- Monday 23 October 2017
"I was lucky enough to go on my second trip with Intrepid Travel this year. This time to China, allowing me to experience another completely new culture in a way I would not have manged had I done it on my own. I was also able to tick off another of the Seven Modern Wonders of the World and bond with new friends over the sometimes iffy toilet and sleeping arrangements.
Intrepid is about small group adventure travel, with the main goal being to experience the country as close as possible to the way a local does. For this trip it meant sleeper trains, public transport and chopsticks.
Myself and 8 other Irish travel agents flew business class with Finnair into Beijing. This was the first time I have slept on a long haul flight thanks to the full lie-flat bed. I could not fault Finnair’s economy or business class. The food and drink never seemed to stop coming and I‘ll remember that flight forever as I swish about my own kitchen in the complimentary slippers.
I am so glad we flew business as we didn’t have a minute to catch our breath as we hit the ground running in Beijing for the next two days. We meet our lovely local guide Jay who was with us through the trip. He was on hand to answer any questions and give us a real insight on Chinese life.
We went with Jay straight to Tiananmen Square via the Hutong district then onto the Forbidden Palace, Jingshan Park and the Olympic Village. The stand-out for Beijing and the trip as a whole was of course The Great Wall. We had perfect weather and was a real ‘once in a life time’ experience- especially at the very top before tobogganing down.
We took a high speed bullet train to our next destination of Xi’an at speeds of up to 309kms. What would have been almost twelve hours in a car was a very speedy five.
Here in China’s Imperial Centre we biked tandem around the city walls, wandered the Muslim Quarter, haggled over souvenirs and enjoyed the vibrant city life. We didn’t have to travel far out of Xi’an to get to the Terracotta Warriors, which are considered the 8th Wonder of the World. I was blown away by these statues. They were discovered smashed and had been put back together with no solider looking the same as the next.
The three hours flew by as we visited the three pits before we boarded an overnight sleeper train to Shanghai. I don’t have much to say on this experience other than I do not need to experience it again. Shanghai was great for shopping and felt the most modern out of our three locations. I am a sucker for a great sky line, and the Bund district with its buildings of all shapes and sizes was truly incredible to see at night all lit up. We also enjoyed an acrobatic show and enjoyed the skyline from above whilst enjoying cocktails from the 47th floor in the Radisson Blu bar.
The last item on our itinerary was the water town of Xitang just outside of Shanghai which I would describe as a Venice of the East. It was a lovely break from the hustle and bustle of Shanghai. We floated around the canals and had a meal of various Chinese dishes which had been the standard through the trip, including rice, vegetables, various meats and tofu.
The menus were vast and you could not get bored of the tasty, colourful and textured options. These restaurants were authentic and not restaurants you would easily find or be brave enough to try if you had gone without a local guide.
I loved China. The pollution is very noticeable but the country itself is spotless with hardly any trash, it was very safe, the public transport was easy to understand and I found the Chinese people friendly, helpful and polite. The accommodation with Intrepid is centrally located and very nice but not for those looking for luxury. The visa was done quickly and easily and I can’t think of any reason why China should not be on everyone’s travel list." -Raya
To pick Raya's brain about a holiday to China, call us on 021 427 7094 or 01 6965135, email email@example.com or request a call back using the red button.