Wednesday, June 11, 2014

My Third Quest to Explore China

Letting go and Booking Flight
“What?” yelled my family members after listening to what I was telling them about my upcoming plans to travel for almost a month and, yes, being a part of such a loving and nice family really makes one month to be as too much time.
It was May 8th, 2014, when I got out of the bed with a passion to book the tickets and start a long planned trip. Though it’s almost impossible to get everything ready in a day but thanks to some of my friends who travel frequently who inspired me to carry as less and as necessary stuff as possible and get the things done fast, economically and easily.
Finally sitting with relaxed mind.
Finally got time to have dinner in the aircarft.
My tools, Sky Scanner and ITA Matrix
I was left with only one choice to fly with Thai airlines besides Srilankan airlines, being the cheapest one! It was possible for me to find the best option using ITA Matrix software by Google and one of the best flight booking website, to which I was referred to by a CS friend. Filtering the airlines and routes for the best prices for many days finally got me the best deal and my ticket was finally booked at 12 in the noon. I had to fly at 11 on the same night. I was about the follow the itineray as below
I was wanting this route because I had to catch a flight to Kuala Lampur from Bangkok which was possible if I took Thai air. Srilankan airlines no more stops at Bangkok and directly flies from Karachi-China, taking a stopover at Colombo only.
 While at the Karachi airport I just thought about booking the hostel and it didn't take a long time or effort to find a hostel with Hostel world, one of the best hostel booking websites.
Shanghai, China
The only reason behind selecting Shanghai to be the first city to visit China is that it provides me a straight route towards Guangzhou and some beautiful cities to visit and see on the way. I reached Shanghai after a long journey which included a 5 hour stopover at the Bangkok airport where I wasn’t supposed to leave from. I ended up taking a couple of hours sleep on the airport and killing time walking around the big duty free shops inside the airport. It was around 5 in the evening when I landed at Shanghai airport and was out in about an hour towards my desired place to find my bed rest for a while before going out to see the beautiful night at the Bund.
At Suvranabhumi airport
My stuff I usually depend on a lot, at Suvranabhumi airport
Towards Shanhghai from Bangkok
As usual, Shanghai was the first city for me to untie my shoestrings. My efforts to find a couch in last minutes didn’t work and eventually hostel booking was the last option I was left with. Bund is the only area one could prefer to live close to. So do I try to find an accommodation always close to the Bund. All the famous hostels including The Blue Mountain Hostel Bund, my preference, were fully booked as Shanghai and surrounding cities start getting warmer, tourists get attracted towards this part of China. It was spectacular during the day with being surrounded by the big buildings. And when the sun sets, one can see a large verity of food in the streets.
Getting my food ready (wihtout pork or pork oil is my common slogan in China)


Outside the Phoenix hosel

Just a street outside the hostel

Judging different kinds of food to select from

My usual source of killing hunger, a boiled corn, available at stores

My usual food without pork or pork oil

Plenty of choice but I could barely eat them. Though too much to select from

Dry fruit sold in the street at 11 at night

Weather was amazing during the day. Quite better than boiling heat in Karachi, I came from

Some amazing food to capture in the camera only

I just could saw all that with hungry stomach

Finally got some good and eatable food at a muslim retaurant

View from my hostel

I spent time sitting at the roof top and chatting with travelers

Roof top kitchen, restaurant and bar at the hostel

Nice weather and I enjoyed it accordingly

Looking for the required items

We can't see things being sold in the streets

Bund, my favourite spot

People eat these things also

Some cultural stuff

The food ranges from cheaper street food to expensive restaurants and so unusual that one would be ready to pay for capturing the amazing food. There for the first time I realized the importance of food in a typical Chinese culture. Most of the time you’d notice people busy with their touch phones or enjoying food. The importance of touch phones in their lives can be witnessed on public areas and public transport where a maximum portion of people on a scale of percentage is seen to be busy with either a touch pad or a touch phone. Never expect a smile from and Chinese person when you make an eye contact but if you get in return it feels great for some moments and you might remember the smile for the whole day.

Moving to Shaoxing
My short trip to Shaoxing and visit to some historically famous places attracted me and decided to go to Shaoxing after Shanghai which just two hundred kilometers from Shanghai and is called the textile city of China due to large number of textile factories in Shaoxing.
Staying with my host in Shaoxing
I was invited by Alex, an Americal-Russian guy, teaching English and Russian, living in Shaoxing Language University, to stay at his place, a one bedroom apartment in the university campus, during my stay in Shaoxing. I consider it a good luck of mine that the time I reached his place another German guy, Vitalis, who then became a good friend of mine, was also staying at his place. While I was about to go to have my dinner somewhere outside the campus, Vitalis offered to make some Brazilian black rice with vegetable, quite different in taste and weight as well. There I experienced living with the vegetarian people. Their cause seemed quite justifiable. Two days went by enjoying and judging different kind of life style of two 26 years old western people, their mind level, level of independence, level of maturity and love for traveling.
Getting ticket at the bus station
no english on the ticket to understand things
Me and my stuff on the road, waiting for someone to pick me up
Outside the university my host lives in
Me with Alex, my host in Shaoxing
My hosts were so kind to start preparing food
I thought this would be my couch

Banana Chips as starter

Friends are busy making some quick food, rice with eggs and vegies
Brasilian rice, good for health. But I could barely feel some taste as compared to Paki rice
University campus where my host lived
The clean and relavent environment in the university. How could I even compare it with UOK, I was student of\?
Me, Alex and Vitalis, also surfing with Alex

Hangzhou – One of the Two Heavens in China according to Chinese people.

