Day 26: Climbing the Yellow Mountain (19 July 2009)
This morning we woke up with muscle ache from the climb at the Great Wall. Slowly we
put only the most important things in our small bags, the rest we put in our larger bags.
We could leave behind the large bags in the hotel. At the crowded restaurant of the hotel
we looked for a table, before we entered the buffet. There wasn't much food that I liked,
but there were some sweat breed. That was enough for me now. After breakfast we
went to the lobby. While our guide was busy to checking us out from the hotel, I bought
some bottles of water at a supermarket next door. It took a while, but finally everything
was arranged and we could enter our bus.
It took an hour to drive to the entrance of National Park Huang Shan. From there it
wasn't allowed to drive further with our own bus. Our guide bought entrance tickets and
bus tickets. Again we had to wait for a long time. I feared that we won't have enough
time to explore the mountain. In the end it appeared that we had enough time left. To kill
some time, I went shopping at a souvenir shop and bought a map with walking trails at
the mountain. Finally our guide returned and all of us could join the queue for the blue
busses. The queue was always moving, so within a couple of minutes we could enter
one of the busses. But the busses didn't leave until they were completely full. We find a
seat at the back of the bus. Besides one tourist from Germany, I was the only other
western tourist. The flow of tourists kept coming and after another few minutes we left to
the Yungu Cable car station, which was at a height of 910 meters. We followed some
roads with many hairpins up to the mountain. It took about fifteen minutes before we
stopped in front of the cable car station.
When we got out of the bus it felt like we've got a warm blanket around us. It was really
hot. I hoped that the temperature difference wasn't too big at the top. We joined the
queue for the gondolas. It looked crowded, but it went really fast and before we knew it,
we were already sitting in the gondola. The gondola went steep up over green pine trees
and sharp rocks. Luckily I was facing the top, so I could see what happened. Every time
the gondola was shaking after we passed a pillar. Wulan didn't like that feeling at all. She
asked me to warn her every time when a new pillar was coming up. After a couple of
minutes we arrived at the other station at 1650 meters high.
From here we started our hike at the Yellow Mountain to the hotel. Huangshan is a
mountain with a fascinating beauty. The peaks were about 1800 meters high, which
disappears often in mysterious clouds. Many Chinese painters use the mountain as their
favorite subject. We went up and down at steep steps. The view was really stunning and
the temperature was very pleasant. Wulan and her mom already shoot many pictures.
They fell in love with the mountain already.
Slowly we went further and passing strange kind of mountains. One peak looked like a
head with a "finger" pointed straight in the air just in front of the mouth. It looked like a
warning saying that we must be quiet. It was really quiet there. We didn't see the large
tour groups with their guide screaming through loudspeakers. Our guide stayed with us
all the time and waited patiently until we were ready to go further. Many times he pointed
to strange peaks and explained the names of them. He was a pleasant guide and had a
much better appearance than our previous guides. This was good for our mood.
Everyone enjoyed the hike and liked the views.We were surprised about the way some
pine trees growing at the top of the mountains. It looked as if they were growing out of
After a while we arrived at a wonderful viewpoint with the name:” Beginning to believe
peak" and is at a height of 1680 meters. It looked as if we were in heaven and looked
down to the earth. Down there we saw the endless brown yellow mountain range with
green pine trees. Deep down us we recognized small roads and some rivers flowing.
The platform wasn't anything for my father, who suffers from fear of heights even when
he stands on my toes. From the platform we looked downwards more than hundred
Suddenly we saw our hotel in a distance between the green trees. But it was still far
away and there were still many steps to climb. Clouds came and some peaks
disappeared in the fog and appeared again just a few seconds later. It was really
mysterious like in a fairytale. As suddenly as the clouds came, they also disappeared
and we walked in the sun again. At one of the viewpoints hundreds of padlocks hang at
the railing. This is a typical Chinese custom, where lovers hang their padlock and throw
both of the keys in the depth as a sign of endless love.
We arrived at the Bei Hai hotel at the end of the morning. In front of the hotel there is a
huge platform with a magnificent view. We checked in for a room in this huge and
luxurious hotel. Before we've got lunch we had some time left for refreshment and rest.
We reshuffled our bags and threw everything out that we didn't need for our hike in the
afternoon. The lunch was in a large restaurant with views over the peaks. The guide
warned us that we must not expect much of the food. There is only little choice, since all
the food had to be carried upstairs by porters. In spite of the warning we enjoyed the
lunch. Not everything tasted well, but there were enough other dishes.
