Like many travelers have said before me, and will continue to say after, traveling in China is like traveling in a whole other world. And after 31 days in China, Hong Kong and Macao, I definitely saw a great cross-section of the country even with some misses along the way. No matter what set back came my way, I can easily say two things. I loved it. I will definitely be back.
My observations about the country, like all places I visit, have both positives and negatives. If you ever want to spend time in China, the following things might be important to you.
-Blogging in China was incredibly difficult. Blogger (my host) is banned, as well as Facebook, which I use to host pictures on the site. Using a VPN was great, however produced very slow connections at some hostels that made uploads often times impossible.
–Guilin is the only city in China that I visited where taxis go out of their way to barter a set price rather than using the meter. It is also the only place that had taxis literally waiting outside of the hostels doors morning, noon, and night. Compared to the rest of China, I can’t complain.
-Likewise, my original reason to visit Guilin was to go see the Lonji Rice Terraces, and I couldn’t even go when I got there due to the holiday fiasco.
-Spitting, babies excreting waste in public areas, and many other habits disgusted me completely.
-Restaurant food was often undesirable to my open taste buds. However, anything in Sichuan Province (Chengdu) and almost all street food was amazing regardless of type and location. Scorpion, however, was not that bad and four baby ones on a stick are available at the night market in Beijing for 20 yuan (~$3 US).
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-China tries to be cute like Japan, but doesnt succeed very well. Getting there, but there is still a lot of progress to go. On that same note, China will be a progressive super power in the coming decades, however a lot of things still need addressed.
-Every day I tried to get out into the country on a day trip was met with some frustration. Either sickness, bad weather, or inability to leave from the holiday. Next time in China will be entirely nature oriented.
-The biggest frustration is no Train Central Booking System and you can only book tickets in the city you wish to depart from, or online at horribly inflated prices.
-Never underestimate the Golden Travel Week (National Day) in early October. Travel is impossible during the week, so don’t even bother. Likely the same over other national holidays. China has 1.4 billion people also wanting to book trains on the bad booking system that you do.
-A second meet-up with Michael from Art of Backpacking was blocked from the mid-autumn festival holiday in September and he enjoyed my bottle of sake quite well.
-Random crossing paths with Joel from Freedonia Post in Hong Kong and ended up staying in hostels within a 1 minute walk from each other.
-Hong Kong is larger than I anticipated when factoring in the outlying islands, Macau is a lot smaller when considering it has the world’s largest casino and a higher gaming revenue than Las Vegas.
-I really want to know how many times the world “tailor” is uttered in a day by any one Indian man on the streets of Hong Kong. Moreover, I want to know how many times the world “tailor” “watch” or “custom suit” is said on Nathan road in one day. No I will not buy your custom suit, get a real job hippy.
Onward to some more important financial aspects from the 31 days in China/Hong Kong/Macao. The following is a break down of some of the important topics that you might want to know regarding my stay in China.
Cities Visited: Shanghai, Beijing, Huanghuacheng (Great Wall), Xi’an, Chengdu, Guilin, Yangshuo (and surrounding villages), Hong Kong, and Macao
Favorite City: Yangshuo (Top 3 in the World Award)
Favorite Foods: Beijing Street Pancakes, Sichuan Cooking
Favorite Alcohol: None
Favorite Hostel: Han Tang Inn in Xi’an
Least Favorite Hostel: The Phoenix in Shanghai
Notable Mention Hostel: Monkey Janes saved my butt in the busy travel season when I couldn’t get a bus and was stuck while they were sold out. Please go spend massive amounts of money at their rooftop bar during happy hour (also cheapest in Yangshuo)
Best Attraction: Yangshuo Karst Mountains
Offbeat Must See: Chengdu Panda Research Reserve and Guilin Reed Flute Cave
Biggest Disappointment: Overall quality of restaurant food
Must Visit Cities: Beijing, Xi’an, Chengdu, Guilin, Yangshuo, Hong Kong
Most Expensive Meal: 83 yuan Hot Pot + 1 Beer
Cheapest/Most Expensive Sleeps: 30 yuan/night Guilin Backstreet Hostel and 100 yuan/night Phoenix Hostel in Shanghai
Number of Pictures Taken (total overall): 1,934 (3692)
Duration of Videos Taken: ~1 hour, 05 minutes
Average Overall Daily Cost China: $45.57
Average Overall Daily Cost Hong Kong/Macao: $79.52
Total Spent Over 31 Days: $1,650.27
Average Over 31 Days: $53.23
Note: Spending does not include the inbound ferry from Japan, however does include the overland bus over to Hanoi. Values do not include ATM fees assessed by bank for removing money as well, and assume an approximate conversion rate of 6.8 yuan per $1 US. Keep in mind that Hong Kong and Macao had little major transportation needs aside from internal moving around the island.
For More information regarding my financial spending in China, check out the updated On the Road Spending spreadsheet which has a breakdown of daily figures for things like food, site seeing, transportation, hostels, and more! Based on my initial estimates of $60/day, I would say that I did pretty good in my estimates coming in just a few dollars per day under!
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Don’t think that just because I left China that my postings on this country are over! While I am keeping up real time postings in the various countries that I am in, I have a significant backlog of posts ready for the break in between travel time at home. Some topics we’ve published since launching this guide include:
China Travel – Turning 4 Weeks in China from a Negative to a Positive
Sichuan Cuisine – Authentic Recipes from China
China Golden Week – How My Visit to Yangshuo Turned into a Nightmare
Reed Flute Cave – You Better Not Miss This Attraction in Guilin
Szechuan Cooking Class in Chengdu
Great Wall of China – 10 Photos That Will Make You Want to Travel Now
The Chinese Food I Actually Crave
Wangfujing Street – Eating Scorpion and Other Weird Treats in Beijing
Chengdu Food – Breaking Down a 17-Course Snack Menu
Chengdu Panda Reserve – More Pandas Than You Can Handle
Osaka to Shanghai – Making the Trip on the Su Zhou Hao Ferry
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Now it is time for 3+ months exploring south east Asia, with first destination Hanoi, Vietnam! Chasing Kirsty and Poi from No Place to Be and hope to meet up with them somewhere in Vietnam.
Have a question about China or my time spent in the country? If so please comment below and I’d be happy to respond to all inquiries.