Sitting in the Airport in Shanghai, China, I write this post to share the last stage of my trip with you all. In my short trousers and t-shirt it was kind of disappointing to leave the aircraft here a few minutes ago, experiencing extreme temperatures of 5 degrees Celsius. After all those weeks with sun and high temperatures my body is used to another atmosphere I guess. But since I will be back in Holland in less than 16 hours, I’d better get used to it already.

View from the plane, flying to Cairns

So, the end of the trip; After Alice Springs, where I ended my last blog, we flew to Cairns, a coastal village in the northeast of Australia. Unfortunately the weather in Cairns was wet all week because it is rain-season now, but that didn’t stop us from doing some great excursions. We went to a crocodile-farm, where we saw 5 meter giants jumping more than 2 meters out of the water, trying to grab a piece of chicken. We did a daytrip to Cape Tribulation, one of the oldest rain forests on earth (more than 300 million years old), a dinosaur-like environment with the biggest spiders I have ever seen. And last but not least, we went diving the Great Barrier Reef on a 2 day boat-cruise. Ofcourse the last activity was the best, so I will tell some more details about that one (unfortunately there are no photos because it was a little bit too wet for my camera). We went to the Reef with a boat called the Rumrunner and dived for 6 times (one of them even in the dark which was a very special experience sitting 10 meters below the surface on the bottom of the ocean in the complete dark). While diving I saw 2 turtles, a shark of almost 2 meters and a tons of beautiful colored fishes, like the famous Nemo. It was just great to finally see the Reef in real life and not on a 2D television screen. It is something you just have to experience and will not forget the rest of your life, all those colors and amazing creatures, it is just unbelievable it really exists. The only bad thing about the boattrip was that I got some motion sickness on the boat, but luckily that was not as bad as in New Zealand a month before. For the rest the food onboard was great, as were the crew members, and it was also kind of funny to sleep on a little boat in the middle of the ocean for the first time in my life. So if you happen to be near Cairns sometime in the future, just book the Rumrunner and go diving the Reef, you won’t regret it!

Feeding some sweet water crocodiles, they are kind of nice.

Feeding a salt water crocodile, they are NOT kind of nice!

A really unique lizard that only exists here on earth.

The biggest spider I ever saw, at least 20 cm long!

About Cairns; this village is almost similar to Blanes or Calella in Spain. For those who don’t know what I am talking about, just picture girls with loads of make-up, macho guys and a lot of liquor and you are there. Ofcourse this might be a little too easy to discribe Cairns, but for us it is very close to reality. Nevertheless we had a lot of fun here in our last week, even with the bad weather.

The last sunset from the plane.

So now my 6 months of traveling is complete. It has been a great experience, visiting all those interesting countries and cultures, it really changed my view of life. Again I can say that I really think everyone should travel more to get a much better view on the world we live in, there is so much to see. But as always I am also glad to go back home, being with my friends and family again, in the end that is what it’s all about.

Now I’ll head back to Eindhoven and try to finish my study in the next year. And who knows, maybe I will have some time for Asia when that is done… 😉 I will let you know!

Our first impressions in a few words: hot, hot, hot! We both visited Death Valley (USA) in 2009, so we already experienced some real heat, but again the extreme temperatures are fascinating. The walk from the trainstation to our hostel only took us about 15 minutes but felt like ages.

The Ghan, the train that brought us to Alice Springs

The swimming pool at our hostel, number 5 in the back is our room!

For those of you who are not yet that well informed: Alice Springs, or “Alice”, is a town with little over 27000 inhabitants, situated in the middle of Australia. Traditional inhabitants, the aboriginals, are living here for more than 40000 years, making it a very old and important place in the history of Australia. Strange enough nowadays many aboriginals are kind of lost in this city, hanging around near the shopping malls they really look kind of sad and without any purpose in life. They live in between our western world and their own traditional way of living, without a job and not knowing what their future will bring. As victims of the colonisation of Australia they are far away from the society they used to be, unfortunately, but what can you do about it?

The current symbol of the very long history of aboriginals living in this area is Ayers Rock, or “Uluru” as the aboriginals call it, a huge 348 meter high rock formation and one of Australia’s most renowned natural wonders. Of course we have to experience this phenomenon with our own eyes.

