Tag Archives: Hotel

Huangshan – Yellow Mountains

huangshanReputed to be the most beautiful mountain range in the country, the peaks of Huangshan have for centuries been celebrated by poets and painters. Although the main peak is under 6,200 ft, the 70 sheer rock cliffs are a challenging hike with the people-crowded, winding concrete steps that go on forever up and down. They say even when shrouded in mist, the scenery of the peaks and ancient pines are awe-inspiring. Unless, of course, the mist is thick clouds and the sky rains continuously throughout the day.

Yep! That was the weather conditions we visited this place in. We never got a good view from the top peaks. The weather was a thick pile of mush… hmm… or was that us? Both, actually. ūüôā Well, what we could see was moving and we could easily tell this has to be one of the most incredible mountain ranges ever. No wonder it is so heavy poeted and painted. We have never seen anything like it before and wish a bit of clearing would have graced the landscape, but we still had an eventful time.

We started the day with a Chinese breakfast with Rice¬†Porridge, sticky buns, soy sauce soaked hard-boiled eggs and tea. Then we hiked across town to the bus station that took us to the entry of the Park. (Couldn’t drive there.) After arriving and paying the¬†hefty¬†fees for entry and gondola ride up the first 2,000 feet, we became the stair-masters of stairs. We thought Mt. Emei had a lot of steps. Not! This place was tops.

China does not keep normal walking trails, like we find in our mountains. They instead concrete a pathway all over the darn place. Stairs, stairs, and more stairs. Some of the stairs even had sheer drop offs on one side with little railing protection. Yikes! Mike and I agree. We can walk all day on normal paths, but stairs wear us out too fast. The funniest part about this hike was we were only a small walk over to a gondola that would have taken us back down. But no, we made a wrong turn and took the steepest and longest route down the mountains to a much lower gondola, which we barely made in time before it closed. Always an event for us!


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Guangxi Province – Hotel

Yangshou Phoenix Pagoda Fonglou Retreat, the Best Hotel Ever! Using our trusted, favorite website www.tripadvisor.com, we located this little gem in the middle of a tiny village called the Yangshou Phoenix Pagoda Fonglou Retreat. We were at least 15 minutes from Yangshou County, the major tourist city located on the Li River. At night, the sounds were full of crickets, frogs and the mornings were full of unusual bird calls. We arrived before the mosquito season and there was not much other insects, so we slept with our patio doors open each night. We loved this place because we were close enough to do all the tourist stuff, but out enough that the nights were dark and not full of man-made sounds.


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Guangxi Province – at a snapshot…

Guangxi, for the most part, has remained a rural province. The beautiful mountains, called karsts, were appreciated as far back as the Tang dynasty. As much as they are beautiful, the karsts limit both agriculture and transportation for its people. The many caves created in the limestone karsts provided escape from the Japanese occupation during the early 1900s. Some 40 miles south of Guilin sits an area amid some of the most spectacular karst scenery in the region. Stretching from the back of the Li River, the countryside is a post card view at each turn. This was the first time, even though we were highly active, we can say this was a VACATION, not a trip. Here are a few photos to get you ready for all the adventures we took over the following week.


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Beijing – On our way to Beijing for Chinese New Year Week…

Since Mike had a week off from the office in Suzhou due to Chinese New Year Holiday week, we decided to take the high speed rail to Beijing and spend the week there sightseeing.

The US needs to get busy and get the high speed rail up and going in the US. It is the only way to travel; very smooth, comfortable and on-time. Our trip to Beijing would have been like us driving to Disneyland in California. Instead of 18+ hours on the road, we got to sit back and arrive in only five hours. We barely got comfortable, watched a movie and the train was pulling into Beijing. This was the first time we had used Suzhou’s Newest Train Station in the North. It was a total fiasco trying to get there between not being able to find it on Google maps, trying to get a taxi and then trusting our sweet Taxi Angel to get us to it. Which she did! We know every time things get ‘Murphy Lawed’, we just ask for an Angel to come and bail us out. So far, it has work every single time and that is a lot of times. Angels are everywhere if you just ask for their help. Thank goodness because we are known to put ourselves in the quite the situations that would push the average person overboard. ūüėČ

We were under the impression, Chinese New Year was a great time to travel to Beijing since over seven million out of the 19 million leave the city to celebration New Year’s at home. DO NOT plan to travel rail during this time of the year unless you are using a reliable travel agency in China or have a friend, like our’s (Thanks, Lin!), to book your travel. Without Lin, there was no way this would have been a possible trip for us. The high speed trains sound like jets flying past. They are incredibly noisy inside the train station. So much so, a person could use ear plugs to try and drown out the sound, but it would not work. Mike took this video of our train coming into the station. As it arrives, another train (which you can’t see, but you can hear) barrels by…

Have you ever used TripAdvisor.com? We have a few times now and have not been steered wrong yet. The #2 rated hotel out of over 3,000 in Beijing was this little place located in the Hutongs of Beijing. I had done my homework and knew what we were getting ourselves into, but Mike and the kids did not. Mike about died when the driver dropped us off, at night, in this alley way and pointed to a three foot wide path. The kids were freaking out. It was late, dark, fireworks were going off everywhere and it felt like we were just dumped off to be pillaged and killed. I just laughed. Each one of us had our own backpack with no luggage. We have gotten good at packing light. (I am the only one with two packs: clothes with computer for downloading photos and my camera bag.) So we put our packs on and headed down the tiny, dark walkway. At the end, was a door with “THE ORCHID” written on the wall over the top of it. With a push of an intercom button and our name, we gained entrance into a tiny oasis, amongst all the dark,¬†dinginess¬†of the outside. Wow!

What a neat place to stay! It was originally a home for a large family. Joel had purchased it and created hotel-like rooms in each of the little areas and in-between all the rooms are breeze ways with gardens, including access to the top where you can see all around. (It was too darn cold for us to hang out at the top. At 7 degrees F at night and early morning, we could barely get upstairs to the kitchen for breakfast before freezing.) Each room has its own bathroom and was heated by radiant floor heat. Very European in style. Beds were made of a Tempurpedic type foam, the shower never ran out of hot water and he had Apple TV in each room with 100s of movies available to watch. Heaven! Since we were five, we had two separate rooms. Zachary and I took the smallest one and Mike, Briana and Nathan took the largest. Joel provided yummy breakfast in the morning, serving incredible coffee and hot chocolate drinks and was very helpful with arranging tickets and travel to any spot in the area we wanted to go. We were starving when we got in, so Joel sent us back out down the dark alley to a hole in the wall that serves Hunan Food.

Note: What we did not realize, is that Beijing was originally made up of Hutongs, little alleyways that were only one to two stories high and no more than one to two small cars wide. It’s what makes Beijing so darn neat; gives it charm.¬†Most of the Hutongs are destroyed now and what few are left are protected by the government. Our hotel is located in one of the protected Hutongs. No better place to stay than to be right in the middle of it all. Great place. Highly recommend it.

Back to the Hunan Food… Wow! We had never ate something so hot in our lives. It put the hottest Sichuan food to shame. We loved it! Even though it was so blasted hot, we could still taste the food. But once you stop eating, the pain! Hot soup took care of that. It was so¬†fantastic, we did return the next night to eat some more. (Since we have been home, Nathan complain regularly that his¬†Jalapeno¬†chips aren’t hot anymore.¬†Hmm, wonder why?)


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