Monday, 31 October 2016

This Departure Lounge... Dreams For Plans!

Life is sometimes all about waiting so I like to look at things as if I was waiting in a departure lounge waiting for a long-haul flight. Looking back to my first post that shares this title I was in a place in my life where I didn't want to be. After being in China for over sixteen months now I can see glimmers of what places I aspire see once my time in Wuhan concludes. Fly high!

I was so focused about getting out of England that I forgot to check how many blank pages I had remaining in my passport that I had to make the decision between visiting places outside of China or staying for one more year, I chose China! Although I have clocked up some serious China travel miles since arriving in June 2015 I haven't felt the need to rush to the nation's capital that is Beijing. I did toy with the idea of visiting China's showcase city before returning to England in Summer 2017 but I've had a better offer. I have decided to leave the Great Wall and the Forbidden City for later in 2017 as I have ambitions of transferring to Beijing with my current teaching company. Yes, the winding lanes of Beijing's historic Hutong's make me want to book a train ticket this very instance, I know Beijing, China will have it's time and it will work out for the best. Don't worry Destination, I'll be serving it every weekend! Yes, I'm Beijing ready!

Since June 2015 I have been on a treadmill that has consisted of working as an English teacher and travelling all across China and to its two Special Administrative Regions. Even though I will have racked up a whopping sixteen Chinese destinations since my arrival up to December 2016 I won't ever be contented with that result! Packing my thermals I will be trading the already freezing temperatures of Wuhan to experience the sub-zero nature of Harbin, Heilongjiang for the Ice and Snow Festival. Further into 2017 I am taking the plunge to visit Lhasa, Tibet for a guided tour of China's most mysterious Autonomous Region. Even for this projected twenty-six months for my first stint in China I still have more places that I want to visit here, I am waiting for the next chapter to explore the Islamic inspired Autonomous Regions including Inner Mongolia. I have my work game on so I can have a little play every once in awhile! Beijing will happen, promise this I am going alright! OK, I've got this!

Singapore stands as a worthy contender for my next chapter in China, closely located to the Mainland I see a long weekend in this former Overseas British Colony. Mixed with its striking modern masterpieces next to its colonial relics, I see Singapore city as a winner! Get me to the dazzling lights of Marina Bay but not before I have been to Little India for some curry delights! Oh, mines got to be a Singapore Sling whatever happens I'm not leaving without trying a local drink or five! Remembering Singapore's former days as a British colony I have done some research about Central, those government buildings look very much like the ones I saw within Hong Kong Island's Central. Understanding that I will get to this infusion world city eventually there's no need to stress, it's all about making life like a departure lounge! Singapore Airlines better fly from Beijing! What, wait? They do?! Consider those Singapore flights booked!

Staying with the same continent I feel an Asian temptation when I think about Japan, it's a place that I continually go on about my intentions to visit, but with a new passport for my second time in China I will have the freedom to leave the Mainland without filling up my passport. The neon charged streets of Tokyo need me now, I have to wait a little longer but I know that when I make it to Harajuku I will be living! It's not just Tokyo that I have my eye on, Osaka deserves my attention too! Under the cover of darkness I wouldn't mind surveying Osaka's electric love from the top of the Umeda Sky Building. I have seen there's more of a bohemian arts culture in Osaka and a definitive street art scene, I have every faith in the future that I'll get to experience that! Whether it's a dive bar in Osaka or a Geisha club in Kyoto I know I will have the chance to put this dreams into a reality! In life we have times that resemble a delayed flight or even an aircraft change, I'm willing to wait.

I may be a distant dreamer but my head is filled with hope, over the Yellow Sea from Qingdao, China lies the divided country of Korea. Call me crazy but I have a plan to visit the two Korea's even if one is being ruled under questionable circumstances, let me choose my words carefully about that northern counterpart. So it's all about Seoul for me, like any gargantuan capital I know the K-Pop vibe of South Korea's centre will give me what I want! Hitting up Gangnam with style I want to be on that Korean BBQ hype without hesitation! Syncronished like a on-point K-Pop dance routine I want to race around all those shrines to encapsulate a zen vibe without stress! Gwanghwamun Gate at Gyeongbokgung Palace looks like a winner to me, I will keep focused and save as much money as I can because this travelling lark is expensive! My Seoul experience will be part of a lasting memory! Oh, I know it's going to be spicy like Kimchi!