After a day of relaxing and laying in the sun, we leave with 14 other backpackers and a very enthusiastic bus driver to the desert surrounding Alice. We will visit Kings Canyon, Kata Tjuta and Ayers Rock the next days, camping, making a fire and sleeping in a swag (some kind of outdoor sleeping bag) between the wildlife under the stars. To give an impression of this trip I selected the following photos:

Road in the outback. Unexpectedly paved with nice asphalt.

The view on Kata Tjuta, a beautiful range.

King Canyon, amazing all those layers.

Walking in Kata Tjuta, really hot!!

Group photo; all young travellers.

The place where we slept, between really poisonous spiders and snakes.

The first real view on Uluru.

Me at the sacred rock

Uluru: to climb or not to climb

The Ayers Rock is a very sacred place for the Aboriginals, used for thousands of years in the most important ceremonies. Only the most powerful warriors were allowed to climb to the top of the enormous rock, following a very old path. Nowadays all this mystery is gone there the government made it possible for all the tourists visiting Uluru to climb the rock. The only thing is that the aboriginal people still see this icon as very sacred and don’t really like people to climb it. Therefore a climb is not just a climb, but a mental rejection of the aboriginal thoughts, disrespecting their wishes. Knowing this most people, like me, should respect the old culture by not climbing the rock. But when you see this giant, and love climbing things as much as I do, this is really hard to realise. In the end for me this is just a rock, just a natural phenomenon, with the best view on the immense surrounding outback possible. But in the end my moral feeling wins from my hunger for altitude, even after seeing the path to the top which almost made me dribble. I didn’t do it, I didn’t climb the rock, hopefully it was the right decision.

Ayers rock at sunrise, very very early in the morning when temperatures are still bearable.

The path to the top of the rock, isn’t it attractive?

The first picture of the animal photoshoot I made, the ant is stealing my cheese!

An Emoe, a dinosaurlike bird with very impressive staring eyes.

A small lizard or Gecko, posing for me on a nice rock.

Also this spider liked to be photographed by me.

Look at the eyes of this grasshopper, so weird!

Another lizard that wanted a photo, who am I to say no to that…

The last photo of the animal photoshoot; a part of the group after our return to Alice.

Conclusion after arriving back in Alice: the trip was a great experience! Almost all the other 14 backpackers were really interesting people and fun to hang out with. If you think about the first day, when we didn’t know any of them, it is really unbelievable that you get to know people that good after only three days. Maybe that is what makes travelling really worth doing, learning about how other people think about and live in this world.

Ps I also played a game of pool against an aboriginal woman. Unfortunately I lost that one, but at least I can blame the beer I drunk before! 😉 It was a great experience, it kind of felt like playing against 40000 years of culture.

The 2nd of January we left Sydney again by plane to fly to Melbourne, the city of the Australian Open Tennis Tournament (which we unfortunately just miss since the tournament starts in the end of January, how sad!). Our stay in Melbourne was very laid back; we slept, lay in the parks, visited some museums and went to St. Kilda’s Beach, a very good place to mingle with young trendy people, like us. 😉 To skip a long unclear story of all our experiences in Melbourne, this is what I remember most of our stay; The old style amusement park near St. Kilda’s Beach with wooden rollercoaster from 1910 where a guy rides the train standing to hit the brakes when necessary (unbelievable!) – The architectural icon by Daniel Libeskind in the citycenter, a (too) complex building but from the inside very interesting (unfortunately I think it distracts the visitor from the art it houses) – The national art museum that is really the opposite of the Libeskind creation because it respects the art much more – The Crown plaza with the biggest casino ever where I unfortunately lost some money – The enormous well maintained Parks surrounding the city center, where you can lay in the grass all day long – The poolcafe where we played too many games of pool in a dark room with bad loud music and many Chinese youngsters doing the same – the observation tower which took us all four days to find while we passed it at least 3 times – the weather that was as sunny as Sydney but also less hot due to the cold wind every day – the trams cruising the streets every 10 minutes making the city alive.

