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All at sea

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Today the sun came out and as there was no wind we took our boat along the coast to have lunch at the Cary Arms at Babbacombe. There are three good reasons to make this trip by boat. Firstly by road from Exmouth it is 30 miles whilst by sea it is just 12 miles, secondly you avoid the steep road down to the beach, and finally the sheer joy of being on the water. I was pleased to find that flat out our inflatable was capable of going over 20 miles an hour. However the sea was still choppy enough that we generally went rather slower and the trip out took about an hour. On arriving I left my wife in the shallows with our gear and then parked on one of the mooring buoys before swimming into shore. The pub is beautifully situated overlooking the water and we had a great table on one of the terraces. Unfortunately the food didn’t live up to the surroundings and a couple of the dishes were disappointing though I was pleased to find they served Doombar. Eventually it was time to leave and we headed home. Though we have now been in Devon for a few months we are still amazed at our good fortune at being able to live in such an amazing part of the country.

Written by zantine

August 2, 2011 at 5:19 pm

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China – the good, the bad and the ugly

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The Good
1. People are generally incredibly friendly and helpful
2. Amazing sights
3. Great transport links

The Bad
1. People are amazingly self-centred (a “me, me me” society!)
2. Arbitrary bureaucracy
3. Traffic congestion

The Ugly
1. Noise!
2. Litter
3. Spitting

Written by zantine

October 11, 2010 at 6:48 am

Posted in China, Travel

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Hong Kong fireworks

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Fireworks over Hong Kong harbour on the first of October celebrated China’s national day. A vast crowd watched from the embankment on the Kowloon side and later there was a long queue for the metro.

You can certainly feel the English legacy in Hong Kong. There is no spitting, less litter and cars even drive on the left. For the first time in five months we were able to cross a pedestrian crossing without fear for our lives! However the cost of living was about three times higher than across the boarder in mainland China.

Written by zantine

October 11, 2010 at 6:34 am

Posted in China, Travel

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Lijiang and Shuhe

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Charming cobbled streets, endless gift shops and Chinese style cafe culture. We are in Shuhe village which is like a mini reflection of Lijiang old town, itself the most popular tourist haunt in all Yunnan. The village is just 6km from Lijiang and can be reached on bike or using one of the constant stream of blue mini-buses. Sitting under an awning, listening to live music from a nearby bar, we seem far removed from mainstream China. The surrounding wood framed buildings have classical Chinese roofs, elegant proportions and pretty courtyards, unlike the typical concrete and white ceramic wall tiles of modern Chinese cities. Unfortunately a visit to the new part of Lijiang quickly reminds one that this casual charm is the exception rather than the rule in modern China.

Written by zantine

September 28, 2010 at 12:49 pm

Posted in China, Travel

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Tiger Leaping Gorge

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Leaving Dali we caught the local bus going towards Shangri-La. The old vehicle rattled it’s way along, with occasional stops and constantly overtaking on blind bends. After six hours it dropped us at the village of Qiaotou where we spent the night at Jane’s guest house; not that we met Jane, the ‘bloke’ who owns the guest house. There was heavy rain during the night but it had cleared by the morning so we set out on the high trail through Tiger Leaping Gorge. This is one of the classic treks in China, following the Jinsha river through one of the deepest gorges in the world. We stopped for lunch at the Naxi Family guest house then tackled the climb up ‘twenty four bends’. Whilst steep, this was less challenging than many blogs suggested and largely unaffected by the previous night’s rain. We had decided to take the trek gently so stopped overnight at the Tea Horse guest house that provided great views from its terrace. Our room also had a TV although the effect was rather spoilt by a lack of electricity until later. The next morning we trekked through the superb scenery of the middle gorge, finally reaching Tina’s Hostel in time for lunch. This is where the high path meets the low road. The latter is currently being upgraded to take hordes of tour buses but fortunately this is still work in progress. A further forty minutes on the still unpaved road brought us to Sean’s Guest House where we sat on the terrace, drinking beer and listening to the sound of the rapids. The next morning we walked down to the river. Rather than pay to visit Tiger Leaping Rock we explored the largely unused route down from Sean’s that came down close to the lower rapids. The path was somewhat overgrown and tricky to navigate but great fun. An hour and a half later we were back on the low road and with some fellow travellers we hired a minibus to take us out via the low road. This was an adventure in itself as the bumpy unmade road runs beside a sheer drop into the river. At one point the driver had to stop and do quick repairs when some of the protective casing was knocked into the transmission by an exceptionally hard impact. Finally we reached the site where a landslip was blocking the road and we had to transfer on foot to another minibus. After that we were on paved road back to Qiaotou where Jane’s gave us lunch and organised another minibus to go to Lijiang. All together a superb few days in a wonderful scenic spot that fully deserves its reputation. While the development of the low road will eventually bring many more tourists to this side of the gorge I hope the high trail can keep it’s unique character.

Written by zantine

September 26, 2010 at 5:36 am

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Dali – Moon Festival

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It’s the autumn equinox, marked in China by the ‘Moon Festival’. We are ‘chilling out’ in Dali, the old backpacker hangout in Yunan province. After seeing Guilin we worried that Dali would have lost its character, swamped by Irish theme pubs and burger joints. We needn’t have worried. While the place is awash with souvenir shops and good quality cafes it still exudes its own distinctive charm and there was no sign of a McDonald’s.

We are staying in a great hostel just outside the west gate. One novelty is that its internet connection has been set up to bypass some of the normal internet restrictions. This means that we have access to Facebook for the first time since arriving in China!

Written by zantine

September 20, 2010 at 4:13 pm

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Kunming – Stone Forest

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Relaxed Kunming made a great change after the brash commercialism of Guilin. Unfortunately traffic seems to be overwhelming the city. When we went to the ‘Stone Forest’ our local bus took over an hour to travel the few kilometers to the east bus station. Fortunately the remaining 75 km only took an hour and a half, although we first had to wait for the bus to fill with passengers.

The ‘Stone Forest’ is an amazing jumble of stone pillars, cracks and fissures formed by acidic errosion. Once we wandered beyond the majority of the Chinese tour groups we were able to enjoy the spectacle in relative tranquility. It was great fun threading along the paths that run up and down through gulleys and holes in the rock. As often happens some passing Chinese wanted their photo taken with the ‘wei guo ren’ (outsiders). A strange but amusing diversion!

Written by zantine

September 16, 2010 at 3:08 pm

Posted in China, Travel

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