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post #1 of 14 Old 08-26-2017, 09:18 AM Thread Starter
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Heading to China!

So in two weeks I will be traveling to China for a much needed vacation. The trip is just for fun, and the plan is to hit five cities in thirteen days. Flying into Beijing, then taking the train to Shanghai, flight from there to Shenzhen, then on to Hong Kong, with Macau in the mix too. We have three days in Shanghai, Beijing, and Hong Kong, along with two in Shenzhen and Macau.

Of course, if anyone should have any advice, please offer it up. This is my first trip to China, and while I know that we aren't hitting up everything we could see, my Visa is good for ten years, so I can go back for more visits in the future. (EG: Xian was not in the cards this trip, and several clients have told me to drop other cities to make Xian happen, maybe next year.)

Places I must go?

Things I must see?

Places to eat, drink, or smoke? - I am staying about a half mile from the LCDH in Beijing, so that's already on the list for sure.

Places to avoid?

I appreciate any words of wisdom.
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post #2 of 14 Old 08-26-2017, 11:23 AM
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Parts of Beijing and Shanghai are just shitholes even if the government tries to keep them safe and less dirty. As for Beijing, anywhere you need a mask for human fecal dust means I wouldn't eat much that's not boiling hot.

Bring a reusable 1L bottle that has a lifestaw unit built in. Those have saved my ass in places with sketchy water. HK is dirty and overpriced for the most part too.

As with anywhere you get out of a trip what you put in. Macau is on my list as well as visiting a friend who spends 6 months a year in Sinchuan province near Chengdu.

Some great food but you might long for some Western fare by the time you will be headed home.

Alert the embassy that you are coming. Get a color copy of your passport and keep it well hidden it case you have yours stolen, it makes it so much easier to get a new one at the consulate offices.

This might sound nuts, but it's one of their primary jobs, checking the CIA web page for any alerts and common sense stuff. Register with the department of state with your travel plans too. Easy online stuff just for any emergencies. Get good travel insurance just for medical. RoamRight is good, low cost and they pay claims quick.

I paid $35, and after an abscess I finally got reimbursed my $1200 fully.

If you have a dental emergency always look for an endodontist.
My wife's cousin is in Shanghai doing social worker stuff at an English school. Tim Gartz. His wife is a Chinese national but his dad and brother are dentists in the states.

Just use common sense. Boeing is as customary as shaking hands. Many locals don't like direct eye contact, but many expect this. It's a huge place. Looks like you are going to crowded cities. Venture off, but be sure others know your itinerary. Have fun most importantly and be a good will ambassador for those of us across the pond.

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post #3 of 14 Old 08-26-2017, 11:51 AM
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See if you can't bring me back some decent Chinese food.....it's hell trying to find some and Panda Express ain't gettin it done.
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post #4 of 14 Old 08-26-2017, 11:57 AM
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No advice, but I'm jealous! If I stepped foot in China I would be detained instantly. Be safe, know where the embassy is, file a travel plan with the embassy, check in with the embassy when you get there, and be mindful that you are in a communist country.
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post #5 of 14 Old 08-26-2017, 01:20 PM
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There's no good reason to go to Shenzhen unless you have business to do there.

You can smoke cigars in most good western hotel bars. Take plenty with you. Selection and prices are not good. That LCDH might be an exception on selection; not sure.

Traffic sucks, especially in Beijing. Build in plenty of extra time for transit. For example, on a map it looks like the train station should be 15 minutes from the Beijing airport. It has taken me up to an hour and a half to make the transfer via taxi. Lots to see in Beijing, but personally I find it intimidating and a PITA. And wherever you go, everything is bigger and farther than you'd expect!

Lots of good restaurants in Shanghai, especially western food. One restaurant in particular I would recommend for lunch is Barbarossa, just a few blocks walk from Peoples Square where the big Shanghai Museum is located (a must-see). After a busy morning of lines and jostling crowds, this surprisingly secluded watering hole is a perfect escape set on a pond and surrounded by gardens. If you are interested in shopping for knock-offs the copy-market by the Museum of Science and Technology is the place to go. It's connected to a subway station, but I'm at a loss to remember the name of the station. The Bund is good for a stroll, but the shopping there is primarily aimed at Chinese nationals looking for high priced western goods... some decent restaurants, though; and a visit to the Fairmont Peace Hotel is cool if you appreciate authentic Art Deco architecture - great pastry shop for an afternoon break too. Tianzifang is a great area of alleys filled with interesting boutiques and cafes in the Old French Quarter.

