Sunday, October 10, 2010

China 2010

" Travelling is beautiful because of the memories of yourself & others " 

" Failure is easy. Success is a marathon "

" For some retirees, they take the road less traveled and somehow they are able to enjoy the richness of LIFE that become part of the journey "

" My 30 days in China (Tianjin, Beijing, Taishan, Qufu, Suzhou, Shanghai, Anhui, Hangzhou, Wuyishan, Lushan, Wuhan, Wudangshan, Dali, Lijiang & Guilin - 1/9-1/10/2010 - fulfilling my dream to see more of the China's UNESCO heritage sites and also visiting Shanghai Expo "

2010 is my 5th year in travelling since my retirement in May 2006. How time has flown !!! Time and tide wait for no man !!! Everybody wants to be old, but nobody wants to grow old !!! I hope my present mental, physical and spiritual strength will allow me to continue travelling in the years ahead, Happy travelling.

After a 30 day solo visit to China in Sept 2009, I made a solemn promise that I shall return to China again in my pursuit to see more of the UNESCO heritage sites especially the natural wonders ie the nature reserves and the top national parks in China. 

After resting for three months since my return from Europe in early June 2010 and with a promo Air Asia ticket costing RM509 ( KL>Tianjin-Guilin>KL), I got ready all my travel gears and landed myself in Tianjin on 1st Sept 2010 to begin my 30 day trip in China.

My brother Yuen who had previously accompanied me to the Silk Road trail, China ( Xian >Dun Huang >Turpan >Urumqi >Kanas) in 2006 was my travel mate for 2 weeks and he departed from Hangzhou to Kuala Lumpur on 14th Sept to resume work.

Due to a rainy spell, I was not able to visit Mt Huangshan and this was the only regret for this trip. All the other UNESCO sites went according to schedule so overall I was pretty happy with the outcome.

As my visit coincided with the Shanghai Expo 2010, I had the opportunity to visit our Malaysia Pavilion and other major Asean & European Pavilions. I grinned with delight as I walked into the Denmark Pavilion and spotted the Little Mermaid statute which was on display on the ground floor of the Pavilion - I missed seeing the Little Mermaid when I visited Copenhagen in May 2010. Another dream fulfilled - thanks to the Shanghai Expo.

I departed in Guilin for home on 1st Oct 2010, the first day of the China's 61st national day anniversary celebration - deliberately running away from the local madding crowd jamming major tourist sites, highways and train rides when the nation went on a week long holiday and celebration mood !

Travel itinerary: Kuala Lumpur > Tianjin >Tai Shan&gt ; Qufu> Suzhou> Shanghai> Huang Shan> Hangzhou> Wuyishan> Mt Lushan>Wuhan>Mt Wudang Shan> Zhangjiajie> Dali> Lijiang> Kunming> Guilin> Kuala Lumpur

The UNESCO Sites I visited in China:

1) Mt Taishan
2) Confucious Temple, Mansion & Cementary in Qufu
3) Suzhou Gardens
4) Ancient Villages in Anhui - Hongchun & Xidi
5) Mt Wuyishan
6) Mt Lushan
7) Ancient Architectural Complex on Mt Wudang
8) Wullingyuan Scenic Area / Zhangjiajie
9) Ancient City of Lijiang

In addition to above , I re-visited the following UNESCO sites in China & also took the opportunity to visit the Shanghai Expo 2010:

10) Great Wall of China
11) Palace Museum of Beijing ( Forbidden City)
12) Temple of Heaven

Travel Highlights:

1) Mt Taishan. Shan Dong

2) Confucious Temple, Mansion & Cementary in Qufu (UNESCO)

3) Suzhou Gardens (UNESCO)

4) Ancient Villages in Anhui - Hong Chun & Xidi (UNESCO)

5) Mt Wuyishan, Fujian

6) Mt Lushan, Jiangxi

7) Ancient Architectural Complex on Mt Wudang Shan, Hubei

8) Wullingyuan & Zhangjiajie, Hunan
9) Ancient City of Lijiang, Yunnan

10) Great Wall of China, Beijing (UNESCO)

11) Temple of Heaven, Beijing

12) Palace Museum, Beijing (Forbidden City)

13) Shanghai Expo 2010 (Malaysia Pavilion)

Total expenses incurred (30 days) : CNY6,258 +Rm741 +US$28 = Rm3,800

Cost breakdowns: 

