Having fun in China

by fulltimestudent 52 Replies latest social current

  • RubaDub
    A Chinese friend from Malaysia takes the tour option everytime he goes 'look-see' in China. He says it takes all the worries of organising things out of his hands.

    fulltimestudent ...

    Thank you for the info and your personal perspective. I guess one thing that has thrown a red flag up in our mind on these low-priced Chinese tours is why they seem to insist on cash/check instead of credit cards. Yes, you can pay with a credit card, but its an additional $100-$200 premium per person. I mean, most credit card processors, depending on the volume, charge smaller retailers in the range of 2%-3%. That's about $25 on a $1,000 package. But paying by cash/check gives you absolutely no protection if the travel company goes out of business or if there is a major disruption in your schedule.

    There are several companies out there that offer these very affordable trips to China. Maybe we will just take the plundge.

    Rub a Dub

  • fulltimestudent


    Sorting out the scammers from the genuine, is one of the never-ending chores of our modern life. Personally, I'd be very cautious with who I entrusted with my money.

    But, I really can't comment on the situation in the USA. Just take care, mate - if you take a tour, you want to enjoy it . So putting myself in your situation, I think I'd rather pay a bit more to be sure of my arrangements. As they say, you pay for what you get.

    Try to see who is behind the people offering the tour?

    If you like, post the web-site of the tour group, and I'll tell you what I think.

    PS: Visacard is accepted throughout China.

  • fulltimestudent

    Another 'must see' in Beijing (at least from my viewpoint) are the Imperial Tombs. Emperors from two major dynasties were buried in Beijing.

    So I'll take a look at the Ming Dynasty tombs first. There are thirteen Ming Emperor tombs to see, connected by a sacred road.

    This site as a good summary: http://www.kinabaloo.com/ming_tombs.html

    This UNESCO video overviews some of the Ming tombs.


  • fulltimestudent

    The Qing dynasty, consisting of invading Manchurians, succeeded the native Chinese Ming.

    The Emperors of this dynasty are buried in two places, the East and West Qing Tombs

    Wikipedia offers this overview of the eastern tombs.


  • ABibleStudent

    Thank you fulltimestudent for posting so much information about China. I really enjoy watching the videos, seeing the pictures, and reading your comments. You are bringing a new and enjoyable perspective to JWN.

    Peace be with you and everyone, who you love,


  • fulltimestudent


    And, I should add that nearly all these places of interest will have an entry fee. Some will only be a couple of American dollars, but some of the major sites could be 10 to 20 dollars.

    The exchange rate varies a little. Today, for one US dollar you may get 6.13 Chns Yuan (formerly known as RMB for renminbi (the People's money).

    I usually change money at banks, if its a major hotel I will consider changing there if their offer suits). Why? It is said that there is some fake notes circulating. The bank should weed them out, but a street vendor may not.

    And, the street is quite money savvy.

    Tips used to be considered unneccessary, but times are changing. One of my travel companions, for instance, likes to look for the room maid on our first morning (if staying for a few days) and give her a hongbao (red envelope - you can see them in many shops), and its a nice way to give a monetary gift. Sometimes he'll take some small (cheap) toy aussie animals and give a couple as a gift. He claims it stops the staff stealing from you. If its a money gift, he may place twenty or thirty yuan in the hongbao. Otherwise follow your normal tipping conventions from home. You can be quite certain the staff likely know the custom of your home country.

    Without much income for some years now, I generally stay in cheap hotels. Super8 was a favourite (Have not travelled to China for 2 and a half years now - and, I miss my visits.) - The prices vary from place to place, but they generally were under A$50.00 or say 300 Chns Yuan, per room (i.e. double or two singles beds), per night. Some hotels ask for a deposit that covers the tariff.

    Other cheaper chains, where you stand a chance of finding a clean comfortable room at economical costs are Home Inns (200-300 properties) and Days Hotels.

    Take care with Chinese properties. Why so? Nothing wrong with them, but the standard Chinese bed is much firmer (harder) than westerners are likely to be comfortable with. On such a bed, I toss and turn all night.

  • fulltimestudent

    If you are planning on visiting Beijing and no other major city (and, you can easily spend a week to 10 days in Beijing), then include a day trip to Tianjin. The VF (very fast) train travels the 120 kilometres in about 30 minutes, and there are a number of services during the day. The cost is reasonable - maybe for standard class about 60CNY -US$10.00 each way (100 CNY for special class).

