Enjoying Time With Family

Enjoying Time With Family

I’ve been back in Ireland for just over a week and so far it’s been a mix of peace and quiet…. then all hell breaks loose once the nephews are over, but it’s great to see them and play with them! I can now play more with my nephew, who is 6 years old; having me race him up and down our garden, doing tumbles, playing frisbee and of course hide and seek! I can now have more of a grown up conversation with him compared to the last time I was over.

My youngest nephew is now around 2.5 years old, and although he’s still not speaking, he knows exactly what I’m saying to him! At the moment he’s slow at talking, but he’s trying to make out words; banana is ‘ana’ for example.  So he’s trying at least!

With my fiancé in Mexico, it’s nice to be with the family and be like ‘old times’.  Although I miss him, I’m enjoying my time with the family.

Being back in my own bed means I’ve been having really good night sleeps. In Chengdu I never feel rested after a night’s sleep; maybe it’s our rock hard bed, but here I sleep really well. I forgot how super comfy my bed is!

And the weather has actually been better than Mexico for once! I hear it’s raining, thundery and sometimes cold where my fiancé is, but yesterday the weather in Ireland was fantastic! So so far it’s not too bad! Anyway I don’t mind if it’s not too good; I’m not visiting just for the weather.

So so far I’m having a lovely time. I’ve been so used to having just my fiancé as company, so it’s nice to be able to talk with the family and interact with them. I suppose I just got so used to having only my fiancé about in China, so when I came back here, I realised how much I missed having others company.

I’ll enjoy it while it lasts!

再见

爱玲

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Enjoying The Beautiful Day

If you’ve ever read my blog, I always complain about Chengdu’s weather; it’s terrible. It would depress you, especially in the winter. But thankfully the summer is finally rolling in and for the past few days we’ve woken up to beautiful weather!

It’s amazing, one week everyone is wearing coats and layers…. then literally the next week the coats are off us. In just one week the temperature rises so much! From 13degrees one week, to about 19/20 the following.

Recently it has topped 28 degrees, so I think winter has finally disappeared!

We wanted to take full advantage of the sun so a few days ago we decided to visit Huanhuaxi Park. 浣花溪公园。 We thought long and hard about whether to go to uni (yeah right) but we thought it best to skip class and have a whole day to ourselves! It’s not often that we can appreciate the sun (minus the grey pollution shrouding it)!

We decided to cycle instead of taking the bus, so first we went and ate some food, then we cycled about 35 minutes to the park. We arrived at around 1:30pm, and it was a great time to visit! It was a Thursday, meaning everyone would either be at work or school. During the weekend all the parks are just so crowded, so we really wanted to visit when it’s nice and peaceful.

I love Huanhuaxi Park because it’s big, very pretty and it’s generally nice to walk about.

After our walk we decided to have some Jasmine tea and sit beside the river, drinking our tea and reading our Kindles. At the moment I’m reading ‘It’ by Stephen King, just in time before the new film comes out!

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Reading ‘It’ and drinking tea. 

Having tea in a tea house is something that I enjoy doing in Chengdu. Everyone is laid back and they like spending hours just sitting, talking and drinking tea together. The tea-houses have a very relaxed feel to them. Our tea cost 15元 each, or about €2, and they give you a big flask with hot water to refill your cup.

After a few hours we decided to head home… and by the time we arrived back I was exhausted!! The sun really makes me tired! I suppose, because we don’t get much sun in Ireland,  and when I’m out in it all day…. I definitely need to recharge my batteries when I get inside!

Unfortunately, some Chinese people here hate the sun! They prefer the dreary grey sky. How weird is that!!??

Oh well, I’m going to enjoy the sun while it’s around. It doesn’t stick around for long here!

再见

爱玲

A Trip Down South

A Trip Down South

While my boyfriends Mum and Dad were in China, we decided we would take a small 5 day trip to Kunming. Kunming is just over an hours flight south from Chengdu, in Yunnan Province. We have heard good things about the city: it’s weather is much better than in Chengdu, there are quite a lot of expats living there, it’s cheaper, plus it’s a gateway to explore south east Asia.

Kunming is remarkably smaller than Chengdu, with about half the amount of people in Chengdu which has around 14 million. Not the most smallest of cities!

From the cities I’ve been to in China, I was surprised at how different Chengdu is to many others. The ones I’ve been to are in the east, and  it certainly shows how the east of China has dramatically become more ‘Westernised’, to me anyway, it seems to have lost some of it’s traditional culture.

Thankfully, much of the traditional ways of life are still seen in the West, so Chengdu and Kunming are definitely cities to visit if you want to experience a more ‘Chinese’ way of life.