Airline Flight Itinerary Booking Date: 14/11/2009
Flight No: D7 2612. Depart KL > Tianjin at 08.30 arriving 14.35 on 1/9/2010 - RM284 ( promo ticket inclusive of airport tax, luggage fee & meal)
Return: Flight No AK103. Depart Guilin > KL at 11.10 arriving 15.20 on 1/10/2010 - CNY450 (inclusive of airport tax, luggage fee & meal)
Travel insurance: RM75
China Visa: RM58
Hostels + Booking fee (23 nights) : CNY1,120 + US$28
Entrance fee + Cable cars : CNY1,638
Day tour ( Great Wall) : CNY140
Train tickets + Long distance bus: CNY1,119 + CNY243
Bus + Taxi + Metro: CNY228 + RM9
Food & groceries: CNY1,100
Sundries: CNY670

" Another wonderful trip to China - leaving behind my foot prints in Mt Taishan, Mt Wuyishan, Mt Lushan, Mt Wudangshan & Zhangjiajie / Wullingyuan and a marvellous opportunity to visit the Shanghai Expo 2010 and seeing the Little Mermaid on display at the Denmark Pavilion.

The Secrets of Life: Peace of mind starts with being grateful for what we have right now "

D1-Wed 1/9/2010, Tianjin China (2010)

Hostel: Tianjin City Youth Hostel - CNY50 dorm (1 night)
Bus: CNY14
Food & groceries: CNY19
Total expenses incurred: CNY83

After flying for 6 hours , our Air Asia flight arrived in Tianjin at 14.35. We took an airport shuttle bus (CNY10) which dropped us at the terminal, next to the Tianjin train station. From there, we took a public bus to our hostel.

It was a misty weather in Tianjin in early Sept - polluted air dominated the entire city, not a good time to land in Tianjin !

After our hostel check in, we spent the whole afternoon visiting a few tourist sites in the city area ie Drum Tower, Heping Lu, the colonial buildings near the Jiefang bridge etc. This was my 4th visit to Tianjin since I started travelling to China in 1997.

I and my brother had a Guilin steam boat style rice noodle (CNY26 for two) for dinner at a restaurant in the shopping district area. Next morning at 10.00am, we took a high speed bullet train (350km per hour - CNY58 2nd class ticket) from the Tianjin train station to our next destination, Beijing. The entire journey took less than 30 minutes. Very comfortable ride indeed ! You may skip staying overnight in Tianjin. Upon your arrival you can just take the bullet train going straight to Beijing, a more exciting city awaits you to explore ....

" In the late 1800 & early 1900's, Tianjin was an old trading post for the British, French, Japanese, Germans, Italians, Belgians & Austro-Hungarians. Old colonial buildings, churches, ancient culture street, Drum Tower and if you love to eat tit-bits and street food - Tianjin welcomes you !

The Secrets of Life: Life is short. Drink the good wine first "

D2-3 Thur-Fri 2-3/9/2010 Beijing China (2010)

Hostel: Beijing Jade Youth Hostel - CNY50 dorm (2 nights)
Bus + Metro: CNY18
Train: Tianjin>Beijing South (CNY58)
Food & groceries: CNY99
Day tour: Great Wall of China (CNY140)
Entrance fee: Forbidden City (CNY60) + Temple of Heaven (CNY35)
Total Expenses incurred: CNY510

As it was a first time visit for my brother, we decided to stay in Beijing for 3 days and our top priority was to visit the Great Wall of China, Forbidden City, Temple of Heaven, Tianamen Square, Olympic stadium (Bird Nest) etc. We were keen to visit the Summer Palace but run short of time !

In Beijing, we booked into Beijing Jade Youth Hostel which was located quite near to the Tiananmen Square (10 mins by public bus).

Both the Metro and public bus transport system in Beijing were so efficient that we could easily find our way to the Temple of Heaven, Forbidden City, Wangfujing & Bird Nest etc.

We joined a day tour (CNY140) to the Great Wall of China (Juyonggguan), about 50km north west of Beijing. We passed the Ming Tomb and also visited 2-3 tourist sites eg Beijing Waxworks of Ming Dynasty along the way. Try to avoid signing up any day tour package from local travel agents distributing tour package flyers near the Tiananmen Square as the price quoted in the flyers tends to differ after you boarded the tour bus demanding additional payment to cover additional side trips not mentioned in the flyers.

