Saturday, November 25, 2017

China (Huangshan. Shanghai, Tunxi, Xinchang, Yiwu, Jiaxing, Wuxi, Suzhou & Hangzhou) Nov 2017

" Travel widens one's worldview & broaden one's horizons " 

" We don't meet people by accident. They are meant to cross our path for a reason "  

" One thing that I love about traveling is feeling disoriented and removed from my comfort zone " 

" My 8 days 7 nights package tour to Jiang Nam, South Eastern China organized by Airlink Travel & Tour Sdn Bhd from 17-24/11/2017 - visiting the gorgeous Huangshan and other touristy places in Hangzhou, Wuxi, Suzhou, Shanghai, Jiaxing, Tunxi & Xinchang; Mt Huangshan, West Lake & The Grand Canal of China in Hangzhou are UNESCO World Heritage sites & the ancient waterfront towns in the south of Yangtze river including Nanxun ancient watertown are currently in the tentative list of UNESCO sites in China"

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Map of Jiangnan, China
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Map of Huangshan, Huizhou & Tunxi 

Travel itinerary : Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia) > Hangzhou > Suzhou > Wuxi > Shanghai > Jiaxing > Hangzhou > Tunxi > Huangshan > Tunxi > Yiwu > Xinchang > Hangzhou > Kuala Lumpur

Hangzhou > Suzhou     - 163km (2hr 10mins)
Suzhou > Wuxi             -  49km (56mins)
Wuxi > Shanghai          -  140km (1hr 53mins)
Shanghai > Jiaxing       -  98km (1hr 35mins)
Jiaxing > Hangzhou      -  87km (1hr 22mins)
Hangzhou > Tunxi        -  211km (2hr 52mins)
Tunxi > Huangshan      -  4km (11mins)
Huangshan > Tunxi      -  4km (11mins)
Tunxi > Yiwu                 -  279km (3hr 21mins)
Yiwu > Xinchang           -  100km (1hr 34mins)
Xinchang > Hangzhou   - 142km (1hr 57mins)

Nine of our tour members from Subang Jaya / USJ, Selangor signed up a package tour (8 days) to Jiangnan, China in mid-Nov (early winter) organized by Airlink Travel, Puchong. Our tour group has 14 members. Overall the 8 day tour program covering a number of touristy places in Hangzhou, Suzhou, Wuxi, Jiaxing, Shanghai, Yiwu & Xinchang was quite comprehensive. Three of the tourist places we visited are UNESCO World Heritage sites (ie West Lake & The Grand Canal of China of Hangzhou & Mt Huangshan). The Naxun ancient town & water village is currently in the tentative list of UNESCO World Heritage sites in China.

Due to the climatic change, I observed that early winter in China this year was much colder (5-12c) than when I visited Hangzhou, Nanjing, Qingdao & Shanghai in December 2015 ! Visiting touristy places in the late afternoon was a challenge as by 4.30-5.00pm, the sky had turned dark so we were hurried to finish the visits as quick as possible ! Day one in our visit to the Nanxun ancient town, it was drizzling & the floor was wet and the weather was cold but our tour members were briefed earlier & well prepared for the 1st day visit !

Overall, our tour group was happy with the food & hotel accommodations arranged by Airlink. But be prepared to endure a 12-14 hours daily tour program as this 8 day package tour covered 9 cities in the provinces of Zhejiang, Jiangsu, Anhui & Shanghai !

Majority of package tours to China have add-ons side tours (4-5) which require tour members to pay up to CNY400-500 upon arrival and a number of compulsory shopping trips so you may have to budget extra monies if you are shopping crazy and enjoy impulse buying ! So be prudent in your spending !

There are pros & cons taking a package tour to China. Compulsory shopping is what I dislike & I see that as a mere waste of time if you have no real shopping interest or needs for such products ! For sure, my next visit to China will be a free & easy one at my own pace, no morning wake up calls and a 12 hours of tight tour program to grill you daily !

Total expenses incurred (8 days) : Rm2,069 + CNY450 + CNY339 = Rm2,558 (US$609) excluding personal buying of recommended Chinese products Y1,623 = Rm1,006 (US$240)

Airlink package tour price (8 days 7 nights) : Rm1,948 (excluding travel insurance) 
Taxi (KLIA>Subang Jaya) : Rm36 per pax (cost sharing)
Food & Groceries : Rm85
Fruit : CNY104
Shuttle vehicle : CNY35
Travel tips: CNY80

Winter wear: CNY120
Recommended optional highlight : Rmb450 paid for by individual tour member covering additional touristy visits:
- Guan Qian Street, Suzhou
- Boat ride on Lake Taihu Wetland Park
- Qing Ming Bridge, Wuxi
- Oriental Fairyland Aerobatic show, Shanghai
- A panorama view of Shanghai at Shanghai World Financial Center

Compulsory local product shopping in China (bought pearl powder, silk mattress covers & charcoal bamboo products = Y1,623) :
- Pearl (bought pearl powder CNY333)
- Silk (bought 2 sets of silk mattress covers CNY1,180) 
- Herbal
- Yidu Pixiu (embroidery) 
- Pu'er tea
- Charcoal bamboo products (bought CNY110)
Exchange rates: Ringgit Malaysia Rm1= CNYuan 1.62; CNY1 =Rm0.62; US$1=Rm4.20

This 8 days 7 nights Gorgeous Huangshan package tour was organized by Airlink Travel & Tour Sdn Bhd, No 35, Jalan Bandar Puteri , Puchong, Selangor - Tel +603-80601199

The 14 tour members who signed up for this Happy Holiday & gorgeous Huangshan & Jiang Nan visit; my brother in law (William Boey), my wife & her 2 sisters; my Qigong mate, KC & Annie (wife) were part of the tour group for this visit.

