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backpacking through China - any tips...?
Posted March 22nd, 2012 - 12:40 pm by from Herentals, Belgium (Permalink)
Pol and I booked our flight tickets and will spend summer holidays backpacking through China : arrival and departure via Bejing (July 8th - August 6th).

Any tips?
Anyone of you there that period?
Any hosts (preferably in rural areas)?
How about public transport?
How about hitch hiking?
Any other things you think of that I forgot?

Thank you!

Posted March 22nd, 2012 - 2:11 pm from Oaxaca de Juarez, Mexico
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Posted March 22nd, 2012 - 2:49 pm by from Herentals, Belgium (Permalink)
Thank you Zoe :-)
I will certainly make time to read your blog.

Last Christmas weekend we had a girl from Singapore with us and who is willing to help us as well, and answer to our questions.

Within 2 weeks we'll host 2 Taiwanese girls who promissed to help us as well, and teach us some Chinese (Mandarin) for 'on the road', of course in change of some home made chocolate mousse ;-)

One of our former guests (who lived in India, Delhi) at that time, moved to Shanghai this year, and can hardly wait till our arrival and our surfing with him.

I have the 'Trotter' guide of China, but will certainly go the library up here for the Lonely Planet.

On the internet I read about the difference in seats for nighttrains etc...

I know we'll need a good map yes, preferably in Chinese as well as in English, but there is a very good shop here in Antwerp to buy them.

Also on this forum there are some Chinese members, but they never post?
We will join other groups also of course...

Posted March 22nd, 2012 - 3:36 pm by from Portsmouth, England (Permalink)
How about taking the

http://www.google.co.uk/products/catalog?q=point+it+book&oe=utf-8&rls=org.mozilla:en-US:official&client=firefox-a&um=1&ie=UTF-8&tbm=shop&cid=15586775934556992803&sa=X&ei=NkZrT-LqGYLA8QOB0Zn9Bg&ved=0CFgQ8wIwAQ

Point It book....I found it very useful in countries where I did not know the language....both to buy food, rooms etc and to learn the language....

Pictures are the universal language


g

Posted March 22nd, 2012 - 3:42 pm from Berlin, Germany
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Posted March 22nd, 2012 - 9:40 pm from Adelaide, Australia
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Posted March 23rd, 2012 - 8:06 am by from Herentals, Belgium (Permalink)
ni hao everyone (hello)
ni hao ma? (How are you?)
xièxie (thank you) for the translation software Phillipp :-)
As you can see I allready downloaded it and learned my first words. The 2 Taiwanese girls we expect within 2 weeks won't believe their ears when I pick them up at the station ;-)

@ George
Also the Point-it picture dictionary is a good idea :-) Now that you mention it, I have a sort of which I use in my dutch courses sometimes. Or I am creative enough to make one myself that is not too heavy for our backpack :-)

@ Bob
Wow, we never expected someone inviting himself for joining us. But if you have time and willing to share some of it, you're welcome.
Btw : I like what you wrote on your profile : 'If I can't give you all the answers, that's why God invented Google' :-) LOL (we are non believers, but that is really a good one)
We found the very cheap tickets purely by coinsidence, because the airflight company just launched a new connection to Bejing (with a stop in Poland). I will send you a pm with more information.

OK, I know what to do the next few weeks... :-)

zàijiàn (goodbye) for now

Posted March 23rd, 2012 - 1:05 pm from Sydney, Australia
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Posted March 23rd, 2012 - 5:44 pm from Oaxaca de Juarez, Mexico
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Posted March 23rd, 2012 - 6:42 pm from Seneca, United States
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Posted March 24th, 2012 - 2:53 am from Sydney, Australia
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Posted March 25th, 2012 - 7:25 am from Sydney, Australia
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Post removed.
Posted March 28th, 2012 - 2:59 am by from Papamoa, New Zealand (Permalink)
This post has been removed by the user.

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Posted March 28th, 2012 - 3:01 am by from Papamoa, New Zealand (Permalink)
OOps! This is the link to our blog
http://www.lilandjohn.blogspot.co.nz/2008/04/pingyao-shanxi-china.html
But you can couchsurf in China too.

Posted June 16th, 2012 - 6:52 pm by from Herentals, Belgium (Permalink)
update
We will be backpacking through the N-E and Central China.

