For a longer time now we were thinking of going on a somewhat more daring vacation than usual – right now I`d say that every country in Europe (including the more turbulent ones) is well within our comfort zone, while Asia most certainly is not. After checking out the flight possibilities for this autumn we ended up with flights Riga-Helsinki-Hong Kong and Hong Kong-Helsinki-Riga. We chose Hong Kong over the other possible flight destinations – Shanghai and Beijing mostly for practical reasons – in November when our trip took places days are longer further to to South and the weather is much warmer there as well. Our friends N2O had already been to China earlier this year, but because of the sheer size of the country there wasn`t a single point on our routes that overlapped, so I can say without any exaggeration that we went to a pretty much different country than they did.
After buying the airplane tickets we began to think – what places can we visit during our trip? It was obvious that we wouldn`t want to spend most of the time on trains and buses, so we had to limit our selection to places which were in a feasible distance from Hong Kong. Initially we drew up a plan of approximately 3500 kilometers but after checking the bus and train schedules that was abridged to 2700km – on paper this distance doesn`t seem that big for a 2 week trip, but since many parts of the road can not be traveled at great speeds, we still had to spend lots and lots of time on public transport.
According to plans our route would include:
- Hong Kong with its parks among skyscrapers
- Guangzhou as an entrance city to mainland China
- Changsha as a key city for Maoism and a railway junction where we would change from the bullet train to a regular train
- Zhangijajie with its amazing nature park which may or may not have inspired James Cameron when creating the world of Pandora for “Avatar”
- UNESCO world heritage site – the ancient town of Fenghuang
- the ancient trade town of Hongjiang (not its modern part)
- the city of Guilin known for the Li river scenery around it
- the wondrous Dragon`s backbone rice terraces near Longsheng
- the nature wonders around Yangshuo