Category Archives: China

On our round the world trip we spent 1 month in China and simply loved it. From fantastic karst mountains in Yangshuo, to exciting hikes in Tiger leaping Gorge and bike rides on the ancient wall of Xi’an and of course a trip to the Great Wall of Chins. Here are our top tips and stories to help plan your trip to China.

Beijing with children

2 days full of wonders in Beijing

Rather then spending time and money extending our approved tourist visa, we decided to cut our time in China short in order to leave within the 30 day limit. Unfortunately, that meant we only had 2 days to see the sights of Beijing.

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Not so great 1st impressions….

In the afternoon of our arrival we dashed out to the Olympic pack in search of the worlds largest waterpark and a climbing place we had read about on the web. We thought this would be the perfect way to start our days in Beijing after a full day of sitting on the train getting here. As it turns out, the waterpark was closed and after an hour of wandering we still had not found the climbing place….taxi back to the area of the hotel and then we got lost walking the back streets back to the hotel.

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So, after a really long and rubbish day we ended up having nuggets and chips in a local coffee shop  so that we could get on the WIFI to find our way back to the hotel. Once safely back at the expensive but rubbish hotel we found that the AC was not working. To top it all off, the hotel manager asked us to pay him an additional fee to change rooms…This was the 1st time in China where we struggled to get around, were disappointed and found people quite unhelpful.

Expensive tour to the Great Wall of China

In normal circumstance, to visit the Great wall of China we would have spent some time researching the best place to go with children and made our own way there using local transport. Due to travel tiredness and lack of time, we went on an arranged tour booked through the hotel Ming Courtyard. In the back our minds we knew this organised trip was not a good idea and we were proved right just 1 hr into the trip. The trip cost 280Y per person but once we arrived at the Great Wall we had to cough up another 100Y per person the get a cable car up to the actual wall. The guide added no value and the lunch was rubbish. In summary, don’t do it the way we did…do it yourself!

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Once up at the wall in Mutianyu, we walked from tower 15 to 20 and back in 2 hrs. It is a great part of the wall, not too crowded to enjoy and with some easy parts and some that are very steep and more interesting to walk. We found ourselves marvelling at the pure magnitude and beauty of this 21000 km long wall with some parts dating back to 7th century BCE.

Crispy duck worth waiting for

Our final night in Beijing and China was marked by an amazing feast! We enjoyed the most amazing Peking duck at an upmarket and yet traditional Chinese restaurant.

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1 hr of waiting outside for a table did nothing to dampen our excitement of the prospect of eating this fine duck! We also tried fried duck tongues at the recommendation of a friendly Chinese couple we met while waiting for our table.

img_3686I loved the usual bits of the duck while the kids really enjoyed the tongues.

Beijing in the rain

Due to heavy rain on our last day, we went back to the waterpark and this time it was open. img_3724

img_3726It was a perfect morning activity in an amazing but otherwise deserted pool followed by a taxi ride to the centre where we walked across Tiannoman square to the forbidden city. Just our luck that the forbidden city turned out to be closed on a Monday. We strolled back to the hotel through the Hutons and were glad to leave Beijing and head for new adventures in Malaysia.

Amazing time in China

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Looking back on our month in China, we all really enjoyed our time here, especially the rural parts where people are very friendly and helpful. Although most people do not speak english, and our Chinese was non existent, we had no problem getting round and soon found other ways of making ourselves understood. The size and efficiency of this huge country is spectacular and so is the scenery and the history. I highly recommend it to any travelling family.

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China Itinery

Our 4week China itinery

Our flights were booked to take us to Hong Kong Aug 26th and fly us out of Beijing on Oct 8th, allowing us to spend a total 6 week travelling through China. However, the Chinese Visa office in Hong Kong only granted us a 30 day visa and so halfway into our journey through China, we decided to change our travel plans to leave before our visa expired rather than facing a long and expensive process of extending our visas on route.

30 days turned out to suit us perfectly in the end.

