Walking tall (and blond) in China

I am 1.86 meters tall, that’s 6.1 feet. And I’m also Dutch. The women in the Netherlands are among the tallest women in the world. I totally belong to that category. I wanna share a little bit of my world with you, the world through the eyes of a tall blond woman. A lot of people make remarks about my height. It happens to me all the time; on the street, in a bar, on holiday. For a long time I felt insecure about my appearance. But now I am feeling more secure and proud than ever! Why? It gives me unique moments in unique places in the world. My most special trip where I experienced this was through South China.
What a lot of people don’t know about China is that the nature is just stunning! Their culture and nature is so different and unique. As you know the Chinese love to take pictures and they love tall blond ladies. On the flip-side they also like to spit, they don’t wait in line and their human & animal rights are nothing like we would like them to be. But I still firmly believe you should visit China.

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Famous in China

Shanghai
My trip started in Shanghai . They call it the ‘’Paris of Asia’’ . The city is surrounded by temples, good restaurants (really beautiful ones) and an impressive skyline. Often I had the feeling that the Ming Dynasty was still present, really no shortage of culture here. This city is alive! Don’t forget to go to the club Bar Rouge for a perfect view (entrance for women is free!). There are a lot of expats and foreigners in Shanghai, but they’re still not use to tall blond women like me. The admiration started, in a weird but funny way.

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The impressive skyline of Shanghai

The perks of being a tall Dutch Woman in China
They real adventure began when we  took the plane and train to Zhangjiajie. My little sister joined me for this trip. We felt like celebrities, everybody was staring at us and wanted to take a picture. We ordered the wrong tickets and we had to stand 7 hours in the train. I though OMG! Suddenly the Chinese squeezed in and created two extra seats. Our appearance gave us a seat, food and funny moments. A man talk to me for hours in Chinese, hours later I still good not understand Chinese. But sometimes you just have let it happen and let people talk, and take pictures! I will never forget this ride. We arrived and it was time to climb the Avatar mountains, to visit an old historical town and see the Li River.
I never though the movie Avatar was based on a real landscape but it is! The mountains are not floating in the sky but the mountains in The Zhangjiajie National Forest Park are unique and immense. We climbed to the top, a lot of stairs, but you can also take the cable car (like almost all the Chinese do). We stayed on top of the mountains for one night. It is a bit touristy (a lot of Chinese tourists) but definitely it’s worth to stay and explore more spots. We ate at an interesting restaurant and I said: ‘’Give me the local dish’’. That’s exactly what I got. I got myself a soup with chicken feet. Yes, this is China. Eating chicken feet is a delicacy with the Chinese so try it if you dare! (I chickened out..)

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Avatar?

The Li River
Then it was up to the Li River. We rented a bike and just explored. The next day we took a trip on a bamboo boat, and saw an impressive musical light show on the water in the middle of the mountains. What a dream location for a show. The show is put together by a famous Chinese Director Zhang Yimou and the cast are local Zhuang minority villagers. We stayed at a lovely place in Yangshuo, the Giggling Tree. The owners transformed authentic farmhouses into a guesthouse.

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Even though China and their inhabitants may feel a bit overwhelming, they mean well. They give you food, invite you for dinner and they are grateful they can have a picture with you. Yes, it was a unique and great trip.  Even though nobody speaks a word of English, it was an adventure that I would not have missed for the world. A visit to China has to be on your bucketlist!

Love,

Jolien

*Jolien is one of our guest bloggers living in the Netherlands. She has traveled all over the world and seen countries like India, China, Sri Lanka, Australië and Colombia. You can read about her adventures and tips every month!

Curious about Hong Kong? Read Elke’s mission to find the best Dim Sum here!

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Hong Kong, in search of the best DimSum

I live in Amsterdam. The city that brings you the canals, a great nightlive and.. good food. Lot’s of it actually!
French, Italian, Greek, Marrocan, Etheopean, very tasty Thai food, Sushi and yes also Chinese food.
But. (Yes there is a but) There is a lack of a certain Chinese meal missing in in this city of food; DimSum.

A friend of mine updated his facebook status not too long ago, with the question; where can I eat the best DimSum in Amsterdam?
He got overloaded with reactions but all the answers were the same.
Everybody mentioned only 1, maybe 2 restaurants in Amsterdam that serves this Chinese lunch. Pretty crazy for a city with so much choice in cuisine.
As amazed of this fact as he was, it inspired me to write this blogpost.

I was going to Hong Kong anyways so I set myself on a mission:
Find the best DimSum in Hong Kong.

Finding good DimSum here may sound easy but the first restaurant I went to didn’t really rock my boat.

1. Victoria Harbour Restaurant
The Westwood, 8 Belcher’s Street
Western District

This place is situated in a shopping mall but it looked really traditional which I liked!
Lot’s of round tables and full of locals enjoying some traditional DimSum.
First up: Chicken Feet. Lovely.
Although I don’t eat meat and I’m normally not bothered about meat on the dinner table, this sight turned my stomach. Pass.
Ok, next round, new chances: fish soup with rice noodles. This was not too bad. Only downside was that the fish had some bones in it.
The vegetables were ok but the best thing about this place is definitely the dessert. Yummie! 

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traditional setting in the Victoria Harbour Restaurant

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Some of the DimSum choices

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Chicken feet and Fish soup were among the ordered dishes.

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Sticky dates sweetness

 2. Crystal Jade
Unit 102, 1/F, Leader Industrial Center
57-59 Au Pui Wan Street

This is a nice little restaurant situated in a train station (yes, that’s normal there)
The service was great and I even got my drinks for free!
They describe themselves as a diversified Food & Beverage group committed to preserving the rich traditions of Chinese cuisine in contemporary ways. And whatever that may mean, it was tasty!
I ordered prawns with peanut sauce, veggie rolls and vegetable dumplings.

I was missing the spicy sauce which I normally like to order on the side but the Chinese flavours were good enough.

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Lot’s of choice at Crystal Jade

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Spicy peanut curry with prawns. Source: Good Eating Guide

3.  Dim Sum The art of Chinese tit-bits
63 Sing Woo Road, Happy Valley

This one is a winner! People of Hong Kong (local and expats) que up for lunch and in the weekends it gets really busy so make sure you make a reservation.
I was surprised how many vegetarian and fish dishes they served. This always makes me happy so I ate loads!
Rice and crispy noodles, steamed vegetables, prawn dumplings, fluffy cakes and coconut jelly all make this place great.

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Hipsters of China go to the restaurant with the long name

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Loved the variations of dishes, with lot’s of choice for the vegetarian!

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Sweetness..

Because I was only in Hong Kong for a few days, it was impossible to find the ultimate DimSum. But what I can tell you, is that Amsterdam should read and listen. We need more of these!

Love,

Elke