Why you should add Xian to your China Itinerary (Pretend warriors aside)


A mother and child navigate the busy streets of the city’s Muslim quarter

Located in Shaaxi, Xian is one of the oldest and most historic city in China. It’s also known as ‘the place you can take a photos  terracotta warriors’. Despite spending several days here last year, I didn’t actually manage to see the city’s main attraction (in a similar vein to my visit to Beijing, which somehow resulted in me not actually seeing the wall!). I’d like to think this is because I don’t need to live my life by lonely planet’s recommendations but what actually happened is 1) I got lazy (The warriors are located some distance from the city centre) 2) I was so busy doing all the other cool stuff the city had to offer, I was too reluctant to spend  a whole day on what many fellow travellers had told me was overrated.

So, if you’re looking for a review of the infamous warriors, I’m afraid you might have to go elsewhere. If you’re hoping to read about all the other amazing things the city has to offer then stay with me!


1. Pagoda’s Galore


                                                                                 The city’s drum tower.


Now if you’ve been living in China like me, then you might be slightly Pagoda-d out! However, what’s great about Xian’s pagoda’s (The Drum Tower and Bell Tower). Located in the centre of the city  they’re really easy to reach via the subway network (Stops: Guolou for the Drum Tower and Zhonglou for the Bell Tower) rickshaw or bus. The area is bustling and allows for panoramic views of city life down below. There’s something quite relaxing about a few moments away from all the traffic and noise of city life. To enter both, purchase a combined ticket for 40 yuan (around $6 or 4 pounds)



The view from the city’s drumtower


While the Bell Tower is again nothing special by day, at night it is lit up- making for some stunning photos.



The Bell Tower at Night


2. Muslim Quarter

Located near the Drum tower, the Muslim quarter is a great part of town to wander around. At night, fairly lights hang from the trees while day there’s barely a space to push between people and the many many rickshaws that are abundant in Shanghai. There’s lots of great Muslim food on offer and shops selling everything from food, clothes and traditional Chinese ornaments.


One of the many stalls selling goods in the city’s Muslim quarter


3. The city walls


The entrance to Xian’s city walls


Fun fact I found while researching this blog post: Xian’s city walls are the largest in the WORLD. Wow, that’s pretty crazy! Although I do remember it feeling like an awfully long walk at the time!

At around 40 yuan ($6 or 4 pounds) to enter, these walls are a cheap tourist attraction that could last the day if you have the stamina! There are multiple options for scaling the wall: good old fashioned walk, cycling or for the lazy a motorized trolley. We chose the walk. As there are multiple entrances/exits, it’s easy to break the journey down into several sections or to just tackle part of them. Unlike many tourist attractions, the walls were quite quiet when we arrived. I imagine this is because the Chinese are not a huge fan of walking around (they seem to much prefer to take a photo from the motorised vehicle instead!)


4. Get a bargain at the city’s Subway stations.

As a bit of a poundland fanatic when living in the UK (Everything’s a pound…that’s almost free!) I was so excited to discover the abundance of 10 yuan stores (approximately 1 pound) that line the underground walkways of the city’s subway system. Most it is of course, full of Chinese tat but for 10 yuan it hardly matters! There’s everything from alarm clocks, jewellery, food and the usual things that falls apart as soon as you take it home!

Overall, Xian is a great city to explore, warriors or no warriors. It’s efficient metro system, cheap taxi system (fares start at 6 yuan, more than half the price of Shanghai) and reasonable entrance prices to it’s key attractions make it a great place to explore China on a budget.


Have you ever visited Xian? Have you ever managed to avoid every famous tourist attraction while traveling (as I appear to be doing?)




The Best Health Food Restaurants in Shanghai

Eating healthily can be (and in my case, is regularly) a real challenge here in China. Although on the surface chinese cuisine can appear to be good for you- it’s full of veggies and tofu after all- the sheer amounts oil, MSG and meat scares means it can be tricky to find good places to eat. Lucky for me, Shanghai is only a few hours away and at the moment this is my favourite place to travel to simply because of the sheer wealth of food avaliable! Today, I want to outline the best places to eat for those who are visiting Shanghai and are health conscious, vegan, have IBD/IBS or quite simply can’t face another bowl of rice and pork!


