I’m Back! 回来了!

As my previous post suggested, I went a-traveling this summer to Qinghai and Tibet Autonomous Region. It was an incredible trip that left me with deep impressions and a desire to go back. (And if you wish to read more in depth, check out my other blog here!)

I’ve actually been back for several weeks now, but have been slow at updating. I promise, more content will be coming! Until then, enjoy your summer!

就像我上一篇文章所说的,我这个夏天去了青海和西藏自治区!这次旅行实在太棒了,也给我留下了很深刻的印象。我希望我能回去!

我其实早已经回来杭州了,但是就懒得认真地写文章。我保证马上会有更多的文章!

祝你夏天好啊~

My next trip! 我下一站

(下面有中文版!)

I’m going to take a break from listing favorite places and write about more pressing matters: my trip to Qinghai and Tibet Autonomous Region next month!

As I’ve mentioned before in other posts, I only have 4 more provinces to travel to in China before I’ve been to them all! In the fall, I’ll be going to China’s northeast, but for the summer, it’s out west. I’ll be experiencing the world’s highest altitude and stunning scenery, and of course, will come back with information and tips to share.

Here’s a breakdown of the trip.

Qinghai
First off, to get to Qinghai, I’ll be taking a 30-hour train from Shanghai to Xining, Qinghai’s capital city. I’ll be in Shanghai for a night because of a literary magazine launch. As the train rolls out west, though, I’ll see the landscape change and enter the Tibetan Plateau.

Since Qinghai is home to Tibetan people, and is historically Tibet, much of what I want to do in this province is related to Tibetan Buddhism. I don’t have many specifics nailed down for the 10 days or so that I’ll be here, but there are three things I want to do: Find the salt lakes, go to a Tibetan village, and go hiking. From what I’ve read online, all of this is extremely doable. There’s the Chaka Salt Lake, which is just to the North/Northwest of Qinghai Lake (the huge one), and there are national parks, and there are several Tibetan villages, including Tongren, to name just one. In addition there is the gorgeous Amnye Machen Mountain, which if I can’t hike around, can at least admire from a distance.
For this part of the trip, my travel will be cheap like the kind I’m used to. I’ll be staying in hostels, taking buses, perhaps even hitch-hiking. But that’s just fine with me!

Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR)
To get to Lhasa, I’ll be taking the Qinghai-Tibet Railway, which has been dubbed “The World’s Highest Railroad,” because of the altitude. While there are flights going into Lhasa, it’s better to go in slowly because 1) the scenery is amazing, and 2) it helps you adjust better to the high altitude.

As for my time in TAR, I will be on a much clearer schedule, because I’ll be going with a small group tour.

To be honest, I’m not a huge fan of group tours, but traveling alone in TAR as a foreigner is simply not the most economical idea. This is because all foreign travelers in Tibet must have a guide and a driver, since we are not allowed to take pubic transportation outside of Lhasa. Likewise, there are areas that foreigners are discouraged from visiting. Because having a guide and a driver can get pretty expensive pretty quickly, I’m joining a group to make it more affordable. That being said, the two company I’m going with (Budget Tibet Tours) seem to have a good itinerary in mind. Tibet Highland Tours also has a very good reputation and offers good services, from what I’ve read.

(By the way, if you want to know a lot more about traveling in Tibet, check out this website. The writer is very friendly.)

The trip I want to take will be an 8 or 9-day journey from Lhasa (where we will see the Potala Palace, which in itself is enthralling) all the way to the Mount Everest Base Camp. (“OMG you’re climbing Mt. Everest??” Hell no! I’m not a mountaineer and would need many years of training to even think of that — this is a “poking the base of the mountain” trip). The journey will take us past glaciers, the world’s highest monastery, and more gorgeous scenery.

Oh, and while I’m in Lhasa, I also plan on riding the World’s Highest Ferris Wheel. (Again, because of the altitude.) It has nothing to do with Buddhism, but seems just odd enough to be great.

Anyway, I’m getting pumped for my trip, and will share details as they come/I hit the road. As for now, that’s just a glimpse of where I’ll be in less than a month!

我现在暂时不写关于中国最喜欢地方的文章,我会先写一些其他的经历:我下个月就要去青海和西藏自治区!