Going undercover I would be fascinated to be part of a guided tour around the highlights of Pyongyang, the capital city of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea otherwise known as North Korea. Playing by the rules would have be done, I have watched extensive documentaries about the Hermit Kingdom but nothing would prepare me for the real thing! As well as discovering a conditioned itinerary of the showcase city of Pyongyang it would be amazing to see the Demilitairsed Zone that separates the two Korea's, I know it seems crazy but it would be utterly fascinating to see such a controversial sight. I wonder if the Arirang Mass Games will be brought back? Those extra choreographed colourful formations would be another thing to see within a once in a life time trip to the DPRK! Call me crazy, but I don't have time for the ordinary and that's just the mantra I live by! Getting the chance to experience the two Korea's would be insane, so I know something's aren't right but?

Taiwan has been playing games with my heart, I can't wait for Taipei to cast its spell on me! Gunning for a summer arrival penned for August 2017 after my first two years of Teaching English in China concludes, I'm looking to experience the cultural and open-mindedness of Kaohsiung and Taipei. Taking to the skies from Hong Kong International Airport, I plan to spend a few days in the southern port city of Kaohsiung to check out sights like the Lotus Lake and the countless temples that follow my path. Although the former British consulate at Takao looks like a colonial winner, I'm excited for Kaohsiung! Teaching in Taiwan seemed like a potential option but I am focused to return to the Chinese Mainland but hopefully to Beijing. The opportunities looked promising in places like Taipei but I am well used to the daily madness of Wuhan, I gave it some serious though! Oh Taiwan, will you ever be able to forgive me? Please T!

Zooming from Kaohsiung to Taipei on Taiwan's ultra fast High-Speed Rail I have a plan to turn the party up and then some! Blessed with the most gay-friendly attitudes in Asia I am buzzing to experience Taipei's Gaybourhood, Ximen will not know what's happening once I arrive at Taipei's renowned Gay Village! I have every faith things are going to get down right down scandalous, I have no problem with that at all! Tearing myself away from the delights of Ximen, I would like to sample the world famous dumplings at Din Tai Fung because I can! Whatever happens in Taipei and obviously Kaohsiung will certainly stay on the island of Taiwan for certain! I will most likely me beside myself with sadness on my UK bound flight from Taipei! For this moment I have another nine months of work remaining of my teaching contract in Wuhan. I have every confidence that I will flawlessly execute my future travel aspirations, I won't let anything or anyone stop me! You know I'm only getting started!

No Delays, Please?!

Joseph Harrison 

Thursday, 27 October 2016

Jinan: Shandong's Spring City

Boarding my High Speed train, Jinan was on my radar! Speeding toward Shandong's Spring City was all I could think about, seeking a mountain and spring was on my Jinan checklist. Embracing the crowds, keeping my head in the game I had the city of Jinan where I needed it to be! I chose something authentic as I ditched the tourist option for a hidden treasure! Get it Jin!

Jinan Railway Station greeted with me with a nonstop energy, catching a taxi I arrived at my hotel without any stress. Remembering my hotel receptionist days I wasn't impressed when my double room was traded for a twin room, I resided to the fact that it wasn't going to dent my Jinan chapter! Shaking those Qingdao hostel visions away I was overjoyed to discover my sub-standard hotel room had a bath, something I hadn't seen for over fifteen months since arriving in China. With the dusk fast approaching I made my way to Jinan's Quancheng Square, dubbed as the focal point of this 'Spring' city I got my blogger on, snapping away because time is always of the essence! Spanning for what seemed like a mile, Quancheng Square was only a stones throw from my hotel and I was about to discover that everything that I needed would be within walking distance one way or another! It didn't take me long but I loved Jinan bad!

