China with open eyes!

Apr 10th, 2004, 09:39 AM
  #1  
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China with open eyes!

Hello all. (espicially PeterNH, I have enjoyed your comments on the forums hugely)

I have just quit my job, sold my house and I am embarking on my first real adventure.

I have travelled extensively on business but never on my own as a truly independent traveller.

I have planned the following route, arriving in Beijing in July:

China down to Tibet and Nepal (all over land) - Fly from Kat to Hanoi - Overland down through Vietnam and into Cambodia. I will eventually travel to Aus/NZ.

I am very open minded and intend to get really under the skin of each country, and I do not plan to rush.

My first questions really concern timing. I understand that July is very wet in Beijing. Will this be a huge problem? Also, what is the best way to hook up with other travellers who are likely to be in Beijing when I arrive. I am out going and not worried about being on my own but a friendly face on arrival might be cool.

Finally, selected routes. I have very little interest in seeing built up western China, I really want to see its full beauty. What route would best be? I would ideally like to be in Tibet for very late August as I would like to trek up to Everest in Mid Sep/Oct.

So much to say and so very excited.

Thank you for any feedback!
Cheers for now,
Michael
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Apr 10th, 2004, 10:48 AM
  #2  
 
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> I understand that July is very wet in Beijing. Will this be a huge problem?

Not a huge problem, no. When it rains it rains heavily, but it doesn't rain all the time. This isn't the tropics after all. But temperatures and humidity are consistently high.

> Also, what is the best way to hook up with other travellers who are likely to be in Beijing when I arrive.

Presumably such an extended trip will not be at four- or five-star level (?) If you stay at budget hotels and hostels you'll find plenty of other travellers and likely end up wandering off with some of them by a different route from the one you planned. This is certainly one of the pleasures of independent travel.

> Finally, selected routes. I have very little interest in seeing built up western China, I really want to see its full beauty. What route would best be?

There is beauty to be found in China, but don't expect pristine countryside--the situation with water and air pollution, with litter and hideous construction at every turn, is pretty bad.

Estimating four weeks before Tibet, there's certainly no need to go the straightforward Beijing-Xi'an-Chengdu-Lhasa route. Try looking up the following in your guide book, and see what you think:

Beijing-Wutai Shan (mountain-top temples)-Datong (caves, Hanging Monastery, some of oldest monasteries)-Hohhot (grasslands, temples)-Dongsheng (fake Genghis tomb in rural location)-Tianshui (prettiest cave temple site)-Xi'an (terracottas, etc.)-whizz through Chengdu to Kunming-Dali-Lijiang-Tiger Leaping Gorge/assorted trekking routes up to Chengdu, fly to Lhasa.

Or, if you're willing to reach Lhasa overland:

Datong, Wutai Shan, Pingyao (walled city full of ancient houses), Xi'an, Tianshui, Jiayu Guan (rebuilt Ming-era fort at end of Ming Great Wall), Dunhuang (largest and most intact cave temple site, desert), Golmud, and to Lhasa by bus.

Either of these routes will show you plenty of countryside and some of China's most ancient surviving buildings.

Peter N-H
http://members.axion.net/~pnh/China.html
PeterN_H is offline  
Apr 10th, 2004, 11:10 AM
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The main overland route to Lhasa goes through Germu in the Qinghai province. You can get there by train via Lanzhou and Xining. Or if you want to see part of the Silk Road first, by bus from Dunhuang. Then south by bus from Germu into Tibet.

Another possibility is through the very treacherous routes from western Sichuan, which will take much much longer, crossing many mountains.

I don't have detail, but please do a lot of research about transportation from Lhasa to Nepal before going.
rkkwan is offline  
Apr 10th, 2004, 11:49 AM
  #4  
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Thank you both.

You are extremely dedicated and I thank you both for your input.

It is difficult to get from Lhasa to Nepel overland I gather?
NewStart is offline  
Apr 10th, 2004, 11:53 AM
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It is my understanding that it is forbidden to go overland between Tibet and Nepal.
Kathie is offline  
Apr 10th, 2004, 02:18 PM
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The only legal route overland to Tibet by public transport from within China is via Golmud (called Ge'ermu by Han Chinese, but Golmud by Tibetans and everyone else). There are other overland routes but they involve expensive contracts with unreliable state-registered travel agencies. The bus is ruinously expensive at around Y1700 including a special permit to enter Tibet (local people pay about Y200). It takes something between 24 and 48 hours depending on the state of the road and the number of times the bus breaks down. This isn't a luxury route but something of an adventure, and popular with budget travellers. Trundling across the Qinghai Plateau's rather eerie beauty is quite something.

On the other hand for about Y50 more you can fly from Chengdu. There are also flights from several other cities these days but no one ever seems clear what foreigners have to do about the Tibet permit. Ignore anyone who tells you you have to be in a group. That requirement was dropped last year. However, if you take the route from Kunming as described in the posting above, you can ask at Zhongdian whether you can board the plane there and not bother to continue up to Chengdu. Zhongdian has four flights a week to Lhasa, which start from Kunming; so you can make enquiries there, too. The travel agency just inside the Camellia Hotel, amongst others, sells the tickets.

Travel overland from Lhasa to Nepal is commonplace, and unlike much of Tibet doesn't require an further Aliens' Travel Permit. There's some public transport, but typically travellers meet up in Lhasa and use noticeboards in the budget hotels to form groups for the joint rental of a Land Cruiser or other vehicle (cheapest of all is a truck) from independent drivers or from tour operators. Attention needs to be paid to the details of where you'll stop en route and for how long, and a substantial portion of the payment withheld until you are put down at the Chinese side of the bridge to Nepal, over which you walk to pick up Nepali transport on the other side.

Peter N-H
http://members.axion.net/~pnh/China.html
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Apr 13th, 2004, 04:38 AM
  #7  
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Peter,

I am going to change my route slightly as I want to give the situation in Nepal some time to settle. (if it does at all)

I will now be coming back into China via Laos arriving in Mo Han and Kunming. How easy will it be to make my way overland to Golmund so that I can go legally into Tibet from that point. Will picking up a visa for Tibet be ok in Golmund?

Thank you again for your advice. Have just bought your guide.

Regards,
Michael
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Apr 13th, 2004, 08:20 AM
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Michael:

If you have an open mind as well as "open eyes" - read the books by Alexandra David Neel. She was one of the few westerners to visit Tibet at the turn of the century, and her books were fascinating - about old customs, mysticism, shaman, Tiobetan Buddhism, meditation, mystics. They may be out of print but the best bet is the libraries.
Johnmango is offline  
Apr 13th, 2004, 08:39 AM
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From Kumming to Golmud/Germu, you'll need to take three trains. I believe the fastest connection may be:

K166 Kunming 21:13 - Baoji 5:03 (3rd day)
T151 Baoji 7:31 - Xining 20:39
K427 Xining 0:41 - Germu 13:28 (4th day)

There are other connections, but anyway you'll go through these cities where you can make your connections:

Kumming - Chengdu - Baoji - Lanzhou - Xining - Germu.
rkkwan is offline  
Apr 13th, 2004, 09:06 AM
  #10  
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Thanks again guys.

I really appreciate it.

Thansk,
Michael
NewStart is offline  
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