You know when you meet a person and you hear their stories and you are taken by the way they describe everything? Ibrahim Albeshari is a property investment as his profession but expresses his life through photography. Think of the ways how you express yourself? Is it through dance? Music? Photography or even writing? So happy to share with you Ibrahim’s diary and wonderful journey through his images!! Follow him as well on Instagram HERE
Travel Junkie Diary
Destination China (Beijing , Xian, Hunan and Shanghai )
The main reason for choosing China… simply because it’s a photographer’s heaven. Initially, China wasn’t really a place I was keen to visit. However, since I’ve developed an interest in photography, I realized I wanted to explore more places like China. After an amazing 2 weeks and 4 towns, I’m glad that I took the opportunity with my travel partner to capture, only some of, China’s beauty.
Beijing *Dragon King Hostel was my first hostel experience. I must say it was a pleasant surprise! The hostel was clean and the staff spoke English well and very helpful. The hostel had a nice bar/restaurant with Chinese and western cuisine and offered a variety of nightly activities. However, location was the best! It was on a busy street with a lot of restaurants, so we hardly ate at the hostel. The hostel was conveniently located two subway-stops away from the Forbidden City.
Xian *Han Tang Inn Hostel was very nice. It was centrally located so walking during the evening was very enjoyable. It was close to the Bell Tower, Drum Tower, and Muslim Quarters. The hostel offered many tours, which included, but not limited to, the Terra Cotta Warriors, Panda breeding and research, and Tibet budget tour. The kitchen was open late and offered a range of western food, which was very good
Hunan *Zhangjiajie Forest Park Qinyuan Hotel was basically a place to sleep. We chose it because it was one of the few hotels closest to the Zhangjiajie National Park gate. We didn’t want to waste time traveling to and from the hotel. The hotel was extremely cold and did not offer much heat, if any at all. However, the room was very large. The hotel was based in a small town up in the mountains so the town life was very quiet. There was restaurant close by and a small market to gather essential items.
Shanghai *Elegance Bund Hotel in Shanghai was a very nice place and location was the excellent. The hotel was a bit difficult to find as it was behind buildings on the main road and under construction. Once inside, the hotel was very nice and the room was very comfortable. The hotel was located about a 10-minute walk to a premier shopping street, 3.4-mile-long Nanjing Road, and 5-minute walk to the Bund. The hotel, itself, offered Chinese style breakfast only but there was several restaurants located right around the corner.
In your suitcase The basics, I tried not to over pack. It Was a bit tricky, as the weather was slightly different from one city to the other. But mainly good hiking shoes, comfortable pants, and long sleeve shirts. And almost my entire camera gear!
We started our journey in Beijing, of course, to see the famous Great Wall of China. We had signed up through a travel website for a day trip to the wall. The tour guide picked us up from our hostel and drove for a few hours up into the mountains. The Great Wall trip started with a hike from a little town, straight up the mountain, and to the broken part of the wall. We were then able to explore on an amazing 4-5 hour hike. The beginning of our hike was simply amazing. There were very few people there and we wandered the broken, untouched, parts of the wall. As we came closer to the end of our hike, we came across the more touristy part of the wall. The wall had been fixed to accommodate all types of people and there were more people. We decided to take the toboggan down the mountain. Very long line but definitely worth it! While Great Wall was our main focus in Beijing, we did spend time at Forbidden City and Tiananmen Square.
We chose to visit Xian mainly for the Terracotta Warriors, however we found some hidden gems inside the city walls. Xian is a town within city walls and has beautiful architectures such as the Bell and Drum tower. We spent most of our free time in the Muslim Quarters. This was great because it offered a variety of food and shopping. There were markets within the quarters and we just wandered each one until our hands were full. We made a stop at the Great Mosque, which is one of the oldest, largest, and best-preserved mosques in China. We booked a day tour through the hostel to see the Terra Cotta Warriors. This was a great tour! The drive was a bit long but well worth it once we arrived. After wandering the museums, we made a stop for lunch. I don’t remember the name of the restaurant, as it was just part of the tour, but the food was excellent. Our small group sat at a round table and the small plates were placed on a round turntable, “Lazy Susan”. We even had some time to explore the Big Wild Goose Pagoda and the Tang Paradise. The pagoda was beautiful, along with several Buddhist schools and temples. Tang Paradise is a theme park, however, it was pretty empty due to cold weather. It was still beautiful to see and we waited until night to take pictures of the palace with the beautiful light show.
Hunan offers two great mountain views, Tianmen Mountain and the mountains in the Zhangjiajie National Park. We were under the impression that both these mountains were in the same area, however, this is not the case. Tianmen Mountain is accessible from the city and Zhangjiajie National Park is further away from the city. We were able to see both after some planning. The Avatar Mountains are seen at the Zhangjiajie National Park and the mountainside glass skywalk is at the Tianmen Mountain. Unfortunately the weather was not ideal for photography. A few days were excellent but one of our days was very cold, rainy, and therefore, extremely foggy. The mountains were just incredible and I wouldn’t even be able to put into words the views I have seen. The forest was so vast with tropical weather. Be prepared for some stair and climbing to get the best views!
By the time we arrived to Shanghai, we were looking forward to some city life. We had been in the mountains and small towns for a while now. We ate at Wagas, a Shanghai Café. They offered healthy and wholesome food. We were mostly excited to see the Bund and take pictures of the city skyline. The Oriental Pearl Tower is a site to visit, as you can view the city from the observation deck. We also took some beautiful photographs of the pedestrian roundabout. We made sure to wake up very early to snap some priceless photos of the sunrise on the bund. Shanghai was good for wandering, shopping, eating and just simply being apart of the Chinese city culture.
Dined in We enjoyed a restaurant in Xian that was located on the main street near out hostel. The local people were watching basketball games on TV, which was entertaining to witness. I don’t remember the name, but the food was good. We ordered a few small dishes, but the fried rice was excellent. Fried rice seemed to be a staple item during out trip, as menu translation was often difficult. My travel partner enjoyed the dumplings throughout our trip. They were often packed with unknown meat, whether it was chicken, beef, or pork, but she had no problem enjoying them.
Shopped There was this hidden t-shirt shop in Shanghai. The designs on the t-shirts are so awesome that I bought some shirts from. Several small markets selling just about anything you could imagine, anywhere you go. It was hard to limit ourselves in the beginning, knowing we had 2 full weeks of traveling.
Tips If you a photographer and street photography is you thing then China is perfect for it, But old people don’t like big cameras to be pointed at them.
As I said before language was the biggest issue, English is not widely spoken so patience is key when communicating. China is very busy with a very large population, be aware of big crowds. Pork is the main meat in just about all their dishes. Be careful if you are a non-pork eater. Some restaurants don’t offer an English menu so ordering was difficult when you were given one-word descriptions, use Google translator if you can J, Go to China with an open mind. There is so much to see, that one would need well over a month to explore. However, after 2 weeks, we were ready to get back to life, as we know it.
Mode of Travel I flew Emirates airlines to Beijing and domestic flight between cities , except for one time, we used the bullet train from Beijing to Xian.