Back to blog index

The China Road Trip Begins! Where We’ll be Going, and When.

Our first Chinese fuel station stop yesterday reinforced that our just-commenced China Road Trip will be no ordinary kind of travel, and there will be no blending quietly into the landscape as we’d hoped. People of China, thank you for your intense interest in our vehicle and our journey- we’ve only just begun and it’s absolutely heartwarming. 
For those readers who are new here, let me introduce ourselves and our plans (for those of you who already know us, skip ahead!). We’re an Australian family who have lived in Shanghai for the last three years and loved every minute, but our longing for a great adventure means for the next six months our home will be one on wheels – a campervan with its own beds, kitchen and even a miniature bathroom.
Our dream has always been to see all of China, every last gorgeous and wild corner of it, from the coast to the interior and everything in between, so over the next half year we will circumnavigate China roughly anti-clockwise, beginning and ending in Shanghai. 
Our Travel Plans

Mr Google Maps has been a good friend to us so far and I’ve no reason to doubt him when he says it will be 18,941km from start to end. what Mr Google Maps doesn’t now is that I’m navigating, my maps are all in Chinese, and I seize the chance to take a detour if one presents itself, especially if it involves good food or large and bulky antiques. So maybe make that 20,000km. Or even 25,000.
So here’s our trip in a nutshell. I felt really good about sitting down for this last five minutes with the Google Route Planner and making a plan. It’s the first time I’ve seen what exists in my head on paper, so to speak. (Please don’t tell my husband because he thinks I’ve had a day-by-day itinerary planned out for months, but I’m only giving it to him a day at a time so it will be a surprise.) 
The summer months will see us head north then west, and during the winter months we’ll travel to the warmer climes of the south and east.
The northward leg for the next few weeks will take us to Inner Mongolia and the fabled Naadam horse festival of the nomadic Mongolian grassland peoples, then west along the path of the ancient Silk Road through some of the most remote desert in China to the trading oasis of Kashgar. Kashgar is nestled in a corner of China bordering on five other countries including Afghanistan and Pakistan. We were there last year too, and can’t wait to return.
From far western China we’ll travel south and east through Yunnan, a land filled with colourful peoples belonging to China’s many ethnic minorities, and some of the most extraordinary natural beauty and biologic diversity in China, then eastwards across Guizhou Province, China’s poorest but arguably its most unspoilt and interesting province where tall green hills rise up from narrow river valleys dotted with villages belonging to the Miao people. We will visit during their lusheng traditional music festival in winter to see the magnificent costumes and traditions of a people whose lives have changed little in the last five hundred years.
Lastly, our journey will bring us via the traditional roundhouses of Fujian Province back to Shanghai.
Our First Night

Crossing the mighty Yangtze. Colour of sky and water identical.

I wish I could tell you our first night was idyllic, quiet and magical and we all communed with nature. 
Actually, due to an unexpected late departure from Shanghai we drove like maniacs for five hours due north, crossing the Yangtze near Nantong and traversing hour after hour of flat wall-to-wall farms without a single suitable camping site anywhere among the rows of corn and the rice paddies. The sky was dense and humid, darkened by the smoke from frequent burning off in fields.
Around nightfall Google Earth (my other friend) helped me find a little river bordered by stands of trees (it looked like a perfect, quiet spot), where we parked in the mud next to a decrepit gravel dredging crane and right on top of the town dump. The sweet smell of rotting garbage was matched only by the thousands of flies and the stench from the duck farm across the water. My first step out of the van squelched ankle deep into a pile of manure. Love nature. Love camping. 
Luckily, tonight I’m 500 kilometres from Shanghai overlooking the ocean, high on a hill. Darkness has fallen and when the clouds part I can see real, actual stars – lots of them, and high behind me a lighthouse casts its regular radial beam. Tomorrow I’m going to swim in the ocean, but tonight I’m happy to listen to its sound and feel the cool clean breezes blowing.

Follow Along…. 

I hope you’ll follow along on our journey with us – thanks to my wonderful friend and translator JW, Chinese language posts will appear every Monday and Thursday. If I wrote it in Chinese, believe me, you wouldn’t want to read it.

To be up with all the daily news and gossip on our travels you can follow us on:
Twitter @nanchanglu
Weibo @nanchanglu






你们好!

请允许我向这里的新读者介绍一下我们。我们是过去三年居住在上海的澳大利亚家庭,我们深深爱着在上海度过的每一分钟,但我们渴望在未来的六个月尝试一次伟大的探险:我们把家安在了车轮上——一辆拥有卧室、厨房甚至迷你浴室的房车

我们梦想看遍全中国,从沿海到内陆的每一处迷人而又野趣盎然的角落。

在未来的半年时间里,我们将逆时针大致环游中国,旅程从上海开始并回到上海。夏季你们将看到我们一路向北,然后往西行,冬季我们将向暖和的南部和东部推进。

在接下来的几周里,我们将去内蒙古领略极富盛名的蒙古草原游牧民族的那达慕大会,随后将一路往西沿着丝绸之路穿过中国最大沙漠的一部分最后抵达喀什的贸易绿洲。喀什踞于中国一隅,在那里中国与阿富汗、巴基斯坦等五国接壤。我们去年曾在喀什,现在已然迫不及待地想再次回到那里。

从中国的西部边远地区我们将往南部和东部旅行,穿越云南,一片聚居着多民族的五彩斑斓人们的土地,一片拥有最不可思议自然美景和生物多样性的土地。随后我们将向东行驶穿越贵州省,中国最贫穷却毫无争议地是最未被景点化、最有意思的地区,那里苗族村寨点缀于蜿蜒河谷间的青葱峻岭中。我们将在冬天去参观苗族的芦笙节,去欣赏绚丽的服饰以及那里的人们保留了五百年几乎未曾改变的传统。

我希望您能与我们同行——在我的朋友兼翻译的帮助下,每周日及周四将会发布中文版的游记。

如果您想知道我们每天的旅行见闻,请关注:


开心大冒险!