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#2: XIY-KWL On China Eastern + PEK-XIY By Train

Sun Jul 20, 2014 7:57 pm




Introduction

This is the second report in my China and India trip series. My previous report covered the outbound journey from Las Vegas to Beijing via Vancouver, on Air Canada rouge and the mainline service. You can find it here.

Upon arrival in Beijing, our guide took us to our hotel, the stylish Pentahotel in the city center. The next day was when the tour really began. For the next two full days plus Sunday morning, the longest time we would spend in one city, we were in the magnificent city of Beijing! The city is filled with well-preserved historical sites, with the Great Wall a 2 hour drive away. We sure did a lot of walking here, strolling about in Tiananmen Square, the Forbidden City, the Summer Palace, and elsewhere.

After visiting the Temple of Heaven, we were on our way to Xi’an, catching a high-speed train from Beijing West Railway Station. We were up late that night, visiting the ancient city walls and downtown shopping district. The next day we drove to the Terracotta Army, what Xi’an is known for. The train ride and sightseeing in Xi’an is covered in the second post of this report.

A great vegetarian lunch concluded our short time in the beautiful city. Then we headed to the airport for our 6:20 pm China Eastern flight to Guilin. The actual flight will be covered in the third post of this report. I hope you enjoy this second installment!



Maps generated by the Great Circle Mapper -copyright © Karl L. Swartz.




Sightseeing in Beijing

Welcome to the capital of the People’s Republic of China, Beijing! There are so many historical sites, such as the one I was most interested in, Tiananmen Square. This meant our next 2 days in the city were going to be jam-packed with activity. Beijing is also a somewhat “flat” city, i.e. there aren’t many tall buildings or the skyscrapers you’d expect in a big city. Our guide had told us the reason, but unfortunately I can’t remember it.

Speaking of our guide, she was very informative. I probably learned the most information from her on this tour. It was sad to bid her farewell at the train station on Sunday morning, but we still had 3 more guides to meet! Now, let’s move on to the first destination of the tour.


Jade gallery

We woke up early and headed down to an unexpectedly delicious breakfast. Some of the staples at a Chinese hotel breakfast, it appeared, are fried noodles and fried rice. I also regularly came upon sausage and baked beans. And of course there were the traditional breakfast pastries, like danishes and croissants. Anyways...

We drove through Beijing’s morning rush hour, bound for the gallery. Jade is a green colored stone that is supposedly very popular across China. First we saw how the stone is transformed into some really intricate pieces, then we entered a large gallery displaying the finished products. We ended up buying some souvenirs, but a few days later, one necklace we bought there just fell and broke! And I thought jade was supposed to be pretty strong...













The Sacred Road

This is basically a long path that is lined with ancient Chinese sculptures, like animals, mythical beasts, and Emperor Ming’s officials. Surrounding the path is some beautiful greenery. One interesting tidbit of information: the Chinese depict lions with curly hair because they are “foreign” animals. “Native” animals feature straight hair, corresponding with the straight hair that all Chinese people have.











Lunch

We proceeded to our very first true Chinese lunch, at a restaurant near the Mutianyu section of the Great Wall. My sister and I had some kung pao chicken, orange chicken, and other dishes; the food just kept on coming! My parents, who are vegetarians, had an eggplant dish and some spiced green beans, which tasted equally as good as our dishes. But my favorite was definitely the succulent kung pao!

And as you can see, no chopsticks for me...yet. Still, I felt bad for not knowing how to use China’s most important eating utensil! But I finally learned how to use chopsticks during our visit to Guilin and Yangshuo, which is covered in the next report.





Great Wall of China

Now we’re headed to one of the 7 wonders of the world: the Great Wall of China. Or more precisely, the Mutianyu section of it, which I believe is the closest to Beijing. It felt so weird to actually be standing on this wall! Our guide told us that we were double-lucky today, for the following reasons. First, there were clear blue skies today, as it would be again tomorrow (most visitors have to deal with China’s infamous fog/smog). Second, we were visiting the day before a new parking lot opened, where all private vehicles would have to stop and you’d have to board a shuttle bus to the wall.






We took a short cable car ride up to the wall, during which the views were already beautiful. There was lush greenery below and all around us. As we began walking on the wall, though, we realized how hot it was (approaching 100ºF / 38ºC), and I started sweating like crazy. We rested in the shade for a bit before heading back to the cable car station.

However, the cable car had broken down during the short time we were up there, so we now we needed to take the toboggan. My family was so scared of it for whatever reason, but I really enjoyed the ride! At the bottom, there were a lot of souvenir sellers under the tents, but we were too tired to purchase/bargain for any items.

















Pottery gallery

Then we drove to a small pottery factory and gallery. The pottery pieces made here involve carving a sort of frame on top of them, then filling the cavities with bright paints. You can tell how tedious it is to sculpt and decorate these pieces from the below photos. After observing how the pieces are made, we were released to a large gallery, but we didn’t want to purchase anything so delicate on our big journey.








Soon we were heading back to the hotel, just in time for the evening rush hour. But tonight for dinner, we desperately needed Indian food again. Fortunately, my parents had printed out directions in Chinese to an Indian restaurant nearby. But when we finally hailed a taxi and showed the directions to the driver, we had the same problem that PlaneHunter experienced in Shanghai: the driver stared at the paper for a bit, then shook his head and drove off! Eventually we returned to the hotel and ordered delivery from the place, but the food wasn’t that good. Still, why hadn’t we thought of delivery before...





