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emmitt Oct 10th, 2007 03:52 AM

Great Wall Trip
I am making arrangement with Konglin for a trip to the Wall. We will have his services for 10 hours. He has suggested the Lama Temple, Hutong tour, and acrobatics. I have declined the acrobatics and not sure of the Lama Temple. Can anyone give me a must see? Three of us have 2 1/2 days in Beijing - want to make the most of it. We know we can do some of the things on our own but if you have a driver/guide, what advantage would you take?

rkkwan Oct 10th, 2007 06:42 AM

Lama Temple is right at the city wall, with subway access. It's interesting but I'd do it myself. Use a car/guide for trips that are at least further out. After the Great Wall, you can see the Ming Tombs, and then on the way back, go to the Summer Palace, which is on the far NW side of town.

thursdaysd Oct 10th, 2007 06:46 AM

Agree with rkkwan that you don't need a guide for the Lama Temple. But do plan to visit it - it was the first "sight" I saw in Beijing, and a wonderful start to the trip. These days it would be an interesting contrast to all the glass and concrete that's been taking over the city.

Shanghainese Oct 10th, 2007 08:27 AM

You have included the Forbidden City/Palace Museum, right? You can do it yourself in 1/2 day starting at Tien An Men Square. And the Temple of Heaven is a do-it-yourself must see.

Use Konglin for the trip rkkwan suggested probably for less than 10 hours.

emmitt Oct 11th, 2007 03:44 AM

Thanks so much travelers.

marksfour Nov 20th, 2007 02:56 PM

Hi Emmitt,
How was your trip to the Great Wall? What sites did you end up having Konglin take you to? We will try to book him for our trip too.

chiefie Nov 20th, 2007 03:13 PM

marksfour... you do NOT need a guide for the Wall. you may want a DRIVER, to simplify your visit, but you don't need a guide.

ekscrunchy Nov 21st, 2007 03:48 AM

I think Konglin is now the driver/guide, since he has purchased his new car.

emmitt Nov 21st, 2007 08:33 AM

Had the most wonderful trip - 2 1/2 days in Beijing. The Wall could be the only reason for going and the rest could just be the gravy. Kept touching the huge blocks and thinking of all the people and years it took to make such an amazing thing and how old it was and all the hardships involved, Anyway, it was like a dream - we kept saying that we were actually here in this place. Being airline folks, we used a service recommended by flight attendants - across the street from the Holiday Inn Lido - in the back room of the Western Bar. Cost was $65 (we paid the tolls also). Driver was a young girl - her English a lot better than our Chinese - good day. Stopped at a place to eat across from the cloisonne factory - food was excellent. Ate at a local place one morning (3 of us for $1.30) - found it by a driver hearing us talk in our hotel - he took us a few blocks away (drove on sidewalks to get there) - he came in with us and helped us order - broth with dumplings and one order of fried bread - yummy. Shopped at the Pearl Market - had lots of orders from friends back home. Hard to pick out pearls without knowing quality. We relied on Ken (Ken Pearls) since he was recommended by flight attendants. I think we did ok. Went to the Forbidden City and it was mind-boggling (also being restored in many areas). Ate at a restaurant (has a brown door) across the street and that's where I learned to use chopsticks. Daughter had a beer (came in a big bottle) and it had a mild taste. I don't like beer but this wasn't bad. Went to a park and sat - saw grandparents with toddlers playing - everyone in Beijing was friendly and tried to help if we asked. Only one time did we exit a taxi (in front of the Pearl Market) when he said the price and we knew that was more than double since we had taken a taxi there. Also had one taxi actually use his vehicle like a sheepherder. He didn't have time to take us where we wanted to go so he literally picked out an oncoming taxi and nosed him over to the curb. The two drivers didn't think that was out of the ordinary - we were wondering what he was doing and when we were going to get slammed by oncoming traffic but it all worked out. Crossing a street was challenging but do-able. We didn't see anyone get hit but surely some poor westerner does once in awhile. This was our last hurrah as daughter's leave is up and she now has to resign (with regrets)- we had first class going and business on return. What a way to end free travel!

thursdaysd Nov 21st, 2007 09:42 AM

"Only one time did we exit a taxi (in front of the Pearl Market) when he said the price" Last time I was in Beijing all the taxis were using meters (same in other towns, too). Has this changed?

chiefie Nov 21st, 2007 01:28 PM

ekscrunchy.... konglin's rates for driving need to be verified. last i heard, the general going rates by several people was 300-400rmb/day for guide services, and additional 600 for driving.
please update this info if no longer correct.

ekscrunchy Nov 21st, 2007 01:45 PM

I spent a full day and 2 half-days with Kong Lin last April. For the Mutianyu trip we had another man as a driver but for the two mornings spent within Beijing itself, Kong Lin drove his own car.

I cannot remember the price for the Wall trip but I think it was somewhere in the range of 1200 RMB which included entrance fees (Wall, Lama Temple) and lunch. He now has a new car and his rates may have changed, so I would counsel people to get exact quotes in detail. Make sure you know what the rate includes and for how many hours. Just settle this in advance. I have confidence that Kong Lin is upright in his dealings.

I realize that I could have done the two half-days on my own but I liked having Kong Lin (and Violet) along to answer questions, explain things, and just make things easier for me; they were just fun to spend time with. I would not rely on them if I were a serious scholar of Chinese history or architecture..for specialist purposes you would be better off with someone well versed in your particular area of interest. I was traveling alone so the company was welcome. I had a wonderful trip to China and I am hoping to return someday before too long.

I will top my trip report so people can read about the time with Kong have to scroll down past Korea to the Beijing part..

emmitt Nov 26th, 2007 06:06 AM

To: Thursday:

The taxi driver said the price instead of turning on the meter - when we disagreed, he didn't change his price - so we got out.

thursdaysd Nov 26th, 2007 06:24 AM

Thanks for the answer emmitt. That's a bit worrying, I'm a big fan of taxi meters! Was this an isolated incident, or did you find that other drivers weren't using their meters?

ekscrunchy Nov 26th, 2007 06:32 AM

Thursday I know you are not asking me, but I had no trouble with the taxis in Beijing, or in Shanghai. All used their meters and I had no problems.

emmitt Nov 27th, 2007 04:15 AM

Thursday: We didn't have any other issues with meters - just that one incident. I had read about not getting a taxi in front of a tourist area and this once incident proved to be true.

spring1121 Nov 27th, 2007 01:02 PM

In October the cost for 10 hours with a guide was 300 RMB and another 600 for a car and driver. I thought that was reasonable so I didn't negotiate. We used Konglin's girlfriend, Violet as our guide. We went to Mutianyu, Lama Temple and the hutongs. It was an excellent day.

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