Ha Noi to Ho Chi Minh City: Settling in Vietnam

5 months ago I landed in Ha Noi, Vietnam, from Hong Kong. My plan whilst travelling was always to find work somewhere in either China or South East Asia and, having left China, I’d set my mind on Vietnam. Now, it’s safe to say that my first week in Vietnam wasn’t the best; after having a few drinks on a night out (my first night out), I was stopped on my way home by people I presumed were police or security of some sort. After being questioned, I was forced to hand over my phone and wallet. Fortunately I had … Read more…

Hong Kong: City of Cities

Hong Kong has it all; from street markets to high end retail, back street hostels to some of the finest hotels in the world and, of course, some of the nicest food you’ll be lucky enough to get a chance to try; there’s delicious street food as well as michelin star restaurants, some of which have waiting lists covering months. There’s something about this city that really gets to me and, after loving my visit to Shanghai, which is sometimes compared to Hong Kong, I really did fall in love with the place. Yes, Hong Kong really is, to me … Read more…

Farewell China!

Guilin is a place I was told about by a friend in Suzhou; it was somewhere I hadn’t really seen on a map or heard anything about in the guides but, because it was somewhat in between Shanghai and my next destination, Hong Kong, it seemed like a fitting stop. The idea of spending a couple of hours drifting along a river, surrounded by beautiful scenery, gentle breezes, and foreign company, was very appealing-increasingly so as I was heading to one of the busiest cities on the planet. The city boasts many tourist attractions, most of which are actually within the … Read more…

Suzhou to Shanghai: The Central Coast of China

My original plan in China was to make my way north east to the city of Harbin, where an annual ice festival is held, but due to the time of year and the cost of staying in China, I soon realised that I’d have to head to Harbin another time. So, where to go? Being in Beijing, the capital and of course a major transport hub, left me with a multitude of options but, in the end, I decided to head south to a city I’ve been oddly curious about for some time: Shanghai. Now, the journey wasn’t particularly long … Read more…

Beijing

I arrived in the capital amidst a feeling of elation. I’d enjoyed my relaxing time in Pingyao and had regained some energy in order to be ready for what the third most populous city in the world had to throw at me. I knew there were a few things I wanted to see when I arrived there: the Forbidden City, the Olympic Village, and the Great Wall (though I’d already seen it back in Jiayuguan, I wanted to see the more recognisable and lesser preserved wall). I had about a week in mind for the huge city, and so had no … Read more…

Ancient Cities: Xi’an to Pingyao

After an excruciatingly long train journey from Dunhuang I finally arrived in Xi’an around 7am. I was tired, cranky, and in no mood for talking; I just wanted to get to my hostel, have some breakfast, and have a free day of relaxation. I intended on staying in Xi’an for maybe a week, then moving on to a smaller city called Pingyao, which lies between Xi’an and Beijing and is one of the oldest and best preserved walled cities in the country. Now, given that Xi’an is a giant, sprawling city with its own walled old city, I thought that … Read more…

Following the Silk Road

My journey from Chengdu took me northwest towards the Gobi desert, following the silk road through Gansu province towards the edge of civilised China. I’d decided on this route after realising that both financial and time constraints would play a larger part than they had done in India or Nepal; you can only apply for a 30 day visa in China and, though this can be extended, I doubt they’d let me extend it more than a couple of times and I feared they’d think I was taking the piss. My first stop on the Silk Road, after a horrific … Read more…

Ni Hao!

Ni Hao! Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan province, home of the Giant Panda, and the birthplace of one of China’s most delectable meals: the hot pot, is without a doubt one of my favourite cities so far. Within 5 minutes of leaving the airport my somewhat tired self was awoken by the glare of neon lights adorning the downtown buildings. Skyscrapers of size I’d not seen before were towering into the black of night, red lights flashing above followed by a dazzling light display flowing down the exterior. It was 10pm yet people were flocking the streets; businessmen, families, couples, … Read more…

The Prisoner of Kathmandu

My final two weeks in Nepal were probably the worst two weeks of entire my trip so far- so what happened? Well, after my time living in a Monastery I needed some much needed R&R, which I found in Pokhara. After that I headed back to Kathmandu with a view of sorting my Chinese visa out; this proved to be a major ball ache. Not only did I need to fly to China (I hate flying, but the roads through Tibet were still closed at this point), but I needed to book a month or so worth of hostels etc for … Read more…

Living With Monks: 3 Weeks in a Buddhist Monastery

Two of the reasons I came to Nepal were to trek and volunteer and, seeing as I’d already done the trekking part, it was time to get involved in some volunteer work. Through a friend of a friend who I’d met in Agra and later Varanasi, I was put in touch with some nice volunteer leaders who quickly got me set up at a monastery on the outskirts of Kathmandu; here I would be teaching or, as the case may be, attempting to teach, Monks. I’d met many Monks whilst in Dharamsala, and whilst there I had a go at … Read more…

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