A Travellerspoint blog

Yangshou China

Yup I'm cursed (and I am still melting)

sunny 38 °C

Ni Hao

Well we got the KCR to the chinese border and it was manic, it seemed like thousands of people were heading to Shenzhen. Thankfully we could go through the foreigners line and there weren't that many off us so it didn't take that long to get into the country. It did however take a long time to buy a bus ticket. We seemed to go round in circles a lot, but eventually one was obtained and we had to be back at 4.30 to be taken to the bus. We had eventually bought the ticket at a shop having never found the bus ticket office. At 4.30 we were met and taken to another shop then followed a man to a car park and up some stairs and into a taxi. I must confess I was a tad sceptical at this point. Where exactly were we going?? Well it turns out that the bus we wanted went from another bus station and the taxi dropped us off there. The bus was really clean (we had to take our shoes off before getting on) and the seats were beds. yipee I thought 14 hours opn a bus and I may just sleep.

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I even got talking to Annie a girl from Beijing who made sure we knew what was going on. But at about midnight either we hit something or something was thrown at us and the window near my feet started cracking (Brenda thought it had been raining). We stopped several times and they tapped it up, but we kept going. At about 4am the glass gave way and fell on me. Great. I had no where to go as all the seats were full so hid under the very thick blanket we were given. Eventually someone got off and I could move. Thankfully the shatterproof glass did its job and despite all the glass no cuts. Welcome to China!!!

We arrived in Yangshou and went to the culture house run by Mr Wei.

This is the view from our room
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He could book anything you wanted and I even had a chinese lesson (although no one understands me at all). Yangshou is surrounded by limestone karsts which are stunning. We wandered round town and the following day ventured out on bikes into the country side.

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Through the rice fields
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to Dragon Bridge. A bridge built over the dragon river (Yulong) in 1412. Not sure what I was expecting but here we are on it
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and the bridge itself

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We then decided to be lazy and get a bamboo raft part of the way back to town. The punting man had followed us for ages on the bikes showing us the way (we'd have got lost without him as the map we had didn't show the paths) so we went with him
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Its just like punting only on bamboo and they rotate the puntpole. Here are some pictures of the route

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Only difference was we got to sit under an umbrella and we had the bikes on the back. oh and there were some rapids to go down

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As well as forming the limestone Karsts there are some pretty spectacular caves too. We visited the water cave and walked through 3km of cave. It was the first time I haven't melted in 10 days so it was lovely. There were mud pools you could float it and there were swimming pools and a waterfall. All very nice, and the tour guide was funny. He was saving up to go to spain because he had seen a tv program where all the girls swim naked and he wanted to see it!
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THere was also a hill with a hole in it which they called moon hill. We were too hot and time was running out to climb it but heres a picture
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Foods been getting better. In the Culture house we got dinner every night and so tried lots of things (stunning photo of me!!)
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But we have had some good meals were you put the veg and meat you want on a plate and they cook it up for you. Who knows what meat it was but it was pretty good.

anyway this morning we risked the bus again (paid twice what we were meant to) but we have made it the 78km north to Guilin.

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I'm still hot so cooled off in the river.

Off to some hills tomorrow then we get the train north on Sunday (tried to use my chinese to buy a ticket but failed and they called over someone who spoke english, hopefully I'll be understood one day)

Hope you are all well and getting ready for the olympics (we have met 4 couples going to the olympics all have hockey tickets - I guess the Chinese don't like hockey) its mad overhere and I think one channel is dedicated to the olympics and we still have 8 days to go.

Gemma

Posted by gt248 02:55 Archived in China Tagged round_the_world Comments (0)

Hong Kong

I think I am melting

sunny 36 °C
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Huge thanks to Eva (Dads friends daughter) who has taken us to an internet cafe with computers that work so I was able to upload some pictures. We are heading to China tomorrow and I have bought a new book so I will have no problems buying the bus tickets at the border!! Yeah right we struggled in Hong Kong at times and everyone is meant to speak English.

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Anyway as I mentioned we got to Hong Kong on monday and this was the view we woke up to

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(MUm and Dad didn't you send this to me as a post card once??)

