China travel info
17 days, Dec
05- Jan 06
Kind of travel:
A wholly independent travel
23rd December 05- 8th January 06
train, train and still train apart of a bunch of times riding
buses. Taxis in the cities are a convenient (0.8-2 euro) and
safe way to move around
freezing of course: Urumqi :-15C!!! Unlike Russia most
of the times inside the trains, hotels and public places
you'll be still shivering
half of the nights on the train and the others in hotels.
Sleeping trains are comfortable and very safe, while hot water
in hotels is often unavailable (despite what they say you!!).
Usually both the places are far from being warm, bring
your own sleeping bag!
the approach of the people is laid back and dodgeys
are rare. Travelling by train is fun, while getting the ticket
can be a bet :-) I loved the food and had great laughs trying
to communicate with the waiters. The frozen Saharan- like dunes
in Dunhuang are impressive and. the great wall is... great!
people spitting his catarrh everywhere (even on the train),
the reservation system of the train tickets, the crowdy queuing
to access at the train platform, freezing in the hotel rooms
and the awfully smoky internet cafe'
travel in China is not expensive, even far from a south Asian
budget. Anyway consider the east coast is the most expensive
part of the country. my costs: hotel (double room: 6-18 euro),
sleeping trains (12h in hard sleepers: 14-25 euro) and food
(2-7 euro) = 20 euro/ day/ person
frankly to me the country appeared very safe and not even the
taxi drivers tried to cheat me. Of course bargaining is always
an issue but far from being a real hassle. Beware crossing the
streets since cars seem to have no brakes for pedestrians
you do need:
sleeping bag and wear warm! A pocket Chinese phrasebook + learning
to count in Chinese can make a huge difference especially buying
the tickets (personally I attended an evening Chinese class)
initially not being deeply interested in the Chinese culture,
my travel let me to appreciate this huge country and its paradoxes.
In particular I was surprised by the relaxed approach of the
Chinese towards the foreigners even in the rural areas. Of course
sometimes I felt observed but I never experienced insisting
and annoying behaviours. Nobody tried to cheat me even in the
small things like giving the change or in the taxi.
On the other hand the paradoxes are
generated by the government who want both to push like hell
and to break completely the development according to his interests.
China is a huge country that year after
year will become more and more heterogeneous; personally I found
unique the western part (Xinjang) where you can really breath
the Islamic influence, but from the tourist point
of view, the eastern one is definitely more dense. Generally speaking, reading
about the potential of the Chinese competitiveness or experiencing
it in your country, its easy to get scared and pissed
off, while travelling there you realise its the minimum
reward they can deserve given their past. China drastically
changed and will still change in the next years, I guess this
reason is enough to travel there asap.