a stick. Tried some stinky tofu and might have had too much than what I could have handled. I got pretty stuffed after everything. Except for maybe one thing I don’t think I had something that was just tasted bad in China and it stayed strong here too. The whole area was really nice and had a good atmosphere. It rained a tiny bit but never really got annoying.
We then went to another area which I have no idea where or what it is called so I know it’s a great help. Either way it got even cooler there. There were really Chinese looking buildings and narrow walkways going through them. There were tons of touristy shops there which wasn’t too crazy but the way the buildings just loomed over the alleys was awesome it made everything feel so cozy and like the last place the atmosphere was just there. For whatever reason it reminded me a lot of Spirited Away.
Shanghai was definitely more active than any of my time in Beijing. After this we just walked around to the river and saw the well known skyline. I’m not the biggest fan of the giant round 80’s looking space ship but I think I can live with it. I really enjoyed the mixed in European architecture and feel of the whole area too. We walked around a bit trying to find a place to eat. I’m pretty happy where we ended up too.
So the place we ended up was like nothing like the commercial, but I still felt like it had a similar vibe. Everything that I saw in the streets and in the restaurant was exactly what I thought china would be like.
Things in the restaurant were bustling and what I thought was cool was everything was it’s own stall/booth. Ambiance through the roof! We ordered quite a lot and none of it was bad. Although the best thing I had my entire time in China was from here and it was only beans we ordered as an afterthought. Like seriously they were great beans I still miss them.
Just look at that goodness
After that we just went out to meet some people, and then Shanghai was pretty much done! Actually before leaving I finally got to ride a proper fast train.I wanted to ride a bullet train in Japan but I missed my chance. So when we took the Maglev train to the airport I was more than happy. I was happy with all of Shanghai actually.
After Shanghai the next stop was off to Bangkok and Thailand!
I’m still in Thailand now and will do another write up for it probably in a couple of parts.
Also feel free to comment if you have any ideas for what you want me to do next. ^^