Thomas and Matthew's great Asian journey
With Colin's time in Asia winding down, the family came across for one last big trip around the region to see all the various things that there are to see in Asia.
Lisa, Thomas and Matthew came out to Asia for a three week holiday. In between visits to other places they stayed at Colin's flat in Hong Kong. Although they spent comparitively little time in the City of the Fragrant Harbour, they did still have time to visit some old favourites, like Stanley Market, the science museum, and Sky 100.
After a couple of days in Hong Kong to clear the jet-lag, Lisa and the boys headed across to Japan to spend five days over the Easter break. The first day and a half were in Kobe, with Lisa's old school friend, Yuko, and her family. Colin arrived on the Friday night and we moved to a hotel in Osaka, and from Osaka we were able to take a day trip to Japan's ancient capital, Kyoto. Although it rained a fair bit, we did have one glorious day of sunshine in Kyoto. We also arrived right at the height of cherry blossom season, which made it very pretty, but very crowded with tourists.
The following weekend we caught a flight to Da Nang, Vietnam, and then travelled down to the picteuresque village of Hoi An (not to be confused with Hanoi). Although the tranquility is somewhat dimished by the Vietnamese obsession with driving scooters with one hand firmly pressed on the horn. Still, we had a good few days exploring the temples built into the caves of the Marble Mountains, the old quarter, saw the village lanterns at night that Hoi An is famous for, and spent some time cycling around the countryside in the rain.
China - Xi'an
To finish off the trip we caught a flight up to Xi'an, one of the many ancient capitals of China, and home to the famous terracotta army. Although the army of terracotta warriors is impressive, it might only be the third best thing to see in Xi'an. The city wall is supposely the largest in the world (it is around fifteen kilometers in total length, and is wide enough that six carriages can travel side by side), and the ancient Mosque at the end of the silk road dates from just a century after the death of Mohammed (742 AD). Sadly, everyone was a bit too tired to explore the vibrant Muslim quarter of the city.
China - Beijing
We caught the bullet train from Xi'an and travelled overland at 300 Km/h to Beijing, where we travelled in a taxi at a considerably slower pace to our hotel. The first day we were only able to climb the hill it Jingshan park (which looks over the Forbidden City), and grab a tasty dumpling dinner at one of the millions of holes in the wall (pretty much literally) dumpling shops in Beijing. The second day we took the long ride out to the Great Wall of China, which - as it runs over a range of mountains - should really be called the Great Stairmaster of China. Still, it is a pretty epic structure to walk along, although surprisingly little of it is restored to walkable state (allowing for its 3,000 mile length and all). Lisa and Thomas later explored Tiananmen Square and the night markets whilst Matthew and Colin got a little quiet time.