我在其他的文章里已经写到在中国我只剩下四个省还没去过,我马上就可以说我踏遍了中国的每一寸土地!秋天,我会去中国的东北,但是夏天我要往西走。我会体验世界上最高点,也是让所有诗人极力赞美的风景。我当然会把照片,我的旅行经验以及一些建议分享给大家。
下面是我的旅行计划。

青海省
首先,我会坐30个小时的火车从上海到青海的首都西宁。我会直接从上海的一个杂志出版庆祝晚会出发坐火车慢慢往西走。我会渐渐看到中国的不同的景色,一步一步接近青藏高原。
因为青海是藏族人的家乡,也是历史上的西藏,我大部分的活动会跟藏族佛教有关。我会在青海十天左右,还没有很具体的安排,只不过我有几个地方特别想去:盐湖,藏族小镇,爬山。根据我网上查到的信息,这些项目应该不太难。首先有茶卡盐湖(就是在青海湖的西北边),有国家公园,也有各种各样的藏族小镇比如同仁。加上也有超级好看的阿尼玛卿山,如果我爬不了这座山,那最起码我也可以站在远处赞扬它。

这一部分的旅行就会按照我熟悉的方式:我会住青年旅社,坐巴士,有可能也搭顺风车,都没有问题!

西藏自治区
我会坐因为高地而被称作“世界上最高的铁路”的青藏铁路到拉萨。当然拉萨有很多航班,但是坐火车第一,可以看很多景色,第二,会慢慢习惯西藏的高地。
我在西藏自治区的时候我会有一个更系统的安排,因为我要跟一个小旅行团走。
说实话,我不那么喜欢跟团旅行,但是在西藏自治区独自旅行对外国游客来说不划算。这就是因为所有的外国游客必须有自己的导游和司机跟着,而不能在拉萨之外坐公共交通。除此之外,也有些小区外国游客不允许进去。当然,有导游和司机就会很贵,所以我决定了跟一个小旅行团比较划算。因为这样,我在考虑的两个旅行社好像不错。它们的计划看起来很好,而且评价也不错。

我想做的计划就是8天从拉萨(在那里可以看到布达拉故宫)到珠峰大本营。(“哇靠!你要爬珠峰啊?”当然不要!我并不是一个专业的登山者,也没有打算参加专业的训练……只是打算近距离看看而已。)这个路线会经过冰河,世界上最高的寺庙,还有意想不到的美丽风景。
哦,对了,我在拉萨也打算坐因为高地被称作世界上最高的摩天轮。跟佛教并没有关系,我只是感觉很高大上,所以想体验。

我现在就恨不得马上出发,但是还有几个星期做准备。我准备好以后我可以给大家分享更多的细节,现在只能给你们一个大概的描述。

The Tiger-Leaping Gorge 虎跳峡

(下面有中文版!)

Yunnan has a lot to offer in terms of natural beauty, but one trail takes the cake. This is the Tiger-Leaping Gorge trail, a 2-day hike in mountainous Yunnan.

Actually, it is possible to hike the approximately 15-km hike in one day, it’s just no fun. I met a hostel owner who did exactly this, saying that you basically have to run it. Most hikers do it over a 2-day period, staying in the Halfway Guesthouse overnight (with “the best washrooms in the world” because of the open walls offering stunning views of the mountain valleys.)

To get to the Tiger Leaping Gorge trail, most travelers come from Lijiang, an ultra-touristy village that I could barely stomach for a couple of days. Most hostels will offer information about the trail and even transportation, but if you want to do it on your own, go to the small town Qiaotou. From there, it’s up to the moutains!

The hiking itself ranges from comfortable walking along dirt trails (which is rare in China, most mountain hikes being a series of stairs), to the treacherous and grueling “28 bends,” which is a series of 28 switchbacks up steep terrain. Horse vendors take advantage of this, offering horseback rides (for a fee) to those unable to do it. Out of stubborn pride, I climbed all of the 28 bends without a horse, though there is no shame (well, maybe a little) if you opt for that route.

In terms of food, growing tourism has ensured that there are restaurants along the way. That being said, pack water! Prices on top of the mountain will be higher.

As for the views…well, let’s let them speak for themselves…

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云南到处都是美丽的自然风光,但是有一条无可攀比的路。那就是虎跳峡,一条需要在山里行走两天的路。

其实,一天之内可以走完这条15公里左右的路,但是一天之行并不好玩。我见过了一位青年旅社老板说他一天走完了,但是应该说跑完了因为他速度必须很快。大部分的游客需要走两天,住在“在中途客栈”(因为有“世界上最好的厕所”因为厕所的一侧没有墙壁,刚好可以看到超级漂亮的山!)

到虎跳峡,大部分游客从丽江出发——丽江就是一座过分游客化的小镇,我呆了几天实在受不了了。大部分客栈有关虎跳峡的消息和交通,但是如果你要自己到的话,就坐巴士到桥头就行了。从那儿,到处都是山!

