China lived up to a lot of the expectations I had for the country.
Even though it’s a difficult country to travel through the highlights were worth it.
During my 60 days I ticked off many sites I thought I’d never see in person.
Each one making my Love/Hate relationship with the country more bearable.
So without further ado, here’s the 1st part of my Highlights of China:
1. THE FOOD(everywhere).
Possibly the best thing in China is the food.
Each province had a different take on certain dishes, like Hot Pot, and I wanted to try them all.
I also love spicy food and found out rather quickly that the “Chinese” food I’ve had in the U.S. was nothing like what I was having in China.
I wasn’t too adventurous with dishes that didn’t look familiar though.
Chinese are known for eating EVERYTHING.
I am not.
Even though it was interesting walking through markets seeing spare parts and animal faces for sale.
I was not about to start eating that stuff.
Aside from “spare parts” meals I was very curious to try new dishes.
Most meals I had were delicious, spicy, and loaded with various flavor.
Unfortunately the bakeries were a huge letdown.
Pastries were usually dry and not that sweet or flavorful.
Other than that, all the other food was pretty amazing.
2. ICE CREAM BAR(everywhere).
This could obviously be in with The Food category.
But this ice cream bar was on a different level.
I had to give it its own headline.
THE BEST ice cream bar I’ve ever had!!!
Nothing else needs to be said, except:
memorize these images, find them, and indulge until you become lactose intolerant.
3. SIGNS IN “CHINGLISH”(everywhere).
I didn’t think I’d enjoy myself so much while reading nonsensical sentences, but I did.
You get a basic idea of what’s trying to be conveyed on the signs.
But some are so messed up that you really have no idea what’s trying to be said.
The same goes for restaurant menus.
Some of the descriptions are so nonsensical that you don’t even know what the food is.
And some descriptions are so blunt it makes the food sound even less enticing.
For example: Pig Guts.
Unfortunately “Chinglish” might be a thing of the past.
As I’ve started to read a few articles about the government making guidelines for signs.
Chinglish Signs became one of the funniest highlights of China.
So get there quick before they’re all gone.
4. THE GREAT WALL(Beijing).
Like the Eiffel Tower of Paris, Big Ben of London, or Ladyboys of Thailand.
When you’re in Beijing you have to see the Great Wall.
(If you didn’t, were you even really there?)
The Great Wall was everything I thought it would be.
It was GREAT and it’s a WALL.
But it’s still definitely worth a visit.
There’s also many sections of the wall to choose from.
I chose the Mutianyu area.
I hiked around that section for many reasons:
1. Less Tourists.
There was hardly times when I was surrounded by a bunch of people.
I was also able to take photos without having to wait for huge groups of people to move out of the shot.
2. Not Completely Restored.
The Mutianyu area has some sections where the wall is slightly in ruins and crumbling away.
I wanted to see this area because I felt like it was more authentic.
Unfortunately due to time restraints(went as part of a tour) I wasn’t able to make it that far down the wall.
3. Toboggan Back Down.
The Mutianyu section has a cable car up and a toboggan back down.
You can also just walk down, but what type of person would pass on the opportunity to toboggan down!?!
Not gonna lie, the toboggan might have been the highlight of the day.
Of course the wall was great(literally), but that toboggan was so much fun.
5. JUIZHAIGOU NATIONAL PARK(Sichuan).
Expect a journey if you decide to go here.
A 10 hour bus ride north of Chengdu is one of the greatest National Parks I have ever seen.
Juizhaigou has gigantic mountains ranges, lush forests, and waterfalls that surround amazing lakes.
However, in August of 2017(3 months after I was there) a 7.0 magnitude earthquake hit this area.
A majority of its attractions were annihilated.
The park was closed a long time for relief work.
It has reopened but I have no idea if it looks anything like it once did.
Do some research to see what is available to visit.
Cross your fingers and hope for the best.
If Juizhaigou is still badly destroyed you can visit the World Heritage site of Huanglong National Park.
It’s closer to Chengdu(230 mi/370 km) and still has amazing landscape.
Known for colorful calcite pools, snow-capped peaks, waterfalls and hot springs.
I went there as part of the tour that took me to Juizhaigou.
But it would still be worth a visit by itself.
6. LESHAN GIANT BUDDHA CAVES(Sichuan).
The caves at the Buddha park are not hidden, but they are slightly hard to find.
Many of the signs directions change from sign to sign.
So I’d suggest using Maps Me, trying to find a map of the park, and asking around to find your way to the caves.
If you see any sings that say “Pharmacist Buddha” follow those.
It’s a standing Buddha that I thought was more impressive than the Giant Buddha.
But the best part is BEHIND it.
When you’re on ground level near the Buddha’s feet walk behind it.
Back there opens up a whole new world of caves with Buddha statues and amazing wall carvings.
When I was there I was practically all alone.
It was great to have a place like that all to myself.
I enjoyed the Giant Buddha, especially since there weren’t that many people when I went.
But the caves where the highlight for me.
7. MT. EMEI SUNRISE(Sichuan).
If you like to walk up steps THIS is definitely the mountain for you.
Without a doubt one of the hardest hikes I have ever done; and it’s all steps.
It was a tough hike, but it doesn’t have to be.
There are buses that can take you to all the good viewpoints.
It can also take you to the top.
But what’s the fun in that?
Instead, 2 others and myself decided to conquer this mountain over 2 days.
Day 1: Hike HOURS and HOURS to the monasteries near the top.
Find a nice one to stay at and relax until exhaustion put us to sleep.
Day 2: wake at 4 am and hike the last 6 km to the summit for the sunrise.
Then take the bus back down and die a slow death.
It was completely worth it.
During this journey I:
-Pissed at THE WORST “toilet” in Asia.
-Was threatened by Tibetan Macaques.
-Saw amazing scenery.
-Questioned my decisions about walking up thousands and thousands of steps.
-Slept in a monastery over the clouds, with an amazing atmosphere and great views.
-Saw men and women twice my age carrying large rocks in wicker baskets on their backs.
-Then I wondered how they weren’t dropping over dead.
-Watched the sunrise over the mountains and distant landscape with hundreds of people.
-And then listened to a woman spit out the bus window for over an hour.
It was fantastic.
More To Come.
That concludes the end of Part 1.
What are some of your highlights of China?
Let me know in the comments below.
My name is Jeremiah and I'm a photographer from Arizona.
I'm always in search of picturesque landscapes and adrenaline pumping adventure.
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