• • • • •



Tiananmen Square

The place I was most interested in visiting on this whole tour (I won’t say it was my “favorite” place...) was Tiananmen Square. It felt like jumping back in time to the Cold War era: the red flag and yellow stars, Zedong Mao’s mausoleum, the statues, the national emblem, the giant portrait of Mao on the Tiananmen. Our guide, expectedly, didn’t mention the infamous massacre that took place here 2 decades ago.

















The Forbidden City

We walked through the Tiananmen to enter the great Forbidden City. I couldn’t believe how gigantic this place is (there are 9,000 rooms), all constructed for the Emperor and his family. (Well, the Emperor’s family was pretty big, considering the thousands of wives he had.) Everywhere you walk, there are these elegant buildings with intricate paintings under the roofs. One of the big buildings I saw turned out to be just a waiting room for the Emperor’s guests! At their entrances stand two dragons, a male and a female. But sometimes you find a dragon and a phoenix (not the one from Harry Potter...). And on top of all this, a wide moat surrounds the palace.

Also, you’ll notice in the below pictures that many people are holding umbrellas, even though there are clear skies today. Well, the Chinese use umbrellas to shield themselves from not just rain, but the hot sun’s rays, as well. It seemed odd to us, but it’s actually pretty smart!












We kept on walking and walking throughout the city until we finally reached the cool palace garden, then the exit. I say “finally” because, just like yesterday, it was really hot today and we were all sweating a lot. Plus the place was crowded with people and tour groups. But I was still able to enjoy this amazing palace!









Traditional tea house

Before going to the Summer Palace, our guide took us to a tea house for a traditional tea ceremony. We all sat around a fancy wooden table, and an employee taught us how to hold our tea cups like the ancient peoples (it’s different for men and women). Then she specially prepared several different teas for us, such as jasmine tea, oolong tea, a pungent fruit tea, and pu’er tea (which my sister and I childishly laughed about). It was all a very interesting experience!

We purchased a few teas, including the fruit tea, which happened to be my favorite but my family didn’t like the pungency. We also got to take home two free “pee-pee boys.” You dip the clay figurines into some cold water, then pour hot water on them, and out squirts “pee”!





The Summer Palace

As another demonstration of his power, the Emperor had this entire palace built for him by the lake so his family could enjoy the summertime. It includes several gardens and a really long corridor with beautiful paintings all over the ceiling, so people could enjoy a stroll by the lake even when it was raining. After walking all the way down the corridor, stopping for some cold water and ice cream along the way, we took a ride on a dragon boat to the exit. A lavish place, indeed!

























“Legend of Kung Fu” show

Our tour also offered the option of attending a night show, which were available in almost every city we visited. However, we did have to pay extra for the tickets. We decided to see the “Legend of Kung Fu” show at the Red Theatre on our last night in Beijing. It was a great show, with nice music and several fast-paced moments. However, since I was still adjusting to the time difference, I was really sleepy and couldn’t fully enjoy the show.







• • • • •



Temple of Heaven

We’re still not done with Beijing. Just before heading to the train station for our high-speed journey to Xi’an, we visited the Temple of Heaven in the morning fog. During the walk to the temple, we traveled down a wide, tree-lined path upon which many locals were playing an interesting game with their feet. A Google search reveals that it’s called “jianzi,” a traditional Asian game. My parents and sister even jumped into one game (I was too shy to participate), and we bought a shuttlecock to play at home.

Soon we reached the temple. Then we walked down a long, wide path to the Temple of Earth. Another interesting fact: the middle stone path is reserved for the “King of Heaven,” while the Emperor must walk on one of the side paths.
















[Edited 2014-07-20 13:51:40]
 
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Ytraveller
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RE: #2: XIY-KWL On China Eastern + PEK-XIY By Train

Sun Jul 20, 2014 8:00 pm

To Xi’an by high-speed train

After lunch at an Indian restaurant, our time in Beijing had come to an end! I really enjoyed visiting the capital of the People’s Republic of China, with all its beautiful historical sites. Our guide in this city was really friendly and informative; in fact, she was my favorite guide on the entire tour. And of course there was our driver, who was very nice and smoothly transported us from place to place.

We drove to Beijing West Railway Station for high-speed train G87, departing at 2:00 pm to Xi’an North Railway Station via Zhengzhou East. Even though it was going to be a long ride at 4.5 hours, this was my first time on a high-speed train! Upon entering the station, we had to pass through a security checkpoint. Then we proceeded to the waiting room for our train.






Our guide handed us our tickets and explained everything about the train to us, pointing out our seat numbers and the platform number on our tickets and the place where we needed to board for second class. Then she wished us an enjoyable rest of the tour and said goodbye, abandoning us in a crowded waiting room full of Chinese people. I can’t imagine my family doing all of this by ourselves!







Boarding the train

Our guide informed us that everyone would start lining up 30–40 minutes before departure, and that we should follow suit. After a few announcements in Chinese, the lines started moving, and we were all getting thrown around in the mad rush for the train. We also had our hundreds of bags to lug around. What an adrenaline rush, just in boarding a train on-time!




Upon getting off the escalator, we started walking forward before realizing we had to turn around. Then we rushed up to carriage 4, near the front of the train. Once we entered the carriage, we met a train stewardess, who took our luggage and eventually stuffed it all behind the last row of seats.

