China was certainly a country of contrasts to me.  Some parts we loved and some we hated.  In summary, we loved Shanghai and the mountain villages, but hated all the other commercial tourist attractions.

We visit our friends Arna and Dave in Shanghai, and had a great time.

Arna introduced me to waxberries which I absolutely love!

I discovered a chain of restaurants called Din Tai Fung that specialise in steamed dumplings.  I have never tasted anything so beautiful.  We ate there a few times, and if I were go to back tomorrow, it is the first things I would choose to eat upon arrival.

The dumplings on the left are my favourite.  They contain pork and a stock-type liquid, with a prawn on top. You dip the dumpling into a mixture of rice vinegar, soya sauce and chillis before popping into you mouth (you may need to bite the top off first if you have small mouth like mine) and waiting for the flavours to explode in your mouth.  Can you tell that I think they’re gorgeous?  Unlike anything I have ever eaten elsewhere.

The few from Arna and Dave’s apartment is amazing.

The fabric market in Shanghai is simply incredible!  They’ll copy any item of clothing you have, or measure you for a custom made-to-measure article of clothing.  An average dress costs between £16 and £30, depending on fabric, whether it lined and/or its complexity.  A cashmere suit can be made within 48 hours for about £75 (includes 2 pairs of trousers).  Needless to say, we did a lot of shopping.

One of the highlights was a cooking course.  Here’s Tim showing how it is done.

The end result was so fantastic, we couldn’t believe we had actually cooked it all!

The mountain village we visited was in the Longsheng province.  This felt like ‘real’ China, and the only part where we actually found the locals to be friendly (excluding our guide!).

Luckily the locals help you to carry up your luggage:  half an hour track up the mountain in extreme humidity.

The local women are known for their very long hair.

I was a little concerned that one building had looked like it had collapsed!

Guilin is a beautiful area, our hotel was lovely, but we really didn’t like all the manufactured tourism and bus loads of people brought in daily.  The local Butterfly Caves attracted 90 tour buses at one count!

I because addicted to the sweet ginger tea while I was there.  Thank goodness I can’t make it as well, otherwise it might be the cause of severe weight gain!

On the way back we stopped off in Hong Kong.  We weren’t aware that it was the rainy season, and it raised so much that it restricted what we could actually do …

We decided to treat ourselves in Hong Kong, and booked dinner at Nobu.  To cut a long story short, when we menu arrived, we recognised nothing, so decided to go for the ‘Tasting menu’

As you would expect, the food was brilliant, beautiful and incredibly tasty.  But what we hadn’t realised, was that the Tasting Menu consisted of 7 courses.  Or was it 9?  But certainly more than any one human could consume!

I had to admit defeat.  Although I had given it a good go!