TREASURES OF CHINA
GLOBUS

The Treasures of China is an 11 day tour of mainland China. I also had three extra nights in Hong Kong, Sydney and Melbourne to look around and shop.

CHINA/AUSTRALIA - TRAVEL LOG

Monday
Oct 9
I arrived at Hong Kong airport and purchased a Airport Express Travel Pass giving me return airport transfers and three days unlimited MTR travel. I departed from Kowloon station and took the free bus to Jordan - however not being familiar with the place it took me a while to find my hotel.

After getting settled in, I walked up Nathan Road to the star ferry terminal and passed through the Harbour city shopping complex before checking out Kowloon Park. That night I visited Temple street markets to spy out anything of interest.
Tuesday
Oct 10
Today I attempted to walk to Kowloon station in anticipation of my departure. After 1.5 hours of walking I can say it is seriously not walkable! They were doing construction and it would be impossible with baggage to make it there. I found a bakery and tried Egg tarts, Pineapple buns (basically a sugar bun with pineapple juice glazing) and an awesome custard, peach and pineapple danish the size of texas. That evening I returned to Temple street market to make the purchases I had spied out the previous evening. In the worst haggling attempt I purchase three wall hanging pictures. The asking price was HK$35 each so I offered $100 for 3. Add to that the fact the ATM had given Chinese 100 Yuan notes the merchant must have been very happy with that trade, as the 100 Chinese yuan was worth more that his asking price. My next three trades were better but I'm not so good at this.
Wednesday
Oct 11
Continuing my quest to find a way to the trains, I used the Jordan MTR to central on Hong Kong Island and found it linked up with Hong Kong station where the airport express train departs from. So thats my escape route sorted. The rest of the day I was checking out Kowloon park again and just walking around the streets. I had departed NZ with HK$167 in coins and managed to use them up on pineapple buns which would last forever and not get squashed in my luggage.
Thursday
Oct 12
Today was day 1 of the tour of mainland China and I had to join the tour in Beijing. First up the MTR doesn't open until around 6am, so I had to hang around for that before taking the train to central and walking to the airport express station. Arriving at the airport I was able to return my train ticket to get my $50 deposit back before navigating my way to the departure gate (via another train). Hong Kong airport is huge! The flight was good with heaps of leg room.. probably the most I have ever had! I made it out to meet Kai our tour guide waiting for my with the airport transfers. The transfers was via a black cab and was more like the gumball rally with an early introduction to the lack of road laws in China. Cutting off motorists, speeding, using the emergency services lanes and lots of tooting of the horn. Apparently lane markings were merely a decoration used to employ otherwise out-of-work painters and served no practical purpose. Meals for the day consisted of airplane food and the pineapple buns I stocked up on in Hong Kong, as there were no meals for the tour organized.
Friday
Oct 13
Black Friday (day 2 of the tour) was the first meeting of the tour group. After a brief introduction we departed for our Beijing site seeing starting with Tian anmen square, the largest public square in the world. It is huge! The avenue could double as an airfield in times of war. We then moved on using an underground walkway to the entrance to the Forbidden city (now called the Palace museum), the largest palace complex in the world. In the madness of their pretend security checks I lost my sunglasses and my camera got knocked about (came right by resetting the battery). People and bags were all being shoved through the security at once and nothing was being checked. It was merely an inconvenience made to slow down people. Despite this the forbidden city was huge with an endless selection of gates and buildings that looked very similar. From there we carried on to lunch at a restaurant with a lazy suzan featuring a selection of dishes, beer and green tea. We continued our site seeing after lunch with the Temple of heaven and a visit to the pearl market. That evening we had Peking duck served with sweet bean sauce on a rolled pancake. To Kia's horror, Dawn pointed out it was lacking icecream!
Saturday
Oct 14
For breakfast in the hotel I found the Jianbing (savoury pancake with egg, sausage, spring onions and sauce) a local Chinese breakfast food. We set off for a Jade factory to see items worth more than the tour. We got to see a demonstration of the manufacturing process before having the opportunity to shop. Some items took years to make and weighed a lot.