As the sky turned a rich orange as the sun continued to set I found the atmosphere within Quancheng Square light and inviting, catching a glimpse of a nearby skyscraper in the distance I hit the jackpot as the Chinese flag was displayed for a few moments, Catching that classic snap of this majestic Jinan hotspot took some doing but the simple things in life just aren't satisfying enough for me! Trying not to give people the cold shoulder I wasn't going to be treated like a walking photo opportunity! I soaked in the sights, people watching like my life depended on it I could tell these people hadn't seen a foreigner before or at all, learning to embrace that difference for that moment felt good. Jinan gave me a sense of chill, I felt like I could finally relax for if only a moment before tackling my wildcard National Day destination. Falling in love with Jinan's legendary sunset over Quancheng Square I was ready for some rest! China is teaching me to take risks, Jinan was ace for that!

Getting down to Baotu Spring people should of known better not to get in the way of my blogging game, crossing the line I commanded that situation like the best of them! Securing my front row view of Jinan's Baotu Spring it would of been like daylight robbery if that shot was taken away from me! No! Getting over that brief period of insanity I gave it my best shot to admire the active waters of that Shang Dynasty wonder. The National Day crowds had Baotu Spring and the surrounding garden in a state of crazy, paying the disorder no mind I got on with what I set out to do! The gardens impressed me much, I saw a mad dance routine by some Auntie's who were dancing to a kind of Chinese music, it was something else considering the scenic setting. Located within the heart of Jinan's city centre it was about a five minute walk to spring from my hotel, of course I was centrally located for the win! Ji, getting me all sorts of mad!

Oh no she better don't! Within the lush setting of Baotu Spring's gardens just a stones throw from the famous Guanlan Pavilion an unauthorised photo was taken of me, I tried to keep it cute but that lady left me with no choice but to get drop dead gorgeous! That unwanted attention was shrugged off once I had told her to delete the photo, she did once I explained to her in Chinese it wasn't right! I wouldn't of minded if she had the decency to ask me permission because that's not cool! Making a sweet escape I found the Bamboo Gardens and a cute courtyard where an exhibit showcased some Chinese calligraphy, remembering the wavy waters of Baotu Spring I knew it was going to be a good day! Jinan was throwing all kinds of amazing at me, this wildcard thing might have to be a regular thing!? National Day had got Jinan acting the fool but the 3,500 years of history standing before me within that scenic area kept it real, serving several shades of Spring city overness! I had to slay B!

In search of something wholesome to eat, I had heard of Furong Ancient Street but I like to get lost to find something better than first intended. Stumbling across Xichenggen Jie, I slowed down to take in the understated vibe of this stripped back Shandong food street. Finding the main road I exited Xichenggen Jie for a few moments before taking a glimpse of Daming Lake from a place that didn't cost a penny, not feeling true to my independent thinking I ditched my attempts finding Furong Street, deciding to head back to that unassuming street was the plan for me. Taking my time I picked a small restaurant that had something to do with wolves, random name but that's China! Choosing an unknown dish, my Chinese reading skills are not good! I risked it! I had ordered a pork broth soup with a cabbage like accompaniment, I enjoyed it! Jinan's difference forced me to take a welcomed risk again! I live for that life J!

Shunning that foodie hotspot afforded me to see an energetic side street that served me a hearty and cheap meal, Xichenngen Jie was destined to be a part of my trip but I just didn't know it until that moment. Making my way back to Jinan's city centre area I stumbled across Furong Ancient Street, it looked so busy it was nauseating, pushing my negative opinions aside I found the correct side street to access this famous Jinan food street to see what all the fuss was about. My curiousity wasn't worth dodging the crowds and the unwanted smells, making a swift exit back towards Quancheng Square I counted my lucky stars! Yes, Xichenngen Jie had guided me away from such a place of pure craze. Hunger satisfied I needed a new outfit for the night ahead, grabbing what I needed I retreated back to my hotel before the night. Calling out to my favourite Chinese social media app I asked a favour to find a nearby bar. Jinan had another twist for me! I was ready for dark! So, let the scandal begin! Go!

