Hiking Qingcheng Back Mountain 青城后山

Surprisingly, Miley Cyrus’ hit song The Climb wasn’t constantly playing in the back of my head as I hiked up this mountain. Thank the gods for small mercies.

Work has been stressful in recent weeks, what with various work projects and training sessions and the mighty company head honcho deciding to visit from his throne in Shanghai (or Beijing?) all the way to my lil ol’ school. All the managers have been anxious, and the energy seemed to trickle down to us lower folks and so, given how dramatic I am, I decided to run away to the countryside once everything was over.

Despite being an up and coming city with tall skyscrapers and an exhaustive subway system, there’s a wonderful bit of countryside just half an hour away by train outside of Chengdu’s city centre limits.

Qingchengshan is a mountain located in Dujiangyan city and it is very, very beautiful. I would compare it to Emeishan since I’ve been to that city, too, but unfortunately, I didn’t get the chance to climb that particular mountain. That story is reserved for another time where I’m less angry.

Anyway! This would be my second visit to Qingchengshan, since I spent some annual leave days relaxing around some hot springs and climbing the front of the mountain last February. This time, I’ve decided to tackle Qingchenghoushan, the back mountain. It’s said to be more natural and less tourist-y, and is aimed more towards hikers and nature-lovers alike.

a lush green mountain with clouds resting at the peak
a breathtaking morning view from the terrace at my hotel room

LiberaTarts Hikes 青城后山 and Tries Not to Slip and Fall

Continue reading “Hiking Qingcheng Back Mountain 青城后山”

Autumn 秋

Hot Air Balloons 熱気球 #PhotographFriday

This is a series of photography projects posted on any given Friday, told with a brief description of how the photographs came about. — Send in a voice message: https://anchor.fm/liberatarts/message
  1. Hot Air Balloons 熱気球
  2. Autumn 秋
  3. Flowers 花

This photo was taken during a homestay weekend I spent with a Japanese family.

They lived in the countryside and, as a get-to-know-you activity, we went on a walk and ended up in the local Shinto shrine.

It was a lovely afternoon – clear sky, crisp autumn air, friendly people. Thank you, the Harada Family, for being so kind to me.


Notes: Today’s #PhotographFriday was taken using a Canon EOS Kiss X7 camera on the 12th of November, 2016 at a Shinto shrine in Yakage, Okayama.

Flowers 花

Hot Air Balloons 熱気球 #PhotographFriday

This is a series of photography projects posted on any given Friday, told with a brief description of how the photographs came about. — Send in a voice message: https://anchor.fm/liberatarts/message
  1. Hot Air Balloons 熱気球
  2. Autumn 秋
  3. Flowers 花

I visited a local park during the Chinese Spring Festival holidays.

It wasn’t until the end of my ambling exploration that I stumbled upon a bed of poppies.

DSLR in hand, I took the opportunity to practice with the manual focus settings.


Notes: Today’s #PhotographFriday was taken using a Canon EOS Kiss X7 camera on the 23rd of January, 2020 at Wangjianglou Park (望江楼公园) in Chengdu, Sichuan.

BELFAST Travel Guide

Travelling to Belfast

Belfast is the capital city of Northern Ireland and has a population of approximately 340,200 people. The city is well-known for building the famously tragic boat Ship of Dreams, the Titanic. Belfast is not to be confused with Dublin, which is the capital city of the Republic of Ireland. See the map below for further clarification.

map of ireland, differentiating northern ireland and the republic of ireland

The easiest way to get to Northern Ireland – or Belfast, more specifically – is by flying. Personally, I flew from London Stansted to Belfast International Airport, although there are two other airports within Northern Ireland: George Best Belfast City Airport and City of Derry Airport.

You can also take the train if you’re travelling from England, Wales, or Scotland. The trip, however, will be split partway to include the ferry trip to Ireland. There are also direct coaches to Dublin serviced by the National Express if you wish to have a cheaper alternative to planes and trains.

Where to stay in Belfast

As a solo traveller, I cannot recommend hotels unless you are travelling with two other people.

Belfast has a lot of hostels on offer, all within walking distance to the main city centre. Prices can range between £10-£15 per night at a hostel; I stayed at Lagan Backpackers for 2 nights and didn’t pay more than £26 total, and the place had a TV with a Netflix subscription, newly refurbished bathrooms, and they even offered a free breakfast to those who opt-in!

If you’re willing to spend a little more for privacy, then I would suggest Airbnb as an alternative.

Getting around Belfast

  • walking – the farthest I walked from one tourist destination to another was 20 minutes
  • by bike – Belfast bikes cost £1 per half hour
  • by bus – Belfast has THREE different bus services and I highly suggest using the Translink journey planner to navigate
  • by train – the main train stations in Belfast are Great Victoria Street Station and Belfast Central Station
  • by taxi / uber / car rental

Things to do in Belfast

I highly recommend just typing in “things to do” on Google Maps and see if any of the options offered are compatible with your interests. Getting into the habit of making bookmarks and lists on Google Maps is helpful in planning daily itineraries and, sometimes, choosing a hostel or Airbnb that is most convenient for you, the traveller.

Here is a list of places I visited within the Belfast city:

  • Ulster Museum
  • Belfast Botanic Gardens
  • The Palm House
  • The Tropical Ravine
  • Belfast Peace Wall
  • The Big Fish, Salmon of Knowledge
  • Belfast City Hall
  • Belfast Castle
  • Cavehill (I climbed to the very top!)

I also went on day trips, where I visited:

  • Strangford, where I spent the morning at Winterfell Castle and had lunch at The Cuan (where Sean Bean and all the other Game of Thrones actors stayed during their shoots!)
  • Bushmills, where I ate my lunch on the Giant’s Causeway steps and spent the afternoon walking the trail around the Shepherd’s Steps
reading a book, Homo Deus by Yuval Noah Harari, on the giant's causeway
from September’s reading challenge

What to expect from Belfast

Expect the unexpected.

an ancient proverb, probably

Belfast – and Northern Ireland, in general – is a super friendly place. The bus drivers are really easy to speak with and they are more than happy to help a lost little tourist. I honestly believe the locals are psychic because they always know where you want to go and will just gently nudge you towards the right direction. Everyone I spoke with, from the waitresses to the random man I befriended as I walked the Cavehill nature trail, was softspoken and kindhearted. Belfast is brilliant!

Lastly, expect to receive some Northern Ireland banknotes. They are different to the ones in circulation around England, but they are still Sterling notes and can be exchanged for Bank of England notes at any bank in the UK.

And in conclusion…

I spent an approximate total of £270, including travel, accommodation, and food. Belfast is an amazing place with a lot of history and great architecture. The food is good, the people even good-er, and the only downside was the confusing bus network. 10/10 will recommend for other solo travellers to visit!