We will stay in Beijing the first 3 nights (hostel), and then surf 2 nights in Miyun (to visit the Mutianyu Great Wall together with our host).
After that we will be heading (train from Beijing) to Zhangjiakou (where I will be teaching some art work for a few days in a primary school, after I got an invitation to do so), but... and now it comes... We want to make a stop half way to visit Tianmo desert before moving on to Zhangjiakou, and hope to find a host or a hostel nearby Donghuayuanzhen. That is if you find this is the best option to visit Tianmo desert? Any other options maybe? Because I'm getting desperate, finding any accomodation up there at all. Spent hours and hours looking for possibilities allready. If everything works out as planned, we will arrive at Donghuayuanzhen on Saturday 14th, to stay over 1 night.

So, please help us, for visiting Tianmo desert :
- where to stop (train)
- where to enter the desert
- where to sleep
- maybe anyone in the neighbourhood those days?
- can anyone give us a link to a group of 'rural CS'ers' in this region because we didn't find any CS'er in that huge region, nore in the groups I found?

We would also like to spend time in a 'ger', with a couple/family living in one of those round tents in Inner Mongolia.


We will be staying in Zhangjiakou (in an appartment offered in change for my teaching) for 2 nights, July 15th to 17th, and then move on to Hohhot, Datong, Xian (with rural stops in between)...

Our previous 22 countries were much easier to plan, but China is soooo huge and it is so difficult to sort out all the information you find through the internet, and although I'm good with languages, I don't seem to get the names of the places memorized :-( But I guess we'll survive as always (with your help) :-)

Thanks a lot in advance for your advice!

Posted June 16th, 2012 - 7:22 pm from Camden, United States
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Posted June 16th, 2012 - 7:39 pm from Alicante, Spain
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Posted June 16th, 2012 - 7:51 pm from Camden, United States
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Posted June 16th, 2012 - 10:10 pm by from Clarington, Canada (Permalink)
I have never been myself, but my uncle drove on a motorcycle trip all through China a couple of years ago. I scanned quickly through the messages, so not sure if I am repeating what someone already advised.

From what he said, follow what Zoe and George stated, make sure that you have something that shows where you want to go in Mandarin.

My uncle printed off sheets of paper that had the names of where he was going, as well as common phrases. He said that once he was out of the cities and travelling in the countryside, people spoke no English, so having the name of where he was going, as well as names of directions (north, east etc) and common phrases (washroom, restaurant, hotel/hostel etc) were invaluable.

He kept them all in a small binder (he was on a bike, space and weight was minimal), and pulled it out when he needed it. He had everything pre-printed of routes, what he wanted to see, where he was headed next etc. He said it was much better than have a guide book. I thought that idea was ingenious.

Have a great trip! One off of your "bucket list" I'm sure!

Posted June 17th, 2012 - 7:59 am by from Herentals, Belgium (Permalink)
x)'u§éa5bu!§(&" :-(
I replied to you all with much information, but after saving the post all I wrote dissapeared (because my time was up?) and the page had to be renewed :-(

I'm sorry! I will try again later...

Posted June 17th, 2012 - 9:17 am from Alicante, Spain
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Posted June 19th, 2012 - 7:18 am by from Melbourne, Australia (Permalink)
Travel is easy in China but they don't hitchhike. Read my blog which has stories from China but the one called "Do you think visiting China is a scary idea" has some hlpful hints from my own experince. have heaps of fun. The Chinese peole are so kind and generous.

Posted June 19th, 2012 - 7:19 am by from Melbourne, Australia (Permalink)
ooops....forgot the link....:)) wwwtourwithjeanie.blogspot.com

Posted June 19th, 2012 - 8:06 am from Ilminster, England
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Posted July 19th, 2012 - 5:10 pm by from Herentals, Belgium (Permalink)
After I was ill for a long time, we tought we needed to cancel our trip, and because a week before we should leave, my mom had a second brain stroke, and is left side paralyzed, we certainly thought that we had to cancel (and even wanted to at first). But both my sons and their girlfriends insisted that we should do the trip anyhow, and promissed to look after her (in hospital) every day, and they DO!
It was hard to leave, especially now that we would go for a whole month, and this far from home ... but my boys said we deserved this trip, and needed to get out AND enjoy life and each other!!

We arrived through Beijing, where we stayed 3 nights (in a hostel). Forbidden city (too crowded to enjoy), Tian'anmen square (where hell broke loose : a real storm and hundreds of people running into the pedestrian tunnels to escape from the rain, thunder and lightning) and so many things more, but Beijing is not really our style of travelling...

