Blue Waters

So, here we are back with the next installment of the Sichuan trip.


Following our brief stay in Chengdu we made the move to head on to a place called JiuZhaiGou which is a pretty famous place in China. You tell anyone at all that you are going to Sichuan, and I guarantee that they will ask if you are planning on going there. So this already gives you an indication as to the popularity of this place, and thus how busy it could get at peak times. Now I would like to take this moment now to just say, I hate going places in China during peak travel times, and therefore we came to Sichuan at a time when I thought people would be back in work and school, so missing all the crowds…oh how wrong I was!

But going back to the beginning, our trip started very earily, waking up at 5am to get the first bus out of Chengdu. To get to the bus station you have to take the underground there, now for anyone who has never been to China, there they treat all public transport like flying. By this I mean that they scan your luggage before allowing you in to the station, so during busy periods it can cause all kinds of mayhem. This fortunately wasn’t the case for us at this time of year, however they did not take kindly to me having a can of spray on deodorant in my suitcase and proceeded to try and confiscate it off me to my absolute confusion. Far be it for me to tell these guys how to do there jobs, but if it is safe on a plane then I am sure that it will be ok on a train, nevertheless I had to hand it over; but not after standing by security and unloading as much of my can into my armpits as I possibly could! Got to stick it to the man wherever possible!

The remainder of this day was taken up with a mammoth 10 hour drive whereupon we passed through the village where the huge earthquake of 2008 hit sadly killing 69,197 people and injuring 374,176 people. We didn’t stop here, just passed through; but it was a chilling reminder of just how powerful nature is and the level of destruction it can cause. On this trip we met a lovely old couple who we ended up staying in the same hotel as and spending a lot of time with. There is one thing that I love second only to seeing the Earths amazing places, and that is meeting new people, awesome new people who you will never forget. I think that it is the people sometimes that make some trips what they are, and can make the difference between a good trip and a bloody great trip!

We knew that we were only going to stay here in JZG for just a few days, and we knew upon arrival and seeing the hordes of people that we would have to make sure that we were up early each and every day to try and beat the crowds as best as possible. The first day we went in to the national park when the gates opened, ran through and got on to a bus to take us up to the top of the reserve, whereupon we could begin walking down at our own pace.

The drive through is the first little taste you get of the jaw dropping scenery, seeing the crystal clear blue water that gives perfect reflections of the early morning fog covering the tops of the surrounding mountains. It was at this point where I remember thinking, this is why I don’t want to settle down anywhere and stop travelling whilst I am young. This is what I live for!

On the way up the road forks off to the right and left, we decided to head off to the right in the morning and then the left in the afternoon. We got to the top, being some of the only people there and began walking down back towards the fork, taking our time to soak up the views and take whatever photos we wanted. It is a funny thing; I used to tell friends and students the same story about where I lived in China, about living above a very busy park where at 6am in the morning you could hear locals screaming at the top of there lungs. So to bring this back on topic let me set the scene for you somewhat; we are surrounded by lovely broad-leaf forest, small waterfalls and dark blue waters with crisp cold air that you can see your breath on…suddenly for this shrill scream to appear from 20 or 30 meters behind us, followed by a few more screams and hysterical laughter. In that moment my heart dropped as the peaceful serenity of the situation was shattered and never to be found again for the remainder of the trip.

As I previously mentioned, we had planned this trip for as late as possible before leaving China in the hope that there would not be too many crowds to have to contend with. This unfortunately was just wishful thinking on my behalf, as there were literally thousands and thousands of people here with us. It only leaves me thinking how it must be during the summer months! However, although there were an ungodly amount of people there, we were able to go at our own pace, avoiding the crowds where we could and getting to relatively secluded spots to capture images that were breathtaking, giving the illusion at times that we were the only people there.

As for the national park itself, there is not a lot that I can tell you that the pictures we took can’t tell you, my words certainly couldn’t do this place justice! I had seen pictures on google before coming here and I had assumed that the pictures had been touched up in lightroom or photoshop; I was amazed to see that this was actually just how the place is! The coloration of the water comes from once glacial activity which was dammed by rock falls and other phenomena and then solidified by carbonate deposition. This all results in some of the bluest and greenest waters that I think I will ever see in my entire life!