When the food went down, we started our hike again. This time there were more crowds
at the mountain. Regularly groups with red or yellow caps passed us. Their guides were
screaming as usual. Sometimes we passed lazy tourists. They sat relaxed in their
sedans, while porters carried them around. I felt pity for the porters, but at least they had
some extra income. The first part we walked from hotel to hotel. But the path followed
beautiful part of woods, with small rivers with crystal clear water flowing downwards.
Above a steep ravine there was a platform build from where we could enjoy the view.
We made a lot of pictures, but suddenlyWulan was getting frightened. I knew she also
feared heights, but up to then she enjoyed the trip. I admired her for doing so well. She
didn't want to go further and stayed behind with her mom to enjoy the view. Together
with the guide we went further to make a small roundtrip. The steps went down very
steep now and we had to squeeze ourselves through small gorges. It wasn't possible to
pass someone. Sometimes we had to wait before the oncoming traffic passed. The
steps seemed endless and I didn't look forward to take the same steps back upwards.
From a distance we saw the "Bright Top Peak" with a height of 1841 meters. It’s one of
the highest peaks. We climbed tremendous steps up and down and passed some
strange peaks. One peak looked like if a dog was barking to the moon. We arrived at a
pavilion where we rest for a while.We still had to climb more, but luckily those weren't
the long steep steps we went down earlier. Through a small gorge we climbed upstairs
and saw a small tiny bridge between two peaks. This bridge wasn't anything good for
cowards and it is definitely not wise to look downwards. All at once we met Wulan and
her mom. Probably they got bored and start walking in the area. Luckily we didn't miss
each other. Together we walked back to the hotel. In a distance we saw that the clouds
became dark and probably we wouldn't arrive back at the hotel dry. We already heard
some loud thunder far away and we hoped that we wouldn't be in an upcoming rainstorm
while walking so high. But we arrived dry and well at our hotel.
We refreshed ourselves at our room and relaxed on bed. We were quite tired after
already two days of climbing. Diner tasted well enough again. This time I wasn't afraid to
drink some beer. The rest of the evening we just relaxed. I treated myself on a nice
massage. I suffered from some pain in my calves and upper legs, so I could use a
massage. That the price was a bit high didn't matter me much.We finished the evening
at the local bar together with the guide. We went to bed early, because we all were very
tired. I had to wake up in the middle of the night since I wanted to see the sunset next
morning. It was an enjoying day and we have seen a lot of wonderful sights.
Day 27: Descending Mountain and Anhui Villages (20 July 2009)
Already at half past four the alarm clock woke me up. I dressed myself quietly and sneak
out of our room. I wanted to see the sunrise from the "Lion's Peak". The ladies were not
interested to wake up so early, thus I let them sleep. Outside it was pitch-dark;
nevertheless I heard all kinds of noises from other tourists who were also walking to the
peak. The guide didn't join me, but the way to the peak was easy to find and I just
needed to follow the crowd. Luckily I had my headlight with me, because it wasn't easy
to climb some of the steps in the dark.
After just a couple of minutes I arrived at a viewpoint. It was nice and quiet here, so I
decided to sat down and wait. But when I saw everyone walking further, I doubt whether
this place was the right place. After all it was a bit too quiet. At last I get up and start
walking higher. I passed some other viewpoints which were much busier. I climbed until I
couldn't get further and searched for a good spot at a small ridge. But it was too crowded
to see any sunrise. I was just too late. Regularly I saw Chinese tourist crawl under the
wooden fence to another rock. I also took my change and risk my life to see the sunrise.
I sat down at a rock and braced myself by putting my feet against another rock. I was
ready for the sunrise to come.
Slowly the sky colored dark yellow. There were no other western tourists around me. So
it was a big surprise when I heard people speaking Dutch with each other. It appeared
that the group of about 20 Chinese looking persons where family and lived in the
Netherlands. The atmosphere was good and everyone made jokes. Finally the first rays
of light appeared and suddenly I hear people applauding from both our rocks as well as
the whole path down. It gave me goose pimples. It was a wonderful view to see the
bright yellow light from the sun with the surrounding red light, turning slowly into yellow
tints. Slowly the outlines of the mountains were visible when the sky became lighter.
