When you think of visiting China you immediately think of the famous destinations- The Bund in Shanghai, Beijing’s Forbidden City and the Terracotta Army of Xi’an among many, many others. But if you want to be able to go home and have people saying “tell me more” rather than “I already know that”, then you’ll want to visit some of the amazing destinations our interns have discovered over the years, all close enough to visit in a weekend (which isn’t nearly long enough of course.)
From Chengdu, Emei Shan can be easily reached by both bus and train so it is an ideal overnight trip.
Emei Shan is a well-known attraction to many because of the deep cultural and religious associations with Buddhism. The first Buddhist temple, Huazang, was built here in 1AD, and the largest Buddha in the world, LeShan’s Giant Buddha (which stands at an awe inspiring 71 metres tall) is also located here.
In addition to the cultural, religious and historical importance of Emei Shan, the area is a huge conservation effort. You can find over 3,000 diverse species of plants and trees over a millennium old all around the mountains, as well as over 2,000 kinds of animals.
Emei Shan will leave you speechless- its beauty, fascinating history and religious calm will make this a trip to remember. So stroll up the mountain, take in the view, and relax as the monks from over 30 temples remind you of the spiritual importance of this place.
Kangding, also known as the Land of the Snows, is a trip for those who don’t mind braving the cold in order to experience a fascinating combination of Chinese and Tibetan culture. While you will have to endure a 10 hour bus journey from Chengdu, the sights that will welcome you throughout Kangding will make you forget all about the journey.
You will get to experience true Tibetan cuisine and customs while here- one intern said they felt as if they’d travelled to Tibet without ever leaving China.
Highlights of the trip include the Tagong and Dordrak Monasteries, Guoda Mountain, Hailuogou Valley, the Taong grasslands and the Mugetso Scenic Area. Arguably the best time of year to visit is in Autumn, but whenever you decide to visit, make sure you pack warm clothes!
JiuZhaiGou National Park is yet another area of astonishing national beauty in China… blue lakes only seen in paintings, sprawling mountain ranges, waterfalls and forests to entertain you for hours. Similar to Kangding, JiuZhaiGou will give you the opportunity to experience some Tibetan culture. While you do need to pay admission into the park, you have acres to explore and hours to do so- you can even camp out if you’re feeling adventurous.
If you want to see the park in all its glory, visit in Autumn to be surrounded by every colour imaginable while the weather is still enjoyable.
Located close to Dalian is the capital of Liaoning province, Shenyang. Shenyang is an ancient city filled with great artistic, cultural and historical importance- namely due to the excellent preservation of the Shenyang Imperial Palace. Shenyang is also widely believed to be the birthplace of the Qing Dynasty (which lasted from 1644 to 1911!), so it is a city filled with more than 2000 years of history.
Other notable relics from the Qing Dynasty include the Fuling Tomb, in which the founder of the Qing Dynasty (Nurhachi) and his Empress are interred, and the Zhaoling Tomb, home of Nurhachi’s successor Huang Taji and his Empress.
And if you are interested in more than just the history of the city, there is a curious natural phenomenon for you to play with- Guaipo. The “Strange Slope”, as it is otherwise known, is a sloping piece of land approximately 80 metres long which doesn’t abide by the rules of gravity. Cars, bicycles and tourists alike all have to accelerate to go downhill, yet can enjoy a leisurely roll back up the hill… just a little confusing!
Of course, there is the usual abundance of bars, restaurants and KTV venues to keep you occupied at night.
While Beijing is far from being an “off the beaten track” destination, it’s a popular trip for the Qingdao interns. After all, it would be a little disappointing to go to China without seeing the Great Wall when it’s only a few hours away on the train! If you aren’t aware of what China’s capital city has to offer you, a quick summary would be the Summer Palace, the Ming Tombs, Tiananmen Square, the National Grand Theatre, the panda base, the Silk Market, the Lama Temple and the Forbidden City. Oh, and the Great Wall of China.
Beijing is a city with millions upon millions of people from all walks of life, and with a history spanning three thousand years it’s obvious why this is one of the most traveled to destinations in the world. You’ll have the opportunity to see ancient and modern China with your own eyes all in one place!
You can reach Beijing from Qingdao in around five hours via train, or even quicker by plane, however travelling by train is a whole other experience everyone should have in China!
