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Asia Part 4: Chinese Domestics, Inc. Joy Air Xi’an  
User currently offlinegabrielchew From United Kingdom, joined Aug 2005, 3310 posts, RR: 12
Posted (3 years 3 months 6 days 8 hours ago) and read 9664 times:

Asia Part 4: Chinese domestics, inc. Joy Air Xi’an MA60

This is part 4 of 5 covering my recent trip to Asia.

Part 1, Lufthansa London to Nanjing, Economy Class
Asia Part 1: LHR-China With LH (LHR-MUC-FRA-NKG) (by gabrielchew Jul 4 2011 in Trip Reports)
Part 2, Cathay Pacific Shanghai to Tokyo via Hong Kong, Business Class
Asia Part 2: CX Business To Tokyo (PVG-HKG-HND) (by gabrielchew Jul 6 2011 in Trip Reports)
Part 3, ANA and Air China Tokyo to Beijing via Shanghai, Business Class
Asia Part 3: NH & CA Business (NRT-PVG-PEK) (by gabrielchew Jul 11 2011 in Trip Reports)

Flight map covered in this trip report
http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p207/shefgab/asiapt3nhandca/MapbigCHinaflights.gif

And then zoomed in. As you can see I’ve been moving around on the fringes of China’s deserty scrubland
http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p207/shefgab/asiapt3nhandca/mapsmallchinaflights.gif

After a great night out in Beijing, I ended up getting back to my hotel close to 4am. My flight to Dunhuang, the last flight on the Star Alliance redemption, would be leaving Beijing at 0720.

Beijing is very pretty in the early morning. I was feeling a little bit too delicate to fully appreciate it though! You can see a line of PLA (People’s Liberation Army) marching somewhere. I was staying on Donzhimenwaidajie, which is home to a lot of embassies, so there are [plenty of guards around – safe neighbourhood!
http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p207/shefgab/asiapt3nhandca/CIMG0080.jpg

I got a taxi, and snoozed my way to the airport. Despite not having to check in any luggage, and already having my boarding pass, I think I overestimated the time I needed, so when we arrived exactly 30 minutes before departure, I was a bit anxious about making the flight. I made a beeline for security, which was absolutely packed. I managed to skip most of the queue by waving by boarding pass about. Once through, I ran most of the way to the gate, where the final few passengers were lining up. Phew!
http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p207/shefgab/asiapt3nhandca/CIMG0081.jpg
http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p207/shefgab/asiapt3nhandca/CIMG0082.jpg

I thought we might be on the Air Macau machine
http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p207/shefgab/asiapt3nhandca/CIMG0084.jpg

It turns out that we were being bussed somewhere else
http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p207/shefgab/asiapt3nhandca/CIMG0085.jpg
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Our B738 was parked at the far end of the International terminal. If you know the layout of PEK T3, you’d know that this is quite a long drive. We finally arrived at a grubby looking B737-800 – I was up the stairs fairly quickly.
http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p207/shefgab/asiapt3nhandca/CIMG0088.jpg
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http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p207/shefgab/asiapt3nhandca/CIMG0091.jpg

June 2011
Beijing (PEK) – Dunhuang (DNH)
Air China CA 1287
Scheduled: 0720-1035 (2h15m)
Actual: 0815-1051 (2h36m)
Boeing B737-800 B-5326



The flight seemed to be full of mainly Chinese tour groups (and an American family from Texas taking up most of First Class), but thankfully there was en empty seat next to me. As I was still feeling rather groggy, I asked an FA for a glass of water, which was brought promptly and with a smile.

There was an explained delay (the apron seemed very busy), and we ended up taking off nearly an hour late. Some views of PEK in the morning rush hour:
http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p207/shefgab/asiapt3nhandca/CIMG0092.jpg
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Mountains on the outskirts of Beijing Municipality


There was a hot meal served (I think two choices). I, however, decided to forego breakfast, just ‘enjoying’ two glass of water.

http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p207/shefgab/asiapt3nhandca/CIMG0105.jpg

Catching up some of our delay, we landed at the deserted Dunhuang Airport at 1051. I was expecting a dry hot climate, however, it had just finished raining quite heavily.
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There was a bus on the tarmac to take us to the terminal, however, as it had stopped raining by the time we disembarked, everyone walked to the terminal instead.

Bags were out pretty quickly, and before long I was in the airport minibus heading for town. After a bit of confusion, I managed to find my hotel. Once I got myself sorted, and had a shower, I headed off to the Mogao Caves.
http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p207/shefgab/asia2011pt4/CIMG0130.jpg

Unfortunately, photography was prohibited inside the caves, but there were a couple of mock-ups
http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p207/shefgab/asia2011pt4/CIMG0141.jpg
http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p207/shefgab/asia2011pt4/CIMG0144.jpg


Outside the caves
http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p207/shefgab/asia2011pt4/CIMG0163.jpg

The caves were stunning. Carved, painted and filled over an enormously long timeframe stretching back thousands of years, the caves hold (well, held) priceless artefacts, including the world’s oldest printed book. Most of the ‘paperwork’ was ‘relocated’ to the west in the early 20th Century. Whilst the Chinese may not be happy about this now, it’s only fair to say that the Western ‘thieves’ probably saved them, given the trigger-happy nature of the cultural revolution.

