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Day 1 of our travels in China:

Yes, yes, I know we have been in China since the end of February.  But apart from being in Shanghai for a few nights and living in Ningbo during our Chinese studies, we haven't really started travelling.  Until today that is..

We left our student accommodation behind on Monday and travelled into the new IFC area  of Ningbo.  As a treat and toast to the rest of our travels, we have been staying at the Howard Johnson IFC Plaza.  A brand new 5* hotel with all the little luxuries you'd expect for a HOJO hotel. Will write up a review of it soon..

Yeah, maybe not quite the style we will be getting used to over the next few months, but nice to finish Ningbo in style!  But it will be nice to get on the road today and start seeing a new parts of this colossal country we will be exploring over the next 60 days.

So, what's the plan?

The plan is to travel to Hangzhou today on the newly opened high speed rail link connecting the 2 largest cities of Zhejiang province.  We have found a great value hostel costing just 60RMB per night (£6.50) for a private ensuite right next to the infamous ‘West Lake'.

Then we will continue travelling North to Nanjing, before heading back down to Shanghai > Beijing > Xi'an > Chengdu > Kunming > Guilin > Shenzhen > Hong Kong, all this is in just 2 months.  We have chosen to travel China using 100% rail connections.  Our route up the East China Sea coast will consist of high speed rail connections, cruising through the countryside at near 350 kilometers per hour, all at a fraction of the cost of railing around the UK.  It will be a great experience being on a bullet train, since a kid I've always been fascinated by the bullet trains in Japan and now I get to ride them in China!

The dilemmas of packing my 50 litre backpack:

Another note I should make about some basic lessons I've learn about packing for a trip like this.  When I left the UK, I had to plan for 3 parts of our trip..

  • Staying in Malaysia for our ‘holiday' portion of the trip where the temperature was consistently 30 degrees with 90% humidity.
  • Studying in Ningbo, China for our ‘university' portion where the temperate was 0 degrees at times during Feb / Mar.
  • Travelling Asia during the summer, where we will be living day-to-day in 30+ degree heat for 5 or so months.

That meant I had to pack summer wear as well as winter weather gear.  I packed my bag to the brim and reaped the consequences of an overly heavy bag not suitable when it came to this part of the trip, where we would be travelling every few days.  This has resulted in me having to throw a lot out of the bag.  In fact, we have only been away from the University accommodation for a few days and I am on my 2nd load of gear I am throwing out.  Realistically weight wise I should ultimately shed 70% of what I bought originally.

So, my tip for would-be travellers is just pack lighter.  Pack the essentials which should fit half your bags total size.  Then anything that can be discarded fill the remaining, leaving ample room as when you leave and start unpacking & packing regularly, your stuff will seem to constantly be breeding with each other and fitting everything back in every time is a massive long chore.

That's it for now, we have to checkout soon and get over the Ningbo East Railway Station. Below are some photos of the new IFC (International Finance Centre) in Ningbo.

About Darryl Hall (85 Articles)
Darryl left the shorelines of England in 2013 to study and travel in China and South East Asia for a year. Darryl is a co-founder of escapingthedesk.com, a travel blog with the aim of sharing travel tips, country & city guides for other backpackers. Visit my Google+ page.

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