Hong Kong is one of my favorite places in the whole world. I did not understand the comment about it being dirty, unless you get out into the poorer residential or industrial areas. The main commercial districts of HK island and Kowloon (connected by the famous Star Ferry) are as clean and safe as anywhere I've been. Hong Kong means shopping, shopping, shopping! If you want to come home with a genuine Rolex or such, this is the place. Don't forget to haggle for the best price. One of my favorite things to shop for there are bespoke suits and custom made shoes. Just stick to the Chinese owned tailors. In my experience, the Indian tailors compete on price, but tend to cut corners on quality. Ocean Terminal in the Tsim Sha Tsui district (Kowloon) is a massive shopping area with A/C.

I have not been to Macau in close to 20 years. But, unlike previous visits, the last time I was there I felt like a real fish-out-of-water as the casinos now target uber-rich Chinese clientele much more so than the westerners they once catered to. YMMV. But one of the unique surprises there is that speculation is allowed. If you get on a roll at the Blackjack table expect to have bystanders reaching over your shoulder to slam their chips down, betting with you on your hand. Also get used to being touched, rubbed, and prodded if you are winning as the crowd tries to rub some of that luck off on themselves.
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post #6 of 14 Old 08-26-2017, 04:15 PM
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I've been to China many times. I don't have any suggestions for you.
Smog in the cities I visited was horrible.
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post #7 of 14 Old 08-26-2017, 11:58 PM
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Originally Posted by Randy956 View Post
I've been to China many times. I don't have any suggestions for you.
Smog in the cities I visited was horrible.

That's where I was getting with HK. We have friends who lived their for 2 years around the 2013 time frame. HK has changed a lot. The friends now live in Manhattan which is less expensive and the air seems fresher, to them at least.

My BIL and buddy's at his office thought of flying over to HK for suits and such as you used to be able to buy a wardrobe of business attire, hand tailored and quite inexpensive considering the quality but a lot has changed.

They ended up flying in a Vietnamese tailor from, who measured everybody and had fabric swaths. He made them each 3-5 suits and 5 shirts and including airfare for 2 trips, materials and a final fitting in Buffalo it was $1500/person with everything top notch.

Hong Kong used to be the jewel of the Orient, but I guess a ton has changed with it becoming more controlled or at least drawn in to the mainland.

I guess the airport is much better to fly into, but it's sad to see some things change. It's just so much more costly and crowded these days.

Again all places and trips are what you make if it. I loved Leon, even with the litter, horse poops and open sewers for everything but toilet refuse where you can't flush toilet paper. Their sweet system is 300 years old and can't handle much. Waste removal and steer cleaning are all done by hand with carts on bicycles.

At least it's less expensive than Singapore which is also a jewel but strict in many ways. Probably for the greater good.

I need to get back to Asia and see the changes for myself. I would love to spend a couple of months in Mainland China with many side excursions. I just dread long flights now that it's harder to get stopovers in Hawaii or Fiji. Airfare is still pretty reasonable all things considered but I just wonder how I would hold up on a flight of 17-20+ hours. It's what's stopped me from flying to Oz and visiting friends.

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post #8 of 14 Old 08-27-2017, 08:11 AM Thread Starter
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I appreciate all of the tips. We travel internationally three or more times a year, so all of the common stuff (shots, food safety, trip registration, passport copies, lifestraw bottles , etc...) is all covered. My wife and I made a pact the year we got married, that we had to get to two countries that we have never been to together every single year. Travel is what we love to do. We do have some rules that we always follow. Western hotels everywhere possible and we don't skimp (this trip is various Fairmont and JW Marriott properties). Being able to sleep, shower, and shave in comfort means a lot. You also always then have a restaurant option with a vested interest in your digestive health. We both try to pack as light as possible and always have two days clothes in the carry on. We also do all that we can to learn about local culture and customs before going. Morocco was probably the most entertaining trip so far, and while it annoyed my wife that she couldn't be the one to haggle over the prices (she negotiates deals at work and lives for "the kill"), she loves the carpets we brought home.
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post #9 of 14 Old 08-27-2017, 11:39 AM
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Cigar lounge China

Hong Kong, Wanchai: Grand Hyatt Cigar Tasting Lounge
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post #10 of 14 Old 08-27-2017, 12:29 PM
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Nice. My wife likes to travel that way as well. I like more adventure and usually travel solo. I lived out of a Marriott for almost 8 months off and on. I tire of hotels. I do crave the experience and loa al flare. I eat locally, period. Or make something I buy at a grocery store.

It sounds like you have a good plan. I always bring some extra first aid and meds just in case. I too travel very light.

Enjoy the trip.

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