Sunday’s Inspiration: Coronavirus, My Slow Boats Through China, Sadness Reflecting Those Memories

“Some might say you get what you’ve been given. If you don’t get yours, I won’t get mine as well.
Some might say that we will find a BRIGHTER DAY” – Noel Gallagher.

Sunday's Inspiration: My Slow Boats Through China, Sadness Reflecting Those Memories

Sunday’s Inspiration: Coronavirus, My Slow Boats Through China, Sadness Reflecting Those Memories

The year I started this blog, 2007 was also my first ever trip to China. I got my Chinese Visa in London and headed to explore the Great Wall and the Hutongs of Beijing. It was just a taste of China for me and I loved it.

 Backpacking in Beijing, China way back in 2007

As this blog progressed and my travel story grew, I learnt to enjoy the madness of China. I buzzed off it and made a whopping 19 more visits over an eight year period! In that time, I visited 13 of what I personally class as 29 China/Chinese provinces. Below I have listed the parts I visited, and the cities/towns/sites within them. I was mostly based in Hong Kong and held a few consecutive separate multiple entry visas to China. I worked in the Irish Pub in Kowloon (Delaney’s in Tsim Sha Tsui), I worked in over 10 schools as a Native English teacher as well as working for Internations and monetising this blog to fund my wanderlust. At the time, China was some kind of crazy passion to me. I had some home comforts too though, often taking some Guinness on those never ending bus and train journeys.

Backpacking through China with a Guinness in 2012

I bought the China Lonely Planet book in 2012 and started ticking off places in China I had been and using it to try and crack the whole country. I ticked off province after province, city after city, national park after national park – even on short weekend breaks away from Hong Kong. I was taking lunatic night trains to places I’d never heard of, or had any real desire to see. But it was all so obscure, bizarre and beautiful. 99% of the time I was the only foreign looking person in sight.

Jonny Blair living a lifestyle of travel remotely in Shaoguan China

In the city of Shaoguan, China

When I reflected on it this week, I realised I had forgotten about my zany travels in China. I had forgotten where I had been. Over an 8 year period (2007 – 2015), I visited China on 20 ocassions, not including Hong Kong, Taiwan or Macau. I wondered today had I visited Wuhan, the place where the entire madness of the COVID-19 coronavirus all began. I gazed blankly at my Lonely Planet book. Wuhan was unticked. I had never been there. Nor had I even to its native province Hubei. But yet I had circled myself almost around it.

Hiking in Sanqing Shan, south of Wuhan

Below are the places I visited in China from 2007 – 2015. My only trip back since was to Hong Kong and Mongolia (the country, rather than the Chinese province) in 2017. Right now, I have no desire to see all 29 on that list, or ever return to China. It’s done.

little likeng china

Relaxing in Little Likeng, this is how you dreamt China to be…not far from Wuhan

This list contains any places that I felt was relevant to add, if you click on the link it should open my story from those places – I have written over 100 posts about China alone. I have included one photo from each province listed. I cannot remember every exact village and town, for example short 20 minute – 1 hour lunch breaks etc. but the list is pretty much where I went:

Mainland China
Beijing – Badaling, Beijing, Forbidden City, Tiananmen Square, Great Wall of China
jonny blair peking duck

Friday’s Featured Food: Peking Duck at the Quanjude Restaurant in Beijing, China

Chongqing – Chongqing, Foreigner Street
jonny blair backpacking chongqing

Hold on tight my friends – Chongqing is a monster!!

Guangdong Province – Da Lang, Danxiashan, Dongguan, Guangzhou, Jin Jiang Village, Kaiping, Shaoguan, Shenzhen, Yao Tang, Penis Rock, Vagina Rock, Chikan, Zili, Mahjianglong, JingJiangliWindow to the World
It's a rock that looks like a dick!!

It’s a rock that looks like a dick!!

Guangxi Province – Baisha, Guilin, Yangshuo, YuLong and Li Rivers

Down the mini waterfall! Bamboo rafting on the YuLong River near Yangshuo, China

Hunan Province – Changsha
jonny blair hunan china changsha

Backpacking in Changsha, Hunan Province, China

Jiangsu Province – Pingjianglu (Venice of the East), Suzhou
master of the nets suzhou

Loving the quiet and tranquility of the Master of the Nets Garden in Suzhou, China.

Jiangxi Province – Jiangling, Jingdezhen, Little Likeng, Nanchang, Sanqing Shan, Shangrao, Wangkou, Wuyuan, Xiaoqi, Yushan

Sanqing Shan

Fujian Province – Gaobei Hamlet, Gaotou, Gu Lang Yu, ShuyangTaxia Village, Tian Luo Keng, Xiamen, Yongding, Yuchang

Taxia Village / Ta Pa Tsune in Fujian Province

Shanghai – Shanghai
Jonny Blair in Shanghai China

Backpacking in Shanghai

Liaoning Province – Dandong
border train north korea china party train

Our group enjoying beers and banter on the party train from Pyongyang to Dandong.

5 things a backpacker never buys

Yuan Yang Rice terraces

Zhejiang Province – Hangzhou, West Lake

Backpacking the West Lake in Hangzhou

Hong Kong
Hong Kong Island – Aberdeen, Admiralty, Causeway Bay, Central, Chai Wan, North Point, Sheung Wan, Stanley, The Peak, Wan Chai

The Peak in Hong Kong – a fantastic vantage point

Kowloon – Cheung Sha Wan, Diamond Hill, Hung Hom, Jordan, Kowloon Bay, Kowloon Tong, Kwun Tong, Lai Chi Kok, Lam Tin, Mong Kok, Olympic, Prince Edward, San Po Kong, Tai Kok Shui, Tsim Sha Tsui, Yau Ma Tei, Yau Tong
working in delaneys hong kong

Workingat Delaney’s in Tsim Sha Tsui, Hong Kong

New Territories – Fan Ling, Kwai Fong, Lok Ma Chau, Lo Wu, Sai Kung, Sha Tin, Sheung Shui, Tsuen Wan, Tsueng Kwan O, Yuen Long
st patricks day in Yuen Long

My final day working in the Primary School in Yuen Long was St. Patrick’s Day 2012 so I dressed in green, introduced some Irish gimmicks and had the kids posing with my Northern Ireland flag.