I shoot several pictures and then I watched around me. It surprised me that there were
so many people standing on the steps downwards. Slowly the sun raised and set
everything in a warm light brown tint with bright green vegetation. The first tourists
climbed already downwards. But I stayed here to enjoy the view and peacefulness. Just
behind me a Chinese man started to do some Qigong exercises. Where else could you
find rest at such a wonderful place and do some meditative exercises? When most
tourists went away, I also decided to walk. I saw a small path, which I didn't see in the
darkness before. As curious as I am I followed the path to search for the ultimate
viewpoint. After climbing some steps up and down, I stood in front of a closed gate.
Probably it was too dangerous to climb all the way to the top. A bit disappointed I walked
back to the hotel.
In front of our hotel I saw Wulan and her mother enjoying the view. Together we joined
our breakfast, which wasn't any success to me. Suddenly I suffered from diarrhea and
quickly I went back to our room. After visiting the toilet I went back to bed and tried to
sleep. We still had some hours left before descending the mountain. In the meantime the
women walked the same way as I did in the morning. I couldn't sleep anymore and after
some time rolling around and around, I start packing. Then I went to the lobby to visit the
internet room. It was incredible expensive, but it was my last change to make our
reservations for the flight from Hong Kong to the Netherlands. Our guide was also
awake. He apologized to me for being so late and he asked where the ladies were. I told
him that they were climbing the Lions peak. He blushed with shame. I guess that his
plan was to climb the mountain together with all of us. But we didn't make any
appointments the day before, so it wasn't any problem for all of us.
Halfway the morning we were all together again and started descending of the mountain.
We walked a different way to the cable car station. Since we were already climbing for
two days, everyone suffered from muscle pain.We didn't walk as quickly as two days
before. Meanwhile we enjoyed the views for the last time. Soon we arrived at the cable
car station and our guide arranged the tickets. We had to wait for a while, but then we
went inside the gondola and went downwards. Going down was scarier than going up.
From the gondola we watched dozens of meters down into the abyss. We just hoped we
won't fall down and crash.
Back at the bottom we didn't take the blue busses like at the start, but walked to a couple
of taxis. We went into one of the cabs and drove to our own bus, which was already
waiting at a gas station. With our own bus we drove to Yi County in Anhui Province.
Here we visited two authentic villages that belonged to the World Inheritance from
Hong Cun was the first village where we stopped. It was bloody hot; I assumed it was
over 40 degrees. With a lot of imagination you can see that the village got the form of a
buffalo. All the houses are white and build in the 17th and 18th century. It really looked
like a movie set. In fact this is true. The starting scene of "Crouching Tiger, Hidden
Dragon" was filmed here. The bus stopped at a lake where we went out and walked over
a wonderful bridge to enter the village. It surprised me there were so many tourists in the
village, while it isn’t that well-known. At the entrance of the village we got a local guide
with us. Of course she couldn’t speak English, thus our guide had to translate it back to
English to me. We walked through small streets aligned with small canals with a strong
stream. Everywhere we walked we saw students sitting on the streets while drawing
sketches from the typical Anhui architecture. It seemed that they ignored all the tourists
that walked around here. At the heart of the town we arrived at a half round pond. It was
here that they shot the movie Crouching Tiger. The view was wonderful. The water was
reasonable quiet, which made the old houses mirroring in the water. In the village we
visited some of the most important buildings, which were beautiful decorated inside.
Just outside the village we had our lunch in a small restaurant. After lunch we went in
the car again and drove to the next village named Xidi. Along the way we drove through
nice hilly farm landscape. So now and then we passed beautiful bamboo forests, where
the tops moved back and forth by the occasional wind. We stopped at the market square
and went out. It was so hot that it felt like someone put a hairdryer constantly at my face.
The sun shined bright at the white walls of the buildings, which blinded me almost.We
had to join another group of tourist. Probably it wasn’t allowed to walk around and use
our own guide. We passed an impressive arch which is common in this area. Again we
visited the most important buildings and got explanation in Chinese. It was so hot that no
one really was interested what the guides told us. At one moment our guide had enough
of it to join this group and escaped and told us to follow him.
Suddenly my mother-in-law and Wulan didn’t want to walk any further. I really didn’t
know what their problem was; maybe it was just too hot for them. They stayed behind at
a big house in the shadow, while I walked further with our guide. At many buildings our
guide told funny anecdotes and asked me questions like if I was doing a quest. It was
interesting, but I was also happy to return to the market square. On our way back we
met the ladies and all of us walked back to our bus and get in.
