Yangshuo

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Anne Claire and I took advantage of the “study break” to discover mainland China, before actually using the break for what it is supposed to, aka study to finals. We were lucky enough to have the perfect timing, managing to avoid the Amber storm in Hong Kong, and arrive to Yangshuo just by the time rain ended. We’ve not been blessed with weather lately in HK culminating to the previous weekend, resulting in floods over the city. Afraid of this, I decided to leave my camera home and regretting it immediately in clear-sky Yansghuo, having to live the memories through iPhone pics…

The village turned out to be bigger and more touristy than we expected. However, I fell in love with the unique landscape, which is often described as most beautiful in China. The village itself was cozy, a blend of westernized yet Chinese.

We spent our days cruising a river on a bamboo boat, bicycling around the town, took a mud bath followed by hot spring in a cave, tea plant visit, hiking to a view of Li River… We discovered the most delicious vegetable curry ever and returned to the restaurant to have it for almost every meal since… On the last night we ordered a bottle of wine which ended up being more than just one bottle. I have to say I have not felt as bad the next day in years, but we for sure had fun. I already look forward visiting this French beauty in Paris next summer, followed by a trip to French countryside to their family summer house. I can clearly imagine us sipping wine and enjoying cheese on a sunset….

 

 

Chinabound: Shenzhen

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Unlike many people, I never had a strong curiosity towards China. Not even towards Hong Kong, before I heard it was the place I would end up doing my exchange semester. Needless to say, HK has exceeded all my expectations. I no more question whether I would want to live in Asia or not – I will always be open to Hong Kong. The fact of this city fundamentally changing my worldview (which used to be very NYC-orientated), has made me curious of many other places in Asia. My bucket list now has destinations such as Korea, Taiwan, Japan (!!!!) and Shanghai.

Because of the new curiosity of China, I happily promised to join my colleague for a few day trip to Shenzhen. It is now day two and, to be honest, my first glimpse of China have not impressed. And that is kindly put. Everything from the infrastructure to the sense of chaos and gloominess made me deeply miss Hong Kong pretty much as soon as crossing the border. Ironically, infrastructure and crowdedness were the factors that first made me miss Finland, but I now see Hong Kong with completely new eyes.

Getting lost in middle of a hustle on a crowded shopping district immediately once stepping out of the hotel did not enhance our first impression. Fortunately though, we next randomly ended up to a market place of authentic food preparing stands on idyllic alleys. This place calmed my mind a lot, ensuring that I could make it 1,5 more days here. The best part of this trip, by no question, was my noodle wok dinner prepared in front of my eyes, naturally enjoyed plastic chair style in a room behind the stand (for 90 cents?!), as well as a perfect foot massage. This massage place would deserve an own post – the guys were clearly as qualified as physiotherapists and charged ridiculous amount of about 3 euros of 1 hour massage…  For once, I felt very generous with the tips, both for dinner and massage. Also, after recovering the shock of lack of western breakfast dishes at the hotel breakfast buffet, I found myself actually enjoying the flavors of traditional Chinese dishes. Big bowl of red bean porridge, noodles and a wide variety of marinated mushrooms, all tested!

I also can not but feel frustrated to not be able to access Facebook, Instagram, my blog… I guess ultimately, however, the communication barrier is the factor that makes me ready to get out of here asap. Simply not being able to communicate with anyone around me makes me so frustrated. With the exception of few truly helpful people willing to at least try, most of the people do not bother to even try to communicate. For example, I simply could not get lunch from the restarants or streets as the staff were not willing to communicate by gestures. If not else, Hong Kong has never appealed me as much and from now on, I will be grateful of every single day spent there ;).

Edit: Being back in Hong Kong and posting this from my favorite cafe in Sheung Wan, I could not feel more relieved. I know I repeat myself a lot, but Hong Kong, you’ve truly stolen my heart!