Day 1: CHINA
After being almost certain we wouldn’t get a visa in time me and @otbtom ran through London and where delighted to find out our passports hadn’t been stolen and sold to the black market but actually Gary had sorted us out with some fresh looking visas.
We made it to Heathrow and got on the first 10 hour flight, I watched 4 movies - The Escape Room (fell asleep/10) - Dealt (7/10) - Skyscraper (3/10) - Spider-Man into the Spiderverse (9/10) - also had my first Beijing beer (10/10)
We made it to Beijing and sat and had a mozzarella and tomato panini (with surprise pork) cause everything in China has meat in it. I learnt within the first 3mins that being a vegetarian here might be tough.
We got on the second 3 hour flight and I watched John Wick 2.
We finally arrived at Chengdu and we were greeted with the warmest welcome, panda hats, panda bracelets, a sign! The tired and gross feeling of nearly 20 hours traveling all dissipated and suddenly it hit us, we actually made it to China 😂
We checking into a ridiculously beautiful hotel with the biggest room I’ve ever stayed in and a bath on the balcony.
Then got dressed up for a photo shoot in traditional Ming dynasty clothing on the roof. I barely fit but asked for sumo size and they squeezed me in 😂
We then had the most amazing dinner with our awesome team from @TikTok - plenty of vegetarian options, tofu that made your mouth numb and noodles I’d literally fight for 😂
After that a stroll down the most intense and scary river I’ve ever seen followed by a karaoke bar.
We sung the traditional songs LivingLavidaLoca and BeatIt - both bad but both got the locals laughing.
#finally we finished the day on a 6D Movie rollercoaster thing which was as painful as it was good 😂
What a first day.
Can’t wait for tomorrow as we making friends with PANDAS 🐼
Day 2: China
Panda Wednesday is over and it did not disappoint! 🐼
The day started with a breakfast of spicy noodles, as every good day should, I love the added excitement of knowing you could shit yourself at any moment.
We then headed straight to the PANDAS at Chengdu Panda Research Centre and as we arrived 2 giant pandas named Oreo and MiMi where getting fed, they couldn’t have looked more like an old married couple, arguing over the last Apple, one dusting crumbs of itself like a real hooman. Amazing.
They are like giant bear dog sloths with hands and I love them. I want one. They said no, it’ll kill you.
After seeing the giant pandas we headed over to see the red pandas (I didn’t know they where a thing until today) as we entered the walkway one literally walked up to us like a lil red bear dog cat and hung out with us for a while. It was really cool, I like red pandas now. You should too.
After browsing* the panda merch in the gift shop we headed for a tour of a beautiful park and then became poster boys for the Chinese irrigation system of Chengdu. If you don’t know what an irrigation system is then how can you call yourself a postgrad Ancient Chinese Horticulture History Specialist? *buying all of
Then we had lunch, struggled at first with the 1000 year old egg and prawn in hot fruit dish but then got some tasty af vegi goodness.
Then...wow we did a lot today
In the middle of this park, found some hella big coy carp and then where sat in seats for a special live show highlighting bits of Chinese culture, tea, music, dancing and this incredible quick change mask performer who literally would win China’s Got Talent.
After that I tried stinky tofu and nearly sicked on myself.
We went to an exclusive vegetarian restaurant and they made us our own welcome banner! #FullNames
Incredible food ❤️ We have driven through the wilderness to our next hotel. Will show pics tomorrow cause I don’t wanna rush how awesome it is and how lucky I am😂
Oh yeah we also had an acoustic therapy session to finish the day, let me tell you, if spicy noodles to start the day won’t loosen your bowels, the vibrations off a gold sound bowl from Nepal sure will!😂
Day 3: China
About 3.5 hours sleep and up again for a pick and mix breakfast. Egg, mushrooms, lil donut thing, was all good except couldn’t deal with room temp rice porridge 😂 🤢
Another mental itinerary today so let’s just get through it 😂
Started with a tea drinking ceremony followed by some more calligraphy practice, really nailing my ‘¥€$£’. Then we headed to our first ever Tai Chi lesson which was incredible, sure I struggled throughout and couldn’t stop sweating but I loved every second and they even gave us our own official Tai Chi uniform to take home, so even if I don’t take it up I got some sick pjs.
