My last weekend in China was the midsummer weekend and we decided to travel somewhere but we had no idea where. A friend of ours recommended Pingyao and we decided to go there. The day before we left Beijing was struck by the worst rain in 6 years. It rained and rained and rained. The morning after it was still raining and it was incredibly difficult to find a cab. Luckily the guy who usually drives my mom to work when it’s raining was outside (he drives a bicycle taxi). He took us to the tube station and we went to the place where we were suppose to change. I think I checked 3 different apps and googled the connection yet when we arrived it didn’t exist. So we had to go back a station and now we were late. We were basically running all the way there and in the end we arrived 30 minutes early. Funny how time works.
Anyways, in China there are 3 types of train; High-speed, fast and slow train. I’ve only taken the high-speed before to Shanghai and it was a high-speed train again. It took us 4 hours to get to Pingyao. On the way there we had a 5 (ish) year old Chinese boy who started telling us all random English words over and over again (counting to 5, colours, etc…) When we arrived a ton of people wanted us to ride with them to Pingyao (the train station was a bit outside town). We do not like people who run up to us (+ it’s usually a scam) so we started scanning for legit taxis but could only find one that was already occupied. So we started heading for the bus and the guy following us kept saying “bus no go Pingyao, no Pingyao”. Guess what? The bus did go to Pingyao. So we took the bus. It cost us 1 SEK each.
Pingyao Ancient City is in the middle of Pingyao surrounded by the “modern” city. Apparently in 1997 when they put it on UNESCO world heritage list they threw most people out of the ancient city into the modern. Now it mostly consists of small stores and tons of museums for different things such as bodyguard museum, weapon museum and bank museum.
We lived inside the ancient city in one of the courtyard hotels which surprisingly was very cheap. The first night we bought our tickets (one ticket for the entire city) and visited the court and prison. The prison was apparently in use up until the 1950s. The next day we met our guide and visited the bank (first bank in Asia), bodyguard museum and then afterwards we took a cab to a big courtyard museum outside the city. The last day we visited the weapon museum and ring wall. I even got to try archery at one place.
I started writing this post, paused and then realised I had forgotten what I wanted to write so I apologize for it being short. Pingyao is definitely worth a visit, especially considering how cheap it is to visit. Tickets back and forth is about 600 SEK and the hotel cost about 100/night/person. It’s extremely beautiful. The only downside is that once you’ve seen one house, you’ve seen them all. They pretty much look the same. Also Pingyao is famous for its vinegar which doesn’t smell very good and while walking through the town you could suddenly be hit right in the face with the smell of the vinegar. Yuck. It was also very interesting because I only saw 2 or 3 western parties in the city. People were very curious about us to say the least.
Also finishing this off with a picture I found on my mom’s phone. A lady wanted to take a picture of me together with her kids. Fun stuff.
At last I have finally taken the time to write about Inner Mongolia. I have around 300 pictures so I couldn’t fit them all but I hope I didn’t add too many.
This post starts with Thursday the 15th of June. I was suppose to have my writing exam between 8-10. The flight left at 10:50 which means there was no way I could sit the full time and make the flight. I had however, based on my previous exam, predicted to be done in less than an hour which I was and ended up at the airport somewhere around 9:45. We flew from Beijing to somewhere in the middle of China and drove for 2 hours to a town called Zhongwei. We went out for dinner and noticed that exactly EVERYONE was staring at us. It seemed like they weren’t too used to tourists. After that we went to sleep. The next day when we went for breakfast we noticed they had no “breakfast”, only asian breakfast which is basically lunch. After that we took a car to the corner of the desert and changed to the car in the topmost picture. We thought it was to drive us straight to our camp. It didn’t. Afterwards we were told it was called something like dune surfing or whatever but what it was was basically a roller coaster. The car (which was enormous) went up and down sand dunes very fast which basically threw you around in the car like a glove. After that we were let off for lunch which was lukewarm beer and soup. We were told that we were to ride camels for 3 hours (!) and then walk back. So we mentally prepared ourself and waited. After a while the camels arrived and we started riding. No amount of mental preparation can prepare you for a camel standing up/lying down. Mine went down like it was diving for something in the sand. We started riding out into nowhere but for some reason Emil’s camel always started moving sideways. After an hour the camel driver decided that it was enough (thank god) and we started walking back. It took us almost 2 hours to walk back. We had basically no idea where we were going and our guide (not the driver) had absolutely no idea what she was doing. 3 times she sat down because she got too tired to walk and we asked her multiple times if she wanted to ride but she refused to as she “had to take care of the guests”.
