APOLOGIES FOR ANY AWFUL FORMATTING- THIS IS BEING EMAILED IN DUE TO BLOGGING RESTRICTIONS IN CHINA (see below)
So flights are flights. They can be really bad, or okay but never amazing. Mine fell into the ‘okay’ category. The usual discomforts were spearheaded on this occasion by perfectly healthy forty year old man behind me who was incapable of standing without a hefty two handed yank on the back of my seat (if you can’t stand up without assistance I know an awesome fitness cult that can help you).
The notable highlight was the flight from Brisbane to Sydney from what I would consider to be a piece of PR genius; by which the Australian Olympic and Paralympic teams performed the safety demonstration video for the flight. Well done Qantas – a guarantee that everyone will watch the safety demonstration at least once. Most exciting was the vague insinuation that Sally Pearson and Ken Wallace may have an eight year old child – whom they dutifully ignored until they had secured their own oxygen masks.
Shanghai We spent three nights in Shanghai under the guidance of tour leader ‘Lin’ and local guide ‘David,’ Highlights included a trip on the world’s fastest train, a tour of the exquisite Ming period Yu Garden, and a night time cruise of the Bund business area to view the light display from the Huang Pu ’Yellow Bank’ River.
A Shanghai local, David’s stories made the visit. One of the interesting anecdotes he shared with us described how Chinese mothers in Shanghai will meet in parks to try to find appropriate matches for their children. There are trees filled with notes describing their children’s virtues and vital statistics in the hope that their love match may be pinned in note form to a neighbouring branch.
David discussed changing priorities of young people in China and told us about a young model who had infamously appeared on a dating TV show and stated that she “Would be crying in the back of a BMW that laughing on the back of a bicycle.”
As a result of the gender bias brought about by the one child policy, China now finds itself with many more young men than women. One line of thinking may bring you to the conclusion that young women, by means of leverage, posses a certain amount of potential power as far as asserting their value and place in Chinese society. Lin however, innocuously painted a somewhat different picture when she explained that she did not think it would be possible for her to visit any of the places her tour group are from until after she is married. It is very difficult for young single women in China to obtain a visa (internally issued) to travel to countries outside of Asia for fear they will marry overseas and not return to China. If a visa is granted, one of the conditions includes the payment of an exorbitant bond or cash guarantee to a bank in order to ensure that the woman returns. This does not apply to men.
Mouthfuls of Heaven From Shanghai we flew to Guilin and Yangshuo. This area is a subtropical region, characterised by its limestone karsts. We travelled by boat from Guilin to Yangshuo along the Li River. This was a spectacular between mountains and past fishing villages. Hundreds of photos were taken, none of which will adequately capture the magnificence of the beautiful mountain area.
The waterfront section of Yangshuo is cobblestoned and filled with market vendors and small bars. At a balmy 26 degrees, it reminded me very much of small towns in Thailand and was far from anything I had expected to see in China.
This is where I fell in love. The first time was with an amazing crepe style wrap that contained “5 grains,” coriander and some kind of deep fried cracker goodness.
The second time (half an hour later) was with a piece of tofu. These were sold every 100 metres or so by vendors with portable barbecues serving only (veggie heaven) marinated tofu served with chilli sambal and a Chinese caper of some sort.
The time in Yangshuo was topped off with an evening outdoor show on the waterfront. ‘Impression’ is directed by the director of the Beijing Olympic Games Opening Ceremony and includes 600 local performers (who all have regular day jobs) who give an incredible interpretation of life of the local people along the Li River. Limestone mountains provide a spectacular backdrop and the entire performance takes place on the water with its performers on bamboo rafts and floating platforms.
F*#book I am not talking about the obscene F#*book which spams my hotmail but rather the (not quite apparently) worldwide social media networking site which is very strictly inaccessible in China and a dirty word to even google. This may seem like quite a shallow observation at first- why would you care about missing out on friends posting ‘ironic’ pouty selfies, pics of their puppy/baby/dinner or updates on their hangover when you are overseas? This does however obviously have some quite scary implications regarding open communication and freedom of information. Other blocked websites include WordPress blog hosting platform and ‘controversial’ sites regarding Chinese history.
As above, I can’t currently post directly through the blogging website as it is blocked in China. This is being emailed in which means I can’t check formatting but I will fix it up asap!)
Pandas Not much to say really. I saw pandas and they were adorable.
Generally have an all round amazing time – big love to all at home xx
Next Up: Terracotta Warriors in Xian, the Great Wall and Beijing.
PS. I have no idea where the pics will end up due to the mail in but I will certainly fix them up once I can log in to my blog!