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Hello, Nǐ hǎo, and Chào bạn.

My next trip is to Vietnam and China and I am very excited. I will be starting out in Saigon and working my way up north. From Hanoi, I will cross into China either by the International train or plane. This is about the pre-planning, the trip itself and after. “The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.” – St. Augustine


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When a tiger dies he leaves behind his skin. When a man dies he leaves behind his reputation.
Vietnamese proverb

In Memorium

Today is the 50th Anniversary of the Battle of Long Tan in Phuoc Tuy Province, South Vietnam which took place during the Vietnam War between the VC and North Vietnam and 1st Australian Task Force. 18 Australians and 245 Viet Cong soldiers died.

There would have been soldiers on both sides who were only 19.
In commemoration of those who died 50 years ago today. August 18, 1966.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

18. My Itinerary

WEll; I have finally finalised my itinerary and I found it took quite a bit of work compared to my earlier trips - I put this down to it being twice as long as my last SEA journey - six weeks this time; three weeks in Vietnam and three weeks in China - and I still don't have enough time to see all the things I'd like. But - we do the best we can with the time we have and I reckon I've done a pretty good job of organising and computing and putting it all together AND I might add, without the aid of a travel agent. I do it myself.

Sure it takes time, patience and a bit of effort getting everything to link up and link in with trains and stuff but at the end of it you get a good feeling a sigh of relief that it's done and the knowledge that you've done it all by yourself without outside help is a good feeling. You feel like you've accomplished something, something perhaps which not everybody can do and you feel like at least there's something you can do. I mean I might not be a big wig with a high priority career under my belt or a university educated magna cum laude with a first rate degree in Save the Spotted Owl or a high falutin' society matron married to the CEO of a billion dollar company who only has to decide on whether to wear the Balenciaga or the Lagerfeld, but at least I can put together a travel itinerary!

So, here it is:




1. Check in luggage at Tunes Hotel
2. Shuttle to KL – day in KL
3. Berjaya Time Square
4. Footmaster – Fish Spa
5. Hard Rock Café – buy pin
6. Other sightseeing stuff

Fri 18 – SAIGON
Arrive airport 10.15am. Look for my name outside arrival hall: Madam Cuc Hotel
1. Check in
2. Collect train tickets from reception
3. Buy tickets for Mekong Delta
4. Sightseeing

Sat 19 –
1. Saigon walking tour
2. Hard Rock Café – buy pin

To be booked


Check in, Central Markets walk round town

Wed 23 – DALAT
Tour – Crazy House, train station etc.

Around town, check out cafes etc. Beach

Fri 25 – NHA TRANG
Watch sunrise from balcony. Sit on beach early morning. – o/n train to Danang
Be at train station by 9.00pm. Train SH2 departs 22.12.

Sat 26 – HOI AN
Arrive Danang 8.59am, get bus or taxi to Hoi An.
City walking tour. Check out conical hats. Look for silks to buy. Cooking class 3.00pm – 7.00pm $15 ?
Wander around Old Town.

Sun 27–
Boat cruise on perfume river?

Mon 28 – HOI AN TO HUE
Depart 8.00am for easyrider bike ride arrive Hue at 4.30pm.
Meet Maureen at Bar Why Not on the corner of Vo Thi Sau and Pham Ngu Lao streets around 6.00pm?

Tue 29 – HUE
Hue sightseeing. – Walk around Old Town.

Last minute look around
Be at Livitrans hall in Green Hotel Hue, 02 Le Loi Str – Hue City. Tel: +84 (0) 54 384 9922. by 13.48.
Train departs 14.48.

Thu 31 – HANOI
Arrive Hanoi 4.10am. Taxi to Vega Hotel.
Walking tour of Old Quarter
Water puppets at night.

Walking tour continued? Details to be finalised.
Maybe bus to local villages?