Then we walked up to our row number and took our seats, which were in a 2 x 3 configuration (we were in the column of 2 seats). Legroom was decent, and the seat had a tray table and could even recline. In the seat-pocket, I found a magazine and a train-sickness bag. This feels just like flying!







The journey begins

And at exactly 2:00 pm, the train slowly began chugging out of the station. As we zoomed out of Beijing, the scenery transitioned from drab apartment buildings to lakes, forests, and farmland. Unfortunately, there was a thick haze that hung over the land wherever we went, ending the luck we’d had with the weather for the past 2 days. Eventually we reached our maximum speed of 191 mph / 308 kmh.

What to do for the next 4.5 hours? For most of the time, I was watching the episodes I’d recorded on my phone. Other times I was reading a book or one of the in-flight magazines I’d “stolen.” Meanwhile, the scenery outside was flat and became mostly farmland, with a few buildings here and there.










Halfway into the train ride, those apartment buildings started reappearing, indicating that we were approaching Zhengzhou. This was the only stop on the train, and we were stopped here for only a short time. A few passengers disembarked, then, without any signal or warning, the doors closed and we started moving out of the station.






Soon we had reached our maximum speed again, and we still had 2 more hours until we reached our final destination. The scenery returned to farmland, and that fog/smog persisted. The weather improved slightly later on in the evening, but it remained hazy for our entire visit to Xi’an!





Xi’an arrival

At 6:30 pm, we finally pulled into Xi’an North Railway Station. There was no real “arrivals” area that you’d find at an airport, so we just continued walking to the exit until a woman informed us that our guide was standing a little ways ahead. Then we met up with our new guide and headed to the van. Now, even though it was getting a bit late, we got to start exploring the beautiful city of Xi’an!








A brief but jam-packed visit to Xi’an

Xi’an is a secondary city in China, home to 8 million people that require 2 ring roads (versus the 20 million people in Beijing who have 6 roads circling the city). In the center of the city, you encounter the beautiful ancient city walls, which are surrounded by the shimmering, modern buildings of downtown. There’s also a very nice shopping district just a few minute’s walk away. The city’s main tourist attraction, however, is the great Terracotta Army.

I found Xi’an to be a really nice city. Yet I remember it for one thing mainly: apartment buildings! They were towering above us everywhere we went, many of which were still under construction. It’s that housing boom China has been experiencing.

Our guide in Xi’an was also very friendly, and seemed more open than any of the other guides. He talked to us about China’s infamous one-child policy, and how his family suffered under it: our guide was a second child. His family had to pay a large fine, and his mother lost her job at the factory. It was all very interesting to learn about, but sad at the same time.


The ancient city walls

These walls are a picturesque step back in time, right in the middle of downtown Xi’an. People spend their afternoons strolling along the ancient city walls, as we saw while we were there. Bright red lanterns line the path. It sure is the contrast from the busy roads and glitzy buildings just outside the walls! At night, everything gets better once the lights are switched on.



















Great Tang All Day Mall

To finish the evening, we walked down to the modern, lavish shopping district of Xi’an. First, we visited this one mall, known for its gigantic LED display that stretches across the entire place. It was quite an impressive sight, with the scenes transitioning from galaxies in space to fish and coral underwater. Around here, we happened upon a Papa John’s and decided to have pizza again.






Then we walked over to the Great Tang All Day Mall. It’s a long, wide path in the middle of the road, featuring some sculptures that represent the famous men and feats of the Tang Dynasty. At the end of the path stands the beautifully lit Big Wild Goose Pagoda, which we saw up close the next morning. It’s actually an icon of the city.

Our guide explained each structure along the way, and soon we reached the end, by the time we were all really tired – it was 10:30 pm. But we also felt happy: our guide clearly enjoyed showing his hometown to us, and he wanted to maximize our short time here in Xi’an.






Now we drove to our hotel, the luxurious Grand Noble hotel. Although it didn’t seem to be located in such a great part of town, the interiors were amazing, with the lavishly decorated lobby, the glittering chandelier, and the elaborate lighting inside the restaurant. And the breakfast was really great, with so many fresh, local dishes available. It was definitely the best hotel we stayed at on the tour!





• • • • •



Terracotta Warriors museum

Well, this was more of a store than a museum, but at least we got an idea of how the Terracotta Warriors were made 1,000 years ago. Upon entering the museum, we saw a few employees sculpting some headless warriors – the heads could actually be screwed off, even on the real warriors! Then we went to the “gift shop,” where there were many traditional Chinese souvenirs (tables, quilts, mini warrior sculptures). We bought a mini emperor for home.







The Terracotta Army

Finally, we’re going to the 8th wonder of the world, the amazing Terracotta Army! It was a foggy day yet again as we drove to the museum, which houses 3 pits containing the thousands of artifacts uncovered at Emperor Qin’s mausoleum. The museum grounds are so big, we had to take a tram to the pits, then walk back on a long path lined with souvenir shops.




For some background, the soldiers date back to the 3rd century BCE, and were discovered by farmers in 1974 (the discovering and restoration work continues today). The artifacts were once brightly colored, but soon after their exposure to the elements, the colors faded away. Also, any wooden artifacts (such as the chariots) had deteriorated. Besides the sheer number of soldiers, what’s shocking is the level of detail put into the artifacts, from the individualized soldiers to the shoe sole patterns.

