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Dragon Bus Tour: Qufu

Confucius' Temple, kareoke and tasty 'Grrr Row'!!

After seeing the Forbidden City, Confucius' Temple was not quite as impressive as I thought it may be. However the 'Forest' (graveyard for Confucius and his ancestors) was less ostentatious, and more sincere.

Confucius Forest

Confucius Forest

Confucius Forest

Confucius Forest

Confucius Forest

Confucius Forest

Confucius Forest (Grave yard)

Confucius Forest (Grave yard)

Confucius' grave

Confucius' grave

Qufu wasn't as pleasant to bike around as Qingdao. However Matt was pleased that whilst biking round the backstreets of the town we found a stall selling dog meat (with the skulls of the dogs taking pride of place in the glass cabinet!). After having to explain to the seller that he did not want to buy enough dog meat for all of us to feast on, Matt got a sample a small piece of 'Goe Row' (which sounds similar to a dog growling...'Grrr row'- this became an ongoing joke for the rest of the trip).

Matt buying dog meat

Matt buying dog meat

Dog skulls!!

Dog skulls!!

Mmmm tasty 'Grrr row'!!

Mmmm tasty 'Grrr row'!!

As the drinks at the hostel bar were so cheap (50p for a large shot of Jack Daniel's!) we decided to play 'ring of fire' to get us in the mood for a sing-song at the local KTV (kareoke bar). For less than 30pounds we got our own private kareoke room with 24 beers...and a fruit platter!

KTV in Qufu

KTV in Qufu

Posted by Melanie Kidd 21:23 Archived in China Comments (0)

Dragon Bus Tour: Qingdao

My first impression of Qingdao was of a typical seaside town...a little run-down, and dominated by small, locally run seafood cafes. However after walking along the seafront it was obvious that, like most of China, tourism was taking over. The level of Westernised development was incredible.

She just wants someone to play with...

She just wants someone to play with...

I got two stickers, I'm clearly her favourite!

I got two stickers, I'm clearly her favourite!

Hula hooping after dinner!

Hula hooping after dinner!

As a group we decided that tandem bikes would be a much more exciting way to explore the seafront. As there were 5 of us, we opted for 2 tandems and a normal bike, swapping over whenever one of us would tire of struggling to control the tandem.

A pleasant bike ride by the sea

A pleasant bike ride by the sea

Star fish (it was dead, but still looked pretty!)

Star fish (it was dead, but still looked pretty!)

The highlight of the 'Tsing Tao Beer Museum' was the 'drunken room'. I still think there was something more to this room than it simply being being tilted...I haven't felt that drunk in a long time!

Drunken room

Drunken room

We tested our dumpling making skills at the hostel. You then got to taste your creations, in an all-you-can-eat dumpling fest.

Dumpling making

Dumpling making

Dinner...made with our very own hands

Dinner...made with our very own hands

Kate and Ash making dumplings

Kate and Ash making dumplings

Dumpling Hedge hog

Dumpling Hedge hog

Mount Laoshan...==

On the last day in Qingdao we made the epic journey to Mount Laoshan. After taking 2 buses to get to the National Park, it then took another 1.5 hours to get to the mountain itself. Each bus stops for 20 minutes at each stop in the park...and the mountain was the last stop.

Long life

Long life

At peace on Mount Laoshan

At peace on Mount Laoshan

However, the wait was worth it...the best part being the section through the narrow caves...

Wise words of warning from the Chinese!

Wise words of warning from the Chinese!

On the way back to the entrance, Tim decides we should partake in one last hike of the day. By this point it is late afternoon, and we are a little worried about getting stranded in the park. However, we forget about the impending dark when we discover a bed of yellow leaves under an enormous tree. Thinking this opportunity is too good to miss, we (very easily) convince Matt to strip down to his shorts, lay down on the ground, and begin to cover him in leaves, parodying the famous scene from American Beauty...

American Beauty photoshoot

American Beauty photoshoot

American Beauty Photoshoot

American Beauty Photoshoot

As we reach the road it is after 5pm. With no street lights we hope that we have not missed the last bus. Tim flags down a taxi and keeps him talking just in case the last bus does not turn up at 5:30pm. As soon as we see the large headlights turn the corner, we breath a sigh of relief and send the taxi driver on his way.