爬山的话,有的时候不难(因为不像中国大部分爬楼梯的山路!),有的时候超级吃力的,比如一段有二十八个Z形路往上爬。租马的工人在那里等着,如果你付点钱,你可以骑马爬那一段。我自己比较固执,所以自己爬了。如果你要骑马,我不会小看你……OK会小看你一点点,但是你可以忽略我的想法。

吃饭的话,因为虎跳峡的旅游业比较丰富,路边会有一些饭店。但是你还是要带很多水!山里的价格会比较贵。

那,美丽自然风光呢?应该让图片自己来展示。

Beijing-Hangzhou Grand Canal/京杭大运河

(下面有中文版!)

Hangzhou may be best known for West Lake, but one of its lesser-known attractions for non-Chinese travelers is the Beijing-Hangzhou Grand Canal. Most Chinese travelers of course know about it, since it’s long been a part of Chinese history. In total it’s almost 1,200 miles long connecting Hangzhou and Beijing, and is the oldest functioning canal in the world.

You can’t ride it all the way to Beijing, though you’ll be able to watch barges begin their journeys to the capital. Instead, take a boat from the Wulin Port (武林码头) and get off at an old neighborhood. The boats count as public transit, costing less than 10RMB for a ride on the canal.

Once off the boat, you can enjoy small canal-side walking paths, or take a trip to see the Knives, Scissors and Sword Museum, the Fan Museum, and the Umbrella Museum. (I personally enjoyed the Sword Museum, which had a robotic arm demonstrating sword techniques at the time I visited. For all museums: prepare yourself for hordes of wax figurines!). The cluster of small old-time buildings has a good selection of restaurants, coffee shops, and art stores to peruse. In the spring, the canal is especially beautiful, with green willows lining the water.

Probably most travelers would put West Lake, Longjing Tea Village, or Lingying Temple higher on their To-Do lists (and for good reason!), but the Grand Canal is still one of my favorite spots in Hangzhou.

杭州最著名的景点就是西湖,但是从外国游客看来不那么著名的景点就是京杭大运河。大部分中国游客当然已经认识京杭大运河,因为在中国有永久历史。一共1200多英里长,也把杭州与北京连了起来。它是世界最长可用的大运河。

你现在不可以从杭州坐到北京,但是在运河上你可以看到去往北京走的船。但是你可以在武林码头坐船到拱墅区。这种船算是一种便利的交通,坐到那儿不到10块钱。

下船时,你可以在运河边的小路走走,也可以去观看刀剪剑博物馆,扇博物馆,和伞博物馆。(我个人更喜欢刀剪剑博物馆,因为里面有一个耍剑的自动的手臂。所有的博物馆,要做好心理准备有太多的蜡状物!)仿古的楼有饭店,咖啡馆,艺术作品店等地方逛逛。春天运河边更好看,因为有绿绿的聊树。

应该大部分的游客会把西湖,龙井村,或者灵隐寺排在前面(而且很有道理的!)但是京杭大运河也是我最喜欢的杭州景点之一。

West Lake/西湖

(下面有中文版!)

The first place you’ll be told to visit in Hangzhou is West Lake. That should come as no surprise, given that West Lake has been a part of Chinese poetry and folklore for hundreds of years. But, when it comes down to it, West Lake is just a giant lake. How best to enjoy it? Look at it? Take a selfie? Those are good starting places. Of course, there are other, probably more satisfying ways to explore this famed lake in Hangzhou.

