Tam Coc Village

Tam Coc Village

After out time in Halong Bay, our next stop was Tam Coc! Tam Coc is a small village (literally one street long), but the village is certainly not why you come here! Here you will find natural scenery, beautiful mountains and winding rivers!

After our bus trip from Halong to Tam Coc, we arrived in the evening. It was getting dark so we found our hostel and we just had a walk around the village. (Which will take you about 10 minutes it’s that small) The morning after, we ventured over to the river to take a river boat ride. It was about 8:30am, and it was the perfect time to go! It wasn’t hot, nor where there many people on the river. By 10am onwards it gets pretty busy! So I recommend doing the river tours quite early.

The area where you take the boat is literally in the middle of the village, so you definitely won’t miss it. It was a great experience, and it was just so calm and peaceful. The man rowing the boat actually used his feet to row instead of his hands which was cool to see. At one point you are on the river and there were rice fields surrounding us on either sides. It was so pretty!

 

Next we decided to rent two bikes and cycled to our next location which was Bich Dong Pagoda. When we parked our bikes the lady told us to go a different way, so we ended up going the opposite direction an up over a small mountain to the other side. There we saw a small house and a small trail (that actually just led to a dead end). The area was really nice though! Then we back to the pagoda for a look around.

Be warned! We were scammed by the lady who looked after the bikes, so if I were you, make sure you ask how much the bikes are to park! We made sure we did that since that day! It wasn’t an extortionate amount of money but we learned our lesson from then on!

The day after, we cycled to another area where you can go on another boat down the river. This was is much busier with people but it’s much longer! There are 3 routes to take and we took the longest one, which is about 2/3 hours long! And the lady who was rowing had to row all that time, with 4 people on board! She took a few breaks to let us out and explore some areas, but I’m sure it’s tough nonetheless! With this one, we shared a boat with two French people, whereas with the first river boat we took, it was just the two of us.

During this boat tour, we went through about 9 caves, and we had to duck our heads as the ceilings was so low! If you are claustrophobic I think you would struggle going through these caves. It was very exciting though!

Finally we went to visit Hang Mua Temple. Your first sight of the climb up to the top is rather daunting, and of course it was very tough to climb up it because it was super hot, super humid, and no shade at all, but it’s completely worth it. The views are spectacular!

In Tam Coc it is very easy to cycle around as it’s very flat. We just loved the countryside and it’s just as you’d imagine Vietnam to be like. Here are some pictures of it while on busses and while cycle in Vietnam and Tam Coc.

Where we stayed:

Tam Coc Family Hotel

Good: We loved this homestay. It’s run by the whole family and they are just so so nice. They are genuinely lovely people and very welcoming. The hotel/ homestay is beautiful, one of the nicest places we have stayed in. The room was clean and there were no faults whatsoever. This place would be exactly what I would love to have if I had a hostel. It was beautiful and well kept!

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Bad: There was nothing to complain about! The only thing was that for breakfast, it took rather a long time to arrive! But I think it was because the family make the breakfast and maybe they don’t have enough people. So if you are in a hurry to get somewhere, definitely order it well in advance! But apart from that there was absolutely no problems whatsoever!

Would I recommend? 100% YES!

So our trip to Vietnam had ended. After our time in Tam Coc we returned to Hanoi for 2 nights and then headed back home. We absolutely loved Vietnam, and I’d love to go back again and travel to the south. There’s just so much to see! It really exceeded my expectations!

Aislng

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A Reconstructed Ancient Town (In The Middle Of Nowhere)

A Reconstructed Ancient Town (In The Middle Of Nowhere)

About a 10 minute walk from our apartment there is a ginormous reconstructed entrance gate to the unknown! We passed it a few times meaning to go in and find out what was inside, so with it being a holiday in China at the moment and because it was a nice day that day, we decided to go and check it out.

We were pleasantly surprised; it was quite big, and it was all constructed to look like an ancient old town. We wandered through the area and we found places with people drinking tea and playing Chinese games. We didn’t expect it to be as nice as it was!

 

But we kept asking ourselves; why would they build this here, in the middle of nowhere?? Well it’s not in the middle of nowhere exactly; there are communities of people and what not. But it’s certainly not in the city. Why go to all this effort and spend lots of money on creating this town, where most people most likely don’t even know it exists??

There were a few people and families in it while we there, so people do come and walk around, but it wasn’t crazy like all the other ancient towns nearer to the city are. It was a nice change though. I’m certain that if it was nearer to the city and more easily accessible it would be bustling with people!

I’m pretty sure in the next 10 years the city will have expanded even more and the area where I live will be more incorporated into it, so I’m sure the town will get more visitors then.

There were a few restaurants opened inside it which people were eating in, but it seemed like before there were many more, but have now closed. It’s weird; looking into the now closed up restaurants, we could see bottles of unopened soy milk, plates and pans about the place, so it’s as if they just suddenly upped and left!