To see more pictures of our trip here, please check out my gallery where I will put the rest of our photos from here.

The following day we jumped on the earliest bus that we could to go to a place called Huanglong, meaning Yellow Dragon in Chinese. If I thought that JZG was beautiful, then I was in for a real treat here. On the way there though we were given a speech about how a lot of people suffer greatly from the altitude; being over 3500m at the highest point, and being tempted with what I like to called “the mystery magic water”, which is just a very expensive drink (£10 roughly) that is supposed to prevent all side-effects of altitude sickness. It made me laugh when they had two different types, one for men and one for women; because apparently men and women are so completely different that the formula for the magic water must be totally different.

Anyway, we arrived and we began our ascent to the top with our two new elderly friends whom we met on the bus. Huanglong is a scenic and historic area of interest being located in the Minshan mountain range, which is roughly about a 2/2.5 hour bus drive from JZG. It is dotted all over with hundreds of small pools formed form calcite deposits and carbonic acid rock. Once you get to the top-most part of the walk you will see how the water changes from a sulphur yellow to a beautiful green and ending in a bright crystal clear clean blue colour. In and amongst this are one or two temples, and surrounding this is a huge mountain range. This all makes for an absolutely awe inspiring view, which for me trumped JZG, walking down through the reserve on you way back to the entrance you go past different hues of blues and greens which change with the time of day and the changing of the seasons.

If you ever wanted to come here, I would not recommend spending more than a day here, the last bus back to JZG leaves at 4pm, after which point you would have to try and bargain for a taxi (which is what we had to do) costing anywhere between 200RMB upwards, depending on how good your bargaining skills. We were lucky and got a taxi for about 200RMB, which when compared to UK prices is insanely cheap!

This was our last full day in JZG, after which we undertook the long journey back to Chengdu to spend the rest of our time going to a few places that we didn’t have time to visit in the first day or two.

I want to spend these last few thoughts offering a little advice for anyone that might choose to go here based on my own experience. If you are planning on coming to see the blue waters of JiuZhaiGou and Huanglong, then I would strongly recommend that if you can cope with cold weather, plan on coming in the winter, beginning in November through to about the end of March. I say this for a few reasons, the main one being the fact that there will not be too many people to have to contend with, also everything will be considerably cheaper! From entry prices to hotels and food, everything will be a great deal cheaper. Finally, if you are like me and you like to take photos, then I really can’t think of anything more beautiful than the blues of the water against the snow covered mountains! Just thinking about it makes me want to go straight back next month and spend a week photographing it! If however you choose to go during the peak seasons (Beginning of May – end of August/September) then be prepared for crowds and seeing humans turn in to animals in front of your very eyes!


Thank you so much for getting this far and spending your time reading this! Next week will be the last entry in this mini adventure! Please go and check out my gallery for more pictures from this leg of the journey.


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The last great adventure….in China

Well guys….I am back!

As some of you may know, it has been a pretty long time since I last posted on here, and some may ask, why?

Well to be honest it is mostly due to the fact that I have been so busy this last year or so that I just haven’t had the opportunity to do a whole lot of travelling, thus I have had nothing new to photograph or write about.

Some may be wondering at the title of this post; “the LAST great adventure….in China”, well that it because I am writing this post from the kitchen of my parents home in sunny England. My girlfriend got a visa for the UK which is great, but also for New Zealand, which is awesome! We plan on going there in about 6 months time…so hopefully there will be some posts from there in the not too distant future!


As I said, I had been very busy the last year or so busting my chops to save money for visa’s here there and everywhere, but also for one more trip in China. It was pretty clear cut where we both wanted to go, Sichuan!


PANDA’S BABY! I have always said that I wanted to see panda’s before leaving China, and now I can tick that off my bucket list!

I have to say, before i go any further on this post…I like Sichuan, a lot! It was a great place with lots to do, great food and a climate that was very agreeable to me.

“It don’t matter if you’re black or white”…or both!

After arriving VERY late at our hostel in Chengdu and getting a great nights sleep we both knew what was first on our list of places to go, the Panda research center.