We surfed at Zeng's in Miyun, who invited us after seeing our message on the dashboard, 70 kms north of Beijing. Although he and his family are new to CS, they just spoiled us in so many ways! Thank you Zeng and Liping Yang! While staying with them, we walked Mutianyu Great Wall. Hard job to do!

We moved on to Zhangjiakou, where I gave a lecture about old and modern Western art (painting) in Susan Kong's Rainbow Bridge. We stayed at Rick's, and enjoyed his company a looooooot :-) We shared some lovely days together. Thank you both for this opportunity!

Next stop : Hohhot, in Inner Mongolia, where we stayed in Anda Guesthouse, a true hotspot to experience! What a great place this is! An oase of peace in again a big city. They organise tours themselves, and certainly not those touristic ones. We joined a 2-days tour to stay with a traditional Mongalian family in the grasslands, and slept in a yurt, made a camp fire with dried cow poo, enjoyed the silence, went horsebackriding etc... Magnificent experience, and certainly a hostel and tour to recommend!

This morning we arrived in Datong. Tomorrow we will visit the hanging monistary and the Buddha caves, and probably will meet up with a local (young) CS'er before we catch the nighttrain (sleeper) to Pingyao, our next stop.

After that we head to Xian (the terracotta warriors, the old city...), and move on to Ua Shan. While I will stay with both feet on the solid ground, Pol will climb Hua Shan, one of the 5 sacred mountains in China.

After that, who knows...
2,5 more weeks to go...

China is fascinating, and Chinese people even more... although we regret that we need to stick to travelling by train, and being dropped in one big city after another :-(

Our point-it dictionary is very usefull here :-) because English speaking Chinese are very hard to find, but IF you do meet one, they will do anything to help you. It seems like it is some competition between them... who would be 1st to help us, and they like to be seen with us or have a photo taken together with us, foreigners, as they are certainly not used to 'strangers'. Especially Pol with his long blond curly hair catches many interested eyes :-)

We are in contact with our boys every day, and they keep us updated about my mom who is in our mind every single minute.

That was it for now... I don't know if we can keep you updated with our itinerary, because internet connection is not what we our used to in Europe, and many websites (like FB and Picasaweb) are blocked by the government.

love from China :-)

Posted July 19th, 2012 - 5:55 pm from Portland, United States
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Posted July 19th, 2012 - 7:44 pm by from Stoke-on-Trent, England (Permalink)
Just to echo Cadence - I really enjoyed reading about your adventures.

My best wishes to your mum (my mum also had a stroke a few weeks ago). Really looking forward to reading your next instalment.

Posted July 19th, 2012 - 7:58 pm from Camden, United States
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Posted July 19th, 2012 - 10:13 pm by from Melbourne, Australia (Permalink)
wonderful....I lived in China for many years & yes I can comfirm the bit about their kindness. They sure are incredible people. If you make it down to Yangshuo....I do hope so....read my blog...it will give you lots of imformation about the many things to do there. A look at my photos and you will know why you should go there. Just be wary of pick-pockets ....
www.tourwithjeanie.blogspot.com
have fun & take care

Jeanie

Posted July 20th, 2012 - 2:58 am by from New York, United States (Permalink)
did you learn Mandarin?

Posted July 20th, 2012 - 3:37 am by from Melbourne, Australia (Permalink)
No, but quickly learnt a few necessary phrases. I travelled by myself after 6 mths in China but after 8 years I know a lot of words but cannot chat. Im highly qualified in body language:)) However one of the great things about Yangshuo is there is a LOT of English speakers there...thats why its so easy to live there...best of both worlds.

Posted July 24th, 2012 - 5:31 am by from Herentals, Belgium (Permalink)
OK, here we are again :-)

While staying in Datong we visited the next 2 sites :

the hanging monistary : http://www.google.be/search?num=10&hl=nl&site=imghp&tbm=isch&source=hp&biw=1317&bih=520&q=pingyao&oq=pingyao&gs_l=img.3...1403.4747.0.5335.7.7.0.0.0.0.0.0..0.0...0.0...1ac.5yQt3wzXSP0#hl=nl&site=imghp&tbm=isch&sa=1&q=hanging+monistary&oq=hanging+monistary&gs_l=img.3...236590.242734.0.243428.23.17.0.0.0.0.0.0..0.0...0.0...1c.bX0EN0LwKHs&bav=on.2,or.r_gc.r_pw.r_qf.,cf.osb&fp=d9686e95a3c652ae&biw=1317&bih=520