    You'll get a look at another busy Chinese city. It was settled a few years BCE, and in the 19th century became a Treaty Port where western law prevailed over Chinese law. Nearly 300 major western companies have their HO in Tianjin. Tianjin was also the invasion point for western armies (including US armed forces, maybe for the first time in Asia, and a small contingent of Australian military) in 1900. This was the west's reaction to the so-called Boxer rebellion.

    You could visit this Catholic church in Tianjin.

    I'm not definitely sure that this was the scene of an ugly incident circa 1870, but it meets the criteria. The church ran an orphanage, and an unusual series of child deaths in 1870 led to lurid stories about the deaths. Chinese (already inflamed over the Treaty Ports issue and the unequal Treaties (Foreign missionaries would claim that Chinese converts were no longer subject to Chinese Law), began to protest. The French claimed protective rights over Catholic institutions and protested in turn. In one incident, the French Consul shot a Chinese, and the crowd became uncontrollable. One version of the story has the French Consul torn to pieces by the crowd, who went on to burn down the above church, the French Consulate and to kill some 18 Europeans. The Qing government had to pay the French reparations.

    The remains of the Taku Forts - A Chinese defensive position that was the scene of battles in the western invasion of 1860 and - can still be seen and visited.

    This was a sketch of the inside of the fort after the Chinese defeat in 1860.

    File:Upper North Taku Fort.jpg

    Tianjin was also the scene of a terrible earthquake in 1976. Between a quarter of a million and a half million people died. The government was in a time of confusion, Zhou Enlai, a very stabilising influence had died a few months before, and Mao was coming to the end of his life (he died a few months later). So the earthquake became a sort of symbol of change.

    And this is what you can see today, which may not really resemble the original fortification.

    File:Taku Fort 2006.jpg

  • Xanthippe

    This is really interesting fulltimestudent, I'm still reading it. I always enjoy your threads. Thanks.

  • fulltimestudent

    Thnx, Xanthippe and others for your kind thoughts.

    If its your first visit to Beijing, then you will almost certainly visit The Temple of Heaven, and if you go there, you could also visit this still important Buddhist temple. Its called Fayuan Temple, Fayuan is translated as The Source of Law Temple, and its only a few kilometres away from the Temple of Heaven. I have not seen this Temple either (so I'm sort of reminding myself that I should go back to Beijing and see the things I have not seen. Some claim it was first built around 645 CE, in the Tang dynasty times. There's quite a lot to see in the area as the site covers more than 6 hectares. Some of the statues are acknowledged as very ancient, as a pottery statue of a Sitting Buddha, said to be from the Eastern Han Dynasty (25-220) which would locate it as near the beginning of Chinese Buddhism and also another pottery Statue of Buddha, from the Eastern Wu Dynasty (229-280) and a stone statue of Buddha from the Tang Dynasty (618-907), and interestly a cast steel statue of Guanyin.

    I hope this satellite view link works:


    Here's a few images I've gathered today of the temple site. Like most Buddhist temples in China, there's usually a feeling of great calmness inside the grounds. Maybe its the contrast with the hustle and bustle (the energy) found in the streets of Chinese cities.

    File:Hall of Kings of Heaven at Fa yuan temple.JPG

  • fulltimestudent

    ANd when your feet are too sore to walk anymore, perhaps they'll come back to life at the thought of going shopping.

    This video shows some of the shopping areas in which you may see something to tempt your wallet. I'll work from the mundane to the wonderful.

    Don't forget to bargain. And, don't show eagerness. The sales people are very experienced. They go through this process many times each day, and they are adept at reading you.

    Sometimes when I want to buy something, I go to a shop with a friend, but walk in separately to check out what I want to buy, to make a sort of decision. I then go outside and talk to my friend who then goes back inside to buy from his/her perspective. But that's only possible if you have a local friend.

    Sometimes, just showing disinterest and walking off will produce a good offer.


    The one I've enjoyed most is the Pearl market. On the upper floors are some wonderful Chinese things. I saw a wonderful pottery model of a nine dragon wall once for (in aussie dollars) $4000 plus shipping. I WAS SO IN LOVE WITH THE BLOODY THING, I WAS WILLING TO BANKRUPT MYSELF. Fortunately, my friend persuaded me to have more sense. But, it was so hen mei - very beautiful.

    Oh! and a warning: Street peddlers are SO persistent.

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