#Dragonshoots17 Instagram Competition | Interview with Helen
This year we held a competition for our Dragon Trippers setting off on adventures in China and Japan. The task? Take a picture capturing The Dragon Trip experience and post it on social media using the hashtag #dragonshoots17. The response was amazing, and we can now confirm we have a winning shot.
We asked our winner, Helen Sharpe (@theluggagelabel), a few questions about her photo, her trip and what she gets up to when she’s not travelling!
Winning image: Kungfu Children’s Home, Shaolin, China
Where was the picture taken and what’s happening?
The picture was taken from our visit to a small kungfu school in Shaolin. It was getting towards the evening and the master was teaching us a kungfu routine. The boys had already given us a show and were just amazing! They were all so friendly and seemed genuinely pleased to see us and perform for us; maybe the big bag of sweets we gave them at the end as a thank you had something to do with it!
It’s certainly one of the most memorable activities from The Dragon Trip!
Why did you choose The Dragon Trip to travel China with?
As a solo traveller and one that doesn’t speak Mandarin, I felt The Dragon Trip provided the perfect way to see and explore China. It was also a great way to meet other like-minded travellers and also took me to parts of China I might otherwise have missed.
And was it what you expected?
It was actually so much more than I could have ever expected. For me going beyond the cities of China were some of the best and most surprising parts. There’s genuinely some beautiful landscapes to see and wonderful little villages and towns, which really helped me to understand both China’s history and culture. The trip was also really quite active, with lots of walks, bike rides and other opportunities. For me, that was a real bonus. Oh, and they even teach you some Mandarin along the way!
What camera did you use to capture your holiday?
I used a combination of an iPhone 6 and also a Sony Cybershot WX350. It was important that they were compact, as I was away for 3 months with very little luggage! Neither were particularly fancy cameras but they did the job!
Are you a backpacker veteran or was this your first travel experience?
This was actually my first ‘backpacking’ experience, although I had been on a number of holidays/trips before. I was away for three months, with The Dragon Trip being my first tour in that three months.
When you are not travelling, what keeps you busy?
Well, before embarking on my trip to China, I worked as a secondary school English teacher. That (and all the marking!) kept me pretty busy. Outside of work, I love going to any form of live performance, whether it be spoken word events to a cheesy musical! I love food and eat out as much as possible. I also enjoy keeping fit and got a bit hooked on weightlifting classes before I left. Now I’m back, I’ve got a bit of work to do to get back into it! Beyond that, I spend a lot of time thinking about or planning holidays and travel adventures.
Favourite moment on your China Adventure trip?
The sunrise on The Great Wall has got to be up there but there were so many other highlights. I loved Yangshuo, with the bike ride, mud baths and hike up to Moon Hill. I also fell in love with Shanghai and had the best night out there.
Helen in Shaolin
What advice would you give fellow travellers that are about to depart on their China adventure tour with The Dragon Trip?
Just say yes to everything. There are so many amazing activities to do and whilst they cost extra at times, they’re worth doing! The likelihood is you’re only going to be on China once (at least on a tour like this). Oh and ask your guides questions about themselves. It was great getting to know our guides and was a real insight into Chinese life and culture. They’re a super friendly bunch. OH and finally: take toilet roll with you wherever you go!
And here are the pictures that made picking the winner so tough…
Macau, or the ‘Vegas of the East’, is the last stop on our 25 day China tour. We make it a day stop but we offer the option to stay an extra night there to make the most of the region’s attractions – including the world’s highest bungee jump!
Taken by Stuart Campbell
Yangshuo, China, is famed for its towering limestone peaks and lush countryside. We explore it with a bike ride leading to a cave complex, holding mudbaths and hot springs within!
The Li River winds its way in between the peaks of Yangshuo, China. We travel down it on these bamboo rafts!
Taken by David Borsos
Kyoto is Japan’s ‘cultural capital’, situated away from the bright lights of Tokyo it’s famous for geisha, temples and tea ceremonies. Whilst there, we take a walk through its hillside streets to Kiyomizu-dera Temple, from which this photo was taken.
Taken by Clare Lawry
On our Japan tour, we pay a visit to the Hiroshima Peace Memorial to learn about the city’s tragic past but also the global standards it now sets for peace and a nuclear-free world.
Taken by Jack Ringshall
This orphanage in Shaolin, China, is run by Shaolin monks who teach the children to become kungfu masters. After a performance from the students, our Dragon Trippers experience a kungfu lesson themselves.
Taken by John Bowen
Whilst in Beijing we hike an unrestored section of the Great Wall then spend the night camping on it; awaking to a breathtaking sunrise.
Taken by David Taplin
We couldn’t resist adding this second picture from the Chengdu Panda Research Centre in.
Taken by John Bowen
While you might not think a photo of an advert can capture our China adventure, we thought this one worked strangely well…
Taken by Lolita Young
Xi’an is one of China’s most historically significant cities and is home to the world-famous Terracotta Warriors. Yet it’s the bike-ride of the city wall that often proves to be groups’ favourite activity whilst there.
Straight after Ian finished studying at Nottingham University, he ran off to China to live in Wuxi. After a year of working, exploring, and eating too much tasty Chinese food he returned home and started working at TDT. Ian’s a fan of music, films and – no surprises – tasty Chinese food.
In honour of our good friend and colleague, Justin Shapiro, who tragically passed away in 2017, we launched The Justin Shapiro Internship and Travel Scholarship, in partnership with CRCC Asia. The programme allows a number of young people, who may not otherwise have a chance to do so, to experience working and travelling in China. We spoke to Charles Henry who went to China this summer about his experiences during his 1-month long internship at CRCC Asia, and on The Dragon Trip's 21-day backpacking adventure.
India is a huge country with an abundance of exciting cultures and the possibility of endless adventures. You could easily spend weeks or months exploring, but for those of us who only have a limited amount of time away, it can be hard to pack it all in! If you have around two weeks of holiday, we’d recommend focusing your time in either the north or the south. Keep reading to find out which would best suit on your backpacking trip in India!