China with AirChina
China! The country with 1.6 billion inhabitants. It's quite the culture shock, coming from the West.
When Air China invited me to spend a week in China and discover the cities of Beijing, Guilin and Chengdu, I didn't hesitate for a second! Since I love discovering new countries and new cultures, I knew I was in for a treat!
I got everything I hoped for, and more!
Ready to follow me in this adventure ?!
Everything started with an incredible reception at Paris airport, and an opportunity to spend some time in the lounge before boarding a brand new Boeing 777-3000 in business class! For the second time in my life I had access to this huge perk, which completely changes the experience of a long flight. Being able to sleep in a bed and staff waiting on me hand and foot, what a magical time!
It's now 2pm on this first day, and after sleeping on the plane, we go straight for a visit of the Hutongs of Beijing, those tiny narrow streets which are over 800 years old.
It's typical of the place but, as we get closer to the center of town, the crowd gets more and more noticeable! It's the first of many culture shocks, the amount of people, the constant noise, the endless car horns (as you will often find in Asia).
After a nice dinner and a nice sleep, I'm all ready for the second day.
Since no trip ever really happens as planned, this one also had its share of surprises because of its timing, around May 1st. The only bank holiday in China, which means that for 3 to 4 days, everyone is on holiday and enjoying the celebrations. Which also means that the roads are jammed, and that our trip to the Forbidden City unfortunaly had to be cancelled.
We go directly to the Summer Palace, built by Empress Cixi in 1886 close to the old Summer Palace, burnt down in 1860.
In December 1998, UNESCO included the Summer Palace in its World Heritage List. It qualifies it as an "exceptional expression of the creative art of chinese landscape gardening, including human and naturel realisations in a harmonious whole"
After this lovely visit, it's time for THE visit. The place I have dreamt of seeing forever: the Great Wall of China!
That means a 2 hours 30 minutes car trip toward Jinshanling, to escape the crowd and find ourselves almost alone on this section of the Great Wall!
And it is as impressive, perhaps more so, than I could have imagined!
And we were lucky to get a beautiful clear sky which gave me one of my most beautiful sunsets! The ambiance, the place, the weather, it was a perfect mix!
Time to get back and rest before tomorrow's adventure: Guilin!
Guilin is 2000km south of Beijing.
If the landscape reminds you of a particular movie, it's no surprise. It inspired the movie Avatar!
As soon as I reach Bayan Tree Yangshuo on this third day, I'm overwhelmed by the endless incredible sights! A succession of hills, I don't remember ever seeing something like this.
It’s much more calm and quiet than Beijing, people are also very kind and relax
A nice trek around the Yangshuo hills, still seeing that landscape. Incidentally, this is exactly what you can see on the 20 yuan bill!
After this gorgeous day, the follow-up on the fourth day would be just as wonderful!
Now we head to Longshen to discover the incredible Longji Rice Terrace! I have already seen many but these are particularly impressive!
We had to go through the village of Ping'an, typical and lively!
To finally reach the summit of the rice terraces, which are astonishing viewpoints!
Our two days in Guilin come to end with these endless sights still in our eyes.
Chengdu is the capital of the Sichuan province, about 1000km to the North-East of Guilin.
The history of the city goes back to at least the 4th century B.C
The city is also home to the Giant Panda Research Center of Chengdu, where visitors can see this vulnerable species live in its natural habitat, and also where our fifth day and stay in this city will start!
To be honest, apart from eating and sleeping, pandas don't seem to do much, but aren't they cute!
Next is a walk around the older part of town, which is very tourist-friendly. But very nice if you want to try the local street food (Sichuan being famous for its pepper, watch out for some very spicy stuff!)
After a sumptuous dinner at The Bridge, we go on a night walk around the famous bridge, a very photogenic part of town!
Sixth and final day, time really flies!
We're off to Mount Emei, one of the four sacred buddhist mountains of China.
There, we visit Baguo Temple, built under the Hun Dynasty of the East (25-220).
This temple is, to this day, the largest and most impressive historical site in the region.
The day continues with the Giant Buddha of Leshan! It is indeed properly gigantic, which I was not expecting; I was really impressed!
Built into Mount Lingyun's cliffside between 713 and 803, it's the largest Buddha built before the 20th century, being 71m high and 28m wide!
A short walk around Leshan for this final evening.
And here we are, the end of ou 6-day trip around China, it was truly incredible and impressive! We have discovered many things, met some lovely people as well. And it really feels like a special trip because from its history, its culture, its people, China really makes for a different trip. And I am very pleased to have done it because I loved it so much!
Huge thanks to Air China for giving me the opportunity to discover a small part of this country, it was incredible!
You can check the videos of my trip here (lot of drone footages, specially over the Great Wall !):