Sunday, May 21, 2017

China (Spring) 2017

"My 11 days visit to Shaanxi, Henan & Gansu provinces - accompanying my USJ Qigong mate; focusing my visits on historic sites, grottoes, natural landscapes of China from 10-21 May 2017"

Total expenses incurred (11 days): CNY2,562 + Rm979 + Rm14 = Rm2,614 (US$594)

Air Asia air ticket - Rm979
Food & Groceries (11 days): CNY483 (total)
Hostel (11 nights) - CNY644 (total)
1) Ancient City Youth Hostel, Xi'an (6 nights) - CNY55 x 4 + CNY50 x 2 = CNY320
2) Freedom Youth Hostel, Yan'an (2 nights) - CNY50 x 2 = CNY100
3) Kaifeng Huaihuang International Youth Hostel, Kaifeng (2 nights) - CNY75 x 2=CNY150
4) Tianshui Dongan Hotel - CNY148 twin bed room
Train Tickets: CNY746 (total)
1) Xian > Yan'an>Xian - CNY50.5 x 2 = CNY101
2) Xian > Kaifeng > Xian (high Speed trains) - CNY260.5 x 2 = CNY521
3) Kaifeng > Zhengzhou > Kaifeng - CNY12.5 x 10.5 = CNY23
4) Xian > Tianshui > Xian - CNY50.5 x 2 = CNY101
Entrance fees : CNY287 (total)
1) Emperor Qinshihuang's Mausoleum Site Museum, Xi'an
- CNY150
2) Hukou Waterfall, Shaanxi- Free (senior citizen 65+) + CNY10 (insurance)
3) Lord Bao Memorial, Kaifeng - CNY15 (senior)
4) Prefecture of Kaifeng - CNY32 (senior)
5) The Yellow River Scenic Area of Zhengzhou - CNY30 (senior)
6) Maijishan Grottoes, Tianshui - CNY30 (senior)
7) Fuxi Temple, Tianshui - CNY20 (senior)
Town Bus / Metro: CNY84
Long Distance Bus (Yan'an>Hukou>Yan'an): CNY81
Bus (Xian>Terra Cotta>Xian): CNY17
Resort Shuttle Bus : CNY20
Taxi : CNY48
Airport Shuttle Bus: CNY27 + 25 = CNY52
Sundries: CNY100 + Rm14
Exchange Rates: Y$1=Rm0.633, US$1=Rm4.40

Travel Itinerary: Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia > Xi'an > Yan'an > Hukou Waterfall > Yan'an > Xi'an > Kaifeng > Zhengzhou > Kaifeng> Xi'an > Tianshui > Xi'an > Kuala Lumpur

In mid Sept 2016, I bought an Air Asia low fare ticket (Kuala Lumpur>Xi'an) for Rm978(US$222) inclusive of airfare, travel insurance & skybus service. My travel plan for this China trip covered 21 days but in March 2017, my wife expressed keen interest to visit Eastern Europe, so we decided to sign up a 14 days 11 nights tour package (departing May 28). Due to this change, I had to cut short my China trip to 11 days focusing mainly on Xi'an, Yan'an, Hukou Waterfall, Kaifeng , Zhengzhou, Tianshui & Maijishan and forgo my visits to Jiayuguan, Jiuquan, Zhangye & Wuwei - all in the province of Gansu !

KC, my Qigong mate from USJ accompanied me for this China free & easy trip. KC enjoyed running and he is very much an outdoor activist and his website : www. KC & the Sunshine

The weather in mid May (late Spring) was getting warmer by the day but cool at night so it was quite pleasant for us to move around the tourist places during the day & night with a T-shirt or light jacket.

We relied on public transport ie buses, metro, trains (normal & high speed) to get to the various cities in Gansu, Henan & Shaanxi. As mid May is an off peak season, buying a train ticket (hard seat) is not a major issue but not on sleeper beds which require 5-6 days advance booking. "Standing" train tickets (without a seat number) are also sold to passengers who do not mind standing throughout the duration of the journey, normally for short train rides of 1-2 hrs. Public transport like buses (CNY2) & Metro are cheap & efficient ! The big cities of Xi'an & Zhengzhou have Metro so easy for us to move around the cities especially going to railway stations. The modern high speed train stations are normally located far from the city center but public buses are available to take you to the city. In addition, there are special tour buses operating near the railway stations to major tourist sites eg Terra Cotta Soldiers Museum, Huaqing Pool; the Yellow River Scenic Area of Zhengzhou & Maijishan of Tianshui !

