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Just back from Beijing, Xi'an & Wedding in Handan

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Just back from Beijing, Xi'an & Wedding in Handan

Old Feb 18th, 2007, 06:00 AM
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Ian
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Just back from Beijing, Xi'an & Wedding in Handan

Returned (5 hrs late) direct flight from Beijing to Toronto. The flight home was incredible because all across China, towns were firing off firecrackers & rockets for the New Year & we watched from 30,000 feet!

11 night whirlwind trip.

3 nights in a condo in Beijing. Southern Chaoyang area - near Xi Dawang/Chang'an. Self-toured Forbidden City & downtown Beijing. Locally arranged guided tour (6 people) to Great Wall at Badaling with very few people!

A 5 hour drive to Handan for 3 nights in a condo & a traditional Chinese wedding. We now have a new family. Handan is a large town of 1.4 million (6 million including nearby towns) southwest of Beijing in southern Hebei.

A 2 hours drive to Shijiazhuang (plus dinner in Zhending?) for a flight to Xi’an. 2 nights at the Hojo in Xi’an. Private guide + bus + driver for 2 days & nights. 5100 RMB for total trip – guide etc, hotel, flights – entrance fees – everything. It was arranged by a family travel agent in Handan.

Xi’an to Beijing via 5 hr delayed flight. 3 nights in the Plaza Royal on Xi Dawang – same area as above. 2 level 5 star duplex suite for 848 RMB per night. Self-guided tour of Temple of Heaven & Hutong shopping.

An amazing trip – full report with pictures to follow shortly.

A couple of notes:

Learn to use chopsticks BEFORE you go.
Women – get used to squat toilets.
Black Audi A6s.
Pedestrians DO NOT have the right of way.
Driving is insane but a controlled insanity.
The 2 (or 3) major temples in the Forbidden City are under construction & shrouded & closed.
Winter is a good time because the tour groups are really minimized.
Building cranes are everywhere in China.
The Chinese people are amazing.

Questions welcome. More shortly . . .

Ian
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Old Feb 18th, 2007, 07:04 AM
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ian:

Good, concise report...heading for Beijing late March...4 nights Beijing, 2 nights Xian, 3 nights Guilin area, 4 nights Shaghai, then 14 days in Japan.
One question: How did you book domestic flights? I've been told to wait until a week before we arrive to book Beijing-Xian, Xian-Guilin, Guilin-Shnghai and Shanghai-Tokyo..In fact the guide we've booked for Beijing strongly suggested this and even volunteered to do it for us. Any comments would be appreciated.

Stu T.
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Old Feb 18th, 2007, 08:06 AM
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We were told to wait also. My new daughter-in-laws mother booked all the domestic flights via a local Handan travel agent a week before. I'd suggest that you use a Beijing/Shanghai travel agent & yes, book no more than a week before. Expect most of your flights to be late departures.

btw in Xi'an & Shijiazhuang electronic boards tell you which counter to use for flight check-in (vs a standard airline counter) & they only open about 1 1/2 hrs before departure. Announcements are usually made in English for departures etc but not always so stay close to the gate & watch the boards once you're in. China Southern was excellent.

Ian
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Old Feb 18th, 2007, 09:50 AM
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"Black Audi A6s"

You guys are such VIPs! On my last trip, I only got to sit in Black VW Santanas.
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Old Feb 18th, 2007, 01:56 PM
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Haha. We only got the black A6s for the wedding. Local gov't Handan supplied. But they are everywhere in China.

We actually did feel like celebs in Handan. We were an oddity there. We went to a local mall & people stared & took cellphone pictures of these strange white people. What a blast.

Ian
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Old Feb 18th, 2007, 07:26 PM
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Ian,
I went to Beijing this past autumn, and white people weren't such an oddity. BUT white with freckles, lots of pointing when I was wearing a t-shirt!
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Old Feb 19th, 2007, 12:13 PM
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Can you guys imagine what it was like to be a Westerner visiting in 1984...,? Crowds everywhere staring at you, young people wanting to practice their English with you...every hotel had locals lined up by the front gate just to stare at any westerner arriving or leaving. Anxious to go back in March to note the marked contrasts, if any.