My time in Jinan was drawing to a close, getting my head back into the game I headed for Qianfo Mountain. Let's just say Jinan served well in the nightlife department because I was feeling rather worse for ware but getting my life I was halfway up a mountain of one thousand Buddha's! Taking my own pace wasn't an option it was so busy I had to weave in and out of the National Day crowds who also wanted to climb Jinan's own mountain! I was in-search for a golden Buddha but I stayed optimistic and climbed further upwards, hitting what felt like the near top point I didn't feel comfortable with the state of the well-trodden stairs that had a certain slippery nature, it was too high to make poor decisions! Paying no mind I zipped my camera away and got inventive to get down those questionable stairs, these cakes are just for shaking on the dancefloor! Yes, in the end I found that shimmering golden Buddha! I felt so delicate!

Rewinding to my second night in Jinan I wanted to hit the town, conducting my usual China nightlife research I came unstuck with Jinan's rainbow nature. Consulting my go-to app I managed to find a way to reach 2012 Bar, tucked away only a five minute walk from my hotel I couldn't believe how convenient my hotel's location was! Sitting down with some beers I told my best ones where I was, it was a quiet scene to begin with but when the curtain was drawn to cover the stage I was curious as to what was going on!? A showcase of Chinese female impersonators graced the stage, some of their get-up was a tad tatty but one queen's look was truly on-point! Lip-syncing for their lives in Mandarin Chinese I was pleasantly surprised to see my first Chinese performers slay! Returning for my final night I had to tell some truth to this sassy Singaporean guy who was acting the fool, too much sass for his own good! I was like 'go sit down, gurl!' Jinan left me in a state, I needed some sleep J!

Now, Slay Jinan!

Joseph Harrison

Saturday, 22 October 2016

Qingdao: Seashores, Beer & German History...

Did anyone say Qingdao Pijiu? Yes! That once German governed corner of China's Shandong province called my name! Qingdao gave me tones of Germanic Realness with a dash of seaside scenery! Genuflecting before a certain European looking church I was kindly transported back to my home continent if only for a while! Qingdao definitely turned my Chinese National Day up!

Tsingtao Pijiu was crafted during Qingdao's German rule in 1903, bringing their brewing skills and eye for opening so much up for Qingdao it's safe to say Germany left a boozy legacy for Qingdao! Braving the monsoon conditions I ditched Zhanqiao Pier for the Tsingtao Beer Museum to get out of the dreariness. Set within the original factory that dates back over 113 years ago, I reveled in the fact that Britain had a partnership with Germany to establish the brewing of beer within Qingdao, China. I enjoyed the historical parts but as I walked around the museum exhibits it turned into one huge pile of propaganda. During Shandong's Japanese years famous brands such as Asahi and Kirin were founded at the 'Tsingtau Brauerei'. Enjoying my free half of Tsingtao beer it did the trick as the National Day crowd had the same idea as me to get out of the rain. Yass, the Tsingtao Beer Museum was like a Cadbury World for beer! Seriously Q!

Done with the my museum experience I wanted some seafood and beer, exiting that house of beer I was fronted with Qingdao's Beer Street. A bit touristy and brash for my liking but with the rain bucketing down I wasn't about to judge too harshly. Taking cover at one of the first restaurants I saw I was forcefully given a menu, I took a breath and was like 'wait a second' in Chinese because no one without manners gets my money in a hurry or at all! Settling that moment of impoliteness I got myself a supersize jug of ice cold Tsingtao beer to myself and some garlic smothered prawns because the other seafood offerings looking a little extreme for me! With my morning consisting completely of drinking beer I was having a great time, it was one of my main reasons for visiting Qingdao! Aside from the mental weather and the growing crowds I found it easier to take my time with my food and beer, I can never have too much of a good thing! Yes, of course I love beer! 我老实说爱啤酒!