  1. Quick Trip West Lake
    If you just want to see West Lake and walk along it for no more than an hour, then that’s easy. There’s a subway stop on line one “龙翔桥” (longxiangqiao) that has a convenient exit for exploring the lake. This path will likely lead you to 湖滨路 (Hubin road) which is a walking street along the lake. This portion will be crowded. Not just crowded with walkers, but with tourist carts as well. (If you’re lucky, you’ll see the squirrel that delights all Chinese tourists).
  2. West Lake by bike
    Most travelers prefer this method of exploring West Lake. It will take much of the day, though, so be prepared. You can get a transit card for a 200 RMB refundable deposit for a red bike, or if you have Wechat, you can get one of the bikes scanned by QR code. The bikes are 1 RMB after an hour, and the prices jack way up the longer you keep them, so be sure to switch bikes when you can. If this sounds like too much of a hassle, you can also rent bicycles from vendors along the lake for a day. I suggest making your way to the southern side of the lake, where there’s more greenery and less traffic. Also be prepared for hills. A bit tough on the way up, glorious on the way down.
  3. West Lake by foot
    This will take almost all day. Don’t be fooled: West Lake is bigger than you think. That being said, it’s easier to veer on side paths and get lost in the woods when you don’t have to lock up a bike and fetch it later. Once you get closer to the tea fields, there will be plenty of side paths winding through Dragonwell tea bushes.
  4. West Lake by boat
    Indeed, West Lake being a body of water, there are boats! The boat vendors are hard to miss, since they stand on the shore yelling “BOAT! BOAT! BOAT!” as you walk by. You can rent a paddle-boat (by which I mean, the vendor paddles the boat) and see the Three Pillars Mirroring the Moon (aka the image on the back of the 1 RMB note), and visit Yingzhou Isle. Bargain liberally.
  5. West Lake panorama
    You can also enjoy West Lake from above. While there are several panoramic spots, my favorite would have to be from atop Baoshi Hill (宝石山), which is off of Beishan Road (北山路) and where you’ll also find Baochu Pagoda (保俶塔). The trick is to get on top of the rocks. That’s where you’ll see what I consider the best panoramic view. (Plus, it’s FREE so you can’t beat that.) Other places include Bei Feng Hill (北高峰), Leifeng Pagoda (雷峰塔) among others.
  6. Causeways/inlets
    If you don’t want to do a circumference of the lake, you can also consider walking through a part of it. There are two causeways connecting different shores: Bai Causeway (白堤) and Su Causeway (苏堤). I personally prefer Su Causeway, because it’s greenery is a bit denser, and the Broken Bridge on the Bai Causeway is usually swamped with people. (Especially during public holidays!) Actually, the best causeway would have to be Yanggong Causeway (杨公堤), but there’s less of a lake view on that one. Another area is Solitary Hill (孤山) which is an inlet off of Beishan Road. There’s a seal museum (the stamp kind, not the animal), plus a series of interesting sculptures throughout the area. You can still see the lake, just from a different angle.

In the end, it’s up to you how you decide to visit West Lake. Just know that if you don’t visit it at all, you will be faced with a wash of shame from fellow China travelers! (Just kidding. But still, give it a visit!)

杭州第一个该看的地方就是西湖。这并不是怪事,因为西湖在中国诗歌神话中由来已久。但是归根到底西湖就是一个湖。该怎么赞赏呢?看看?自拍?这种方式可以为起发点。当然,也有其他方式可以更好地赞赏这个很有名的湖。

一、快速看西湖
如果你想不到一个小时看看西湖,走一走,那很简单。地铁一号线在龙翔桥下车就可以很方便地走到西湖边。这条路也会通过湖滨路,一条人行道。这条路人很多。也不仅是行人,也有游览车。(如果你的运气比较好,你可以看到令大部分中国游客开心的松鼠!)
二、骑自行车游西湖
大部分游客更喜欢用这个方式看西湖。骑自行车会花半天时间,所以你要提前准备。你可以拿一个交通卡,保证金200块钱,就是红色的自行车。用微信也可以扫一扫共享单车。第一个小时,一块钱,以后会很快提价。方便的话,要经常换车。如果感觉不方便,那湖边有很多租车的人,你可以租一天的自行车。我建议你去西湖的南边因为那边的绿色风景比较多,车子也比较少。要准备骑上山。上去很难,下去很好玩。
三、走路游西湖
这会花一天时间。不要小看西湖有多么大。因为如此,你也比较方便随便走上小路因为不用停车。离茶园比较近,有很多小路可以走。这种小路会在龙井茶树当中,很漂亮。
四、划船游西湖
因为西湖当然是湖,你可以划船慢慢欣赏它。租船的工作人员很难以忽略,你走过去的时候他们不断地喊“划船!划船!划船!”你可以租一个小船(也不是你划船的,是工作人员来划)然后可以看到三潭印月(换句话说一块纸币后面的背景图)、小瀛洲。但是最重要的一点,别忘了讨价还价。
五、看西湖全景
你也可以从高处看下面的西湖。当然有很多看全景的地方,但是我比较偏爱在宝石山上看西湖(在北山路上,有保俶塔)。主要是你要爬上石头看全景。对我来说,这就是杭州最好的全景,也是免费的!其他全景的地方:北高峰、雷峰塔等。
六、走提道、小路
如果你不想绕西湖一圈,你也可以去西湖的一部分走一走。湖上有两个提道,就是白堤和苏堤。我比较喜欢苏堤因为自然比较丰富,人也比白堤的断桥少一点。实际上,杭州最好的提道是杨公堤,但是从杨公堤你不怎么看得到西湖。另一个地方是孤山,就是北山路附近的一个地区。那里有一个印章博物馆,周围也有很独特的雕塑。你还是可以看到西湖,就是从另一个角度而看的。

总之,你自己要决定怎么看看西湖。但是,如果你来杭州不看西湖,你真是白来杭州了。(开个玩笑,但是你还是要尽量看看吧!)