As I admired the giant army of clay, I couldn’t help but wonder how ridiculous this whole thing was! I mean, the emperor says “Build me an army to protect me in the afterlife,” and his servants set out on this monumental task of sculpting these soldiers, down to the smallest detail! It also shows how much power rulers must’ve had back then.



























Lunch

Our guide took us to a popular vegetarian restaurant in Xi’an for lunch. We went into our own, large room for a delicious feast of Chinese delicacies: spicy tofu, an eggplant dish, buckwheat noodles, and more! For drinks, we ordered an orange juice and strawberry juice; for dessert, some fried bananas. For tea, we selected the exotic chrysanthemum tea. You can imagine how stuffed we became!





Big Wild Goose Pagoda

After eating like that for lunch, we definitely needed some exercise. So we began walking to the Big Wild Goose Pagoda, which we’d seen last night at the mall. The pagoda is actually at the center of a Buddhist temple (there seem to be a lot of Buddhist temples in China). Inside the actual pagoda, I believe there is nothing. Also, if you look closely, the pagoda is leaning slightly, which earns it the nickname “The Leaning Tower of Xi’an.”

The buildings around the pagoda house Buddhist monks, as well as some beautiful golden sculptures of Buddha himself. There were also some elaborate sculptures made of jade. Further from the buildings are some gardens and more Buddha sculptures. The entire area is very beautiful and calming.
















[Edited 2014-07-20 13:53:16]
 
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RE: #2: XIY-KWL On China Eastern + PEK-XIY By Train

Sun Jul 20, 2014 8:57 pm

China Eastern takes us to Guilin





Flight information

     Airline and Flt. no.: China Eastern Airlines #2307
     Airport of departure: Xi’an Xianyang Int’l (XIY / ZLXY)
     Gate of departure: Terminal 3, H17
     Date of departure: 6-30-2014
     Time of departure: 7:17 pm
     Airport of arrival: Guilin Liangjiang Int’l (KWL / ZGKL)
     Gate of arrival: Terminal D, 15
     Date of arrival: 6-30-2014
     Time of arrival: 9:03 pm
     Aircraft: Airbus A319
     Registration: B-6217
     Flight distance: 643 miles / 1,035 km
     Flight time: 1hr 46min
     Cabin class: Economy
     Seat: 47E


Heading to the airport

Well, it’s been less than 24 hours, but our time here in Xi’an is already over! Still, I felt like we had a “full” experience in this city, thanks to our guide who helped us see as much as we could. Even if most people come to Xi’an mainly for the Terracotta Army, you’ll find the perfect blend of Ancient China and modern China in the city itself. This charming city even has nonstop flights to Helsinki and soon Paris.

We left the serenity of the Big Wild Goose Pagoda for the bustling Xianyang International Airport, about an hour’s drive away from the city center. The airport actually has 3 terminals, but China Eastern flies out of Terminal 3, which opened just 2 years ago. It’s a very nice, modern building, as you can see below.




Upon entering the terminal, we proceeded to check-in with our guide. Since he had our tickets and the flight was arranged by the tour company, our guide did all the talking with the person behind the counter. This was probably the first time we’ve had someone else check-in for us! But we were probably better off that way, considering the language barrier.

We dropped off our 6 giant bags at check-in and headed to security. I think by now, we already had another small bag to house all our souvenirs. And of course, I had my trusty camera bag hanging around my neck: this was one of my first domestic flights in a country other than the U.S.! And as you’ll see, what a difference there is between Chinese and American domestic flights.




We said goodbye to our tour guide at the security checkpoint, and this would be our second time “alone” in China. But of course, it wasn’t all that bad. The security officers asked us a few questions in broken English about the contents of our carry-ons, had them screened, and then we were on the escalator down to the departure lounge.




Then we continued to the gate. After waiting around for a bit, we checked the FIDS and noticed our gate had changed and our flight was delayed 40 minutes! Oh well, we were on vacation and wouldn’t be doing anything upon our late arrival in Guilin. Eventually our A319 arrived at the gate, but the best view I could get of it was through a really dirty window.







Time to get on the plane

As we had expected, the boarding line started forming quite a bit before boarding actually began. I wasn’t really excited to be flying on another A319, but like I said above, it would be interesting to get to fly on some domestic flights in China. Also it was still foggy as ever outside, but it would be nice to get above that fog soon. Thankfully the weather was much better in Guilin!

We walked down the jetway and soon reached row number 47. Even though that sounds so high, the row numbers for the economy class cabin start at 31, while rows 6 and 7 are for business class – I have no idea why it’s like that. I settled on the middle seat: after all, it was going to be dark outside for half the flight (I’d be at the window for the daytime flight!). Legroom and seat width were average, and the seat-back reminded me of the one on the train.












Then we began our short taxi to the runway. Upon takeoff, the fog immediately shrouded our views, and there wasn’t much to see until we broke through the cloud layer and reached cruising altitude. Then we finally saw the sun, sitting just above the bed of clouds. Maybe we’d get a nice view of the sunset today.













Dinner?!

The flight attendants came through the cabin with the standard beverage service. But then they also asked us for what we’d like to have for dinner, chicken or beef (you could also ask for a vegetarian meal). What?! Dinner on a 1.5 hour domestic flight? Now that’s something you won’t find in America.

