Happy New Year! It’s the beginning of a new year… a fresh start and new adventures!
I started following some travel bloggers to check out different possibilities for new adventures… wow, their photos were pretty mind blowing! It reminded me of all the beautiful and amazing places that God created just for us to enjoy! One of the most picturesque place that my family and I have visited is Guilin, a city located in southeast China. It was obvious that God’s artistic hand went crazy here. The landscape was pretty incredible!
Guilin’s stunning beauty comes from the jutting karst landscape, truly a photographer’s dream! When I reflect back to my family’s travel to Guilin, there were 5 different activities that stuck out… and how these experiences is shaping my outlook for 2018!
Note: I do not have any affiliation to any of the links in this post, I thought they may be helpful to include especially for those planning to travel to China.
1. Hiking trails:
Longji terraces and along the Li River are easy and kid friendly hikes. For a little more incline and spectacular views, a hike up Moon Hill is quite breathtaking. The key to a successful hike with our kids is to have some bits of candy to help keep up their interest… I have no shame in giving my kids sugar when necessary! The hikes throughout Guilin reminds me of God’s beauty. The views and scenery are spectacular!
2018 outlook: My current morning scenes are often mountains of dirty dishes and laundry… and that’s not necessarily the scenic view that I want to savor. In this new year, I hope to be more intentional about being grateful of the everyday blessings, beautiful or messy.
2. Li River Boat Ride:
We didn’t intend to take a boat ride. But we took a leap of faith and trusted our guide with his recommendation. After some fee negotiation, we jumped in and enjoyed a little boat tour along the Li River. The excursion did not disappoint… multiple scenic kodak moments, local people selling interesting trinkets, and kids playing along the banks during our periodic stops. It was a great way to mix up the day!
2018 outlook: Life is often an adventure… sometimes it goes well and sometimes it’s an overwhelming disappointment or mess. But I believe that trusting in God to get through the tough adventures gives us hope that there are better days ahead.
3. Bike Ride into Town:
We decided to explore on bikes for a day and the bike rental company was quick to help us, but it was slow to get us going. First, they needed to install the makeshift child seat. Then they had to find a bike tall enough for Paul…. and then the seats needed to be raised, tires pumped…. it seemed never ending and extraordinarily slow. But when traveling with kids, slow is a necessity. The end result was a fun and leisurely visit into town for a little bit of exploring and shopping.
2018 outlook: This was a good reminder to slow things down or take a pause in the midst of our daily hustle and bustle.
4. Learning to Cook Local Dishes
During our visit, we booked cooking classes that were offered by a husband and wife team. We had an amazing day with them! Even though we were strangers, they greeted us with warm hugs and welcomed us into their home. They treated us like royalty as we wandered through the market to pick out a variety of produce. They were patient with us as we continued to ask more questions about their culture, their food and their way of living. They lovingly taught our children as they demonstrated different techniques and flavors. It was an experience I’ll never forget simply because of how they made me feel… we not only learned how to cook some local dishes, but we also felt truly loved.
Unfortunately I don’t have the contact information of the husband and wife team who taught the cooking class. But there are a number of cooking classes that you can book like this link that has great reviews.
2018 outlook: This experience reminded me that I want to be intentional about embracing people… all people and welcoming them into my home so that they feel loved.
5. Li River Light Show:
One of the most unforgettable performances I have experienced is the Liu San Jie Impression light show in Guilin. I don’t normally like to name drop, but Zhang Yimou who is a producer, director, cinematographer (Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon, Hero, Beijing Olympics Openin ceremony) designed this spectacular sound and light show. The natural amphitheater created by the karst mountains along the Li River was a stunning setting. And then combined with the choreography, the lights, the performers… the end result was a mind blowing experience! I was truly in awe and wonder.
2018 outlook: Often times, we lose our sense of wonder in the everyday grind. But there is wonder all around us… the wonder of a spontaneous hug from a little person, the wonder of a teenager offering to help in the kitchen, the wonder of giggles and laughs in the midst of a stressful day. Sometimes the little things, the everyday things can have some magical wonder!
It’s surreal to reflect back on a travel adventure from 10 years ago and how these experiences can help shape the new year! Traveling to beautiful and exotic places may not be my everyday adventure. But there is definitely some form adventure in my everyday and I look forward to what awaits for 2018! Any thoughts for 2018 from you?
In the meantime, here are some other bits and tips when planning your travels to China:
- Google translate – It’s easy access on your phone and can help you translate whatever you need to say.
- Concierge desk – If you have access to a concierge desk, get their phone number. Whenever I got stuck in translation, the concierge desk became a life line.
- Start Early – There are a lot of people in China, so start early before the masses come. Even if you are not a morning person, I assure you that it’s worth it!
- Use a guide – I don’t recommend this for everything that you do, but for certain excursions like a Hutong tour in Beijing, you may want to use a guide to walk you through the history, etc. The travel website that we used during our expat life in China is the China Culture Center. And there are many other guides that you can find on the internet and TripAdvisor.
- Other bits – Lastly, you can check out this post about what to expect when traveling to China.
Let me know if you have any questions when planning your travels to China, a home to over 1.3 billion people! Happy New Year! Xīn Nián Kuài Lè! 新年快乐!