We had a steam boat style beef & vegetable meal (CNY116 for two) at a local restaurant near our hostel on the 2nd night.

" Beijing or Peking is roughly the size of Belgium, a mega and populous city. 7 UNESCO Heritages in and around Beijing; hutong; old & modern buildings; Peking opera & acrobatic shows; bullet trains; bicycles ..... imagine the good, the beautiful, the bad and the ugly (spitting & talking loudly) are all in Beijing !!!

The Secrets of Life: Three things in life that are never certain. 1) Fortune 2) Success & 3) Dreams

D4-5 Sat-Sun 4-5/9/2010 Taishan, Shandong China (2010)

Hostel: Taishan International Youth Hostel - CNY45 dorm (2 nights)
Train: Beijing>Taishan - CNY79 (hard seat)
Bus: CNY8
Entrance fee: CNY202 (Taishan, age 60 - discount 50%) + CNY30 (Tai Temple)
Food & groceries: CNY70
Sundries (walking stick) - CNY25
Total expenses incurred: CNY504

From Beijing, we took a train (due to the weekend and heavy booking, we bought 2 standing tickets CNY79 each) from Beijing to Taishan. Arriving around 20.00, we took a motor trishaw to our hostel.

The next morning, we took a public bus to Tianwai Cun at the foot of Mt Taishan, a UNESCO site. As a senior citizen (age 60+), I was entitled for a 50% discount for the entrance ticket (CNY62). To get to the Midway Gate to Heaven, we took an internal minibus (return CNY32) as it would be too strenuous for both of us to walk uphill.

From the Midway Gate to Heaven, we took a cable car (one way CNY80) to Moon View Peak, near the Nan Tien Men. This part of the cable car journey was quite scenic as seen from the top.

Rocks inscribed with calligraphy and ancient Chinese Taoist characters singing praises to the high and mighty Mt Taishan !

Taoist temples, smoky incense sticks, brass locks chained together blessing good fortune, wealth & prosperity to worshipper's family.....

Visitors making their ascends and descends following the Path of 18th Bends (1,600 steps - 0.8km) to the summit. After reaching the summit, we took a slow and steady walk down hill - passing 1,600 steps which took 3 1/2 hours to reach the mid-way car park !

Cool, fresh misty mountain air awaits you at the peak

" Taishan is 1,545m high; a distance of 7.5km to climb from base to summit, a total of 6,600 steps; 5 Chinese emperors had climbed Mt Taishan. Lucky me with the help of a cable car ride, I managed to scale Mt Taishan with ease. In 2001 Labor Day, 60,000 people loitered onto the summit ..... scary is'nt it ? Thanks god, I was not one of them !

The Secrets of Life: Time is like a river. You cannot touch the same water twice because the flow that has passed will never pass again "

D6 Mon 6/9/2010 Qufu, Shandong China (2010)

Hostel: Qufu International Youth Hostel - CNY50 (2 nights)
Bus + Taxi + Rickshaw : CNY67
Food & groceries: CNY45
Entrance fee (confucius Temple, mansion & cementary): CNY75 (50% discount)
Total expenses incurred: CNY237

We took a mini bus (CNY20) from a bus terminal in front of the Taishan train station to Qufu (1 hr ride) . From the Qufu bus station, we took a taxi (CNY15) to our hostel. It was mid-day in Qufu so we had ample time to visit the Confucius Temple, mansion & cemetery. The temple & mansion were within walking distance from our hostel but we had to take a public bus to Confucius cemetery which was located 3km from the city centre. It was raining cats & dogs in Qufu during the day and night.

Confucius Temple - memorial halls, courtyards, old cypress trees, steles with inscriptions, Confucius well, Dacheng Hall with carved dragon coiled columns dating back to the Tang & Qin dynasty - I had to use my imagination to figure out the life of Confucius and his followers during the ancient period.

Confucius Mansion - dating back to 16th century, now administered by the Kong descendants.

Confucius Forest (cemetery) - Confucius and his descendants were buried here 2,000 years ago. The forest park covers an area of 200 hectares so we took a internal tourist vehicle (CNY20) to visit some of the Confucius tombs

" Qufu, Shandong is the birth & death place of Confucius (551-479 BC). Is Confucianism still relevant to the younger generation of today ? I don't know. A big party is held on 28 Sept every year to mark Confucius or Kong Qiu's birthday.

The Secrets of Life: Know where you're going in life. You may have already be there "