We drove back to our previous hotel in Tunxi. But first we visited all kinds of factories
and exhibitions in the centre. It seemed that we had a lot of spare time, because most of
them were not on our itinerary. First we went to a kind of museum with all kinds of
beautiful paintings and handicrafts. From a local guide we’ve got some information and
then could wander around for ourselves. There were certainly some pretty things, but
most western peoples couldn’t afford it. The next stop was at an ink factory. Anhui is
famous for the good quality of ink, which is used for calligraphy. We went from one room
to the other, but I didn’t understand much about the explanation. Probably I was too tired
to listen carefully. In the end we arrived at a room where they sell paintings and
calligraphy sets. It looked nice, but the prices ain’t.
Late in the afternoon we drove to the old street of Tunxi. Tunxi was a thriving city. In the
old street the houses are wonderful restored. It’s a nice old street to buy some
souvenirs. But first we were pushed into a teashop, where we tasted some local teas.
This was welcome after a hot day traveling around. The ladies had some other interests
and escaped the shop. I had to run after them trying not to lose them.We strolled
through the street to look for some nice souvenirs for home. Sadly there wasn’t much
choice. I believe that all the shops sold tea, calligraphy sets or paintings on bamboo.
Some of the bamboo paintings I liked, especially those with paintings of bamboo leaves.
It appeared to be very difficult to buy one for a good price. Most of the nice ones belong
to a set of four paintings. But that was a bit too much for us. In the end we just walked to
the restaurant without buying anything.
The restaurant was in a nice and luxurious hotel. The food was outstanding and the cold
beer tasted well. There was no program anymore for this day and our flight to Shanghai
was late in the evening. So I took all the time to enjoy the diner and the view. I was
already happy I could sit and relax for a while. Then it was time to leave the restaurant
and we walked back to our hotel to get our big luggage. We arrived at the airport very
early and said goodbye to our nice guide. The waiting room at the airport was not so big.
I believe that there were only five gates. Officially we still had to wait for two more hours,
before our flight from half past ten would leave. But at half past ten there was still no
plane available for us. Slowly the waiting room became empty and shops closed.We
stretched out on some couches and tried to sleep a bit. We were all very tired and just
wanted to go to bed. Another hour passed and still no plane. Slowly we had enough of
waiting. There was no information about the reason of the delay. The weather was good
in both Shanghai as in Tunxi. Finally at half past twelve midnight we could board the
plane. Luckily it was only one hour flying and we landed without any problem.
In Shanghai we were left to our own devices. We had chosen not to use any guide in
Shanghai. So there was no one waiting for us at the airport to bring us to our hotel.
Luckily we booked a room at the airport hotel and didn’t have to drive with a taxi. It took
a while before we know the way to the airport, but after ten minutes walking we arrived
at the lobby. We got two rooms which were far away from each other. I walked first with
the women to their room and helped them with their luggage. Then we walked to my
room. We could bring our luggage trolley with us and park in our room. That was very
smart. The rooms were very luxurious. The bed was round with lots of halogen spots.
From the window we should have a nice view, but it was already too dark. I looked for
some clean clothes in my luggage to wear on our last day in China. While I searched in
the big bag my hand became wet and sticky. I found out that a bottle of shampoo was
leaking. Although I put the bottle in a separate plastic bag, it could leak outside the bag.
My whole bag was wet from inside. That was a real bummer and wasn’t any good for my
mood. I was already tired from a long day and I just wanted to sleep. I just threw away all
the bottles of shampoo and soap. I put all the wet clothes and things in other plastic
bags and made my bag dry. Luckily I did put my clean clothes in a separate plastic bag,
so I had some clean and dry clothes for the next day. After a fresh shower I crawled in
bed and turned on the plasma television. I was surprised to see CNN and HBO. It was
the first time in China that I could watch foreign channels. At that time it was half past
two after midnight. I was almost awake for 24 hours. The television was still on, when I
The last day of our itinerary was a tiring, but wonderful day. Originally we planned a
short visit into downtown Shanghai next morning, but I doubt if we have enough energy
left for it, after our late arrival in Shanghai. Our flight to Hong Kong would already leave
Day 28/29: Last day in China (21/22 July 2009)
I was still deep inside the land of Nod when suddenly the phone rang at half past seven.
Wulan and her mom were already awake and wanted to have breakfast. Quickly I
dressed and refreshed myself. In the rush I forgot to take the room key with me and
closed the door behind me. I had myself locked out again. Anyway, that was a problem
for later. First it was time to enjoy our breakfast. At the first floor there is an enormous
restaurant where we could choose from a lot of different styles of bread and filling. It was
very tasteful. The restaurant was full of pilots and stewards. I guess they didn't have a
bad time staying in this hotel.
