Senior Consultant, Franki Crosse, has just returned from a six month sabbatical from Oasis HR. In this blog series titled ‘Franki goes to…’ we document her travels around the world and keep up to speed with what she’s been doing on her adventure!
So the time has flown and I’m now sitting on our office sofa, typing away on my new Mac (thanks Oasis!) and watching a couple of my colleagues play darts after a lovely lunch in the sun earlier with some of the girls (I promise we do work hard too!). It’s fair to say returning to London in the summer after 6 months travelling is the best route back down to earth I could have asked for. It’s been really great catching up with colleagues, friends and family, getting my brain back in gear and enjoying luxuries such as being able to drink tap water! Thinking back to China definitely seems like a world away…
Our journey through China was one of the most exciting adventures I’ve ever had. Let’s just say it didn’t come easy – getting our visa in Hong Kong was a challenge however with major credit to parents at home (and DHL!) we received the newly required documents and with our stamped passport we ran (literally) for the first train over the border and into the unknown.
18 hours standing on a train overnight later and we reached beautiful Yangshuo in Guangxi Province. Here’s home to the amazing karst limestone peaks and the famous Li River which features on the 20RMB banknote. We spent a great couple of days cycling around and climbing up for the stunning views. The actual town is a complete contrast and has a crazy disney vibe where Chinese tourists come in hoards, particularly on May Day holiday which made it a lot of fun!
|From there we headed to Kunming and the Stone Forest which is equally as stunning (we slowly figured the majority of our entire trip was either spent searching for animals or limestone formations, which I guess is fitting for two geographers!) before going to Yunnan Province. Arriving at dawn in Lijiang after a long night train was completely magical with the sun rising over the Yulong (translated as Jade Dragon) Snow Mountain. You can really start to feel the altitude and temperature drop here as it’s a popular acclimatisation point for many people on the way to Tibet (where they actually give you oxygen canisters on the train!). We loved Lijiang – it’s a super old town with lots of tiny cobbled streets filled with local food and merchandise where you catch glimpses of the mountain as you wander through the maze.|
We had a day hiking Tiger Leaping Gorge which is one of the deepest river canyons in the world and is a real test of nerves as the sandy rock slips from under your feet and intermittent ropes are secured into the cliff; always reassuring!
|We then flew into Chengdu for less than 24 hours with one aim…to see the pandas! We were quite unsure about this as felt we might be in for a trip to a glorified zoo but having heard great things we decided to go for it and I’m so glad we did! The Chengdu Research Base is amazingly run and set in beautiful parkland where the bears have plenty of space and greenery to emulate their natural environment. They are so cute and we were lucky enough to see a few cubs playing!|
|Next up were the bigger cities, starting with Xi’An and the Terracotta Warriors which are well worth a day. It’s hard to get your head around how such huge sculptures lay buried under the ground for so many years! A long night train later and we arrived in Beijing. We hit jackpot with the weather and avoided all the smog you hear so much about. We explored the Forbidden City, Summer and Winter Palaces and treated ourselves to peking duck at the famous Duck De Chine – safe to say the local takeaway will never be the same again! Then came the Great Wall which I’d been super excited about as a landmark place on the world map and it way over exceeded our expectations. We headed to Mutianyu which is typically quieter than Badaling and it really paid off – we got to hike the walls for hours and hours in the sunshine and even managed to find sections of it where we didn’t see any other tourists!|
Finally we reached Shanghai, the last stop in China and of our whole Asian adventure, and my favourite city of the whole trip! It has an incredible blend of old vs new with incredible street food, gardens and culture alongside The Bund with its insane skyscrapers and modern touch. A drink at one of the amazing sky bars, final fried rice and some souvenirs later we were heading to the airport for our flight back to the UK – our whistle stop tour of one of the world’s biggest countries was complete, and the perfect ending to the most incredible trip.
A massive thanks to everyone who’s supported us on our adventure, particularly Oasis HR for making my sabbatical possible, our friends, families and to Hugo for surviving 6 months with me!