We then headed to the Russian embassy on Tuesday and 24 hours later we are fully kitted out with visas for the rest of the trip.

I decided to take Brenda up the peak, it'll be cooler up there I said. Umm I lied it was still like an oven. The tv says its 36degC but it feels a lot lot warmer. So the funicular railway up and
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being British we decided to go out in the midday sun and walk down to Aberdeen (on the other side of the island). The views across the park were stunning, but I melted on the way down. We were greatful for the airconditioning in the restaurant.

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The walk took about 2.5 hours and we were beginning to wonder if we had gone wrong somewhere when out of nowhere came the biggest cemetery and a final few twists and turns and then civilisation

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Also it wouldn't be me if I didn't mention the mosquitos (one bit me while I was reading the sign about mosquito prevention) and the spiders. Not sure why I thought there wouldn't be big ones here, but without really trying I found some (make that many)

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A quick bus trip south took us to Stanley market, where a spot of shopping failed to find me a new bag.

Each night Hong Kong puts on a laser show using the buildings on both sides of the harbour. It was pretty good, but not sure my camera really picked it up..

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We escaped the madness of Kowloon and headed for the new territories, which again I thought would be a little cooler as we were planning on going up a hill. But after failing to find the minibus that plan was scrapped and we went to find a walled village instead. Can't remember the name but here are some pictures. It wasn't exactly what I thought it would be but was worht the trip if only for the lunch.

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So for lunch we stopped at a small shop near the walled city. We had noodles and I now have a list of foods (in chinese script) to be avoided while in china such as

Pigs blood
pigs skin
tendons
tripe

We also saw the 10000Buddah temple but have no pictures with me at the moment of that so next time. They were very impressive (except for the buddah with arms growing our of his eyes which was umm weird)

Oh food is going to be so much fun, but I have coped with pigs heart so will see (I have managed to finish several cups of green tea now so I should be ok on the tea front)

Right off to study before tomorrow

Will be in touch as soon as I find a computer

best wishes

Gemma

Posted by gt248 07:29 Archived in Hong Kong Tagged round_the_world Comments (0)

Mammoth Lakes

Lost bags and going down a mountain on 2 wheels

sunny 30 °C
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Hey all

America had a surprising lack of internet cafes (wifi everywhere but as I am computerless not a lot of use) so I am currently in Hong Kong library, but no USB ports so I can't upload any pictures at the moment. I will try to as soon as I find an internet cafe.

Ok so the final day in Barbados was spent snorkeling on Scotch and Soda with Capt'n T. After spending about half a hour bouncing around waiting for the divers to come back we went closer into shore and snorkelled over some wrecks. Loads of fish especially when they threw in bread for the fish. Now I'm not really sure why but everyone seems to be trying their hardest to get me to drink rum and coke. The previous morning the Trinidadian teachers who are staying at our guesthouse invited me down for a drink at 8am of rum and coke. I managed to avoid the rum, but did have to explain to them that the British like to wash and do indeed brush their teeth and it can be sunny in the summer. Not sure what they had read about the UK but they had no desire to visit a smelly cold country!! Anyway on the boat I was happily drinking coke and trying to avoid feeling sick when the Captain filled it up with rum. Not sure if I mentioned it last time but there are a lot of mosquitos in Barbados and no way to hang my mosquito net. I think I have more bites now that at anypoint in Guyana.