Pure and Whole (Shanghai Centre)

If you’re any kind of health nut, this place is heaven! It’s vegetarian (and quite often vegan) menu is full of delicious, nutritious versions of western dishes such as burgers, Thai curry and even vegan chocolate desert. When we went, we opted for the sweet potatoe falafel, beetroot humus and thai curry (and of course a fresh homemade juice). Unlike most places, the website provides a full breakdown of fat content and nutritional information so it’s super easy to plan. Some dishes can be a little high in fat but there’s few places in Shanghai can keep a promise of no MSG, no deep fat fryers and the freshest ingredients.


Sproutworks (Superbrand Mall)


There was a lot of buzz around Sproutworks when it first opened but it seems to have faded somewhat now. However it still great for simple, clean food. The idea centers around choosing cooked protein (usually chicken, fish, tofu- all of which are great options for those with Crohns) along with brown rice and other healthy carbs. It’s a little basic but cheap in price (you can have a whole meal for around 50 yuan or $7). What’s great is they change and update their menu daily (and sometimes hourly) so you can go online and see what’s avaliable right at that moment. If you’re picky like me, there’s no nasty surprises when you arrive!


 Element Fresh



Taken from http://www.elementfresh.com

Whether you are health conscious or not, you need to go to Element Fresh the moment you land in Shanghai. Famous for it’s giant salads (often with chunky laffa bread) and range of juices, it’s really popular with expats and you can find one practically in every part of the city (as well as Beijing and Nanjing)! It’s also great for the health conscious as there are plenty of clean wraps, salads (I add laffa bread to ensure I’m not getting too much insoluble fibre which is a big no-no for us crohnies!). The only downside is the lack of healthy options on the desert menu.



This was the first place I stumbled on hours after landing in China. Like Element Fresh, Wagas has branches all around the city. Although it doesn’t bill itself as a health food place, there are some great clean options if you are looking for lunch. There juices and smoothies are made fresh in front of you, while sandwiches come with wholegrain options and protein packed fillings like smoked salmon. What’s more, the promotions (like breakfast sandwiches before ten am being around 20 yuan ($3) mean it’s a really cheap, clean option for a quick lunch or on the go breakfast.


City Shop

Technically not a restaurant, but if you need to buy some imported snacks this is your go to place. There’s everything here: organic veggies; freshly baked bread (without the weird chinese sugar milk they add to all Chinese bread), a deli counter and lots of imported things like almond milk, humus and ….heat magazine! (Surely reading trashy magazines has been proven to improve your health?) The first thing I do when I get to Shanghai is to stock up on magazines and healthy treats (I stumbled across dark chocolate dairy free oat cakes last time which were divine!)

All in all, Shanghai has plenty of options to cater almost for every option. Although it can be tricky to eat out with my crohn’s (and of course any kind of dietary restrictions) there’s no reason not to with the great places Shanghai has to offer.

What healthy options are in your own town? Remember I’m traveling to Bali, Chaing Mai and HK soon so if you have any healthy places to recommend please let me know below!


Daily Diaries 3:My week in pictures



A boring start to my journal I’m afraid! Usually my Saturdays are action packed but I stayed out way too late on the Friday evening and ended up feeling rough the next day. I’ve been trying to shake off a cold and it came back with a vengeance over the weekend!


Hong Kong here we come!

Sunday was also boring but I took the opportunity to plan my summer trips! I have about seven weeks vacation time and can’t wait to just do some more traveling. So far I’ve booked:

8th-12th July:Hong Kong
18th-21st July: Beijing
2nd-7th August: Chiang Mai
7th-8th August:Bangkok
8th-16th August: Bali

These are our big trips but I’m hoping to fit in some other trips around China in between too. If anyone has any recommendations for things to do, places to stay etc please let me know!