Qingdao is famous for two mountains- Fushan and Laoshan. While FuShan has the attraction of being located in the middle of Qingdao, LaoShan provides a much more interesting challenge and experience… and who doesn’t love a challenge?
Located approximately a 30- 40 minute drive from Qingdao, visiting Laoshan will mean you can see rivers, waterfalls, ancient temples, beautiful forests and amazing scenery all from one place. The Laoshan National Park covers an area of around 450 square kilometres, so you will have plenty of sights to see on your climb to the top of Mount Lao. Or if the climb seems too daunting, take the cable car to the top, and relax with some local Tsingtao beer or Mount Lao green tea while you enjoy the view.
ZhouZhuang in the Jiangsu province, arguably the most beautiful water town in China, is located near Shanghai and is very easily travelled to from Qingdao by bus, train or plane in just a few hours.
If you want to be transported back to quieter times in China, then a day trip to Zhouzhang will be perfect for you. The opportunity to float along the waterways of this village on a traditional gondola and witness the locals go about their daily lives entirely on the water is not something you can see anywhere else- who wouldn’t want to witness someone doing their shopping from a boat? With the added bonus of being surrounded by ancient architecture almost a thousand years old, which has been virtually untouched by the recent developments in China, ZhouZhuang is the perfect relaxing day trip.
Macau, also known as the “Las Vegas of Asia”, is a fast paced, energetic city that you will struggle to fit into a weekend trip. Unfortunately this trip is only possible if your visa allows multiple entries, so if not it may be best to wait until you are leaving China to spend a weekend here. To visit Macau from Zhuhai, you can take a ferry across the bay or even walk!
Macau will offer you an interesting mix of Cantonese Chinese and Portuguese influences, and it is highly recommended to take time to walk around the city and take in the mix of architecture and cultures surrounding you. Make your way from Sendao Square around the streets, sampling traditional Macau food, visiting Golden Lotus Square and the ruins of St. Paul’s Cathedral. In the evening, spend some time around the famous casinos!
Foshan is both one of Guangdong province’s oldest cities (5,000 years old!) and one of the most modern. With a history heavily focused on the arts, including opera, martial arts and traditional ceramic crafts, there no shortage of cultural activities in the city for the art lovers among you.
If you want to try your hand at creating some traditional Chinese pottery, you can do so using the Nanfeng Kiln, otherwise known as the oldest kiln in China.
There is a much more recent connection to the martial arts as well- you can visit the house of Bruce Lee’s ancestors! If that isn’t to your interest, then the Zumiao Commercial Street filled with malls, plazas, restaurants and tea houses might be more to your taste.
To continue your cultural development, visit the Ancestral Temple, or the Qinghui Garden.
If you’ve ever held a 20RMB note, then you are already familiar with the mountain scenery that will greet you from the Li River in Yangshuo.
There are several reasons to visit Yangshou, including the incredible change of pace you’ll be thrown into (compared to Zhuhai’s easy going atmosphere). You can start the trip with a lazy rafting journey down the Li River, before visiting the incredible Silver Cave below:
There’s also the abundance of amazing local food, including Beer Fish, stuffed Li River snails, bite size Li River fried shrimp and of course, street barbecues.
If you want to visit these amazing cities yourself, then apply now to experience China yourself!
In the beginning of November our InternChina Zhuhai crew started another adventure. This time the destination was called: Yangshuo 阳朔 <<Yáng Shuò>> – a place with unique and truly stunning scenery.
But before I tell you about our trip, here is a little summary about Yangshuo:
Yangshuo County has a fairy-tale landscape with a lot of traditional Chinese, rural culture which has inspired many artists and poets in the past. Its history goes back to antiquity and was established in the Sui Dynasty in 590AD. The architecture and caves allow people to trace back the ancient history. Located in the Guangxi province close to Guilin, the area is a very popular tourist destination and a delightful escape from noise pollution in big cities.
On a Friday we started a 7 hour bus journey from Zhuhai together with about 10 Chinese tourists whom we didn’t know before. Needless to say we were all every excited.
Once we arrived, some of us went to find a midnight bite to eat. The hotel staff told us to be aware of the local “pirates”, which from that moment became the comedy theme of our trip. Nonetheless, we found very delicious BBQ lamb close by, got comfortable on miniature stools for a little while, and made it back safe and sound to the hotel without being made to walk the plank.