I went with the chicken, which was cooked in a nice sauce and accompanied by some rice. There was also a box handed out, containing a bread roll, cookie, cup of water, and green slices of something I couldn’t identify (it tasted really bitter). All in all, it was a pretty average meal, but way more than what I was expecting on this short flight.





Landing in Guilin

There was a nice sunset and it started getting dark for the remainder of the flight. A tiny sliver of moon also appeared in the dusk sky, which I didn’t notice until just before we passed under the clouds. I recall a little bit of turbulence on approach, but I personally favor some turbulence over a really smooth, boring flight (as long as it’s not too severe!).

We landed on-time and started taxiing to the gate. But we had to stop just a little ways from the gate, and I guess the passengers thought we had parked: it took just one or two people before the entire cabin was up and grabbing for their luggage! I was hesitant since the seat-belt sign was still on. But then the flight attendants came through, shutting the overhead compartments and telling everyone to sit down! This was one of the most interesting experiences I’ve had on an airplane.








We entered a really crowded terminal: everyone was getting ready to board our aircraft’s next flight. In fact it was really busy throughout the airport terminal that night, the opposite of how it was when we flew out Wednesday. We headed down to baggage claim, where our 6 bags arrived quickly. Somehow our bags made it with us wherever we went on this big trip.






We proceeded to arrivals, where in the crowds of people we were easily able to locate our new guide. On the drive to the hotel, our guide talked to us about the beautiful scenery of Guilin and surrounding region, which was currently concealed by the night. She also told us that we were visiting during the monsoon season, so hopefully it wouldn’t rain too much tomorrow!

And that brings us into the next report, which covers some sightseeing in Guilin and Yangshuo County, as well as a China Southern flight to Shanghai. As our guide in Xi’an said, the scenery in these two places is so beautiful, you might as well just forget about all the history you learned in Beijing and Xi’an. Well thanks for reading this far, and I hope you’re ready for the next report!






Conclusion

It felt like going back in time to Ancient China when we were in Beijing and Xi’an. You find some very nice historical sites wherever you go in Beijing, where Chinese art and architecture really shine. In Xi’an, it’s not all about the Terracotta Army; the downtown area features an ancient city wall and pagoda sitting next to high-end shopping malls. Of course we can’t forget about our guides and drivers, who were very friendly and knowledgeable. Overall, these cities served as a great introduction to our China tour.

The China Eastern flight was pretty interesting. It was surprising to be served a substantial dinner on a 1.5 hour flight. Plus it was fun to see everyone get up all at once upon arrival in Guilin, even though the seat-belt sign hadn’t been switched off, and then the flight attendants tell everyone to remain seated and have to close all the compartments!



Other reports in this series

#1: LAS-YVR-PEK on AC rouge, Air Canada 77W
#2: XIY-KWL on China Eastern A319 + PEK-XIY train
#3: KWL-PVG on China Southern 738
#4: PVG-KUL-BLR on Malaysia Airlines 772, 738
#5: BLR-DOH-ORD on Qatar Airways 787, 77W (in J)
 
B707MT
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RE: #2: XIY-KWL On China Eastern + PEK-XIY By Train

Sun Jul 20, 2014 9:42 pm

Fascinating trip report, mate, well-constructed and very interesting reading and viewing. You've put a lot of effort in and it shows - thanks! Really unusual itinerary and quite an eclectic mix of flights (even by A.net standards!) and transport. Looking forward to the next instalments.
 
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Ytraveller
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RE: #2: XIY-KWL On China Eastern + PEK-XIY By Train

Mon Jul 21, 2014 2:56 am

Hello B707MT,

Quoting B707MT (Reply 3):
Fascinating trip report, mate, well-constructed and very interesting reading and viewing. You've put a lot of effort in and it shows - thanks! Really unusual itinerary and quite an eclectic mix of flights (even by A.net standards!) and transport. Looking forward to the next instalments.

Thanks so much for your comment! I’ve actually never flown on any of the airlines I traveled with on this trip (besides one flight on American Airlines). I’ll get those next reports written up quickly!


Thanks again,
- Ytraveller  
 
harim
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RE: #2: XIY-KWL On China Eastern + PEK-XIY By Train

Mon Jul 21, 2014 4:36 am

Thank you for posting - it is wonderful to read and you have a talent as a travel writer.

Quoting Ytraveller (Thread starter):
but a few days later, one necklace we bought there just fell and broke!

I'm not sure in this case - in Malaysia/Thailand/Vietnam, the jade is often imitation unless one knows what to look out for (same with antiques, jewellery etc).
 
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Ytraveller
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RE: #2: XIY-KWL On China Eastern + PEK-XIY By Train

Mon Jul 21, 2014 4:19 pm

Hi harim,

Quoting harim (Reply 5):
Thank you for posting - it is wonderful to read and you have a talent as a travel writer.

Thanks  

Quoting harim (Reply 5):
I'm not sure in this case - in Malaysia/Thailand/Vietnam, the jade is often imitation unless one knows what to look out for (same with antiques, jewellery etc).

I’m pretty sure the jade isn’t fake, considering the people at the big gallery even told us how to distinguish between real and fake jade (the texture, temperature of it). Maybe it was just how the necklace was made. In the end, we just bought some really cheap, although fake, jade pieces from the souvenir sellers!


Thanks for commenting,
- Ytraveller  
 
lychemsa
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RE: #2: XIY-KWL On China Eastern + PEK-XIY By Train

Mon Jul 21, 2014 5:14 pm

Wow a fantastic report.