One of the relaxed parks in Melbourne

The Daniel Libeskind creation

Inside the building is everything except cubical

The view on Melbourne from the observation deck in the Crown Tower

Melbourne with in the center the tennis courts of the Australian Open

On the 6th of January we left Melbourne in our brand new rental car, a white Hyundai Getz. The idea is to drive to Adelaide, a city around 1000 km to the west, in three days time, following the Great Ocean Road. There is no problem finding our way here on the left side of the road (maybe because of our experience in New Zealand) so it doesn’t take long to reach the highway. When we hit the first highlight on the Great Ocean Road it becomes clear that we are not the only tourists in this part of Australia. The beautiful beaches are packed with people, the water is unsurfable if you don’t want to die hitting other surfers and parking a car is one of the biggest challenges of your day. We decide to drive on and skip all the tourists by finding our own highlights, like a good hostel for the night. Another tough exercise apparently, since all the motels, hostels and campings we pass are screaming; NO VACANCY! By the help of a really nice woman at the information center we arrange two beds in a cozy hostel near the end of the Great Ocean Road. We meet Israelian, British and dutch people and have a good time playing pool that evening. To finish our drive to Adelaide on the 8th of January we really have to hurry because there are only 2 days left and still 800 km to go. We drive and drive, passing some interesting highlights like the 12 apostels, the London bridge and a Gorge, but most of them are so crowded with tourists that we feel very sad being one of them. When we finally leave the Great Ocean Road behind us the amount of cars on the road reduce from 100 to 1 per minute. Spotting our first wild kangaroos, koalas and beautiful Australian sunset, we fall asleep in our car because the only available hostel asks a ridiculous amount of money.

The view from the road while driving the Great Ocean Road

The 12 Apostels, one the touristic highlights

Our first wild Koala experience, well….. wild….

Our first wild kangaroo experience. It is really funny seeing them jump around!

Most beautiful private beach I saw

One of the many beautiful sunsets

Tim and me, almost in time for a nice timershot

A very sleepless night later with lots of mosquitoes and almost no oxygen in our car, we drive to Adelaide to return our vehicle. Because we depart to Alice Spring by train tomorrow we have only one night to spend in this American style city. The best thing to do seems to eat the best Southern Australian pizza and join the pubcrawl that night (Yahoo, it is saturday night!). When we see our beds again around 04.00 am the only thing we can do is try to sleep 3 hours, before we have to catch the train. What a night!

After more than 26 hours in the Ghan, the transcontinental train crossing Australia from south to north, we finally arrived in Alice Springs this afternoon (the 10th of January). The train was comfortable, air conditioned and provided a shower, but after 26 hours it is good to be outside again. Along the way we passed an endless 3-colored landscape consisting of orange/red sand, green trees and bushes and sharp blue skies, the combination that images the real Australia for me. The sunset from the train yesterday evening was like magic, again! Nothing can compare with the deep red/orange color that fades to yellow, blue and even purple.

So now we are in Alice Springs, the center of Australia and really the middle of nowhere (that is also how it feels while walking from the train station to our hostel). We will be here in this extremely hot climate until next saturday so I am very delighted to be able to inform you that our hostel owns a really nice swimming pool! 🙂

As promised here some impressions of our final days in New Zealand and New Years eve in Sydney.

During our drop from the 7 meter high fall

Just after our drop from the fall

The result of our drop, not too good…

This is how real kiwis grow

The desertlike sand dunes in the north

Gliding down a sand slope using a kind of sandboard

The view on the most northern part of New Zealand

The first mangrove forest I saw in my life

Sunset at Russel, where it all started long time ago

The view on Sydney CBD from the harbour bridge

Our place during New Years eve, not too bad so close to all the famous highlights

The amazing fireworks part 1

The amazing fireworks part 2

The New Years Eve group (unfortunately Tim is the one taking the picture…)

From Sydney; Happy new year everybody! Yesterday we enjoyed the fireworks here in Sydney from the Harbour Bridge opposite of the Opera House. In one word: GREAT!!! Some of the pictures are already online:

For the rest; maybe in a few days I will find some time… 😉

Have a great 2011 and now I will go to the beach because it is more than 30 degrees celcius here and very sunny! :p

Sydney, Australia! After 37 days we are back where we started, but this time with a really great experience in our mind. After a delay of almost 2 hours in Auckland, we arrived in Sydney airport around 12.00 yesterday. After boarding our flight with Quantas, one of the two engines of the plane wouldn’t start, so we had to wait until the aviation technicians and security did their jobs and fixed it. Especially because there are more problems with Quantas planes lately, this was not a very pleasant moment for us, but luckily there was really good onboard entertainment and my first movie was almost ended when we departed.