Monday and Tuesday

Cabbage, Tumeric and Pineapple Juice

Cabbage, Turmeric and Pineapple Juice

Both days were quite hectic with work but I did manage to keep up with my juicing. I ordered some cabbage as I’ve heard that cabbage juice is great for crohn’s. It sounds disgusting but it’s quite nice when mixed with something sweet like apple.

I watched the movie superjuiceme (it’s free online at www.superjuiceme.com) which was really inspirational-it was all about how juicing can provide relief for so many chronic illnesses. I actually froze the movie at one point to take a snap of the before and after pics of a psoriasis sufferer.


The effect of juicing on psoriasis

The effect of juicing on psoriasis

It’s crazy how much difference juicing can make!




Wednesday we broke up for the three day mayday holiday which was pretty exciting! We went out for dinner to celebrate.



Such a glorious sunny day! We went to the park with our puppies. There’s a great park in Ningbo called Sun Lake park-it even has a man made beach! We took a little picnic and the puppies spend most of the time chasing each other around.


Stevie had a great time!

Stevie had a great time!


Bella loved the sand

Bella loved the sand



The park was beautiful!

The park was beautiful!


I met my friend Simon for some vegan food. I discovered a Buddhist restaurant in Ningbo that does pretty great meat alternatives (using tofu to make ‘mock meat’) and fresh juices. We shared tofu, rice, mock chicken, bamboo and had fresh juice. Then my husband and I headed to Yinzhou’s many shopping centres  to update our summer wardrobes!



Steamed tofu and sauteed 'chicken' and peanuts.

Steamed tofu and sauteed ‘chicken’ and peanuts.

Simon and I

Simon and I



All in all, it’s been a pretty good week and I still have a whole day left to enjoy before back to work on Sunday! 3 day weekends for the win! What did you do this week?

This post is part of the Diary of An Essex Girls Link Up You can read my first entry here and my second entry here.

My 3 Most Important Destinations



Today I’m thrilled to be the spotlight post over on Beth’s blog-A Compass Rose. I’m a huge fan of her #TravelTuesday link ups and always take part! Today’s link up is themed: the challenge being to write about 3 places: a place I have loved the most, a place I can’t wait to visit and then something about the place where I live!


The Place I love the most…


I absolutely loved my short trip to Macau this new year”s eve. I found it such an interesting place with a complete mix of cultures. It was so fab to take in the Portuguese architect and I really hope to go again over the summer! I’d recommend a day trip to Macau to anyone who is visiting Hong Kong. It’s only an hour by ferry but there is so much to see and do!

A Place I can’t wait to visit…


The stunning red beach


My ever growing Pinterest obsession has to take the credit for finding this travel destination. I originally blogged about this place when guest posting for Jess over at Miss Adventure Travels  (you can check out more of my article here) When I first wrote about it, I’d  assumed it was some kind of filter but nope the beach-located in Panjin, China- is really that red! It is all to do with the type of seaweed that changes colour during the Autumn. I imagine this has to really be seen to be believed!


3. Something about the city I live in

I live in downtown Ningbo which is quite industrialised but I’m really lucky that there is plenty of nature around me too. Last year, I visited Wulong Pond- a beautiful scenic spot with many waterfalls-which is about an hour from my home.


Wulong Pond, Ningbo


So that’s my 3 travel destinations. What about you? What’s your favourite place and what’s on your travel to do list??

Daily Diaries 2: my week in pictures

I really enjoyed writing last weeks blog post and being part of Katie’s link up So here goes week 2!



Today was haircut day! I had been feeling pretty wiped out from Monday’s treatment so I decided to treat myself at Toni and Guy. Compared to the UK, prices are really reasonable and the treatment includes an Indian head massage! I just had a trim but it was just what I needed-I never thought I’d like my hair short after so many years growing it but I really am loving it! Afterwards I was tired so we just had a night in watching House of Cards (I’ve only just started it and while I’m not addicted yet I’m growing. I could resist snapping a few more pics of beautiful Bella and then blogging about Nanjing.