Fengdu Ghost Town/丰都鬼城

(下面有中文版)

I probably wasn’t supposed to enjoy this as much as I did, and most Chinese tourists riding the Yangtze River told me that it was “fantasy history” and therefore useless, but enjoy it I most certainly did. Imagine, if you will, a combination of one of those state fair haunted houses from the 90’s, Willy Wonka’s factory, and the underworld. This is Fengdu Ghost Town in a nutshell.

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Enter, if you dare!

The main area has lifesize depictions of Hell, complete with the giant entrance gate, the Home-Viewing Pavilion (where newly-deceased could have one last look at their mortal life), the Bridge of Helplessness, sometimes “Bridge Over Troubled Waters” (no, not the Simon and Garfunkel song — a bridge spanning a river of blood with demons writhing within), halls of judges, gnarled statues of demons gnashing their teeth, and more. I personally enjoyed the rows of ghost-statues, which included the “Lust Ghost,” the “Drunkard Ghost,” demons eating hands, with eyes all over them, and plenty of other things to give you nightmares. You can follow a tour guide as he/she walks you through Hell and the three tests for making it through: passing that bridge, going through King of Hell Lord Yama’s torture chamber, and then (perplexingly) a stone on which to stand for three minutes — though this will be all in Chinese.

Most visitors stick with this, but I kept exploring, discovering a side corridor by the Hall of Judges, in which some inspired artists had made statues depicting the various torture methods in surprising detail.

Further afield, is an addition made in the 90’s, which is where the haunted house impression comes from. Whereas the main area took you through what felt more like a historic reenactment, this one turns Hell into an amusement park, complete with a small roller coaster, Day-Glo paint along the walls, rickety dolls falling apart, and a reincarnation funhouse.

As I said, most Chinese tourists I met scoffed at this place, but if I’m being honest, it was probably one of my highlights from my trip to Chongqing. Where else can you find something so bizarre?

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很多人可能觉得丰都鬼城不值得被喜爱,但是我还是挺喜欢这个地方的。你想想一下:一种九十年代的鬼屋、威利·旺卡工厂和地狱的结合,这就是真正的丰都鬼城。

主要的观赏点有与原物一样大小的地狱雕像、大厅,大门口,望乡台,奈何桥,恐怖的地狱法官,咬牙切齿的魔鬼等。我个人最喜欢魔鬼的雕像,比如“欲色鬼,”“酒鬼,”吃手的鬼,有无数眼睛的鬼,还有很多让你做噩梦的魔鬼。你可以跟着导游走,而且他会带你去看进入地狱的三个审判官:经过奈何桥,挨过阎王的刑堂,然后三分钟站在在石头上(我也不太明白这一点)。

大部分的游客感觉游完这部分就够了,而我却会继续探索丰都。我发现了一个小小在大厅旁边的走廊,里面有令我惊讶、很细致的雕像,都展示各种痛苦。让我不禁遐想……到底是什么样的艺术家才会有这样创作呀?

再往里走,有一个新建的地方让我想到九十年代的鬼屋。在这里有现代的过山车,幻彩萤光漆,破旧的雕像,给我的感觉是这个地方就像是那些魔鬼在轮回的游乐园。

我就是想说:大部分我见到的中国游客都在吐槽丰都鬼城,但说实话,它是我在重庆最喜欢的地方之一。哪里还会有那么独特而奇异的景点呀?

The East is Red CR Restaurant/红色经典主题餐厅

(下面有中文版)

Some Chinese people might hate me for bringing this up, and to be fair, this is unlikely to be at the top of your Beijing sightseeing list. However, if you want to see something genuinely unique, then this place is for you.

Despite the turbulence and tragedy of the China’s 10-year Cultural Revolution, some have turned this agony into gimmick. “The East is Red” is exactly that, being a restaurant full of Cultural Revolution memorabilia and mystique. You’ll see revolution-era murals on the walls, waiters dressed as red guards, and replicas of old trucks and tanks. Upon entering, you’ll also be handed a little red flag to wave as your meal goes on.

The meal itself is unremarkable, being average, yet filling, Northeastern cuisine. Honestly, though, you’re not going to “The East is Red” for the food. You go for the dinner entertainment, which is a jaunty reenactment of struggle sessions, skits about evil capitalist Japanese and Americans, and dance routines with fake bayonets. Performances run twice daily, from 12:15-1pm, and from 7:15-8:30pm.

The restaurant is located a bit out of the way, in Chaoyang District. Chinese address:红色经典主题餐厅, 朝阳区东五环外白家楼266号. Believe it or not, there’s more than one Cultural Revolution-themed restaurant, and to read more about others, check out this link.