- You are supposed to be at Vega Travel office ( 24a Hang Bac – adjoining Ma May Street) by 20h00 then our tour guide will transfer you to Hanoi station for the 21h15 train to Lao Cai
- 8 hours sleep on the train

Inclusive services: Transfer and train ticket (Shared in a cabin of 4 soft berths with A/C – Lower berth)


As per tour itinerary
Sa Pa Trekking to 4 villages - Ylinh Ho - Lao Chai - Ta Van – Giang Ta Chai village
6-7 hrs trekking throughout 4 hamlets - visit 2 different kinds of minority.
- 05h15 you will arrive at the last arrival station – Lao Cai station. Picked up and drive up to Sapa. First of all, get shower, luggage store and then enjoy breakfast
- Trek down to YlinhHo and Lao Chai village of the black H’mong people.
- After a picnic lunch, keep on alongside Muong Hoa stream, over suspension bridges to Ta Van village of the Dzay people.
- Keep trekking to Cau May (Rattan Suspension bridge) - Giang Ta Chai I.
- A standby car to return to Sapa
- Check in hotel, free and easy to stay in Sapa, enjoy Sapa by night

Inclusive services: Transfer, tour guide, entrance fee, Holiday hotel*** (deluxe room) and meals (B + L)

As per tour itinerary
Sapa - Ba Ha Market – night train back to Hanoi
- 07h30 leave Sapa for Bac Ha market – a colorful market of the local hill tribes
- 10h00 you will arrive Bac Ha, independently attend the market that known as the most colorful ethnic market of all Northwest Vietnam. It is a fusion of many different hill tribes inhabiting around Bac Ha moutain district and here you can easily distinguish them by their different colorful costume dressing
- Attend the market, you will find out not only typical traditional costumes but also the way of bartering trade existing in daily life of the Tay, the Dzay, the Red Dzao, the Black H’mong…
- After lunch, visit Ban Pho village of the Flower H’mong people

Arrive Hanoi, get taxi to Vega Travel office.
- Approximately 07h40, depart for the 3,5 hour drive through the Red River Delta to the town of Bai Chay and the Ha Long boat station.
- 11h45 Welcome aboard and enjoy a fresh seafood lunch on the boat restaurant while we cruise further into the bay of immensity of limestone mountains
- Sit back and relax as we cruise past the following islands and sights: the Dog stone, the Fighting Cock islet and the couple islet via the 3 -tunnel grotto, the floating fishing villages and fish farms.
- Visit the largest cave in the bay called Hang Sung Sot (Surprising cave).
- Paddle in our 2-person kayak through a limestone tunnel grotto called (Hang Luon) into a lovely lagoon. You may even see wild monkeys playing on the mountain cliffs. Paddle along and through narrow passages to visit the Man head island, Butterfly cave and Horse Neck cave. Spend more time swimming from the boat or kayak in the emerald waters…
- Anchor in a tranquil lagoon among Bai Tu Long Bay, Ha Long Bay and Lan Ha Bay for dinner and a peaceful night on the boat.

Inclusive services:
Vega minivan and 1 deluxe double room on Vega Cruise, full-time English speaking tour guide, kayak, entrance fees into Halong Bay, meals (L+ D)
Rooms on the Cruise: Air-conditioned rooms, private bathroom and window with an ocean view see the cruise's amenities in Images Tab)

- 07h00 Wake up, do morning exercises on the boat deck and then the boat will drop us on Titop Beach island.
- Walk up 340 constructed terraced steps to the top of the mountain to watch the sunrise over the bay. The 360 degree view is breath-taking from this pagoda with views of Halong Bay and Cat Ba Island Nat Park
- Walk down to Titop beach, a naturally formed sand beach, for a refreshing dip in the bay.
- Afterwards enjoy breakfast on the boat while we cruise towards Lan Ha Bay and Cat Ba Island.
- Cruise past Van Gia fishing village further into Bai Tu Long Bay. This outer route will lead you into an area lesser traveled by tourist and well-known for its magnificent seascapes
- We will stop for a while in a peaceful place for relaxation on the boat deck before heading for Halong pier.
- 11h45 Disembark and transfer to a hotel restaurant for lunch.
- After lunch we will drive back to Hanoi
- Estimated to arrive in Hanoi between 16h30 – 17h00.