Summary of our 4 weeks in China:

  • Hong Kong 4 nights
  • Train to Guilin
  • Guilin 2 nights
  • Boat to Yangshuo
  • Yangshuo 9 nights
  • Plane to Kunming then train to Lijiang
  • Sleeper train 1 night
  • Walnut village in Tiger Leaping Gorge 4 nights
  • Plane from Lijiang to Checgdu
  • Chengdu 2 nights
  • Sleeper train to Xian 1 night
  • Xian 3 nights
  • Train to Pingyao
  • Pingyao 3 nights
  • Train to Beijing
  • Beijing 2 nights

Our top picks from Chengdu to Pingyao

Pandas and bubbles in Chengdu

 

img_2836 Scott and Ingrid both loved our visit to the Panda breeding centre in Chengdu. We arranged an early morning trip through our hostel, Mrs Panda to enjoy the view of pandas having breakfast without the the elbowing Chinese crowds. Our plan worked beautifully as we had cool, clear views of munching toddler and grown up pandas and crawling baby pandas when we arrived at 8.30.  By 10  o’clock most pandas were already asleep. By the  time the crowds were started to appear we were ready to go.

In the afternoon we went to explore the peoples park hoping there would be a playground for the kids, something we had not yet managed to find during our stay in China.

The peoples park was full of locals enjoying their Saturday afternoon, sipping tea, crunching sunflower seeds, playing cards and games. The kids park turned out to be a fairground with a few basic rides so we got a bubble wand instead and had fun showing the Chinese kids how to blow and pop bubbles Ledingham style.

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Surprising food and great sights in Xian

Rain was pouring down as we arrived in Xian after 16hr on the sleeper train from Chengdu. The afternoon was spent horizontally recovering from the train ordeal in DJMT hostel, situated close to the south gate in the old part go town. We braved the rain for a wonder round the muslim quarters early evening and enjoyed mutton skewers with noodles, or it might have been intestines, in a little eatery in the west part of this traditional part of the old town.

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Following morning we went hunting for breakfast. Ingrid spotted some beadlike muffins in the window of a little local place and we realised this could be our change to finally try the famous Chinese burgers for breakfast.

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After ordering the burgers as translated on the menu and receiving mutton dumpling soup, we learned never to trust translations in the menus. Next time we walked up and pointed to the food we wanted and had muffins with fried eggs to everyones satisfaction.

Terracotta Warriors

On our final day here we went to see the famous Terracotta Warriors. You get there in 1hr 15 by taking the 306 bus from the Xian train station. Traffic in Xian is quite bad so plan for 30 min to get to the bus from your hotel. We left at 7.30 and arrived before the crowds just after 9.

img_3196-1We marvelled at the sheer size of this site as we entered pit no3. This pit is the 2nd largest but in my opinion the best in terms of display and layout. You can even see the archaeologists working their way through the endless mounds of clay.

img_3200-1Pit 2 is the smallest followed by the vast pit No 1. This is where the famous images of thousands of lined up warriors come from. It is spectacular and had the children captivated.

One of the highlights here was the cinema showing an old film about the history of the 1st Emperor, the construction of the terracotta warriors and how they came to be under the earth in the 2 thousand years that followed and how they were found. For Scott this was great and helped him understand and visualise what we were seeing. He gave a detailed account of the story of the warriors to his teacher on Skype later.

img_4318The following weeks schoolwork set by Linda, the childrens teacher, was devised around this visit and they both loved it.

Our visit in Xian ended with a bike ride on the city wall at sunset followed by dinner the most amazing hotpot restaurant What a perfect ending to our time here.

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Pretty Pingyao

Pingyao, ancient city dating back 2700 years is  the best preserved walled city in China. A town with some 50 000 inhabitants, cobbled streets, traditional courtyard houses and no cars but unfortunately also full of shops selling trinkets to tourists.

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We enjoyed 2 days of wandering and eating our way through this beautiful city full of significant historical sights.

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An evening session of paper airplane building and throwing  with a couple of Chinese families was the top memory we will take with us from here.

Next and final stop Beijing!

Travel by train in China

Top tips for train travel in China

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The Chinese railway system is vast and really good, trains and stations are clean, well run and there are lots of options of trains and coach classes to travel in to suit most budgets.

The best way to book flights or train travel is with the Ctrip app.

Make sure the right names and passport numbers are logged on the tickets as we had to experience the hard way that any mistakes of passport numbers and names  made on the booking form not matching your passports makes your ticket invalid for travel.

If you have any problems with your booking or need help, the phone support for Ctrip is very good. We got a phone with a local Chinese sim card that we used for this purpose.

On some tickets both the childens passport number and names have to be added while on some you only need their names and you use a parents pass port number instead.

You can pick up the tickets at the train station you depart from by showing your booking confirmation on your phone and your passports. We found that the right queue for this is generally the shorter one.

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Always bring enough money to pay for the tickets in cash.