The first part of Sunday was dull: I had to mark exam papers. However, the evening made up for it! A new restaurant called Glo opened in Ningbo from Shanghai! It was divine! I love good bread but it’s so hard to get here. So I was in my element! It was really expensive but great to find a nice restaurant for our date nights!



Ah fruit beer and dark chocolate! What a combo! As it’s dairy free, I’m addicted to dark choc at the moment! So had a lovely night in catching up on Britain’s Got Talent, which appears to be more crazy and more fixed than ever-but I love it all the same!


I had a great day at work my class debated sperm donation, IVF and gay marriage with such maturity; I was really proud of them! It’s such a pleasure to teach my students compared to the problems I faced in the UK! After work, I went down to Ole, a place to buy imported stuff and stocked up on granola bars and flaxseed cookies. I decided to take a few snaps of the buildings downtown as I usually just take them for granted!




I went hospital first thing for my routine blood tests. Unfortunately, I had a bad cold coming. I have to be careful with colds as I’m on immune suppressants so I got juicing straightaway! Here’s a carrot and apple juice I made!


I then to Nottingham University to visit my friend Tess for a lovely Lebanese dinner! She had bought me Grazia and vegan cheese from Hong Kong which I was really excited about!



Read Grazia in the bath! Fab day! Also caught up with lots of telly:W1A, Glee and House of Cards.





Thank god it’s Friday! It’s felt like such a long week that I’m so excited for a chilled weekend! I decided to take some shots of campus today-even though the weather was a bit drizzly, it reminded how lovely so many parts of it are!

Tonight we are off to a restaurant open which I’m really excited about. We haven’t been out properly for a while, so I’m determined to get glam!

What do you have planned for the weekend.?

What to do In Nanjing




Last moon cake festival, my husband and I took a trip to Nanjing. Despite not being a big tourist attraction, it was actually one of my favourite places in China so I thought I’d share some pictures with you today to show you why you should add Nanjing to your travel itinerary!


One of the first places we visited was the Nanjing Massacre Museum (nearest metro-YUNIJINLU).  I am not really into history but I’d heard a lot about this place so I was keen to check it out. As we were travelling during the holiday, the queues were simply ginormous and it was a sweltering day. So unfortunately, we weren’t able to get into the museum itself. I’ve heard it’s always that way and there’s lots of pushing and shoving all the way around (which seems really disrespectful given the historical background of these place but hey, this is China!) However, the architecture of the museum and the sculptures outside are worth a look also. It’s not often that I see modern architecture in China that is really stunning so I took a few snaps!


One of the many sculptures to remember the victims of the Nanjing massacre


One of the best (and cheapest) places to eat in Nanjing is Hunan Road/Lion Street Bridge (the metro doesn’t provide easy access so take a bus or taxi).  There’s a ton of snack places offering local dishes. We headed to A Simple Diet, a place we read about in our trusted Lonely Planet guide. While the food isn’t anything unique, it’s really easy to order as it is all created in plastic dishes which form a ‘menu.’

You can’t go wrong with Chinese dumplings


We opted for dumplings, spring rolls (This was pre-crohn’s diet!) and soup- which was all very yummy.



Hunan Road/Lion Bridge Street




Mmmm sugar!

Mmmm sugar!



While I’ve had my fair share of lakes in China, Xunwun Lake (Nearest metro:XUNWU GATE) was definitely worth a crowded metro journey!



The entrance to the lake

The entrance to the lake. It was pretty busy!





The beautiful forest area surrounding the lake

The beautiful forest area surrounding the lake


Need a boyfriend or girlfriend? You can find those at the lake too!

Need a boyfriend or girlfriend? You can find those at the lake too!


As always, I was highly amused by the ”partner matching’ section of the lake. The idea of Chinese mothers trying to match make in such a beautiful place makes me laugh!


All in all, Nanjing was a great place to visit. It’s cheap to get around on the city’s metro system (usually between 3-4 RMB per trip) which is really efficient. There’s plenty of cheap places to eat but also an Element Fresh (a health food franchise from Shanghai which I’m a huge fan off) and plenty of expat places if you are looking to splurge. The attractions are pretty spread out, so I’d recommend finding a place to stay with good metro links!


