Friday, September 28, 2012

China Trip Day 5 : Jiuzhaigou

I woke up with sore throat that day. I didn't know that the tap water there contains of high concentration of Chlorine. I pour some water into a clear glass that morning and the water color was almost white with chlorine particles flowing. Don't ever drink tap water in Jiuzhaigou! We had breakfast at 7.00 am. The breakfast was traditional Chinese breakfast. Mantau (plain bun) with some vegetables. They also served yellow color hot soup with only rice as its’ ingredients and it was bland. So just imagine you put some rice into a bowl of hot water and drink/eat it. That’s what it tasted like.

We headed to Jiuzhaigou National Park at 8.00 am. It took about 30 mins from our hotel to reach the place. There were so many China group tours there. I didn’t see any foreigner at all at that day. If you have plan to visit China, avoid China holidays. China itself has a very large number of local tourists. 

On the way from parking lot to the entrance, I found something really unique and fascinating. I saw the drainage at the road side and it had 2 water colors, blue and brown. The blue one is the water from inside Jiuzhaigou national park and the brown one is just regular drainage water. Pretty cool isn't it?

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

China Trip Day 4 : Chengdu-Jiuzhaigou

Itinerary : Chengdu – Wenchuan – Maoxian – Songpan - Jiuzhaigou

Once again we packed our luggage and boarded to Jiuzhaigou by bus. A driver picked us up at hotel at 07.00 am and drove us to gathering place. The bus should come at 08.00 am but it was late. It arrived at 08.40 am. There were 37 people who joined the tour and we were the only foreigners. The tour guide speaks only Chinese and doesn’t understand English at all. Worse, he can’t read our name that is written in alphabet and he called us “You two” during the tour -.-“

Tour guide
The road to Jiuzhaigou is curvy but the road is good. Only in some spots the road are in maintenance due to the impact of Sichuan earthquake back in 2008. The traffic was already crowded when we departed. If you are planning to go to Jiuzhaigou by bus from Chengdu, it’s better to go as early as possible to avoid traffic jam. Our bus was comfortable enough and air conditioned. The scenery along the way to Jiuzhaigou is incredibly beautiful.

Friday, September 21, 2012

China Trip Day 3 : Chengdu

Itinerary : People’s Park – Tianfu Square

Local tour itinerary :
Day 1 : Fly from Beijing to Chengdu, free time at Chengdu
Day 2 : Road trip from Chengdu to Jiuzhaigou by bus (approximately 8 hours)
Day 3 : Jiuzhaigou National Park
Day 4 : Huanglong
Day 5 : Road trip from Jiuzhaigou to Chengdu by bus (approximately 8 hours)
Day 6 : Fly from Chengdu to Beijing

Our flight to Chengdu was at 07.00 am by Air China. We departed from hotel to airport at 05.00 am. The hotel receptionist told us if we call a taxi to pick us at the hotel, it will cost double. So we decided to go to main road on foot and caught taxi there. The road was empty at that time. After about 10 minutes, we finally got a taxi. The taxi driver presumed we are Korean. I think it’s cool to have oriental face you know. When I was in Korea, people there thought I was a Taiwanese. While in China, they think I was a Korean. When I told them that I’m an Indonesian, they (both countries) were surprised. What's wrong with an Indonesian born Chinese? 

The domestic fight is at Terminal T3 Beijing Capital Airport. We were told that we were supposed to meet a travel agent there. The itinerary we got from travel agent was all in Chinese. After some time wandering around, include made some phone calls and asked the information center, who told me the direction frostily, finally we found the agent.


The problem with China people is when they see an oriental Chinese-like face, they presume that person can speak Chinese. When I proceeded to the gate, I gave the officer my boarding pass and forgot to present my passport with. A woman officer said something in Chinese and what I heard was “$@#(@*&”. I didn’t understand what she said. When I said nothing and did nothing, she started to talked another “$@#*&#*$” to me. I confused and was still trying to understand but she already pissed off. Her voice started to get higher and she asked me again in Chinese, this time finally my brain worked. She asked viciously “Are you a China people or not??” HELLO!! She held my boarding pass and my name is not in Chinese. Couldn’t she tell that I’m not a China people? I didn’t say anything, I only shook my head. She got really pissed and started to ask again, still in Chinese. My brain worked again that time, apparently she asked for my ID. I gave her my passport without saying anything. She checked it and gave it back to me with angry face -.-“

Anyway let’s continue, Air China served breakfast on board for the morning flight. They had 2 menus, Western and Chinese food. I chose Western while my mom chose Chinese.

western food
chinese food
The flight to Chengdu takes 2.5 hours. We arrived at Chengdu at about 9.40 am. Someone had wait for us at the arrival hall at the airport and drove us to the hotel. My first impression of Chengdu was grey. Chengdu is a big city but most of the buildings are old and not well maintained nor restored. By seeing Chengdu, I realized how modern Beijing is. 

one of old building
We stayed at Jin Shang Hua, a 3 starts hotel. It took about 1 hour drive from airport. The way China people drive is "amazing". They like to drive in high speed even in busy roads and they like to sound the horn whenever whatever coming to their way or near them. Along the way to the hotel, there was no one second I didn’t hear a horn sound.