For those of you who may not be aware, panda’s were recently moved from the IUCN endangered species list to vulnerable. This is mostly due to the hard work done by the Chinese to bring this beautiful species back from the edge with now about about 1800 adults and somewhere in the region of 2000 cubs, although this last figure is only an estimate! untitled-13-of-284

I have always found it quite funny how the Chinese revere the giant panda…and ONLY the giant panda but none of the other amazing species they have in there enormous country. If this animal had been anything else then it would have been shot, fried and served with a bowl of rice. But hey…I digress.

This place is excellently maintained, compared with any zoo which I have been to in China. The difference is night and day, you can really see that they genuinely want to do the best they can with this one species.

To get here it is easy just to pick up the subway to the nearest stop and then grab a bus for 5 minutes, be prepared however to be packed in like a sardine as this place is very popular! Try your best to roll out of bed early and get there when doors open at 7:30, trust me on this as it will be 100% worth the extra effort. When you come to leave, the hordes will be arriving and you will be happy that you did it!

So what can you see here then? Well obviously panda’s…duh! There are Giant panda’s and also red panda’s, and then they have different areas for the different life stages, so adults, sub-adults and cubs. They also have some educational rooms; forget these though unless you are fluent in mandarin as they don’t provide English.

Due to the fact that the giant panda’s diet largely consists of bamboo, which is not a particularly good source of energy, they are a pretty lazy species! You will find most of them either lying on there back or sitting on there posterior covered in bamboo, but i found this to be pretty endearing. The smaller red panda’s are a lot more active than there bigger cousins, I would highly recommend you search out the breeding enclosure which you can walk in to and get VERY close to the red’s. I even witnessed a small little fight between two, which resulted in one losing and ending up in the drink!

All-in-all I would say that this is a MUST see place if you are even in the area, even if you are not an animal guy like myself, it is still a great half day out and one that you will definitely not regret!

Well, we have come to the end of this first installment to my latest trip. What’s coming up I hear you say! Well, I shall share with you my experiences from a number of different places including Du Fu’s cottage, JiuZhaiGou and the Chengdu zoo amongst many more places.

I am going to leave you here with a few more photos from the panda research center, enjoy!


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He Zhou, Guangxi

About a month ago I was approached by my boss at my new job, asking me if I would like to go away with all my co-workers to Guangxi. Guangxi is a rather famous province for the stunningly beautiful place called Yangshuo which is a place that I have wanted to go to for quite a while! So, thinking of Yangshuo and of the potential fun to be had with my co-workers I said yes.

It wasn’t however until a few days before leaving that I discovered that…we were not going to Yangshuo as they had been there last year, instead we were going to a placed called He Zhou (Her Jo), a place that I, nor my colleagues had heard of.

So after a long day at work on a Friday, we had a rushed dinner, jumped on a bus and set off on an arse achingly long journey, and by about 1am, we arrived at our hotel.

The Chinese love to go on all inclusive package tours when they go away on holiday, I had unfortunately forgotten this when I had said yes. If I had remembered this then I don’t think I would have agreed to go as it is not really the way I like to travel. When in these tour groups you are given a horribly bright hat so that your tour guide does not lose track of his/her herd. So it was that during one of the long speeches given on the bus; of which I understood not a single word, that we were given said hats.

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I was talking to a fellow blogger last week about how in China it is almost impossible to find any genuine historical sites. Everywhere that I have been too thus far in China has been a recreation of something old and traditional. I find this highly frustrating, I desperately would love to find a place here in China that is natural, untouched and genuine. A good example of this is as we arrived at the base of this mountain there were a number of rocks that had “cave-man” style engravings in them.

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Anyway, we were led around this mountain for a few hours by our tour guide to a number of different sites. First off we were taken to see  a nice waterfall where a horde of other tourists were gathering to photograph, this was followed by going to a very holy Buddhist temple were we were not supposed to take photos, something that I was not told until AFTER everyone had watched me taking a few photos. We were treated here to a long an very descriptive talk about the artwork and some other cultural things, all of which I had no idea what they said. But it was here that I was tricked and in my mind robbed by the monks to my outrage  but the amusement of my colleagues. We were being shown how to pray correctly before being offered a stick with some Chinese writing on, one or two of my colleagues took these sticks, so in my ignorance I also took one, only to find out that I had to make a 10rmb donation for the honour of doing so…I was NOT impressed! Alas, after this I had the opportunity to drown my recent sorrows as we were led to the local mountain brewery were they made the local rice wine. Here we were treated to a number of different varieties of their moonshine before being led off once again to sober up at their tea gardens (I am rather partial to green tea).