Continuing on we reached the Great Wall of China at Badaling. We had the choice of an easy going, but crowded option or turn left for a harder going less crowded section of the wall. We opted for the harder way with its steep sections. It was worth it for the view. We had time to shop before having lunch at a food hall (pretty basic). This being done, we returned to our hotel where I explored the shopping/food mall in our hotel complex.
Sunday
Oct 15
Today our luggage made its way to the airport while we headed off via rickshaw through the Hutongs of Beijing. The house we visited was a famous residence built to Feng shui principles. Leaving the residence we moved on to the Bell Tower Tea House to sample different kinds of tea and an opportunity to buy tea or tea sets (nice tea set there).

Leaving Beijing flying China East air, we arrived in Xi'an where we had dinner and experienced a Tang dynasty show at the Opera. Here we tried warm rice wine, a thick sweet soupy drink.
Monday
Oct 16
First up today was a visit to the Terracotta Buried Army, where we had to take a ride to the main sites. Discovered in 1974 when a farmer was digging a well, the terracotta warriors form part of the burial complex of Qin Shi Huangdi, the first emperor of China. Pit 1 has the famous rows of warriors and where we witnessed archaeologists reconstructing the warriors at the far end. After this we moved on to the half sized chariots in a separate building before visiting the museum shop for a snack and a break. Here the farmer who discovered the buried army sometimes signs books and luckily I was able to score a signed copy. We carried on to Pit 2 which featured the kneeling archers, but was largely unexcavated. There were also some warriors in glass cases, where we could see them close up. From there we carried on to Pit 3 which was much smaller than the other two and featured mainly headless warriors and a group of four horses.

We had lunch at a noodle making food hall before carrying on to the Wild Goose (Dayan) Pagoda; a Buddhist temple originally built in 652AD. That evening a group of us (Aida, Dennis, Dawn, Randy, Jennifer and myself) took a couple of cabs to the bell tower for a visit and some night time photography.
Tuesday
Oct 17
We started today with a visit to a calligraphy art museum before leaving Xian for Guilin flying the much heralded OKAir. The bus ride from the terminal to the plane was epic, apparently saving the flight some miles. The food on Okair made the bus ride all worth it, with a lavish array of meat burger and noodles with a chili sauce. One doesn't want to talk it up too much, but OkAir did live up to its name.

The hotel was very centrally located (unfortunately next years tours would not enjoy such a centrally located hotel), I went for a walk to explore the very walkable town around the lake and take some photos. Later we had dinner at a local restaurant before some on the tour opted for a night boat trip. I instead just walked the streets and later did some night photography of the Moon and Sun Pagodas.
Wednesday
Oct 18
Setting off on our Li River cruise we carried our picnic lunch onto the boat and made every attempt to avoid the flies. Many cruise boats followed the river to showcase the regions limestone rock formations and natural beauty. After docking we walked through a long street of merchants selling all manner of trinkets, before catching another ride to our bus. From here we carried on to a tea farm for a tea ceremony and yet another opportunity to buy goods before returning to our hotel for a quiet evening.
Thursday
Oct 19
Leaving Guilin we flew to Shanghai arriving late in the afternoon. Shanghai is the largest city in China and features huge skyscrapers and roading like overpasses. Our hotel was located in the centre of Nanjing Road pedestrian area which made getting about easy. One scam commonly done in China is that a lady will attempt to pick up a tourist on the street, ask them to a bar where they get landed with a huge bill. No sooner as I was outside the hotel when I got approached.. never has Lynx Africa worked so well on the lady's, I managed to avoid the situation, but later heard of two other guys being approached multiple times each with the same scam. None of us were fooled though. I grabbed a quick meal and joined the crew for a cruise on the Huangpu River to see the light show of the illuminated city from the water.
Friday
Oct 20
Today we we had our site seeing tour of Shanghai. We started along the Bund with the International Concession with its large 1920s/30s style buildings and a bell that was similar to London's Big Ben. We carried on to the trendy stylish French Concession with its restaurants and cafes before continuing on to the Silk museum and an opportunity to by silk products. We had a Dim sum lunch at the Bund Hotel, where Kia surprised us with some icecreams. After this we carried on to the Shanghai museum to see the exhibits including early bronze bells and bowls along with jade, wood carved furniture, ceramics and coins.
Saturday
Oct 21
After breakfast we headed off to the Yu Yuan Gardens featuring spectacular architecture, ponds, bridges and trees. We finished with free time in the market set in modern buildings built in the tang dynasty style.

A group of us had opted for the Zhujiajiao water town excursion. I'm glad that i did as it was awesome. We started with a boat ride up to the main bridge where we departed for lunch. Aida, Dennis, Jennifer and I found a restaurant overlooking the bridge and had a really decent meal before walking the crowded market streets.

