I was wondering if I would count Hong Kong as a separate country or not. First thing we noticed was that they drove on the left side, obviously from when Hong Kong was a British colony.
Second thing we noticed was that they all speak english.
They don't speak mandarin but Cattaanese. And also, the tourist Attractions compared to mainland China was so much cheaper or for free.
It's obviously a lot more modern than mainland but it still feels like China I would say. And I guess the Chinese would be upset with me if I called it a separate country.

Day 1:

We arrived in Hong Kong in the afternoon and had to struggle a bit to find our hostel.
Luckily we had nice room mates in our very tiny dorm room. Two Norwegians and then our irish friend Rebecka.

We didn't have time for much today so we just had a quick dinner and then took the metro to see the skyline.
Woow, the skyline just hits you. It's so big and so beautiful. There was a "lightshow" over the skyline at 8 o'clock but it really wasn't much to brag about. I wasn't even sure if it had started or not.
Anyway, I have to say that Hong Kong skyline topped Shanghai skyline!

We walked around a bit in the area and oh my how out of place we felt! Massive shopping malls with only the most expensive things in. We would be broke after buying a single thing. It was very impressive though. But I liked our little area more as it was more chinese and filled with cheap restaurants.

Day 2:
As we only had one full day, we had to pick carefully what we wanted to do. So after breakfast me, Eric and Rebecca took the subway to the Big Budda.
We had to take the bus up the big hill on the little island and it was a beautiful drive up! I was amazed that "even" Hong Kong had nature like this.

We walked around the big Budda for a while, checked out the view, went in to a temple and then had lunch in form of noodles of course.

In the afternoon we took the subway to see Victoria Peak and get a good view of the city.

We had to take a tran up and oh my was the line up long?? We waited for more than an hour and I was thinking to myself "this better be good ...".
So we get up to the top and we get into this huge shopping mall ... What? It took us about 10 minutes before we found the way to the lookout. And guess what ... This was the view:

It was so foggy and i didn't know if I wanted to laugh or cry after waiting for that long.

As we were going to take the tram down, (it was now dark and windy btw), we discovered a line up just as long as on the way up. Aahhh! Haha.
So we decided to walk down. It took us about 2 hours to get back home but at least we saw a bit of the view on the way down.

We had a little chat to our room mates and the next day we boarded the plane to our third country, Korea!
So we are now in Seoul!

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Ow Taiwan, how you surprised us!

We did not know the deal about Taiwan when we booked our spontaneous flight five days ago.
Taiwan has not declared itself independent from China but sure is a different country in every way. Different currency, stable community, clean streets, very highly developed technology and most importantly no propaganda.
Although most people inTaiwan are Hanh Chinese.
The mainland claims Taiwan as a part of China but Taiwan does not want to give up on it's democracy.


Day 1:
Taipei is the capital of Taiwan and is a mix of Asian culture and big, modern city vibe.
On the first day we took the metro to the Lung Shan temple. The temples are probably one of the most fascinating constructions i've ever seen. So peaceful with people lighting candles and the sticks that smell good (what are they called??) and praying in front of the amazing sculptures of their Gods.

Then we took the metro line to the Memorial Building of Chiang Kai-Shek. It is built in the honor of the chinese leader of the nationalist government that lost the war against the communists and fled to Taiwan in 1949. With him followed 2 million people who also wanted to escape the communists.
We also were lucky to see the changing of the guards which was an interesting little performance.

Then we had lunch in form of street food at one of the local food streets.

After that we visited two other temples. One of them was an unesco cultural heritage. Very impressive although it was pouring rain which on the other hand scared all the tourists away part from us ;-)

We were going to walk up the Taipei 101 building to see the view all though it was raining so much that we decided to save the money for a sunny day so we could see the view.

Day 2:
Today we got up early to eat our free breakfast at the hostel in shape of oatmeal with fruit, peanut butter jelly toasts and caramel coffee!

Then we took the metro to the Taipei Hot Springs! As i've been to the most amazing Hot Spring in Island, I have to admit that I was not that impressed although it gave us a very relaxing morning!
We figured that this was probably the best way for the older people that came there to keep their bodies in check and keep their immune system strong. They would get in the coldest pool (which was very freezing) and sit there for a good 10-20 min before they jumped in to the 45 degree pools.

We weren't as hard core and started off in the ~40 degree pool as a start and then worked ourselves up to the 45 degree one. It was very cozy cause it was raining!

After the Hot Springs we accidentally ate McDonald's ... Haha tourists.
Then we took the metro to the Taipei Zoo!
We didn't have much time before they closed and it was pouring rain so I can't say it was the best zoo experience that I had but the animals were very well treated and in good care. We saw some very fascinating and funny personalities amongst the different animals and we were lucky to get some action from the cages, haha!
But the best part was the feeding of the pandas! I've never seen a Panda before and they are just remarkable creatures. So happy we got to see them.