Plan to be at the train station 1 hr in advance to pass through security checks and luggage scans.

Trains are boarded in a similar way to most airports, after initial luggage scan and ticket checks you wait by the departure gate and then tickets are checked again when you go through to the train. Its good to be at the gate 30-15 min before the official departure time to allow time to find your coach and to ensure you get onboard ok.

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Bring fruit, drinks and snacks onto the train as there is very little, if anything at all to buy on the train.

Do what the locals do and bring a pot noodle bowl for your lunch. There are always hot water dispensers on the trains for this purpose.

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Sleeper trains in China

The Chinese sleeper trains is a must do when in China, especially if you are travelling with children.

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We traveled by sleeper train 2 times during our 4wk stay here. Its a good and relatively cheap way to cover a long distance overland. Our first train was from 2120–0645 from Kunming to Lijiang and our 2nd one 16 hrs from Chengdu to Xian.

There is a small offering of pot noodles and drinks on board but again, its best to bring your own.

The sleeper train has vip, soft sleeper, hard sleeper, or seats. We travelled in a soft sleeper carriage which has 2 bunk beds with pillows and covers, 50cm gap in the middle with a little table with a kettle. Bags go on the floor in the middle or under the bottom bunks. There is a room at the end of the carriage with sinks for brushing teeth etc as well as 1 western and 1 squat toilet in each coach. Due to the vast number of people on these trains the toilets quickly get very smelly and dirty. They get cleaned a couple of times throughout the night but prepare to hold you breath.

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Ingrid and Scott were soo exited about sleeping in the top bunks on this train that it was really hard getting them to sleep. They loved climbing about like monkeys between the bunks and play about. Once they were finally asleep, we discovered that the sleeper trains are some of the noisiest, bumpiest trains in the world, so its good that you can have a lie down but done expect waking up feeling refreshed.

1 hr before the end destination, gentle music is played to wake you up, then the train ladies comes around to knock on your door 1hr to 30min before your stop.

9 hours in manageable and a bit of fun while 16hrs feel like being looked up in a prison cell for way too long.

Rock climbing in China

Best rock climbing spot in China

Back in England in preparation for the trip, Ingrid and I set ourselves a challenge to climb rocks or walls in every country on our itinerary. In China, Yangshuo is the place to go, with the best and most developed rock climbing scene in all of China.  img_3412

The other reason we wanted to go to Yangshuo was to get out into the Chinese countryside with less tourism a for a good rest and an opportunity to soak up the atmosphere of real China.

Yangshuo Loong Old House – traditional Chinese stay

Yangshuo Loong old house turned out to be the right place for this. Although we soon discovered the location is Yulong, next to the Yu long river and not Yangshuo as we had assumed simply from the name of the place. img_3118

Yangshuo Loong old house is a traditional style house with a courtyard, a swing seat, balls, instruments, a self serve kitchenette, swim rings, fishing nets and best of all bikes.

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We got a tandem for me and Ingrid and bike with child seat for Scott.

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The only problem with being out in rural China was the limited access to different places to eat and consequently the expensive menu at the guest house. Food at the guesthouse was ok but very expensive so we made due with pot noodle lunch, lots of fruit and daily bike trips to try out the other eateries close by.

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Top 5 things to do with kids in Yangshuo, China

Yangshuo rocks!

A few days into our stay here , we went looking for a climbing centres in Yangshuo to talk to the guides and set up the climbing trips.  After hours of looking we were disappointed that we could not find the office or either of the 2 main climbing clubs that operate here! Eventually we found a small climbing wall called Rock Abode so we stayed here for a little boulder session and a cool drink before heading back to the guesthouse.img_1730

It turns out that the best way to arrange climbing is to email or call, Karst climbing or Black rock climbing. We went climbing with Alei and Ginger at Karst climbing in the end. Due to the hot afternoons we opted for 1/2 day sessions in the morning at 2 different crags, Swiss cheese and Twin gates. Once there we managed around 6 routes each day with grades ranging from 4-6b+.img_3342-1

Ingrid did all routes on top rope while I did mainly lead. Swiss cheese was amazing, full of friction and tiny pockets with routes up to 28 m.

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img_3340 At the bottom of the crag big bamboo trees offer belayers & climbers a cool, shady space to rest and keep your gear. Once at the top the view is truly stunning.

Our second day of climbing was our 1st day of rain in China. Alei had told me we would still climbed if it rained so I was hoping I would not be disappointed. Twin Gates crag has a quirky overhang at the very top that keeps it dry in almost any weather.

