China – this is the end… beautifull friend…

This is the end, beautiful friend
This is the end, my only friend, the end
Of our elaborate plans, the end
Of everything that stands, the end
No safety or surprise, the end
I’ll never look into your eyes, again

Could this be true… Is this for real… Am I dreaming… Am I really back in Madrid!?!?!?

Well my dear friends, looks like everything has to come to an end! Even the biggest hippies need to earn some money!!!! 🙂 To tell the story short – I got a job offer from Madrid that I couldn’t refuse and it will help us for our future Into the wild experiences. I packed my backpack on 9th of October and left Maja behind. From now on, she will be Into the wild spirit, travelling into the wild style. She needs to finish this trip for us. She needs to see everything what we were supposed to see together in China, Taiwan and Thailand. And I know she will represent us with into the wild spirit – love you Maja for what you are!!!!

But before I pass down the torch of blogging, I still owe you my last chapter about China. This weeks post covers approx.. 2800 km – mostly done by train. We started where we finished last post – Beijing (point A) from where we took an 15 h train to Pingyao (point B). After seeing amazing town of Pingyao, we headed to see one of the most popular tourist attraction of China – Terracotta warriors in Xi’an (point C – 12 h of train). Chinese financial capital was next stop for Into the wild team – Shanghai (Point D – 24 h of train) from where we took 1 h train to Suzhou (point E) and end my part of travelling in Hangzhou (point F – 4 h train raid)

ChinaPINGYAO

Possibly the best-preserved ancient walled city in China, Pingyao has a charm that makes the hearts of even the most hardened expats skip a beat. But it’s not just the superficial beauty of red lanterns swaying against grey-brick walls that makes Píngyáo special; it’s the fact that the entire town is still in existence. If you wonder at random through dusty streets, you’ll come across government offices, residences and temples, offering rare insight into various aspects of life in imperial China.

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It should be no surprise that Píngyáo is mobbed with megaphone-wielding tour groups on weekends and holidays, particularly when the weather is nice (and specially between 1 – 7 of Oct when there is national week holiday). But get beyond the main souvenir strip and it remains very much a real town: the locals are still hanging laundry in courtyards, careening down alleyways on bicycles or sunning themselves in doorways.

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We stayed in Pingyao 2 nights and it´s more than enough to see all you need to see and to go for a day trip to nearby Mian Shan. With a history dating back some 2,500 years ago, Mian Shan boasts enchanting natural scenery and cultural significance. It is a national scenic spot with 14 tourist areas containing about 400 attractions. Besides, there are several restaurants and hotels that were built hanging on the steep cliffs, which provide a unique dining or accommodation experience for travelers. You won’t find a lot of info about Mian Shan online – even Lonely Planet doesn’t talk about it (thanks Monika for the tip :)).

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Mian Shan is an amazing place with ancient temples built on to the side of huge cliffs on wooden stilts & cantilevers. Picturesque Canyon with a rivulet and Iron steps fixed to the side of the cliff & chain bridges leading to the top at around 1.6 km trek. Wonderful cascading small waterfalls and waterways with typical Chinese bridges etc in another location. It’s a 70 sq.km area and during the season an internal bus service is available and also cable cars functioning. There are a few hotels within the site costing from low to high. Entrance to the area is 150 RMB. Be prepared for a lot of climbing on steep steps along the cliff side. There is a wonderful ‘Sky Bridge’ at one location. You will never forget the amazing structures & breathtaking views of this not so well-known place. Fully worth a visit even if you do not want to climb.

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XI’AN

Xi’an, formerly the imperial capital Chang’an, is among the oldest inland metropolises, having grown rich as Easter start of the silk route from northern China to Central Asia, Middle East and Europe. It proudly preserves a huge city wall and developed a vast tourist business around the thousands of terracotta statues, mainly warrior guards, from the tomb of the first emperor, who unified the empire.

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Most people only spend two or three days in Xi’an; history buffs could easily stay busy for a week. Must-sees include the Terracotta Warriors, the Tomb of Emperor Jingdi and the Muslim Quarter, but try to set time aside for the city walls, pagodas and museums.