Have you ever visited Nanjing? What did you make of it?

Daily Diaries part 1: A Week in Pictures

Today I plan to finally to take part in Katie’s daily diary challenge over on her blog:Diaries of An Essex Girl.

This is hopefully a really good way of keeping my followers up to date with my travels, my healthy eating journey and life as an expat. I’ve been meaning to keep a regular journal of our adventures so hopefully this is the kick up the bum I need!


Saturday was a relatively quiet day, although I did venture into town to purchase the pink IPhone 5C which I absolutely love! After ages using a faulty Chinese phone, I wasted no time in downloading plenty of apps and getting acquainted with it! I downloaded Heyday which is a great app for journaling the every day moments. Now I have a decent photo I aim to take way more snaps- like this one one of Bella, my beautiful Chinese puppy!


Beautiful Bella

Beautiful Bella



Delicious Vegan Mousse

Delicious Vegan Mousse



I made this vegan chocolate mousse which I’m super excited about! It’s basically tofu, cashew nuts, banana and dark chocolate spread. It’s no dairy milk but it does make the main of going dairy free easier!


On Monday I had to go to hospital for my crohn’s treatment. I receive medicine via drip every few weeks in a hospital in Hangzhou. The train journey is so much easier since Ningbo built it’s new station! I’m lucky that I got relocated to a brand new hospital so it was a pretty comfy bed.


Ningbo's train station

Ningbo’s Fancy New Train Station




The hospital where I have my treatment

The hospital where I have my treatment



Chilling at hospital

Chilling at hospital


I took some beautiful snaps on the train home of the Chinese countryside – you see some amazing things outside the train windows in China!








Tuesday is my busiest day but I was feeling really great after my hospital treatment. I had 7 classes but still found time to chill in the sunshine with the puppies- Bella and our blind pup, Stevie. The weather was glorious!









I hit a slump today! I was incredibly tired as the side effects of the treatment finally hit (they’re on a two day delay). However, I cheered myself up by planning my summer holidays. We are going to Thailand again! First up is Chiang Mai. I’ve wanted to go far ages so I can’t wait! We’re also staying in an Eco resort Chai Lai Orchid which looks incredible! You basically live among the elephants! It works at around 2000 baht a room, which is pricey for Thailand but looks well worth it. Then we’re hoping to go to Koh Samui.

Chiang La Orchid

Chai La Orchid from http://www.chailaiorchid.com


If any one has any tips or links to posts on either of these places I’d really appreciate it!


Today was the first day of oral exams at our school. I love my job and was really proud of how hard my students worked! They have come such a long way since September! Unfortunately, my fatigue continued so I blogged then had an early night.

Friday and beyond

I’m actually blogging this on Friday afternoon so I’m not sure what the day (and the weekend) entails. I do however plan to finally book more summer trips: Hopefully Hong Kong, Beijing and more of China; so I’d appreciate again any more tips anyone has about those destinations! I’m worried Hong Kong is going to be crazy expensive! Another exciting thing about today is my hosting of a blog hop with Casey from We Took The Road Less Traveled! Check out the links below and join it! It should be a lot of fun.

I hope you enjoyed my first daily diary post! It’s been great fun actually keeping track of my week- time flies so quickly in China!


Welcome to the

No prompt, just fun!
Hosted by: Casey @ We Took the Road Less Traveled
Rules for hopping:
1| Follow your host & co-hosts (first 3 links), pretty please!
2| Link up your blog’s homepage or Bloglovin’ page.
3| Hop around, meet new bloggers, and leave them love!
4| Have fun? Spread the word and share this blog hop with your friends!
5| Want to be a co-host? Click here for more info!
Grab a button and share the blog hop love!
We Took the Road Less Traveled

Tweet about this blog hop!


10 tips for quick, cheap and easy juicing


Juicing is surprisingly easy and great for your health.

Juicing is surprisingly easy and great for your health.