The next day we had an early start to finally explore the area and so we got on the bus and went to the world-famous Li River 漓 江 <<Lí Jiāng>>. There we took a boat to cruise along the river and witness the countryside imprinted on the 20CNY note. We also made the acquaintance of these lovely cormorants:
Next we went to XingPing old town aka XingPing fishing village 兴坪镇 <<Xīngpíng Zhèn>> – a street with many small shops and food stalls.
We were prepared for temperatures around 10-15 degrees, however, it turned out to be very sunny and warm that weekend and thus we were not equipped with the appropriate clothes. Speaking of clothes, this brings me to the next point on our budget list: Trying on traditional Chinese outfits at The Big Banyan Tree 大榕树 <<Dà Róng Shù>>. So on top of what were already warm clothes we put another layer of the finest Chinese materials.
We turned into the sight-seeing highlight for many of the Chinese people around us.
About 100 selfies and group pictures later we jumped back on the bus to see the Silver Cave 银 子岩 << Yínzi Yán>>. Luckily we weren’t there during the very busy season and thus had the chance to enjoy the colourfully lit rocks in only partially crowded areas.
But that was not it for the day. The moon-mountain as well as avery eventful dinner was up next.
And once again we turned out to be lucky: we met one of the ethnic minority groups “Zhuang” – really lovely ladies dressed in their traditional outfits – who ended up taking many pictures with us as well! Yangshuo is home to several ethnic minority groups and wearing traditional clothes in daily life still seems to be very common there.
Last but not least we went to see a very impressive, and the world’s largest natural theatre called Impression Liu Sanjie 印象刘三姐 <<Yìn Xiàng Liú Sān Jiĕ>>. Its stage are the waters and natural islands of the Li River and the twelve mist shrouded hills are its backdrop. The performance with 600+ actors is divided into seven chapters including the preface and epilogue which captured the entire audiences’ imagination.
To round off the day we enjoyed a cool breeze around bar street and celebrated the birthday of one of our crew members!
Like true pirates we woke up the next morning bright and early to continue our expedition. This time we took the bus to Yulong River 遇 龙河<< Yù lóng hé >> to go for a round of relaxed bamboo rafting. Even though the weather was drizzly that morning, we didn’t want to miss out on another great experience. The fog covering the mountain tops even gave the area a mysterious look and feel.
After a carefree float on the river we went for lunch close by before heading back to our beloved Zhuhai!
UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the four holy mountains of Buddhism in China, Emei Shan owes its name to its two peaks which in fact look like the delicate eyebrows of a Chinese classic beauty. And a beauty it is! This mountain is home to a large range of wildlife including numerous birds, trees and the mountain´s infamous monkeys; apart from that there are also many sacred temples, monasteries and beautiful pavilions. Locals have a saying that “Emei Shan is more than a mountain; it is a frame of mind.” If you are in Chengdu and have the chance to visit the 3,099m high giant be sure to take it, I promise you won´t be disappointed!
Originally I had planned to hike up the mountain with a friend for two days but as it is so often in life something came in between very last minute so my friend unfortunately could not make it and I was too busy to go for two whole days. So I decided I´d go by myself and stay only for one night. I left Chengdu on a Saturday afternoon at around lunchtime, went to one of the local bus stations and bought a ticket to Baoguo, a village situated at the foot of the mountain. Baoguo is about 150 kilometers away from Chengdu and it only takes 2 ½ -3 hours to get there. As soon as I arrived in the village I went to look for Teddy Bear Hotel, a hostel conveniently situated right next to the bus station which had been recommended to me by friends who had found it to be a very nice and clean place with friendly staff. I could not agree more and due to the fact that it was low season, getting a room was fairly easy even though I had not booked beforehand.
Since it was only three a clock when I got there and I still had a couple of daylight hours left I decided to visit Baoguo Temple which is situated a mere ten minute walk from the hostel. The 8 RMB entrance ticket allows visitors to stay as long as they like and explore the temple grounds including various buildings and courtyards, all of which are stunningly beautiful. It is a really peaceful place where many Chinese people come to pray and pay their respects to Buddha, kneel down in front of golden Buddha statues, light incents and breathe in the peace and quiet of this sacred place. Visiting the temple was a very humble and rewarding experience and I can only recommend it to anyone planning on visiting Emei Shan!