Then we climbed 1000 stairs up Mount Ching Chen, got on a boat and had to sing to the locals, then got on a cable and then climbed another 1000 stairs to a beautiful temple. Worth every bead of sweat. Sorry locals for both sweating and singing.
Back down the mountain, off for lunch in a Feng Shui national heritage site founded by an 84 year old woman who randomly appeared and sat with us sharing ancient Chinese wisdom. Sounds like a dream, felt like a dream, not sure what kind of mushrooms they where at breakfast.
Obv next we put on a classic Chinese tea picking hat and basket and hit the tea leaf fields. Put a good shift in and collected about 9 leaves, went to the processing plant to learn about how to make Chinese tea, place looked a lot like somewhere Heisenberg would hang out.
Another tea drinking ceremony.
Then time for a meditation lesion, 9 course wellness food meal for dinner, a Chinese medicine hot tub session and finally some aroma heat therapy on our backs.
I know it all sounds made up, but I assure you the itinerary doesn’t have time for making stuff up.
Also got my first 6 mosquito bites, ain’t that an itch.
China: Day 4 🇨🇳 Last night @otbtom got locked out his room and there was no1 at reception, we don’t speak Mandarin and the only security guard awake definitely didn’t speak English 😂 long story short we only had 3 hours sleep and then had a Tai Chi sword lesson first thing today.
After being possibly the worst Tai Chi students China has ever seen we went to ‘The Green Lane’ an eco friendly walk/cycle way through rice fields of Dujiangyan and took some cliche pictures.
Then I took an artistic picture by accident at a poetry camp, drank too much coffee at a pig farm coffee house, did some latte art cause I crave attention and picked some veg with the locals - all while being filmed by at least 5 different cameras.
Then an hours bus ride where we tried to teach our guides how to say supercalifragalisticexpialidocious and we learnt some Chinese swear words.
Then we went ‘drifting’ which is like white water rafting but without paddles. We got given Hawaiian shirts and matching shorts, a life jacket, knee pads, a helmet and tiny tiny pants before being launched into the river. Didn’t die, which is great.
Then we went to a Chinese art museum, a ancient artefact garden and then got shown to our hotel rooms which are again, absolutely unbelievable and I feel like I ruin them when I step in. ‘There’s a surprise for you in the mountains tonight’ - although initially unsettling this phrase led to one of the most memorable evenings of my life.
We arrived in the mountains at a kiwi farm and in middle of this field of Kiwi trees was a small path lit with fairy lights leading up to a platform which overlooked the green covered mountains, Chinese music playing and a table set out for us. As me and Tom stood looking out at the incredible view we where both struck by how unbelievable this whole situation was. All this, for two ginger faced idiots. We couldn’t believe it.
We then headed back to the hotel and sewed a Chinese potpourri necklace bag, I’m still wearing it now.
Lat half day in Dujiangyan tomorrow before heading to Beijing. Safe to say it’s gonna take a lot to beat today.
Oh and we have become poster boys for China...
Our time in Dujiangyan has come to an end 😭
I slept like an absolute log last night after 4 days of intense itinerary, and then woke to the final breakfast in Dujiangyan. Our host handed us a guest book and explained that many people write poems as leaving notes - so we did, mine was year 6 at best but the sentiment was real 😂
Then we went and learned bamboo carving from a master bamboo carver-er, I was as good as a toddler with a machete. Tom took 45 mins to carve a circle 😂
Then we jumped on some bikes and cycled down the green lane where we danced with a 7 year old, juggled to impress the locals and Tom played an otamatone, all while a crew in a van filmed us.
Cycling done, lunch time. Ever had a Chinese hot pot? No? Get down Dujiangyan and ask for Gui Moom and thank us later.
Time for goodbyes and worrying about moving on from our comfortable guide led, translator equipped, boutique hotel living lifestyle to our self reliance and non mandarin abilities. Screwed.😂 3 hour flight, couple beers, some Chinese Oreos, a 44min plane taxi and a 20min bus ride and we’ve made it to Beijing safe and tired.
Got snacks and beers.
Time to crash before working out how we are getting to the wall tomorrow...today...it’s 3:30am 😅
Day 6: I ❤️ BEIJING
So today only had one mission - GET TO THE WALL.
With NO planning, NO language skills and NO idea where the Great Wall of China was we started out pretty confident.