As you’ve probably guessed by the image above, today I want to deviate away from travel and talk about something a bit more person in terms of my health and lifestyle. Nowadays, you can’t pick up a magazine or surf online without someone proclaiming that juicing saved their life. I’d always previously dismissed it as a bit of a fad (along with the 5:2 diet, Atkins, the cayenne pepper fast… The list goes on and on!) However, since being diagnosed with crohn’s, juicing is something I did a lot of a research into. It started as an occasional juice and quickly escalated into 1-2 juices a day! While I am not claiming it was ‘life changing’ it has made a real difference to be health and just general well being so I thought I’d share some tips with you today.

Let me just say before I begin that I’m not endorsing a juice only diet (ain’t nobody got time for that!) As my prime interest isn’t weight loss, I tend to have a juice with my breakfast and only use it occasionally to replace a meal.

TIP ONE: Know the difference between a smoothie and a juice! A smoothie blends all the ingredients together by breaking it down into chunks. You are still eating all of the fibre along with the nutrients so it tastes a lot thicker than a juice. However, Juicing remove the fibre altogether so you’re just left with pure liquid nutrients.


The main differences between juices and smoothies.

The main differences between juices and smoothies.



 That’s why it’s so beneficial for people who have crohn’s , IBD or IBS(as fibre can be tricky to digest). It is also beneficial for those with poor health as it allows the nutrients to have more of an impact as they are absorbed much quicker (the body isn’t wasting time breaking down the fibre.) However if you’re looking to boost your fibre intake, them incorporate a smoothie or two into your routine too.

TIP TWO: Juicing can be expensive! In china, it’s cheap. In England, it’s probably cheaper to go to McDonald’s than it is to make a juice! To combat this , pick fruits that extract a lot of juice and therefore can be the main base of your juices. Cost efficient fruit and veggies include…

juicing for crohns

Pick veggies that contain the most juice such as carrots and apples.








My go to cheap and easy juice is one apple, one carrot and a small (see tip 5!) piece of ginger. It makes loads of juice and saves faffing around first thing.


TIP THREE:. Certain veggies create very little juice. Use these sparingly in addition to the above items, otherwise it will take forever and will be extortionate! The below veggies are very difficult to get juice out of:

-Kale (I’ve read this can be done but I’ve never managed to extract any juice out of it!)





TIP FOUR: Like apple juice? Good, because you’ll notice that whatever disgustingly healthy veggies you put into the juice, as long as you chuck an apple in to, that’s the way it will taste! Use this to your advantage and juice things you usually never eat. I absolutely despise peppers but when juicing them with an apple, I don’t even notice the taste.



TIP FIVE: Do not add more than a small piece of ginger. Otherwise it will BURN! (I’ve been there and its not fun!)



TIP SIX: Do some research into juicing for certain health conditions/benefits. I am turning into a bit of a health geek lately, so I love to read about the health benefits of certain veggies. For example, turmeric is a really good anti-Inflammatory so I’ve been chucking it in alongside a fruit juice in a bid to get my crohn’s under control.



TIP SEVEN: Drink it immediately. The reason why it’s not as good to just buy shop bought juices, is that juices quickly lose their nutrients. So it’s best to drink straight away rather than store for later.


TIP EIGHT: Don’t worth about chopping and peeling. For juicing to be a part of your life, you need to create a quick routine. Nobody has time in the morning to chop and peel, so invest in a whole fruit juicer instead. There’s no need to do anything except simply chuck it in.

TIP NINE: Clean the juicer immediately. Once you’ve used the juicer, rinse it out straight away. If you leave the left over bits in the juicer, it will a) become much more difficult to wash b) turn rancid quickly and leave a smell that no amount of scrubbing will get rid of.


TIP TEN! Experiment! Although I started off pretty safe, anything goes when it comes to juicing! A good place to start are recipe books by Jason Vale who has written many books on the topic of juicing. Of course, there is plenty of stuff online too. Below are some of my favorite concoctions!


Healthy juicing

Here’s some of my favourites, what are yours?




Is juicing something you’ve ever tried before? How did you find it? If you have any tips or questions, please post below!