Outlying Islands – Lantau Island, Ma Wan/Park Island, Mui Wo, Tai O, Tsing Yi, Tung Chung, Yi O

Sunset in Ma Wan, near my old flat

Coloanne, Macau Old Town, Taipa

Backpacking in Macau.

Cycling in Shinying, Taiwan

Backpacking in Taiwan somewhere between Hualian and Tiansiang, apparently!

There is a hint of sadness within me tonight as I write this and reflect on my travels in China. As I said, I visited 13 of the 29 parts I recognise, extensively and with real passion. I was often the only tourist, and I did about 60% of those trips with Panny, my ex-girlfriend (who is from Hong Kong, with family in Kaiping, China). I did that over an 8 year period (2007 – 2015) and haven’t been back to China since – except Hong Kong (in 2017). So it is basically a closed door for me, five years ago. It was once my ambition to finish 29/29 of those. But no more.

Guangzhou, China

Karaoke night, Hong Kong

I could write hundreds of blogs on the places I went, the markets, the food, the smog, the hot sun, the rainstorms, the electricity power cuts, the language problems, the illnesses. It was the madness of it that I loved. One time I almost got stranded in Changsha as it was a national holiday and there were no seats on trains. That night, when I was finally on my way to the next city, I stood in a narrow corridor chatting badly to the locals and drinking Tibetan green barley beer. If I hadn’t made notes or taken photos and videos, I would not recall those moments of madness.

The green Tibetan Barley beer train out of Changsha

The green Tibetan Barley beer train out of Changsha

The green Tibetan Barley beer train out of Changsha

With the Coronavirus crisis getting worse, I had to pull out a map and my old Lonely Planet book tonight to see if I was ever in Wuhan. And so, as you can see from my list of visited places in China, I discovered I was never actually in Wuhan, but was very nearby at Jiujang, Jiangling, Likeng, Jingdezhen, Shangrao, Nanchang and Changsha. I liked some of those places and met many fine people there. Drank tea and ate chicken and rice with no internet in sight. Some of the food and the markets I visited for sure were not healthy and I recall that now. I was definitely a big fan of travelling in China for the adrenalin buzz of pure remote and random places, but I never truly liked the food. The only saving grace could be those Xialaongbao in Shanghai, which are like a shit pierogi, with fat and water inside them. Overall though, the sadness kicks in as the Coronavirus spreads.

Stay safe everyone, stay at home if need be, this disease has wiped out thousands of people all over the world, mostly Italians, Iranians, Chinese and South Koreans. Here are some more of my memories from those days in China. I ponder that tonight.

Guangdong province

Yunnan province

Touring Ta Pa Tsune/Taxia Village in China's Fujian Province

Fujian Province

Jonny Blair backpacking the Upper Trail Hike - Yunnan - China

Tiger Leaping Gorge Hike

Thirsty Thursdays: Tibetan Yak Butter Tea in Zhongdian, China

Tibetan Zhongdian, China

drinking in kaiping china

Thirsty Thursdays: A Night Out in Kaiping, China

sinuiji north korea china border

Sinuiju – the last town in North Korea before crossing the border into Dandong, China.

chairman mao bedroom changsha

Chairman Mao’s Old Bedroom in Changsha China

little likeng china

Thirsty Thursdays: With my host and tea maker in Little Likeng, Jiangxi, China.

living a lifestyle of travel

All alone in Jin Ji Cun, China

backpacking in chongqing china

Thirsty Thursdays: Drinking with 70 Year Old Guys in Chongqing China.

Checking out the ceramics in Jingdezhen, Jiangxi Province, China.

zhuhai china arrival

Arrival in the cool seaside city of Zhuhai in China!

snails in china

Eating snails in Yangshou in the Guangxi Province of China!

yellow canola fields in china

An outstanding view over the Yellow Canola Fields near Luoping in Yunnan Province, China.

yunnan stone forest shilin jonny blair

Standing in the stone forest at Shilin in China’s Yunnan Province.

sweet coloured rice in China

Sampling the excellent sweet coloured rice in China

The West Lake in Hangzhou China is an excellent place to relax

Visiting the West Lake in Hangzhou, Zhejiang Province, China

high speed rail in China a guide from Don't Stop Living

Bullet train

Changqi Building Gaobei Hamlet Gaotou Village Fujian Province China

Near Yongding

Jonny Blair using his iPod in China

iPod loyal

Eating eel fried rice in Kaiping in China

Jonny Blair at the The Ganden Sumtseling Gompa 300 year old Tibetan Monastery in Yunnan, China

The Ganden Sumtseling Gompa is a 300 year old Tibetan Monastery in Yunnan, China

Things to see and do in Guangzhou China

Guangzhou Metro, China

Jonny Blair at a rock shaped like a woman's private parts in China

Admiring Vagina Rock in Danxiashan Mountains in CHINA.

Jonny Blair of Dont Stop Living in Shuhe Old Town China a lifestyle of travel

The charms of staying in Shuhe Old Town in Yunnan, CHINA.

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