I just got back from the most incredible adventure in China. It’s been a trip so amazing that I couldn’t have imagined it any better. All of the logistical things that could have gone so wrong all went right, which I was not expecting them all to.
I’m in the middle of busy season at my job, why there has been no time for daydreaming of Chinese adventures, planning the trip in details or even really being excited about going. I think this helped the trip out as I left Copenhagen with zero expectations for what was to come. The only thing I was expecting was a VERY different culture from the Danish and to be hit with a lot of new experiences.
Back in mid February I booked the trip with my co-worker. She had been wanting to go, while the idea of my participation appeared out of no where over lunch at work. Four hours later my flight was booked.
I had been trying to figure out where my Easter break should take me, debating Morocco among other places. China definitely wasn’t on my list of places I had been considering, or even top 20 on my travel bucket list for that matter, but when the opportunity to go came up I couldn’t pass it down, and thank god I didn’t.
We quickly realized that planning a China trip is far from easy. Furthermore, I’m not usually one for planning all too much before I leave for an adventure, but this trip was a bit different.
How does one cover as large of an area as Europe in just 10 days? The answer is one doesn’t. And so the research had to begin to make the very most of our scarce time in this massive country.
We knew three things; 1. we were both arriving and departing the country from Shanghai, 2. we had to stop by Nanjing, as my co-workers friend is studying there and visiting her was the initial point of the trip, and 3. we wanted to cover as much ground as possible.
With these things in mind it was clear that our trip had to be all about eastern China. When researching things to experience in the country we found multiple places we wanted to see that just so happened to be more than 2.000 km away from our origin Shanghai. Oh well, maybe next time.
Our first draft of a plan of places to go quickly got shut down by my co-workers friend and we were told we were waaaay too optimistic about how much time we had. She cut 2-3 places out of our plan and send it back to us. Even though we were sad to see places we really wanted to visit disappear from our list, we agreed that the new plan was good, and it ended up being what we stuck with.
Now after the trip is over I am extremely thankful that we had someone to edit our plan, as we really wouldn’t have had time to enjoy China with our initial itinerary.
Anyways, what ended up happening in our ten days in China was the following:
More specifically our itinerary looked like this:
Day 1: Arrived in Shanghai at 9:00 am
Day 2: Left Shanghai at 20:15 pm
Day 3: Arrived at Huangshan early at 6:50 am
Day 4: Left Huangshan at 20:30 pm
Day 5: Arrived to Nanjing at 3:00 am (hence we had the whole day in Nanjing)
Day 6: Left Nanjing at 22:00 pm
Day 7: Arrived in Beijing at 9:30 am
Day 8: Left hotel at 8:16 am for a day trip at the Great Wall and got back at 20:40 pm
Day 9: Left Beijing at 15:00 pm and arrived in Shanghai at 19:50 pm
Day 10: Departed Shanghai at 11:00 am
Phew, reading that makes it sound incredibly stressful. I’ll admit that I, before we left, expected to get back to Denmark completely exhausted because we hadn’t had time to breathe on the trip, but it didn’t turn out like that at all.
Of course we could have spent more time in each place to get to see more, but there wasn’t a single time we had to leave a place where I felt like I hadn’t seen what I really wanted to see (okay that’s not completely true, but it all ended up working out. More about that in my Shanghai post).
It was also extremely helpful that our main transportation happened overnight with the amazing Chinese trains. This is something I’d recommend everyone traveling in China to make use of, as you save so much time and get surprisingly comfortable beds to sleep in.
Even though we were traveling every day the early morning arrivals and late night departures made it so that we basically had two full days in each place.
My top three moments of the trip include seeing the Shanghai skyline in both daylight and at nighttime, having a completely authentic Great Wall experience and hike and leaving our hotel room at Huangshan to discover that the dense fog we had hiked up the mountain in had finally disappeared and instead revealed the most marvelous mountains.
I’ll be exploding those moments and much more in five upcoming posts on the different parts of the trip. For now it’s finally, after 20 hours of traveling, time to go to sleep in my very own bed with a big smile on my face over everything that has gone down in the last ten days.