Stu T.
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Old Feb 19th, 2007, 12:43 PM
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I got stared at in some parts of Yunnan during my last trip, and I am Chinese! Hahha.
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Old Feb 19th, 2007, 12:58 PM
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Very much looking forward to your 'full' report. I am in the early stages of planning a trip for four adults in Sept. We really want to be as 'independant' as is practicable. I would love to hear about the Condo and your tour guides. We don't want to waste time 'stuck' with huge tour groups at the Wall and want to see sites in Beijing in our own time. Having said that, we also don't want to MISS anything. So a private guide sounds great.

Chop sticks I will try to master........Squat toilets I feel may be an issue!!!!!
Thanks in advance.
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Old Feb 19th, 2007, 03:05 PM
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Don't worry, aussiedreamer, I'll get around to it. I'm wading through the pictures at the moment, because I want to post both together.

The condo in Beijing was our new daughter-in-law's, not a rental. Her parents bought it (1/2 down anyway) in December about 3 blocks south of Chang'an. We actually only stayed there for the 1st 2 nights. They haven't furnished it yet & the air mattress was only 'comfortable' so we moved to the Plaza Royale for the last night before our drive to Handan. $109 for a luxe suite was a wee bit nicer. We came back to the same hotel (just 1 blk south of their condo) on our return. This area is about a 15 min (30 yuan) taxi ride from Wangfujing. We booked the hotel flawlessly (including on the fly changes via phone) through asiatravel.com

About tours . . . they are good to get you to the sights, but you have to put up with other stops of 'interest'. Jade factories, silk factories, cloisonné factories & tourist restaurants, all of which try to suck your cash with great looking goods at ridiculous prices with a kickback for EVERYTHING to the guide. Keep hold of your wallet & they are mildly interesting. OK, we did break down & bought a silk comforter, cover & pillowcases in Xi’an but we got a good price with me in the parking lot 30 meters away yelling “NO” . . .

More in the report . . .

Ian
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Old Feb 19th, 2007, 05:36 PM
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I'll look forward to it, thanks
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Old Feb 20th, 2007, 03:13 PM
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The start of the trip report, with pictures can be found at:

http://forums.pelicanparts.com/showt...hreadid=264722

Ian
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Old Feb 20th, 2007, 03:14 PM
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How about a real link rather than another forum link . . .

http://members.rennlist.com/imcarthur/china.htm

Ian
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Old Feb 20th, 2007, 06:05 PM
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Thanks Ian, as you can see I am quite eager to read your report. We sound quite 'similar' in traveling expectations etc.

Your second link was much easier, although I printed it in landscape as it was difficult to read as it didn't 'fit' on the screen.

Thanks I eagerly await your next submission.

D
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Old Feb 20th, 2007, 06:41 PM
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Ian - What Porsche do you have? [I noticed you use rennlist as your domain.]
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Old Feb 20th, 2007, 08:36 PM
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aussie

Yeah, my formatting might be strange. Column width is 950 . . . I'll look into it.

rkkwan

An older one. 1987 911 Cabriolet. White with blue. Another passion. I do all my own work on it as part of the fun. I am in my 50s y'know . . .

Ian
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Old Feb 21st, 2007, 01:35 AM
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Ian:

I don't understand a couple of things.

1. Why wait until a week before arrival before booking doestic flights?

2. 5100 RMB is about $660. Are you saying that the entire trip of 11 nights including transportation, flights and hotel for more than one person was covered by this sum?? Or are you referring to just the part in Shijiazhuang?? Could you please clarify?
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Old Feb 21st, 2007, 03:14 AM
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ssteve

The 5100 RMB gots us tickets from Shijiazhuang to Xi'an & Xi'an to Beijing. 2 nights hotel in Xi'an at the 5 Star HoJo overlooking the South Gate, the guide/translator, the van & the driver & all entrance costs. They picked us up at the airport & dropped us off at the airport & were at our disposal the whole time we were there. And that's total for 2 not pp.

We just bought meals.

The bride's mother was the one that kept insisting that we wait to buy domestic tickets until the last moment.

Ian
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Old Feb 21st, 2007, 06:18 AM
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Ok. I re-formatted it & it should print now.

New link however:

http://members.rennlist.com/imcarthur/china.htm

I will add to it later . . .

Thanks for reading

Ian
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Old Feb 21st, 2007, 06:34 AM
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Great report, Ian! I'm looking forward to the rest, especially the wedding. Last time I was in Beijing the traffic jams were really bad, how were they for you?
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