Chongqing might be the biggest city in the world you’ve never heard of. Actually a few years ago there was a fuss when Chongqing was touted as the biggest city in the world, full stop. The municipal area has a … Continue reading What to do in Chongqing when you can’t eat spicy food. Or anything else.
This is the story of how China left me with a hole in my face, and why you should always know where your shoes are. Strong language may follow. Our journey from Xi’an to Chongqing starts the way of many … Continue reading Night Train to Chongqing
The day after our visit to the terracotta warriors we finally got around to looking at some of the heritage of Xi’an itself. It’s an interesting city because it played a role in spreading both Islam and Buddhism into China. … Continue reading Weird worship-places of old Xi’an
After an evening of Muslim street food adventures on our first day in Xi’an, the next morning we’re up early to get to the terracotta warriors. Outside, the street is still quiet. The first person we meet is a girl … Continue reading Terracotta Warriors
We went back and forth about going to Xi’an, home of the infamous terracotta warriors (and also of China’s largest mosque). Our vague plan for China was to head south from Beijing, follow the coast round the South East corner, … Continue reading Muslim street food adventures (eating everything in Xi’an)
We’re alone. The low grumble of the bus dwindles into the distance, and we’re left with silence. And dark. In front of us a towering decorative archway marks the entrance to the village. Through it the street curves away down the hill, flanked by … Continue reading Hiking independently on the Great Wall of China (less crowds, more geese)
The time has come, we’re going to have to change buses. We’re on our way to the Great Wall of China, and this simple sounding feat is proving challenging. Somehow we’ve almost reached the right place to change, when the driver kindly … Continue reading Off the beaten path to the Great Wall of China
We’ve just finished our breakfast. We’re sitting greasy fingered and sated, on low red plastic stools crammed into the corner of a tiny back alley shop. Dim light shrinks the room further, not reaching the edges, and the walls are … Continue reading Hutong clans: exploring backstreet Beijing
Want to see a waxy faced dead communist? This is your place. We had to check out Mao after visiting Lenin in Moscow, and it was a markedly different experience. While the Lenin mausoleum is fairly small and understated, and … Continue reading The Maosoleum: paying Mao a visit in Beijing
Our first morning in China I woke in our cosy bedroom to the sound of a man hawking the contents of his throat onto the street three floors below, the wet smack of his bounty on the pavement audible over … Continue reading Imperial Beijing: the Forbidden City, and other World Heritage sights featuring red paint
Arriving by boat from Korea, our first real impression of China was to walk out of the port in Qingdao and find ourselves on a dual carriageway. Above our heads was another road on a flyover. The only traffic on … Continue reading Hello (ni hau) to China: a lesson in expectation management
We arrived at the Chinese embassy in Hanoi bright and early on Monday morning, freshly scrubbed and with our best tourist smiles firmly fixed on our tired faces. With a six week love-hate affair with China only a recent memory, we were unexpectedly going back for more. Our cargo ship was leaving from Hong Kong in three weeks, and to get to it without flying we’d need to cross China. We were even hoping to see some sights along the way. So we needed another visa.
Armed with online assurances that getting a Chinese visa in Hanoi was pretty straightforward, we were feeling optimistic. Confident that we could jump though the hoops, if a little nervous that they might move them.
I don’t know what we were thinking. China. Straightforward. Ha.
They didn’t so much move the hoops as set fire to them, replace them with different hoops, then hide them, refuse to let us anywhere near them for several days, convince us that we’d successfully jumped through them, then tell us that actually there weren’t any hoops right now, and even if there were we weren’t going to jump through them in time so we might as well just leave.
But lets not get ahead of ourselves. Continue reading “For all the tea in China (how not to get a Chinese visa in Hanoi)”