Not getting to the church on-time meant I was greeted by a sea of selfie-stick warriors, those Chinese tourists were relentless with their snapping I was so over trying to get an uninterrupted photo of Qingdao's St. Michael's Catholic Cathedral that afternoon. Waking up with the birds I was determined to get a stress-free snap, the previous afternoon I paid the £1.00 entry fee to take a look inside this Germanic house of worship. Currently a working Catholic Cathedral with a Bishop named Joseph, he definitely chose a good English name! I at least thought a sense of respect would be exercised by the visitors to Qingdao's St. Matthew's but those blinding selfie-sticks were out in all of their glory, I looked on with disdain! Also I had never seen so many newlyweds having their wedding photos taken outside this house of God! Nevertheless, my photo was still and captured the postcard view I wanted! Take it church to TAO! Yass QI!

Much like Macau with its historic Portuguese ruins I was drawn to Qingdao to find something that told me this city had been shaped by European settlers and merchants. I stayed within the old side of the city, wanting to avoid the glass and modernity that I can see everyday in order to get a sense of how much European influence China has seen over the last 150 years. Remembering Qingdao's St. Matthew's Catholic Cathedral as it reminded me of Hong Kong's St. John's Anglican Cathedral that was founded during the 1860's as the first British missionaries called Hong Kong Island home. I have a thing for places of worship no matter what the religion maybe but I have no religious conviction, it's just something I take a keen interest in when I travel around the world. Being part of that slice of Qingdao history impressed me much, I had a plan to see specific things during that National Day trip! Of course it was nonstop! Qingdao had me crazy, I already said I'm not religious. Listen B!

Getting back on my sightseeing grind I was thankful for the blue skies that complimented the waters of Qingdao Bay it was time to explore and then some! Qingdao's Zhanqiao Pier was looking fine, if not a little crowded for that early morning hour! Grabbing my mid-distance snap I was prepared to inject some seaside Realness into my life! Dodging a few dawdlers, a group of Oriental looking guys stopped me in my tracks for photos. I was hesitant because I have grew tired of people asking for a selfie with me because I look different, but those guys were from Tibet and Qinghai so I allowed them a photo along the pier. Standing as the first working wharf within Qingdao's bay I recognised the original style of Zhanqiao Pier compared to the modern looking marina that stood on the other side of the bay. Turning my head I was living for the line of German buildings that came into my view from the pier! China, be proud of this!

Qingdao's old town served a stunning yet understated skyline that featured the rich German colonial history of this Chinese seaside city. Looking closer at the design of Qingdao's Zhanqiao Pier I could recognise a certain landmark from the Tsingtao Beer logo, of course because I drink enough Chinese beer! Turning my head to the right it was clear to see Xiao Qingdao was in sight, allow me to translate that into English that means 'Small Qingdao Island'. Had I drank enough Tsingtao Beer during my time in Qingdao? No, I stopped off on my way to Qingdao's Central Business District twice but as I enjoyed my morning alcoholic treat. I luxuriated in the fact I was getting looks of disgust, people needed to get over themselves and get a beer too! Zhanqiao Pier revved up my second Qingdao morning, taking me closer to the Yellow Sea that shares waters with North and South Korea. Praying for the bright conditions to not change it was all good because around every corner there was beer!

Finishing my first morning Tsingtao Beer I was in hot-pursuit of May Fourth Square, one of Qingdao's main focal points with the city's Central Business District. Deciding to take the coastal road when the bus was taking too long to arrive, it fared to be the best decision I made that day. Stopping for my second morning refreshment I had just been transported back to my home continent of Europe with German houses almost erasing my Chinese location, I was amazingly confused if truth be told! Sipping my brunch time beer as I overlooked one of Qingdao's many beaches, the scene was lovely there was no way I was trying the water! Unknowingly, the Badaguan Scenic Area would come across my path whilst I was in search for Qingdao's May Fourth Square. Millionaires avenue fronted me with a Qingdao edge, serving more Colonial German Overness I was impressed by those properties. Ja Tsingtao, I really needed another beer!