We met some nice people at the hostel and then went to bed.

Day 3:
Today we took the train after breakfast and headed down south along the east coast down to Hualien. We had heard that there was supposed to be beautiful nature!
The city itself was not much to cheer for although we found the best restaurant with free drinks and free ice cream! But for the main meal we tried out the chinese hot pot :-)
Then we had an early night at our so called "Bear Hostel".

Day 4:
We decided to buy our first tour that would take us through the Toroko Gorge and National Park. Unfortunately the tour guide only spoke chinese so we didn't get any of the facts or history of the beautiful place.
We still had a great day seeing the mountains, a temple and a beautiful coast line!

To make a long story short, we took the train back to Taipei and stayed the night there.
We took the bus to the airport this morning and have now landed in Hong Kong!

Btw; if you're wondering what weird orange food thing is in the picture, it's the Taiwanese specialty: Mango ice with frozen milk and terra cotta! Yummy :-)

Toroko Gorge

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We had the best time in Yangshou and we've been so lucky to hang out with the best group of people! I couldn't explain how awesome these days have been!

After the Li River rafting and getting to our hostel, me Eric and our english friend George, who by the way is biking around the world, went for a little explore to find the "Beer Fish Restaurant" that we never found. Although we found our two dutch guys and we all went to a roof top bar to have a beer followed by a very spicy dinner which I can still not handle ...

In the evening we met up with the rest of our gang and played some pool before we hit the streets to do some traditional, chinese karaoke!
It was so much fun! Imagine 10 singing/screaming people in a stinky little room, 20 beers and a huge tv screen with karaoke songs!
To finish off the evening, we had street food at 3 am!

Next morning me, George, Eric, the dutch guys and our good friend Kate, rented scooters and drove around Yangshou until the sun went down.
It was the best day so far as it was sunny and we drove through such great nature!
We also did a hike up the "Moon Hill Mountain". We bumped into some Australian climbers at the top and I was very fascinated to see how high they climbed!
In the evening we went out for dinner, had a second dinner at a muslim restaurant were they make their own noodles and then headed back to the hostel to play card games!

We had a very lazy morning the day after and we had to say our goodbyes to most people :/ me, Kate and Eric hiked up a mountain to the TV tower together with the dutch guys. As we weren't as lucky with the weather, we couldn't see much!
The three of us took the bus back to Guilin and fell a sleep like babies after trying to figure out were to go next as we're running out of time in China.

We really did not know were to go. After a lot of discussing, we decided to fly out of China and move on to Taiwan!
Before we left to the airport, me, Kate and Eric rented bicycles and bikes around the busy city, had lunch at a very cheap noodle place and saw some nice things!

It was very sad having to say goodbye to Kate as we will miss her very much!
Although I am very excited to say that we are now in Taiwan!

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With cars and scooters driving everywhere and almost hitting everywhere you go, construction work everywhere and people running around like they would in any big city, you would not believe what beauty this city is actually surrounded by.

We are now further down south in this beautiful country and we've been lucky to experience Guilin in mild, sunny weather!

We had such a hard time finding our hostel on the evening we came to Guilin. Although it was worth the struggle as this is the best hostel so far! We've met so many nice people and we noticed that this is were all the western backpackers come, as we've been amongst very few westerners during the start of our trip.

Day 1:
We woke up and had a western breakfast with fruit, yogurt and oatmeal. We were very happy to skip the noodle soup for breakfast.

We got on the local bus and jumped of at the famous Reed flutes Cave. It was a stunning cave. The chinese have a very childish imagination and it reflected in this cave. They had a different story to each part of the cave and the shined lights in different colors to make it look like a colorful story.
They found different animals, vegetables and creatures in the different rocks and I actually thought that it was very entertaining.
Our tour guide sang us a traditional chinese song as a good bye. :-)

After the caves we took a walk around the Elephant Trunk, which is a big hill shaped like an elephant.

We had dinner at a shopping mall with tones of local foods and had a very spicy stirfry, which was very painful!

Day 2:
It was a very sunny day and we took the bus up to the city center to look for a gym as we felt that it was time for a work out! Haha typical us.

It was not very easy to find but it was so nice walking around the Plaza and little food markets in the sun.
But we still managed to find the gym!

Our daily lunch is always at the cheapest local shops or markets and I recon it's the best food! I'm officially addicted to noodle soup :-)

In the evening we met a few westerners that we had dinner with at the hostel. Very nice people.

Day 3:
We got up early to get picked up by a very friendly and funny chinese guy together with our 4 friends from the hostel.
He drove us to a big bus that would take us through the most amazing scenery with green mountains surrounding the little villages.