First bus down, we are then stranded on the dual-carriage way waiting for our bus back to Qingdao. One bus drives straight past us, so half an hour later when we see the next bus Tim risks his life for us, by standing in the middle of the road until the bus screeches to a stand still. Tour guides all over the world should learn from this committment to the job!

Posted by Melanie Kidd 17:52 Archived in China Comments (0)

Dragon Bus Tour: Day Three

The day I was ALMOST sick on the Great Wall!

The tour took us to part of the wall which was rarely visited by tourists, which provided us with a chance to explore the sight at our own pace.

Before the climb...

Before the climb...

Dragon Bus Crew at The Great Wall

Dragon Bus Crew at The Great Wall

The first part we walked along had been renovated, but mantained it's steep paths and stairs.

The ascent...

The ascent...

Chinese pose

Chinese pose

Quick break and perfect photo opportunity!

Quick break and perfect photo opportunity!

As we reached the end of the renovated part of the wall we made a group decision to carry on up the narrow, crumbling path on to the original part of the wall...

The original wall

The original wall

They don't call it the 'Great Wall' for nothing, the views were incredible and you truly felt like you were walking on part of China's great history...despite feeling incredibly ill that day (due to something I had eaten the night before), and having to stop several times to almost be sick...this day was certainly one day I never want to forget!

Eva 'the Great' came to my rescue to help carry my bags as I insisted on walking on with the rest of the group. I was determined to walk as much of this amazing piece of history as I could possibly manage...

That evening we stayed as a guest house at the bottom of the Wall. The heating did not work properly and the pipes that provided water for the hot showers were frozen...so all 8 of us bundled in the giant heated bed together and made the most of a bad situation by drinking hot water and watching movies.

Heated bed!

Heated bed!

Posted by Melanie Kidd 23:45 Archived in China Comments (0)

Dragon Bus Tour: Day 2

Beijing continued...

Day two in Beijing started with an early breakfast of dumplings (savoury but satisfying) and slimy tofu soup (never again!).

Exploring the Forbidden City took a long time, and was overrun by clusters of Chinese tourists wearing matching coloured hats. This made it easier for them to identify the rest of their herd in the mass of people.

A mass of hats!

A mass of hats!

The best part of The Forbidden City was the Imperial Garden, and the Chinese Pagoda tree with it branches reaching out like 'dragon claws'.

Chinese Pagoda Tree

Chinese Pagoda Tree

The number of mythical creatures that feature on the roof of each building depicts how important that hall is...the more creatures the more significant the hall.

Mythical creature detail on roof

Mythical creature detail on roof

Abundance of mythical creatures

Abundance of mythical creatures

To escape the chaos of the crowds we climbed up to Jingshan Park which (despite the ever-present pollution fog of Beijing) offered the best view of the Forbidden city!

Forbidden City view from Jingshan Park

Forbidden City view from Jingshan Park

A visit to Tian'amen Square brought more crowds, and a feeling of being an alien in China as people wanted to photograph us.

Calm was soon restored as we visited Alice's Tea House. Alice, a wonderful & wise Chinese lady who spoke excellent English, allowed us to sit in her Tea House and sample all sorts of teas for different ailments (and tastes) for nearly 2 hours.

Frog for Good Luck

Frog for Good Luck

Weeing baby!

Weeing baby!

Alice and the Dragon Bus Crew

Alice and the Dragon Bus Crew

That evening we watched a Beijing Acrobatic show, which Matt considered to be the most amazing thing he had ever seen in his life! It was pretty impressive...but I wouldn't go that far. I'm sure China is going to offer us many more momentous moments over the next 2 weeks!

Posted by Melanie Kidd 19:23 Archived in China Comments (1)

Dragon Bus Tour begins...

The Hutongs of Beijing

My Dragon Bus Tour started on 20 November with a brief introduction to everyone over dinner, and a leisurely stroll around Beijing at night.
This is the best time to explore the Hutongs (narrow streets lined with food stalls, tea houses and traditional courtyard residences), lit by the imposing lights from the highrise buildings surrounding the streets.

Walking by a park we decided to stop and join in an evening dance session. The crowd of Chinese people split them selves in to two groups...
One group following a leader in a graceful line dance to modern Chinese music.
The other group were couples dancing the waltz.

Playing 'keepy-uppy' with a shuttlecock also seems to be a popular game in China, although joining in may result in you being forced to buy a shuttlecock from one of the sellers near by. You touch, you buy!

Posted by Melanie Kidd 19:08 Archived in China Comments (0)

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