we will continue with the stories we experienced in China. Since we were done with work for some time it was finally time for at least some sightseeing.
We wanted to meet up with Marjolein a friend of Selma who was coincidentally there for work as well. We had booked a hotel in advance since the train takes about 6-7 hours until Shanghai and another 30 minutes in the subway till the center. So we arrived quite late and had our first surprise: The hotel had given away our room and was full now, because we came after 6 pm. Not really worth arguing a lot but since it was already late we had to find another hotel very quick. Luckily there was still something available where we could stay for the first night and we could finally get some sleep.
The next day we moved to another hotel and could start our exploration. We went specifically to the stationary street so Marjolein and Selma could do some shopping there since they are both stationary freaks. Hours later, with full bags (trust me) we made a big walking tour through the city center ending near the Shanghai Museum for some dumplings. It was really nice to see a familiar face on the other side of the world again. Also thanks Marjolein for taking some of our stuff (and Selma’s new stationary) back to the Netherlands!
Shanghai feels like any other big modern city. English was more common but still some of the hotel stuff did not speak any (or sometimes you get the feeling they are too shy to try). Since we only planned to stay 2 nights we had not enough time to see a lot but on the second day we spent quite a lot of time in the Shanghai Museum, which is really really awesome and for free! The Chinese Culture is very impressive and you can get a very good impression of it by visiting here.
The next day we started our journey to the Yellow Mountains, with a small stop in Hangzhou. Hangzhou is approximately 2 hours away from Shanghai by High Speed Train and supposed to be a very beautiful and cultural place. Home to a very popular big lake and a lot of Chinese poets come from that city. Unfortunately we were very unlucky with the weather and it was raining quite heavily so we could walk along the lake and it was still quite busy but it was not worth visiting all the different places around the lake since you could maybe look 10 m far. So we did hop on the next bus to our desired destination Tungxi, Huangshan in the Anhui province.
Arriving there was again a very refreshing experience. Everyone tried their best to help us and language barriers were ignored. At the bus station a police officer came to us asking where we need to go and explaining all the buses. The bus driver took his time to find out where we were going to stay and explain the way from the bus stop where we were dropped of. So friendly!
The town itself has a very old main road with a lot of traditional Chinese shops with tea, spices and more exotic things where we really do not know what it is used for like i.e. tree fungus that is really beautiful and a slightly more modern area with a lot of different Chinese restaurants. You can even find some small cafes and bars altogether a place where you can stay for a few days but weekends and public holiday should be avoided. We heard that it gets overcrowded with Chinese tourists.
Here it was also the first time in months that it was really cold! We were freezing in the night, but besides that we also had good news: The first sample of our backpack was ready and sent to the hostel where we were staying! We were obviously very excited about that and tried to enjoy the moment of unpacking although we were very critical as well.
For the next day we booked a day trip for the main attraction of the area, The so called “Yellow Mountains”. A mountain range with bizarre granite peaks and freezing temperatures. We had to get up in the middle of the night and arrived there with a lot of Chinese tourists. I can hardly imagine how it will look like during Chinese New Year. Other than it is really impressive and awesome up there, there is not much to tell, rather let the pictures speak for themselves.
After this amazing experience we continued our journey to a quite special place. Probably everyone has at least heard of Ming porcelain. This was produced during the Ming Dynasty in Jingdezhen where we were heading next. This was already a quite “remote” area for tourists since we saw no Europeans, but getting from A to B in China is quite straightforward so that was no problem. When we arrived at our desired hotel though the whole area around it had a blackout so we continued wandering around until we found a nice hostel. The people were doing their best to help us with everything. We needed options to get back to Shenzhen for our last business meeting and they searched for us and left us a note at the next day with all the information. So nice!
Jingdezhen was one of the porcelain centers of China for centuries and lasting many dynasties so on every corner you can find some porcelain. We visited two very nice places. The official open air museum where they rebuild different kilns out of different dynasties and there are also current artists doing there work, very impressive and very expensive! The second place is an artist community where you can find everything from small tea sets to jewelry and bought some gifts for our family.
To get back to Shenzhen we had to take the bus to Nanchang, a quite big transportation hub with a little bit over 1 million people living there. We arrived late and had the first train in the morning so we did not visiting anything there.
Back in Shenzhen we had a hotel close to the factory but close was another 45 minutes by car. We were very impressed by the quality they are producing and basically all big brand are producing something there. We spent the whole day with James, our sales guy, in discussion and they even checked the quality of the sample we had from the other factory. Very exciting to be there and we had a very good feeling as well.
Later that evening when back in the hotel we received a second sample from a different factory and we were quite surprised. They made a very good impression when we visited but the quality of the backpack was…. let’s say.. not that good. So with a small disappointment we left in direction of Xiamen again.
In Xiamen we directly took the bus to the ferry where you can take the ferry to Kinmen, its around 30 minutes by boat from the China Mainland and already part of Taiwan. From there the plan was to take the plane to Taipei where we would meet up with Selmas friend Kim.