我提这样的景点可能会被一些中国人嘲笑,而且这里不会是你最想看的北京景点。但是,我保证这里应该是你在北京最忘不了的体验。

无论中国的十年文化大革命有多少灾难,有些人把这种痛苦成为生意的花招。《红色景点主题餐厅》就是这样,因为是一个充满文化大革命纪念品的餐厅。你会看到革命中的墙画,穿着红兵服装的服务员,还有革命性的卡车、坦克。一进来,你也会拿到一个小小的红旗,你吃饭中可以让它飘飘。

美食的话一般,就是普通东北菜,但是你不会为了美食而来到这个餐厅,对吧?你是为了看到表演而来的!这个餐厅的表演很有意思,因为是一种笑眯眯地谈“邪恶的资本主义美国、日本”的表演,也有斗争的会话表演,还有用假的步枪的跳舞表演。每天都有两场表演,下午12:15到13点,晚上19:15到20:30点。

餐厅离城市中心有点远。地址是:红色经典主题餐厅, 朝阳区东五环外白家楼266号。北京其实有其他文化大革命主题的餐厅,可以观看这个网站。

Hannah’s Top Touristy Beijing Picks

(下面有中文版)

I tend to recommend more unusual places or things to see, since I think it makes for a more memorable trip. However, I would be remiss if I neglected to mention some of the main things that attract travelers. Of all the things in Beijing, here’s what I found the most worthwhile:

***NOTE: For Great Wall info, check out my other post.

1) Boppin’ around Tiananmen Square
This is a no-brainer, and should be your first stop if it’s your first time in Beijing. This is because this is a great area to explore, because several historical spots are linked together: The Forbidden City, the National Museum of China, The Great Hall of the People, and even Chairman Mao’s Mausoleum. Obviously the most chilling part was the mausoleum, because visitors are not allowed to stop and take pictures, and must remove hats as a sign of respect. The end result is a brisk walk through a tomb, where most of the body is covered in a blanket (not that I’d want to see the whole body).

2) Seeing the Summer Palace
Another place on most “Top 5” lists, the Summer Palace is worth a stroll. As the name suggests, this is a place to visit in the summer. Many of the buildings are propped up on a hill, and there’s a nice collection of lotus flowers in the summer. If you’re lucky, you’ll also meet the erhu/violin/calligraphy street performer I met, who taught me a couple bars of Chinese opera.

3) Wandering in the Hutongs
Hutongs are the traditional neighborhoods of old Beijing, and though most of the areas have been renovated for tourism, they’re still fun to explore. Nanluoguxiang is a nice compromise between tourism and hutong life. The ACTUAL hutongs of Beijing are much less open to public, and are such twisted labyrinths, that if you find them, you shouldn’t be surprised to see a minotaur sipping tea with some of the locals.

4) The Temple of Heaven
The temple as a whole features pretty impressive architecture, much of which is restored due to previous wear and tear. My favorite parts were the “Circular Echo Wall,” “Three Echo Stones,” and “Celestial Heart Stone,” because when you stand on/near them, you can experience very unique acoustics. I won’t say any more. Just check it out!

5) Admiring graffiti in the 798 Art Space
This area is known for its explosion of art, which can be found everywhere, especially the walls! Though there are several museums in the area and boutique shops to enjoy art, I liked the spontaneous work spray-painted on buildings the best, which are very detailed and something I don’t often see in China.

6) The Bookworm Beijing
Okay, so if you’re only visiting Beijing, or even China, for a short while, this probably wouldn’t be high on your list, but for someone living in China, this well-stocked and active English bookstore is like a gorgeous oasis. Not only does it have many of the latest releases, but it also hosts events and activities for the literary world. I always make time for it on my Beijing itineraries. Check out their website here.

我比较会推荐稍微了不起、与众不同的景点因为这些地方让我的旅行更精彩。但是我也感觉不应该忽略那种“更吸引游客”的景点。我个人感觉这五个地方算是比较值得看。

  • 在天安门广场逛逛

这个是很容易的,是你去北京的第一站,因为这里很好探索景点,很多景点是合在这一部分,比如:紫禁城,中国国家博物馆,人民大会堂和毛主席纪念堂。无疑最使人恐惧的就是毛主席纪念堂,因为游客不能停下来拍照,而且要为了尊重他而摘下帽子。结果是你很快地走过陵墓,也看不到毛主席全身(当然也不是说我想看),所以会感觉有点奇怪。

  • 观看颐和园

这里也是排在前五位的北京景点,因为这里的风景也不错。按照它的英文翻译”Summer Palace,”你应该夏天去。楼在山上,而且夏天会有很多莲花。如果你运气比较好,你有可能也会见到教我京剧的在街头卖艺小提琴家。

  • 在胡同里漫步

胡同就是老北京的传统房子。虽然胡同是最近为了旅游业而修复的,它们还是很值得观看的。南锣鼓巷把旅游业和传统生活结合了起来,但是真正的胡同没有那么容易找得到,也不是很开放。这种像迷宫一样复杂的小区让游客很快就会迷路,如果你真的能找到,那么无意中看到弥诺陶洛斯也是很正常的。

  • 天坛

虽然这里因为磨损也是被修复的,这里还是有令人钦佩的建筑。我最喜欢的几部分就是天心石和太阳石,因为你站在那里的时候会发现很独特的声音……我不用多说了,你自己去体验吧!

