China hits you like a Kung-Fu ‘Tiger Punch’ to the face! Frank was our G adventures tour guide and to be honest, if it wasn’t for him we’d probably still be trying to make our way out of Beijing airport.
If you’re thinking of taking on China be sure to have your very own ‘Frank’ or failing that, a decent guidebook and the patience of a Shaolin Monk.
However, with a little help along the way we managed to see some of the craziest places China had to offer…
We began our Kung-Fu adventure in the country’s bustling capital Beijing. China’s third biggest city with only a measly 20 million.
Must dos: the iconic Tinanmen square, the Forbidden City aka Imperial Palace and the Great Wall “Those who have not climbed the Great Wall are not true heros”
Definitely explore the Hutong district (mongolian word for water well) traditional style buildings set around a lake, bit livelier with more bars and cafes. Obviously, when in Beijing… eat Peking duck!
Top Tip…. Be sure to get to the Wall early to avoid the crowds!
ZHENG ZHOU/ SHAOLIN TEMPLE
We moved on to visit the ancient buddhist Shaolin temple situated in the forest of Shaoshi Mountain nearby to Zheng Zhou. Great to get out of the city into the fresh Mountain air! The temple itself is stunning and the birthplace of Martial arts. Monks trained in Kung Fu to protect the land of the temple.
Must dos: Stay in a local Guesthouse for a true authentic experience, be sure to try a traditional breakfast of conchee, bean sprouts, eggs and pickles. The spice fires you up for the day. Get down to the Shaolin Martial Arts school and go watch a show… the things those guys can smash on their heads!
Top Tip… Not many Bars in the middle of the Shaoshi Mountain, buy yourself a bottle of Chinese Fire Water (for a £1!) grab a deck of cards, quick game of rummy and you’ll be whacking out your own Kung Fu moves! Gānbēi!
LUOYANG/ LONGMEN CAVE
Next stop the famous Longmen Cave a UNESCO world heritage sight with over 10,000 images of Buddha carved into the Mountain side. Check out the size of the ear lobes, buddhas have big lobes as a sign of good luck!
Must dos: Check out the crazy markets on the way up to the Caves! Try a local snack of hot toasted sunflower seeds. Be sure to get your very own Buddha selfie.
Top Tip… stop off at a local restaurant on the way in and be sure to order a tasty bowl of noodle soup!
We boarded the high speed train (definite must) to the ancient city of Xi’an former Capital of the Chinese empire for over 1,000 years and home to the world famous Terracotta Warriors protectors of the Emperor Qinshi Huangdi (same guy who built the Great Wall)
Must dos: Explore the Terracotta Warriors all 8,000 of them – keep your eyes peeled for the Kneeling Archer. Bike around the Old City Wall for great views of the old and new city on either side. Visit a Chinese Mosque. Check out the Muslim quarter where you will see stretchy noodles and giant hammers.
Top Tip… If you’ve had enough of noodles, try the amazing street food in the Muslim quarter, deep fried squid and lamb kebabs – Měiwèi!
We headed further south to the ‘Venice of the East’ a historic town made up of Canals and beautiful Chinese gardens.
Must dos: Take a tour around a stunning Chinese garden. Opt to take a traditional Chinese performance complete with ancient costumes, folk singing and dancing. Travel from Xi’an to Suzhou by the overnight train a fantastic authentic experience – whole different ball game to the bullet trains!
Top Tip… Don’t pack aerosoles in your bags could be stopped by station security. Definitely stock up on pot noodles and beer for the journey.
Our penultimate stop was the “Heaven” of China or Hangzhou. A popular destination for Chinese tourists as it is situated on the West Lake (if it’s good enough for the wealthiest man in Asia – it’s good enough for you!)
Must dos: Walk around the West Lake and explore the City centre – check out the food hall in the Shopping Mall – all kinds of ‘interesting’ cuisines. Also a cheap place to get your nails done (one for the girls!)
Top Tip… Never point at a Chinese menu, get out the guide book… otherwise you’ll end up with a hot cup of sweetcorn juice!
Last but by no means least was the buzzing metropolis of Shanghai. China’s most cosmopolitan city. Shanghai means on the Ocean as the city is built upon the Yangtze river.
Must dos: Check out the Bund, People’s Park and Shanghai Musuem. Get a snap of Shanghai’s iconic TV tower or even go up to the top floor and dine in the revolving restaurant. Get a proper Chinese foot massage for £8, DEFINITELY book to see an acrobatics show, mind blowing! Partake in a Tea Ceremony – perfect remedy for those Fire Water hangovers.
Top Tip… Head to the Nanjing Road for those last minute souvenirs!