Kunming very much feels like Chengdu… they both have sort of a ‘rustic’ feel. When we arrived the weather was glorious! Blue sky and it was quite hot! On our first day we decided to visit the Green Lake. We strolled around the lake and it’s surrounding area; watching people singing and dancing.

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The next day, the weather wasn’t very good. We knew from the weather forecast that rain was due, so we were definitely prepared! Although it was freezing!

We got a bus to a beautiful old temple called Yuantong Temple. Apparently it’s one of the most famous Temples in Kunming. Although the weather wasn’t the best, we still took some really nice pictures.

After this, we walked to an area near a University which has loads of stalls selling different food; I tried these spicy/sweet fried potatoes. They were really nice! Instead of putting lots of spice on them, they only put a little spice but they also add some sesame oil to them.

After that, we headed downtown and had a look in the shops and just had a nosey. The weather was becoming worse so we decided to head back to our hostel.

On Wednesday, we took a train around 6/7 hours to a place called Dali Ancient City. 大理. Dali is an old ancient city and it is a very popular place to visit for Chinese people. It was really nice, although one thing that annoyed us was that in the streets there were constant e-bikes beeping their horns and trying to swerve between the crowds of people. It was really frustrating. They should really ban e-bikes in the main area of the town. The constant beeping ruined the atmosphere a little for us.

If you plan on walking, I would recommend 2 days in the Dali Ancient City. However if you want to rent a bike, I would say one day would be fine to explore the area. We decided to walk, and quickly realised how big the area was! So I would suggest renting a bike or an e-bike.

Walking around the area, we stumbled across a beautiful small park. I have no idea what the name is, but it was really nice.

After our two days in Dali, we got another train back to Kunming. We could have taken a flight from Kunming to Dali, but it was too expensive, so it was the train for us!

We stayed one more night in Kunming and then caught our short flight back to smoggy Chengdu.

I really enjoyed Kunming, I’d I like to go back again and maybe even think about living there one day!

The two hostels in which we stayed at are:

Kunming: Kunming Cloudland International Hostel

Pros: Really friendly staff, atmosphere was nice, bedrooms were fine.

Cons: Location wasn’t at the heart of Kunming, so had to take buses to get to any place.

Dali: Dali Five Elements Hostel

Pros: Located just 5 minutes from Dali Ancient City.

Cons: Staff weren’t very friendly (didn’t smile once at us). No atmosphere in the hostel whatsoever. I didn’t like our room; the bedroom and bathroom were far too big and just had a weird feeling about it. Also, the shower pressure is literally non-existent. They gave us a bedroom with 3 beds but we only needed 2 so that’s why it felt big. I wouldn’t stay there again.

再见

爱玲

Two Mexicans in China

We have been busy lately, with my boyfriends Mum and Dad coming to visit; bringing with them plenty of Mexican food, nuts and my favourite spicy watermelon lolly pops. Oh and a very good quality Tequila with them!

So far they have really been enjoying their time here; walking around the area of our community, going to Walmart and Carrefour, and having a wander in and around Chengdu.

While we were not working, we brought them to a few famous places… we definitely had to bring them for some Chinese tea in a tea house, so they can experience the relaxed nature of Chengdu people.

High on the list was of course food! So far, they have both really enjoyed everything that Chengdu has to offer; hot pot, rabbit, different varieties of dishes… all they really liked.

This Monday we will take them to Kunming, a city that is south of Sichuan province. Here we will spend 5 days where will we have a look at the city, then we will go to Dali, a supposedly quite attractive ancient town. Although I have heard it is very touristy, but that’s no surprise in China!

They still need to go and see the famous pandas, and there are a few more places where we would like to bring them if we have time. Coming back from Kunming, we will have another few days in Chengdu to go to more places.

Because the weather here is becoming colder and colder, that of course brings more smog. Thankfully there have been 2/3 days where the weather hasn’t been that bad. But I suppose they have been warned about the smog so they knew what they would expect!

There are some things that they have been surprised about; such as people appearing more rude than in Mexico. But they have also been surprised about our life in Chengdu and I think they figured out why we have been living here the past few years and what has kept us here.

So all in all, I think their holiday has been going well so far!

再见!

爱玲

Exploring Western Sichuan: Part 2

Onto my next 2 days in Western Sichuan. On Wednesday we got up at 8am for breakfast and on we went. We had organised the day before to go horse-riding, but found it was too expensive. We decided to leave it until the next day. So after breakfast our driver located a group of Tibetan people who brought tourists up a mountain to take some pictures. Of course we had to pay for going up the mountain and the horses, but it was worth it.

The weather was great that morning and we were able to take some close up photos of their beautiful tibetan writing on a rock on the mountain.

The ride on the horse up was a little daunting; it was quite steep and I was afraid in case the horse would struggle. But thankfully they were fine and we reached the top no problem.