  • 在798艺术区赞美“乱画”

这个艺术区是因为它的丰富艺术作品而成名的,这种作品也包含在房子的墙上!虽然到处都有博物馆、小店,我更喜欢墙上的又精细又无意识的画,尤其是因为我很少在中国会看得到这种画。

  • 《老书虫》书店

当然,如果你只是在北京或者中国很短时间,你肯定不会来到这里,但是如果你像我在中国比较久,这个有很多书、有活动的英文书店就像沙漠里的绿洲。它不仅是有最新出版的书,它也有很多文学活动。我每次到北京都会去这里逛逛。

The Great Wall/长城

(下面有中文版)

I wasn’t going to write a post about the Great Wall of China, because duh, everyone already knows about it, so it almost goes without saying that it’s a worthy sight to see. But, what many travelers might not know, is that there are many ways to do the Great Wall, and several different sections worth considering. For a more comprehensive list, check out this link, but for now, let me talk about the highlights, and also more unique ways to see this Wonder of the World.

Badaling — Only go here if you’re in a time crunch, want to see the Great Wall, and basically only want a selfie of you on the wall to prove you were there.

crowds-at-badaling
Image courtesy of China Travel Go

I have to mention this, because in the words of Admiral Ackbar: “It’s a trap!” True, it’s the closest section to Beijing City, and there’s even a convenient train that will take you there, so you can even skip over a tour group (and thus skip over some pointless trips to souvenir shops). However, it is basically Disneyland Great Wall, by which I mean it’s so renovated, it doesn’t even look real. To add to this, there are swarms of crowds, making it nigh impossible to get a good panoramic photo of the wall without tons of people in the background.

Mutianyu — Come here if you want to see great scenery, but also don’t want to literally scale a wall to find it.


This is probably the best compromise between accessibility, natural beauty, and being family friendly. It’s a couple of hours out of Beijing, so you would need to either buddy up with a tour group (hostels offer this service), or get a bus. Mutianyu is much flatter than, say, Jinshanling, less overtly renovated than Badaling, less wild than Jiankou, but still has gorgeous mountain scenery. What makes it stand out: you have the option of riding a toboggan down the Great Wall.

Jinshanling-Simatai — Come here if you want a wilder, but still solid, wall.

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Jinshanling-Simatai is much more rugged than Mutianyu, but is also not death-defyingly steep like Jiankou. Same as Mutianyu, it’s a couple of hours out ot Beijing, so you’d need to get some sort of transportation. The perk of this area is that it feels wilder, and so it’s easier to imagine what it must have been like in ancient times. When I went there, I liked that it felt more remote because of how it got slightly less traffic than other more renovated places.

Jiankou — Come here if you want to really CLIMB the Great Wall, and like adventures.

10374463_10154820588030302_5078336089265583920_n
Hannah, clinging to the last solid patch of Wall.

Here’s where it starts to get really wild. This part of the wall gets very little traffic, and that’s becuase it requires a lot more work to enjoy. Loose rocks, crumbling steps, steep cliffs, and trecherous climbs make this a truly adventurous trek. I was lucky enough to go with two boys who a) really liked to climb, and b) had no qualms about hoisting me up over the edges because I have weak noodle arms. To get here, you’ll have to get a small van to take you to the wall (and pick you up afterward!) Bargain liberally.

Scuba Diving the Great Wall — Come here to channel your inner mermaid/merman.

underwater-GreatWall
Image courtesy of Urbane Nomads

I had to include this one because it’s so cool. Due to the construction of Panjiakou Resevoir, part of the Great Wall is now underwater. While it’s not technically in Beijing, but rather in Chengde, Hebei Province, Beijing-based organizations lead underwater expeditions to see the Submerged Great Wall. You can’t go here with only an Open Water diving certificate, though. It’s 30 meters deep, meaning you have to know what you’re doing. Still, this would probably be the most unusual way to experience the Great Wall.

As I said, this is just an overview of the Great Wall coming out of Beijing, and even only the main culprits. The Great Wall is HUGE, so consider seeing it in other provinces like: Hebei, Gansu, Inner Mongolia, Liaoning, Ningxia, Shaanxi, Shanxi, and even Tianjin to get even more unique experiences. Just, for my sake, PLEASE don’t just give up and go to Badaling. For me?