The next day I got up in time to catch the seven o´clock bus to Leidong Ping Bus Station from where I wanted to walk to Qingyin Pavilion and from there to the Golden Summit. At the Pavilion I met a group of Chinese girls who asked me where I was headed and if I was travelling alone. When I told them that indeed no one else was travelling with me they invited me to join them and hike up the rest of the mountain together, an offer I was only too happy to accept. Their English was about as basic as my Chinese but somehow we managed to keep a conversation going and the many misunderstandings and explanations made the experience all the more lively and exciting. Very often you do not need words to express feelings or meanings! When the Chinese girls offered to buy me lunch at one of the various food stalls on the way up to the summit I knew that polite refusal like I would have shown back home in Europe was not the kind of reaction they were hoping for. So I accepted their invitation and we had some delicious snacks. I have only been in China for a month now but I find Chinese people to be extremely friendly and welcoming. Inviting a stranger they have only just met for lunch, offering help and advice without a moment´s hesitation and showing genuine interest in learning more about you and your home country, all this is very much part of the Chinese culture and it makes you feel welcome and appreciated.
After about two hours of climbing up stairs we finally reached Jindǐng, or The Golden Summit, and thanks to the fact that the weather was absolutely lovely (at this point it should be noted that according to the weather forecast it was supposed to be raining nonstop) we were able to enjoy a breathtaking view across the Himalayan mountains, magnificent temples and colourful Tibetan banners flattering in the wind. After spending an hour or so at the summit, exploring different sights, visiting various temples, a giant Buddha statue and a couple of souvenir shops, we made our way back to Leidong Ping Bus Station. Close to the station we saw some monkeys lingering around some picnic areas for the first time during our adventure. I had heard a lot of stories about Emei´s aggressive monkeys before I went so I was nervous they might try to steal our belongings but if you remain calm and do not throw stones at them as I have seen many Chinese tourists do there is no reason to worry. Leave them alone and you´ll be left alone by them, it is as easy as that!
Soon it was time to say goodbye to my new Chinese friends who were staying at Emei Shan until the next day but since they also live in Chengdu we are planning on meeting again soon. Visiting Emei Shan has been a truly unique experience and even if, like me, you are only able to stay for one night it is still totally worth it and nothing you should miss out on.
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“Welcome to Chengdu home of pandas, land of abundance” so let the journey begin…
There is no better way to start the day with a nice coffee or smoothie, right? So check out the Bookworm, grab a nice book and plan your day!
• Take metro line 1 to go to Tianfu Square
• Walk from Tianfu Square to People´s park
Tianfu Square is in the center of Chengdu and is filled with high class shopping malls, nice restaurants and overlooked by an enormous Chairman Mao statue. If you walk to the West, you will get to People’s Park after about 15 minutes.
- Enjoy a walk through People´s park
- Have a tea at one of the traditional tea houses
After you had a little rest, walk over to Kuanzhai Alleys to buy some nice souvenirs for family and friends. You should try out dumplings for lunch at Zhong Shui Jiao at the beautiful Wenshu Monestry. To see more of the cultural sight of Chengdu, go to Du Fu’s Cottage and Jinli Ancient Street which is about 550m long and the buildings are in the Qing Dynasty style.
Tai Koo Li offers a lot of different restaurants, so just walk around and make your decision on a whim. If you haven’t gotten enough of cultural activities yet, enjoy a play at the Opera which could be followed with a beer or two at one of Chengdu’s best bars, the Beernest I.
- Book a room in the heart of Chengdu
The Mrs. Panda Hostel is a 2 star hostel and offers rooms from $5 a night and is very close to Tianfu Square. It offers free Wi-Fi and has a shuttle bus to the airport.
Chengdu is known for their research base of giant pandas and they are too cute to miss out on. I hope you didn’t get too wild last night, so that getting out of bed is easy!
- Make sure to be there at 8 a.m. so you can watch the pandas having breakfast
- Take a taxi to Wuhuo Shrine
- After walking around at the panda base, seeing both white and red pandas, go get some lunch in the park next to Wuhuo Shrine which is the free part of the Monastery.