Anyway we then left Barbados and headed to San Francisco with American Airlines and I feel the need to rant. the first leg of the journey was to Miami, and I had a seat which didn't recline cause I was infront of the emergency exit. oh well it was only 4 hours. No food and only a TV above the isle which I couldn't really see from my seat as the overhead locker was in the way. Due to a thunder storm we were a little late getting to Miami and we had to run through the terminal and through immigration (really miserable man who wondered how I was going to support myself with only $200 in cash, I am beginning to suspect telling him I could get money out of an ATM and didn't want to carry that much cash wasn't the way forward). We collected our bags and rechecked them and sprinted back to the same plane we had just come on. Next flight was a bit longer and again no food (well you could bankrupt yourself and buy some from them...) but they did have enough blankets for everyone. We got to SFO at 5.30 and waited for out bags. Chesneys arrived. Brendas and mine didn't. Brendas was on the next flight so we waited for that and I was assured that mine would be delivered the following day. So with hope we drove to Mammoth lakes. I am sure it was a spectacular drive, but we were tired and it was dark. We did climb upto 9924 ft before coming back down to about 8000ft and arriving at our hotel (the Austria Hof) at 2.30am. We collected our keys then took half and hour to find my room which was the only one you accessed from outside the hotel. It was the comfiest bed ever. The following day I didn't change due to lack of clothes and we drove round the lakes and got out to walk at a few of them.
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The Mountain the resort is named after
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We were all tired from the previous days travels and altitude. I was excited to get back to the hotel but discovered no bag waiting for me. It turns out that Mammoth Lakes is outside SFO's delivery area so they flew it to Fresno. When it arrived there they too said it was outside their delivery area and so were looking to fly it to Reno. Only problem AA don't fly there so it was being handed over to United. But I could have some money to buy some clothes. YEAH.

Kitted out with new clothes we headed to Red Meadows, the Devils post pile (national monument) and rainbow waterfall. The Devils postpile is a rare sight in the geologic world and ranks as one of the world’s finest examples of columnar basalt. Its columns tower 60 feet high and display an unusual symmetry. So the signs all say.

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We walked between them through a forest that was regrowing after more or less being destroyed by fire in 1992. The pictures show it better that I could describe it so will wait till I can upload them.

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Chesney got a tad tired on the walk back up from the falls and brenda had to carry him.....
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We also went to look at an earthquake fault and I lost them. Anyone spot Brenda and Chesney?

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That evening the bag arrived. As some of you know I have collected flags from everywhere I've been abd sown them on my bag. Apparently US customs didn't like Mexico and China as they were unpicked and discarded. They had also unpacked and repacked my bag badly resulting in the breakage of a plate I'd bought in Guyana. Best of all they had evidently checked that the conditioner in the bottle was conditioner as they had taken the lid and returned the bottle to my bag. My shoes now smell quite nice and I have to buy some more. I am now starting my one person stance against the US and AA. if I can avoid going through there again I will and will not fly AA again. Not only did they forget to write on my account that I could have the money they were useless when I asked them where I could get a new bag (US customs had also broken the zip and I had to patch it up to get to Hong Kong as there were no bag shops near the airport and I only realised it was broken on return to SFO when I tried to open the zip fully). AHH I was a tad stressed it has to be said. But I did really enjoy the final day in mammoth lakes.
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We headed out onto one of the lakes in a row boat and after spending a while going in circles we all got the hang of it and made it round the lake and I don't think we disrupted any of the fishermen. In the afternoon Chesney decided we should go mountain biking. I confess I was terrified. We got the gondela up the mountain to 11000ft (the view across the mountain range was stunning) and the cycled "off the top". The path was a little steep and all lose rocks with a steep drop down. But I began to get the hang of it and even made it round some of the bends without putting my feet down. I was much happier when at 9000ft it began to get less steep and we weaved our way through the trees. I really enjoyed the part that went uphill a bit (felt much more in control). We dropped back to about and I really enjoyed it by the end. I suspect we should have started with the beginner routes but it was great fun to come down the mountain and even better that I didn't fall off (the intermediate biker - Chesney- did though).

So to sum it up. Mammoth lakes was really good fun, lots of activities to do, food was ok, I'll never fly AA again and if I do have to come to America will only come with hand luggage.

We flew into Hong Kong yesterday, with a time change of +16 hours. I guess it'll take some time to get used to the heat (I think I'm melting) although its the same temperature as Guyana it feels so much hotter. Cathay Pacific fed us a lot and Jayne the food was pretty good. My patched up bag made it, but I am now off to buy a new one as I don't think it'll make it home. Its not been a good trip from breaking things, flipflops (broke in the Rupanuni River), sunglasses and now my bag (fingers crossed thats it).

