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Old 12-26-2006, 08:25 PM   #1
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Default Beijing in 2008

Hi guys and gals,

I spent the early part (~3months) of 2006 traveling in Western Europe and Budapest. I got to go to Torino for the Olympics. Really cool! I love backpacking and the independence. Well now, I have a job. Maybe I will/won't in 08 so I am planning a couple of trip contingencies.

I would like to hit Beijing for the Olympics because I think this one will be one to remember (kind of like Barcelona in 92). So assuming I have 14 days to take off, where should I go?

I was thinking of doing something like (not sure if they have night trains in China as in Europe but that was what I was hoping for, for days 5-6 9-10 and 13-14

Day 1 - 5 Beijing
Day 6-9 Xian
Day 10-13 Shanghai
Day 14-18 Hong Kong and Fly back to the US.

Now if I am not working, then I may have time to squeeze in Tokyo (which I would love to see)

My experience has been that very few places are worth spending more than 5 days in (but I wanted to budget myself more time in Beijing because I would probably go to events on one or two days, plus a day to get acclimated). I felt like I saw a lot of Rome in 3 days (including a day trip to Pompei), pretty much saw Munich in two 3 days stays, etc. Not sure how the travel is between Chinese cities so advice there is appreciated.

I am planning on taking Chinese and Japanese language courses at the local college to help prepare me. That will definitely be a challenge but I was told by a few Scandinavians that I have a spraakhoret (language ear) :D .

Also anyone else going to the olympics? Any and all recommendations are appreciated

--Joey
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Old 12-27-2006, 01:06 AM   #2
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Hey! I just spent three months in China so hopefully I can offer some limited help.

There are night trains in China - in fact, the trains are pretty good and I think are fairly regular. Never taken any in Europe so I can't compare, but the China hard sleepers are decent - I've taken a few. You can take a train across the whole friggin' country if you want, ié a 36 hour ride from Shanghai to Xinjiang but I'd much rather not . You could check out internal flights since you are planning to cover some ground, I flew a bunch on China Eastern.

Ány language prep would be an excellent idea - I found out that pretty much no one speaks English, especially in the more rural areas. Uni age peeps are more likely to, but lots of them are shy. So do try to get some basic Mandarin down before you head out! Good luck, especially if you've never done tonal languages before.

Have fun though - my roommate will probably be going for the olympics, and may be staying in Olympic Village since she knows someone who might be on the US team.
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Old 12-27-2006, 02:11 PM   #3
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Thanks for the info

I thought flying might be a better option but I wasn't sure if there were cheap flights ala Southwest or Ryanair.

Are there other cities I should consider?

--Joey
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Old 12-29-2006, 11:56 PM   #4
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No prob!

The trains are generally fine, but you can check out flights and see what you can get. I don't think tix are super super cheap but that's up to your budget!

I was based in Nanjing, which was nice for living in (I'd much rather live there than in say, Beijing). Shanghai can be fun, but it's Westernized though. I had a great time in Inner Mongolia - we trained and bussed across the grasslands (a lot of time on the bus). I think I was happier the further I got away from tourists, so I had a great time on an eco-tour in rural Sichuan, hiking way way up in the mountains with Tibetan monasteries and yaks everywhere. Kind of depends what you're up for!

I do recommend the Simatai section of the Great Wall - that's the part I went to, and although it's not quite as massive as other parts, it was quite spectacular.

Suzhou is a daytrip from Shanghai, supposed to be the Venice of the east...if you like nature, you can check out Huangshan (The Yellow Mountains) in Anhui.
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Old 12-30-2006, 11:15 AM   #5
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I was looking out the yellow mountains as a possible stop (it is between Xian and Shanghai right?)

Shanghai has some connecting ferries to Japan so maybe I could skip Hong Kong and go to Osaka and Tokyo. This is still a year and a half away so I have time. Thanks for your advice, freespirtz

I totally agree about getting away from tourists in Europe, for example. China makes me a little more nervous about getting off the beaten path.

--Joey
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Old 12-31-2006, 02:09 AM   #6
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Enjoy planning, and enjoy the trip more!

Huangshan should be somewhere between Shanghai and Xian...not sure of exact train routes but it would be on the way.

I have a bunch of photos from China up on my photo site (link in my sig) if you're interested in checking out some glimpses of China.
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Old 12-31-2006, 01:30 PM   #7
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I already have. That is what made me consider the Yellow Mountains-- your photos are great

--Joey
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Old 01-01-2007, 08:06 AM   #8
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Haha, cool! :D

Well, good luck and feel free to ask any more questions you might have!
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Old 01-01-2007, 09:04 PM   #9
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I would love any suggestions on hostels and intrachina traveling.

--Joey
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Old 01-04-2007, 11:55 PM   #10
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Damn, that's the one thing that I can't help you with. All our accommodation was arranged by my college and they pampered us with nice hotels.
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Old 01-07-2007, 07:09 PM   #11
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Hehe dang. Sounds like that probably isn't a bad way to go.

Can you blog from China with their restrictions on web access?

--Joey
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Old 01-07-2007, 08:32 PM   #12
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I wasn't complaining, that's for sure.

I didn't have any problems blogging with Xanga, but I did have trouble with my blogspots and my bro's ath.cx website.
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