But anyway, it was nice not being surrounded by a swarm of people for a change!

再见

Aisling.

 

 

My Xiamen Experience

My Xiamen Experience

Having arrived home from a great trip from Xiamen, Chengdu hasn’t exactly welcomed us back with lovely sunny weather…. smog and rain greeted us.

Having had our eye on Xiamen for a while, we wanted to take a visit to the city so we could experience the city and see whether we could move there in the future.

Leaving on Monday morning, we were constantly checking the weather forecast for the following few days… Monday looked ok, sunny with a few clouds… but from then on it didn’t look too good; Tuesday: Thunderstorms, Wednesday: Thunderstorms, Thursday: Thunderstorms…. and so on.

I of course was a little angered over this, I didn’t want to be cooped up in our hostel for the whole 6 days while we were there!

So, the weather didn’t look too promising.

When we arrived on Monday morning, we had the whole day to explore the city, knowing that this was the only good day we were going to have.

We decided to visit Gulangyu Island. A very touristy island that is a must see for anyone visiting. So we got the bus and headed to the ferry to take us. We got in the line and my boyfriend said “I hope we don’t need any ID”.

It didn’t even occur to me to bring any, but then as I looked around, all the Chinese people surrounding us had theirs. I had my passport picture in my phone, that should be ok I thought.

No, it wasn’t ok. The lady wouldn’t give us any tickets until we could present an actual tangible ID card. My boyfriend fortunately had his Mexican ID, but me…nothing.

Obviously I got very upset about this…. I don’t want to waste the only good day we had having to travel back and forth from our hostel and loosing half the day. But seeing that it was only 1pm, we decided to head back to our hostel and get our passports.

So… we end up back at the ferry and thankfully got our tickets, joined the other Chinese and boarded the ferry to the island. It used to cost 8元,however now it is 35元 or 50元! Apparently they increased the price so as to ‘deter people from coming to the island and ruining it’…. MMmm with the way the ferry was jam-packed with people, I don’t think that it’s working too well!

Gulyangyu Island is very pretty, old and I really like the old buildings that are there. There are a lot of cute wee shops in the small alleyways on the island.

By 4:30pm, I was just wrecked: having slept only 4 hours the night before and sight-seeing straight from being off the plane… plus the unbearable sun and heat… I was tired. Having to wait until 7:00pm to leave the island, we took it easy for the rest of the afternoon…. and by 9:30pm we were asleep in our hostel!

On Tuesday, we woke up by… GOOD WEATHER!!  The sun was beaming down and the sky was blue… we might get 2 good days I thought!

We decided to venture to Nanputuo Temple first. Of course it was mad busy with people, but the area is beautiful. To me, after seeing countless Temples in China, they all look the same… but it was nice none the less. We found a trail which led up a small mountain behind the temple and found a lovely viewing point!

 

To the left of the below picture is the scenic Xiamen University, it is free to enter, but of course we needed to show our ID’s, which luckily this time we brought!

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In the line to enter the Uni, umbrellas were needed!

Ever since I came to China, I’ve always complained about the girls using umbrellas during the summer. They don’t want their skin to get darker, so they always bring an umbrella when it’s sunny.

Unfortunately in Xiamen I became one of those girls. It was definitely not to keep my skin this pasty ghostly white colour; the sun was that strong I had to use it so I wouldn’t get baked. I feel in Xiamen the use of umbrellas is necessary for the sun, whereas in Chengdu.. it’s more of ‘Oh my God I see the sun, I don’t my skin to get .5% darker!!!’ So, it still pisses me off seeing umbrellas in Chengdu… It’s never even sunny!

The Uni itself is very beautiful, a lovely lake in the middle, palm trees, the buildings themselves. It’s like a park. The Uni is very close to the beach so you can wander around it and then head to the beach for a while.  Also, in their shop, they had an open fridge with all sorts of fruit inside it; apples, oranges, watermelon, mango…. all cut into slices. Beside the fridge they had loads of round containers to put the fruit into… You pick what fruit you would like and then pay..then you can enjoy the cold, fresh fruit. It was the first time I saw this but then I realised you can do this all over Xiamen. Such a good idea!

Wednesday came… good weather once again! I thought ‘yeah that weather app was totally wrong’. At this stage though, the heat and sun were getting to me… and by 4pm I had to have a lie down because of the tiredness.

On Thursday we decided to visit a Mandarin school to find out more information about their classes. At least there is a good school for us to learn from if we do decide to move!

We also walked around some parks and around the main road at night. Called Zhongshan Road, it used to be a busy road for cars, but a few years ago they blocked it off and now it is only for pedestrians. During the day it is deserted, with it only becoming alive once the sun goes down. Because Xiamen is a very touristy place, the road was full of Chinese tourists.