the Buddha caves : http://www.google.be/search?num=10&hl=nl&site=imghp&tbm=isch&source=hp&biw=1317&bih=520&q=pingyao&oq=pingyao&gs_l=img.3...1403.4747.0.5335.7.7.0.0.0.0.0.0..0.0...0.0...1ac.5yQt3wzXSP0#hl=nl&site=imghp&tbm=isch&sa=1&q=buddha+caves+datong&oq=buddha+caves+datong&gs_l=img.3...311689.322030.2.322850.39.26.0.0.0.0.446.446.4-1.1.0...0.0...1c.HgwbSQH1_wY&bav=on.2,or.r_gc.r_pw.r_qf.,cf.osb&fp=d9686e95a3c652ae&biw=1317&bih=520

I guess we don't need to say we had a very impressive day? ;-)

And then we arrived in Pingyao. We booked 2 nights in the hostel in advance, but after our arrival we realized that this was what we were looking for, and booked 2 nights more. What a relief to be here! And Hou Peng (the only CS'er up here, a 26yo tourist guide) enriches our stay even more. What a wonderful guy he is!

Pingyao : http://www.google.be/search?num=10&hl=nl&site=imghp&tbm=isch&source=hp&biw=1317&bih=520&q=pingyao&oq=pingyao&gs_l=img.3...1403.4747.0.5335.7.7.0.0.0.0.0.0..0.0...0.0...1ac.5yQt3wzXSP0
(We are sorry Darrell, but Beijing is nothing compared to this place :p )
Our wonderful hostel in Pingyao : http://www.yamenhostel.com/

We visited another tempel up here, and the Zhanghbi underground castle (hiding tunnels) : http://www.google.be/search?num=10&hl=nl&site=imghp&tbm=isch&source=hp&biw=1317&bih=520&q=zanghbi+underground+castle&oq=zanghbi+underground+castle&gs_l=img.12...4843.4843.0.7637.1.1.0.0.0.0.143.143.0j1.1.0...0.0...1ac.qtyDS6J2Lrk

Tomorrow we are heading to Xian as said earlier, where we will visit the terracotta warriors.

After Xian Pol wants to climb the Hua Shan, the most dangerous hiking track in the world...
http://www.google.be/search?num=10&hl=nl&site=imghp&tbm=isch&source=hp&biw=1365&bih=635&q=hua+shan&oq=hua+shan&gs_l=img.3...0.0.0.10990.0.0.0.0.0.0.0.0..0.0...0.0...1ac.QHux3dLpxzk

Sorry for the long links, but the internet in China is not what we are used to in Europe :-( and so I can't make them shorter.

to be continued....

x

Posted July 24th, 2012 - 3:24 pm from Camden, United States
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Posted July 31st, 2012 - 9:00 am by from Herentals, Belgium (Permalink)
While in Xian, it was clear that Pol could better take a bus to climb Hua Shan mountain than trying to find a place to stay up there. So we extented our stay in the beautiful hostel in Xian, called 7 Sages, and which is situated in old Chinese row houses :
http://www.hostelxian.cn/en/

Pol thought he was still 26 instead of 56, because the climb of Hua Shan was a hard job, even though he went up to the North Peak by cable car. Still a lot of climbing to do, and looooooooots of stairs. He was exhausted when he came back, and had sore legs for 3 days.

You can find the link to Hua Shan mountain in my previous post.

While he was climbing the mountain, I stayed in our cosy hostel because I'm afraid of heights, and I urgently had some laundry to wash, and catch up with writing CS references and e-mailing.

In our eyes the terracotta warriors were a bit of a dissapointment... They were nice to see, and realizing that about 720.000 people worked for more than 40 years long to make them, makes the whole thing impressive, but we don't like the way they are shown to the people, and the whole area was way to touristic and crowded for us, even though we went early in the morning.

From Xian we moved on to Xinxiang to take the bus up there to Huixian, thinking that that was the best way to visit Guoliang, one of the small villages in a beautiful mountain area, a kind of nature reserve, and which was hidden from the rest of the world because Chinese government refused to build a road through the rocky mountains. So back in the seventies, the locals decided to build a road by themselves for 5 long years, and this is the result :
Guoliang tunnel road

How amazing this was!!! Soooooo beautiful. A small bus took us to the top of the mountain, to Guoliang village (where a Chinese woman taught me how to make dumplings :-) ), but we walked all the way back down through the tunnels. Magnificent, how they built it, and all by hand!!! And great views!
If you ever go to China, don't forget to visit this spot! Ask us how to get there, because it is NOT easy to reach.