During breakfast we discussed our plans for the day. Wulan still wanted to go with me to
the centre of Shanghai. Her mum preferred to stay at her room in the hotel. Because we
didn't have much time, we quickly finished our breakfast and went to our room. But first I
had to go to the reception to ask for an extra key for my room. Luckily that wasn't a big
problem. We collect our entire luggage and brought it to the lobby. They would take care
of our luggage while we enjoyed our morning in Shanghai. I also gave them the two
room keys back. My mother-in-law would bring back her key just before checkout time.
After we repeatedly promised to take care and be back in time, we said goodbye to the
mother of Wulan. Together we took the elevator downwards and searched for the fast
MAGLEV Magnet train. First we walked in the direction of the departure hall. We couldn't
find any sign to the MAGLEV. Suddenly I turned around and saw the signs pointing back
from where we came from. That was a real bummer. Quickly we walked back to the
hotel and I was stroked dumb when we found out that the station was just behind our
hotel. For ten Euro a person we bought a one way ticket and walked to the platform. It
wasn't possible to buy a return ticket. The MAGLEV already arrived and we could enter
directly. We sat down in very comfortable seats. Shortly after the train left and the speed
increased quickly. Above the doors were digital screens showing the speed. After only
three minutes we were already at a top speed of 430km/h. It was really amazing. We
saw the surroundings passing by in a haze. Although we were traveling with high speed,
we didn't notice it. There was only a little bit noise and it didn't shake at all. We arrived at
the terminus south of Pudong Island within 8 minutes.
We got out of the train and went outside the station. Close to the Maglev station is also
the subway station Longyang. There were clear signs with all the subways and how
much you have to pay to get from one point to another. I didn't have enough small
money for the ticket machine so we had to enter the short queue at the ticket booth.
Shortly after that we walked proudly with two tickets into the subway station. It took us
some time to find the right subway. We just missed our subway to downtown Shanghai.
Luckily the next subway arrived within five minutes. After a trip of just fifteen minutes we
arrived at the center of Shanghai. We went out of the subway and walked through a
busy shopping mall to the busy and fancy Nanjing Lu Shopping Street. This street is a
paradise for the prosperous women.We didn't have any clue which direction we had to
follow to get to the river. At another fancy shop we asked the way. In perfectly English
they told us that we were walking in the right direction. I was happy about it, since we
only had three hours left, before we had to go back to the airport. Although it was still
early, the temperature was already very high. This made strolling around difficult.We
searched for the shadow of the huge buildings and pass the richly decorated shopping
We walked between the famous Peace Hotel dating back from 1930 and the high
building of the Bank of China. Here we withdraw some Chinese money for the last time.
At the T-junction we overlooked the Huangpu River. Here we stood at the most famous
spot of Shanghai, namely the Bund. In the past this was the important business center of
colonial Shanghai. All buildings were built in western style. But everything that I read or
saw from pictures looked far from what I saw. It was just a huge building excavation.
Everywhere we saw big screens and builders were busy. There was dirt and dust
everywhere. I guess the promenade will have a complete facelift before the World Expo
2010 will start. In front of us cars drove fast in six rows. We turned left en walked to the
Waibaidubridge. From here we had an exciting view over the futuristic island Pudong. At
the north side of the bridge was the former Japanese Concession; while at the south
side at the Bund was the International Concession. From the bridge we should have an
exciting view over both Pudong as the Bund. But the huge wooden screens blocked our
view and therefore it wasn’t interesting to make pictures.
A bit disappointed we walked back to the Peace Hotel over the promenade and entered
the Bund Sightseeing Tunnel. Our small bottle of water that we got from our hotel was
already empty. While Wulan bought two bottles of coke, I bought two tickets for the
underground cable car. This cable car was a real trip in a Star Trek world. Through a
tunnel with blinking Neon lights and laser beams we went under the river to the island
Pudong. This was an unforgettable and funny experience. It was much more fun than
with a slow boat. Outside we had to get used to the bright light. But soon we saw the
huge futuristic Oriental Pearl TV tower of 468 meters high. It was possible to climb the
tower and enjoy the view. I really wanted to go up, but Wulan decided that she already
overcome too many heights. She preferred to keep her feet firmly on the ground.