Some photos of Dunhuang
http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p207/shefgab/asia2011pt4/CIMG0180.jpg
http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p207/shefgab/asia2011pt4/CIMG0190.jpg


To locate yourself…
http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p207/shefgab/asia2011pt4/CIMG0202.jpg

Dunhuang station
http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p207/shefgab/asia2011pt4/CIMG0217.jpg

Not sure what promise they’re referring to.
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The city of Jiayuguan
http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p207/shefgab/asia2011pt4/CIMG0232.jpg
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The main reason to come to Jiayuguan was to visit the ‘final frontier’, the last fort of the Great Wall. Historically, this is was the border of China, before heading into the deserts of Central Asia. During my time in China, I’ve visited the Great Wall around 25 times, mostly in Jinshanling and Simatai, but I’ve also been to the other end of the wall as it hit the East China Sea, so doing the other end had been on my ‘to do’ list for quite a while.
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From Jiayuguan, I was planning on taking the train overnight to Hohhot in Inner Mongolia to go horse riding in the Grasslands. Unfortunately, the train I wanted wasn’t available for a couple of days around my preferred date. As I was on a very tight schedule, I had to make some alternative plans pretty quickly. After a thorough search of elong.net (Expedia’s Chinese arm), I decided on booking a flight for the next day to Xi’an. Xi’an, home of the Terracotta Warriors, was not on my itinerary, having previously been there many times, but there were precious few other options. On the plus side, the flight would be operated my Tianjin Airlines (new airline) on an Embraer 145 (my favourite jungle jet). I caught a taxi out to the airport, arriving just over an hour and a half before the flight.

Jiayuguan Exterior
http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p207/shefgab/asia2011pt4/CIMG0411.jpg

General check in area
http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p207/shefgab/asia2011pt4/CIMG0414.jpg

There were another two flight heading out at the same time, so the terminal was pretty busy.
http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p207/shefgab/asia2011pt4/CIMG0415.jpg

I managed to time my journey through security so that it only took a minute, and before long I was in the departure lounge. Our flight was being instructed to wait on the ground floor, whilst the Beijing and Shanghai flights were on the first floor, so could use the air bridges.
http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p207/shefgab/asia2011pt4/CIMG0416.jpg

I managed to find some free wifi from somewhere
http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p207/shefgab/asia2011pt4/CIMG0419.jpg

Scene from the window
http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p207/shefgab/asia2011pt4/CIMG0420.jpg
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The gate
http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p207/shefgab/asia2011pt4/CIMG0425.jpg

After a bit of a delay, we were called for boarding. Despite being at a remote gate, we didn’t get bussed, but walked across the tarmac, just as the China Eastern flight for Beijing was taxiing in.

June 2011
Jiayuguan (JGN) – Lanzhou (LHW)
Tianjin Airlines GS 7428
Scheduled: 1555-1705 (1h15m)
Actual: 1603-1708 (1h05m)
Embraer 145 B-3086

http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p207/shefgab/asia2011pt4/CIMG0426.jpg
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The cosy cabin of Tianjin Airlines’ ERJ 145
http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p207/shefgab/asia2011pt4/CIMG0437.jpg
http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p207/shefgab/asia2011pt4/CIMG0441.jpg

I had requested a window near the front, but was told that there was nothing further forward that the wing. Not ideal, but in the end, it turned out that the wing was so small that it barely impeded viewing at all.
http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p207/shefgab/asia2011pt4/CIMG0439.jpg
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Jiayuguan Airport
http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p207/shefgab/asia2011pt4/CIMG0459.jpg

There were two cabin crew on this flight, a guy and a girl, both dressed so causally that at first I thought they both passengers. I didn’t get a good photo, but white trainers and t-shirts were the order of the day. That being said, I did quite like the uniforms! Service on this flight consisted on a drink, whilst watching the deserts vanish beneath us.
http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p207/shefgab/asia2011pt4/CIMG0468.jpg
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We began our descent into Lanzhou (a quick stopover en route to Xi’an) just under an hour after setting off from Jiayuguan
http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p207/shefgab/asia2011pt4/CIMG0470.jpg
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We were advised that our stop in Lanzhou would only be a short one, and that all passengers needed to disembark. I nearly missed the stop for transit passengers as there was only a muffled announcement in Chinese.
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The gate area that we were let into was small, with just one shop, and a few benches, filled mainly with passengers joining us for the second leg to Xi’an. The majority of passengers were terminating in Lanzhou.
http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p207/shefgab/asia2011pt4/CIMG0484.jpg

I was browsing the shop, and about to buy an ice cream (it was pretty hot), when boarding was announced.

June 2011
Lanzhou (LHW) – Xi’an (XIY)
Tianjin Airlines GS 7428
Scheduled: 1740-1835 (0h55m)
Actual: 1740-1847 (1h07m)
Embraer 145 B-3086



The drive back to the aircraft
http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p207/shefgab/asia2011pt4/CIMG0485.jpg
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I had the same seat as my previous flight.
http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p207/shefgab/asia2011pt4/CIMG0487.jpg

Some abandoned BAe 146s of China Eastern. They’ve been stored in LHW for years.
http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p207/shefgab/asia2011pt4/CIMG0488.jpg

This leg had a more complete service, with another yellow box of food being served. This is what I got this time.
http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p207/shefgab/asia2011pt4/CIMG0506.jpg

This was the meal I got in 2009 flying China Eastern from Guangzhou to Wuhan on an ERJ. Rather similar!
http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p207/shefgab/asia2011pt5/CIMG3442.jpg

Approach to XIY was a bit turbulent, with low lying clouds.
http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p207/shefgab/asia2011pt4/CIMG0511.jpg
http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p207/shefgab/asia2011pt4/CIMG0512.jpg


Retired (?) D328 Jets of Hainan Airlines – these are such nice aircraft, I can’t believe they aren’t being used anymore. I flew on one of these a few years ago from Yinchuan to Taiyuan.
http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p207/shefgab/asia2011pt4/CIMG0516.jpg
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http://my.flightmemory.com/shefgab Upcoming flights:LCY-ARN-AMS-LGW,STN-OTP-AMS-YUL,YQB-JFK-LAX-DUS-STN,LGW-DXB-BKK-HKG-
24 replies: All unread, jump to last
 
User currently offlinegabrielchew From United Kingdom, joined Aug 2005, 3310 posts, RR: 12
Reply 1, posted (3 years 3 months 6 days 8 hours ago) and read 9660 times:

http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p207/shefgab/asia2011pt4/CIMG0527.jpg
http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p207/shefgab/asia2011pt4/CIMG0528.jpg

I was pretty excited when I saw the Joy Air MA60. Even though I hadn’t yet booked my ticket, I had already decided that I would have to spend 2 nights in Xi’an before I could get a decent price on Joy Air up to Taiyuan, from where I could get a bus up to Datong, my actual destination.
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The tarmac was pretty wet when we disembarked, but at least it wasn’t actually raining. We were bussed to the terminal, before being shown into the arrivals hall.
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There was a ten minute wait for my bags, before I could go and get the bus into the city.
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Waiting for the bus
http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p207/shefgab/asia2011pt4/CIMG0548.jpg

Over the years, I’d spent a lot of time in Xi’an, so wasn’t at all keen on being back. That said, the weather was nice, and I was able to see a bit of the city that I hadn’t seen before.

