(filtered by tag 'China')

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Thursday 23rd of July is our last full day in China. 18 days passed really quickly, I would like to stay for longer. But that's not possible.

Today we plan to see Shanghai. Heidi, our local guide, told us 2 days ago that Shanghai is nicer during night than during day. After travelling through it by bus yesterday and today I can only agree with that.

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China Day 17 - Total Solar Fiasco

Added: November 08, 2009

Tags: China city night photos

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Finally, 22nd of July - Day of Solar Eclipse is here! We are leaving our hotel soon in the morning. The idea was to beat other groups heading to Solar Eclipse viewing site, but we were hardly the first group in the lobby of our hotel. We got breakfast box instead of proper breakfast and I have already described how bad it is. It was the same this morning, but we were sleepy so we did not care much. What was much worse, however, was heavy cloud cover. It looks like meteorologists fulfilled their threat from yesterday.

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China Day 16 - Terra Cotta Army

Added: November 05, 2009

Tags: China photos

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We are going to visit only one place on Tuesday 21st of July. It is Terra Cotta Army near Xian. After that we are flying to Shanghai in the evening.

In case you've just come from Mars and never heard about it, it is afterlife army for First Emperor of Qin. It consists from several thousands of life size figures. There are archers, bowmen, cavalry, horses, chariots and more. Every figure was unique. From those thousands only one was found intact. All others were broken during rebellion (and its consequences) a few years after burial of Emperor.

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China Day 15 - Xian

Added: November 03, 2009

Tags: China city food mosque photos

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We have not visited many places on Monday, 20th of July in Xian. And that was good, because I got cold yesterday at Bingling Si. I guess it was not warm enough for shorts and T-shirt for me. On the other hand it was really hot in Xian. So I was not in mood to explore exotic places.

Our train arrived to Xian at about 7am. Train station was overcrowded as we had not seen before. We had to keep together to or risk to get lost. We went out rather slowly, it was crowded also there. Slowly, we went around barrier and then back on other side to join our local guide. Then we walked for about 1km to place where our bus was waiting, because it is not possible to park directly at train station.

Xian is very old city, former capital of China and it has nicely preserved city walls. Our hotel was inside the walls, near to Bell Tower. It took us about 20 minutes to get there in the traffic.

We got keys to our room quite quickly, but the room was not ready yet. It was still before 8am, so we could hardly blame them. Contrary, Rich was able to get breakfast tickets for us, so we could spend time surrounded by nice meals ;-) (I still had no problem with Chinese-style of breakfast, but there were also toasts, eggs and everything).

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Sunday, 19th of July. It is cloudy and it looks like it will rain soon. Only reason we came to Lanzhou is that we are going to visit Bingling Si grottoes on the Yellow River.

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Saturday 18th of July. The thin crescent of the Moon is directly above our heads surrounded by blue sky when we are getting to the bus for today's journey. It is getting thinner and promises it will cover the Sun in a few days.

We are leaving Xiahe, nice small town we nearly were not allowed in. We are heading to Lanzhou, ugly industrial town. We would have nothing to look forward to, fortunately we are going through amazing country side and we will visit couple of strange mosques (well, they are not strange in China).

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On Friday 17 of July it is cloudy again. Our plan is to visit Labrang Monastery and another grasslands area. All are nearby and we will return to Xiahe in the evening. It is good to stay for at least 2 days at one place. Checking in and out is not my favourite ritual, but that's how we usually travel.

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China Day 11 - Ganjia Grasslands

Added: September 30, 2009

Tags: China photos

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It is raining. I knew it yesterday it is good idea to go to Long Wu monastery while weather is fair! Thursday 16th of July started with complete cloud cover with occasional rainfall. It is not bad for travelling, but our photos are doomed.

We started with short visit to a local market and shops in Tongren , buying some groceries, fruit and other essential things for picnic. We should have picnic today :-)

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Wednesday 15th of July. Finally real Chinese breakfast again. I missed it slightly in Tibet ;-) The most surprising were fried sardines. I liked most pickled lotus root. We came quite late there, the selection was limited. And still, at 9:05 about 50 uniformed hotel employees came to the room and finished the leftovers.

After breakfast we hopped to our bus and headed to Tongren.

