Life in general
Favorite thing: The Bund.
Fondest memory: I really miss Shanghai!
24/7 none stop - it pulsates.......always changing, sometimes fast, sometimes slowly.
I first went to China in 1999 - as a drummer in a party band playing at The Hard Rock Cafe's in Shanghai and Beijing, which have both since closed down.
Since then I have always returned to Shanghai. It has changed so much in that time - it truly has caught up with the West in such a short space.
In 1999 the fashion was sort of.....1950s - That changed quick!
Walking into banks and feeling like I was back in the 70s as a young kid with my Mum!
Shanghai pretty much caught up 30 years in about the space of 5 years.
One could argue Shanghai is now ahead of the pack!
The change in that time to Shanghai is more than breath taking!
Just the infrastructure alone is mind boggling!
Blocks upon blocks have been pulled down and replaced - just about every street and road has been ripped up and re-laid. Fly over highways went up in astonishing speed. Subway/Metro stations still being laid and built. It is unrelenting, especially to a me from little old Adelaide in South Australia!
When I first lived in Shanghai for 3 months in '99.......being "white" with long blonde hair was a real novelty - people would really stop and stare. You would probably only see another Westerner maybe 2 or 3 times a day. Now in Shanghai you see Westerners every minute lol :-)
But what I have noticed is that maybe the Shanghainese are not so friendly any more - and maybe it's not the Shanghainese but more the workers from out side of Shanghai? It's just something I can feel and see. I guess it is no different to any other major city or country and especially China which has been so isolated for arguably thousands of years (besides a few brief periods) that now they are part of the global community and a global shift of people. The world has literally washed over China in one major wave in the last 20 years and i guess it's more of a culture shock to them than what it is for us?
visiting Qinghai province
Favorite thing: Amazing diversity of cultures, landscapes, historical sites in this province. A number of important must see sites but well worth spending more time to explore and get off the usual tourist track around Xining.
Certainly well worth the effort to get down into areas that are still very Tibetan. Some places still require a permit to be allowed to stay overnight or risk incurring a penalty fine otherwise.
Many very beautiful areas and routes here - travel is not difficult and I found people to be very open and interested.
Fondest memory: Flying down to Yushu near the southern border of the province that was once offficially Tibet felt very much an adventure - the majority of Tibetans wear their traditional dress so there is a very strong Tibetan flavour still very evident here. I stayed at the Norbuling hotel which was recommended by a guy who runs a travel agency from the floor above the Lete Hostel in Xining and for the ongoing service and connections, was very grateful to have stayed here.Related to:
- Hiking and Walking
- Road Trip
Bring your own instant coffee and sugar.
Favorite thing: You can buy sugar but no one have instant coffee. They do have something with milk powder and sugar in it but it taste like caramel.
Always have some toilet paper with you as most toilets are a hole in the ground type and never have paper.
Use a disinfectant on your hands often as everything is quite dirty.
Be careful with the food as most of it is very hot. Ordinary beans look good and are good but they have often been marinated in garlic and chili oils and are very hot.
Don't drink tap water even in the big cities as it is not guaranteed to be free of bacteria.
Always bring an umbrella for rain or sun as when it is hot it is hot and it often rain.
Be aware of pick pockets and use bum bag but have it sitting in front.
All payments with traders are cash and they bargain. Never offer more than 15-20 % of their asking price no matter how silly that sounds and go from there. They only take cash in local money. I have purchased stuff they started with an asking price of 1200 yuan and ended up paying 250 yuan so they will come down but you will have to walk away before they give in.
Have a great time in China and get used to them not understanding you.
Fondest memory: We vent on a guided tour which cut down on waiting times in ticket ques and they also know the city and where to go. Some cities have 35 million people and you would have to study for a year in order to find out where to go and it could be 100 km across a city between sightseeing spots and never underestimate the traffic. Don't count on a speed faster than 15 km/hr.Related to:
- Family Travel
Favorite thing: Mainland China requires a visa for entry by US citizens that must be obtained in advance from the Chinese embassy. Fee is $50. Hong Kong and Macau do not require visas for US citizens.
- Business Travel
- Budget Travel
Favorite thing: The economic boom of China is present in all the cities that we visited.
Of course, we've been only in the touristic circuit, where business and tourism are pushing the people to levels of consummation and life quality that are inaccessible to great part of the population.