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Horses trying to run away from their owner

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Found an old house at the stop of the mountain

After our morning outing,  we headed back to Kangding. It took around 3 hours, and before we knew it we were back in the small city. Along the way we met 3 accidents! The first car accident was between a small van and a car, I’m guessing the van hit the car while going round a bend in the road.

The next accident we saw was a lorry had turned on its side, again it was navigating a corner.

Finally we saw a white car in a ditch at the side of the road. Drivers here drive far too fast, so I’m not surprised most of these were because of going too fast. But I don’t think anyone was injured in the accidents.

Our driver was driving pretty fast too but thankfully we made it safely back!

So we arrived in Kangding and our driver brought us to some hot springs. I was a bit hesitant; I hate people looking at me, especially when I have a bikini on… but when we arrived we realised he had booked us a private hot spring area just for the 4 of us!

The last time we went to a hot springs it was more like a pool with different temperatures. this was rather different! First of all the whole place smelled like eggs. So we realised this must be the real deal.

Before this, we finished what we had left of our picnic the day before, drank some Chinese tea… then when we were rested we decided to head in. Our driver told us that the hottest hot spring might be too hot for us so he recommend we should go to a cooler one.

We were really surprised at how hot it was! My god! I could only stay in it for 10 minutes at a time then I had to get out. Everyone did. The place is quite old but it was great to actually be in a proper hot springs and not a man made one. Was really authentic.

Plus it was deep, reaching my neck! Although we realised there were big rocks at the bottom of the pool, so we had to be very careful or else we would crack our toes off them.

We were booked for 2 hours there, but after 1 hour we were done. It was just too hot for us.

After this we headed to a small temple in a mountain side and took a few photos.

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In the evening, we accompanied our driver to our favourite Tibetan restaurant and then had 1 beer with him in the hostel until it was time for bed.

Thursday: Our final day consisted of us travelling back to Chengdu. Our journey coming to Kanding took hours because of traffic…. so we were worrying this time it would be the same again.

After breakfast, which consisted of the worst tasting pancakes in the whole world, we left the hostel at 9am.

Thinking we would be back to Chengdu at around 5/6pm, we were pleasantly surprised to arrive home at 3pm! We had no traffic along the way so it was much quicker this time. We said thank you to our driver for driving us everywhere and we headed to our apartment.

In a way we were sad we couldn’t talk our driver more; our Chinese isn’t very good and he knew zero English… but we tried anyway and did our best.  I’m sure he was very tired after driving such a long way!

Our visitors were leaving the day after so we just relaxed and went to another tea house, drank tea and chatted. It was a great trip and I’m very glad we did it.

Although It feels like I need another holiday after that holiday!

再见

爱玲

 

Exploring Western Sichuan: Part 1

Exploring Western Sichuan: Part 1

Finally arriving back in Chengdu, it was time to relax! For me, it was only 1 week of travelling, but I definitely needed a break. I don’t know how people can travel 2/3 months straight!

Our visitors finally experienced are lives in Chengdu and why we like living here. During their stay , we did the usual stuff: visit JinLi/Wide and Narrow alley, saw the pandas, drank plenty of tea in the tea houses, saw many temples, walked in parks, ate Sichuan food like the famous Hot Pot… and  I think they really enjoyed themselves.

The weather was also fantastic, it didn’t rain one day during their time in Chengdu. Being in China 4 weeks, our visitors only experienced a 1 hour outburst of rain in Guilin. That was it! Very very lucky!

After a week in Chengdu, we organised through CoolTrip to visit Western Sichuan; where all the Tibetan people live. I’ve been to Western Sichuan, but not this far!

We left on Monday morning at 7:30, and we reached a small city called Kangding. Unfortunately we experienced loads of traffic jams… one in which we moved at a snails pace for 1 hour. We found ourselves in about 3/4 bouts of bad traffic…. in which our Chinese driver wasn’t too happy about!

But we finally made it at about 5pm.

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At night, the surrounding mountains are lit up. Really beautiful and it was such a surprise to see!

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Our hostel recommended us to head to a Tibetan restaurant in the city to try our their food.  Although it took 1 hour to come out, it was really delicious! On our last night, we went again with our driver. This time we ordered Tibetan butter tea. Oh my god it was horrible. It was really really bitter and salty… which was such a shock. I thought it would be very sweet. Our French visitor actually thought it wasn’t bad.. but I had 2 sips and that was it.

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The famous Butter Tea

Although it was nice to actually try it… I won’t be rushing for it again.