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China Day 9 - Xining

Added: September 08, 2009

Tags: China monastery photos

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I could not sleep well, so when Rich opened door on our coupe around 7:00 on Tuesday 14th of July I was tired and surprised. He told us that we are stepping off the train in 1 hour. Conductor informed him incorrectly before and our train will arrive 4 hours ahead of original plan. Surprise!

When I look outside I can see we are slowly getting into Xining. We can see old decaying apartment buildings around. That means we slept over Quinghai lake shortly before Xining (at least we hopped it will be visible from train).

Because of surprise arrival our bus is not at the station yet, so I have time to look around train station. I can see big mosque-like building with the shops at the ground level and Eiffel Tower nearby. Our impression about the city made in train did not changed. We do not like Xining.

Another disadvantage of unplanned arrival is that our hotel rooms are not ready yet. We are waiting in lounge for about an hour. At about 10am our room is clean and available. I am impressed. Getting the room so soon in the morning is nice.

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Wednesday, 8th of July. Wake up call is at 6am. We are leaving in 30 minutes because Rich wants to beat crowds at Great Wall. I like this approach. It suits me well. If I can come somewhere soon I usually do it.

We have been warned about breakfasts in Chinese hotels, but that is nothing compared to warning we have received regarding today. The breakfast boxes hotels give to people who cannot come to proper breakfast are terrible. They were probably invented to torture people by hunger. So I cheated a bit and ate a few things I brought with myself. It did not help at all :-( Unfortunately this was not the only time we ended up with dreaded breakfast box. Well, even getting to places before crowd forms has some disadvantages.

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China Day 2 - Beijing

Added: August 09, 2009

Tags: China city lake photos

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Morning 7th of July starts with a wake up call. Twice. Either human factor or failure of technique. Or too eager receptionist. Or maybe I did not say Xie Xie (谢谢) the first time, because I thought it is an automatic call.

Rich has warned us during briefing yesterday breakfast in China is different from what we are used to. It is the same stuff you will get for dinner. So he usually does not bother with it. But not us! We came here to taste as much of Chinese meals as possible... at least I did (well I looked forward for Tibetan meals more, but that does not eliminate Chinese ones).

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China Day 1 - Beijing

Added: August 03, 2009

Tags: China city photos

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After 10 long hours of flying we landed at modern Terminal 3 in Beijing. But it was not over yet. We had to wait till Swine Flu Prevention Squad measures temperature of all passengers. Now, we will see if all of them were coughing and choking for nothing. And whether my claim in Flu Assessment paper "I have not been in close contact with anybody with flu symptoms" is correct.

Great, we (and everybody else) passed! So now to get rid of assessment and to pass infra thermometers in terminal. Success again. It looks like doors to China are open for us! Yippee! And I can say they take swine flu more seriously than in UK.

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China, Tibet and Total solar eclipse

Added: August 02, 2009

Tags: China info photos

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Last week we have returned from our 3 weeks long vacation in China. It was amazing holidays. It was our first vacation with a tour operator. We decided to use tour operator because it is not easy for individuals to get to Tibet. Visa are hard to get and going out of Lhasa needs "paperwork" too. Not to mention it is very hard to read Chinese for us ;-) , "nobody" speaks English and it is not possible to book train tickets online (tickets can be bought 2 days ahead and that does not suit my life style well).

We were bit unsure how it will be with operator, because we prefer to travel alone, but I have to say Explore outdid all our expectations. It seems Explore is oriented to customers similar to us (just older). And our tour leader Rich made our experience even better. He was fantastic. He worked hard to satisfy everybody (that is very hard in my point of view) and he succeeded. He helped Zuzka in restaurants to get meals suiting her allergy and he stopped bus any time he heard me taking pictures frantically (yes, I started to take photos through windows of bus, which is... not very satisfying).

I have taken unbelievable number of photos, all our colleagues were shocked or amused after learning how many I have made. But many of them were just repeating existing photo just in case previous one was not good (remember - many of them were taken in bus or train (Rich could not stop train for me unfortunately)). So total number of independent compositions is much smaller...

I am in the middle of processing them now and it will take some time before I am done, but I am able to publish about a few days from beginning. So stay close to Internet :-)

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