Now we are back in Sydney again we can relax a bit and reflect on our time in New Zealand, because we stay in a hostel the next 5 days and already saw all the highlights of the city. In the last week on the northern island we explored Wellington, did some rafting in Rotorua and drove all the way up highway 1 to the most northern end of the road. Along the way we also did some fishing, celebrated christmas with our own little dashboard christmastree and sled down huge sanddunes. Some final pictures of these activities will probably be seen here soon.

The last 5 weeks have been incredible and a series of constantly changing environments and impressions. From many extreme activities to many viewpoints on beautiful scenery. And the big hero in this story is our car; In total we drove 6750 km in our car, slept in it for 33 nights, drove the most bending and unpaved roads, killed almost 999 mosquitoes and sandflies and celebrated christmas inside. Although our green and purple Toyota Estima was not the most beautiful, cheap and economical car (1 liter of petrol was only good for 8 kilometers of fun), he did the job!

So now we start a new and final episode; Australia! The next 25 days we will discover this huge country according to the following schedule:

So, here we are, back on the northern island, in Napier, a really nice beachtown. The day before yesterday we took the ferry back to the northern island and said goodbye to the southern island. Our time there was amazing and felt much shorter than 3 weeks. To share some of the experiences with you I will try to upload some photos here (some photos are rotated I see, but I have no time to solve that problem right now unfortunately. So just turn your computerscreen! 😉 Also there is no time for corresponding comments with the pictures, so you have to use your imagination with that! I can say the big naked man is inside an art gallery, so you will be less scared hopefully…).

So now we have 5 more days left here in New Zealand before we head back to Sydney, Australia, for 3 more weeks of fun. Since we saw almost everything we wanted here on the northern island, our last days will be very relaxed, enjoying the great weather and drinking a few beers. 🙂 Next post will be from Australia again I think!

Ps: I already kind of miss the Netherlands sometime now I am away for almost 2 months. We really have a great country back home! And christmas here really doesn’t really feel like our nice dutch christmas, though there are many christmas songs on the radio and there are many people shopping here.

I want to wish you all a very nice Christmas and a good and healthy new year! May your next year be full of new experiences!

So, here we are, in Bluff, the most southern village of the southern Island! The last days we experienced some really desolated areas during our trip to Milford Sound, we saw unbelievable combinations of Cliffs and Sea overthere. Before we walked to the impressive Franz Joseph Glacier and did all the adventural things we wanted to do in Queenstown, the capitol of extreme sports. Canyoning, cliffjumping (, mountainbiking and Jetboat riding, they all were great to experience. Some Photos will hopefully follow later on.

Now we are heading to Stewart Island this afternoon, the ferry leaves at 17.00. There we will do some really good hiking and fishing the next two days. Hopefully the weather will be fine…

After some really middle-of-nowhere days here finally some sign of life! The southern island is really amazing, but also very abandoned in many places. We have already seen very impressive environments, from huge glaciers to perfect beaches and from dark caves with glowworms to dense jungles. It is just fascinating how many different climates and circumstances you can find here on this relatively small island.

One of the best things we did so far here is sea kayaking, where we spend two days on the water and camped in the Abel Tasman National Park for one night. The jungle here is so original that sometimes you really think there must be a dinosaur around the next corner. But unfortunately (or maybe fortunately…) we didn’t encounter one of those yet.

Now, since there is too little time to write a long text here, I will to try to share some photos taken on the northern island. Anyway I want to thank everyone for the nice comments so far, I really like reading them although for some of you it must feel like repeating over and over maybe… And also all my personal emails (76 by now), I will answer them when I am back in Australia, now there is just no time for those things! 😉

First view on New Zealand from the plane

Our rental car where we also sleep in every night, very “impressive” colors not??? :s

Tim and me drinking a nice beer to celebrate our arrival!

The first impressive landscape we saw, where the Hobbits might live…

Thermal Wonderland near Rotorua, small hotspring in the front

Big hotspring  in the Thermal Wonderland

Tongariro NP mountains, we climbed the highest one on the picture

Tim on a slope of mount Ngauruhoe, better known as mount Doom in the Lord of the Rings Trilogy. The most impressive track we walked so far!