For lodging, we enjoyed staying in youth hostels in Xian, Yan'an & Kaifeng and a 2 star hotel in Tianshui. Dorm bed is around CNY50 with aircond & shared bathrooms. Hostels are great place for you to meet with fellow travelers, both local & overseas. Useful websites are Hostelworld. com &

In this trip, I fulfilled my dreams of seeing Mao's Revolutionary bases in Yan'an, Hukou Waterfall, the ancient capital of Kaifeng, the Yellow River Scenic Area of Zhengzhou, Maijishan & revisited the Terra Cotta Soldiers Museum , an UNESCO site (last visit was in 2006). 

Summary of expenses incurred on this 11 day trip: Total expenses Rm2,614. Cost Breakdowns - Airfare Rm979 (37%), Trains CNY746 (18%), Hostels CNY644 (16%), Food CNY483 (12%), Bus/Taxi/Metro CNY 302 (7%) & Entrance Fees CNY287 (7%). Being a senior citizen aged 65+, I enjoyed a 50% discount on entrance fee for major tourist sites in China !

Travel Highlights:

1) Xi'an, Shaanxi

2) Yan'an, Shaanxi

3) Hukou Waterfall, Shaanxi

4) Kaifeng, Henan

5) Zhengzhou, Henan

6) Tianshui, Gansu

Maijishan, Tianshui 

7) KC, a Qigong mate from USJ & a sunshine runner is my travel partner for this China trip

Xi'an, Shaanxi - China 2017

Xi'an, Shaanxi - My 4th visit to Xian. As done in my previous trips, I used Xi'an as a base for my extended visits to Xinjiang, Kazakhstan, Lanzhou, Xining and for this trip to Kaifeng, Yan'an & Tianshui. In may last few visits, I had visited the Terra Cotta Soldiers Museum, History Museum of Shaanxi, Muslim Street, Bell & Drum Tower, South Gate & Xi'an City Wall, Hua Shan, Big & Small Goose Pagoda, Huaqing Pool, Famen Temple & Museum, Daming Palace & Park, Qiangling Mausoleum, Tomb of Prince Yide, Forest of Steele etc.

Image result for shaanxi map

Transport: Malaysia low cost carrier, Air Asia has regular flights from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia to Xi'an - travelling time is approx. 5 hrs ( departure time 18.15>23.15). Upon arrival and after the immigration clearance, we took an airport shuttle bus (CNY27) to Xian Railway Station (Long Hai Hotel). Xian airport shuttle bus service runs even after the midnight ! Upon arrival at Long Hai Hotel, we took a taxi (CNY10) to Beidajie and check in to our hostel. By the time we retired for bed, it was close to 03.00am ! Airport taxi pick up arranged by hostel costs CNY150 !

1) Emperor Qinshihuang's Mausoleum Site Museum (entrance fee CNY150)

2) Bell Tower, Xian (built in 1384)

3) Drum Tower, Xian (built in 1380)

4) Muslim Street

5) Big Goose Pagoda, North & South Square, Musical Fountains

6) Muslim Lane near Beidajie

7) Morning market at South gate City Wall

8) A Garden at South Gate City Wall

9) Jinkang Tea Culture Street

10) Xi'an Train Station

11) Xi'an North Station (High Speed Trains)

12) High Speed Train Passing Huashan


13) Xi'an City Wall

14) Lianhu Garden

15) Century Ginwa Plaza, near South Gate City Wall

16) Ancient City Youth Hostel, 4, Lianhu Road, North Avenue Intersection, Xian -, Tel 029-87365338. Located behind the Beidajie Metro Station, Exit B. Dorm beds CNY50-55. Online booking via Very conveniently located, 15 mins walk to Bell Tower & Muslim Street. Public buses are easily accessible at a bus stop next to the Beidajie Metro station. We took public buses to Big Goose Pagoda, South Gate and a leisure bus ride to the suburban Xi'an area.