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It has to giant caves at the bottom where you can keep your gear dry and hangout while the rain pours down. The rock here was more like traditional granite and quite polished in some areas. However, we enjoyed this crag more as it  was  much more technical and had  some really cool routes.

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My favourite was “Blood” and Ingrid loved “Crocodiles head”.

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Climbing with a guide is quite expensive here, 800Y for a full day and 400 for 1/2 day  per person. The price includes, transport, gear, insurance and guides.  I would love to come back here with some buddies for weeks of pure climbing trying out some of the 50 odd crags on offer.

Pedal power – awesome cycling adventures in China for families

We love cycling back in England and found that it was the best way to experience and enjoy the landscape here. Roads are flat most of the time and traffic is generally accommodating to cyclists as it is a common mode of transport. img_2001

We went everywhere on the bikes, up and down the Yulong river, visiting ancient bridges and local villages.

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We also cycles to Baisa, the nearest town for food and trips to the supermarket to get fruit and snacks.

We swim in the Li river

Swimming in the river was probably the kids favourite activity here. Paul and I did go in for a dip or 2 but the lack of locals swimmers made us a bit unsure how clean the water actually was. Our landlady assured us the water was safe and the kids didn’t mind so in we went. Despite a longwinded explanation and a map at our hotel we struggled to find the spot where you go in for swim, but when we eventually got there it was shallow and fresh, perfect way to end a hot and sticky day.img_1818

Learning to play Majong

Majoring is an ancient and still popular Chinese table game. We bought a set in Yangshuo with the intention of learning how to play and hopefully play with the locals while in China. Paul and Ingrid spent an afternoon working out how to play, then taught me and Scott.

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The best part of playing Majong here was the landlady inviting us to play a game on her electric majoring table. You put collected all the bricks in a pit. The table then arranged them and spat them up up the table in 4 neat rows. How can you not just love that!!

Time for tea – a Chinese tradition we learned to love

Ingrid and I got a lesson from the landlady in the art of making tea Chinese style. Not only did we both love making it but also drinking it, black!

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This is how Ingrid and I developed our current evening ritual of writing our diaries over cups of black tea. Long may it continue:-)

Surprising walks in Tiger Leaping Gorge

Journey to the Tiger Leaping Gorge

img_2125The air in Lijan was cold and fresh as we arrived at 0630 with the sleeper train. For the first time in China, we had to get our puffer jackets out to keep warm. A lady from Tibet Guest in Tiger leaping gorge came to pick up up and took us deep into the world famous gorge.

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1 hour into the drive we stopped for breakfast along the roadside. Eggs and steamed bread buns never tasted so delicious as they did this morning by the wood burner in the fresh morning air. I also had my first taste of Yak butter tea which really does taste of salty butter and nothing like the tea I like.

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The road into the gorge snakes its way along steep cliffs and narrow paths. In some parts recent lands slides had left giant boulders on the road and some parts of the road had fallen into the abyss of the gorge. I closed my eyes and tried not to think about it. 2 hrs later we arrived safely at the traditional Tibetan style guesthouse in Walnut Village in the Middle Gorge.

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The fresh air, quiet and breathtaking landscape all around and the outside space next to our 2 bedroom accommodation made it a perfect place for us and the kids to relax and hang out for th next few days.

Once settled in we discovered that there are surprisingly few descriptions of the  possible walks and trails here in the guidebooks and no information available at the Guesthouse.

As all the guesthouses here are located by the only road through the gorge there is nowhere to just go for a wander or stroll. However, with the space just outside our room, this set up suited us quite well as the kids got stuck into schoolwork everyday and some serious lego building.img_2490 img_2470

Deceiving walks in Tiger Leaping Gorge

Due to the lack of information available the 2 walks we did here were both deceiving and surprising but also very rewarding.

Up and up to Walnut Grove

Day 2 we decided to wander up the mountain to a Walnut Grove Guesthouse for lunch. The previous day we had spotted a sign by the main road, 20 min form our guesthouse pointing up saying 45 min, so we though that would be a perfect little morning walk. img_3524

The winding concrete road up was very steep and took us higher and higher up. When after 45 min walking we spotted another sign saying Walnut Grove 30 min we started to worry about the real length of this trail. 2 hrs later after much wailing and many bribes at 4 o’clock we finally arrived at Walnut grove.