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The following day we were treated to a “traditional” village experience. This is another fine example of what I was referring to earlier. Whilst walking around this village we were led through parts where they were still constructing it. There were loads and loads of street food sellers; the streets smelled overpoweringly of vinegar and spice, as all of the foods being served were picked and spiced vegetables. Normally this would be something I’d be interested in, however due to the hugely inflated price and the sheer abundance thus therefore overpowering smell, I was rather put off buying any at all.

The only real redeeming factor of this village was that it was surrounded by the mountains that make Guangxi so famous. If you can imagine literally hundreds of small mountains as far as the eye can see covered in trees, then you can begin to imagine the classic Guangxi landscape. It wasn’t quite as beautiful as I know parts of this province can be, but it was a small taster.

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Guangxi is one of the most famous parts of China, for very good reason! However there are parts of Guangxi that justify this provinces notoriety, He Zhou I am sad to say is not one of those places! What I can say though is that it has left me wanting to return to Guangxi for a more extended period of time without a tour guide, but with my girlfriend so we can explore the province properly.

I am still on the hunt for that truly authentic experience in China…one of these days I may just find it!

I am going to leave you now with a few of my favourite photos from this short trip.




Appalling use of the English language

Appalling use of the English language

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Barbecued Wasp Larvae

Barbecued Wasp Larvae

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Wasp Whisky and Larvae Liquor

Wasp Whisky and Larvae Liquor

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Positive Envy

Global Sojourns Photography

Yunnan Red Soil Positive Envy-3

There is an old saying I think about every now and then: “the grass is always greener on the other side.”

Not so much for its meaning of someone desiring something they believe would improve his or her life, yet in reality would not.  Instead, it is because I think about where I am now, and the possibilities of what could be.

Yunnan Red Soil Positive Envy-7

To dream of being in a totally different situation, wondering how great life would be compared to the current situation is intriguing.  The mind is unrealistically focused on what could be gained, with little attention to what would be lost.

A poor example of this: my memory as a kid on a family vacation sitting at a restaurant for breakfast. I would always order the French toast and upon the arrival of the food, look on in envy as my twin sister’s stack of blueberry pancakes taunted me…those pancakes topped with whipped…

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So here we are at the last stop on my Nepal trip, Bhaktapur. The former capital of Nepal until about the 15th century, this place is known as a living museum for good reason. It simply oozes history from every wall and every cobbled street. Upon arriving we had to pay a relatively extortionate amount to enter past the outer walls to be able to even start looking for hotels. 1500 rupees for me as a western person and just 500 rupees for my Chinese girlfriend. Sucks to be British in Nepal!

It did not take long to locate a decent hotel, and for just 900 rupees a night, it was an absolute steal and right in the center of everything! Heading straight back out and having a short walk around, we found a restaurant that only sold buffalo meat momo’s, and that was where we had our dinner. And these were easily, hands down, the best momo’s we had eaten during our stay!

Buffalo Momo's - Simply the best!

Buffalo Momo’s – Simply the best!

And for just 50 rupee’s each, these were CHEAP, so needless to say that we came back here…many many times!

It wasn’t long before the last of the day light faded and the city was bathed in darkness. We were pretty tired by this point and had decided that we would head back to our hotel to get an early night so we could begin afresh the next day. However to our surprise in the main square outside our hotel there was  an anniversary celebration of a yoga…thing (getting an explanation from a local proved challenging, hence my lack of knowledge on what this actually was!). The whole Taumadhi square was covered in candles, including a large rectangular temple found at one end of the square illuminating the whole area in a soft yellow glow, this was truly spectacular and we were very lucky indeed to witness this one off event!