The Big Goose Pagoda
http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p207/shefgab/asia2011pt5/CIMG0570.jpg

Modern Art in the Xi’an Museum
http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p207/shefgab/asia2011pt5/CIMG0584.jpg

A few more photos from Xi’an
http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p207/shefgab/asia2011pt5/CIMG0557.jpg
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I was staying in the Super 8 Motel, which I’d booked thinking it would be a good standard, being US managed. What a shock it turned out to be. Yuck yuck yuck! The staff were awful, speaking barely any English, and being completely useless when dealing with issues. I noticed that the fire exits were padlocked shut when I arrived. I altered the front desk to this rather glaring issue, and was told that they were lock to prevent vagrants from wondering into the hotel. All protests were met with deaf ears. I considered moving out, but instead came up with my own contingency plan using bedsheets, and the neighbours roof.
http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p207/shefgab/asia2011pt5/CIMG0552.jpg

When I came to check out, they were unable to cancel the deposit made on my American Express, saying that I’d have to call Amex when I got back to the UK to have them cancel it. The delay in checking out meant that I missed my bus as well. Needless to say, I will never stay in a Super 8 Motel again, and advise everyone to do the same!

So, after my stressful check out experience, I went to the bus stop, where I had to wait a good 40 minutes for the next bus to come. I was dropped at the older Terminal 1 around 50 minutes before the flight. Despite most of the terminal being very crowded, there was no queue for Joy Air, and I was checked in and given my boarding pass quickly.
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http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p207/shefgab/asia2011pt5/CIMG0638.jpg

Departures
http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p207/shefgab/asia2011pt5/CIMG0640.jpg
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CZ B777
http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p207/shefgab/asia2011pt5/CIMG0642.jpg

Poster near our gate
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Boarding the bus
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Drive out to the plane
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http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p207/shefgab/asia2011pt5/CIMG0653.jpg

June 2011
Xi’an (XIY) – Taiyuan (TYN)
Joy Air JR 1529
Scheduled: 1250-1430 (1h35m)
Actual: 1258-1424 (1h26m)
Xi’an MA 60 B-3451



This would be my first flight on a Xi’an MA 60. there area rather rare type, being operated by only a handful of carriers around the world, most in Asia and Africa. The aircraft was very reminiscent of an Antonov 24. for those of you interested in more info, the wikipedia page is here:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Xian_MA60

a photo from the bus – bicycles everywhere in China!


I was very happy to see that the crew weren’t ready for us. We were let out of the bus, and left to wait next to the aircraft for around 10 minutes. I started snapping away, and nobody seemed to care.
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http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p207/shefgab/asia2011pt5/CIMG0674.jpg

I had a seat in the penultimate row. The back row seemed to be reserved for a technician, and the two crew. (understandably), neither sat in the crew seat next to the door – it was dark and depressing back there!

The cabin seemed bright and airy, and the seat pitch was good.
http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p207/shefgab/asia2011pt5/CIMG0676.jpg
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XIY in the distance
http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p207/shefgab/asia2011pt5/CIMG0691.jpg

If you are hoping to catch a ride on an MA60 in China, here’s Joy Air’s route map. Unfortunately for more tourists, they don’t link many cities of interest for tourists. If you happen to be in Xi’an for a day, though, you can probably do a turn around in Tiayuan or Ya’an.
http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p207/shefgab/asia2011pt5/CIMG0692.jpg

Looking into the back
http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p207/shefgab/asia2011pt5/CIMG0700.jpg


Legroom
http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p207/shefgab/asia2011pt5/CIMG0702.jpg

Cabin
http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p207/shefgab/asia2011pt5/CIMG0703.jpg


In flight service consisted on an entire packet of biscuits (full sized), a bottle of water, and a wet wipe.
http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p207/shefgab/asia2011pt5/CIMG0704.jpg

I felt it necessary to check out the WC, which was a bit of a blast from the past given that the aircraft is brand new. Blue water was used – no suction here!
http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p207/shefgab/asia2011pt5/CIMG0705.jpg


Views en route
http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p207/shefgab/asia2011pt5/CIMG0711.jpg

Once the seatbelt signs were turned on, neither of the cabin crew felt it worth their time or effort to secure the cabin for arrival, so we landed with tables down, and leftovers flying all over the cabin.
http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p207/shefgab/asia2011pt5/CIMG0713.jpg
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TYN airport wasn’t very busy this afternoon. We were loaded into a bus, and driven to arrivals. There seem to be quite a few gates that have been built, then mothballed.
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After I picked up my bag, I headed out to the arrivals area. Having not eaten lunch, I headed to the handily located KFC in the arrivals hall. As I was enjoying the dubiously tasting chicken nugget things, I noticed the departure screen on the far side of the restaurant, showing a flight to Datong at 1820.
http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p207/shefgab/asia2011pt5/CIMG0737.jpg

Hmmm. I decided to see how much it would cost. A quick inquiry later, and I had ticket for just RMB 180 (less than double the cost of the bus). The only problem was that the flight was actually rescheduled to 1945, meaning a five hour wait in TYN. Not ideal, but I’d much rather fly up to Datong than deals with a long bus ride.
http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p207/shefgab/asia2011pt5/CIMG0745.jpg

As I hadn’t planned on flying, I had no idea what airline or aircraft would operate the flight. The airline code of G5 didn’t help. I asked when I checked in as to the aircraft type. As expected, this was met with a blank, quizzical look. I asked for a window, which was acknowledged with 11F.