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The land lady cooked us a delicious lunch with vegetables freshly picked from the garden while the kids entertained themselves cracking walnuts with a wooden stick. For Scott this simple tool made the long walk well worth it. img_3527

1.5 hrs walk back down again and we were ready for a cup of tea some honey babas and sleep.

Middle Gorge, a walk on the wild side

Our next walk through the Middle Gorge turned out to be even more deceiving than our first walk even though we were prepared for the unexpected by now. We followed our landladies advice and took the path just opposite the guesthouse for the Middle Gorge walk. I doubt if she herself has walked this path recently….it was slippery with dry gravel, steep, narrow and almost completely overgrown. Ingrid was happy to march on and on but Scotty who normally gets a carry every now and then was getting quite tired. img_2511

Here, there was no option for Paul or me to carry him at all as the trail was too dangerous. One slip and you would be down at the bottom of the gorge in the roaring Yangtze river. One hour into the walk there was still no sign of a bigger path and were starting to wonder if we were on the right track at all. We found out later that there is a short easier walk and a long harder walk, of which we did the later ofcourse

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Eventually our overgrown path joined the more commonly used trail carved into the bare rock face 500m up along the wall of the gorge. This path want on for another hour before we finally reached the very bottom of the gorge.  The locals have set up 2 iron gates along the way where you pay a fee of 15Y to pass or have to turn back the way you came….img_2608

There is another 10y payment to cross the suspension bridge at the bottom – a must do for the brave. A coke and a packet of biscuits later we looked up the see steep path and stairway to heaven we would have to climb to get out of there. img_2649img_2664

Again, Ingrid and Scott bravely soldiered on as there was not alternative or option not to.

There are not many safety features along this path and had we know this in advance, we would not have taken the kids here. Luckily, they are both very fit and sensible and had the experience of the trails in Nepal which helped us all a lot in getting back upto the top.

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1.5 hr climbing and we we’re almost at the top so Scott got a well deserved horseback ride the last 15 min which made it all worthwhile.

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Upper Gorge visit

Our third day was filled with schoolwork and a skype session with Linda, the teacher, so this day we just managed  a shorter afternoon visit to the Upper Gorge view point where you get extremely close to the roaring river. There is a plain but long stairway of 600 steps to that take you down to the bottom and all the way up again. The walkway and viewing platforms here are extremely well made and safe for all to enjoy.

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The final side trip in Tiger leaping gorge was to the Tibetan Monestry of the way back to Lijiang where Scott kindly donated some of his lego to a little orphan monk the same age as him.

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This is a beautiful place with many young orphans taken in after the last big earthquake in Tibet.

Guilin to Yangshuo

Epic slide

Guilin is a city with 3m people and a city centre similar to any western city. It has a pedestrian centre with old and new shops, little eateries, big restaurants juice and snack bars. 1472799488119On our only day here, before taking to boat to Yangshuo, we did a trip to Yang hill where we got the ski lift to the top and the epic 750m slide back to the bottom. Epic! according to Scott.img_1573

Climb the 50 meters to the garden right at at the top for a magical walk through trees full of red ribbons. There is a geological showroom and dinosaur museum at the bottom which is also worth a visit if you have the time.img_1609

This was our first but certainly not the last encounter with curious tourists more interested in taking photos of Ingrid and Scott then of the amazing landscape. We even got offered money from a family who wanted to buy some of Ingrids blond hair!

Travel by taxi is a very affordable in China. A taxi there and back was only 100 Y. Lunch back in town in one of Guilins many tasty and cheap Noodle bars was a success with everyone. img_1643This was or 1st, but not last time in a restaurant where we could not understand a single word of the menu. We choose our food by looking at the images and at what other people were eating and for the kids demanded the food to be Bai la (non spicy)

In these noodle bars you get a bowl with noodles and a few toppings of your choice, you then add broth and condiments, such as pickles and chilies to your liking and voila, ready to eat!

Daft raft

We had planned to take a bamboo raft down the Li river to Yangshuo as we thought it would be a more interesting way to experience to scenery and the river. It turns out the minimum hight restriction for the raft is120cm so we ended up on a river cruise instead. img_1655As we sat inside the air-conditioned deck in comfortable seats, drinking tea and eating the box lunch included, we looked out at the rickety bamboo rafts and were glad we were not on one of them. A 3 hr journey sitting still with the kids on deck chairs in stifling heat is not something I would recommend. 3 hrs of loud Chinese tour guiding later we finally arrived in Yangshuo.

