Our Chinese affair in three thoughts: the great small details, the epic crowds and the food, the amazing, delicious and sometimes spicy, Chinese food.
The great small details
Sure, there is no shortage of world famous tourist attractions in China. And, whilst some of them may feel underwhelming, others like The Great Wall, exceed all expectations.
But more often than not, it was the small details and quirky little stories that impressed us the most. For example, the roof of most Chinese imperial buildings is decorated with a row of small figures. The last of them will be a dragon representing the state. At the head of the procession, you will find a man riding a Phoenix, representing a servant. In between, an odd number of mythical beasts who are meant to watch over the man and feed on him should he fail to serve the emperor. The bigger the number of beasts, the more important the building.
Escaping the crowds
Unlike South Korea, China has rarely seen enemies setting foot on their soil and therefore most of their many historical sights have resisted the pass of time and still retain their charm.
Unfortunately, what foreign armies have failed to destroy over the years, is now being threatened by a very different menace: Local tourists are everywhere in huge numbers and sacred mountains are now dotted with cable cars and souvenir stalls.
Yet there is always hope. In Pingyao we found hidden alleys full of charm not far from the busy streets.
And with a bit of effort (plus long bus journeys) one can find untouched and unspoiled places where wandering around for hours without seeing another face is perfectly possible.
Best discovery? The food
Ah, the food! It is simple yet tasty, inexpensive but rich. Despite having had noodles nearly every day, we can honestly say that not two bowls tasted the same.
And special mention goes to the Muslim Quarter in Xi’an: a culinary experience that we will never forget.
Diving and great food go hand in hand in Koh Tao. Later on and for the first time this year, we head West. Destination: Myanmar.