No hostels in Huixian, but a young and friendly guy we met at the station in Xinxiang, and who lives in Huixian, took us to the best hotel in town, and even payed our bus tickets, just to show his hospitality and his being honoured that we, foreigners, did the effort to visit his hometown. It was a 5 star hotel, but as breakfast was included, comparable to a hostel where breakfast is never included here.
In this hotel we didn't get internet connection, so Pol asked for help to a guy in the elevator, and... what Pol didn't know was, that this guy was the manager who was so proud to have his 1st guests from abroad, that we were treated like VIP's for the next 2 days. He gave us his businesscard, promissing that we could call him any time when we would have problems in China. We felt like a king and queen while staying there. He wanted also a photo of the 3 of us, as a reference for his hotel :-)

After Xian we took the train to Shijiazhuang, where we took the bus to where we are staying now, in Jingxing. Again everyone was sooo helpful on our way here. Lots of rain, in a cole black area, with lots of industry, lots of garbage, and even the sheep are black from the cole dust. We thought we were heading to the end of the world, a very dirty end... We asked the bus driver where we could find accomodation to sleep (because we couldn't find any on the internet), and believe it or not, but the bus went of of it's route to take us to a hotel, and all passengers insisted that the driver would do so :-) When we entered the hall it was soon clear that not one of the employees could speak any English, after we explained that we came to the town just to visit a small stone village in the neighbourhood, called Yujiacun. It is called the stone village, because everything, from the houses to the furniture is made of stone. You need to pay admission to enter the village.
The employees felt so sorry that they couldn't help us in English, so one of them took us back to the streets, and even payed a taxi to another hotel with English speaking staff. Unbelievable!

After we arrived in this old (business) hotel, it was soon clear that only 1 girl could speak English, but immediately we were surrounded by a dozen employees, curious after who we were, and how we stranded up there. Again, we were treated like VIP's, and everyone was in the run for us, and still...

Also here we were the 1st foreign guests they ever had, except for a couple from Japan 2 months ago, but that didn't count they said.
They served us dinner as we were kings, with again a dozen of employees around us, looking at us, and telling that we were the 1st foreigners they saw 'live' :-) My gosh!!! Can you believe that??
Today, after breakfast, it started to get crowded in the hall downstairs, and Mola, our private Chinese servant ;-) said that there would be a wedding. She arranged that we got an invitation, and the wedding couple was sooooo honoured with our presence. So we joined a real Chinese wedding this afternoon, and I felt ashamed, because everyone was paying more attention to us than to the young couple. The young couple, as well as both's parents, insisted that we would join them at their table. Can you immagine? About 500 guests were invited, and everyone was so kind to us, and filled our stomachs with all kinds of food. Of course we gave them Chinese Yuan as a wedding gift, and now it was our turn to insist to take it, because at first they refused, and said that all they wanted was our presence. What an opportunity we had here... The young couple was so kind to us, and so caring... while THEY should be the ones to catch everyones attention! The wedding itself, and the celebration was over in just 2 hours time...
China, you are incredible, so living and caring, so friendly, so helpful, so unique!!!
XIEXIE a billion times!

A few days left... to return to Beijing next Saturday or Sunday, because Monday morning we catch our flight back home!

Posted July 31st, 2012 - 9:24 am by from Herentals, Belgium (Permalink)
And xièxiè to all of you as well, for your comments, for sharing your tips and blogs...

I read them all, but couldn't respond to all of you/them in person, because like I said earlier internet is very slow here in China, that is IF we get connected ;-)

Now you all know why we probably have not many Chinese members in this group ;-) but everywhere we came, even in supercrowded lines for the trains Zoe ;-) I promoted CS, hoping more will register...

And Darrell, you can find Hou Pen (Peyton) between my written references. He is brand new on CS and doesn't know well enough how to use the website proparly. But on Skype I noticed that after we shared several days together he chang his topic into 'Maybe it is time now to move on...'
So I guess we left a deep impression...
And about agriculture here Darrell : nothing but cole and corn here, as wide as you can see, and we travelled thousands of kilometers here the passed few weeks...