Swirling like a giant red tornado I was relieved to reach Wusi Guangchang, it was a four mile walk alone the coastal road from Old Qingdao! Situated within the centre of Qingdao Central Business District this colourful landmark served as a contradiction between the glass and metal of the skyscrapers nearby. I was surprised that the area around May Fourth Square was quietly energetic, creating the second stress-free photo opportunity in Qingdao and for National Day I loved not having to wade through a crowd of crazy tourists! Taking notice of the Downtown I saw a city that was rising, Qingdao's got a plan in action! Concluding my Qingdao National Day experience I made my way back to Old Qingdao with everything that I needed for my blog, it had been a successful trip even though the night scene hadn't presented itself at all I was more than impressed with this coastal Chinese city and its German past! Yass, National Day 2016's Shandong style was working out fine! Dankeschön Qin!

One More Pijiu Qingdao!

Joseph Harrison 

Thursday, 13 October 2016

Chinese National Day 2015

Chinese National Day 2015 served all kinds of big city overness with a smattering of scandalous behaviour! Getting my life I snatched my passport back to experience Chongqing and Chengdu, two cities that stole my heart for very different reasons. Taking this opportunity to relive those moments one year on, I still can't get that Chinese national holiday out of my head!

Jetting off to one of China's five municipalities didn't take much thought, I had been offered to teach in the city of Chongqing but Wuhan was the one for me! Visiting friends Michaela and Patrick who I met during my Meten English training week in Suzhou during that June 2015 week had to be done! Snatching back my identity I got my passport from the clutches of a source that will remain anonymous, with my tickets booked I was on my way to another Yangtze River inspired city. Chongqing's gargantuan nature had me from the moment I saw the neon lights of Jiefangbei Central Business District, I admired the towering skyscrapers that dwarfed the once tallest building in Chongqing, this city of lights definitely had more than an electric vibe! Settling into the vibe of all things Chongqing I loved the views of the Yangtze River from Chaotianmen Dock, a rapid pace of construction was in every direction!

With a skyline that rivals the likes of NYC, it was clear that CQ would serve something extra! Staying within the People's Republic of China had to be the one for me, I had only been in China five months up until that National Day 2015 holiday, getting the most from that vast Far Eastern country was part of my travel plan. Like any holiday the prices for flights sky-rocket during the build up to one of China's most popular holidays, nevertheless I touched at Chongqing's Jiefangbei International Airport with Xiamen Air in the end! Getting back to see Michaela and Patrick was great, I was no longer working for Meten at that point but I wanted to keep that friendship live and kicking! Getting our lives on the first night with a delicious pizza and a few zombie cocktails I was welcomed to Chongqing in a sterling fashion, just don't mess my street food up CQ! Oh, Chongqing acted as the perfect tonic, it had been a stressful time but that sweet escape had me in a trance! Go!

The National Day crowds in Chongqing were getting crazy as we made our way from Chaotianmen Dock, I was not impressed by that scene but in one breath every was in great spirits due to the holiday. My kindergarten teaching life seemed so far away during that sweet escape! The mighty waters of the Yangtze River flowed through the epic construction sights along the dockside, Chongqing was only getting started during that October 2015 moment! I felt an affinity with Chongqing because Wuhan is also a city that belongs to the Yangzte River, CQ and WH were twinning! Turning our evening meal into an 'all you can drink' bonanza at 'Cliffs' I was on that one, let's just say the next day I was feeling very delicate indeed. I don't remember much about the night but I know that it was a good one, but that hangover was supersized the next day! Yes, Chongqing was cool but I wanted to taste that Hot Pot! I wanted every slice of CKQ!

