One Night in Shenyang

Unless you’re working for a Chinese public school or a kindergarten, Language Centre ESL teachers in China do not have the weekend off. Instead, you have two split days during the week – I have Monday and Thursdays off. When we have a holiday or two consecutive days off, I take full advantage of this! At the beginning of April, China celebrated Qing Ming Festival (Tomb Sweeping Festival). This is the time when people remember the dead. To be honest, I have not seen a cemetery in Harbin. Strange, right?

So, the point is…I decided to spend one night in Shenyang.

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I hopped on to the G train at 07:00 in the morning and there I was, on a mini break. I spent about 2 and a half hours on the train – I slept most of the way. I walked to the first taxi I saw and insisted on him using the meter. I thought I was a pain in the arse for this but oh well… Found the hostel with ease as I gave the driver directions verbally.

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Firstly, it was way warmer than Harbin so I was a little too layered. I decided to head over to the Qing Dynasty (Fuling) tombs. According to my GPS, it would take just under an hour to get there. So, water and a map! Due to the public holiday, the traffic was insane. So, it took a little longer than expected.

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The Fuling tombs are well-looked after and a great space to clear your mind! It is a large site so you need at least half a day to explore. There are some closed off areas that I under reconstruction or restoration. I needed to use the bathroom as I was leaving but I couldn’t find one. (There is an embarrassing story here but I will keep it hush hush).

Well, what else is there to do in Shenyang? Having a look at Tripadvisor would be a great start.

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When you’re finally exhausted of the historical sites, you could take a wander around the Unit 11 Art complex.

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There are numerous cafes around Shenyang. Make sure you have a beverage at Lenore’s! There are a few around town. They make a good, frothy cuppa!

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The Deets

Where to stay: I use Agoda to book hostels around China. I stayed at The Lazy Bee Youth Hostel.

Transportation: The buses are cheap and reliable. It’ll cost just about CNY 2 for a one way trip. Ask your hostel about which bus line to take. If you have an iPhone, you can just type in the address on Maps and it’ll show you which bus to take!

Entrance to the Fuling Mausoleum: CNY 50.

Tip: Try not to visit on a public holiday, it’ll be packed!

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Hello, Harbin..

After a year of plotting and pondering, I am finally in China. Harbin, to be exact. Leaving Durban was a bittersweet moment – you know, knowing that you finally did it. But, leaving the people you love behind. It doesn’t make it easier that I am not quite a fan of flying. I often choose the window seat closest to the emergency exit. Then, I drink at least 3 glasses of red wine to help me sleep. It was comforting to sit next to another cryer (she was leaving her husband and daughter to teach in Dubai) so both of us had our tissues in hand as we took off.

I was a little silly to buy the cheapest ticket to Harbin; it was the longest 3 days yet. Arriving in Beijing was madness – that’s when the culture shock started. No queues. There were thousands of people at the airport yet it was way after 23:00. Then getting the taxi was even more daunting. I had the address written on my phone in characters yet no one wanted to take me to my hotel (I needed to rest on a bed and shower as I had a 9 hour lay over). It was time to use some Bing Translate. I asked a young gentleman to help me get a taxi to the hotel. To find that the reason why the drivers would not take me: the hotel was too close. Eventually, I made it. And, passed out straight after a much needed shower.

I went in to a restaurant at the Beijing Airport and asked for breakfast. I got noodles with an egg. Even though I asked for a vegetarian option, I still got a chunk of something meaty. I took the China Southern Airline to Harbin which was small and rattle-y. Thank goodness, I was so tired that I passed out. The food: a dry bread roll and milk and one dried prune. I am not even joking. As the pilot announced that we are descending in to Harbin, I looked out the window. Beautifully green.

Two hours later: what a warm welcome. Theo and Sara were waiting at the arrivals gate with huge smiles and somewhat, sighs of relief. With the stares and at times, the outright racism, I am glad I have come here for an adventure.

I have finally sorted my VPN and internet connection so I can write regularly.

With love,

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