Inclusive services:
Vega minivan and cruise, full time English speaking tour guide and meals (B)

Things to bring for this trip
- Your passport is required for check-in on the Cruise
- Small backpack, sunglasses and sunblock
- A good sandal and/or sport shoes, swimming wear, hat or cap and rain coat
Note: Bath towels and Life jackets (for both adults and kids) are available on the cruise

As per itinerary, arrive Hanoi approx. 16.30pm. Check into Vega Hotel
Last minute look around Hanoi

Arrive at airport 6.30am for 8.30am flight.


Depart Hanoi 8.30am,
Arrive Guangzhou 10.55.
Depart Guangzhou 14.15
Arrive Xian 16.50.
Pick up from Han Tang Hostel..
Check in. Pick up train tickets. Organise tours.

Thu 7 -
1. Terracotta Army tour with lunch.
2. Tang Dynsasty Music and Dancing Show with Dinner.

Fri 8
1. Walk around City Walls, Great mosque, muslim quarter,
2. Bell Tower, Drum Tower, Forest of Steale Museum, Temple of the Eight Immortals.
3. Free dumpling party at 19.00.

Activities to be decided.
Free shuttle to train station. Train K690 departs from Xian South at 22.19.

Sun 10 – PINGYAO
1. Arrive 7.38. Hostel shuttle to hostel. Sights and attractions:
2. City Walls – maybe hire a bike and ride?
3. City Tower, Confucian Temple, Rishengchang Financial House Museum
4. Dacheng Hall, Nine Dragon Screen, Qingxu Guan.

Mon 11
Continue wandering around the sights and attractions.
1. Qiao and Wang Family Compounds,
2. Ming Qing Street, Ancient Government Office,
3. Tongxinggong Ancient Security Guard Company, Shuanglin Temple.

Activities to be decided
Free shuttle to train shuttle. Train K604 Leaving:18:47 Arrival:06:28

Wed 13 – BEIJING
Arrive Beijing West at 6.28am. Transport to hostel.
1. Hard Rock Café - Landmark Towers, 8 North Dongsanhuan Road
Chaoyang District, Beijing 100004,
2. South German Bakery.
3. Evening see the Chinese acrobats.

Thu 14 – Beijing day tour:
1. Tiananmen Square, Forbidden City, Temple of Heaven.
2. Chinese lunch.
3. The Summer Palace.
4. Silk Factory to buy high quality silk products.
5. Evening Houhai Lake, restaurant for dinner or enjoy nightlife in pubs & bars.

Fri 15 – Great Wall of China:
1. Mutianyu Cable Car + Toboggan. Ming Tombs?
2. Peking Roast Duck at the famous Quanjude Restaurant.
3. LaoShe Tea House taste Chinese Tea and kinds of local snacks. Meanwhile, enjoy the fantastic performance including various Chinese folks and traditional arts.

1. Beijing zoo to see pandas?
2. If time, famous Xiushui Street (silk market). It is a paradise for shopping for Chinese goods and souvenirs
3. Be at Beijing Station by 8.00pm. Train T109 Leaving:19:28 Arrival:09:17
4. Note:
If Train T109 not available, will be Train D311 leaving at 20.52, arriving 7.49

Sun 17 – SUZHOU
1. Buy train tickets to Hangzhou and ticket for Hangzhou to Shanghai
2. Bus to Tongli
3. Back to Suzhou for musical evening.

Tour gardens of Suzhou – pick out three –
1. Humble Administrator’s Garden,
2. Fisherman’s Net Garden,
3. Lingering Garden,
4. Lion Grove Garden.
Train departs at 13.00. Be at station early. Arrive at Hangzhou at ?
On arrival, check out local shops and tea houses. Ask for information.

Tue 19
1. Stroll around shops near hostel.
2. Visit West Lake – see tea plantation
3. Walk to Lake in evening for photo of sunset

Arrive afternoon. The Bund – walk along the river front.

Thu 21 –
1. City walking tour
2. French Concession?