Me sitting in the snow on mount Ngauruhoe

One of the views from the top of mount Ngauruhoe

Wauw!  That is our impression of New Zealand now, after 4 days. Last days we travelled on the northern island and saw the most beautiful nature. We visited Thermal Wonderland, with Hot springs, geysers and a big mud-pot (not as impressive as Yellowstone NP unfortunately Leo, but also very interesting to see), we hiked the Alpine crossing up Mount Ngauruhoe, better known as mount Doom in the Lord of the Rings trilogy, and we swam in several lakes where we stayed overnight with our “camper”.  There are too much impressions to share now in this blog, and there are only 30 minutes left before I have to leave this internetcafe to catch the ferry to the southern island. I am afraid the next time I am able to please you all with the photographs I made will be in Australia or even later, because the internetfacilities here are very bad. But no worries, I will at least share everything with you when I am back home in februari!

You will hear from me ASAP!

Last days in Australia

So today we will fly to New Zealand, the final stop in our journey to the end of the world. The past days in Australia were relaxed and also a little sad for Tim, because he had to say goodbye to the many contacts he made in the past 4 months. Last Saturday we had a nice BBQ with campfire at Tims place, so I think that helped by finishing his stay in Sydney. Now we have to change our mind setting and prepare for New Zealand, what was kind of difficult when you are busy with relaxing and partying in Sydney all day long, but we are ready now!

My last week in Sydney was good, but sometimes also a bit rainy unfortunately. I walked in the city a lot of times, alone or with Tim, and although I didn’t even see 1% of it, I have the feeling that I know the city pretty well now. Now we will start our new adventure in New Zealand, photos of my last days in Sydney

At Bondi Beach, the most famous beach of Australia

The famous bridge in Sydney near the opera house

The three sisters, Blue Mountains National Park

During a walk through the forest/jungle in the beautiful valley

At the foot of the Katoomba falls, nice viewpoint!

New Zealand

Yesterday we landed at Auckland International Airport, New Zealand. The flight was not as comfortable as usual for me, because of the small size of the plane, but eventually we arrived in one piece. Our first feeling about what we saw in New Zealand was kind of industrial, very western and not as impressive as we thought. Even the city of Auckland was kind of dead, not many people on the streets and no really impressive buildings. Let us see what the next 5 weeks will bring, hopefully some really different nature so we finally feel like being on the other side of the planet, what is not really the case right now…

Note: Due to the lack of free internet here in New Zealand it is possible that the next story can take a while!

Hi you all! So, after a few days this time, I will give an update of my experiences in Sydney. Last week I tried to change my busy travel attitude to the laid back attitude the people used to have in this continent. And I can say that I really succeeded! Almost every day there are parties here and because of the big amount of days I will spend in Sydney, I am not really in a hurry to see all the tourist highlights. I relaxed in the park, at the beach and in the city centre near the harbour, I dove in the harbour near the Opera-house at 03.00 am (yea, of course after a few expensive beers) and I slept many times without preparing any alarm. No worries!

To share some of the experiences with you, here are some of the things I saw last days:

One of the amazing blue/purple trees in one of the streets

Typical housing, reminding me a little of San Fransisco

Strange bird I saw on my way to the Newtown festival

No worries at the Newtown festival, really alternative!

Darling Harbour, the place to be for a tourist

The aquarium with Eva, my Chinese friend who also went to Sydney

A beautiful coral reef creature, hopefully we will meet his family in Cairns soon during one of the dives we will make overthere…

A huge turtle seen from the impressive underwater tubes


Sleepy Koala bear, unbelievable in what position those animals sleep

The coolest Kangaroo in town, chillin in the Zoo

View on Sydney from the observation tower. Exercise: spot the Opera house!

The city centre from the Botanical Garden

Old tree in the Botanical Garden

To conclude some small things to notice:

-Money: the money here is really cool. Some coins are very big and heavy, and one is even shaped like an octagon!

-Prices: Sydney (/Australia) is the most expensive place I ever visited! A beer is like 5 euro and a bottle of water 3 euro, and that is not the price in the pub but in the supermarket!

-Weather: The weather in Sydney is not very well at the moment. Last days it rained several times and there is more to come. Luckily it is still 20 degrees Celsius in daytime, so we will survive!

Sydney! After a partly quite rough flight which took more than 11 hours, I touched ground in Australia. The weather is much better than in China and so is the English people speak here. It’s like you are in some part of England according to their accent, but the environment is much different and more like some cities I saw in the united states. Besides there are many people of different cultures here, what makes me confused about where I really am. Maybe that is the best way to describe my first impression of Sydney; indeterminable!