Jin Shang Hua hotel is located at the main road. It provides wifi but only at the hotel lobby. Our room was a double bed room. It’s nicer than the one in Beijing. The bathroom in Beijing is better but it was still ok. Just like in the hotel in Beijing, Jin Shang Hua also provides a big bottle of shampoo and liquid soap.

We had lunch at a noodle house near the hotel. The place was packed in lunch time. Me and my mom ordered a spicy fried beef noodle. The food in Chengdu is much more delicious than in Beijing. 

My original plan was to visit Panda Research and Breeding Base, but it was already pass mid day and it required 1.5 hours to reach the place so we changed our plan to People’s Park (Ren Ming Gong Yuan). I didn’t prepare for this plan B at Chengdu. I didn’t know how to go to People’s Park. Good thing a shop owner beside our hotel is nice. I asked the direction and she told me clearly. We hopped to bus no. 57 and got off at People’s Park. The bus ride was only took about 5 minutes.

It was a really hot day. 35 Celsius degrees, the sun was shining so brightly and no wind at all! Being at People’s park was quite convenient since the place was green and had many big trees. The park was quite packed with local people. Some were boating on the lake, some were enjoying their leisure time at tea house, others were playing mahjong, etc.

tea house entrance


We spent about 2 hours there then we went to Tianfu Square. It took about 10 minutes walk. There is a big Mao statue in front of Sichuan Science and Technology Museum located across the road of Tianfu Square. This must be the heart of the city. The buildings here are modern, well maintained and the development is fast in that area. Around Tianfu Square there are many malls and some other big buildings under construction. Since it was so hot, we spent most of our afternoon inside the malls. 

I suggest to visit Tianfu Square at night after the sun set, you can see beautiful lighting there (I see the picture in the internet). Actually I wanted to stay there until dark to see the lighting, but it was summer and the sun set at 8 pm. There was nothing we can do anymore, so we decided to go back to the hotel at 5.30 pm. Just by then I realized that I forgot to ask the shop owner how to go back to the hotel. We went back to People’s Park then tried to ask people around there. Thank God we met a really kind young lady, we showed her our hotel business card and she helped us called the hotel to ask for direction. She told us to take bus no. 5 and got off at Ba something (sorry I forget the bus stop name). The station was only 3 stations away.

We reached hotel at 6.00 pm. Since we didn’t know other place to have dinner, we ate at the same noodle house but this time I had non spicy beef noodle. We spent the rest of the day resting at hotel. A long road trip was waiting for us the next day

Local tour – RMB 3900
Spicy fried beef noodle (small) – RMB 6
Bus – RMB 2 (I think they also have one fare only, just like MRT in Beijing)
Non spicy beef noodle – RMB 8

Thursday, September 20, 2012

[Mobile App] Visit Korea 2.0

*This review is requested by EC21 Inc. Korea

Korea Tourism Organization (KTO) has released their new version of Visit Korea mobile application. This app contains of useful information about Korea and Korea travel.

I like the interface of this app. The design is simple yet elegant. The most important thing, this app is in English. They have all information about things you need when you travel to Korea, such as attraction, food, accommodation, shopping, transportation and other useful information.

Friday, September 14, 2012

China Trip Day 2 : Beijing

Itinerary : Mutianyu Great Wall – Qianmen square

How to go to Mutianyu Great Wall : From Wangfujing station take line 1 (red line) and get off at Jianguomen Station then transit to line 2 (blue line) and get off at Dongzhimen station. Exit from exit B then make a U turn, walk straight to the traffic light then turn left, walk straight to the Dongzhimen outside bus stop. Take bus no. 867 (direct bus) and get off at Mutianyu Great Wall.
Note : There are 2 bus terminals in Dongzhimen, inside and outside. Make sure you go to the outside one. When you find the entrance of inside bus stop (a big building with many buses), do not go inside. Just keep walking about 10 meters and you’ll find outside bus stop.

