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Stop 31 - Benalup de Casas Vejas


View Overland adventures - UK to Ho Chi Minh City and back without getting on a plane! on Chloemillen92's travel map.

After a great few days in Jerez we boarded a bus which dropped us off on the side of the road, at the junction of two dual carriageways. We were heading to a WorkAway on a rural Andalucian finca and for some reason hadn't thought to get the number of our host who was expecting us to arrive into a town some 8 kilometers away. After dragging our bags along the hard-shoulder for about 20 minutes, trying and failing to order a taxi and finally managing to make contact with our (very nice) host, we arrived at our home for the next two weeks. We ate some delicious food she had prepared and went to sleep in our little one bed cottage to the sound of horses clip-clopping about in the field

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It had been dark when we arrived, but the sunny morning allowed us to see how pretty it was and our host showed us around, giving us a list of tasks to start on. We met the five horses, three dogs and singular goose, all of which were very friendly. We spent the next couple of weeks feeding the animals, walking the dogs, doing bits of gardening and general tidying up of the finca. There was also plenty of time to enjoy the huge pool, our own proper kitchen for the first time in almost five months, and a comfy sofa and DVD selection.

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Our little "casita" was very cosy.

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The finca was pretty rural, an hours walk from the closest village of Benalup and the landscape was beautiful and dramatic, although very dry from four months without rain!

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We went on several day trips; one to a seaside town called Conil, one inland to typical whitewashed Andalucian town called Medina Sidonia and one to the famous, and really quite strange, city of Gibraltar. All were very interesting and gave us a desire to return to this part of Spain for holidays forever more. The apes of Gibraltar were a highlight, as was swimming in the refreshing Atlantic Ocean and eating seafood tapas on the beautiful beach of Conil.

Posted by Chloemillen92 10:18 Archived in Spain Tagged horses spain dogs swimming andalusia gibraltar goose workaway finca gardening casita berber_apes conil medina_sidonia Comments (1)

Stop 19 - Xingping


View Overland adventures - UK to Ho Chi Minh City and back without getting on a plane! on Chloemillen92's travel map.

Our first stop back in China was a small hotel and attached organic, permaculture garden; we had organised to spend a few days there as part of a WorkAway and were helping out with general household work and making up guests' rooms etc. This was a little disappointing as it was sort of sold to us more on the permaculture side of things, something we are interested in learning a bit more about. However the setting was beautiful, food amazing and people pretty friendly so we decided to stick around.

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As the hotel was busy, we were staying in tents upon the roof. This meant it was pretty warm, but did give us early morning views like those above! The scenery around Xingping is incredible.

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Here you can see the mountain that the hotel and farm backed into - it was an incredibly spectacular!

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After a few days at the WorkAway we spent a couple of nights in the nearby town and cycled around the area. The scenery features in the back of the 20 Yuan note!

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Just a little idea of how dramatic the limestone karsts were - there were so many stars as well.

Posted by Chloemillen92 08:01 Archived in China Tagged china yangshuo xingping workaway guangxi limestone_karst Comments (0)

Stop 10 - Workaway near Yiwu


View Overland adventures - UK to Ho Chi Minh City and back without getting on a plane! on Chloemillen92's travel map.

Another short bullet train later we were in Yiwu, the 'small commodities capital of the world', to join a Workaway host school for the week. Workaway works on the exchange of a few hours work each day (speaking English to the kids in this case) for food and accommodation. Our host was in a small village about half an hour from the city.

The school was listed as a 'home school', and advertised itself as being very different from mainstream education. When we arrived there were a few adults around who left about ten minutes later and didn't return for two days. We were told by the kids that one of the boys (who was only 12) was the 'leader' when the teachers went away...

The kids organised themselves; holding exercise sessions, meetings, fulfilling cleaning duties and studying under the supervision of 12 year old leader boy. The situation resembled Lord of the Flies a little too closely for our liking and the first night we went to bed feeling unsure if we should make a run for it. However as time went on we did settle in.

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Some mornings we woke up at about 6am to join the kids for an exercise session and learned some Tai Chi and Chinese boxing. One big positive of our week was learning lots about Chinese culture. Over the time we were there we spoke to the children and various parents about food, Chinese medicine, schools and more.

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The school was actually very beautiful both inside and out, with lots of covered courtyards and nice decorations. It was perched on the side of a lake which was often full of tourists on pedalos and surrounded by mountains. Above is a picture of the building from the opposite side of the lake.

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One evening, one of the parents took us to the local attraction, the Lavender Park. It was very neon and the lavender was rather sparse; it hadn't quite been the serene fields of purple we had been expecting, but it was quite hilarious.

As well as our confusion at the lack of teachers for the first few days of our stay, we experienced a bit of a culture shock due to the focus on rote memorisation and some of the odd punishments she used on her return. However after some Googling of education here it turns out that these are probably much more accepted ideas than we had realised.

Obviously being a home school with a big focus on self study, these children were getting a different style of teaching (which didn't involve much teaching, but more getting on with work at their own pace) than an average Chinese student but to be fair they all seemed happy and full of energy. On reflection we both agreed it had been a very interesting experience and a good opportunity to leave the tourist trail.

Posted by Chloemillen92 20:06 Archived in China Tagged china zhejiang workaway yiwu Comments (0)

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