I want to go to China but I think one has to take an organised tour.

What tour company did you use?

How was the weather? Was it hot / humid?

Thanks.
 
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RE: #2: XIY-KWL On China Eastern + PEK-XIY By Train

Mon Jul 21, 2014 5:53 pm

Hi lychemsa,


Quoting lychemsa (Reply 7):
I want to go to China but I think one has to take an organised tour.

You should definitely go, China is an amazing country! But if you want to cover lots of cities and don’t speak Chinese, then I feel taking a tour is the best way to go. Not a lot of Chinese people speak good English; we even had difficulties taking a taxi.


Quoting lychemsa (Reply 7):
What tour company did you use?

We traveled with China Odyssey tours, based on their high ratings on Tripadvisor. You can choose to travel just with your family, or take a group tour. All our guides were really great, and we were smoothly escorted from place to place by car, plane, train, and boat.


Quoting lychemsa (Reply 7):
How was the weather? Was it hot / humid?

The weather was not exactly the best for us. While we were lucky to have clear blue skies during our 2 days in Beijing, it was really hot (90–100ºF). In Guilin and Yangshuo, it was hot but also very, very humid. The weather in Shanghai was the best; it was cool (around 80ºF) but hazy.

I’m sure it’s different during the other seasons. My aunt visited during the winter, and she said it was pretty cold, in the north at least.


Thanks for your comment,
- Ytraveller  
 
lpdal
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RE: #2: XIY-KWL On China Eastern + PEK-XIY By Train

Tue Jul 22, 2014 1:47 pm

Another great read, YTraveller.

China looks like a fun and beautiful country, sans the Maoist paintings which I find unsettling...Regardless, looks like you had a good time in the east.

Quoting Ytraveller (Thread starter):
Dinner on a 1.5 hour domestic flight? Now that’s something you won’t find in America.

Yup, you'll also find this sort of thing on mainlines in Europe. In LH Y MUC-CPH I got a tasty cheese sandwich and muffin in Y. Here in America, even in domestic F, you're lucky if you even get a snack basket service!

Thanks again,

-LPDAL
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Ytraveller
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RE: #2: XIY-KWL On China Eastern + PEK-XIY By Train

Tue Jul 22, 2014 6:09 pm

Hi LPDAL,

Quoting lpdal (Reply 9):
Another great read, YTraveller.

Thanks for the comment!  

Quoting lpdal (Reply 9):
sans the Maoist paintings which I find unsettling

Yeah, you could find them everywhere. We definitely didn’t bring it up with our guides, but one thing our guides had no problem talking about was the one-child policy.

Quoting lpdal (Reply 9):
Yup, you'll also find this sort of thing on mainlines in Europe. In LH Y MUC-CPH I got a tasty cheese sandwich and muffin in Y. Here in America, even in domestic F, you're lucky if you even get a snack basket service!

Yeah, it’s amazing! I’ve also flown LH once in Europe (FRA-FCO), and we were served this delicious fruit muffin that I can still remember!


Thanks for reading,
- Ytraveller  
 
joeytaffy93
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RE: #2: XIY-KWL On China Eastern + PEK-XIY By Train

Thu Jul 24, 2014 9:56 pm

Fascinating TR. I was interested by the car in the first post, a Roewe 750!   I wish they sold them in the UK.
 
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Ytraveller
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RE: #2: XIY-KWL On China Eastern + PEK-XIY By Train

Fri Jul 25, 2014 3:05 am

Hi JoeyTaffey93,

Quoting JoeyTaffy93 (Reply 11):
Fascinating TR. I was interested by the car in the first post, a Roewe 750! I wish they sold them in the UK.

Thank you! I also noticed a lot of American cars while we were there.


Thanks for commenting,
- Ytraveller  
 
CaliAtenza
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RE: #2: XIY-KWL On China Eastern + PEK-XIY By Train

Fri Jul 25, 2014 9:08 am

Excellent report so far; you have a knack for this  ...even i don't think i could put so much detail into a trip report...i might just get tired of typing by the end of it lol. Loved all the pictures too, it made me feel like i was right there with you guys. Isn't 6 bags a lot though? Or was it more of having extra clothes?
 
buck3y3nut
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RE: #2: XIY-KWL On China Eastern + PEK-XIY By Train

Fri Jul 25, 2014 2:47 pm

Such an awesome trip report. Thoroughly enjoyed reading it and looking at the amazing pictures. Off to #3 now  
Thanks for writing it and sharing it...
Cheers
 
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Ytraveller
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RE: #2: XIY-KWL On China Eastern + PEK-XIY By Train

Fri Jul 25, 2014 7:48 pm

Hi CaliAtenza,

Quoting CaliAtenza (Reply 13):
Excellent report so far; you have a knack for this ...even i don't think i could put so much detail into a trip report...i might just get tired of typing by the end of it lol. Loved all the pictures too, it made me feel like i was right there with you guys. Isn't 6 bags a lot though? Or was it more of having extra clothes?

Thank you! It’s summer break so I have a lot of time on my hands   And I agree, 6 bags is a lot, but we flew J on the way back (this was among our first times in a cabin other than Y) and wanted to take full advantage of the increased baggage allowance.


