Sunday, November 13, 2011

6 days in China

6 days in China

First of all let me start by saying that I'm not good when it comes to writing travelogues. So I shall include the important information here. Also, the pics are from my phone. I lost my cam's memory card. Have a strong feeling that somebody flicked. Had close to 2000 snaps of which many where cars . GRRR!

Trip Info
Cochin – Malaysia – Hangzhou – Shanghai – Beijing

Hangzhou was our first stop. Here are the list of places that we visited in Hangzhou.

West Lake
The best way to enjoy the lake is to take an electric tram car that runs around the lake.

Leifeng Pagoda
This is beside the West lake with a fascinating view from the top. Locals say that this place is really beautiful during winter when the park is covered in snow.

Night Market
A very good place to buy cheap and duplicate products. No big electronic items here though. Expect Perfumes, lighters, small laptops accessories, clothing, Chinese items. Got myself a CK perfume for 100 bucks.

Local Shopping Malls
There are many shopping malls filled with small shops. The ones I went was mainly into clothing, Chinese items, Plastic flowers. Since they were preparing for the winter, the shops were literally covered with winter clothing. A huge disappointed there!

The next stop was Shanghai. Took the high speed train from Hangzhou – Shanghai. Average speed of the train was 300km/hr.

List of places that we visited
Financial Tower
Ocean Aquarium
The Bund

Luckily the hotel was in the city center and all major shopping malls and eatouts were walkable. Also, the subway station was here so had a chance to check out other nearby places. Few subway stations here are filled with shops (like a mini shopping mall with many small shops). The best station to check out is Shanghai Science and Technology Museum Station. Was able to buy many things from here including many chinese items, Pearls, fake pens (real cheap).
The Ocean aquarium was a real treat to the eyes and had a good collection of aquatic species. It also got the world's longest underwater tunnel. Souvenir shop and a food joint here inside is also good. It's next to the Shanghai TV Tower. The entrance fee is around 1000INR per person.

The next stop was Beijing. The railway station is next to the Shanghai Hongqiao International Airport. The railway station was amazing and will beat most of our airports. The high speed train had an avg speed of 310 km/hr. There are many places to visit in Beijing. Here are some of the places that we visited.

Ming Tombs
Forbidden City
Tiemann Square
Great Wall (Badaling section)
Olympic Stadium (Water Cube & Birds Nest)
Jade Factory
Silk Factory
Pearl Market (factory)
Temple of Heaven
Traditional Chinese Medicine center

Be prepared to walk a lot in Forbidden city. We had to walk around 4-5 kms. A good place with rich history.

Great wall was our best experience. Locals say that the Badaling Section is the best place to view the great wall thanks to the fantastic scenery. There's a cable car all the way to the top of Tower 7. From here, we had to walk to the other towers. The place was crowded and some sections were hard to walk. You can see how steep it is in the pics. Always wondered how they built this in the first place. Definitely one of the 7 wonders.

Jade and Silk factory was a good place to visit and had a chance to see how these are produced. But all are really expensive. Silk was pretty reasonable but jade was really expensive.

Pearl Market/Factory was pretty reasonable and manged to buy few items from here.

Car scene in China:

As seen in one thread, China is Audi and VW Crazy ! And 99% is A6 with extended wheelbase.
S Class
7 Series
M series

Some cool cars that I managed to see
Rolls Royce Phantom
Ferrari – Think it's 599
Audi R8 (Matte Black)
Modded Coopers
Merc Brabus
Modded Bentley (low profile tires)
and many more

Few important points

This was one major problem since almost everyone didn't know English. Had a tough time speaking to them. The best thing to do is carry a translator app, learn basic chinese words like numbers and other basic questions. Although they dont know English, the local shopkeepers managed to learn few words (specially when you are bargaining with them) like

"Too low"
"You Crazy lady/man"

Although I found the food to be pretty ok, we found it difficult to have them everyday especially the breakfast. Not a problem here since you will be able to find all major fast joints almost everywhere.

From the airport/station. Make sure to catch a cab from the authorized taxi stand. Many people will offer services on reaching but these guys will charge a very huge fee. You will easily find the taxi stand since most of the people prefer taxis. Decent rate and very polite drivers.
In cities, the best way to travel around will be the bus. It's got a fixed rate system. 1RMB or 2RMB for each ride. The hard thing will be to find the right bus to the right place. Since most of the people dont understand English, it will be tricky to tackle this situation.

While shopping, bargain a lot! If they bring down the price, it's better to buy it else they will shout at you and might create a scene. Try to buy many things from the same shop, they will really bring down the rates. While bargaining make sure you mention the currency in "Chinese Yuan". Sometimes while fixing the rate, they might say that they had mentioned the rates in USD. So make a note of this.

If you are arranging a guide, try to get hold of any college going kids. Many do this as a part time job. They will speak pretty good English and be very friendly. My wife became very close with one such female and at the end the guide offered many free coupons from KFC. This was a great break since we almost had all our food from KFC. Saved a lot of money this way.

When in transit you might have to wait a lot for the next flight, especially if you are taking Air Asia to China. If so, try to book hotel rooms in advance. The closest would be Tune hotels which is just outside KL airport. It's walkable but not advisable if you have a lot of luggage's. You will be able to find their bus which will drop you to the hotel. You will need to pay a small amount. This room is just for relaxation. Expect no luxuries and it's very very small. You will even find it hard to keep your luggage. So be prepared.

If you are a frequent Air Asia flyer, watch out for upgrade offers. They might send it at the last moment. We upgraded to premium class for 1.5k per head. A lot better when compared to it's normal class. You wont be able to upgrade it once you have checked in. So look at for the mail.

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