Travel Highlights :

1) Nanxun Ancient Town & Water Village, Huzhou (UNESCO World Heritage Site)

2) The Ruins of Wu Guodu, Suzhou (Jiangsu Province)

3) Guan Qian Street, Suzhou (Jiangsu Province)

4) Bird Nest Stadium, Suzhou (Jiangsu Province)

5) Suzhou Silk Museum (Jiangsu Province)

6) Suzhou Taihu Lake National Wetland Park (Jiangsu Province)

7) Lihu Lake, Wuxi (Jiangsu Province)

8) Qinming Bridge & the Grand Canal, Wuxi (Jiangsu Province)

9) Nanjing Road, Shanghai City

10) Xintiandi & Shikumen, Shanghai City

11) Cheng Huang Miao (City God Temple), Old Street, Shanghai City

12) Shanghai Bund by night, Shanghai City

13) Aerobatic Show, Shanghai City

14) A panoramic view of Shanghai city from the Shanghai World Financial Center, Shanghai City

15) Yue He Ancient Town, Jiaxing, Zhejiang Province (my own free & easy walking tour to this site after hotel check in)

16) Transformer Theme Park, Jiaxing, Zhejiang Province

17) The Grand Canal of China, Hangzhou, Zhejiang Province (UNESCO World Heritage Site)

18) Xiang Ji Temple, Hangzhou, Zhejiang Province

19) West Lake, Hangzhou, Zhejiang Province (UNESCO World Heritage Site)

20) Laojie - Tunxi, Anhui Province

21) Huangshan Scenic Area, Anhui Province (UNESCO World Heritage Site)

22) Huangshan City Huzhou Culture & Art Museum, Anhui Province

23) Yiwu International Trade Market, Zhejiang Province

24) Giant Buddha, Xinchang, Zhejiang Province

Day-1 Hangzhou & Suzhou, China 2017

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Map of  Hangzhou, Zhejiang Province, China
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Map of  Suzhou & Wuxi, Jiangsu Province

1) Flight from Kuala Lumpur departing 08.10 > Hangzhou; seated by the window side, I was able to see when the plane was about to land, it had to pierce through 3 layers of white clouds ie the upper, middle and the lower layer and it was after the lower layer & within minutes, I could see the airstrip & Hangzhou airport from my window - what a pleasant sight ! My travel buddy, KC from USJ also noticed this phenomenon ! 

2) Arriving at Hangzhou Airport 13.10

3) Our Tour Bus for the entire trip (8 days)

Day 1 - Airlink's Tour Itinerary: 

1) Airport - Assemble at KLIA2 for departure from Kuala Lumpur > Hangzhou (Flight D7 302) departing 08.10 arriving 13.10
2) Boat tour Nanxun Water Village (an ancient water village with a 800 years of history)
3) The Ruins of the City (at the advice of Wu Zixu, the emperor of Wu built this Wu Guodu)

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Map of Hangzhou, Suzhou, Shanghai & Huangshan

Hangzhou > Nanxun Ancient Town - 89km (1hr 24mins)

Nanxun Ancient Town - Suzhou - 68km (1hr 9mins)

1) Nanxun Ancient Town & Water Village, Huzhou (Zhejiang Province - 2 hrs by bus from Hangzhou, an UNESCO World Cultural Heritage Site & a 5A class tourist site in China, built during the 9th century under the Tang dynasty, well preserved & known for its cultural heritage; famous for silk production, picturesque waterways, canals, old stoned arch bridges from the Song, Yuan, Ming & Qing dynasties; lotus pond, courtyard, gardens etc . I was thoroughly impressed after this ancient town visit !

In Dec 2015, I made a free & easy visit with my wife to Zhujiajiao, a water village located 46km (58mins) from Shanghai city ! Other popular water towns/villages eg Wuzhen, Tongli, Zhouzhuang, Xitang & Fenjing, all are located close to Suzhou / Hangzhou . 

It was drizzling at the time of our visit in the late afternoon. All our small umbrellas were put on good use ! 

2) Boat tour of Nanxun Water Village

3) The ruins of the ancient Wu Guodu - a 5 minutes walk from the bus parking to the opposite bank of Suzhou river to view this ancient ruins ! It could be better for the local guide / bus to bring us to the front entrance of this ancient city gate & wall to have a closer look of this ruins & also for photo shooting ! 

4) Guan Qian Jie, Suzhou - it was drizzling at the time of our visit, one of the recommended optional highlight side tours, an ideal place to shop for a winter wear ! My last visit to Guan Qian Jie was in 2010. 

5) Hotel Accommodation in Suzhou (1st Night)

6) Lunch on board the Air Asia flight (Day 1) - slightly different from the normal meal I had eaten on board of Air Asia flights ie Nasi Lemak & Chicken rice etc 

7) Dinner in Suzhou (1st Night) - yummy hot soup noodles, Suzhou style ! Free flow of noodles to satisfy your appetite ! A great start - our first dinner meal in China ! 

8) Night scenery near the Chinese Noodles Restaurant Area