Landside departures
http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p207/shefgab/asia2011pt5/CIMG0738.jpg
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Check in desk info
http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p207/shefgab/asia2011pt5/CIMG0741.jpg

Outside
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With a nice long wait in the less than interesting airport, I decided to pay to use the business class lounge. Hmm, hardly business-like. There were soft drinks, and potato-flavored biscuits. Not being particularly partial to either of these delicacies, I stuck to water, and biscuits from my Joy Air flight. There was free wifi, and comfy chairs. The wifi helped me establish a bit more about the airline, route, and aircraft. I was very happy with the price I paid (RMB 100), given that I logged onto Elong, and they were selling the flight for RMB 220.
http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p207/shefgab/asia2011pt5/CIMG0746.jpg
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http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p207/shefgab/asia2011pt5/CIMG0748.jpg

Unfortunately, there were two large TVs in the lounge, one blasting out Chinese opera, the other children’s cartoons. Strange choices for a supposedly ‘premium’ area.
http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p207/shefgab/asia2011pt5/CIMG0749.jpg

Taiyuan in the South, up to Datong
http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p207/shefgab/asia2011pt5/CIMG0751.jpg

There seemed to be quite a few delayed flights this evening, apparently due to the weather, although the weather in Taiyuan was around 20C and drizzling. Hardly extreme weather. It would seem, however, that the Datong flight, as well as being rescheduled, was also delayed.

TYN
http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p207/shefgab/asia2011pt5/CIMG0752.jpg
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The bussing area
http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p207/shefgab/asia2011pt5/CIMG0756.jpg
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Our delayed flight
http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p207/shefgab/asia2011pt5/CIMG0761.jpg

Given the delay, we were given a meal at the gate. Not terribly tasty
http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p207/shefgab/asia2011pt5/CIMG0762.jpg
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More TYN views – it was now dark – no views to be had on my flight anymore 
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http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p207/shefgab/asia2011pt5/CIMG0772.jpg

After the ‘meal’ I decided to go back to the lounge, and wait for more info there. I was quite happy to see some pot noodles available, as I didn’t eat much of the free meal.
http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p207/shefgab/asia2011pt5/CIMG0768.jpg

Eventually, at 2230, we were asked to board. I’d spent from 1430 until nearly 2230 in the airport, and I was dying to get going.
http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p207/shefgab/asia2011pt5/CIMG0773.jpg
http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p207/shefgab/asia2011pt5/CIMG0774.jpg

June 2011
Taiyuan (TYN) – Datong (DAT)
China Express Airlines G5 2753
Original Scheduled: 1820-1905 (0h45m)
Rescheduled: 1945-2030 (0H45m)
Actual: 2256-2340 (0h46m)
Canadair CRJ 200 B-7700

http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p207/shefgab/asia2011pt5/CIMG0775.jpg
http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p207/shefgab/asia2011pt5/CIMG0776.jpg
http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p207/shefgab/asia2011pt5/CIMG0777.jpg

The flight was fairly empty, so I moved forward to row 3. The seats were comfortable grey leather. There was a mumbled apology for the late arrival, although no explanation. Before long, we were off.
http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p207/shefgab/asia2011pt5/CIMG0778.jpg
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http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p207/shefgab/asia2011pt5/CIMG0788.jpg


In flight service consisted of a bottle of water


Safety card


Magazine photos. Their route map looks very extensive, however, research after the flight revealed that most of these route didn’t seem to exist on booking engines. Hardly surprising really. I’ve flown many times in China, and never heard of them before.
http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p207/shefgab/asia2011pt5/CIMG0781.jpg
http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p207/shefgab/asia2011pt5/CIMG0791.jpg


After a few loops of the airport, we finally landed nearly five hours behind schedule. Thankfully for me it was the end of the day. The crew were turning around, and flying back to Chongqing via Taiyuan. Long night for them!
http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p207/shefgab/asia2011pt5/CIMG0798.jpg
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On the tarmac in DAT
http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p207/shefgab/asia2011pt5/CIMG0809.jpg

http://my.flightmemory.com/shefgab Upcoming flights:LCY-ARN-AMS-LGW,STN-OTP-AMS-YUL,YQB-JFK-LAX-DUS-STN,LGW-DXB-BKK-HKG-
User currently offlinegabrielchew From United Kingdom, joined Aug 2005, 3310 posts, RR: 12
Reply 2, posted (3 years 3 months 6 days 7 hours ago) and read 9653 times:

http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p207/shefgab/asia2011pt5/CIMG0810.jpg
http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p207/shefgab/asia2011pt5/CIMG0811.jpg
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http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p207/shefgab/asia2011pt5/CIMG0815.jpg

Bags were delivered around 5 minutes after getting into the baggage hall.
http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p207/shefgab/asia2011pt5/CIMG0818.jpg
http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p207/shefgab/asia2011pt5/CIMG0819.jpg

As soon as the last passenger had collected their luggage, the lights were switched off.
http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p207/shefgab/asia2011pt5/CIMG0820.jpg

There were a few taxi drivers hanging around, although they were all refusing to use their metres, so I had en extensive taxi ride to my hotel, the very nice Holiday Inn – far better than Super 8 Motel!
http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p207/shefgab/asia2011pt5/CIMG0821.jpg
http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p207/shefgab/asia2011pt5/CIMG0822.jpg
http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p207/shefgab/asia2011pt5/CIMG0823.jpg
http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p207/shefgab/asia2011pt5/CIMG0824.jpg

So, this is where part 4 finishes. Apart from my first flight from Beijing to Dunhuang, none of these flights were planned. I was quite lucky, however, in that the flights that I ended up being ‘forced’ to buy due to lack of train seats, were all fairly interesting aircraft, and a nice break from the monotony of A & B!