After spending a night in Kangding, we were on the move again. We visited the Tagong Grasslands and saw a beautiful Temple. After this we walked up a small mountain and took some photos. The only thing that sort of annoyed us about the trip was that you needed to pay for everything. We were about to head up the small mountain when we found out we had to pay. It wasn’t even a mountain, more of a hill. I suppose for them it’s difficult to earn a lot of money, so their only income is from tourists.

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Yaks

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Where we had to pay 10yuan to walk up to the top of this hill.

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After this, he brought us to another, apparently very very old temple. Upon having a nosey, we found out this cost 20yuan/ 2.70euro each to enter… so he quickly took a few of the outside and headed back out.

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We continued driving a bit, until we stopped for lunch! The tour provided us with bread, tomatoes, cucumbers and meat so we could make our own sandwiches. It was a nice experience!

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After our lunch was finished, we travelled to our hotel that we would stay in for one night. On our way we encountered some really pretty scenery with Tibetan houses dotted around. Was really pretty. Unfortunately because we were moving we weren’t able to take many photos.

I especially love the Tibetan houses; they are so pretty and have so much character. And some of them are huge! I’m not sure why, I’m thinking maybe one whole family and their extended family will live in one house altogether. Maybe I’m totally wrong, but there has to be a reason why some of them are very big.

I could happily spend my time just taking pictures of all the houses here.

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Having spent 2 days on our trip, we have another 2 days left, so I will cover those in Exploring Western Sichuan Part 2

再见!

爱玲

Guilin, Longsheng Rice Fields & Yangshuo

Guilin, Longsheng Rice Fields & Yangshuo

For the start of my travels, I met my boyfriend, his sister and her own boyfriend in Guilin. In China, Guilin is quite a famous tourist destination. For natural beauty, it is the place to go.

So for our time in the province, we decided to stay in Guilin city for 2 days, then head to the rice fields. With the rice fields in the north, and Yangshuo to the south, you need to pass through Guilin city to get to these places.

Surprisingly, none of us enjoyed Guilin city. Every park or scenic area has a fee. And it’s expensive! One famous landmark is the Elephant trunk; a hole in the middle of a mountain that supposedly looks like an elephants trunk, hence the name. So we decided to have nosey at the price; 75yuan!! What!!?? Why the hell is it that expensive??

We then tried to look around the area and see if we could spot the famous trunk. But no….they put huge trees in the way so no one can see it. So you either pay the ridiculous price or not see it at all.

We couldn’t wait to leave. We couldn’t do any sightseeing as it was just too expensive. So Guilin was a bit of a disappointment.

We heard of a small ancient town outside of the city so we decided to go and visit. It’s called Daxu Ancient Town.. and it certainly looks ancient! In Chengdu, most of the towns are reconstructed, but this one really hasn’t been touched at all. People still live in the small town which was nice to see.

We made one small mistake though; we saw an old man ushering us into his small house.. I was a bit hesitant… I didn’t want to intrude. But he seemed ok about. So we had a look inside; very old. Their kitchen was literally in a shed. It was very cool to see how they live though. I was very thankful and said thank you in Chinese. Then I hear from him; 4 people is 5yuan each.

What?? He’s charging us?? He’s the one who invited us in… but anyway, my boyfriend gave him 20yuan altogether, about 3euro and out we went. I was a little annoyed about being conned. I thought he did it out of kindness. Then I see on the door that they actually have prices to enter! We never saw this until it was too late. So it was our fault really. But I suppose they need to make their money some way. After that we  made sure to look everywhere in case we stumbled into a fee paying place.

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I really enjoyed the small town and thankfully it hasn’t been demolished; unlike most other places in China. Hopefully the government will forget about this little gem of a place.

Our next stop was to Longsheng Rice Fields. I have always seen this fields online and I always wanted to visit them; I just never thought I would have… so I was very impressed when we arrived! It was more than what I imagined. Really pretty. The fields change with every season, but for me visiting in the summer is the prettiest.

We had to hike 1 hour up a mountain to get to our hostel, and it was tough!!! Especially with our bags.. but the view was definitely worth it. IMG_9047IMG_9057IMG_9061IMG_9087

 

We spent 2 days in Longsheng, then made our way south to Yangshuo. This is where the creators of Avatar got their idea for the huge floating mountains in the film. Yangshuo is a vibrant city and we all loved it.  Being surrounded by mountains made it really beautiful. We were only there for 2 days unfortunately; we could have done with 3/4 days; theres plenty to do.

We walked around the city, climbed a huge mountain and watched the sunset go down over the high mountains and spent another day cycling in and around the beautiful area.

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We enjoyed Yangshuo that much that we are thinking of going back when my boyfriends parents come to visit. 2 days isn’t enough to spend there.

After our stay, we had to get the train to Chengdu, and that was a nightmare altogether. I will do another post about that ordeal.

再见!

爱玲