One thing more : we had severe problems with our VISA banccard here : payments were never alowed to do with visa, not one bank wanted to had over money at the desk, and we needed to try about 20 ATM's before we could get money out of the wall, with my card, as well as with Pol's card. Many phone calls to our bank at home, nore a few phone calls to Atos Worlwide (provider of visa cards) could hand over a solution to us, so yes, for several days we were in real panic :-(

Posted July 31st, 2012 - 2:09 pm from Oaxaca de Juarez, Mexico
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Posted July 31st, 2012 - 3:50 pm from Camden, United States
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Posted July 31st, 2012 - 5:32 pm from Seattle, United States
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Posted July 31st, 2012 - 6:45 pm from Portland, United States
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Posted August 5th, 2012 - 2:57 am by from Tashkent, Uzbekistan (Permalink)
hi GERDJE-AND-POL
may be these Five Chinese expressions you should know,
would be now for you like ABC...wish you would comment them
at our thread:
http://www.couchsurfing.org/group_read.html?gid=2164&post=12628221

http://www.lonelyplanet.com/china/travel-tips-and-articles/77424?affil=twit
Halima

Posted August 8th, 2012 - 11:30 am by from Herentals, Belgium (Permalink)
OK, we got back home after a whole month and thousands of kilometers touring through a fascinating country, with finally proper internet possibilities again up here :-)

To finish this thread I wanted to share our last fascinating days in China with you... (and sorry Darrell, but I decided not to start a new thread to do so because I want to keep all our information together)

In Jingxing we took the local bus back to Shijiazhuang, where we hoped to find a train or bus connection to Zhending. In the bus again a fine young man started a chat with us in perfect English. He lived in Yujiacun, the stone village which was the reason for our staying in Jinxing. The weather was bad the past few days, and nothing kept us there, because it was certainly not an attractive place to stay. It is always covered with black cole dust, and now the rain made it even worse. And in the hotel they said the stone village was closed because of holidays, and that there would be no bus to bring us to the village because of the heavy rain fall. So we missed what we came for... A pitty! We got handwritten messages from the employees that they would miss us ;-) A nice gesture!
The young guy in the bus said that Stone Village is open all year long, and couldn't understand why the hotel employees 'lied' to us, and was very dissapointed about this lie and even ashamed. Knowing this we just presume that they just wanted to keep us in the hotel as a promotion for themselves, but that's only a guess of course.

Arriving back in Shijiazhuang, we got immediate bus connection to Zhending. In the Lonely Planet guide we read that this 'smaller' city also had a walled old city, and still with Pingyao in our minds we wanted to visit it, and hopefully find a place to stay. Two hostels mentioned in the LP obviously changed their policy, refusing 'foreigners', and the taxi driver felt ashamed for it, so he called his girlfriend who can speak English. She explained to us, and said that he would find another hotel for us. He offered this ride for free to us. After a while, and being convinced that we wouldn't find any other hotel, we thanked him, and moved on on our own... hoping to find something anyhow, but it seemed that all the hotels in the old and new city had some sort of agreement, not to accept foreigners anymore. During the taxi ride we had a closer look to the old city, which was completely different than cosy Pingyao, and after looking for several hours trying to find a hotel that would accept us, but did not, we decided to take the bus back to Shijiazhuang. We intented to spend the night in this huge city, trying to figure out where to go next... hopefully far away from crowds and big cities...

The same story in Shijiazhuang : we tried many hotels, but each one of them refused us with the excuse : 'No room, only for Chinese!' One of them even said they had no power (electricity) and couldn't offer us a room because of this, even though all the lights where on, and computer screens at the desk worked ;-)

As we had no internet connection at that time, we tried to find another destination in the Lonely Planet guide. We decided to go to the East coast, to Shanhaiguan, where the Great Wall starts in the ocean, and which 'only' has about 20,000 inhabitants if we could believe LP.

We went back to the train station, hoping that we would get tickets for the 'sleeper' (train), leaving the same evening. No free spaces anymore, and no hotel... so we needed to spend the night on the huge trainstation square, until our T-train (express train) would leave the next morning at 7am. Despite all the bites from dozens of mousquitos we survived that night ;-)

