China: Trip Summary

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Our trip to China was interesting, eye opening, and we had a lot of wonderful experiences, but it was definitely one of our most difficult. Of course having a five month pregnant girl in tow makes it a little less comfortable, but their were many other factors. First of all it was winter, we decided to visit in January and February which definitely made it a little more difficult to travel and limited our options of where to go. Second of all, China is not as cheap as its neighboring countries and prices can be extreme for certain things. For example, you can easily get a nice meal for less than $2 but an entry to a site can cost over $30. Also train and bus travel are not cheap and as distances are long that needs to be budgeted in as well. Third, very few people almost none outside of very large cities in China speak English (or any other language), nor use or can understand roman letters. Plus, Chinese is very difficult to even try to learn making communication more difficult than normal.

Budget: $15 per day per person. What we spent (including a week in Hong Kong): $13/day/person.

A delicious hotpot in Xiamen
Food: Food was actually not as easy for us to find and definitely not as easy to order compared to South East Asia. We were usually couchsurfing and had dinner with our hosts and several hosts showed us around and we would order together which made it easier as they could translate. Plus with others we could taste many of the delicious traditional hotpots! When alone we would point and ask the price (in Chinese) and often succeed. As a side note, the more expensive restaurants ($3 and up per person) usually has menus with pictures. We usually ended up eating Baoxi which is a steamed bun filled with meat, vegetables, or sweet bean pastes never knowing what would be inside, but was almost always delicious, warm, and cheap at 2 yuan or less (30 cents). We often ate noodle soup at 7 yuan (1 dollar) or if we were lucky found these sort of food stands where you could choose some meat or veggie items with rice and soup for 10 yuan ($1.50). The food is not as good as nearby South East Asia, Korea, or Japan, but is not bad. We found the food to be quite oily and often bland. Of course the regions we visited and places we went surely had                                                                    an effect on the kind of food we ate.

Flight: We found a flight for $673 round trip per person from Atlanta to Shanghai on Air Canada.

Itinerary: We changed our plans and itinerary several times as we were traveling but here was our final route: Shanghai- Ningbo- Quanzhou- Xiamen- Guangzhou- Kunming- Kaiyuan- Yuanyang Rice Terraces- Mengzi- Tonghai- Kunming- Hongkong- Shanghai

Yuanyang Rice Terraces
Lodging: We exclusively couchsurfed minus

two occasions, the first being the Yuanyang Rice Terraces  (of which hopefully I will have a second article exclusively on this wonderful place) where we stayed at a guest house for 60 yuan ($10) per night for a room with a private bathroom. Secondly, as we had to stay one night in Shanghai after returning from Hong Kong we decided to just book a hotel by the airport which cost 139 yuan ($22) for a room with breakfast and a private bathroom.

With our couchsurfing host and her old classmates

People: The people we met were all a lot more friendly that I anticipated. Of course our couchsurfing hosts were amazing always going above and beyond to make us feel comfortable. People in the streets did not go out of their way to talk to us or smile at us but were always kind if we tried to ask a question or get directions. People were curious more than anything we were constantly stared at.

Square dancing: Square dancing happens in every large city and every tiny village. Locals (mostly older women) gather in a square and there is usually a teacher with a big sound system and they have synchronized dances. We finally joined in on one towards the end of our trip in Kunming with our couchsurifng host and her mom and it was one of the highlights of our trip for sure!