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The Unauthorized CHINA Thread

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#1
ger

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OKThursday.... First issue...
Sell me on Beijing, if you will. I've been to China a couple of times but never to the capital. People say I must go, but Beijing doesn't seem to have the lure of other cities like Hong Kong an Shanghai, and the countryside doens't seem as appealing as areas further south. You can see the great wall, but that seems like a big tourist trap where you snap a photo and then go back to the hotel. I really like China, but do I really have to see Beijing? Why?
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#2
thursday

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I dunno Ger, it may not be everything to everyone.

When I was at college, there were loads of English guys who had never been to London. I thought that was really weird, it's like being a peasant in the middle ages and London was too far away. But then I realized that up to then, I had never been to Beijing. So I made it a priority.

Like you said, there are tourist traps and they are everywhere. But that's same for every city that's worth visiting.

I spend a day at Badaling, took the cable car up and walked down. It was the built up touristy part of the wall, that was enough for me, cos I don't want to walk along the ancient crumbling remains that would've disappered within weeks if that was allowed or encouraged.

I spent a day at the Summer Palace, walking around in awe at the total waste of resources the emperors enjoyed.

The Forbidden City was as touristy as you could get but I enjoyed it seeing it's grand grand design and execution. Then for a more down to earth time we rented a bike rickshaw, with driver and toured along the Hutongs. That was the real, human time we had. Not sure how much of the alleyways are left now, since the Olympics are grinding in.

I stood in the middle of Tianamen square and felt great and terrible at the same time.

All in all I had an unbelievable time and it was like coming home to me. And my wife really impressed me 'cos she had a Beijing dialect of Putonghua which she didn't realise she had.

#3
thursday

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#4
thursday

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It was a misty day.

#5
Creek Boy

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>Then for a more down to earth time we rented a bike rickshaw, with driver and toured along the Hutongs. That was the real, human time we had. Not sure how much of the alleyways are left now, since the Olympics are grinding in.

Theyre being torn down at an alarming rate - granted some are really sketchy but some are cool as too. Nice/interesting place for a stroll around Beijing for sure. Liked it \:\)
俺もしてえぇ!ダメじゃん...入らんけえぇ!

#6
thursday

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My feeling is if heritage has to give way to the Olympics, then they can stuff the Olympics.

But the politeness lessons are a good idea.

#7
ger

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Well, I guess I'll get to Beijing sometime. Seems like everybody's been. Still not at the top of my list though.
Last time I went to Yunan. That was very very cool --Lijiang, Dali, etc. If we'd had more time it would have been nice to keep going on into Tibet.
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#8
stevo

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Hey ger, I'm spending a few weeks only in Yunnan province at the end of this year. Any recommendations? I'd like to get into the north of the province but not as far as Sichuan.. exiting through Ruili into Burma. Any info appreciated. Cheers!

#9
ger

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I went to Yunnan a few years ago with my wife. We flew into Kunming, then took the train into Dali and Lijiang. Great area. It seems like the further North you go, the more interesting it gets. We only had about a week, so there's a lot more that we'd like to see some other time. In a nutshell.... Lijiang is the big world heritage town, but we both preferred Dali, because it seemed a lot more.... 'real'. There are very good day trips to look into from both cities. (like the trip across the lake in Dali, and the gondola up the mountain outside of Lijiang) ....yeah, we really liked Dali and we met some interesting people there.

Kunming, the capital city, was half 'old China'/half 'new china' at the time we were there .... and generally non-descript. We felt under-dressed in the new part.

Otherwise.... it gets very cold at higher altitudes and heating is unreliable in many places in the countryside (ie Dali and Lijiang) so bring warm clothes. Also, the train station areas in all three places were pretty dumpy so you should probably suspend your judgement when you first arrive. Also.... people were friendly and didn't seem interested in ripping us off as much as in areas around Shanghai.

Actually, it's definitely one of the more interesting areas in China for a lot of reasons. If you go South towards Laos and Vietnam your experience will probably be totally different and equally cool.... Kunming is fine but probably the best plan is just to get as deep into the countryside as possible!
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#10
stevo

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Thanks ger, really helpful information! My few weeks has been reduced to maybe 12 days so I am definitely going to head into the countryside instead of the cities. I keep hearing the same about Lijiang being a bit of Disneyland so I'll give that a miss. Cheers!

#11
Mamabear

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We are off to Shenzhen on business in a couple of days...anyone got any tips for me.

Seems there is little in the way of historical stuff to look at - mostly a new commercial hub (ala Las Vegas, if YKWIM), but due to the wriggle with direct flights we have a couple of days either side of the business stuff to have a look around.

Any tips from the 'been there done that' crew would be great!

#12
thursday

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here's a tip for Shenzhen, -> don't go.

It's quite a rude, chaotic place for foreigners, avoid it if you can or go if you have a business aquaintance to show you around.

If you want to buy some stuff, the huge commercial centre right next to the immigration building will have everything you are looking for.

#13
Mamabear

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LOL! Thursday ... I remain the optimist depsite what I hear!! I reckon I can make a fun time in a tin can full of dugites..

Been to that building/commercial centre on the way home from Niseko in April 07...I bought some stuff but lost most of it in a burglery 2 weeks ago, so I will def be replacing it.

No, no business acquaintence - not yet anyway ... we ARE going to a conference, so maybe we will meet a local..

#14
ger

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Anybody know much about Hangzhou?
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#15
ger

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Seems like it's really hard to get a visa into China now because of the Olympics. Not only do they want my flight information and proof of hotel reservations, but they want a letter from my school saying that they are sending me to China for a conference. Seems like they're not letting people in unless they have a specific reason to be there.
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#16
Mamabear

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Depends on what you applied for your visa for...

I applied for a single entry visa for tourist purposes in April 2007, no probs. Needed nothing other than the 'details' on the form and my passport.

However when Papabear and I applied for business VISA back in November 07 we needed to provide a copy of the letter of invitation for the conference and provide address of hotel and flight details. That was pre-Beijing from Aus.

We will be looking for a single entry visa again in November 08 for a little shopping trip up from HK - so I will let you know if it was any more difficult than before (although the Olympic will be well over by then).

#17
ger

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China's cool. I'm sitting here in a hotel listening to the news in english and they're talking about how radical the internet is and how important it is not to sensor the internet since it's such a great place to exchange a variety of ideas and all that .... unless views are disruptive to society. Some things, they say are of course just simply taboo and shouldn't be talked about. They gave the example of Tibetan freedom. Apparently Snow Japan is OK. So far.


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Free tibet! rolleyes
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#18
thursday

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repeat after me... "censor"

Tibet?? c'mon. I'll say no more.







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