Today marks our 100th day of being away from home, that is the longest either of us have ever been away.
We haven't really started ‘travelling' yet, when we were in Malaysia, we were essentially on a family holiday, since being in China, we've been students. It won't be until our course and the semester is over in July that life on the road really begins.
When we left home we only had until July organised, we were going to Malaysia and then we were going to China to study. After that the world would be our oyster, because who knew what we would feel like doing after being away for 6 months?
So what have we been doing?
Studying, obviously. This has been a lot harder than we would like. Going back to studying regardless of the subject has definitely been a challenge. The fact we had always been very lazy students really doesn't help. The Chinese way of teaching is also quite different. They have a higher expectation of what you should be studying at home, and also they love the whole memorise and repeating method. There is very little English spoken in class (i.e. none) which is great and everything, but it doesn't really work when you just don't have a clue what is being said.
Planning. We have been working on our travel plans, what we will be doing after leaving Ningbo up until our Chinese visa runs out, and where we will go next. The plan took a while to put together, there was a fair amount of bickering back and forth about it but we got there in the end.
Our carefully constructed plan of course!
The semester ends at the start of July which is when we say goodbye to our student accommodation and Ningbo. We first head to the scenic city of Hangzhou for a couple of nights to take in all it's beauty like the famous West Lake, Tea Houses and culture. From there it's back to Shanghai for a full week of sightseeing and a mini gourmet-odyssey (Darryl is making a restaurant list). We then take the bullet train to Beijing, that's 1,318 km's north in just under 5 hours – or another way of putting it, twice the distance between London and Glasgow. In fact our whole journey up the East Coast of China starting in Ningbo is by Chinese bullet trains, in all we will have travelled 1,630 km's of China's 18,000 km's of high speed train lines – HA, take that France!
Beijing is where we will spend the most time in a single city whilst travelling China, 10 nights to be exact, doing the usual must-see attractions (Forbidden City, Great Wall, Mausoleum of Mao Zedong, etc..). It will be the furthest north we will be until our return to the UK in early 2014! Then it's the start of our 5 back-to-back sleeper train journey's across China taking in Xi'an (Terracotta Army, Bell Tower, City Walls), then Chengdu to see some cute Panda's and Kunming to visit the famous village of little people. Before starting our journey back towards the middle of China and southwards to take in Guilin for it's Rice Terraces and finally leaving China at the Shenzen / Hong Kong border.
After China the current plan is staying in Hong Kong for 5 nights and then flying into Hanoi to backpack Vietnam for 3-4 weeks, ending in Ho Chi Minh city. From there we fly to Bangkok to soak up some city life before heading down to see Darryl's Granddad. We plan on skipping across to Southern Thailand at the end of October to stay on the Islands before taking the train to KL, Malaysia to get a plane to Sabah to hike Mount Kota Kinabalu. After we get back to KL we continue to head south, to make our way down to Singapore. If all goes well and we stick to this plan, then we might even be able to make it to New Zealand at the end of the year!
Bear in mind though, this is revision K of our backpacking trip, so anything could change between now and then.. In fact it's more than likely to change knowing us!
So there you have it, 100 days away from home and with almost another 300 days left until returning we have a lot ahead of us. We have plenty to be getting up to in Ningbo before leaving, so keep an eye on the blog for everything we get up to here whilst in this pretty awesome city.
Darryl & Cristabel.
Some photos from 100 days since leaving..