Thank god for Google Translate! It’s like having a super power, or that weird slug that they put in Martin Freeman’s ear in Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy. We decided rather than book a tour we would just get a taxi 😂 asked reception to book us a one to the wall and before we knew it we where on our way.
Nicest taxi driver ever for a few reasons:
1- Drove us to the Great Wall of China
2- Waited for us for 4 hours
3- Gave out high fives like they where going out of fashion
3- Drove us to the hospital to use the toilet because Tom needed to pee so bad he was about to pass out 😂
So we got to the great wall and it is both great and a wall.
Before walking up we got I ❤️ Beijing T-shirt’s and bamboo hats from a nice lady who definitely gave us a good deal, all four things for only £6k.
So we looked pretty damn good, so good many people wanted photos with us and called us ‘báichī’ which I’ve looked up and definitely doesn’t mean idiots.
After walking 30k steps, taking a cable car, 1000 pictures and a toboggan we had done the wall. It’s absolutely incredible, the views, the scale, I’ve never seen anything like it. To imagine how they built something of that size, up mountains so long ago baffles me.
1 thing we did learn was never pay £6 for a drink when the stall next to it will give you it for 50p.
Novelty T-shirt’s make people smile.
Took in the Beijing nightlife until 5am this morning so feeling a tad fragile today 😂
Went to a half bar, half supermarket last night where you fill a basket with drinks from fridges and take them to the till and then sit and listen to banging Chinese techno. Safe to say, the people of Beijing like to drink. It’s also safe to say if you ever think the toilets at a club in the U.K. are bad, you haven’t seen Beijing loos at 4am 😂
Woke up today and checked out of our hotel, we had a few hours to kill before heading to the airport so we jumped on the back of an electric tuktuk and went to check out the Temple of Heaven. It is both heavenly and a temple. We got stopped by a Chinese tour group to take pictures with them all and an old man called us his ‘white brothers’ 😂
Shopping time next, safe to say China does not make clothes big enough for western elephants like me, but they do make some sick clothes that I would look incredibly awful in.
After getting a few bits and weaving through the 21 million people in Beijing we picked up our stuff and headed to the airport. First flight Beijing - Chengdu.
Another thing that is different here is queueing, it doesn’t exist. People will full on walk to the front of a queue and expect to be served 😂 very funny to watch but also can make you instantly hate someone 😂
Flight was ok, but bumpy, watched Venom but fell asleep, feel like it was an ok movie.
We got to Chengdu at 2:30am, and checked into our final nights accommodation, 2 benches 😂
Safe to say it’s the worst nights sleep I’ve had in a very long time.
I feel like I’ve been hit by a bus.
McDonald’s. Then 9 hour flight home. 😐
DAY 8: CHINA ---> LONDON
After nearly 36 hours traveling/sleeping in airports me and @otbtom have made it back to the U.K.
What a crazy trip.
It’s hard to put into words what it has been like but basically, China is nothing like I thought it was going to be. I had expected it to be difficult, the people to be rude, not to be allowed to do anything fun and for it to be dirty. But I was so wrong.
Traveling around - easy.
The people where some of the nicest most hospitable, generous and interesting people I’ve ever met.
It’s not as strict there as you think, your not allowed on many western apps like FB or IG but you can get a simple VPN and get around that easily. Although the WiFi there isn’t great overall but when you have activities planned from 7:30am-11pm there want much time for internetting anyway.
WeChat could be the future, they use it over there for everything, talking, paying, stories, filming and literally everyone is on it all the time.
It’s not nearly as dirty as people had lead me to believe. If you’ve ever been to Thailand or Bali then you will notice how much cleaner it is in Beijing than Bangkok and you can see people working constantly to keep it tidy. But people do spit on the floor, made me laugh.
The culture is literally incredible. I fully believe their culture holds the answers to a longer life, they spend time on their minds with meditation and their body’s with tai chi, they eat fresh and small portions and they drink litres of tea a day. If I could I would love to spend a month learning tai chi in Dujiangyan as I think it would add 10 years to my life.
I’ve also been super lucky to share this trip with one of my best friends @otbtom - the whole journey was an emotional rollercoaster, from dining with the princess to drinking games with chinese Mathew and jambae in the taxi, thanks for all the memories dude, can’t wait for the next one 😂
And thanks to everyone who has followed/read along with the trip, I hope you’ve enjoyed the pics and words.
Until next time China,