I bought a ticket for myself, but that wasn't easy. There were several levels where one
can enjoy the view and every level got its own price. I saw that most people bought the
cheapest ticket. I thought that when I bought the most expensive ticket which allows me
to get to the highest viewpoint, I could avoid the crowd. In the end I found out that that
argue was totally false. I said goodbye to Wulan and told her that I would be back at
probably fifteen minutes. God, what was I wrong. I entered the building and walked until I
had to go to the end of the line. First the queue moved slowly but steadily, but then it
slowed down. After fifteen minutes I arrived at a corner and I thought that the elevators
were nearby. I was horrified to found out that the queue went on and on. I asked one of
the stewards if there was another queue to reach the highest level, so I would speed
things up. But sadly there was just one queue and I just had to wait. After waiting for
another fifteen minutes we arrived at a round circle of 50 meters in diameter. We had to
walk all the way around that inner circle up to almost 360 degrees before we could enter
the elevators. After one hour waiting I finally arrived at the elevator and went up. I didn't
like it anymore and I was worried. I already decided not to go higher anymore. After all
260 meters gave also a nice view. Quickly I shoot some pictures and movies, before I
went down. I knew that Wulan was worried like hell and I hated that. It took a while
before I found the way down. To my horror I saw that there was a long queue again. It
was really hot and bead of sweat was at my forehead. I wasn't sure if we would make it
back to the airport in time. Luckily this queue went sooner and after one and half hour I
was back at the ground level again. I guess I just enjoyed the view for only two or three
Quickly I ran outside and searched for Wulan. She wasn't at the place where I left her
and I started to worry. Just when I wanted to call her by cell phone, I saw that she sat
somewhere else in the shadow. Together we walked to the nearby subway station and
bought our tickets. This time we could directly enter the subway. I was happy that Wulan
still had some coke left. After standing in the queue for such a long time, I was really
thirsty. It was just a short trip when we arrived at the MAGLEV train station. I watched at
the time and I guessed that we just had 10 minutes left to get into the MAGLEV. Quickly
we ran up the stairs to buy the tickets. There we saw that we could have a 50% discount
when we showed them a proof of a valid plane ticket. That was interesting, but we had to
supply a lot of evidence. This took some time, but we did have our discount. Quickly we
ran further to the train. At the platform we saw the train already was waiting, but the
doors were closed. I was afraid that we were just too late and that we had to wait for half
an hour. But luckily the train just arrived and the passengers had to get out first. Then it
was our turn to get in and the MAGLEV speeded away. I was delighted that we were
back at the hotel in time.
At the lobby we met my mother-in-law again. We relaxed for a while and told her our
experiences. In the meantime we got hungry and went searching for some fast-food
restaurants near the hotel. Our choice was the Burger Kind. It was fantastic to eat some
French fries and a hamburger. It would be our last meal in China. When we finished with
our lunch we walked back to the hotel to get our luggage. We walked all the way to the
check-in desks. I asked them to transfer our luggage automatically from our flight
Shanghai-Hong Kong to our connecting flight back home. He stared in utter amazement
to me. It wasn't possible to transfer luggage between different airlines. That sounds
weird to me; because I can recall that I did the same at previous journeys. Anyway, we
had plenty of time in Hong Kong, so we didn't bother too much. While we got our
boarding passes we were told that something was wrong with the luggage of my motherin-
law. We had to follow them to an office, where we saw the suitcase. Wulan's mom
opened the suitcase and showed them some pieces. Still I don't know what was wrong,
but it seemed that there was no problem after all. It was strange because I knew she
didn't had anything special others than clothes and a bible. In my bag was a huge
Chinese sword and I didn't had any problem with it.
When all problems were solved we searched for a place to sit. There were no delays this
time and within three hours we arrived at Hong Kong airport at seven o'clock in the
evening. We collect our luggage and passed the customs. An aunt of Wulan was already
waiting for us at the arrivals hall. After the welcoming part we directly went to the
departure hall to get boarding passes for Wulan and me. Although we still had many
hours before our flight left, we could already check-in. This time we didn't have any
problems. The aunt of Wulan directly wanted to leave, so we had to say goodbye of my
mother-in-law. The mother of Wulan would spend one more night in Hong Kong before
she returned to Jakarta. It will take them more than two hours traveling before they
arrived home and she didn't have dinner yet. Of course it was a very emotional
happening. After many hugs and tears we said goodbye and went our own way.