Hello buck3y3nut,

Quoting buck3y3nut (Reply 14):
Such an awesome trip report. Thoroughly enjoyed reading it and looking at the amazing pictures. Off to #3 now
Thanks for writing it and sharing it...
Cheers

I’m glad you’re enjoying them, hopefully you don’t mind the length  


Thanks again everyone,
- Ytraveller
 
CaliAtenza
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RE: #2: XIY-KWL On China Eastern + PEK-XIY By Train

Fri Jul 25, 2014 8:09 pm

Quoting ytraveller (Reply 15):

Thank you! It’s summer break so I have a lot of time on my hands   And I agree, 6 bags is a lot, but we flew J on the way back (this was among our first times in a cabin other than Y) and wanted to take full advantage of the increased baggage allowance.

oh yeah i saw the J part in your report list; can't wait for that one  .
 
CaliAtenza
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RE: #2: XIY-KWL On China Eastern + PEK-XIY By Train

Fri Jul 25, 2014 8:14 pm

Quoting ytraveller (Reply 15):
Thank you! It’s summer break so I have a lot of time on my hands

Enjoy it while it lasts  . Trust me as you get older, its just studying and/or work all the time!
 
CaliAtenza
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RE: #2: XIY-KWL On China Eastern + PEK-XIY By Train

Fri Jul 25, 2014 8:32 pm

China Eastern's domestic product seems fine actually; the food was a nice addition as well. I have heard their long haul product is pretty mediocre though. They do fly from LAX to China; i forget now which city it was..but they use A340's from what i remember. For those going to DEL from LAX, its another option.
 
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Ytraveller
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RE: #2: XIY-KWL On China Eastern + PEK-XIY By Train

Fri Aug 01, 2014 12:26 am

Hi CaliAtenza,

Quoting CaliAtenza (Reply 16):
oh yeah i saw the J part in your report list; can't wait for that one .

It should be up next week. Part 4 should be posted tomorrow, sorry it took so long  

Quoting CaliAtenza (Reply 18):
China Eastern's domestic product seems fine actually; the food was a nice addition as well. I have heard their long haul product is pretty mediocre though. They do fly from LAX to China; i forget now which city it was..but they use A340's from what i remember. For those going to DEL from LAX, its another option.

It’s Shanghai. I wish flying westward (i.e. over the Pacific) to India from LAS was cheaper; usually we fly via Europe on BA or LH. 9W used to fly SFO-PVG-BOM a few years ago, though; I think we planned on flying that route once.


- Ytraveller
 
Flightsimboy
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RE: #2: XIY-KWL On China Eastern + PEK-XIY By Train

Fri Aug 01, 2014 1:11 am

Nice to see this second part, and it was all so well documented. You took a lot of effort in this, and we had the honor to enjoy it  . Makes me want to go to China. How would you compared China Eastern to Air Canada?lol
LAX772LR - "Answer to goofy question:" in response to my question about the B737-MAX8 being grounded. 48 hours later all B737-MAX8 grounded worldwide. Go figure!!
 
CaliAtenza
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RE: #2: XIY-KWL On China Eastern + PEK-XIY By Train

Fri Aug 01, 2014 7:31 am

Quoting ytraveller (Reply 19):

It’s Shanghai. I wish flying westward (i.e. over the Pacific) to India from LAS was cheaper; usually we fly via Europe on BA or LH. 9W used to fly SFO-PVG-BOM a few years ago, though; I think we planned on flying that route once.

Yeah that 9W flight was very short lived; i don't see that ever coming back now...with EY pretty much owning 9W now, 9W will just shunt everyone onto EY, which is the whole point of their partnership. Well I just checked flights to BLR on CX from LAX; its running at about $1400 or so, which is pretty cheap. You have a plethora of options now to BLR from LAX if you wanna fly westward (SQ, TG, CX, EK, EY, even Saudia..sadly MH has stopped its LAX services)...and then the other Asian carriers if you can deal with connection to BLR from DEL or BOM.
 
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Ytraveller
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RE: #2: XIY-KWL On China Eastern + PEK-XIY By Train

Sat Aug 02, 2014 12:13 am

Hi flightsimboy,

Quoting flightsimboy (Reply 20):
Nice to see this second part, and it was all so well documented. You took a lot of effort in this, and we had the honor to enjoy it . Makes me want to go to China. How would you compared China Eastern to Air Canada?lol

Thanks so much! I hope you can visit the country one day, it’s really amazing.


Hi CaliAtenza,

Quoting CaliAtenza (Reply 21):
Yeah that 9W flight was very short lived; i don't see that ever coming back now...with EY pretty much owning 9W now, 9W will just shunt everyone onto EY, which is the whole point of their partnership. Well I just checked flights to BLR on CX from LAX; its running at about $1400 or so, which is pretty cheap. You have a plethora of options now to BLR from LAX if you wanna fly westward (SQ, TG, CX, EK, EY, even Saudia..sadly MH has stopped its LAX services)...and then the other Asian carriers if you can deal with connection to BLR from DEL or BOM.

Yeah, you just reminded me that EY is flying to SFO, but using 9W’s 77W. At least we can still see the beautiful 9W 77W on the West Coast again.



Thanks for commenting everyone,
- Ytraveller  
 
CaliAtenza
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RE: #2: XIY-KWL On China Eastern + PEK-XIY By Train

Sat Aug 02, 2014 3:34 am

Quoting ytraveller (Reply 22):

Yeah, you just reminded me that EY is flying to SFO, but using 9W’s 77W. At least we can still see the beautiful 9W 77W on the West Coast again.


i doubt it will be in Jet Airways' livery; i'm sure EY will paint it in their livery.
 
