18
Jul 08

Datong to Taiyuan to Pingyao



Friday, July 18 We woke up early and headed straight back to the CITS office.  Thankfully, Josh felt a little more within himself in the morning and did not explode on the CITS guy.  When he saw us, he knew something was wrong and recognized his mistake when he looked at the tickets.  He ran us over to a bus ticket station and bought us tickets to a city called Taiyuan from which we could catch another bus to Pingyao.  We got the bus fine and slept some and saw some funny Chinese movies on it.  In Taiyuan, we had to take a taxi from one bus station to another, buy new bus tickets and get on the right bus to Pingyao.  This we managed reasonably well with only a little help and pointing and gesturing, but no English.  The second bus to Pingyao was more adventurous with not great roads the whole way and random passengers picked up and dropped off all along the highway.  No one seemed to think it was weird, so we tried not to either.  We finally arrived at Pingyao at about 3:30pm after 5 hour and 2 hour bus rides. Continue reading →


17
Jul 08

Whoops-a-Datong-sy

The official Chinese government tourism people can make mistakes too.  This hypothetical conversation should have occurred when the overnight train tickets were handed to Josh the morning before the Hanging Temple and Caves tour:  Jeannette what is the date today?  Why, I think it is the 17th, what is the date on those train tickets?  UH-OH!

So we get to the train station and wait for our train to board, it is late.  Being not so much of a tourist place, absolutely nothing is in English and we just kind of follow our train number around.  In China, getting on a train is some sort of experience.  Everyone in the waiting room at some point stands up, seemingly the standing begins after some announcement is made that we don’t understand.  We stand too.  Everyone jostles for position and tries to get through the gates and onto the train platform first.  At any moment approximately 25 people are staring at the white people.  This night we jostle for about 45 minutes and finally get to the ticket puncher and she freaks out because (as the above mentioned hypothetical conversation did not occur) the dates on our tickets are wrong.

So we are stopped from boarding the train.  We try in vain to explain that our tickets were issued to us this morning (the 17th), it is clearly a mistake and they should just let us on.  China is not anything if it is not by the rules, so we are going to miss our train.  Approximately, 30 minutes later, 3 train operaters, 1 police officer, 1 English translator, 1 train grand master (she had a great uniform and a huge hat), and about 30 random Chinese surrounding us in all the drama, each taking care in explaining to us that we can’t possibly board that train because our tickets are for yesterday.  I took care not to slap everyone of them.  However, I could not hide my anger and Jeannette did most of the interacting.  Finally, I explained that we are not stupid, we understand the dates our wrong, we are not trying to fool them and that their official guy gave us these tickets.  Their response:  “But sir, the date on your tickets is yesterday??!!!??”  Finally, the grand master decreed that we could in fact board the train.  But the train had left some twenty minutes ago and I had to get out of the station.  Thankfully, Jeannette followed me.  A quick side note, the Chinese get very nervous when people get worked up, apparently no one in this country has ever complained about anything.  We headed back to our hotel to sort it out in the morning.  Of course, our hotel that we had checked out of a mere 2 hours previously had somehow already rebooked our room (which we had already paid for) and was otherwise fully occupied.  Again swallowing our exasperation, we requested that they find us another room in the city and get us there.  They did, we again took a taxi to a new hotel (even nicer), checked in, and went to bed hoping this was all some elaborate dream that the Malaria medication had cooked up.

Sent from my BlackBerry wireless device


17
Jul 08

Datong



Thursday, July 17 We woke up early and had a Chinese buffet breakfast in our fancy hotel.  We took a taxi back to the train station to meet for the CITS tour transportation to the Yungang Caves and the Hanging Temple and to pick up our Pingyao train tickets for that night. Continue reading →


16
Jul 08

Beijing to Datong



Wednesday, July 16 Today started a bit crazy.  We were tired after spending a late night trying to distill our belongings down to a volume that would fill one less bag … in the end, it didn’t work.  We realized laying in bed that the station listed on our train tickets didn’t match any of the names of stations on our maps and that we needed help deciphering the nickname.  At breakfast we asked our host, who was very helpful, but nervous about the city traffic and our ability to get to the station on time.  She hustled us out the door and hailed us a cab.  She was great and we HIGHLY recommend our B&B, The Mao’er Hutong B&B, to anyone in staying in Beijing. Continue reading →


10
Jul 08

From Beijing to Hong Kong

This is where we are headed…

I can’t tell which mapping program is better so I have included two maps.

We are headed in a counter-clockwise direction, beginning in the upper right (i.e., Northeast) corner in Beijing.  Since the green and red push pins are not labeled with the appropriate city names and do not tell us “geographically hindered” people what cities they are “tacking”, here’s the list in chronological order:  Beijing, Datong, Pingyao, Xi’an, Guilin, Yangshuo, Shenzhen and ending in Hong Kong.

Map #1

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Map #2

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Here is the first map zoomed in a bit differently.  The map of the states beneath it is set at the exact same scale just so you can get an idea of how far we will be traveling.

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