长城
我本来是不想写一篇关长城的文章因为当然大家都知道不到长城非好汉的道理,所以不用我给大家太多介绍这个地方。但是很多游客并不知道怎么去欣赏长城。如果你想了解更多,请观看……但是现在我主要是先列出特别的部分。

八达岭
我必须提这一段因为就像《星球大战》里的Ackbar所说的:“是一个陷阱!”的确,是离北京市最近的长城,而且坐火车去也很方便,不用跟着导游去(也可以忽略导游最爱的纪念品店!)但是八达岭就像一种“迪斯尼乐园的长城”换句话说修复成不像现实的长城,加上有人山人海的游客让你自己拍不了没有人的全景照片。

***只有这个挑战值得让你去八达岭:你时间很紧张但是你还是想有你站在长城的自拍让别人知道你的确去过了。

慕田峪
这一部分应该是“可进入的,”“家庭友好型”和“美丽自然”最好的组合。这里离北京市几个小时之外,所以你需要跟着导游或者坐个大巴去(很多青年旅社有导游)。慕田峪比金山岭平多了,没有八达岭修复的那么厉害,也没有剪口缺那么野性,但是还是很好看的。最突出的是你可以坐平底雪橇下长城。

***如果你很想看风光,但是也不想真正地“爬”长城,来这一段儿吧。

金山岭-司马台
金山岭-司马台比慕田峪野性多了,但是没有像剪口那么厉害的。跟慕田峪一样,离北京市几个小时之外,所以你要坐巴士或者跟着导游去。这一部分比较好的地方是比较崎岖所以你会感到远古时代的气息。我去的时候更喜欢这里的偏僻感,因为不太修复的长城没有吸引很多游客。

***如果你想观看比较野性,但还是稳定的长城,就来这里。

剪口
这里就是很野性。这里的人更少,因为这里要花力气才能爬到的。活动的石头、摇摇欲坠的楼梯、陡陡的峭壁和危险的路——这些都是剪口的特殊冒险之处。辛运的是我爬剪口时,我是跟着两个又喜欢爬山又愿意拉着我弱弱的胳膊的男人。到这里,你要坐一个面包车,应该讲价是不用说的吧。

***如果你只是简单想“爬”长城,那就来这里。

潜水发现长城
因为这个选择更了不起,我是肯定会提的。因为这里的片甲口水库建筑,长城的一段建在水里。其实,这里离北京很远,因为在河北省的承德附近,但是很多北京潜水公司有旅团去观看。要提醒你:这里的水很深的,所以如果你只有开放水域潜水证,你不可以下水因为深度会超过30米。但是这样算是最了不起发现长城的方式吧。

***如果你想做你内在的美人鱼,来到这里。

这就是一种离北京市附近的长城概观,也只是最突出的部分。长城超级长,所以你也可以在其他省而观看,比如:河北,甘肃,内蒙古,辽宁,宁夏,陕西,山西和天津。但是你千万不要放弃爬八达岭……就算是为了我,好吗?

Welcome! 欢迎你!

So! You’ve decided to travel in China. What should you see?

If you look a map of China and say “Ehn, there’s not much to see,” all I can say is: are your geography skills really that bad? Yikes. I’ve been in China for almost 5 years, and am ALMOST done visiting every province (oh yeah, I’m insane).The map in the header is actually mine, and is hanging in my bedroom as we speak. I have routes for past trips and travels of mine. So, if you STILL think, “There’s not much to see in China,” then maybe this blog isn’t for you.

“All right, fine, then how about Beijing, Shanghai, that place with the Terra Cotta Warriors, and some pandas?” I mean, yeah, it’s good to see such famous spots, but I’m not going to waste word count on places we all already know about. Let’s be brave, strap on our boots, and dive into the beautiful and strange hidden treasures that are all over China!

好了,既然你打算在中国旅游,你有想好要看什么做什么吗?

如果你说:‘中国没什么好看的,’那么我会说你的地理意识不太好。我在中国快五年了,差不多去过中国的每一个省。(没错!我就是那么疯狂的。)上面贴的地图就是我自己去过的路线,你可以看到我去过很多地方。如果到这里你还是觉得中国没有什么好看的……那我会建议你不用关注这个博客了。

‘那就先去北京,上海,或者那个有兵马俑的地方,然后再去看看熊猫好了,’你说。好吧,看著名景点是理所当然的,但是对我而言我不想浪费太多的文字来描述大家已经熟知的地方。要不我们一起来体验一下那些与众不同的地方吧?没有什么比探索未知更加刺激。

我们走吧!