We returned to Shanghai for our farewell dinner at our hotel. For the first time on tour we had no chop sticks :-( We said goodbye to our fellow travellers in case we didn't see them in the morning. Many were continuing on to Hong Kong but for me and a few others, Shanghai was where our tour ended.
Sunday
Oct 22
Jennifer and I both had mid afternoon transfers to the airport, so after breakfast we dropped our luggage off, checked out of the hotel and headed off for the Bund and to look for some english book stores which had been spotted from the bus earlier. The bookstores tended to open at 9:30-10am on a Sunday, so we had a look around the locale and swooped in on the book stores when they opened. Unfortunately despite their size, the english language sections of these stores were limited. We had lunch at a noodle place and checked out Peoples square before returning for my airport transfer.

The flight to Sydney was via Hong Kong and I had just 20 minutes to exit the plane, get through security and on to the train to find my departure gate at the end of the hall. I made it by running and despite having belts and metal things on me, security saw my boarding pass and waved me through. Luckily my checked in luggage also made it through.
Monday
Oct 23
Arriving in Sydney Australia, I took the airport train to the city ($18) and made my way to the hotel only to find my travel agents had made the bookings for August, not October. I was able to get a room albeit rather a noisy one given the next-doors jack-hammer that operated from 7am-5:30pm and the window that wouldn't close. The location of the hotel was great though and I spent much of the following days walking the town. I attempted and failed to raise the travel agents 24 hour emergency assist, so would try again in the morning. I checked out some of the local shops before securing dinner and breakfast and calling it a day.
Tuesday
Oct 24
After another failed attempt to contact the travel agents 24 hour service. I continued on with site seeing walking to the Rocks and down Darling Harbour for a snack at the maritime museum before discovering the Chinese Gardens. Wow they were great, so clean and included a free guided tour. I had lunch at the tea house. So much new development had happened since I was last in Sydney (Jan 2011) so finding Paddys market was a mission. Having finally located it, I carried on through China town and on to Abbeys Book store to purchase a book I had spied out the day before. Still unable to contact the travel agents, I booked the Melbourne hotel myself.
Wednesday
Oct 25
Another day of site seeing walking started with a walk past the art gallery where I had previously seen the terracotta warriors when they visited Sydney in Jan 2011, through the park and Botanical gardens before returning to the Pitts street shopping malls. I managed to get lost in the never ending array of adjoining shopping arcades. I finally surfaces at town hall and made my way to Paddys market where I again lost myself in its shopping stalls. I extracted myself from the disorientation of Paddys market and had lunch down Dixon street's China town. Later I walked George street and found Dymocks bookstore.. nothing there though.
Thursday
Oct 26
I set off from museum station and made my way to the airport. Arriving in Melbourne, I got the Skybus into town ($36 return) and found my hotel right in the middle of Bourke Street mall. It was so quiet, comfortable and great location. After getting settled in I wandered around Melbourne's China Town (not so good as Sydney's), and main shopping areas. So many interesting places to eat. I had Mexican food at Mad Mex - okay but a bit mild.
Friday
Oct 27
A serious day of shopping started with a visit to Queen Victoria Markets. Much as the same stuff as other bazaars but nothing that caught my interest; at least it was easier to navigate then Paddys market. I carried on to the Harbour town shopping centre with all its factory outlets. Well its still under development so wasn't as much there. I had lunch and an icecream before catching the city circuit tram to Flinders station. All trams in the city loop including Queen Victoria market and Harbour city shops are free making Melbourne extremely easy and safe to get around. I carried on to DFO south wharf factory outlet shopping mall and purchased a coat for $35. Seriously I had previously purchase 5 jackets from Melbourne in earlier trips. Their selection, quality and cost of clothing is amazing. I took my purchases back to the hotel and found a Brazilian restaurant for a very good dinner.
Saturday
Oct 28
Having done so much yesterday, I hadn't left myself much to do today and I returned to DFO and Queen Victoria Markets. No new purchases, but I finished off with a Vietnamese dinner.
Sunday
Oct 29
Another transit day so I caught the tram to the skybus terminal and headed off to the airport. I flew in to Sydney and took the train from Domestic to international terminal and waited for a 6 hour lay over for my flight back to Christchurch. I arrived home about 1am the following morning.

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