Braving an epic KTV session I was done in from the previous nights antics, the booze had got the better of me! Trying our luck the previous night to find a place to try some Chongqing Hot Pot it wasn't so, leaving until my final evening in CQ it was decided we would dine on a Chongqing speciality. After waiting in line we were given one half of a shared table, the spices and oil bubbled intensely with a strong smell that surrounded our pot, I was excited to embrace that Chongqing moment! Michaela had picked a selection of goodies to try within the spice of the Hot Pot, teamed with a cup of plum wine it was an immense experience. The sounds of the CQ dialect could be heard in every direction, the vibe of the restaurant was uncomplicated yet crazy! I tried a few skewers but in the end the acquired taste of the Chongqing Hot Pot wasn't for me, nevertheless the experience counted for something. I was ready to sleep before my onward journey to Chengdu! Thanks CQ!

As my High Speed train departed for Chengdu East Railway Station I felt a sense of relief wave over me, the morning had been filled with drama as Chongqing Bei had two stations and I had arrived at the wrong one form the metro station! Leaving that negativity behind I arrived into Chendgu East without a hitch, going underground I found myself within the shopping mecca of Chunxi Road. Finding my hotel I didn't appreciate the unannounced name change but my top location had me back on the move to the next step! Tianfu Square had me fronted with a famous statue of Chairman Mao Zedong, I was loving the open plan nature of Tianfu Square for the skyscrapers shone in the autumn sunshine. Thirsty for some tea I consulted my online guide because I hadn't planned much aside from the pandas. Aside from the crazy start I could already feel an immense feeling of chill in CDU! Boy, I was falling in love with Chengdu! The craze!

Seeking out Wenshu Monastery I was amazed by a vibrant Tibetan infused marketplace that was buzzing with traders, did I see an eagle claw?! Refueling with some freshly squeezed Pomegranate juice I took solace within the walls of Wenshu Monastery, taking my time to explore this Sichuan place of worship I was impressed with the pagoda that was surrounded my a lovely garden! Fancying a spot of tea I had to wait until the evenings tea session, going for some Uighur kebabs and flat bread I was loving life in Chengdu! Returning for my green tea within Wenshu's own tea-house I savoured every sip that passed my lips, the chilled nature of that moment was everything I had imagined Chengdu to be! The manic pace of Chongqing had melted away, Chengdu certainly had me under a spell. Was I going to be completely relaxed during my Chengdu stop? No way, I had planned to go somewhere crazy but only during the twilight! I was only getting started! I felt blessed beyond words! I was out to play!

Waking up bleary eyed from the previous nights antics I dragged myself into a taxi to the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding, it was one of the main reasons why I had chose to visit Chengdu in the first place! Battling the crowds had to be done, they simply had no sense or any idea how to act around these beautiful creatures, keep your children in check! Shamelessly elbowing my way through I got a great photo of a Panda bear eating his bamboo brunch, it was a shame because a lot of the Panda's were snoozing after their morning snack but I was happy with what photos I got! The panda base felt like some bizarre mix of Kung Fu Panda and Disney World! The National Day crowds definitely made their way to that Chengdu place of interest, for £6.00 I wasn't going to complain about the madness! Unfortunately, I was too fragile to see the new-borns, I felt very satisfied with what I saw! So, get it again Chengdu!

Away from the pandas and tea-houses I was seeking something to do during those after hours. After conducting some research I found MC Club, a rainbow infused nightclub that was set alongside the river, I took the metro from Chunxi Road to Dongmen Bridge then walked over the bridge from Exit D then along the river until I saw a rainbow flag. Finding these type of venues in China takes work but I had heard that Chengdu was famed for it's Gay nightlife. Getting my life I loved every second at MC Club during my two nights out on the town in Chengdu, let's just say that during the second night I took things underground and things got damn right scandalous! Feeling euphoric about the previous night I braved my China Eastern flight back to Wuhan with memories for a lifetime and the mother of all hangovers! Chongqing and Chengdu served so much crazy and excitement I needed tine to rest up before work! I wasn't ready to get back to work, of course I needed money for Xi'an! Done!

National Day Served!

Joseph Harrison