Part five, covering my time in Datong, and my return flights to London with Lufthansa (PEK-FRA A380, FRA-LCY E90) will be out soon.

All comments and questions welcome!



http://my.flightmemory.com/shefgab Upcoming flights:LCY-ARN-AMS-LGW,STN-OTP-AMS-YUL,YQB-JFK-LAX-DUS-STN,LGW-DXB-BKK-HKG-
User currently offlineLXM83 From Switzerland, joined May 2005, 610 posts, RR: 5
Reply 3, posted (3 years 3 months 6 days 7 hours ago) and read 9513 times:

Hi gabrielchew

Thanks for this very interesting report on a couple of lesser known airlines and the MA60. Congratulations on your flight on this type!

I like how modern the airports in China are. The terminal in DNH still looks exactly the same as back in 2005 when I was passing through from XIY to URC.

Best regards,
LXM83


User currently offlinedebonair From Germany, joined Jan 2004, 2439 posts, RR: 4
Reply 4, posted (3 years 3 months 6 days 5 hours ago) and read 9320 times:

OUTSTANDING! Great to read from such exotic airlines...

User currently offlineloubert From United States of America, joined Aug 2010, 61 posts, RR: 0
Reply 5, posted (3 years 3 months 6 days 2 hours ago) and read 9103 times:

Great trip report! Thanks for offering a view of some seldom-seen (on A*Net, at least) sights. I feel like I was right there with you!

User currently offlinelychemsa From United States of America, joined Oct 2009, 1219 posts, RR: 3
Reply 6, posted (3 years 3 months 6 days 1 hour ago) and read 9023 times:

Wow.

Thanks for the exotic report. They have so many airlines in China. I wonder if one day they will start merging like in the US.


User currently offlineCarfield From United States of America, joined Dec 2003, 1934 posts, RR: 8
Reply 7, posted (3 years 3 months 5 days 23 hours ago) and read 8914 times:

Wow the MA60 looks interesting and thanks for sharing.
I don't really fly to that part of the world and it is fun to read about all these domestic Chinese flights.

I love all those snack boxes used by Chinese airlines, and I am fascinated by the meals provided during delays. It is an interesting feature.

Thanks,
Carfield


User currently offlineBurj From United States of America, joined Nov 2007, 901 posts, RR: 4
Reply 8, posted (3 years 3 months 5 days 20 hours ago) and read 8766 times:

Wow very cool!

I'm amazed that an ERJ-145 would have two crew members!

I did like that they had writing on the top of the wings.... I wonder why more airlines don't do that!


User currently offlineinitious From Singapore, joined Dec 2008, 1066 posts, RR: 6
Reply 9, posted (3 years 3 months 5 days 17 hours ago) and read 8649 times:

Hi gabriel,

Yet another wonderful report from you! Central China is a part I have never been to (closest to it would be Wuhan) and it looks interesting! Glad to see that CA still maintains a certain level of service standard.

Quoting gabrielchew (Thread starter):
Some photos of Dunhuang

Wonderful pictures!

Quoting gabrielchew (Thread starter):
During my time in China, I’ve visited the Great Wall around 25 times, mostly in Jinshanling and Simatai, but I’ve also been to the other end of the wall as it hit the East China Sea, so doing the other end had been on my ‘to do’ list for quite a while.

Despite being born in China myself and geographically closer to China than you are, I never got to visit it even once.  

The flight on Tianjin Airlines is certainly something new for me. Despite being one of the many subsidiaries of the HNA group, I never got to see any TRs on that airline. I agree with you about the dressing of the 2 FAs and certainly they look more like passengers compared to crew. On all the flights I've taken, the Chinese FAs seem to have pretty poor pronunciation of English whether domestic or internationally. I found it very hard to understand their English announcements so I usually ignore those and listen to the Mandarin ones instead.

Your snack box to XIY looks similar to the one I had on CZ CAN-WUH-CAN and SHA-SWA-SHA so I guess it must be a China thing, since even the in flight magazines are from CAAC, on top of those produced by the airlines themselves.

Your experience in the Super 8 Motel seems to be an extremely disappointing one. I hope I do not get myself into such a situation in the future! Just a question, what did you mean by "the neighbour's roof"? Also, I hope that you have gotten your deposit back! It is also great to see you managed to fly on the rare MA60 and I believe your report is one of the first to feature it on a.net.

Hope to see more reports coming in!

Regards,
Daniel



One way I will fly around the world!
User currently offlineMSS658 From Belgium, joined Oct 2010, 2474 posts, RR: 16
Reply 10, posted (3 years 3 months 5 days 14 hours ago) and read 8547 times:

Nice trip report, enjoyed reading it. Thanks for bringing us to a rather unknown place (for most of us) on the globe.


Next trip report: Well worn A330s and Hassle free MUC transfer
User currently offlinegabrielchew From United Kingdom, joined Aug 2005, 3310 posts, RR: 12
Reply 11, posted (3 years 3 months 5 days 13 hours ago) and read 8469 times:

Quoting LXM83 (Reply 3):
Thanks for this very interesting report on a couple of lesser known airlines and the MA60. Congratulations on your flight on this type!

Thanks!

Quoting LXM83 (Reply 3):
I like how modern the airports in China are. The terminal in DNH still looks exactly the same as back in 2005 when I was passing through from XIY to URC.

Yeah, China has spent a lot of time and money building new terminals - unfortunately, shops/bars inside terminals are often very lacklustre.

Quoting debonair (Reply 4):
OUTSTANDING! Great to read from such exotic airlines...

Thanks!

Quoting loubert (Reply 5):
Great trip report! Thanks for offering a view of some seldom-seen (on A*Net, at least) sights. I feel like I was right there with you!