We departed at 8.00 from hotel. It was hard for me to find the bus terminal. When we arrived at Dongzhimen station, a tourist guide told us to take other bus number (sorry I forget the number). She said it’s faster than bus no 867 but have to transit to a minibus. I told her that I prefer the direct bus and she told me the direction but not so clear. I asked some people and they all directed me to the inside one. I didn’t noted that it was supposed to be the outside bus terminal. We went inside but I couldn’t find bus no 867. I asked an officer and she said the bus is outside. So we went outside again and finally I found the outside bus stop. The line for bus no.867 is at the end of bus terminal.

Direct bus to Mutianyu only departed twice a day, at 7.00 and 9.00 am. I was afraid the bus left because I spent too much time looking for the bus terminal. When we entered the bus terminal an officer screamed at me, I mean literally screamed because I was still about 10 meters away from her, and asked where we want to go. I said Mutianyu. She told me to queue in her line. The queue was already long at that time but the bus haven’t arrived yet. We met some people from Indonesia there who also went to Mutianyu. It felt really good to be able to speak in my mother language with other people.

It costs RMB 6.4/way if you use Yi Ka Tong but if you buy the ticket on board it costs RMB 16/way. Finally the bus arrived at about 9.20 am. The bus was not so big and the seats are less than the people. People who didn’t get seat have to stand up along the way. It took 2.5 hours to reach Mutianyu so yeah, I stood for 2.5 hours.

Arrived at Mutianyu court yard, we bought Subway for lunch. Thank God Subway is available there. Along the way to the great wall, the path is an upward slope and it’s quite steep. Souvenirs stalls are packed at the right and left side. Not so far, you can find the ticket booth at the right side, right at the front of stone museum. You can buy the entrance ticket and ride ticket there as well. There are 4 ways to go up to the great wall, closed cable car, open cable car, toboggan and hiking the stairs. We chose the closed cable car. I wanted to go down by toboggan, but it’s not allowed for old people. So me and my mom bought 2 ways cable car.

The cable car ride wasn’t long. It was only about 5 minutes I guess. My first impression of the great wall was it is really a great great wall. I was lucky when I was there it was a cloudy day. No sunlight at all. The weather was just perfect! I love love love Mutianyu Great Wall. Unlike Badaling, Mutianyu isn’t crowded, that was why I chose Mutianyu instead of Badaling. I haven’t been to Badaling but by seeing the pictures in the internet, I passed. Badaling is the closest part to Beijing and most tours go there, that’s why that section is the most crowded.

I went to the left side of the great wall. If you go down by Toboggan, I suggest to take the right side because the toboggan is located on the right. The path at the left is harder that the right side. My mom gave up when we arrived at first tower. So she headed back to a court yard near cable station and I continued alone. Make sure to wear a very comfortable walking or running shoes, some of the slopes and stairs are steep.

If you want, you can climb a really long stair to go to high place that said to have a magnificent view of great wall at the far left. I wanted to but I didn’t have much time at great wall so after about 6 towers I went back to cable car station. I was there for only about 1 hour and that wasn’t enough. I must come back there again someday. I want to go to that high place at the far left then go back, continue with the right path and go down with toboggan :D The bus to Beijing also available only twice a day, at 2.00 and 4.00 pm. I caught the 2.00 pm bus. This time there were not as many people as the departure so all of the passengers got seat. The last bus at 4.00 pm must be crowded then.

How to go to Qianmen square : Take bus no.867 to Dongzhimen outside bus terminal then go to Dongzhimen station, take line 2 (blue line) and get off at Qianmen station. Exit from exit C, turn left, cross the road via underground passage and walk straight to Mc Donald. The right and left streets are Qianmen Square.

I really like Qianmen Square more than Wangfujing. I felt the atmosphere is more relax and friendly. The right and left side of the street are packed with hostels, food, street snacks, tea and souvenir stalls. The buildings are all in traditional model. For the souvenirs, they have all item RMB 5 and RMB 10 stores. Very cheap. The food price in Qianmen is way cheaper than Wangfujing. Me, my mom and 2 Indonesian people we met at Mutianyu had dinner together there. We had steamboat. The soup was actually bland so we had to add more soy sauce and eggs. The nut sauce was also salty so we added more sugar into it. We ordered many ingredients for the steamboat : beef, pork, tofu, fish tofu, 3 kinds of vegetables, tofu cake, noodle, and a kind of fried food that I don’t know the name, each 1 plate. Each plate was in quite big portion and they had a very reasonable price.

Subway – RMB 28
Mutianyu entrance ticket – RMB 45
Return cable car ticket – RMB 80
Steamboat – RMB 160