When we finally got back we noticed that they had put up our tents and started cooking dinner. For dinner we basically got lukewarm beer and barbecued meat. They also gave us a kind of red hot dog that you eat on sticks in China. I ate 2. I haven’t been able to eat a sausage ever since, that’s how bad I feel every time I think of them. We decided to climb up on the dune just behind our tent and watch the sunset. It was fantastic. After that we went to bed. Emil and Ebba shared one tent while my parents shared another one and I got the last one for my self that was a bit smaller. It turned out that they all were model Chinese. I had to lie diagonally to fit and even then my head was poking one corner and my feet the other one. And there was an insane amount of flies/mosquitos. The following morning we woke up for the sunrise for some reason and then went back to bed. For breakfast we were served a kind of sweet bread (sockerkaka typ. Luckily we had brought some bars so I could at least get something to eat. After that we headed back. The guide invited us to some kind of lavender farm so we spend 2 hours there going around a golf court that wasn’t a golf court but instead a “grass park” (it is forbidden to build golf courts in China for some reason). We then continued to the airport and waited for about 7 hours there as that was the only flight we could take back.
I’m very happy that I got to try out my new lens that I bought in Japan (18-200mm), it turned out to take some great photos. Hopefully I will be able to upload my photos from Pingyao this weekend as well and then after that a normal post about this week. Cheerio!
Figured that it’s time to finish my post regarding Japan. On Monday I was suppose to take a bus tour but I arrived 2 minutes late and the next one wasn’t leaving until 2 hours later. I was also starving because I hadn’t had breakfast or lunch so I tried to get some money: no go. 6 different ATMs declined my ICA-card before I had to give up. Luckily another card worked. I decided to spend the day in Akihabara which is known as Akihabara Electric Town where they sell tons of 2nd hand electronics and most importantly: retro games. I finally got my hand on an old Nintendo 64 with box and some other games. In addition to this I also managed to come across a store that sold pre-owned camera lenses which were less than half the price of new ones (which is still a lot). Later on I met up with mom for dinner. We were suppose to eat at the restaurant where we ate the first night and won a 50% discount but apparently they were closed on Mondays which we figured out when we were standing in front of it. After looking around for a while we managed to find a cozy traditional restaurant where we could do some BBQ.
On Tuesday I got up extra early just to catch the tour bus. It was so worth it because it drive all around Tokyo and the tour took 2 hours. After that I went back to Akihabara and after running back and forth between different camera stores I decided to buy the lens I looked at the day before. After that we were out of time and started our journey home.
Final impression of Tokyo: AWESOME.
Saturday was the day in which it never stopped raining. I haven’t seen so much rain in a very long time. So we decided to stay inside. Firstly we started with the Snoopy museum which wasn’t very interesting but had some fun stuff. They also had a Snoopy themed restaurant where you could get dessert pizzas and so on. After that we visited the samurai museum which was one of my “top things to do”. It did not disappoint and they had armour and swords (katanas) showcased. After that we just walked around a bit and looked at the streets as Tokyo has ALOT of lit up signs and neon signs outside.
Sunday came with some better weather and we had decided to spent our time at the Imperial Palace. You can’t see the palace itself as the imperial family lives there but you get to see the east garden and some gates and so on. It was pretty nice. After that we went to Sensoji temple. One of my main goals with this trip was to buy a katana. Apparently there’s 3 countries in the world that doesn’t allow you to import imitation swords and of course China is one of them. Maybe next time. After that we continued to Shibuya crossing which I had been very excited to see (if you’ve seen Tokyo Drift you know it). The best view was at Starbucks and we waited a while to get seats so we could just sit and watch the traffic while we had some coffee and hot chocolate. It is suppose to be the busiest crossing in the world. Close to that I managed to find a “Book Off” which is a second hand store that sells mainly books but a lot of other things, for example retro games. I picked up two old nintendo games which I can’t even play because I don’t have a console that supports them but hopefully I’ll be able to fix that tomorrow.