We still had to wait for four hours before our flight left. First we walked a bit and watched
some shops, but soon we were tired of it and find a place to eat some noodles. After
dinner we find two relaxing couches and plump down. We drink some glasses and doze
away. Waiting for so long was hard for us.We just wanted to go home. We were not in
the mood for shopping. Besides that we didn't have any Chinese money left and we
were too lazy to change it. About one hour before flight we slowly walked to our gate. It
was already crowded with people and everywhere we saw the famous western faces
and heard our language again. That was for me the real end of our trip in China.
Our plane left right on time and the flight was very pleasant. Along the way I enjoyed
watching the movie Vakyrie with Tom Cruise. It wasn't a bad movie. I don't know why,
but I didn't feel tired enough to sleep. I just listened to the many songs that the Flight
Entertainment program supplied. We landed at Amsterdam Airport half an hour too early.
My parents would pick us up and I was afraid that they didn't arrive yet. So we took our
time to walk to the arrivals hall. At the baggage claim it took a long time and we were
afraid that our luggage didn't arrive. But finally I saw our bags at the carousel. My
parents were already waiting for us and directly we walked away to their car.Wulan
didn't want to stay too long at the airport, because it’s a source of infections and she was
still paranoia about the H1N1 flu. Along the way to our city Arnhem we stopped at a
wayside restaurant to drink some coffee and eat some apple-pie. Halfway the morning
we arrived back at our home safely and well. Now it was time to clean the house, wash
our dirty clothes and catch some sleep. The journey was over.
Although the journey didn’t work out as I expected, I did see many beautiful sights. The
nature in China is really stunning. Especially the Southwest part of China has stolen my
heart. There is so much to see there of both culture, history as nature. I guess I will visit
that part again someday but do it in a slower pace. China is a country with many
interesting historical sights. I really enjoyed watching the Terracotta army, The Great
Wall etc. and I can advise everyone to visit it on your trip to China, but a one time visit is
enough for me. But the Forbidden City I would like to visit again during good weather.
Generally the food and drinks were very good and varied. This time I didn’t have the
opportunity to eat strange food like scorpions or grasshoppers, but I am sure that they
sell this at a lot of places. I just didn’t walk into it. The behavior of the Chinese people
turned out better than expected. Not everyone is spitting on the floor or making
disgusting sounds during eating. They are friendly most of the time, but have a
reservation for western people. Mostly it is the language barrier that makes any
conversation difficult, although the younger people start conversations easier. It was a
real pity thatWulan wasn’t fit enough for this journey. Due to this she had to miss a lot,
which made me lonely and sometimes guilty. In the future I have to bear this in mind. My
biggest disappointments were the tour guides. The guides in the southern part of China
were reasonable good. They did exact what I expect from them and took the time. But
the second part of our journey the guides became awful bad. At that point they can take
an example to the guides I had in Sulawesi (Indonesia) and Vietnam. Generally all the
guides just do exactly what is agreed in the itinerary. They won’t do anything extra and
always try to reduce the time at a sight, so there is time left to visit some shops and they
can have provision. Sometimes this was really a pain in the ass. But the hotels in China
were great. All of them were clean and the quality of the service was good. We arrived
safely back home, so I can’t complain about the transport in China. Sometimes we had
delays, but we never had serious problems because of it. It was sad that we choose to
go during summertime. The bad weather gave us some trouble so now and then. Also it
was very crowded due to the holiday season. Anyway I can everyone advise to pay a
visit to China, which will make an unforgettable impression. But take your time and be fit,
because China is huge. Don’t make use of guides in big cities like Beijing or Xi An. You
can do that perfectly on your own with a good travel book. But when you visit small
villages with ethnical tribes or national parks a guide can be pretty smart. They can act
as an interpreter or give you just the extra information that is missing the guide books.
Now it’s wintertime and cold in my country. Always during that period it’s starting to itch
again, which made me wanna leave again. In January the holiday exhibition in Utrecht
will start again, which I always visit as an annual event. The first travel brochures arrived
in my mailbox already, but I don’t have real plans yet.
Wulan won’t join me in 2010. She will visit her family in Indonesia twice. The first holiday
for her will already be at the end of January and the next one in September. I am quite
jealous about that. This time I won’t join her to Indonesia. That’s maybe for 2011.
