Friday, 11 April 2014

KPopping, Forbidden Palace & lots of Noodles... We're off to China andS. Korea!

Tickets have been booked, itineraries are being made and the excitement keeps on growing!

Elaine and I have been planning this trip over our year, especially since our best friend Rae is studying in Beijing right now. Actually, we've always wanted to go to both those countries for a while now. When you have Korean Pop culture obsessed friends (half my friends school in school were, including Elaine), its inevitable you would get swept up by the frenzy at least once in your life. I'll admit I've watched the odd K-Drama (per year...) and I did go to a KPop concert once (Big Bang, no regrets), so there's no doubts about wanting to immerse myself in the culture a little.

So how did China come into this? Well, it's a combination of having many of the classic wonders of the world, the convenience of it being near S. Korea and because we haven't seen our closest friend in a long time! We love you Rae!!

Now I say that it is convenient that China is RELATIVELY near S. Korea but I didn't anticipate in the drama over booking tickets an organising an itinerary. To be fair, I greatly underestimated the giant that China is. The country has an area of about 9.6 million km² whereas the UK is a measly 244 thousand km² (China is forty times greater!!). Living in the UK gives me a poor perspective in distances and travelling.

So what exactly is the dilemma with China being so big? It's choosing the ideal route. We have two weeks to see as much as we can. Beijing and Shanghai automatically goes on the list for us. Maybe have a day trip to Xi'an to see the terracotta warriors. Now we have a room for one or two more more places to stopover and see. What I usually do is google itineraries that other people have suggested: Thorn Tree forum have members that are well travelled and make a good alternative to a trip to a travel agent. TripAdvisor will always have something and there are online travel blogs to inspire you. What most places mentioned, what I immediately fell in love with, was a region called Guilin.
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Look beautiful landscapes that make you want to visit Asia! The limestone karsts, the rice terrace fields, the traditional architecture! I'm surprised I never heard of it before. The problem is...
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19 hour drive, 22 hour train ride... lets not get started on how difficult it is to find a decent flight! Inconveniently, we booked our flights out of Beijing, making it difficult to fit in Guilin with into our schedule.

The question lies... do we give it a miss for next time? Should we bear the 22 hour train rides or... should we take the bullet, and let our bank accounts suffer? I hope a better solution appears soon!

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