Now some pictures from my first day in Sydney:

Tim’s crib, my hotel for the next week

The Operahouse, seen from the ferry we took to Manly beach

Sydney skyline

Near the coastline, lots of sailboats

Basketball game (with cheerleaders!)

Well, I made it back safe to Shanghai again and already visited some nice culture here. In my final days in Beijing I went to the zoo and aquarium, to see some Chinese “wildlife”. Especially the panda’s I saw and the bengal tigers were in some way nice to see. The aquarium was beautiful and the biggest I have ever seen, there were even underwater escalators to guide the people around and a show with jumping dolphins.

One of the panda’s

Big white fish…

The dolphin show (a bit unsharp unfotunately)

Coloured jellyfish, really impressive!

Horizontal escalator underneath the coral-reef

Back in Shanghai I visited Suzhou, a “small” town 60 kilometres away. There are several beautiful Chinese gardens over there so I had a very relaxed day. The train that brought me was like the bullettrain I took in Japan, travelling at amazing speeds. I can say that the public traffic here in China is really worth every penny, it is all so well organised. Later on, when I have time, I will give a detailed  story about the traintrip to Suzhou, it is really worth telling you that experience.

So today I will have my final day in Shanghai, where I will meet Eva and an Italian guy she met by the internet. Tonight around 20.20 my plane to Sydney will depart, so I think next message will be from Australia!

Today is kind of a big day for me, finally I will visit the Great Chinese Wall, a structure that always has fascinated me. Around 07.10 we had breakfast in the hostel and at 08.00 we left in 2 vans, 12 people in total. The part of the wall we will visit today is the part near Huanghua Cheng, a very quiet piece of the wall without any tourists except us. The wall (which was once like 6000 km in length!) is restored several times here, but you can see the different layers in restoration. It is really great to finally walk here, knowing all the effort it took to create this structure hundreds of years ago. We climb from 200 meter to about 700 meter on the wall, facing several extremely steep grades and staircases. Unbelievable Chinese people could even get those massive rocks up here in that time. We visit the great wall for like 3 hours and we are very lucky with that, because I heard most travellers only be there like one hour max and that is even in the tourist part, where you can’t shoot one picture without anyone on it. And the price is less, there are two good meals for us and we don’t have to visit any shop; This tour was really good effort (only book-able for guests of the 9 Dragons guest-house in Beijing)!

Entering the Great Wall by old side entrance

First view on the structure in length

View from one of the door-holes in a guardhouse

……….. Need I say more?!……….

Wide view from the highest point we reach

The group; young, international and full of energy!

Me on the wall far away, try to find me!

The way back down was kind of steep sometime

We are back in the hostel at 15.30 so I lay down for a moment. In the evening I eat the most famous Beijing Roast Duck in the Beijing Roast Duck Restaurant, the best place in town so they say. I can really subscribe to that sentence; for only 123 yuan (like 14 euro) I have a really delicious Roast Duck, in a very luxurious environment that feels like a three star restaurant. The cooks even cut the Duck live at your table, what looks very impressive.  Over all a perfect final day and evening in Beijing!

The busy cook

The final meal; Beijing Roasted Duck with pancakes, cucumber and spring onions

Well, a new day, time to leave bad yesterday behind! I will keep this blog short by telling the story of the day by photographs. In the photoalbum you can find all the photos I made, a little rough but I have no time for looking through hundreds of photos. Here a few photos of what I did today:

The mausoleum of Mao Zedong, where I saw his balmed body

Me at the Tian’an Men square, in front of the forbidden city

The entry to the forbidden city

Inside the forbidden city (a little dark unfortunately)

One of the many beautiful ornaments I saw inside the forbidden city

Nice pavilion in the backyard of the forbidden city

Panorama of the forbidden city

Theatre of the Performing Arts Beijing, futuristic architecture

Temple of heaven

Gate in the garden surrounding the Temple of Heaven

St. Joseph church in the Wangfujingstreet, a big shoppingstreet

A nice healthy snack, for whoever is hungry…

Crazy animalfood! And most of them are still alive!

Tomorrow I will visit the Great Wall, so I will get up early! Hopefully the weather is fine…

Rest of day 4

So, unfortunately, for the first time I have to tell you all a bad experience about China. And it grabbed me that much that I wanted to shared it immediately, so here it is.

