|Traditional courtyard-style Cantonese restaurant in Zhuhai|
|Potted Bonsai tree!|
|Traditional lucky red lanterns hang on a doorway of the preserved village of the revolutionary leader Dr. Sun Yat-Sen|
|Catholic cathedral in Guangzhou|
|Temple of Heaven, Beijing|
The international students outraged and entertained the Chinese students by playing hours of "truth or dare" and parading down the train corridor and into different compartments performing various stunts. We sat, 4-to-a-bed and discussed life, our feet dangling over the railings. We stared out of the window, and watched the scenery switch from peaceful fishing lakes, and blue mountains, lit by lanterns, to industrial development on the scale of Pandemonium in Milton's Paradise Lost. By the time we arrived n Beijing, it was like entering the New World, full of more people, wealth and history than had been seen before.
|The Great Wall at Mutianyu|
One of the most memorable things we did in Beijing (or technically outside of the city, towards some mountains) was to climb the Great Wall at Mutianyu. It's less crowded than the section of the Wall at Badaling, and was well worth the complicated bus-minibus/ taxi journey, though we ended up on a very slow bus on the way back! Anyway, it rained slightly on the day we went, which was good for washing away tourists (being British, we stuck to our guns and had whole sections of the Wall to ourselves as a reward!) but bad because it meant that we couldn't go on the toboggan slide back down, which would have been awesome. Luckily the cable-car made for a good substitute.
|Goldfish Market, Tung Choi Street, Hong Kong. Goldfish are seen as being lucky, and able to bring luck into a household. Apparently if something bad happens to the fish, it's good, because it means it didn't happen to you!|
|Hennessy Road, Hong Kong, the youth hostel that I stayed in was on the left hand side, and my room was on the 6th floor|
The glorious thing about Hong Kong is that you can nearly always be understood in English, and that it is comfortably western (goodbye squat toilets!) whilst still being definitely exotic to a westerner, and appealing in that way. The combination of shopping districts, neon lights and bamboo scaffolding made me think "Asian New York" at first, but Hong Kong is so much more than that.
|Temple on Lantau island|
|Infinity pool on Lantau island - NOT my photo!|
|The view from the peak we hiked up on Lantau island, overlooking a beach, again NOT my photo, sadly :(|
|Statues by the Big Buddha|
|The walk up to the Big Buddha, Lantau island|
|International landmark signpost! Reminded me of my sister, and myself in NYC, this time last year...|
|Neon street lights in Wan Chai|
|Probably the most famous view in Hong Kong, Victoria Harbour at night|
So there you have it, that's what I've been up to for the past 5 weeks. I can't summarise in a sentence how eye-opening this trip was, and to say that it was "life changing" in a lot of ways is cliche, but still true. My overwhelming impression was of the enormous variety of experiences to be had in China, and that things are far less homogeneous up close, compared to how they are viewed in the west. I think what will stay with me the longest is the kindness shown to us foreigners by the Chinese students who were willing to speak to us about anything, and show us the things that were beyond words. It was a completely out-of-this-world welcome which consequently developed into genuine friendship, and certainly this is something that I think we should all consider sharing, wherever and whoever we are today,