Temple of Light

Temple of Light

Golden Steps

Golden Steps

Unfortunately we didn’t have long in Bhaktapur, only one and a half days in which to soak it all up. So we decided that we would spend the full day roaming the streets, getting lost and seeing everything that we wanted to see, which included the pottery square, Durbar square and the Taumadhi square which we had seen last night. At first Bhaktapur seems like a bit of a maze with all its cobbled streets lined with hawkers, pottery  and woodcraft sellers and the many many providers of street food. Which incidentally I found interesting, as barring one place I found that sold savory street food…everywhere else was selling sweet cakes, cookies, biscuits and other things that I simple don’t know how to describe. All of which in an array of bright colours, but none of which really appealed to me.

Bells bells bells

Bells bells bells

Stweet food

Stweet food

Wood carving

Wood carving

Two things in particular caught my eye in Bhaktapur, first was the way the locals decorate their doorways. The number of times we saw beautifully coloured and intricately designed entrances in to peoples homes often with the eyes of Buddha incorporated in to the designs somewhere. These I found very interesting and I often found myself drawn to them, and to photograph them.

Buddha eyes

Buddha eyes

The all seeing eye

The all seeing eye

Through the keyhole

Through the keyhole

The second thing that I couldn’t help but notice and also want to photograph was the sheer abundance of stray dogs, some of which in better condition than others. Coming from the west I am a bit of a dog lover, and I couldn’t help but feel a bit sad at the sight of some of these animals! Having said that, it’s still better than some parts of China where they would likely eat some of these dogs.

Let Sleeping Dogs Lie

Let Sleeping Dogs Lie

Sad Times

Sad Times

He's seen better days

He’s seen better days

Bhaktapur is a place in Nepal that I would definitely recommend to anyone to go and visit, it isn’t a place that requires longer than a couple of days to explore, but if you wanted to get out of the city and explore the outer reaches such as places like Nagarkot which is a large mountain, then I would recommend an extra day or two.

We spent our extra half day doing a bit of last minute gift shopping, going back to the pottery square for me to buy some pottery wind chimes, and back to the woodcarver to buy one or two pieces off of him.

Here are a few of the other photos I took in and around Bhaktapur, I hope that you enjoy them.

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So I suppose it’s about time I wrapped up this chapter of my travels to Nepal, this place was truly as amazing as I had hoped it would be and I wouldn’t just recommend people go to visit this country, I would urge people to go. Go and experience the awe inspiring sights, the varying different smells and sounds, meet the friendly locals and the interesting travelers. Go and completely immerse yourself in the culture and soak it up, because this place is just magnificent. It has been about a month now since I have been in China, and I find myself constantly thinking about how I want to go back. Go back to Chitwan and try and photograph that pied kingfisher, go back and eat one more dal bhat, go back and spend more time with the family of the Euriko hotel in Pokhara, go back and do some serious trekking. Nepal has certainly left a deep impression on me, and I would like it to leave a deep impression on you too.

So until next time,


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A nap on the motocart

Giang's Moving World

Giang Phạm – Nhịp đời qua ống kính – Trên đường về nhà 1

This man must be exhausted, after a long and hard-working Sunday. I suddenly caught him while running home from Thu Duc. He sat on the cart falling asleep while his friend was riding the motorcycle, sometimes tried to open his eyes to see what was happening then continued to sleep.

I followed them for a while, tried to take photos while riding the motorcycle. Well, not an easy and safe thing to do but at the end, the photo I got amused me a lot.

Saigon, 21/9/14

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A Holistic Journey

A vine of dreams:
luscious grapes resign all fear

They bruise underfoot
barrels brim in earnest dark
and time turns into wine.

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Macro Photography : Berduaan by YusriHarisandi

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Ziplining, Moray and Las Salineras


As always, the day began with an early start, but when it was something as exciting as this I couldn’t be so grumpy about that. We were in Cusco central by 8:30 (very early for me), where we took a taxi way out of Cusco into the snowcapped mountains of the Sacred Valley or ‘Valle Sagrado’. The drive took us through some of the less nice areas of Cusco, built up on the hill like the slums in Rio. Litter littered the streets, and we passed a bustling local market where things from wardrobes to cows were being sold. 5 minutes onwards and we were out of Cusco heading towards Ollantaytambo and the Sacred Valley. Here the population becomes much more sparse of people, and much more busy with livestock. During the hour drive we had to stop numerous times to give way to packs of donkeys, sheep and of…

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Shanghai : Yuyuan Garden

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