So who exactly travels to China?

It always seems impossible until it’s done
— Nelson Mandela
 All photos by Alexander Sobolla except the ones he's in!

All photos by Alexander Sobolla except the ones he's in!

The reason for writing this post is because I want to it to serve as encouragement for more to travel, to travel to China. While my husband and I had set our minds on going to China, I remember very clearly feeling concerned, and generally confused about how to go about it. We initially considered going with a tour or hiring a guide but it was really thanks to the encouragement from friends who had gone and lived there, who gave us invaluable advice, and, of course, lots of research, that we finally plucked up the courage to do it alone. I am forever grateful to all those who encouraged us to go when we were still in two minds. While in China, we met wonderful people, who gave us tips and advice, joined us on trips, were great company on long bus rides, and, of course, and kept us laughing all along the way.

 We visited the night market with some of our travel companions

We visited the night market with some of our travel companions

 Participating in a tea ceremony

Participating in a tea ceremony

Travelling is not just about seeing new places, but also about meeting new people from all over the world. I found consolation in finding similarities in friends I made who, like me, fell asleep during films, or who could not bear to watch horror movies, who loved the countryside, and who were afraid of heights. But what we all shared in common was an insatiable desire to explore the world, and a willing openness to others, to learning about new cultures.

 We visited this part of the Great Wall in Northern Beijing thanks to friends' recommendations

We visited this part of the Great Wall in Northern Beijing thanks to friends' recommendations

 

This is a tribute to the wonderful people I met along the way, and who I will always remember.

 We climbed the rice terraces with a group of friends

We climbed the rice terraces with a group of friends

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To the wonderful Channel 21, the improv group I had the pleasure of giving a workshop too. Kinneri, who generously hosted us and all the group members who made me feel instantly at home. To Rita who I met on the train to Hong Kong and who gave me tips on what and where to eat, and what to explore, to Julia, the strong spirit who had left her home in Germany to travel and find herself. “We’re like family,” she commented one morning as we all met for breakfast at our hostel, sharing in family-like life together, for at least a short time. I still follow her blog (http://www.kommtmit.de), whose beautiful photos transport me to the extraordinary places she continues to visit. To Queenie and Eric, the effervescent intelligent students from Hong Kong and the UK who walked the Great Wall with me and encouraged me to go on when I was scared. To Rune and Charlotte, the medical graduates from the Denmark who helped us with directions and offered to see me when I was sick. To Lauren from the UK, always cheerful and with a glorious sense of humour, who shared her crackers with us on the bus. To Kristen and Harriet from Canada and the UK, who shared their stories and partook in the tea ceremony with me. And to Karen and Steven from Belgium, the bubbly duo with whom we laughed, ate and rode many a scary bus ride together. Xie xie! And until our paths cross again!

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 We went on a tour of Hong Kong with Rune and Charlotte and discovered some hidden eateries

We went on a tour of Hong Kong with Rune and Charlotte and discovered some hidden eateries

 And with the best travel buddy of them all

And with the best travel buddy of them all