My favourite travel blogger Janet Newenham recently posted this photo on her Instagram page of a gorgeous bathtub overlooking the Serengeti National Park in Tanzania and I was in AWE. Does a place this perfect actually exist?!
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EXCITING NEWS!! I’m delighted to have been selected by @yellowzebrasafaris, Europe’s leading adventure travel and African safari company, to be one of their official blogger Ambassadors! My love of Africa and endless trips to South and East Africa is paying off in big ways. 😀 As part of my ambassadorship, I’ll be running one of the best competitions I’ve ever done on my blog and Instagram – the chance to win a luxury safari trip to Tanzania!! #DreamTrip You can check out my blog (link in bio and stories) for more info on the competition, how to enter and photos of all the GORGEOUS lodges you get to stay in! Can’t believe one of you will win this once in a lifetime trip to Tanzania! TELL ME: Is it your dream to travel to Africa on safari?? #TanzaniaWithYZS #ad #yellowzebrasafaris
Upon further reading, I learned that this dreamy scene was located in one of Yellow Zebra Safaris’ Tanzanian lodges and not only was it real, they were also offering a chance to win a once in a lifetime luxury safari holiday. All I had to do was write a blog post about my favourite ever holiday – easy when you love writing about travel! Read on to find out about what made my trip to Yangshuo, China, my best ever…
My favourite ever holiday began with an overwhelming sensory overload. As my partner Jordan and I crossed the border from Hong Kong into mainland China, I had never felt so out of my depth. I was hit with a barrage of unfamiliar sights and sounds, and as I looked around and saw nothing but Chinese characters I wasn’t sure whether I’d ever be able to navigate around Shenzhen train station, let alone this enormous, unknown country.
One three hour train ride later, and with the help of a few incredibly patient Chinese people we arrived in Guilin at the closest train station to rural Yangshuo. Feeling like an accomplished pair of explorers we trotted out to the taxi rank with the address of our guesthouse printed in perfect Mandarin… or so we thought. With non-existent Mandarin skills and no WiFi connection, we were solely in the hands of our poor taxi driver – and the incorrect address we’d given her.
We hopped in for what we thought would be a short journey; but fast-forward three hours, several stops and one burst of tears later and I was still sat in the back with absolutely no inclination of what was going on, wondering if I ever should have left the security of Norfolk!
After driving through cities, villages, and total nothingness – I swear even the seasons were changing around us – we finally arrived at our beautiful guesthouse in rural Chao Long Village and the relief was palpable. After massively overpaying for our taxi (we were novices at this point, okay?) I took one look around and knew the journey from hell had been worth it. The total tranquillity of the village, surrounded by lush, green forest and towering karst mountains, couldn’t have been a sharper contrast to the total mayhem of the day so far.
I’d love to tell you we spent our evening unwinding and absorbing this zen energy, but we deserved a drink, so we threw in our backpacks and made our way to central Yangshuo.
I don’t know what I imagined nightlife in rural China to be, but it certainly wasn’t this. The clubs were wild and all walks of people flooded the noisy streets – and it wasn’t even 9pm! We spent our first night in Yangshuo eating delicious street food (despite not knowing what it was), watching eccentric street performers, browsing local markets, drinking on a rooftop and making friends from all around the world.
When it was time to go home we hopped in a tuk tuk and held on for dear life as it sped through the dark, bumpy forest back to our guesthouse.
The next morning we had no time for hangovers – though they probably would have been cured instantly with one breath of Yangshuo’s fresh, mountain air. We had an al fresco breakfast in our guesthouse’s garden, looking out over the valley as chickens pecked around our table.
Then it was time to explore. We hopped on a pair of rickety old bikes and made our way to what has be the most idyllic cycle route on the planet, where we rode alongside the winding Li river and its mesmerising backdrop of karst mountains.
My favourite memory of our time in Yangshuo was drifting down the river on a traditional bamboo raft – and the hilarious moments leading up to it. As we were strolling through a nearby village we were approached by a lady asking if we’d like to take a river cruise, which we eagerly accepted. We agreed payment and then she led us to our ride – the back of her moped! There was barely space for one on this thing, let alone three, and we must have looked an absolute spectacle wobbling down country roads with our limbs intertwined!
We did however arrive in one piece and were rewarded with the most perfect experience. Floating down the Li river in 30 degree sunshine, beer in hand, was nothing short of pure bliss.
The remainder of our days in Yangshuo were spent living simply like this – hiking, jumping in the river, eating local cuisine, drinking beer and playing with the animals at our guesthouse. I’d always thought of myself as exclusively a city girl up to this point but I soon learned there’s nothing boring about getting back to basics.
Our zen break in Yangshuo was the perfect way to unwind before what was to come next – a 28 hour train journey and the mad metropolis of Shanghai. But that’s a story for another time…
Much like my trip to Yangshuo, a Tanzanian safari holiday with Yellow Zebra Safaris would be a totally new and wildly unknown experience for me. I may be a seasoned urban-dweller, but there’s nothing quite as exciting as stepping out of your travel comfort zone. In fact, as I’m writing this from my new home in London there’s nothing I wouldn’t give for a big fat smooch with Mother Nature! #TanzaniaWithYZS