After 8 train hours, we arrived in Qinhuangdao, where we needed to find bus 33 to take us to Shanhaiguan, as explained in the LP. WRONG information! First you need to take bus 6 to the center of the city, to find bus 33, but a friendly bus driver dropped us off at the right spot.
Finally we arrived in Shanhaiguan, and a nice young man in the bus helped us to find a ho(s)tel, but after a few tries, it was obvious that up here they follow the same policy as the hotels in Zhending : no foreigners allowed. But in some way we were attracted to this place... We said goodbye and xièxiè to the young guy (because he had another appointment that evening) and went for a drink on a terrace. Pol would stay with our backpacks, while I would try to find a hotel anyhow...
When I arrived back (with no luck) Pol was accompanied by a young Chinese girl who promissed she could help us. And she did! In the same street a hotel accepted us, and offered us a room for even less than half of what the price at the desk showed, without us having to bargain for it. It was an exellent location, 100m from the bus stop, 100m from the ancient city, and closeby everything... A relief!
We were exhausted of the train trip, and of not being able to sleep since the passed night, and were delighted with the room and the shower :-)

It was still raining, like the 3-4 passed days... but nevertheless we enjoyed our very wet walking through the ancient streets, much more than having to spend another crowded and noisy day in yet another huge city.

At 6 am I woke up for an urgent pee :p and while using the bathroom the electricity went out. In total darkness I heared lots of water splashing into our bathroom. I woke up Pol, and we wanted to inform the desk downstairs. Our room was situated on the 6th floor, right beneith the roof, so it felt a bit scarry, lightning our flash light and seeing the water entering our room through the ceiling. Employees already noticed in the hall way, and gave us extra flash lights.

We always carry nescafé with us, to make coffee in the room when breakfast is not included, but we couldn't use the water boiler because there was no electricity at all.
Pol wanted to stay in the room for a while, just in case they wanted to be there, and I went (using the stairs) to get some breakfast from outside. What I saw was unbelievable! Dozens of cars upto the roof in the water, streets blocked by policemen because of the rainfall... A flood... never seen 'live' before! Scarry!
I helped to clean sewer grates so that the immense amount of water could escape. The water in the streets flew like a river...

At noon it stopped raining, finally, and sun broke through, and daily life restarted in some streets.
We went out to do some sightseeing, and in the evening there was electricity again in our hotel, so we wanted to follow the news reports on tv, and the weather forcast, because after 2 more nights we would take the shuttle bus to Beijing airport, to take our flight back home, and wanted to be sure we didn't have to call our travel insurance company.

The last day we were there the worst of this flood had dissapeared, except all the tons of trash that had flooded along along with the water and hung in plants and trees now.

We were able to visit Old Dragon's Head (start of Great Wall in the ocean) anyhow, and were relieved that the shuttle bus to Beijing aiport was not cancelled. We spent our last night in China in the airport. We wanted to arrive in time to assure ourselves that everything would go as planned...

Now that we are back home we read that the East coast of China had to deal with several tyfoons during this last week, and that we were part of one of them, and that hundred thousands of people had to be evacuated...
We are happy to be back home safe and sound, and keep our fingers crossed for all the Chinese people up there... We hope the tyfoons will leave you as soon as possible!


And finally...

Did you know that

- Chinese can eat kilos of sunflower seeds in no time, using only 2 fingers?

- we never saw a baby or small child wearing a diaper? They wear 'open' trousers instead and can pee whenever and wherever needed : NO diaper

- in Belgium the ground level in an appartment is floor 0, and in China it is floor 1? Confusing...

- as a foreigner you can 't drive a car in China, even if you have an international driving licence (like Pol)? You only can if you succeed in an(other) exam up there (in Chinese?), and have a complete medical examination. Now we understand why, because the traffic is total chaos, with hardly any rules and blowing horns all the time?

- spitting seems to be a national sport (for men) in China? The more, the harder, the better...

- smacking/bussing loudly is a sign that the food tastes good, while in the Western world it is not polite/rude to do so?

- ordering train tickets at a ticket office is a time plundering activity in China, as well as needed to be present at least 1 hour before your train leaves (even knowing that you have a numbered seat)?

- they eat more noodles than rice?

- have no coins (or just a few but hardly use them), and so wallets have no compartments for coins, only for paper money (I realized after I bought a new wallet for my youngest son, and euros have lots of coins)?

- we admire Chinese people for spending each day of their lives in always overcrowded cities, trains, busses...?

- we regret that we had only a month to discover as much as possible?

- Lonely Planet will get lots of pages of updates from us on their information in the China guide which was often wrong or not actual/accurate (anymore)?

- we started our own little Lonely Planet now, our sacred little notebook, which we will treasure for ever and which can provide you with usefull information if needed

- we certainly will go back one day, but explore other regions then, like the south?