Thanks, glad you enjoyed it!

Quoting lychemsa (Reply 6):
Thanks for the exotic report. They have so many airlines in China. I wonder if one day they will start merging like in the US.

Around 10 years ago, the CAAC (china Civil Aviation Authority) merged all the airlines into just 3 umbrealla companies (Air China, China Eastern and China Southern). Slowly over that time, more airlines have appeared. Hainan Airlines seems to have spawned about 5 or 6 offshoots. Not sure why.

Quoting Carfield (Reply 7):
Wow the MA60 looks interesting and thanks for sharing.

No problem!

Quoting Carfield (Reply 7):
I love all those snack boxes used by Chinese airlines, and I am fascinated by the meals provided during delays. It is an interesting feature.

The snack boxes are normally pretty boring, and the 'delay meals' are often cheap and nasty. A voucher for use in the terminal wouldn't stretch far though, given the high prices.

Quoting Burj (Reply 8):
I'm amazed that an ERJ-145 would have two crew members!

Thats what happens with low labour costs!

Quoting initious (Reply 9):
Yet another wonderful report from you!

Thanks!

Quoting initious (Reply 9):
Despite being born in China myself and geographically closer to China than you are, I never got to visit it even once.

Well, it should be around for a while!

Quoting initious (Reply 9):
The flight on Tianjin Airlines is certainly something new for me. Despite being one of the many subsidiaries of the HNA group, I never got to see any TRs on that airline.

Tianjin Airlines don't fly many main city routes 9much like Joy Air and China Express, so getting a ride on one is quite hard.

Quoting initious (Reply 9):
! Just a question, what did you mean by "the neighbour's roof"?

Jumping onto the roof to avoid a fire in the hotel!

Quoting initious (Reply 9):
Also, I hope that you have gotten your deposit back!

Yes, I got it back!

Quoting MSS658 (Reply 10):
Nice trip report, enjoyed reading it. Thanks for bringing us to a rather unknown place (for most of us) on the globe.

Glad you enjoyed it!



http://my.flightmemory.com/shefgab Upcoming flights:LCY-ARN-AMS-LGW,STN-OTP-AMS-YUL,YQB-JFK-LAX-DUS-STN,LGW-DXB-BKK-HKG-
User currently offlinePlaneHunter From Germany, joined Mar 2006, 6824 posts, RR: 77
Reply 12, posted (3 years 3 months 4 days 11 hours ago) and read 8053 times:

Hi Gabriel,

very interesting report about your domestic trip. Good to see you tried some of the Chinese regional airlines.

Quoting gabrielchew (Thread starter):
Retired (?) D328 Jets of Hainan Airlines – these are such nice aircraft, I can’t believe they aren’t being used anymore.

I'm not sure about that either. They should still be active, but it's not easy to find reliable information.


PH



Nothing's worse than flying the same reg twice!
User currently offlinegabrielchew From United Kingdom, joined Aug 2005, 3310 posts, RR: 12
Reply 13, posted (3 years 3 months 4 days 7 hours ago) and read 7888 times:

Quoting PlaneHunter (Reply 12):

very interesting report about your domestic trip.

Thanks

Quoting PlaneHunter (Reply 12):

I'm not sure about that either. They should still be active, but it's not easy to find reliable information.

I've not seen them scheduled for any flights online recently. And with them all lined up together on a remote space, it doesn't look like they'll be used in the near future. Such a shame.



http://my.flightmemory.com/shefgab Upcoming flights:LCY-ARN-AMS-LGW,STN-OTP-AMS-YUL,YQB-JFK-LAX-DUS-STN,LGW-DXB-BKK-HKG-
User currently offlineFlyingFinn76 From Finland, joined Jun 2009, 1706 posts, RR: 30
Reply 14, posted (3 years 3 months 4 days 6 hours ago) and read 7888 times:

Hi Gabriel,

Another great installment on your Asia series. Very interesting reading about all these towns (well, cities actually) off the beaten path in the relative backroads of China! Tons of nice pictures as well, they make me want to go to China again!

I also like your spur of the moment travel planning, sometimes it's nice just to go and see what you end up with without having strict plans ahead of the time.

Quoting gabrielchew (Thread starter):

Beijing is very pretty in the early morning.

Yep, before the smog kicks in  .

Quoting gabrielchew (Thread starter):
We finally arrived at a grubby looking B737-800 – I was up the stairs fairly quickly.
Quoting gabrielchew (Thread starter):
Boeing B737-800 B-5326

I've flown once with Air China, that was a 738 without winglets and indeed not in the best of conditions. It was however B-2359.

Quoting gabrielchew (Thread starter):
There was a hot meal served (I think two choices). I, however, decided to forego breakfast, just ‘enjoying’ two glass of water.

Hah, poor bastard. I know flying with a killer hangover is not the nicest of things!

Quoting gabrielchew (Thread starter):
The city of Jiayuguan

Wow, I'm always amazed by these Chinese cities that you've never heard about and then they turn out to have some five million people in them - more than my country!

Quoting gabrielchew (Thread starter):
Jiayuguan Exterior

Looks nice. You can definitely see that the government put some serious money on infrastructure projects around the country!

Quoting gabrielchew (Thread starter):
The cosy cabin of Tianjin Airlines’ ERJ 145

I like those seats. Very classy. Not sure about the crew "uniforms", though.

Quoting gabrielchew (Thread starter):
Retired (?) D328 Jets of Hainan Airlines – these are such nice aircraft, I can’t believe they aren’t being used anymore. I flew on one of these a few years ago from Yinchuan to Taiyuan.

There was a huge row of those there at XIY already when I was there back in 2006!

Quoting gabrielchew (Thread starter):
Over the years, I’d spent a lot of time in Xi’an, so wasn’t at all keen on being back. That said, the weather was nice, and I was able to see a bit of the city that I hadn’t seen before.