Arrive in Hong Kong. Transport to hotel
8.00pm: Watch Symphony of Lights.
Vantage Points:
1. Along the Tsim Sha Tsui waterfront between the Avenue of Stars and the Hong Kong Cultural Centre.
2. Aboard a harbour cruise.

Sat 23 – HONG KONG
1. Go to Stanley for Dragon Boat Festival.
2. The Peak – Peak Tram
3. Hard Rock Café – Café, LG/F LKF Tower, 55 D'Aguilar Street, Lan Kwai Fong Central Hong Kong
4. Ferry back to Kowloon.

The Peak
a. Bus 6X or 66 from Stanley Plaza. Alight at Cheung Kong Center in Central.
b. Walk to the Lower Peak Tram Terminus on Garden Road.
c. Take the Peak Tram up to The Peak.

Sun 24 – Visit markets,
1. Lady Street and others.
2. Nathan Road and sights

Mon 25 –
1. Ferry to Macao for day trip.
2. Hard Rock Café Level 2, The Boulevard City of Dreams Estrada do Istmo, Cotai, Macau
3. St. Paul’s ruins

1. Kowloon Walled City Park. To get there - Bus 1 from the Tsim Sha Tsui Ferry Pier Terminus. Get off at Tung Tau Tsuen Road (opposite to the park).
2. Last minute shopping and sight seeing.
3. Hotel to arrange transport to airport.

1. Breakfast at coffee shop. Take photos of café.
2. Shuttle to LCCT.


Sunday, April 22, 2012

17. Document Wallet

It seems a long time since I've posted here and a lot has happened since my last one. I wanted a travel wallet that would hold passport, travel documents etc. I had one which was given my by Travel Concepts back in 2004 when I was going to the Gold Coast and it was good, but seeing as it was just plastic with plain plastic infold, it was starting to split at the top.

All the ones I saw were either made of leather or imitation leather and were too heavy - I wanted one made of fabric similar to the nylon that backpacks are made of. After hunting high and lo, I finally found what I was looking for at Kathmandu.

It came in three colours - red, black and grey (they call it granite). Now I love red, it's one of my favourite colours, but I didn't want the red - it'd stand out like a sore thumb - too easily noticeable. Didn't fancy the black either, but the grey one I did like - sort of conservative and doesn't stand out. In other words, being a dull colour, it doesn't scream "Look at me"!

The Departure Wallet is filled with features that keep travel documents neat and organised. External pockets allow you to access your documents quickly and easily while internal pockets keep your valuables safe and secure.
Approximate Measurements when folded are 13cm x 25cm and weights only 16g.

Above: Document wallet
Handy travel wallet with wrist wrap
External boarding pass sleeve
2 passport pockets
2 zipped currency pockets
Pen loop
8 card slots
Removable wrist strap

Above: Inside compartments
There's only one small problem. On the inside where the pockets for holding your passport are, the pocket on the left is slightly narrower than the pocket on the right, which means you can't slide your passport in as easily. I had thought of going back to Kathmandu and exchanging it but then thought, why worry about it - the other one might be just the same. I'll just make sure I use the right hand pocket.

Luckily for me, there was a sale on. The normal price was $40, but with the sale, it cost me $24.95. Now I just have to figure how to keep it safe!

Monday, March 5, 2012

16. Saigon Accommodation

To lift or not to lift - that is the question.

Well I decided I had better get a move on and start booking my accommodation. Usually when I'm planning a trip, I get the accommodation sorted out months ahead but this time for some reason, I seem to be dragging my feet.

After reading through my Lonely Planet like a good little traveller, I decided to go sit Madam Cuc's - listed as "Our Pick" in LP's Vietnam guide book. Looking carefully at the three on offer (Madam has three - 127, 64 and 128) I chose 128. Sent of an email to which I received a reply fairly promptly, emails went back and forth between me and her, airport transfer was sorted ($12 US), I asked for a room on the first floor due to bad knees although I did notice no mention of my request for a first floor room was in evidence.