First I will finish the rest of day 4; After the visit to the Olympic area I went to a very nice temple (the Lama Temple) and had dinner somewhere close to that. Than I went back to the hostel and found an aged guy sleeping in my 3 person dorm room, not the talking kind of person, so kind of boring. After a short break I went to the most famous market-street of Beijing to see what was happening there. The market is famous for its strange delicacies, and indeed I saw fried frogs and scorpions, which I didn’t eat luckily.

While walking on the market and photographing a church I met a girl named Koriander (don’t laugh! Those western style names are just international nicknames people have here). She suggested to walk on the market together and I agreed surprised, because I didn’t expect such interest in me. Of course I am a western guy, so maybe they like me for that reason, but I decided that a good conversation couldn’t hurt at all. After some walking we met a girlfriend of Koriander which she should meet called Rosie. They showed me around a bit and we ended up in a place where you could drink some real good quality tea. When I saw the map I almost fainted when I saw that 1 cup of tea costed 180 yuan (like 18 euro), but the ladies convinced me of the cheap sharing option and so we started drinking. In the end we also had some wine and beer, but in my opinion I didn’t drink for more than 500 yuan, and we ended up with a bill of almost 2000 yuan (like 200 euro!). And guess who didn’t have more than 300 yuan, yes; the girls! Of course I don’t mind paying something for girls, but this is outrageous, especially for girls I don’t really know that well and after them promising me that it wouldn’t be this much! So eventually, after many discussion and anger I just payed with my credit card, but the whole ambiance of the evening was gone for me. Apparently they expected me to be rich or something, although I told them several times that I really was traveling on a tight budget. I felt so bad about it that I didn’t want to spend any more money that evening and I went back to the hostel. Of course now I feel ripped off and I made up several complot theories they could have used to toggle money from me, but in the end I don’t really think they tried to rip me off. Next time I just have to be clear that I will only pay my own drinks and I will never go in such an expensive place again.

Rosie and Koriander, the most expensive tourist attraction in Beijing!

Well, in the end, money is not the most important thing in life. I spend, I learned and I even enjoyed (before seeing the bill at least) so I hope this evening will help me in the future and makes me a wiser person. Tomorrow I will visit the forbidden city, so lets look forward and smile again, although that is kind of hard after losing almost 200 Euro in 3 hours, something even Holland Casino didn’t make me do!

Day 1

Well, let us start the first day. The flight to China was long and boring, because I couldn’t understand Chinese television and after 4 hour of classical music you like to do something else. But eventually, after some tiny naps, I landed at Shanghai Pudong International Airport around 08.20 in the morning.

In the travel-book I bought, I read that the journey from the airport to the center of the city could be done by Maglev train, the fastest way of public transport over land on earth. Of course I wouldn’t miss that fun, so I bought a ticket and got on board. The 30 kilometer ride is finished in less than 8 minutes, with a maximum speed of 432 km an hour! I thought the bullet-train in Japan was fast, but this is something completely different.

The Maglev-trainThe Maglev-train

When I arrived at the hostel, which was easy to find with my careful prepared information, I went to sleep for a few hours in the 8 people shared room I booked. Afterwards, while sitting on the rooftop in the nice rooftop-restaurant, I met Deme, a guy from Spain who accidentally also sleeps in my room. We decide to meet this evening for dinner in the city. In the afternoon I visit the world Expo site, but unfortunately it ended last week and it is not possible to visit it anymore. I can make some pictures of the Chinese pavilion though, and some other interesting shapes structures.

First impression of Shanghai

World Expo site

In the evening James, a guy from Canada who also sleeps in our room, joins Deme and me for dinner and together we explore the city that night. Deme shows us the Old City, an old part of Shanghai with buildings that looks really nice and old, but unfortunately mostly aren’t. The ambiance is great, with all the Chinese people and no other tourists than the three of us. We also visit the Bund, the most famous and popular tourist attraction of the city. It is a boulevard with European style buildings, alongside the big river that divides the city in two parts. From the boulevard (the Bund) you can see the high-rise on the other side of the river, including the Shanghai television tower and the Shanghai World Financial Tower, the highest building of China and third highest in the world (492 meter). By night they are shining in many different colors, a beautiful sight.

The view from the Bund

Temple in the Old City

Day 2

I start the day with a breakfast in the rooftop restaurant, together with Deme and James. Here we meet Iris again, a nice Chinese girl who works in the restaurant and served us beer last night. A little later, James and I say goodbye to Deme because he leaves today, and we decide to visit the Bund again, this time in daylight. We also cross the river by subway and walk around in the financial center with all the impressive high-rise and an Apple store just like the one I saw in New York last year.

