Before coming to China, I remember thinking that when my six month internship in China is finished, I want to be able to say I’ve really seen China. During my initial emails with current Office Manager Morgan Dolan before I arrived, I told her this, and she replied with “I don’t think you realize how big China really is!” Six months later, I can actually say that I have seen a lot of China!
The truth is, China is really big! It’s very easy for me to get overly ambitious with my travelling ideas, so when I initially got here I aimed for the closer places – Hong Kong, Guangzhou, Macau, etc and finally got over the idea of ‘seeing’ China. Then one day when I was sitting at the park with a bunch of my friends (fellow interns), a few of us came upon the topic of all the places in China we’d like to go. Pretty soon we had all agreed on the great places we’d all want to go. A few of us girls ended up making plans to go see these places before our internships are over; Beijing, Shanghai, Chengdu, Xi’an. These were our goals.
Planning trips can tend to be very overwhelming, so we decided to tackle one destination at a time, and planned one trip per month. After doing a lot of research and talking to some of our Chinese friends, we found that the best websites to use for traveling within China are: www.skyskanner.com, www.ctrip.com, http://flight.qunar.com/. These websites offer a wide variety of frequent flights from all of the nearby airports (from Zhuhai, the easiest airports to depart from are either Zhuhai or Guangzhou). There are also many buses that go from Zhuhai to either the Zhuhai airport or the Guangzhou airport directly, and they run really frequently so it is really easy to just hop on the bus after work on a Friday and go straight to the airport. Prices for flying within China also are not too expensive; for example my flight to Shanghai was 1000rmb (125€), to Chengdu and Xi’an were both 1300rmb (163€), and the flight to Beijing was 2000rmb (250€). From what our Customer Relations Manager Sunny tells me, flights within China can be a lot cheaper, however this all depends on when you buy the tickets and the time of year that you decide to go – we however didn’t have that much time and simply wanted to ensure that we would go there, so we were happy with these prices.
There are arrays of cheap, and great, hostels to choose from in each city. By visiting www.hostelworld.com you can check out all the local hostels and pick the best one for you. Most hostels also help you plan your trips, and can usually cater them around for you. For example, in Xi’an the hostel arranged for a private bus to take us to and from the Music and Dance Show and arranged our tickets and everything for us, so all we had to do was show up at the door. In Beijing, our hostel arranged our trip to the Great Wall, so we did not have to worry about anything when we arrived, but instead just got to relax and enjoy our trip and know that we were being taken care of.
Even if you are unable to get any days off or holiday time from your internship, it is still very possible to travel. Because we all intern in different companies and weren’t able to get the same days off, we decided it would be easier if we focused our trips to be on the weekends, meaning for every trip we’d choose the latest flight on the Friday night, and the latest flight on the Sunday night to ensure that we got the full weekend. So on the Friday, we’d leave straight from work to the airport and usually only arrive at our destination really early in the morning, but at least it meant that we had the whole Saturday and Sunday and that we were not wasting any time. Monday was always a little difficult, as we were all tired from our hectic weekend and arriving back really early in the morning, but it’s totally worth it!
Another great way to see China is through InternChina itself – we plan many cultural trips around China, some of our most recent trips were to Zhangjiajie (the scenic spot where the Avatar Mountains were filmed), Yangshou, Phoenix Town, Xiamen and Fujian. These trips are a lot of fun as all the interns join on these trips, and we all get to experience them together. InternChina also plans out everything from transportation, accommodation, trip details/itinerary and food, so the interns never have to worry about anything and just get to enjoy the amazing trips! InternChina usually plans a trip every 5 weeks, so whenever you arrive you will have the opportunity to go on a trip within China and have a great weekend away with all the other interns! You can see some of the Zhuhai teams’ blogs from our trips here: Zhangjiajie, Phoenix town, Yangshou, Xiamen.
If you have dreams of seeing more of China during your stay, don’t let the distance throw you off! It’s so easy to travel within China, and it’s so worth it! My stay here would not have been the same without all my weekend travel trips – it also gives you such a better understanding of China as a whole, and the area you are living in. It allows you to experience all of the different Chinese dialects, styles, cultures, and types of food.