Thursday 27 December 2012

Discovering the Hidden Secrets of Yunnan Province

Yunnan is a province located in the South West of China and its capital is Kunming. My trip to this province started with a flight from Sanya, Hainan to Kunming late at night. We stayed a night in Kunming and the next day got a 4 hours long car drive to Dali.

In Dali, we visited the Erhai lake where we rowed a boat around the lake and saw the amazing scenic landscapes of Dali. Then, it was time to head towards the area where the most famous monument in Dali is located: The Three Pagodas. The monument, which was created based on ancient Buddhist architectures, has been selected as a national treasure meriting preservation in China, which makes it a must-see place in Yunnan.

The Three Pagodas in Dali, Yunnan.

The next day it was time to head to Lijiang, where we discovered places that were named as a UNESCO Heritage Site. This includes the Old Town of Lijiang, which as a history of over 800 years and it is a town that really differs from other ancient towns in China. In order to enjoy the most of this town, patience was required as it was an old town with hidden places to discover at different sites. Therefore, the first thing we observed was that there were many ethnic minority groups and each of them had their own rituals. We attended to their performances and for dinner tried a variety of different dishes typical of the ancient town.

The Old Town of Lijiang is well-known for their orderly system of waterways and bridges. We saw this representative structure at the entrance of the Old Town.

Once in Lijiang, there were many places of tourist interest that we visited. For instance, we spent one day at the Jade Dragon Mountain, which was really an achievement to go 4680 metres above ground level. We got a cable that took us up the mountain and we walked up for another 200 metres where the views where incredible. It was amazing the amount of people that queued up to visit this astonishing mountain.

Another of the hidden secrets in Lijiang is the Lugu Lake, which is 6 hours away in bus from the city centre. We had to wake up very early to be able to arrive to the lake before noon and contemplate the spectacular scenery of this amazing lake.

Furthermore, we also spent one day at Shangri-La, where we had the opportunity to visit the Songzanlin Monastery, which is a copy of the same huge temple in Tibet.

In Shangri-La, we also had a great chance to visit the Pudacuo Park, which is really a gift for people's eyes due to the stunning scenery.

Last but not least, in our last day we came back to Kunming and visited the Stone Forest, which was really another box of surprise for our eye-sight. What a way of finishing a treacherous journey!

Thursday 20 December 2012

Living the Dream, a True Paradise: Hainan

Last weekend, I had the authentic pleasure of experiencing and contemplating the most wonderful island in China, Hainan. Due to its location, the climate conditions in the island are awesome as it is always hot and perfect to take part in many different cultural and physical activities.

My trip started with a very quick flight from Zhuhai to Haikou, the capital of Hainan, which took almost 1h 30 minutes long. People say that the best places to tour and contemplate the scenery are in the south of the island in Sanya, so I spent 2 hours in Haikou. The living style in Haikou differs completely to the one in Zhuhai as it is a more slow-moving city and things work different. For instance, when it comes to using taxis to move around, there is no counter like in Zhuhai taxis as the only way of paying is by bargaining with the driver.

Although, the real treasures of Hainan province are in the south of the island, Haikou had some spectacular crazy buildings and bridges which was worth looking at.

After some decent moves in Haikou it was time to move on to the south, to Sanya. We took a 2 hours long train and accommodated ourselves in a 5 star complex resort, which are reasonably cheap in Sanya. The surprising fact to highlight is that every single 5 star resort in Sanya owns a private beach which is very enjoyable. As we arrived quite late in the evening it was time to enjoy some of the great facilities of the resort like the massage & spa.

The next day, it was time to discover Sanya's treasures. We got ourselves a personal driver for the day who took us around and recommended us to visit Wuzhizhou Island which is a small island located very close to Hainan coasts. We got a 10 minutes boat and arrived at this paradise. If Hainan is considered to be China's best island, Wuzhizhou island is the hidden treasure of Hainan province. It includes incredible atmospheres with white sand beaches, blue waters and a huge variety of palm trees which really makes you feel unique.

Within this island we took advantage of the climate conditions and practiced some incredible sports like motor boating, diving under the incredible sea, yachting and seeing the tremendous aerial views by skydiving.

After a very hectic day in Wuzhizhou Island, we came back to Sanya and the next day we visited the Yanoda Tropical Rainforest in Sanya, which is the rainforest where the Chinese movie Holding Love was filmed.

Some great cultural insights to get out of this treacherous trip which included jumping in a cable from one mountain to another, which was a great way of concluding this interesting and exciting trip.

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