Tuesday, November 03, 2015

Camels across China... A Shimmying Scot abroad (again!)

... The dance move that is.... Not the humped 4 legged version! 

Today is the last day of my 5 week Bellydance tour of China, and the first chance I have had to even think of writing a blog entry! It's been non-stop work/fun/sleep/ travel - repeat. 

I flew from Cairo to Shanghai. Qatar airlines are very comfy, but the luggage allowance is more generous on Egypt Air- an issue which has stressed me out for the entire trip as I saw so many things I wished I could buy, but couldn't, due to my already heavy bags! 

The trip itinerary was as follows:

Shanghai - (2 nights) this time was officially to sleep off jet lag - but ended up doing so many varied and fun things;

taking part in a make up class, 

Chloe's table here, when not being used for make overs usually holds the Lorna shrine:

(Felt very weird.... Especially with the lilies there!) 

a  'FlyYoga' class,

(This Photo was taken later in the trip in Gaochun studio... No evidence of my first FlyYoga attempts- thankfully!!!) 

....got my nails done,  went to an art installation with giant ants;

And wine coolers made from scooter helmets;

Admired pink painted poodles....

and later went clubbing all night instead- 

oops so much for sorting the jet lag but hey ho. ... Love Shanghai and all my friends there!!! 

Chengdu- (12 nights) I flew on the much celebrated 'moon festival' where everyone gathers with family and eats moon cake; 

(Super tasty moon cake!) 

and was awakened by my fellow passengers mid air snooze because the air stewards had pulled my seat number in a lottery and awarded me with a beautiful Chinese tea set which I had to walk up to the front of the plane to collect. I had to speak over the microphone to all the other passengers. It was the most surreal moment of my life! 

I was lucky as so well looked after my entire trip and everyone went out their way to make sure I sampled all the local foods and saw all the sights. 
(Hot Pot- it just has to be done!!!) 

Chengdu is the home of the panda and I was taken on my last day to see them, and I can't actually tell you how many baby pandas I saw! Super cute!

The pandas in Edinburgh Zoo actually come from this centre, so it was great to see where they had been born! 

The enclosures were a lot better than I imagined they would be too. although its not too obvious from these photos....

It was only a shame we got there so late and missed the red pandas too! 
We had gone for some lunch ...

, via a temple, (I've lost those photos sadly) but of course all that took longer than expected
Then it was direct to the airport..... 

Changsha- (3 nights) here I ended up being in a TV documentary with my student and host,Cici, all about Bellydance in China. I'll add the link to the program if I can find it (although be warned- it's all in Chinese- part from when I am talking of course!!!) There is footage from the classes and also from the show. 

Jinan- (7 nights)- where I tried to only eat one meal each day to reduce the size of my every growing belly. Why does the food in China have to taste SO good ? (And how do the Chinese manage overall to stay so skinny when they eat so much?!) 

(I have to say, I was actually on cloud nine when I tasted this delicious hot and sour soup!) 

And this city had me feeling all angelic...! 

Jinan is famous for the fresh springs there and I was amazed to find this amazing park in the very centre of the saw seals and fish and so much beauty. 

Also, I found a man I want to take with me all over the world- I went for a massage and this talented Doctor managed to completely take away the severe nerve pain I have been suffering with my hip for the past 8 months. After 3 nights it was back- but at least now I have hope that it is something fixable at least (which up until now I had fact- I went for a massage in nearly every city I went to and was very impressed with the the price and quality of the work, even in the shops that are open onto the street! 

Shanghai - (6 nights) where my iPhone 6 was stolen out my handbag in a bar. This has been the only bad thing to ever happen to me in China. Sadly it means I have lost a great many of the took during this month and although my students have been able to supply me with some, and I had thankfully uploaded a lot onto wechat, I have lost most of the ones I took especially for the blog!!! 

However, on the plus , I did get to hang out for a few evenings with the beautiful and fun Valerick from Miami who was also here to teach 

(Before our performances at one of the coolest nightclubs in town that we had taken over for the evening to celebrate AM studios 3rd anniversary. ) 

(Heading down under the Bund to cross the river, underwater to go up the tallest building and see the view!) 

and I also had the pleasure to meet another famous (and charming) dancer from the states, Tamalyn.

So much fun.....

Nanjing - (3 nights) my first time on a high speed train (which we nearly missed - no pun intended ) from Nanjing we travelled to  Gaochun, a small town an hour away from there. I went horse riding and even tried (and failed at) pole dancing. I did a little shopping and inspired by the fashion of few of my hosts this trip, bought some lovely Chinese style clothes.....

(Photo taken at the west lake in f me in my new chinese top!) 

Oh, and I met a pirate who has decided that he will be my Chinese husband. Hmmm.  

Hangzhou - (2 nights) where we went on a boat on the famous West Lake and I cried at the beauty of the place. I saw fishes jumping and was told this was very good luck (must remember to take any Chinese friends to the salmon ladder in Scotland if they come to visit me there!!) 

The last night here found me watching an old fashion picture show in the street, 

......fending off donkey meat, shopping for scarves (no one can have too many scarves) and then drinking a margarita in a pirate ship whilst listening to KTV- Chinese karaoke. 

Shanghai - (1 night) - a beautifully relaxing evening with a friend going for a massage where all the therapists are disabled. What a wonderful idea. a blind man has to feel his way.... and i had the second best massage, possibly of my life!! on my last day, after shuffling around all my luggage so as to bring back as much as possible but also allow for a little extra shopping... I went with a friend to the Shanghai Museum in Peoples square.

It was much better than either of us had anticipated, and she found it very interesting and would encourage all her friends to go there too! oh and bonus- it was free to get in too!

 I will do a whole blog entry on the museum, because I took so many photos there!! Oh... And underneath the entire square is an underground shopping mall... With fish, and streets and ... Oh, just fabulousness..... Loved it! A great last day in China!

All this, (and I haven't even mentioned a fraction of the things I got up to!!)  and not one mention yet of Bellydance..... Because there is too much for one blog entry. So the dance enthusiasts amongst my readers will have to wait for a future blog entry for that stuff!!!!! 

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