Pudong area with high-rise

Around 16.00 I say goodbye to James and wait for Eva at the Shanghai Aquarium, near the Television Tower. Eva is a Chinese girl I met on the internet and she promised me to guide me around the city today. It is very nice to meet her, she knows a lot about China, speaks both Chinese and English very well, and also likes to travel. Together we visit the French concession, an area with lots of small cosy alleys (which remind me of the alleys I saw in Tokyo) with old looking French architecture. Afterwards we have a green tea ice cream (not my favourite, but Eva loves it) and walk back to the hostel. We have a lot to talk about and when I’m home it’s already 01.30. Time flies when you are having fun!

Eva and me in the old city, Shanghai

Day 3

I check out the hostel around 09.30 and visit the Shanghai Urban Development Exhibition together with Eva. I already read about it in a newspaper in Holland, but the scale-model they have of the city center of Shanghai is very impressive. Even the future highest building of China is visible here, a very interesting building if you ask me. Eva and I agree to meet again after my visit to Beijing the next three days, and we say goodbye.

Huge scale model of Shanghai

Because my train to Beijing leaves at 21.30 this evening there is time for some extra sightseeing together with James. We go to the Bund and take the special sightseeing tunnel with light-effects to the other side of the river. There we go to the Shanghai World Financial Center and visit the highest possible floor at 471 meter. This second highest observation point in the world gives a stunning view on he city at night. The way up is like entering a spaceship, with at least 10 Chinese people guiding us one by one, section by section, wearing gray Star Trek suits and futuristic headphones. This experience is even more futuristic because of the lights and decoration we pass. In the top of the building is the climax, when all the lights in the city create a magical feeling and a stunning view.

Impressive night scene in Pudong

Stunning view from the 100 floor of the SWFC (471 m)

We get back to the hotel, I say goodbye to James and make the evening train to Beijing. The railway station is the biggest I have ever seen and the train is the best I ever travelled with. I even have my own television on board, at the end of my soft bed. Comparing this way of travelling by train with the travelling I did in India last summer, is comparing a Daihatsu Cuore (sorry Rick) with a Ferrari!

a “tiny” hall in the massive train station near Shanghai

My comfortable bed in the train to Beijing

Day 4

In the morning I arrive in Beijing, the city of the Olympics in 2008 and the capital of the People’s Republic of China. Compared with Shanghai, this city has much more history and cultural heritage to offer. It is like comparing Tokyo and Kyoto, or Moscow and St Petersburg, one city is important for economy and business, the other is political and historical important.

Though my bed in the train was great, I didn’t sleep very well, so first I take a little nap in the hostel. Also this time the hostel was easy to find thanks to my careful preparation, otherwise it would have been a disaster. No one here speaks any english, not even behind the information desk at the stations. Very frustrating to find out such things after waiting for 10 minutes in a line, especially when you have to be very aware of rude people who just get in line in front of you when you look an other way for 1 second, a thing that happens almost every time I line up somewhere.

I visit the Olympic site after a short nap, the amazing stadiums they made for the Olympic games of 2008. It is very busy concerning the Olympics are over for like 2 years, but I am able to make some nice pictures.

Hi dear readers! Today was the first day of my journey to New Zealand. I made it to China successfully and got to know three nice people immediately, Iris (Chinese), Demi (Spanish) and Juan (Canadian). Of course we had a few beers to celebrate my visit to China, so I will be sleeping within 5 minutes now. Just know that everything is fine and I will post a reasonable blog in one or two days, including some pictures!

Hi dear readers! Hopefully you are all ready for my final journey; the trip to China, Australia and New Zealand. In two days my plane will leave from Frankfurt International airport, where I will depart around 14.40 on flight MU 220 by Airbus Industry A330-200 with Eastern China Arilines.

Ofcourse also this time I will post some messages at my site to let you all know where I am and what I am experiencing. Some of you who read the blogs of my last trips could  be used to see new posts every day. However, since I will be away for about 84 days this time, I will not give updates every day. I will see what happens but now I think once a week a post might be perfect.

And also this time I could not refuse to make a schedule, like I did last trips. So here we go again:

Well, that’s it for now, hopefully you will enjoy following my biggest and final journey of this year, the one to the other side of the world!