While in places like Guilin or Yangshuo rural life gets natural profit from tourism, how will China replicate the development of Beijing or Shanghai in areas where tradition still prevails? Will it be possible, one day, to step outside the marked path and meet the other China before the cleavages already perceived put a end to the calm and safe hospitality of China?Related to:
- Arts and Culture
Favorite thing: had some time to walk outside on my own, at this city on the area near my hotel, the language is a barrier but many folks do speak some or good English! The aim is to do so more according to the locals.
I try to do this all over so this new city was no exception. THe memories will linger more as I remember my small walk here as took some pictures from the hotel as well lol!
Fondest memory: getting to the resto and the local driver needed the GPS to find it with our help lol! Qingdao.Related to:
- Business Travel
- Historical Travel
- Arts and Culture
Visa application for U.S. citizen
Favorite thing: This is a general type/information. Definitely not my "favorite thing about China." However, it is the single most important activity or you'll never get into the country.
I have added photos of the application for U.S. citizens. Some important things to note on the application (note this is the application if you apply at the New York consulate):
1. Now it must be completed on a computer. No more hand written applications.
2. Do not leave any field blank. If you do not have an answer type in "N/A"
3. You must include all your destinations and hotels you will be staying in.
4. You must include a photo copy of the hotel reservation!
5. You must include a photo copy of your airline ticket!
6. There is no longer same day service.
Fondest memory: Once you comply with all the new rules, you will be permitted to enter the visa processing area. Normal service take 5-6 business days and cost $140, regardless on number of entry or length of time your visa is good for. Since it all cost the same, I apply fro the most I can get. I selected 12 months. I've heard that 24 month tourist visa is near impossible to get.
They do not accept cash, personal checks, American Express or Discover card, so be prepared.Related to:
- Family Travel
- Romantic Travel and Honeymoons
Live like locals
Favorite thing: I have been puzzled by the wide range of the cost of living in China every time I went there. Knowing a little bit Chinese will definitely help you cut the cost. However,even without any knowledge of the language, if you are fluent in using mobile apps, I bet you will have plenty of options as well. Here are a couple of good ones I always use whenever in China. Although Dianping.com is only in Chinese, you can have a pretty good sense what it is about by exploring the content.
1. Dianping, user reviews about restaurants, attractions,..etc. The mobile version has map integrated in. Very powerful.
iphone app: https://itunes.apple.com/cn/app/id351091731
2. Ctrip, a well known booking site for hotels, flights. It has English version.
Enjoy the stayRelated to:
- Budget Travel
Learn Chinese Language
Favorite thing: Before going to China, I recommend you to learn a little the language. Depending on your needs, you are advisable to make an useful vocabulary written both in pinyin and in Chinese caracters. Remmember many Chinese people can't understand pinyin, and, if you try to pronounce the caracters, they usually reply "ting bu dong" [I don't understand].
Here are some sites, where you can learn Chinese: Chinese 1, Chinese 2 and Chinese 3.
Chinese grammar is very easy, but pronounciation is hard due to the tones:
1. 1st - high and level [-];
2. 2nd - starts medium in tone, then rises to the top [´] (?);
3. 3rd - starts low, dips to the bottom, then rises to the top [v];
4. 4th - starts at the top, then falls sharp and strong to the bottom [`] (!).
It is very important to apply the right tone!
Favorite thing: If you go to the big cities or the sight spots, it's no need. When you want some help, just call some yong people who looks like a high school or colledge/university student. I belive they can understand if you speak slowly, and they can help you.
China First Car: Hongqi Sedan
Favorite thing: The first car of China was born in 1958, Hongqi Sedan, is designed and manufactured in China. It was consider world-class automobile during that time. In the 1960s, Hongqi Sedan was only allowed to be used by high ranking officers like the vice minister or foreign affairs officers.
On the picture is the C7560 Hongqi limousine. It comes with double-row seats, weight 2730kg and can fit up to eight people. The dashboard with "Tiananmen", decorated with wood and a quartz clock. It shows luxury and classic. The front driver's seat and passengers' seat are separated. The rare space is large and enough space for two bodyguards.
In February 1972, US President Richard Nixon's visit to Hangzhou was riding this car. In 1992, President Deng Xiaoping visited Hangzhou to recognized the succeed of manufacturing the automobile by Foreign Tourism Automobile Company Limited as an example of " Great China's design due to reform and open up China market ".
