Stanley

Apr 27, 2007 in China 2007

Stanley

The Peak

Apr 26, 2007 in China 2007

The Peak

Man Mo Temple

Apr 26, 2007 in China 2007

Man Mo Temple

Macau

Apr 25, 2007 in China 2007

Macau

Hong Kong

Apr 24, 2007 in China 2007

Hong Kong

A view of Hong Kong Island from Kowloon

Train to Hong Kong

Apr 24, 2007 in China 2007

Train to Hong Kong

Somewhere in Guangdong on the way from Shanghai to Hong Kong

Shanghai

Apr 22, 2007 in China 2007

Shanghai

Nanjing

Apr 20, 2007 in China 2007

Nanjing

Return to Beijing

Apr 18, 2007 in China 2007

Return to Beijing

Return to China five years after my first trip

Out of China

Aug 07, 2002 in Beijing to London 2002

Out of China

My day started brutally early at 4am, and I finished packing with a hint of dawn in the sky. I left my flat for the last time at 5am, walked along to the East Gate and found a taxi. I was worn out by the time I got there, and regretted having bought so much stuff, which I would have to carry eight thousand miles home.

I watched the blocks of sky scrapers go by. As we drove along Chang’an, the sun was just peeking over the horizon, and the flag was being raised in Tiananmen Square. I got to the station in plenty of time and found my way to the waiting room. I got on the train at 7am, and found my way to my compartment. It seemed unbelievable to think that it would be my home for the next six days.

As we started to pull out of Beijing Station at 7.40am, I was feeling something like butterflies in my stomach with the anticipation of what this journey would be like. I watched as Beijing gradually melted away into the surrounding hills, and after a couple of hours we were in rural northern China. A few scattered parts of the Great Wall occasionally appeared on the tops of hills.

Tired from my early start, I slept a bit during the day, but mostly I was just watching the scenery go by. By 7pm, we were a few hundred miles from Beijing, and we were in the grasslands of Inner Mongolia. An amazing sunset was the last thing I saw in China, and a couple of hours after nightfall we reached the border with Mongolia at Erlian.

We spent five hours at the border. First of all, all the wheels on the train had to be changed, because the tracks in Mongolia are wider than the ones in China. Then we had passport and customs checks from the Chinese, a long slow rumble over the border to Dzamyn Ude, and then more passport and customs checks from the Mongolians. The Mongolian entry forms were printed in Mongolian and English only, and so I made many Chinese friends in my carriage by filling in all their forms for them. I had offered the favour to my three room-mates, not knowing that they had about twenty friends in neighbouring compartments. My wrist was aching by the time we left Dzamyn Ude at 2.30am.