I visited China last year and ever since, i’ve wanted to go back and see as much of the country as possible. Hong Kong’s Chinese embassy issue 2 days visas without requiring any proof of itinerary which is a perfect place to start.
Getting to Guilin
After an uneventful couple of days in HK the visa was ready and I crossed the border into Shenzhen right away. Border crossings can take hours but I was out of HK and into China within 15 minutes. Shenzhen is awesome city but I decided to skip it and head north on the high speed train.
After visiting Guilin last year, I wanted to see the area again. This time I passed through on the train before heading further north. It took four hours to travel 600km and the countryside was awesome. Almost a year ago to exactly I stayed at the same hostel in Guilin and the staff recognised me when I turned up. They recommended to visit Changsha before going to Chongqing so thats where I headed next.
Changsha is 4 hours north east of Guilin in Hunan province. Another 800km through the Chinese countryside on a high speed train was nice. You see the scenery change; jungles turn into forests and rice paddies disappear and the towns and cities look different.
Previously I had only been to tourist cities so they see foreigners a lot. Changsha is a third tier city so they won’t see many foreigners. Being a giant with a big scruffy beard; I immediately got people staring. Sat on a subway train, I caught an old man video recording me sat there, it was a strange experience so I videoed him and he soon stopped. For some reason middle aged men constantly stare as if you are doing something wrong. They will stand next to me and look at me as if they are keeping an eye on me, it’s strange. Young people don’t seem to care, old people always smile but it’s the middle aged people.
Changsha is the hometown of Mao but it’s just another city, there’s not much there. They have a giant sculpture of Mao’s head but when I was there my phone battery had died so I couldn’t get a picture. I didn’t do a whole lot and the highlight was eating in a Chinese Uighur, muslim restaurant. Hand pulled ding ding noodles are so tasty. The owners kindly gave me and a Scottish bloke some Lamb’s spine… it was alright. I’ll eat it again for sure.
Chongqing is a 9 hour train ride through the mountains in Hubei province. Trains are cheap in China but traveling long distances will cost a lot. So far I must have traveled at least 2,000km (5% of the way around the world) across China which in the west would have cost £400+ but here; less than £100. It’s always cheaper to fly but that’s boring.
Chongqing is the size of London and I know nothing about the city. It’s in Sichuan province so their food is insanely spicy. I’ll stay here for one week and check out the city before heading onto Chengdu.