Tag Archives: must see

Wall riding in Xi’an.

Nihao folks!

The Chinese city of Xi’an is 100%, mandatorily, necessarily, must-visit. Why am I being so emphatic? Because of just one of its tourist attractions…

The most awesome tourist attraction of the city, to me, has to be the city’s fortifications, which are kind of like Xi’an’s Kremlin. The bonus for us was that we got to ride some cool bikes there. These were just perfect for tourists already pretty tired of all the walking before we even got there. Before the bikes appeared though, we got in some of the regular ‘walk and snapping’ first. Just as well – snapping ain’t easy on a bicycle; and there was plenty to snap:

Read on: Ancient walls, funky bikes, and remarkable contrasts…

Old Model Army.

Nihao folks!

Onwards we fly on our China-2017 tour… Next stop: the city of Xi’an – pronounced Si-an – meaning ‘western peace’.

It was a nice day, which is just as well, as there’s plenty to do and see in and near the city. Our itinerary went so: city walls and the old town; ancient pagodas; and (not far from the city) Mount Hua – one of the Sacred Mountains of China. Anyway, more on those later. For now, the Terracotta Army, no less!

You may have heard of this UNESCO World Heritage Site of funerary art; yes, it is quite famous. But the unexpectedly fine detail and massive scale of the mausoleum are only really grasped when you see it in the flesh. A truly grandiose historical site.

Read on…

Up, down and around Danxia – all before noon.

The Danxia Range of rocky outcrops in Goangdong, China, is so insanely beautiful that it for sure deserves inclusion in my Top100 Must-See Places in the World. Massive lumps of red rock with vertical sides some several hundred meters high, scattered over a territory stretching some 10×15 kilometers.

Our first glimpse of Danxia came early morning, when none of the redness is visible; actually, there was redness, but only of the sensational skies as the sun came up. Then the redness gets bizarrely transferred to the rocks, which we set off to get closer to…

If ever you fancy getting here yourself, be warned: checking out all the beautifulness here entails a lot of walking – and that includes a lot of ups and downs on steep steps. In a day you could be looking at some 15 to 20 kilometers. Then you need to take into account the extreme climatic conditions too. Not only can it be 28-35 degrees Centigrade, it also gets horrendously humid. But what else do you expect in the tropics?! Just make sure to wear breathable sporty kit for your trekking; regular cotton shorts and t-shirts just get soaked through (even breathable kit gets soaked too, but it’s much more bearable somehow).

Read on…

Up at the crack of danxia.

Hi folks!

Herewith, I continue may tales from the Chinese side…

As per the template, this won’t be a simple photographic mini-series with explanations of the pics, but also a how-to guide for folks who might want to visit the place one day themselves, which, as is often the case, I heartily recommend.

Today I start with the Danxia landforms. Now, Danxia in Chinese means ‘red hills’; that is, any hills that happen to be red or reddish-colored. And in China there are dozens of different sets of red hills all over the southeast, southwest and northwest of the country. However, there is a specific Danxia Shan – Mount Danxia (confused?!). I wonder what came first – the egg or the chicken Danxia – the mount, or Danxia – the general term for red rock formations in China? The internet returns contradicting results. And locals don’t seem to know themselves. In short: one of China’s many mysteries.

Btw, Danxia is pronounced ‘Dansya’. Danxia isn’t an English term; it’s Chinese in the Latin alphabet – pinyin. There!

So, where do I begin my narrative? There are so many options – so much to show. Ok, let’s keep it simple and logical – let’s start with the break of dawn…

Read on…

Rock teapot.

Howdy folks!

Now, you know I’ve a soft spot for cliffs

…So you can imagine my rapture upon arriving at these here beauties – the Danxia rocks in China. But, ohhh was it hot – 35 degrees Centigrade and tropically humid. Harder to take than a sizzling sun in the desert!

This somewhat… odd shaped formation is called… Male Rock )).

The formation above is called… Teapot! The fable goes something like this: there were two sisters who brewed up some too-weak tea for some companions, then something happened to them. That’s all I recall. Anyway, the moral to the legend is, kids – never be mean when adding the loose-leaf tea to the teapot for guests…

This is just the appetizer folks. As per custom – a lot more to come…

Desert Scene: Beautiful, Serene.

Deserts…

Nothing quite like them. Endless sandy scenery, wavy dunes, sand all squishy underfoot – or blowing up into your face by the wind; in fact, sand: EVERYWHERE! In your boots, in your pockets, in your… teeth! But despite such petty tortures (and with sandals on your feet, not boots) – the desert is otherworldly beautiful, breathtaking, brain-numbing, hypnotizing. Like this:

Read on: the largest contiguous sand desert in the world…

Nightclubbing – Viennese Style.

Our introduction into Viennese nightlife occurred most unexpectedly: we were invited to a ball! A real ball, which takes place in a large concert hall somewhere in downtown Vienna. Woah!

To the sound of chamber music, with the men in tailcoats (white tie) and the women in ball gowns, the guests gathered for the 10pm ceremonial kick-off to the ball. The ceremony was most official – formally opened by two government ministers (of internal affairs and foreign affairs). Here’s the latter making his speech. Yes – he is young for a minister :-):

So, if I was there, why did I take a pic of a TV screen and not of the (young) man himself? Simply because there were that many folks in the hall – literally thousands! (Clearly evening-wear rental and/or sales must is a profitable business in the Austrian capital). So many ball-goers, in fact, that we couldn’t even get into the hall for the opening ceremony, which was just like you see in the old films: guests being paraded in front of the royal/ministerial hosts, with a few formal words exchanged with each:

A little later things calmed down a bit and we managed to squeeze our way inside. And this is what I saw…

The debutantes’ dance, or whatever it is they call it: young couples new to such a ball. They take dozens of lessons on how to do ballroom dancing so they can dance as per requirements at the ball. The ball itself is something like an exam, or so it seemed to me. Or simply a demonstration of the newbies’ cavorting talent. The moms and dads in the audience must have been very proud:


Read on: Nightclubbing – Viennese Style…

Happy New Year from Central Moscow!

Happy New Year folks, and hope you all had great holidays!

You won’t believe this… but this post is about… RED SQUARE! // Incidentally, the square I consider to be the most beautiful spot in Europe!

I hadn’t been in downtown Moscow on New Year’s Eve since… oooh, 15 years ago! Yep – 2001 was the last time, on Pushkin Square watching the fireworks. But I’d never been on Red Square on New Year’s Eve. What?! So this year I decided to make amends…

So how was it? Well, actually, my overall impressions were… mixed. And it’s those mixed impressions that I’d like to share with you today.

Read on: Red Square was really something!…