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Xi’an is home to the world-famous Terracotta Warriors Army and Horses, one of the most significant archeological excavations of the 20th century. This full-day tour offers you the opportunity to explore the site, where 7,000 of these life-sized figures were constructed to guard Emperor Qin Shihuang’s tomb. The Terracotta Army in Xi’an was created to guard Emperor Qin Shihuang’s tomb and to protect him in the afterlife. It is estimated that there are more than 7,000 life-sized terracotta figures and horses buried in the mausoleum. A small anecdote from Xi’an; even if you look more than 30, don’t be afraid to use your ID as a student discount – you will save 50 % on the entrances all over China 🙂 .

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SHANGHAI

Shanghai is the largest Chinese city by population and the largest city proper by population in the world. It is one of the four direct-controlled municipalities, with a population of more than 24 million as of 2013. It is a global financial center, and a transport hub with the world’s busiest container port. Located in the Yangtze River Delta in East China, Shanghai sits at the mouth of the Yangtze in the middle portion of the Chinese coast. The municipality borders the provinces of Jiangsu and Zhejiang to the north, south and west, and is bounded to the east by the East China Sea.

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Shanghai, is a renowned international metropolis drawing more and more attention from all over the world. Situated on the estuary of Yangtze River, it serves as the most influential economic, financial, international trade, cultural, science and technology center in East China. Also it is a popular destination for visitors to sense the pulsating development of the country.

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In addition to its modernization, the city’s multicultural flair endows it with a unique glamour. Here, one finds the perfect blend of cultures, the modern and the traditional , and the western and the oriental. New skyscrapers and old Shikumen together draw the skyline of the city. Western customs and Chinese traditions intertwined and formed the city’s culture, making a visitor’s stay truly memorable.

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SUZHOU

Historically, Suzhou was synonymous with high culture and elegance, and generations of artists, scholars, writers and high society in China were drawn by its exquisite art forms and the delicate beauty of its gardens. Like all modern Chinese towns, Suzhou has unfortunately had to contend with the recent destruction of its heritage and its replacement with largely arbitrary chunks of modern architecture.

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Having said that, the city still retains enough pockets of charm to warrant two to three days’ exploration on foot or by bike. And the gardens, Suzhou’s main attraction, are a symphonic combination of rocks, water, trees and pavilions that reflects the Chinese appreciation of balance and harmony. Adding to the charm are some excellent museums, surviving canal scenes, pagodas and humpbacked bridges (but don’t expect much peace and quiet).

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HANGZHOU

One of China’s most illustrious tourist draw cards, Hangzhou’s dreamy West lake panoramas and fabulously green and hilly environs can easily lull you into long sojourns. Eulogized by poets and applauded by emperors, the lake has intoxicated the Chinese imagination for centuries. Religiously cleaned by armies of street sweepers and litter collectors, its scenic vistas draw you into a classical Chinese watercolors of willow-lined banks, ancient pagodas, mist-covered hills and the occasional shíkùmén (stone gate house) and old lǐlòng (residential lane). Despite vast tourist cohorts, West Lake is a delight to explore, either on foot or by bike.

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We did it on foot naturally  🙂 . It´s a whole day walk, but is a nice walk. It was a special walk for us. It was our last day together and it was something that will always stay in my mind. It was a quiet walk, most of the time, since both of us were thinking how will we do it from this point on. I admire Maja tremendously for staying in Asia and finishing our Into the wild adventure. Writing this now from Madrid, isn’t the same as it was writing posts from Asia. You will probably noticed that this post was one of the most dull ones. It’s simply not the same anymore. Being back in suit, waking up on a routine schedule, living from Monday to Friday…. Where is my Into the wild spirit!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

It will not be my last post and for sure not my last into the wild adventure. Maja is continuing and we are already making plans for next year… What can I say in the end for my last post in this adventure. It was amazing experience, I met so many new  people, made so many new friends, I have discovered so many new cultures, I tried so many new dishes, I have seen so many impressive sights …. wooooow how can it be over….. well what I can promise is – I will continue living the spirit of a globetrotter….

And one more thing I have to say at this point – all this wouldn’t make sense if I didn’t do it with Maja. She was my rock, my companion, my guide, my balance, my motivation, my love…. Thank you Maja and enjoy the rest of it as much as you can.

Next posts I leave to Maja. China, Taiwan and Thailand still to come…

Love

Andrej & Maja

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