As it happens, almost two weeks ago I and my beloved enginerd once again hit the road to have a 3 months-long adventure in Asia. Having once travelled around the world, and lived in Taiwan for quite some time, we had a pretty relaxed approach to the trip: a week before, we had no hotels booked or any solid plans of what we’re going to do, and the engineer packed his bags on the same morning we took off.
So far everything has gone pretty well, though. I mean, only a couple of tiny spiders, just one incident where I almost got crushed by a bus (our driver was worse a driver than I am, it seems, or just didn’t give a fuck about another bus rushing towards us), and mostly been getting vegetarian food when promised so.
We started our trip from Helsinki, where after a night at a friend’s place (you know who you are ♥), we took a train to the airport. The I and P trains take you there were efficiently, and you can buy tickets for them with the HSL app. We flew from Helsinki to Doha, and made a good use fo Qatar Airways’ Discover Qatar deal, where you can stay one night for free in a nice hotel between your flights to your destination, and also get a 72-hour transit visa. Learn more here.
In Doha, we practically ate and slept and headed towards the airport the next morning. Everything in the city seemed to run very smoothly, although we must admit we probably learned nothing about the local life while there. Taxi to hotel, visit a huge shopping mall, eat, go to sleep, leave. Hilton Doha, as provided by the airline, was nice and we got an upgrade to a bigger room, but no lounge access (boohoo). Fair enough, as we didn’t pay anything for the room 😀 That’s also where we noticed it’s almost impossible to get around the city by foot, it’s totally built for cars. Fancy cars, if I may add.
Next, it was time to get on a plane and fly to China.
Arriving in China was as exciting as it always is. The sudden change in culture, how people look, the language, the smell of the dirty air and heighten difficulty levels in everything. That’s China.
Our first mission was to make our way to the mainland from Hong Kong. We took a bus from the airport to the nearest checkpoint for about 22 euros for two people. The bus was a bit tricky. You’d have to get off before the checkpoint exiting Hong Kong, take all your luggage and carry them through the gates back to another side of the building. After that, you’d hop on the same bus, now waiting to take you to the passport and visa control to enter the mainland. After the second round on the bus, China border control and some pure guessing where to go next, we entered the mainland.
And there it was. China. Shenzhen. We were immediately offered (illegal) taxi rides, there were people everywhere, we were exhausted, we were being pushed and, once we finally arrived at our hotel, it was nearly impossible to find anything to eat. Mind you, it was at 2 in the morning, but how on earth could we have known there was a small 24/7 grocery store like a 10-minute walk from the hotel… Right before that, we had just learned there was a problem with our reservation, and it had taken us forever to actually get into our room on the 22nd floor of Jinzhonghuai residential area. We also saw a selection of rats and a drunken guy being escorted into a taxi by his friends.
Luckily we recovered fast after the initial shock and spent the next 3 days looking for a laptop for the enginerd. Or the laptop, as he had had his eyes on the new Xiaomi (小米) notebook. A quick note on that: the best way to find their products is going to their flagship store. It’s not super easy to find (plus it’s closed for renovation now, but their smaller store is open nearby), but you’ll get there by metro (Green line 1) and by getting off at the Hi-Tech Park (高新園) station.
Shenzhen is also known for its crazily large electronics markets block at Huaqianbei (華強北 or 华强北 in traditional Chinese). You can take Metro Line 2 there, and just sink into some shopping madness. But be careful, we were being tried to sell to a very wrong notebook a couple of times, although we’re still not sure if it was on purpose or not…
The lack of touristy stuff in Shenzhen was soon made up for. We took a train from Shenzhen North station to Huangshan North, from where we had to walk half a kilometre (a nice way to realise you’ve packed way too much stuff…) to the bus station where we purchased tickets to Tangkou, a village next to the Yellow Mountain. It is divided into Tangkouzhen, the town, and Tangkoucun, the village. Our hotel was located right between them. From there, we could easily walk to the bus station Huangshan Fengjinqu (黃山風景區) to go climb on Huangshan (黃山).
Now, our one goal there was to climb the mountain. We had booked a hotel for 3 nights, and the owner was super nice and once he realised we had no actual plans on which route we’d be hiking, he gave us a map and drew a recommended way on it. He also added notes about which routes were closed, and where we could choose between walking/climbing and taking a cable car. Like, we would’ve been totally lost without his help.
So, 9,5 hours, 30 000 steps and 19 kilometres later, we could say we’ve really seen Huangshan. Let the photos below tell the story 🙂
The paths on the mountain were mostly quite okay to walk, and they have been maintained really well, but for example, climbing on top of the second highest peak does take stamina and the ability to not look down even tempted. The highest peak at 1864 meters was closed, but when open, it is actually pretty easy to reach. This all said, nine and half hours up and down wasn’t an easy job, but so, so rewarding! Good shoes, a light jacket and a ton of snacks are the most important things to bring.
PS: There are a ton more photos on our Instagram!
PPS: The adventure goes on, and as it happens, today we’ll be visiting the happiest place on Earth 😉