Top tip!

When travelling with kids its a good idea to bring forks. Most local restaurants have spoons but for noodles and meat forks are a great help to Ingrid and Scott enjoying it. We have a pencil case with sporks and kids chop sticks that we bring everywhere and this is a great help to the kids.

Bring your own tissue! most restaurants will not offer you any and eating Chinese food is messy

School on skype

School week 2 & 3

img_3545After our Skype session with Linda, their teacher, and having earned their first 10 stickers reward, the kids have been excited about getting stuck in with more schoolwork.

Linda sent through work sheets for both Ingrid and Scott to get through over the next week. With little plans for our 3 days in Tiger leaping gorge, it proved perfect for the kids to get going with their school work.

Useful tools

I have some Biff and Kipper books on my kindle that we get Scott to read every night in return for a sticker in his reward book. He enjoys this and his reading is really coming along. Paul took some time to work through the phonics cards we brought, practicing basic word and sounds, then Scott and I went on a shape hunt set by Linda. img_3543This was his favourite school activity of the week. I also spent some time with Scott practising how to write numbers and key letters on the little wipe clean board we brought. This is proving to be a really useful tool as we dont have lots of paper with us for him to write on and he is still writing some letters and numbers back to front.

Ingrid got a lot of literacy work sheets from Linda and spent a whole morning with me plowing through it all, upgrading her writing and working through grammar exercises. The following morning she did some maths in the work book I brought and extended writing with Paul explaining why cows are holy in Nepal. She really is enjoying getting back into school work again and gaining knowledge about the world we live in.

IMG_2854In order to make the school sessions work we have to separate Scott and Ingrid and take turns in helping them. Scott can only really concentrate for 30 min at a time while Ingrid can quite happily keep going for 2-3 hrs.

Skype with Linda

Both Ingrid and Scott were super excited about the skye session and wanted to show Linda the work they had done in the past week.  img_3540We had some issues with the internet cutting out and a delay in the sound  but the kids managed to just work through it without getting too distracted. We also lacked the opportunity to print the work sent so used their writing books instead and simply copied over the work for the kids to do in there.

Linda had prepared sound and number cards which she worked through with Scott and with Ingrid she did some literacy work where she verbally had to upgrade the writing of a story and some mental maths. Im really pleased about how well this seem to be working so far. Its a very good investment.

School of the world

As we have soo much quality time together with very few distractions such as tvs and computers we are spending much more time simply talking to each other. Ingrid is super keen on finding out about things around her and understanding the ways of the world and so Paul is teaching her about China by explaining how Capitalism, Confusionism and Marxism works.

Scott loves it when we tell him stories about things around us such as the vegetables grown at the back of the house, how the mountains and gorge were shaped by water over time, about culture and traditions and how people live here and why.

We also had an amazing creative session making and racing paperboats that the kids loved.img_2363-1

This is probably the best way of learning

Getting into China

China by train

We entered China from Hon Kong via the metro then headed to Guilin on the fast train from Shenzhen.

img_1529I was somehow expecting a sharp contrast from HongKong with more mess, chaos and dirt but it turned out to be the cleanest, fastest and most spacious train I have ever been on. img_1549When travelling by train in China allow lots of time for a number of security checks, luggage scans and for collecting your tickets and finding the right track. It can be very hard to find your way the first time especially as all the signs are in Chinese and very few people speak English.img_3071We also learned that you cannot pay by card anywhere so always carry all the cash you need before heading off to your next destination. As this was our 1st train journey here we had not planned for all of the above but luckily still made the train by the skin of our teeth!

1st stay in a Chinese hostel

Our Riverside hostel in Guilin was located in a great spot for walking along the river and to the city centre. This was our fist stay in a Chinese guesthouse and we were pleasantly surprised. This and other hostels offer good value for money for long term travel with basic accommodation, food and tourist services.img_3089 Another positive feature when travelling with kids is the common space, internet and printer facilities usually on offer. The Riverside hostel had a football table that keep Scott and Ingrid entertained for hours while Paul and I got stuck into the detailed planning of our time in China. A basic menu offered a mix of basic western food and breakfast and common Chinese meals and snacks. You pay between £20-£40 for a family room in most towns but remember breakfast is usually not included. Worth noting is that almost all hostel have family rooms but 99% of these have 3 beds. To get 2 double beds or an extra mattress to accommodate 4 its best to contact the hostel in advance by email and ask for what you need.