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Ytraveller
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RE: #2: XIY-KWL On China Eastern + PEK-XIY By Train

Fri Aug 08, 2014 10:55 pm

Hi CaliAtenza,

Quoting CaliAtenza (Reply 23):

i doubt it will be in Jet Airways' livery; i'm sure EY will paint it in their livery.

Yeah probably, since passengers would be confused to see a 9W plane on their EY flight! I think I just misinterpreted the reports that said EY would be using a 9W 77W.


- Ytraveller
 
flyingsfo
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RE: #2: XIY-KWL On China Eastern + PEK-XIY By Train

Sat Aug 09, 2014 6:39 am

Hey! I've had a tour last year that was almost identical, but PEK-XIY was a flight rather than train. Nice report!

[Edited 2014-08-08 23:44:00]
 
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Ytraveller
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RE: #2: XIY-KWL On China Eastern + PEK-XIY By Train

Sat Aug 09, 2014 11:37 pm

Hi flyingsfo,

Quoting flyingsfo (Reply 25):
Hey! I've had a tour last year that was almost identical, but PEK-XIY was a flight rather than train. Nice report!

Thanks! The tour company we had originally settled on also had PEK-XIY as a flight, but we found this cheaper tour that had PEK-XIY as a train instead.


Thanks again,
- Ytraveller  
 
LY777
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RE: #2: XIY-KWL On China Eastern + PEK-XIY By Train

Sun Oct 12, 2014 8:55 pm

Thanks for this amazing TR  
Flown:717,727,732,733,734,735,738,73H,742/744/748,752,753,762/2ER/763/3ER,772/77E/773/77W, 788, 789, DC8,DC10,E190,E195,MD83,MD88, L1011, A3B2,A319,A320-100/200,A321,A332/A333,A343,A388
 
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Ytraveller
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RE: #2: XIY-KWL On China Eastern + PEK-XIY By Train

Mon Oct 13, 2014 3:55 am

Hi LY777,


Quoting LY777 (Reply 27):
Thanks for this amazing TR

Thank you! I hope it helps with planning your China trip.  



Thanks again,
- Ytraveller
 
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lesfalls
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RE: #2: XIY-KWL On China Eastern + PEK-XIY By Train

Mon Oct 13, 2014 5:14 am

Quoting Ytraveller (Thread starter):
Now that’s something you won’t find in America.

You didnt know   (Lol).
Lufthansa: Einfach ein bisschen mehr.
 
NorthstarBoy
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RE: #2: XIY-KWL On China Eastern + PEK-XIY By Train

Mon Oct 13, 2014 7:21 am

Good job! Your report brought back alot of memories from my own trip to China taken 25 years ago.

Just a couple of notes:

The terracotta soldiers came about because Emperor Qin wanted the whole army killed and entombed with him upon his death. Instead, the terracotta soldiers were built. Each terracotta soldier is an exact replica of a real soldier whose life was spared by the making of the replica. Supposedly there are something like 10,000 of them buried with the emperor. Finally, while the Terracotta soldiers were discovered in 1974, this was during the cultural revolution and there was great concern that if they were unearthed, they'd be destroyed, so, they waited until after Mao died in 1976 to begin unearthing them.

On the summer palace: from what I learned during my china trip, the emperor at the time visited a particular lake in Guilin and was so enamored of it that he demanded that the lake be physically moved to the summer palace. This, of course, would be an impossible task, so, engineers built an exact replica of the lake on the grounds of the summer palace and the emperor never knew the difference.

Keep up the good work.
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Ytraveller
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RE: #2: XIY-KWL On China Eastern + PEK-XIY By Train

Mon Oct 13, 2014 10:10 pm

Hi lesfalls,


Quoting lesfalls (Reply 29):
You didnt know (Lol).

Yeah, I’ve even flown in supposed third-world countries like India, where you get a sandwich and juice on a 1hr flight!



Hi NorthstarBoy,


Quoting NorthstarBoy (Reply 30):
Good job! Your report brought back alot of memories from my own trip to China taken 25 years ago.

Thanks  

Quoting NorthstarBoy (Reply 30):

The terracotta soldiers came about because Emperor Qin wanted the whole army killed and entombed with him upon his death. Instead, the terracotta soldiers were built. Each terracotta soldier is an exact replica of a real soldier whose life was spared by the making of the replica. Supposedly there are something like 10,000 of them buried with the emperor.

Ah yes, I recently learned about Emperor Qin in my AP World History class.    Also, once all the soldiers had been made, the emperor killed all the sculptors, as they knew the location of his tomb!   

Quoting NorthstarBoy (Reply 30):
Finally, while the Terracotta soldiers were discovered in 1974, this was during the cultural revolution and there was great concern that if they were unearthed, they'd be destroyed, so, they waited until after Mao died in 1976 to begin unearthing them.

Smart! Our guide never told us about this, though...

Quoting NorthstarBoy (Reply 30):
On the summer palace: from what I learned during my china trip, the emperor at the time visited a particular lake in Guilin and was so enamored of it that he demanded that the lake be physically moved to the summer palace. This, of course, would be an impossible task, so, engineers built an exact replica of the lake on the grounds of the summer palace and the emperor never knew the difference.

   Some crazy emperors they had back then!



Thanks for all the comments,
- Ytraveller  

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