The Panda Express

Old Jul 7th, 2013, 08:07 AM
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The Panda Express

With our China Visas about to expire, we make one last trip to China for now and it is going to be a quick one.

After about a thirteen hour flight we land at Narita International Airport (NRT) and I am not as exhausted as expected after getting little sleep in 51H. Our stop in Narita is a short one before our connection flight on ANA to Chengdu, China.

A night at the Holiday Inn Express in Chengdu and hopefully we will be well rested for a tour of Giant Panda Reserve.

After exploring a bit around Chengdu, we will take the first of our night train rides across China before saying good bye to a country we have really grown fond of visiting.
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Old Jul 8th, 2013, 12:29 PM
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To Chengdu

Although there are a few bumps along the way, our first flight on All Nippon Airlines is a pleasant one especially after we get a gorgeous view of Mt Fuji as we climb to our cruising altitude.

En route to Chengdu we are given a nice “first class service” in coach and I take the opportunity to enjoy some Japanese cuisine and brew. My Japanese meal contains a tasty mix of vegetables, noodles, rice, eggs (which I pass on), crab meat and of course, desert.

Our flight arrives in Chengdu a few minutes ahead of schedule and I am immediately impressed with how open, bright and clean the airport seems. Even more impressive is the efficiency and speed of the Immigration and Customs process.

Although no words are exchanged, I feel like a welcomed guest instead of a potential enemy of the state. In my opinion this is how all legal visitors to any country should be treated. Kudos to the Immigration and Customs Officials in Chengdu.

There were only two things we found odd at the Chengdu Airport. There were no ATM's available and as such it was pretty expensive (RMB$60) to exchange currency. Secondly, the “Free Wi-Fi” requires a phone capable of receiving text messages in China.

Arriving late in the evening our normal preferred mode of transportation (public) to our hotel is limited and after a long day of flying we are just interested in reaching a comfortable bed quickly. We decide on an option that is not all that unfamiliar to us but always has a potential for a bit of adventure.

A few moments negotiating and we are walking across the parking lot to a private car for a ride to our hotel.

Following our already agreed upon seating protocol, we are soon on our way to the Holiday Inn Express. About five minutes after leaving the airport property our car comes to stop hood to hood with another car parked on the street opposite the direction we are traveling.

Words are exchanged between the two drivers and we are told (more like gestured) to change vehicles.

For a moment, I sort of feel like we are a part of a prisoner exchange but thirty minutes or so later the Holiday Inn Express sign comes into view which I had no doubt would happen sooner or later.
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Old Jul 9th, 2013, 04:20 PM
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Did you ever find out why you needed to change vehicles?
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Old Jul 9th, 2013, 05:47 PM
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The Chinese won't think there's any problem to convenience themselves. They'd be amused that this is even brought up in a forum. They picked you up in a car, they dropped you off at your destination in a car. That's more than good enough.
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Old Jul 14th, 2013, 03:24 PM
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It happened to us on the way from Tongli to Shanghai. Our driver stopped next to a car at a taxi stand outside the Hongqiao Airport and asked us to change cars. When I questioned her, she told me her license is from Jiangsu Province, does not allow her to drive in the City of Shanghai. I told her I wasn't going to pay her, she said no problem, give the amount we negotiated to the other driver, apparently it is an arrangement they do regularly. The 2d driver was from Wuxi but had a Shanghai license because I made him show it to me, we didn't want to be Shanghaied as DBM felt.
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Old Jul 14th, 2013, 03:24 PM
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It happened to us on the way from Tongli to Shanghai. Our driver stopped next to a car at a taxi stand outside the Hongqiao Airport and asked us to change cars. When I questioned her, she told me her license is from Jiangsu Province, does not allow her to drive in the City of Shanghai. I told her I wasn't going to pay her, she said no problem, give the amount we negotiated to the other driver, apparently it is an arrangement they do regularly. The 2d driver was from Wuxi but had a Shanghai license because I made him show it to me, we didn't want to be Shanghaied as DBM felt.
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Old Jul 14th, 2013, 03:33 PM
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Interesting - thanks Shanghainese!
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Old Jul 14th, 2013, 05:44 PM
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Shanghainese,

Thanks, too
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