Sorry this probably reads as a rant but I am beginning to destress now. We've been to the Russian Embassy so will get our visas tomorrow and then we leave for China on Saturday.

Hope you are all ok at home and its not as cold as it looks at the Open (only british news we;ve seen).

Love Gemma

Posted by gt248 22:19 Archived in USA Tagged round_the_world Comments (0)

Barbados

The only non volcanic island in the Caribbean

sunny 31 °C
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Heres the photo of the Anaconda I forgot to upload last time
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Ok on to Barbados.

We flew here with Liat who I'd experienced before but didn't end up next to a deflating woman who refused to give me my seat belt. Despite everyone having to go and identify their hold luggage and have that searched by the CID/CIA (we weren't sure who they were but it started CI) we left on time and were even given a complimentary snack!!

Brendas boyfriend is joining us for the next 2 weeks and we are staying at the Crystal Waters Guesthouse which is right on the beach which is good, but my room is somewhat small with no curtains so I am woken up at 5.30 by the sun. While the two in the penthouse (their room has curtains) have to fend for themselves I get breakfast included in my room which has resulted in me eating more eggs that ever before. It has also meant that I am up and out on the beach before it gets too hot, but I have had more marriage proposals that ever before, offers of free diving lessons and jet ski use. This has resulted in me hiking up the beach and climbing over some rocks for some peace each morning.

Most of the time I have spent reading, but we did hire a car for three days and drive round all of the island. From the number one tourist destination of Harrisons cave (didn't really like it as they'd built a road through the cave and you are driven round) to Welchmans Gully which is the best preserved stretch of forrested area remaining.

The east and north sides of the island are pounded by the atlantic and are much more stunning that the west coast (where we are staying) which is protected from the Caribbean sea by a reef. We also went to see all of the lighthouses on the island. Obviously what all the tourists are doing - or not as we didn't see anyone else there!! Though one of which we couldn't get very close too as we stumbled into a restricted area which contained a temporary prison (how do I do it??) and the lighthouse was on the other side. I should also mention that we have also seen all the Chefettes on the island (like McDonalds) but only eaten in one of them. We also managed to find the Mount gay rum factory and go on the tour. It was very similar to the Guinness Factory Tour only you got shots of rum afterwards.

We went to look at Gun Hill a rebuilt communication post which apparently has good views of the island, only the trees had grown and you couldn see much. Next door was a wildlife reserve where we saw lots of monkeys, tortoises and deer, as well as a weird creature that looked like a rabbit deer cross?

Other than that haven't doen't too much, going snorkling tomorrow so will finally get to see under the sea.

As for food I've eaten a lot of fish Dolphin, Snapper, Flying, Tuna (far nicer than the canned stuff of late) which has all been pretty good.

I haven't been madly keen on Barbados, I think maybe its suffered having come after Guyana, but most people seem to like it. I just got a tad bored sitting on a beach all day.

Off to San Francisco on Tuesday and then its 5 nights before Brenda and I find ourselves reliant on my chinese (eak).

Not so many pictures from Barbados I am afraid:

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Monkeys
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The Rabbit Deer Crossed thing
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The northern tip
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Northeast coast
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Bathsheba
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Macaw Palm
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A tree
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Posted by gt248 12:23 Archived in Barbados Tagged round_the_world Comments (0)

Guyana (the last one)

Surama, Rewa and Rockview

rain 33 °C
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I should point out that the bite was from a mosquito and for some reason my left hand has decided it likes to swell up quite dramatically when bitten, but it went down over the following 48 hours or so and didn't itch too much.

Anyway after another mess up with transport (I am beginning to suspect Dagron had never done a tour like this before) Ray (who I think was a manager at Iwokrama) drove us in a 4x4 to Surama village. Up until this point we'd not seen any snakes and I was beginning to relax. A short distance along the road we spotted 1/2 of an anaconda heading for the pond looking quite fat (only I forgot to up load the picture so I'll add it next time).

We arrived at the Surama Eco Lodge where we were looked after by Clarice who cooked for us and Gary and his father Sparrow who were our guides.