These pictures was taken in Hangzhou Airport 2011.
Beijing Capital Airport - Free WiFi
Favorite thing: A question at the information desk returned that free WiFi is available throughout Beijing Capital airport. It took me a while to find how but it helped keeping me busy through a 6-hour layover.
As of Jan 2012 I I saw billboards mentioning that WiFi access can be obtained by logging into a certain website to give your cell phone number, then receive a text message with ID and password reference. I tried without luck, therefore I discourage trying.
Free WiFi access requires authentication and a working method is to do so at a few dedicated machines. It's a big airport and locating one requires some walking. I found several of these and the photo may help to identify them if you don't have a clue with Chinese language signs.
Click the "English" button on the touch screen and follow the procedure, which requires to insert the personal data page of your passport for a scan. Make sure it's totally inserted except for a 15 mm or 3/4" stickout, otherwise the scan fails. This done, accept the scan result - or scan again - and hit the "Print" button to get the receipt with personal access info.
I've met a desperate man who had completely inserted his passport and couldn't get it out, therefore beware!
I normally use Firefox browser which doesn't seem to work while I found out that IE does.
Three steps required.
1. Connect to the unsecured "Airport" network
2. Open IE and enter ID and password codes in the top-left part of page
3. Open a new IE browser and navigate here without closing the other browser
Decent speed and no time limit. Some gates, not all, have 220V power sockets which can be found by lifting a round steel cover on the floor next to the rows of chairs.
Čína 2011 - Peking
Favorite thing: Čína, to je kus světa, kam mnozí nikdy ani nezavítají. Každodenně jsme s ní však nepřímo v kontaktu. Nejen díky tomu, že naprosto ovládá průmysl celého světa díky bezkonkurenčním cenám výrobků dovážené ve velkém do všech zemí, ale také počtem obyvatel (1. na světě, více než miliarda a 300 milionů), rozlohou (4. na světě) a nebo úmysly do budoucna. Již nyní je např. Čína největším producentem vzácných kovů na světě, z nichž se vyrábí např. počítače, mobily, apod. Čína postupně směřuje k tomu, aby mohla ovládat celý svět...
Nejjednodušeji se lze dostat do Číny samozřejmě letadlem, koncem srpna 2011 byly dokonce letenky z ČR za 6.500 Kč za zpáteční let. Nejzajímavější mi to však přišlo jako pokračování vlakem z Ruska, přes Mongolsko, až do Pekingu, který je z celé Číny prý nejzajímavější a nejturističtější.
Je tu např. Zakázané město, viz fotky výše, kam dříve vůbec normální člověk nemohl vstoupit. Dnes jsou tu desetitisíte turistů denně. Je to obrovský prostor se shlukem budov, kde je prý dohromady 9998 pokojů.
Každý, kdo už sem jede, tak také nesmí zapomenout navštívit Velkou čínskou zeď. Každý trošku znalý ale doporučí nechodit na nejznámější turisticky přístupný úsek - Badaling. Na této zdi přes 6000 km dlouhé jsou poblíž Pekingu (asi 60-80 km) zpřístupněné 4 nebo 5 úseků. Jezdí sem cestovky, taxíky, mikrobusy, ale i linkové autobusy, od který vás budou místní zrazovat, že tam jedou 2 hodiny. Možná ano, ale za desetinu ceny. Zážitek jít sem je určitě nezapomenutelný, jen ho trošku kazí ta lanovka pro líné turisty a bobová dráha pro ještě línější. Nejkrásnější místa jsou dle mého ale ta neopravená, která jdou nejlépe na protilehlých horách vidět z míst, která jsou za značkou zákaz vstupu. Takže češi, hurá na výlet smile
Určitě doporučuju v Pekingu se zajít podívat na Ptačí hnízdo, nový olympijský stadion, postavený kvůli olympijským hrám v roce 2008. Je tu kvůli těmto stadionům vybudováno metro, hned vedle sebe udělána obrovská pěší zóna s mnoha stánky, jídelnou, okolo jsou další stadiony, na box, plavání, apod.
Dalším nejznámějším místem, které denně v sezoně navštíví téměř 200.000 lidí denně je Letní palác (Summer palace), kde je mnoho klidných míst, parků, jezero s možností zapůjčení loďky a nebo šlapadla, chrámy, kultura, apod.