After more than an hour we finally got to the Li River were we jumped on a bamboo boat that took us through the river. If your going to Guilin, don't miss this! It was amazing. Pictures below :-)

After getting of the bamboo raft we got picked up by a little golf car that took us to our bus. The bus drove us all the way to were we are now, Yangshuo.
This is supposed to be an amazing place. We're sharing a room with the people we met in Guilin.
Time to explore!

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We're so lucky that we decided to go to Fenguang! It was the most beautiful little town that I've seen here so far.
The city itself surrounded a river and the beautiful old town that you had to pay 148 yuan (20euros) to get into.

All Though we were very unlucky with our hostel the first night (no heater and freezing cold), we were very lucky the next day.

First of all we found the cutest hostel with princess rooms and it was sooo warm and comfortable.
Second of all we somehow managed to get into the old town for free! We were just walking when we realized that the guard didn't see us and we were in the city!

It was definitely the most chinese styled town so far. It was really hard to imagine that this town is actually 1300 years old!

After our noodle soup we spent the whole afternoon in our princess room! We really needed a day to take it easy.

In the evening we went out for a drink and watched some live music with a very disturbing, untuned guitar ... Still cozy!
We also tastes the local wine that we got for free. Disgusting and so strong!

Yesterday we left Fenguang and jumped on the 7 hour bus that took us all the way throug the beautiful mountains, down to Guilin.

I just woke up in the coolest hostel with curtains around my bed and we actually met other westerners here.

Time for some Guilin action today!

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I've never gone to sleep this cold and I've never woken up this cold. We were wondering why our room was so cheap until we realized that there's no heater!! Panic! Haha.

But let's rewind a couple of days back to when we got to experience a little glimpse of paradise.

It was a little bit of a hassle to get to Zhangjiajie but so worth seeing this beautiful place.

The town itself wasn't that much to see part from the dancing asians every night and the friendly locals in our favorite noodle store.
But as soon as you got into the National Park it was a totally different story.

Shaped by ice and nature during probably millions of years, the huge finger-looking mountains surrounded the forrest. Breathtaking.
The Chinese likes to think that the director of "Avatar" got his inspiration to the planet in the movie from these mountains all though that's not entirely true. But let's let the Chinese think that and use it as commercial. ;-)

We walked up as far as we could get until we had the mountain peaks just in front of our eyes. After 3 hours we started the long 2 hour walk down all the 7000 steps and managed to catch the last bus out of the park just in time.

After our noodle soup the next day, we headed into the park again but this time to do a different route that our hostel guy kindly showed us. We didn't have to do any research this time because of him!

We walked a 2 hour hike below the mountains, following a little river that stretched out the whole way.
We are so lucky that we came during low season as it would've been packed in summer.

Then it was time to start climbing up all the stairs to get to the top. Gosh it was tough. As we were walking in the forrest with fog, it wasn't that enjoyable part from watching all the cute monkeys!
The top was kind of a disappointment as we saw nothing of the view because of the fog!
Haha.

But I was still very amused as two monkeys attacked Eric and pulled his backpack of, stole our food and ripped our Asia book! Haha gosh they were evil!

Then we took the cable car down and walking up definitely felt worth it! The view was amazing from the cable car!

We had the biggest dinner and fell asleep like babies!

Yesterday we jumped on the 5 hour bus to get to where we are now. Fenghuang.
Time for some more exploring!

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I was surprised by Hangzhou as I wasn't expecting anything. Once again our hostel could not have been better located.

As we tried to find it we walked through the Muslim Markets, the local area with fruit shops, meat shops, with full animals hanging everywhere, and little local restaurants.
As we got closer to the hostel, we found ourselves on a long street with a little market, stands everywhere with every possible souvenir you could think of and all different types of chinese snacks.

We arrived early afternoon and had a pasta dish for a change.
We walked through the markets and i had to try the deep fried corn that they sell everywhere. It was terrible haha.

We found a huge temple up on a hill that we went to see. We had a beautiful view of the famous West Lake and the city. Sadly it was all covered in smog.

Later that evening we just bought some cheap noodle soup and had it at the hostel before we fell a sleep like babies.

Next morning we had a huge dilemma. We were supposed to leave and take the train to Changsha in order to be able to take the next 5 hour bus to Zhangjiajie (The avatar mountains).

But we really didn't feel like spending 5 hours to get to Changsha and then spend the night there as it's a city with hardly anything to see.
So after about 3 hours of discussion, we found that the easiest way to get to Zhangjiajie was to go back to Shanghai (1h train) and then fly from there.

So we spent another day in Hangzhou which was lucky!
We walked up to the enormous West Lake. It was really really beautiful.

We had noodle soup again. Haha.