My thoughts on Tokyo right now:
Awesome, everyone is so much nicer than in China (they bow to you everywhere?!?!) and it’s very clean but the downside is that it’s very expensive. The biggest downside is that our hotel room has a heated toilet seat – it feels soooooo weird.
At last we have arrived in Tokyo. Been looking forward to this for quite a while now. Getting here was a breeze, 3 hours flight, skytrain to the closest subway and then taxi to our hotel. I did however have to do the most thorough security check I’ve ever seen (they even felt on the inside of my underwear and scanned my feet without shoes with a metal detector). We arrived at the hotel at about 8 local time and decided to go out for dinner. Every single restaurant we could find was full! We decided to wait and eventually got a seat at a cozy restaurant. The people working there didn’t know a single word of english but we managed to order some food. When we were cooking it we were suppose to guess a number between 0-9 and if something happened we’d win something. Apparently we guessed on one of the numbers in the weight of the meat and we won so we got 50% off of our next roast beef there if we ever return to that restaurant. We also tried the local highball which is whisky and soda mixed.
On our way home something funny happened. We were walking and walking and suddenly my mom says “there’s the hotel!!”. We walk inside and realise that it’s the right brand but not the right location. Luckily enough they could give us a map. On our way home we get to see Tokyo tower which is basically a small eiffel tower. Tomorrow we’re going out for sightseeing and I am so ready.
An update will hopefully follow tomorrow. It feels so good being outside the great firewall of China for the first time in 3 months and being able to browse facebook and instagram without having to use workarounds. It’s the small things in life…
Train stations are usually smaller and easier to navigate than airports. Except when you’re in China. Beijing has 4 train stations and they’re all the size of an airport. Makes sense though since the train rides are usually longer than most flights. Anyways, we took the train at 10 this Saturday from 北京南-station and 5 hours later we arrived in Shanghai （上海). The train trip was rather uneventful but what’s interesting about taking the train in China is that Chinese people ALWAYS have to chew on something. This means that your nose is constantly bombarded by different smells of food. I am amazed how a family can eat continuously for 5 hours but it as apparently possible. I haven’t done much this weekend except sightseeing and having drinks at skybars. Absolutely fine by me. I took the train home alone Monday night and had the Tuesday off as well as it’s tomb sweeping day. Tomorrow I’m back to school again at 8 in the morning, woho. We also have a presentation on Thursday where we’re suppose to talk about a celebrity which in my case is Morgan Freeman. I also need to hand in my passport as I need to apply for another entry into China. Will be interesting to see how it works. Friday night my friend finally arrives so I also need to start planning that. It will be an eventful weekend hopefully.
Some people might also think after reading some of my posts that I am negative towards Chinese people. Their culture is very different from the one I’ve grown up in and therefore it’s perceived as negative. The one thing that can make you extremely annoyed of Chinese people is the subway. Whenever they get on the subway a lot of them just stand in front of the door, even though there’s plenty of room in the cart. They do not move aside so you can get on which means you have to press yourself through and somehow they get annoyed because of that. Queues does not exist in China. People do not wait for you to get off the train, they will rush on as soon as the doors open. It’s an interesting country.
I torsdags åkte jag och Moa till Bryssel för att få lite paus i tentaplugget. Vi har varit på en massa museum, restauranger och fina platser, bland annat Coudenberg, ölbryggeri och chokladmuseum. Vi hittade dessutom en ashäftig bar (La Pharmacie Anglaise) och en absinthbar som hade 400 olika sorters absinth. Utöver det har jag testat en massa olika belgiska öler vilket var kul då de var rätt annorlunda jämfört med det jag brukar dricka.