Za vidění určitě stojí pekingská ZOO, kde lze tuším v jako jediné ZOO na světě spatřit vymírající Pandu Velkou. Krom toho tu je mnoho dalších zvířat, obrovské akvárium s kosatkou, mě zejména uchvátil pavilon s plazy, kde mají na to, co jsem kdy viděl, největší sbírku plazů. Jen je škoda, že za některé pavilony (panda, akvárium, apod.) chtějí další dodatečné vstupné (nutno podotknout, že asi tak 1 EUR, takže velmi levné, ostatně jako všude jinde v Číně).
Při svítání a soumraku (jindy je náměstí uzavřeno) stojí za to vydat se na vyvěšování a svěšování vlajky na největší náměstí na světě - Tianmen, které bývalý císař nechal ještě zvětšit, aby se zde vešlo 1 milion lidí.
Čína je velmi otevřená, lidé jsou tu komunikativní a komunismus naprosto nevnímají. Všichni shodně říkají, že jej tu vítají zejména díky zajištění bezpečí jejich dětí. Což je tedy pravda, v noci jsem se zde cítil mnohokrát bezpečněji (a to v malých odlehlých, temných uličkách), než třeba v Bruselu a nebo jinde v Evropě (snad kromě Islandu). Za jakýkoliv problém tu totiž může záškodník dostat trest smrti.
Bohužel pro nás, nedomluvíme se tu moc anglicky. Snad jen na tržnicích určených přímo pro turisty, kde je nutno stejně jako jinde v Číně, velmi razantně smlouvat. Velmi razantně, tím myslím např. tričko s nápisem Beijing ze 185 yuanů na 20, čínské hůlky ze 65 za balení na 20 za 4 balení, apod. smile
Peking je zajímavé a lidnaté město. Určitě to mělo svoje kouzlo, jen těch 30 milionů lidí mě dost znechutilo některé procházky a jízdy metrem...
Hodnocení: 8 z 10ti
Úroveň angličtiny: 4 z 10ti
Favorite thing: Personally, I would not leave any space blank on application if you can help it. I came into China from Central Asia on a double entry visa. Because I was entering a 'sensitive' area, and because I was using the 2 entries to visit Pakistan and return to China, I said I'd be entering via Beijing, even though I won't be going anywhere near there on this trip. To gain 2 entries I said I was also going down into Vietnam and returning. I listed an itinery that only included well established tourist areas such as Shanghai, Yunnan province and so on. Where asked for accomodation / tel. numbers etc I listed popular backpacking hostels out of a guidebook for main destinations. I would strongly recommend that you don't mension couchsurfing or any similar contacts as its highly frowned upon to stay with individuals in China. You don't need to actually book anything. I was given a double entry visa valid for 6 months with each stay 60 days, which I have extended twice (its a long way to cycle!). Im guessing the general rules apply for you as well as me, a Brit applying in the UK. I can't really see the need for going through an agency, and paying their fees, as its just a visa you are applying for like it would be for any other country. But if you still feel uncomfortable about your application then that may put your mind at ease.
Free Wi-Fi in China
Favorite thing: I found it relatively easy to get free wi-fi but it does depend on where you travel. In China, the law requires the government to know the identity of everyone connected to the internet. This is ignored by many Chinese places like food cafes with free wi-fi. They just post the password for everyone to use.
However, in foreign places such as McDonalds and Starbucks, you must register using your mobile phone to use the free internet. Passport info is required to get a local SIM card for your phone as they will know who you are when registing for the internet.
The only foreign places I found in China that does not enforce the ID law are Apple stores. The one in Shanghai is in a main tourist area and I just walk in and connect my iPod to the Apple internet. Notice all the people on the bench using Apple's free internet in my photo.
Many of the hotels / hostels also have wi-fi. It is usually free at hostels and less expensive hotels. You uesally have to pay extra at more expensive hotels. Some Chinese hotels may only have wired Internet in your room which can connect to your computer. I bring a small wireless routher so I can connect to my iPod Touch and do email and stuff.
Big room, overlooking a "well" at back of hotel, but quiet. Only hotel in China where we didn't get...more
Having lived in Beijing for a number of years, I had stayed in relatively few hotels in the city -...more
The Hotel is truely a mixture of ancient and modern decore built in a Gothic Style, it once was...more
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