- Visit Wuhuo Shrine
- Go to the Tibetan area and buy some snacks
- Take metro line one and go to Chunxi Road
Chunxi Road is known as the major shopping area in Chengdu. It is magical and gives you the feeling of being at the Times Square in New York City. The area has plenty of different stores to offer, so make sure you bring enough cash.
After a long shopping haul, sit down and enjoy some delicious dinner and maybe try out some HotPot or other Sichuan food Chengdu is known for.
- Go clubbing at Lan Kwai Fong
Lan Kwai Fong looks beautiful at night, especially if you cross Anshun Bridge and it offers plenty of good clubs and bars to dance the night away.
- Book a room in the heart of Chengdu
If you want to try out a different hostel for the night, the two star Flipflop Lounge Hostel is very popular among young people and is located next to Chenxi Road. You can book a room from $5 per night and is also offers free Wi-Fi.
Are you interested in coming to Chengdu, experiencing the city with your own eyes? Then apply here!
The destination for our InternChina Zhuhai trip last week was called Wailingding Dao – one of Zhuhai’s 146 islands.We left on Saturday around noon. The stormy weather did not stop us from pursuing our plans.
When we arrived, we dropped off our stuff at the hotel, got a bite to eat and started to explore the island. Without having a specific route in mind, we first explored the coastline of the island. The view was beautiful, in spite of the rain. Some pretty hard-core Chinese tourists even went into the sea for a swim!
Approx. 500 steps later, our route led us a little more inland. The walking track was a simple alley of trees and bushes. We hiked along it for almost an hour until we unsuspectingly identified horrendous creatures in the bushes (well at least according to some of the girls ;P). Others found them rather interesting: massive spiders. From that point on, we saw them everywhere. Next to us, above us… everywhere!
So after making the acquaintance of these charming insects we spotted remains from the island’s old military base as well as an abandoned quarry. There, our mission was to take the best IC-Flag picture ever! I guess we were pretty close, don’t you think?
One-hundred group pictures and selfies later, we thought it might be a good idea to head back to civilisation before sunset, and so we did. We walked all the way back through the spider jungle and all the while it was getting darker and darker. It was an unreal experience; very cool but at the same time a tiny bit scary as the creepy crawlies could have just fallen on our heads.
When we got back to the small area around the port, we watched the day fade away by sitting on the beach, and listening to the sound of the waves crashing in the sea.
You might have experienced that feeling, the one when you’re doing something and when you think it’s nearly over, but you discover that you’re not even halfway? That’s what Emeishan was like.Climbing to the golden summit was probably the hardest thing I’ve ever done, especially when you have spent three months eating and drinking – the only sport I have done so far is walking from home to the closest Sichuanese restaurant. Before embarking on this adventure, our group of eight people exactly knew what was awaiting: a 16 hours hike, wild monkeys and endless steps; but, fearless and eager for adventure it was: CHALLENGE ACCEPTED!
After a chilled first night at the Hotel in Emei city, bamboo sticks in hand, we headed to Emei mount main gate! Thinking of this endless hiking trip, we were already tired by the first steps, but the view was already really enjoyable! After few hours hiking, we hit the first touristic spot: The monkey place!
Cheeky monkeys… look really cute… yeah, only from far away. Being very excited, we crossed this suspended bridge while approaching them really closely. A bit risky as one of them brilliantly managed to take George’s Coca-Cola bottle by jumping on his bag. That was priceless. We just couldn’t stop laughing. Then, we kept on climbing, crossing water, climbing, crossing bridges, climbing again. For the first hours, loads of Chinese tourists were around us, approaching and asking for pictures. But eventually we reached a point where we were the only climbers remaining. Waterfalls, suspended bridges, nothing around but mountains – we were surrounded by amazing landscapes.
The last hours were probably the longest ever, straight climbing, endless steps. At that time I was in such a state of mind that I just started swearing in French, my beautiful mother tongue, for half an hour (probably one of the reason why the monkeys didn’t approach me :P).
However, we made it to our place for the night – a functioning & ancient Buddhist temple! We were above the clouds, arriving on time to see the sunset. After such a long day, we still managed to stay up for a dinner. However, we reached such an altitude and such a point of tiredness that we spent our dinner laughing for basically nothing. We probably scared the locals forever :D.