Suzhou and Hangzhou are said to be the heavens in China.  Falling in love with a city is natural and quite convenient as falling in love with a person may not pay back always. One may fall in love with the places and this happened with me when I visited Hangzhou during the last trip. West Lake in Hangzhou Is the place where one might want to spend a day just sitting and watching the great natural scenery.
A rough experience on the roads of Hanghzhou seeking for help for hours
Hanghzou, not being the part of my plan, became a part of my plan when at 9pm I couldn’t find my place and after rubbing my shoes on the roads for several hours in the rain after the Taxi driver dropped me at some location which I told him after looking into my iphone with dying battery. 
I was asking for help and direction unsuccessfully, was given a ride by a kind person, who happened to drop me at the wrong place. After requesting at that hotel I got access to wifi and booked the hostel at the moment and somehow was dropped at the location by Taxi at 2am. All the communication part in the story was supported by Google translator.
Eventually, it came to my realization that my hostel was just a few steps away from the famous west lake in Hangzhou. Living besides the west lake is a great experience as the place is surrounded by a large number of trees and mountains which gives a feeling of a place far from a well developed city. Unintentionally, my stay in Hangzhou became longer and I was offered a free dorm by the owner of the in the hostel. She was very fascinated to see me and my itinerary. I was asked to hang the Pakistani flag in the hostel along with other flags in the newly opened hostel and was presented with some gifts, one of which was famous Chinese tea from the Hangzhou city.
My hostel was just in the middle of a zoo
Somewhere around Hanghou West Lake
Tourist places are this much taken care of and are kept clean
The West Lake
Path way around West Lake
Isn't the West Lake beautiful?
Yes, its me. Of course I was there


The scenery all around is well maintained
Found food eventually after walking for a long time around the West Lake
The hostel owner, me and a guy with multiple capabilities

I was asked to find the Pakistan flag and hand it
One of the gifts I was presented with. A hand fan with Chinese traditional painting
What else could I expect more than such a beautiful view at a random place?
Weather was extremely pleasant all the time
The environment in the hostel made me play guitar which I'm not too much good at
Leaving this beautiful hostel in a beautiful location of a beautiful city
Railway station, getting ready for a long journey

It felt they were born to eat noddles
You can find the hot water everywhere cause you may have to eat noddle anywhere
Plenty of food but I was supposed to survive on biscuites and bananas

Again, noddles time
Everyone seems tired after almost 14 hours
A 20 hours Journey to Guangzhou

Who won’t want to experience a fast train experience in China when it costs quite low as compared to air travel? I intended to take the fast train but fortunately or unfortunately the tickets were sold out and what I could get was a seat. Having no experience of such a long journey by road or train, I was afraid and was preparing my mind continuously to go with the flow. Later I understood soon that it was one of the best decisions of this trip as I could’ve never enjoyed judging Chinese people and their habits from so close as I did that day. All the talking was being done using a Chinese-English translator in the phone. In each and ever public place in China there’s hot water available for making instant noodles and drinking hot water, but not a coffee. Yes, they like hot water rather than a hot coffee with milk. 
Guangzhou city is a business hub with lots of offices by traders and factories. But, being an old city, it has a lot to offer in terms of culture and skyline. But once you come out of the train station, you can smell and feel the business atmosphere. Public transport is cheap and quite convenient with metro covering many areas and districts of the city. Fortunately, I was invited to a food exchange party organized by a CS friend at his place, where many people from different countries around the world brought their food and I got a chance to taste the food from several countries and make friends as well.
My stay in Guangzhou was in Lazy Gaga hostel, the one with the best rating and best value for the money where I happened to meet with many people, most of who were there for business and almost all the western were there to teach the English language and earn a good and easy money.

Staff at the hostel is usually very cooperative. And one needs it, specially in China

The hostel was beautiful with all the facilities
Luckily I found a kitchen in the hostel. Could make my breakfast at least


 A food exchange party at CSer's place

During my three days stay in Guangzhou, I got an opportunity to meet the amaing travelers from around the world who gathered at Ciro's (a Spanish guy with a pure heart of love with traveling, on roads for several years, stopped in Guangzhou to take some rest and continue with the plans) place. They all gathered to taste and experience the food from different countries. We had Russian, Chinese, and European food to taste from. The food wasn't the source of attraction for me to attend the party but the beautiful friends and amazing experience I was about to add into my life.
Me with Ciro
Some fruits in apple juice
Everyone's sharing something
People from around the world
 Preparing to Leave Chine

Guangzhou is a well developed city with good means of public transportation. It takes only an hour and RMB 7 to reach the airport with comfort and convenience. Metro routes and system is easy to understand as long as you want to and enjoy doing all this.
Ready for a journey to other places in Southeast Asia
Metro stations are usually crowded and sometimes look no less than Karachi airport

People rushing in and out everytime

 Where am I going?

Some people were already waiting for me to join them somewhere in Southeast Asia. A lot more to was about to come and was to be experienced yet. It was time to do some business things in Kuala Lumpur and enjoy some jungles, islands and highlands. A totally different life and state of mind. New places to come and new kind of funny stuff to enjoy.
Coming next on this blog is the trip to Malaysia.

No comments:

Post a Comment