Image © Olga

Image © Olga

I’m never one to need much persuasion when it comes to travel, so when my Mum told me she was celebrating a milestone birthday in China and running the Great Wall of China half marathon, I definitely wanted to be there. Initially Mike and I were only going to support, though somehow we have also been convinced to sign up for the race!

I’ve spent a few hours researching and planning our holiday including reading travel blogs for suggestions and first hand experience of where to visit from other travelers. Simon’s Jam Jar has some comical tips in his 29 Things You Need To Know Before Visiting China – it’s certainly going to be a cultural and eye-opening trip. Can’t wait.

The more brochures and blogs I read, the longer I’ve realised you need to spend in China to do the country justice. There are so many beautiful and interesting places, so this two-week trip will have to be a taste for a longer visit in the future.

Beijing

Image © Baron Reznik

Image © Baron Reznik

The trip starts with our arrival in Beijing – my first experience of China. There will certainly be some of the city’s signature dish, Peking Duck being eaten. No doubt we will get lost in the many hutongs while we try navigate the Chinese language.

As well as a lot of eating and shopping, sightseeing will include Tiananmen Square – one of the largest squares in the world, the Forbidden City and Temple of Heaven.

Jixian

The Great Wall and race time! After a pre-race route inspection a couple of days prior, we join in the Great Wall Of China Marathon – known to be one of the most challenging in the world – on the Huangyaguan section of the wall. Family are running in the full and half marathons while I’m running the 8.5km ‘fun run’. 2,582 steps, here I come.

I’ve always wanted to visit the Great Wall and never imagined I would be running a race on it. Will be pretty special running it with family as part of my Mum’s birthday. Certainly a memorable occasion to remember in the years to come.

Xi’an

Image © Molly Mazilu

Image © Molly Mazilu

One of China’s oldest cities, Xi’an has over 3,000 years of history. As well as exploring the city, we will be joining a day tour visiting the mind-blowing Terracotta Warriors Museum, Bell Tower, Great Mosque and the Muslim Quarter.

Chengdu

Image © Martha de Jong-Lantink

Image © Martha de Jong-Lantink

No trip to China would be complete without seeing the adorable Panda Bear. I would have loved to do some volunteer work with them, but time permitting, we will just be visiting the Chengdu Panda Base; a non-profit research and breeding facility for giant pandas and other rare animals. I can’t wait to see these gorgeous animals in person.

Shanghai

Our time in China ends with a few days in the vibrant and bustling city of Shanghai. Days will be filled walking along The Bund, taking in the iconic skyline and soaking up the atmosphere as we end our two week trip in China’s most populated city.

The countdown is underway with less than three weeks to go. Better get in some last minute stair training. The stairs in the race are looking intimidatingly steep.

Have you been to China? Share your tips, or links to posts in the comments. Personal experience and word of mouth ‘must-dos’ from those you know are always the best recommendations.

Counting down,

100 happy days; Week 15

The 100 happy days challenge is complete! I almost can’t believe that I have been instagramming a photo of something that has made me happy every day since January 4th when I took up the challenge. The challenge certainly finished on a massive high with Low Cost Holidays hosting their 2014 blogger awards evening on my 100th day. You will have to keep reading to find out the results!

The #100happydays challenge has been fun (and harder on some days), but all in all I’ve really enjoyed paying more attention to the positive and what makes my day a little brighter. The more I looked for what made me happy, the more there seemed that made me happy. Win win.

Perhaps you have been inspired by me completing this challenge, or maybe you want to try it for yourself? You can sign up for free any time. Click on over to the #100happydays website here and give it a go. Let me know how you get on.

Here are the last two days of my 100 happy days:

Image © Kirk Siang

Image © Kirk Siang

Day 99: Planning our trip to China next month! Three weeks today and I will be on a plane on my way to Beijing. It is my first time to China and even more exciting, I am meeting up with my Mum, Step-dad and other family members to run in the Great Wall Of China marathon (I am only doing the 8.5km ‘fun run’) to celebrate a milestone birthday for my Mum. The countdown is on…

Low Cost Holidays Blogger Awards 14

Day 100: By pure coincidence day 100 happened to coincide with the #BloggerAwards14 hosted by Low Cost Holidays. Such a fantastic evening with a great group of other travel bloggers. I’m very excited to announce that I won the category for ‘New Kid On The Block’.

I am beyond excited to have won, especially with so many other talented and inspiring travel blogger nominees. A huge thank you to everyone who voted and supported for me and A Life Less Beige. I am so grateful and couldn’t have done it without all of your help. Looking forward to putting my new Panasonic Lumix camera to use in the upcoming travels.

What a way to finish the challenge. Still smiling.

Big congratulations to all the nominees and category winners:
Best Female: Mrs Ayla’s Adventures
Best Male: Simon’s Jam Jar
Best Foodie Explorers: Mondomulia
Fun Family: Jetlag and Mayhem
Most Comical: The Travel Pop
Most Fearless: Beyond Blighty
Super Stylish: Dream Euro Trip
Thriftiest Traveller: Need Another Holiday
Top International: The Nomadic Family
Best Roaming Romantics: Country Hopping Couple

Check some of the their sites out for travel inspiration overload!

Thank you for reading along and joining me on #100happydays. I hope you have enjoyed and maybe it has brought a little happiness into your day.

Ending happy,

100 happy days_week 14

Wow, it’s the last full week of the #100happydays challenge! Only two more days to go. I feel a little mixed about it finishing, but I’m glad that looking for the happiness in each day has become a part of my daily routine.

The past week has been a social one with dining out and good company. I enjoy the social setting of being out with Mike, or friends and connecting over food. It’s always enjoyable getting out and trying somewhere new, or going to old favourites. London has so many options for dining out, it really does spoil for choice.

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Parents visiting is always the perfect excuse to enjoy everything that is quintessentially British. With that in mind, a traditional afternoon tea experience was top of the list to book while my parents were on holiday from New Zealand.

I decided to book us in at one of London’s iconic hotels on the banks of the Thames, The Savoy. It’s very elegant with a charming, old school glamour – inside the furnishings, artwork and details are impeccable.

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100 happy days_week 13

Food, flowers and festivities has been the theme for the past week. Another birthday has been and gone, which must mean another year wiser. There has been a lot of nice surprises and plenty of eating. Even writing this, my stomach is full after a delicious post-birthday dinner at Barnyard this evening. Shakes in milk bottles (with or without alcohol), dangerously good cocktails, flavoursome food and popcorn ice-cream – how can you go wrong?

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