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中山路 Zhongshan Road. 

Below is a place called Hulishan Fortress. An old fortress build in the 1890’s. A nice little stroll about!

The last day we decided to go have lunch in a place called Grandmas Home. We initially went here in Hangzhou, so we were pleasently surprised that there was a chain in Xiamen too! It is cheap and delicious, but you need to wait a while sometimes to be seated. Thankfully we only had to wait 5 minutes until they were showing us to our table. In Hangzhou we had to wait 1 hour!

 

If you ever see a Grandmas Home, it’s def worth it to have a try!

Xiamen is a gorgeous place, very very different to Chengdu. I loved the place, except the weather (too hot) and of course the seafood. I don’t like fish or seafood, and this is like their staple food… I really missed Sichuan food!

So we will have to have a long think and weigh up the pros and cons about moving….

再见

爱玲

Possibilities for the future

I’ve just read that KLM are now offering flights from Dublin to Amsterdam, which of course is a plus for tourism in Ireland. I’ve flew with KLM when going from Amsterdam direct to Chengdu, first having to fly with Aer Lingus from Dublin to Amsterdam.

When I was in Ireland, I’ve never travelled to many places in Europe, mostly due to lack of money. Now that I’m in China and travelling around China (by plane) is quite expensive, I’ve now realised that I’ve wasted a lot of chances to travel around Europe; maybe visiting London for a weekend or strolling around Amsterdam. Maybe If I was surrounded by more people who actually enjoyed travelling, maybe I would have been more adventurous. I dunno, I just thought ‘All the places I want to visit will always be there’ kind of thing.

I do see myself going back home for a while, whether permanently or just temporary I don’t know… but I’ve promised myself to visit more countries in the EU…they are literally on Ireland’s doorstep!

But first, as I’m in China… both myself and my boyfriend want to travel to countries nearby us; Japan, Korea, maybe North Korea, Thailand……

Because I know when I’m done with China and it’s time to head home… there is a big possibility that I won’t be back… so I’d like to visit all these countries while I’m here.

I don’t want to regret it in the future!

再见

爱玲

 

Luodai Ancient Town, Chengdu

Since arriving in Chengdu, I’ve visited Luodai 3 times now; the first was when I was on my teaching internship and my other teaching colleagues brought us. I actually think I did a blog about my first time there.

The second was when we went with two other friends from work…. we decided to go on a TERRIBLE day! It absolutely lashed and we were soaked to the bone. We arrived at Luodai but decided not to walk around it… the rain was just too bad. Plus we only had 2 umbrellas for 4 people. So we bought a few beers and headed back to Chengdu… 2 hours away. So that was a waste of a journey.

So the third time, the weather was perfect! It was a great day to go; the weather was amazing, plus it was on a Thursday, meaning it wouldn’t be busy.

Chinese people love eating snacks, so you can try the strange food in the town, plus there are plenty of stalls selling ice-creams and drinks so you will never be thirsty! Most of the shops sell clothes, handicrafts and snacks. We decided to go and get our feet ‘cleansed’ by some fish… which was only 10元 for 30 minutes! So cheap!

For us, because we live in the south west of Chengdu, it took us about 2 hours to arrive. We took bus 10, then changed to 219. Luodai town is the last stop for 219 so it is quite convenient to visit.

Here are some photos of the great day!

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Ahh no crowds……

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This is at the top, where we got caught by some ladies urging us to take a tour of the ‘Great Wall of Luodai’… basically a small wall replica of the one in Beijing. 

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Little fish nibbling and tickling my feet. Was so strange at the beginning but I soon found it quite relaxing.

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Luodai is a nice wee place to visit for a couple of hours if you are free. It is in the East of Chengdu, so it may take you more than 2 hours to reach if you are coming from the West.

再见!

爱玲

My First Step Into The Tourism Industry

My First Step Into The Tourism Industry

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I’ve recently become involved with a company called CoolTrip in Chengdu that offer trips in and around the Sichuan area. So I’ve started volunteering for a few hours a week in order for me to gain more experience in the tourism area, as some readers may know, in the future I want to work in the tourism sector. And of course for any type of job, you need experience…so I thought this would be a great chance to gain some! Every month here I will be posting trips that they will provide. So if you are already in Chengdu and are interested in joining one, or are contemplating visiting in the future, maybe check them out!

If you want any more information on any trip, you can contact me through this blog or through WeChat: aislinghoey1

Set up in August 2015, CoolTrip has become a go to company for both Chinese and expats to partake in adventures outside of Chengdu. Rafting, paragliding and tea-picking are just a few that they offer. Their first trip was to Songping Valley… and since then, they have been offering exciting tours.

For the month of June, they are offering longtrips to Seda and Songping. For adventures,  you can go rockclimbing, paragliding and rafting. Finally for leisure, you can go tea picking.

Below you can see more information on each activity.

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