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The lodge was in a village of about 200 people who have built the place themselves and who all share the job or running it. So each person works for a month and then swaps so everyone is involved, and they started slowly and now have 4 of the benabs we stayed in.

After watching the macaws in the trees and the Toucans
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we went for a walk round the village to see the school, football field, womens activity centre and some of the houses. In the evening we went for a night hike. 4 of us with torches hunting for tapiers, didn't see one but heard one and saw its tracks slightly further down the road. Did see a lot of ants and the odd bird.

The following day we went down the Burra Burra river bird watching again. We stopped to look at a couple of camps along the way, one of which had been built by the BBC as they were filiming all over Guyana earlier this year for a new program. It was a tad muddy and we were advised to travel in flip flops as its easier to swim to shore with them than in boots should we capsize. While attempting to get to the camp I slipped in the mud slid and almost knocked Gary into the water. Thankfully this bit of river is Caymen free (!). We was many kingfishers and smaller birds but at one point Elvon (he was still with us) got very excited because there was a Harpy Eagle in the tree (the really big ones I was worried about before coming but actually they are really rare and the chances of seeing one are pretty slim). it looked like a pengiun in a tree
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and turned out to be a king vulture. So no Harpy for us.
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Back in the boat and slightly muddy the heavens opened and the rain came down pretty hard, but we ploughed on. Apparently there were some capybara but I didn't see them and an iguana high up in the tress which hurled itself off the branch as we'd scared it. Gary found a poison arrow frog
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and once I was out of the water (I'd been washing the mud off) pointed out a rather large spider that had been on the rock behind me.

It was a long day of river travel as once we returned to Surama we moved to Annai (a bigger town near by) and got another boat to Rewa, several hours down the Rupunini river. The whole place is a little flooded so before getting to the river we had to take the boat through some fields.
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Its a similar place to Surama and is a community tourism project, only newer and they haven't had many visitors. We were told that this river is infested with Caymen. We were on the look out. Brenda saw some eyes and Gary was ready at one point armed with a paddle (?) as a large one swam past. I saw nothing. They are easier to spot in the dry season - or I'm just a rubbish wildlife spotter but a trip in the dry season is called for to check this out I feel.

It was about 5 hours to Rewa and well worth it. Despite my lack of cayment viewing we did see more monkeys
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and a sloth of the 3 toed variety.
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When we finally made Rewa the ants were a killer. Small little things that really like to bite. But the Eco lodge was very nice and there are several trips you can do from here (we didn't have enough time though) but again lack of communication (no phones) they weren't expecting us and so we had another dinner of tuna and rice (I really hope Elvon eats a more varied diet than this normally).

The following day it was raining so after a tour of the village we took the boat back to Annai after a bit of leaf origami.
Sparrow made Brenda a turtle tail
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and I made several grasshoppers that seemed to go down quite well, who'd have though!!!
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I won't bore you too much longer but on the way back we stopped at Crashwaters (a village one of garys friends was working in). It was also the place where a couple of weeks ago a guy was washing in the river and lost both his arms to a caymen.
We made it back only slightly sun burnt arms and with many kabara fly bites (they are meant to itch like crazy and they leave marks that look like you've been stabbed with a needle but compared to my reaction to mosquito bites I'd take getting bitten by them any day).
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The final night was at a place called Rockview set up by an English man many years ago. It was really smart and we joined the family for a dinner of cows heart (not too bad) and black pudding (horrible I was thankful it began raining and the wind was so strong that it caused a loud bang so that when everyone looked around I could spit it out).

I loved this week, Gary, his father, Clarice, Jerry and Lewis were brilliant. Lovely people who knew all about the area and could hunt the wildlife out for us. I wouldn't hesitate about coming back to Guyana, but would book directly with them rather than Dagron who didn't ever seem to manage to book the transport and who left us with Elvon, who did get us up Kaieteur falls, but did seem a little to keen to catch, torment or kill the wildlife and who didn't really know much once we'd left Kaieteur.

After Guyana we headed to Barbados which I shall tell you about next time.

Gemma

Finally

Posted by gt248 10:24 Archived in Guyana Tagged ecotourism Comments (0)

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