Probably the next seven month’s there won’t be a holiday for me. First I had to save
Band of Brother Roundtrip
One of the journeys which are in my mind is to follow the trails of an American Parachute
Company during the Second World War. This interest started after watching the
television series called Band of Brother. After their initial training in the US they moved to
England for further training. They took part of the airborne landings during D-Day in
Normandy (France) in June 1944, airborne landings in the Netherlands in September
1944 and firmly stands at the Battle of the Bulge in the Belgium Ardennes in December
1944. During their advance in Germany they liberated some work camps and satellite
camps of Concentration camp Dachau. At the end of the war they occupied the house of
Adolph Hitler near OberstSalzberg and finally arrived in Zell am See in Austria.
Next year back to Asia again?
The last ten years I traveled most of the time in Southeast Asia. You could say that I had
seen everything. But still it kept attracting me. I really like the people and their interesting
culture. These are the countries high on my list.
For many years this is a favorite of mine. I am very interested in the history of Japan and
their impressive culture. I’ve heard about wonderful national parks. A couple of years it
was way too expensive, but the prices are decreasing.
I already been here in 2003, but that was a hastily part of a long journey through
Southeast Asia. For example we never been to the northeast part of Cambodia where
there live several ethnical tribes in an authentically way. Of course another visit to
Angkor Wat temples and the dirty ol’ town of Sihanoukville are places that must be visit.
During my journey in China I already could taste a bit of the Tibetan culture and the
stunning nature close to Tibet. But I would like to make a more in-depth visit.
Would this my fifth tour in Vietnam? Who will tell? Vietnam was the first country which I
visit in a roundtrip. In the last four trips I have seen many beautiful places and I lost my
heart. Next time I want to make a long journey in the mountains of North Vietnam.
Especially the northeast part sounds interesting. There are here many traditional living
ethnical tribes and sure enough there is wonderful nature. Several National parks all
around Vietnam are still waiting for me to discover.
The Middle East never attracts me really, because of the many religion conflicts between
the countries. But there are some countries that are so full of history, which made it
It is the tourist trap of the world. But with an impressive history that goes far back to our
era and so many relics, made this a country that must be visited in a life time. There are
pyramids, ancient temples, dessert, romantic oases and not to forget a stunning world
underwater. It has always been a top destiny for me.
Israel /Jordanian /Syria
This is a destination that I want to visit with Wulan someday. It will be a kind of pilgrim’s
journey along the bible places.
North and Middle America?
The united states are not really in my mind, but I guess that Middle America is
impressive. Already nine years ago I almost visit the Ruta Maya, but that was canceled.
Of course this isn’t a country, but an area existing of Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras and
Belize. This was the habitat of the Maya Indians. There is a lot of wonderful nature to
explore and Maya relics to visit.
This country is famous because of the wonderful nature and extraordinary fauna. A
roundtrip through this country would be an unforgettable experience.
The wild west of the United States
The most impressive national parks of the United States are in the west. Parks like
Grand Canyon, Yellowstone, Monument Valley, Bryce Canyon, Yosemite and deserted
ghosttowns. That is the only interesting part that sounds fun to me.
Sadly many countries in South America are expensive. Despite of this there are some
countries that are on my wish list:
Peru is famous because of the Inca culture. But it seems that Peru has also wonderful
nature to offer.
This country has close ties with the Netherlands because of the colonial history. I think
this country is still not overrun by tourists, but it surely has wonderful nature to offer. I
guess it will be a pleasant surprise.
Sadly it is very expensive when you also want to visit the Amazon forest. But one should
enjoy their carnival… right?
This continent didn’t attract me before, but it sounds fun to join some safari trips outside
the tourist area.
It seems that these countries are the best to see wildlife, so maybe worth a try?
This country would be so much different than other African countries. There is many
nature to discover and not so touristy. It also has a long history.
Namibia /Botswana / South Africa
I am afraid that this will be the most famous destiny of 2010. This is partly because of
the World championship Soccer. But there are many wildlife and national parks. There
are many traditional living tribes. This made this destiny a real adventure.
Of course I can stay a bit closer home this time. Given the financial crisis this is maybe
not so strange idea. But I guess there are some countries which I prefer to go together
with my wife. Difficult considerations….
For really a long time it’s on my wish list. Highlands, whiskey, castles and bagpipes…
Whatever needs a man more?
A roundtrip along the fjords, historical places and maybe watches the aurora borealis
A tour over the mainland of Greece sounds interesting to me. It is full of history and
culture. I know the food is delicious and don’t forget a small glass of ouzo.
So if someone likes to join me at a roundtrip, just tell me and tell me your interest.