- you want to travel through China as well after reading all our posts? ;-)

- we are always willing to help you if so? (Chinese willingness to help someone in need seems to be contagious :p )


And no Cadence : Pol skipped the most dangerous cliff-side walks (those on only 2 shelves I mean), because the other were difficult and dangerous enough, and counted more than 10,000 stairs ;-)

My mom is still in hospital (in bed), and was sooo happy to see us again yesterday. She won't recover like she was before, but she already speaks clearly now, eats and drinks by herself, can lift her left arm and leg, but still don't 'use' them.
Sometimes she talks confused, sometimes her mind is clear...
We asked a Chinese artist to write the next text in Chinese characters/calligraphy on a big ivory coloured fan with wooden frame : 'You are the best grandma in the whole world', and so he did, and now it is shining above my mom's bed i hospital. She was very delighted with this gift from us and wanted to be able to look at it every moment of the day.

Posted August 8th, 2012 - 11:32 am by from Herentals, Belgium (Permalink)
oh yes, and photos will definately follow... :-)

Posted August 8th, 2012 - 2:07 pm from Oaxaca de Juarez, Mexico
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Posted August 8th, 2012 - 4:11 pm from Camden, United States
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Posted August 10th, 2012 - 10:02 am by from Herentals, Belgium (Permalink)
This morning we received an email from the newly weds, the couple whose wedding we were invited to attend.
Isn't that sweet :-)

copy/paste :
Dears,



Do u remember me? haha ,firstly pls let me introduce myself to u,my name
is Sophia,from Shijiazhuang,who invited u and yr wife to attend my wedding.so sorry for
email u late since we have to deal with so many matters after our wedding.It is an honour for me to meet that
so enthusiastic someone like u and yr wife,I don`t know how is yr trip in China,but i believe it must
be unforgettable.However,it`s so lucky to make friends with u and yr wife for us.Although,we are in
different countries,we all have a grateful heart ,hope we can stay in touch with each other by email or msn(xxx).

Everthing goes well
Best Regards!

Posted August 10th, 2012 - 10:26 am from Kuenzelsau, Germany
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Posted August 10th, 2012 - 12:11 pm by from Herentals, Belgium (Permalink)
Helga

I wanted to start a travel blog, but because of my mom's brain stroke I didn't have the time anymore to set up an account, so that's why I chose this thread to share it with you all.
We also wanted to use our FB account to keep family and friends updated with our adventures and to upload photo albums, but too bad... Facebook is blocked in China, so even they will have to wait ;-)

Pictures will be uploaded probably on Picasaweb later. I will inform you then...

Katie, how is your mom doing? Hard times... no?

Posted November 6th, 2012 - 10:07 am by from Herentals, Belgium (Permalink)
You might have forgotten about my promise, but I haven't :-)

Finally we found some time to work on our China pictures and uploaded them to Picasaweb.

Anyone (still) interested?
I want to warn you, because the 3 albums contain about 2,000 pictures, so you'll need lots of time to see them all :p

Oh, yes, and we recently received good news via email : the young couple whose wedding we attended up there, are going to have a baby soon :-) I bet it won't wear diapers either ;-)

Posted November 6th, 2012 - 10:41 pm from Camden, United States
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Posted November 10th, 2012 - 7:44 am by from Herentals, Belgium (Permalink)
Hi Darrell

I sent you a pm with the links to the 3 albums.
Of course you can send us yours.

Posted July 4th, 2013 - 7:08 am by from Hangzhou, China (Permalink)
Dear Gerdje:
Thank you very much for your comments about Chinese people! I am happy that you enjoyed so much!You ARE AMAZING: to travel so many places that I have never been to!
- we never saw a baby or small child wearing a diaper? They wear 'open' trousers instead and can pee whenever and wherever needed : NO diaper
Yes,in the vast rural areas, it happend as you said;But in the city, the baby DID wear diaper, I am 100% sure for that。
-they eat more noodles than rice?
Still in big country,regional differences。In fact in my homeland we eat rice more than noodles。I am in the Southeast of China。
- we certainly will go back one day, but explore other regions then, like the south?
Once you have made your time and schedule, I am believe that I can give you some useful advise

Talk to you later!

Daisy

Posted November 12th, 2012 - 10:45 pm by from Charlotte, United States (Permalink)
You might want to join this Yahoogroup (which I run) and post questions there. China is very big, and you may get different responses to your questions depending on which city/region you are asking about.

http://groups.yahoo.com/group/teflchinalife

The archives are public, but to post questions you need to join.