The exams are finished, the celebrations are over, my Oxford room stripped bare for the last time – and now I’m counting down the days until I leave for China with Katy on Saturday. It’s the first big trip abroad I’ve done in years and I couldn’t be more excited! We’re starting off in Beijing for two weeks, taking some Mandarin lessons in the mornings and planning to explore the city in the afternoons (if we can survive the heat and smog – judging from the last few days in London I’m not too great at dealing with the heat!). Our route is starting to come into shape (see below) – though it’s always a bit tricky to get the balance right between having some things planned and booked (so that you don’t end up turning up in a city and either having nowhere to stay or having to shell out a fortune as all the affordable places are booked up) and allowing yourself enough flexibility to be able to add a new destination to your route, to stay a little longer than anticipated in somewhere you like, or to move on quickly from somewhere you find you’d rather not stay long. In our case we now have the first few stops mapped out, partly because the trains seem to be booking up fast and we would rather not have to spend a night on a train without somewhere to lie down…
After Beijing, we’ll be going first to Qingdao on the coast and then Xi’an – and that’s as far as we have planned for certain, apart from flights out from Hong Kong at the end of August. After that I’ll be continuing on to Indonesia and other countries, but that part of the trip is currently even less planned!
As I’m not sure how much access to Facebook etc. it will be possible to have in China, I’m planning on writing a few blog posts from time to time on this site while we’re away, so do follow here (by clicking the box on the top right hand corner of the page that says “follow”) if you want to keep up 🙂 As always, if anyone has any top China recommendations (or even will be in China this summer), do get in touch, we’d love to hear them…and thanks to all who have answered our many questions thus far!
EDIT: our final route went as follows – Beijing, Qingdao, Xi’an, Chengdu, Chongqing, Yangtze river tour, Yichang, Zhangjiajie, Nanjing, Shanghai, Hangzhou, Guilin, Longji, Yangshuo, Hong Kong. I would have liked to have longer in Chengdu/Sichuan province, and perhaps longer for the cities near Shanghai, but apart from that I would highly recommend this route!