“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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
Beijing – Badaling, Beijing, Forbidden City, Tiananmen Square, Great Wall of China
Hong Kong Island – Aberdeen, Admiralty, Causeway Bay, Central, Chai Wan, North Point, Sheung Wan, Stanley, The Peak, Wan Chai
Coloanne, Macau Old Town, Taipa
Anping, Changhua, Chiayi, Eluanbi, Guanshiling, Hualien, Kaohsiung, Kenting, Lotus Lake, Shinying, Taichung, Taipei, Taidong, Tainan, Tailuga/Taroko Gorge, (Taoyuan), Tiansiang, Zuoying
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.
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.
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.