Thanks for the pictures, a nice reminder of my week there on a business trip! Xi'an was a very nice city, I liked it a lot.

Quoting gabrielchew (Thread starter):
The staff were awful, speaking barely any English, and being completely useless when dealing with issues.

Err, pardon my ignorance, but don't you speak Chinese? Or is this some sort of dialect thing?

Quoting gabrielchew (Thread starter):
When I came to check out, they were unable to cancel the deposit made on my American Express, saying that I’d have to call Amex when I got back to the UK to have them cancel it.

That's just ridiculous! File a dispute with Amex, these kind of establishments should not be allowed to carry their stickers.

Quoting gabrielchew (Thread starter):
This would be my first flight on a Xi’an MA 60. there area rather rare type, being operated by only a handful of carriers around the world, most in Asia and Africa. The aircraft was very reminiscent of an Antonov 24. for those of you interested in more info, the wikipedia page is here:

Very interesting. The plane does indeed look a lot like the Antonov!

Quoting gabrielchew (Thread starter):
Cabin

But the cabin looks so much more modern than what you'd find in any An-24. The one I flew in Ukraine had cabin walls made out of plywood, for crying out loud!  
Quoting gabrielchew (Thread starter):
Once the seatbelt signs were turned on, neither of the cabin crew felt it worth their time or effort to secure the cabin for arrival, so we landed with tables down, and leftovers flying all over the cabin.

Err, that's very bad. I keep expecting one of these Chinese (or Indonesian or Indian or any country with huge growth in the aviation sector in recent years) airlines to have a horrible accident where this kind of behavior costs a lot of lives - I think that would be the only way to enforce a realistic safety culture into them.

Quoting gabrielchew (Thread starter):
Hmmm. I decided to see how much it would cost. A quick inquiry later, and I had ticket for just RMB 180 (less than double the cost of the bus).

Hey, that's nice and very cheap! I wish you could do that with Western airlines, but it just doesn't work that way - last minute tickets are always horribly expensive.

Quoting gabrielchew (Thread starter):
Given the delay, we were given a meal at the gate. Not terribly tasty

Nice gesture, but that doesn't look awfully good to me.


User currently offlinegabrielchew From United Kingdom, joined Aug 2005, 3310 posts, RR: 12
Reply 15, posted (3 years 3 months 3 days 8 hours ago) and read 7700 times:

Quoting FlyingFinn76 (Reply 14):
Another great installment on your Asia series.

Thanks!

Quoting FlyingFinn76 (Reply 14):
I also like your spur of the moment travel planning, sometimes it's nice just to go and see what you end up with without having strict plans ahead of the time.

Well, I had very precise plans when I left, it just turned out that the trains weren't running, thus necessitating some ad hoc planning. I do enjoy planning on the go though!

Quoting FlyingFinn76 (Reply 14):

Hah, poor bastard. I know flying with a killer hangover is not the nicest of things!

No, its not!

Quoting FlyingFinn76 (Reply 14):

I like those seats. Very classy. Not sure about the crew "uniforms", though.

I love the cabin of the ERJ 145. I'm booked on a Portugalia one inf Feb CMN-LIS in C which I'm quite looking forward to. I think i've got a pair of seats to myself.

Quoting FlyingFinn76 (Reply 14):

Err, pardon my ignorance, but don't you speak Chinese? Or is this some sort of dialect thing?

Yes, I do, but when I stay in chain hotel, espcially a foreign owned/mamaged one that spouts about their amazing staff, it's the kind of thing I think should come as standard. Sometimes, speaking English gets you further than speaking Chinese, sometimes not. In this case, sign langauage might have been more effective in communication!

Quoting FlyingFinn76 (Reply 14):
That's just ridiculous! File a dispute with Amex, these kind of establishments should not be allowed to carry their stickers.

Just checked my account, nothing showing there, so hopefully, thats thr end of the story.

Quoting FlyingFinn76 (Reply 14):
But the cabin looks so much more modern than what you'd find in any An-24. The one I flew in Ukraine had cabin walls made out of plywood, for crying out loud!

Yeah, the cabin was nice. The dark section in the back where the toilet was reeked of Soviet design though!

Quoting FlyingFinn76 (Reply 14):
Hey, that's nice and very cheap! I wish you could do that with Western airlines, but it just doesn't work that way - last minute tickets are always horribly expensive.

I'm very surpised at how cheap it was, especially when Elong were showing it as RMB 220 + tax as the cheapest fare for all dates.



http://my.flightmemory.com/shefgab Upcoming flights:LCY-ARN-AMS-LGW,STN-OTP-AMS-YUL,YQB-JFK-LAX-DUS-STN,LGW-DXB-BKK-HKG-
User currently offlineairbuseric From Netherlands, joined Jan 2005, 4273 posts, RR: 51
Reply 16, posted (3 years 3 months 3 days 7 hours ago) and read 7663 times:

Hi Gabriel

really nice to see these Chinese flights reported! And congrats with that MA60 flight... Good to see the cabin picture and your opinion (I'm planning to fly one this autumn also). It seems the flying around, last minute booking etc. went quite easy also, good to hear. Great pics from the Chinese wall place, fantastic landscapes!

Regards
Eric



"The whole world steps aside for the man who knows where he is going"
User currently offlinegabrielchew From United Kingdom, joined Aug 2005, 3310 posts, RR: 12
Reply 17, posted (3 years 3 months 2 days 22 hours ago) and read 7571 times:

Quoting airbuseric (Reply 16):

really nice to see these Chinese flights reported!

Thanks!