After a short night sleep, Suprina and I managed to wake up at 6 am to see the sunrise (I still don’t know how we did that). Still half asleep, pillows in hand, we waited for half an hour and finally, we could see the first lights of the sun. The view was stunning and reminded us why this trip was definitely worth it.
En route, we left the temple, so relieved to see that we had to climb down to the next temple. Until we saw that we had to climb another 2 hours to reach the next one. The whole trip was like that – when you think that you did the hardest, you see another, higher mountain to climb. That temple was the last one where we could enjoy those lovely monkeys company.
After a few hours of more climbing, we shared what was maybe the best lunch ever. We were so exhausted, but still excited to notice that the golden summit was only 2 hours away from us. Fearless, all the girls and 2 boys decided to climb to the top. There was no point for us to climb 14 hours, and give up for two more hours by taking the cable car. 2 hours later, we could see it: the Emei summit steps. All tiredness became a thing of the past and we just started running like mentals, to make it to the top!
We made it! After 16 hours hiking and around 60 000 steps, we reached the peak!
The view was amazing; we were literally above the clouds. After an hour of group selfies next to the Giant Buddhist statue, we took the cable car down in order to take the bus home. I think climbing Emeishan is a great way of challenging yourself, while enjoying one of craziest view on the top; you suffer a lot, be when reaching the peak you realize how worth it it is.
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On a Sunday, two days after my arrival in Zhuhai, I joined a day trip organized by one of the other IC office interns. I was told it was going to be a one hour bus drive and a one hour hike until we would reach a waterfall where we could go for a swim. By that time I did not know how amazing this trip was going to be.
At 10:00 in the morning we got on the bus to a town called 金星村, which is close to a mountain called 黄茅田 (or here the Google maps address: Sheng Dao, Taishan Shi, Jiangmen Shi, Guangdong Sheng).
We were a group of twenty enthusiastic interns who could not wait to see this supposedly beautiful waterfall. So we got off the bus, put sunscreen on, and started hiking.
After five to ten minutes of walking, the hiking track became quite adventurous. We strode through little streams, jumped from one stone to another, walked through bushes and had to be careful while walking along some pretty steep hillsides… oh and not to forget about all the Chinese paparazzi who came along and wanted to take selfies with us!
It was very hot and humid that day. Accordingly, we were melting in the sun until we finally reached the swimming hole. Within seconds, all of us jumped into the water to cool off. At last we then knew that the hike was totally worth it. The view from the top was stunning and we stayed for the whole afternoon.
And after that… well… we had to go all the way back to the town where the bus had been waiting for us. It turned out the way down was even more challenging than the way up. We had such a good time and it was a great opportunity for me to get to know the interns in Zhuhai. Even though I still had a jetlag, I’m very glad I joined the group that day..
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„You need to go to this place!“, “ It is totally worth the long bus trip!”, “You will never regret to go there.”
These are just a few of the comments that I heard about JiuZhaiGou. Naive, I went to the bus station to meet all the new and some long term interns who joined the trip. All in all we were seventeen people. The bus departed on schedule and after two hours we already were able to see the first mountains. Long bus ride few words. Instead of around eight to ten hours journey we needed thirteen. But the welcome of JiuZhaiGou at night is awesome. Between the big mountains are the small cities which enlighten their houses and advertisements in every colour. We had a very late and delicious dinner. But my thoughts just jumped between “I need sleep” and “hope it is worth this long bus ride”.
The weather the next day was amazing. Blue sky and warm sun. The shadows were a little bit cold but only in the morning. After we entered the park we needed to take another bus to one of the two peaks. But it was a fast ride and the view out of the window was just a small appetiser of what we would see later. I don’t know how nature transformed this place but it is one of the most beautiful places I have ever seen. You don’t need any filters or Photoshop to create an astonishing picture. Just take your phone and you will have beautiful pictures. I never could imagine that water could be so clear. I never could imagine that a lake could look like a swimming pool (created by nature). You just want to jump into it and swim in it. Big waterfalls connect the different lakes and complete the picture of this gorgeous place.
After just one day in JiuZhaiGou I hope that I will be able to visit it again one time in the future. I just can say: “You need to go to this place! It is totally worth the long bus ride! (Even thirteen hours) You will never regret to go there.”
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