For dinner, we found the dirtiest but cheapest food markets! Eric had chicken feet and noodles and I had ,what supposed to be wobbly tofu with noodles. It was so cheap! We payed about 3 Euros for 4 dishes.

Next morning we took the train to the airport.
I would not say that it was the most relaxing flight. It was the most extreme turbulence that we had ever experienced. It was really really extreme to the point where the staff had to stop serving and the drinks were spilling everywhere. It went through the whole two hour flight. I must say that we were really relived when we got off the flight with no injuries. Gosh ...

Today I just woke up by a flute playing calming chinese folk music from the street, surrounded by mountains.
I'm excited to see what this mysterious little town has to offer.

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From one big city to another. All though I must say that Shanghai has impressed me more than Beijing did.
Huge skyscrapers hanging over big commercial streets with a lot of western influences bit still keeping it's Chinese touch.

We arrived here after a 15 hour train ride a couple of days ago. Once again we found a really cheap dorm room to stay in all though this time we weren't as lucky with the location.

We took the subway to the famous Nanjing Road filled with skyscrapers and big shopping malls. I really enjoyed it!
When it started getting darker we walked up to "The Bund" which is one of the most dramatic and impressive harbor i've ever seen!

After a very oily Chinese noodle dish, we called it an early night.

Yesterday we started the day with crackers and peanut butter for breakfast as we couldn't find much else.
Then we went to the Shanghai museum. I was excited since I was expecting more Chinese history and stories but it wasn't really what I had in mind.
It was Chinese history but more in style of old things like bronze, pottery, sculptures, currency and calligraphy in chinese. It was kind of impressive the first 5 min bit after 2 hours (as Eric had to read every sign), I was bored out of my mind. To be completely honest :-)

Then we had noodle soup again.
We made our way to the Yu Garden which we never found. All though we found an amazingly cute fake market in extreme chinese style! Ot was like a big maze and it took us forever to get out of there! But we really enjoyed it!

We accidentally had McDonald's for dinner ... Couldn't take another noodle soup!

Today we are taking the 1,5 hour train to our next stop. Hangzhou :-)

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So I wouldn't say we've had the best flow or luck during these couple of days. Although we've definitely had a good time!

First of all, we never managed to try that Beijing Roast Duck ... First day it was closed, yesterday we overslept our powernap and missed dinner and today we came before they opened. Aaahhh weeellll,

Yesterday we went to see the Forbidden City. We were really excited as it is a sight that shouldn't be missed and a history not to forget. As we entered the gates we found out that we managed to pick the only day of the week that it was closed ... At least we saw the outside and walked around in the streets around it.

Today we had quite a day! Alarm was set for 4:30 am and we had planned to take the subway at 5:20 to catch the train at the big station at 6:12 to get to The Great Wall Of China.
We managed to miss the subway and had to take another one that took waaay longer but it didn't matter cause we were ready to fight through the crowds to manage to catch our train ;-) So we ran through the station, got our ticket and got to the plat form as the train drove off.
So we had to wait for 2 hours to catch the next one.

So worth the wait. The Great Wall Of China was one of the most amazing places i've ever been to! Pictures or words can not describe it!
It was freezing cold but after hiking the wall for 3 hours and climbing thousands of steps, we were pretty warm!
Greag Wall Of China 10 out of 10 stars!

What we also discovered today is that every Chinese person runs to the train! As soon as they opened the doors to the plat form (both ways) they all started running like animals! We were so confused and could not stop laughing!

We are now enjoying our last meal in Beijing before we jump on the 15 hour night train that will take us to Shanghai.
From one big city to another. I'm excited to see what Shanghai has to offer!

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So i'm back in Asia again! All though this time it's a little different and a little more challenging than the normal South East Asia route.

First of all it's cold as anything.
Second of all, we have to wear masks cause the air is poisoned because of the pollution.
Third of all, hardly anyone speaks english so you have to really do your research!

Don't get me wrong, this is not negative! Part from the air pollution ofc ... But i'm really enjoying this. Beijing is a very mysterious and unexpected city.
Not at all what I imagined. Behind all the big skyscrapers there is a very innocent and cute little mysterious town hidden in the pollution fog with the sound of chinese music everywhere you go.

Part from our extreme jetlag, we had a very nice day exploring the temple of heaven park, a huge area with different temples from the 1400s, that the chinese used to pray for the harvest and sacrifice to the Gods.

We've already had time to try out a lot of the Beijing snacks but we're saving the famous roast duck for tomorrow.

The highlight of the day was definitely the amazing Acrobat show at the theatre! Wow, we were amazed by the talented performers with very unique acts. The coolest one was the 8 motorbike riders who were riding in a tiny cage shaped as a ball, centimeters from crashing into each other!

To finish of the night, we're having a shake and some crackers before we head up to our very cheap dorm room to charge our batteries for the Great Wall of China tomorrow.

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