Quoting airbuseric (Reply 16):
Good to see the cabin picture and your opinion (I'm planning to fly one this autumn also)

In China? Same route?



http://my.flightmemory.com/shefgab Upcoming flights:LCY-ARN-AMS-LGW,STN-OTP-AMS-YUL,YQB-JFK-LAX-DUS-STN,LGW-DXB-BKK-HKG-
User currently offlineRyanair!!! From Australia, joined Mar 2002, 4756 posts, RR: 25
Reply 18, posted (3 years 3 months 2 days 18 hours ago) and read 7498 times:

The contrast between extreme modernity and vast underdevelopement cannot be more extreme than what we see in China. All the airports you have been to seem so new! Flying on the MA reminds me of the time when I flew domestically on an indegenious airliner CN235 of Merpati, and your experience looks MILES better than mine!

http://i129.photobucket.com/albums/p207/shefgab/asia2011pt5/CIMG0636.jpg
I thought days of having the "10 brothers" haircut were over. Evidently not, as this style seems very fitting for the boy walking away in your photo. Hahahahaha...

Speaking of Chinese airlines, I came across this ad for Xiamen Airlines in Singapore with a rather "interesting" slogan...




Welcome to my starry one world alliance, a team in the sky!
User currently offlinegabrielchew From United Kingdom, joined Aug 2005, 3310 posts, RR: 12
Reply 19, posted (3 years 3 months 2 days 2 hours ago) and read 7320 times:

Quoting Ryanair!!! (Reply 18):
The contrast between extreme modernity and vast underdevelopement cannot be more extreme than what we see in China. All the airports you have been to seem so new!

Lots of carbon copy airports can be found all over China. So many new airport and terminals are being built.

Quoting Ryanair!!! (Reply 18):
I thought days of having the "10 brothers" haircut were over. Evidently not, as this style seems very fitting for the boy walking away in your photo. Hahahahaha...

The CHinese love it! You can't go anywhere in China without seeing some guy with this wonderful haircut!



http://my.flightmemory.com/shefgab Upcoming flights:LCY-ARN-AMS-LGW,STN-OTP-AMS-YUL,YQB-JFK-LAX-DUS-STN,LGW-DXB-BKK-HKG-
User currently offlineThe777Man From United States of America, joined Jul 1999, 6596 posts, RR: 55
Reply 20, posted (3 years 3 months 1 day 4 hours ago) and read 7120 times:

Hi Gabrielchew!

Thanks a for very nice and interesting report with nice pictures! Great to see an area and airlines rarely covered in reports here. The desert area of China looks nice.

Nice also with the registration of the CA 738 inside the cabin!

Legroom on the MA 60 looks fantastic!

The777Man



Need a Boeing 777 Firing Order....Further to fly....CI, MU, LX and LH 777s
User currently offlinegabrielchew From United Kingdom, joined Aug 2005, 3310 posts, RR: 12
Reply 21, posted (3 years 3 months 22 hours ago) and read 7057 times:

Quoting The777Man (Reply 20):
Thanks a for very nice and interesting report with nice pictures! Great to see an area and airlines rarely covered in reports here.

Thanks!

Quoting The777Man (Reply 20):
The desert area of China looks nice.

The better parts of the Chinese desert are out in the far West, in Xinjiang Province. There is a place called Turpan there, which is in the World's second lowest depression. Very hot and dry in the summer. I spent a night sleeping on a sand dune there on a previous trip, amazing stuff!

Quoting The777Man (Reply 20):

Legroom on the MA 60 looks fantastic!

Yeah, it was pretty good.



http://my.flightmemory.com/shefgab Upcoming flights:LCY-ARN-AMS-LGW,STN-OTP-AMS-YUL,YQB-JFK-LAX-DUS-STN,LGW-DXB-BKK-HKG-
User currently offlinekretek From United Kingdom, joined Nov 2006, 95 posts, RR: 0
Reply 22, posted (3 years 3 months 9 hours ago) and read 6946 times:

Hi Gabriel

Thank you for sharing a part of China we don't often see. I was contemplating to visit Dunhuang and JiaYuGuan last year but changed the itinerary. How long was the train trip from Dunhuang to JYG and was it easy to find train tickets? Crowded and smelly trains esp. those that visit smaller towns put me off - was this the case?


User currently offlineeastafspot From France, joined Jan 2008, 794 posts, RR: 20
Reply 23, posted (3 years 3 months 5 hours ago) and read 6865 times:

nice stuff, it was a great escape to somewhere totally unknown.
Apart from the safety card are the mags in english in any of those airlines? otherwise something to get mad  
First time i see inside Chinese aircraft which has a rather small cabin but looks comfortable, but what about the noise level?

many thanks for this insight



Fly with Air Burundi, Air Tanzania, Air Uganda, Kenya Airways and Rwandair...Jumuiya ya Afrika mashariki
User currently offlinegabrielchew From United Kingdom, joined Aug 2005, 3310 posts, RR: 12
Reply 24, posted (3 years 2 months 4 weeks 1 day 7 hours ago) and read 6760 times:

Quoting kretek (Reply 22):
Thank you for sharing a part of China we don't often see. I was contemplating to visit Dunhuang and JiaYuGuan last year but changed the itinerary. How long was the train trip from Dunhuang to JYG and was it easy to find train tickets? Crowded and smelly trains esp. those that visit smaller towns put me off - was this the case?

Dunhuang to Jiayuguan took around 4 hours. The train wasn't too busy, but it is only a hard seat train, so not terribly comfortable. No options to upgrade. The train was kept very clean though.

Quoting eastafspot (Reply 23):
nice stuff,

Thanks!

Quoting eastafspot (Reply 23):
Apart from the safety card are the mags in english in any of those airlines? otherwise something to get mad

Mostly it's just in Chinese. Joy Air flies very few foreigners. It was the first time that there wasn't even an English announcment.

Quoting eastafspot (Reply 23):
First time i see inside Chinese aircraft which has a rather small cabin but looks comfortable, but what about the noise level?

Noise level was acceptable. Infront of the props might have been better.



http://my.flightmemory.com/shefgab Upcoming flights:LCY-ARN-AMS-LGW,STN-OTP-AMS-YUL,YQB-JFK-LAX-DUS-STN,LGW-DXB-BKK-HKG-
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