What if me knees don't hold up?
Anyway, I thought I'd sorted out Saigon although the lack of a lift was niggling away in my brain somewhere. It was further enhanced when I read that a chap had requested a first floor room because his wife had some knee trouble, but when they arrived they had been given a room on the 4th floor (think it was the 4th). Which then set me thinking - what if that happens to me? No matter how much cheaper, or how good a review in LP, is it really worth taking the risk? Bad enough having to slog my way up one floor, let alone two or three, but imagine doing it in the heat. Yes, yes, I know the place has air conditioning, but after a long day or a hot couple of hours walking around outside sight seeing, the last thing I want to do is have to climb up ruddy stairs!

Back to the drawing board
So - then began the let's start again from scratch and find a place with stairs. Which is what I have been doing these past few days. And let me tell you - it ain't easy! I found the best thing was to go to Agoda, type in the city and dates and go from there. I further refined my search by selecting a particular area (I've gone for Pham Ngu Lao area) which I know is backpacker haven where the budget places are and I know it's noisy and busy, but I don't mind that. At least it's not dead and staid - I'd rather have full of life than quiet, conservative and dull!

So ... these are the ones I've picked out and "short-listed" and I thought better to type it all down here then read and re-read and compare them all in the one space. Now the room at Madam C's was $20. Originally I had gone for the cheapest ($16) but that had no window so went for the next one up ($20) - still only a single, not a double which was from memory around the $25 mark. One of the beauties of this place apart from breakfast and a simple dinner is the free fruit, tea and coffee provided all day. I have to weigh all this up with the benefit of having a lift and the lift wins hands down I'm afraid, even if it does mean more money for a room.

Ideas of granduer?
It's funny how I was prepared to pay for a single at the place I booked but at the hotels with a lift, I'm going for the "Deluxe" or "Superior" isn't it? Because I have found that the hotels give room sizes and some of them sound mighty small. I asked my son - if you were going away on holiday and you get a room 18 sq metres for $22 or a room 20 sq metres for $28, which would you choose? His answer? "I'd pay the extra 6 for the bigger room." Which I agree with although him being young a single and not having the budget issues his mum has, makes it a bit of a different story for me. But hey! - it's the first stop in my holiday trip, and the weather's going to be pretty hot, I might as well have a few home comforts to help me cope with the heat. (That's what I'm telling myself to justify the extra expense and it's working, it;s working!) Well, sort of. Almost. (Sigh) I tell myself I can cut down in other areas. So much for the girl who had decided on a $15 a night budget!

Six of one and half of the other
So, after all that, here's the short list. Some have advantages the others don't while the "others" have advantages the other lot lack. What it comes down to is this - do I go for fridge and tea/coffee making facilities or a balcony/terrace? Being a smoker, although being able to smoke in your room might be good, I personally don't like the idea. I don't smoke inside at home and smoking in your hotel room makes the room smelly. And it stinks because there's nowhere for the smoke to go, not unless you open the window wide and even then it doesn't get rid of it. And opening the window rather defeats the purpose of air conditioning doesn't it? So, it looks like the rooms with a balcony/terrace win over the fridge etc.

Now, there are two places that have a balcony/terrace - and only one of them also includes a fridge and tea/coffee maker. Really when all is said and done, a fridge and tea/coffee making facilities aren't really all that important although it is nice to sit down and have nice cuppa tea and a smoke early in the morning or late at night at the end of the day. Don't think I'm trying to save a few bob by not having to go out and buy a cuppa coffee, it's just more convenient being able to make it yourself. Don't get me wrong - when I'm out I buy a drink/tea/whatever and sit at an outdoor table and have a wonderful time just watching the world go by.

Do you believe the so-called reviews or not?
Something that had me a bit worried - I looked at the hotel reviews on Trip Advisor and found some of these places have terrible reviews. Which is strange, because some reviews are "good", yet others are "bad". So - which do you believe and how do you know what to believe? You don't - you read them and then make your own decision. And if it turns out I should have listened to what the reviews said, you know not to make the same mistake again. And then you look back and laugh it off and put it down to experience!

Ava Saigon 2 Hotel - Deluxe double - Room size: 28 sq.m, $28 breakfast (126 De Tham Street)
View: City, non smoking rooms, air conditioning, bathrobes, desk, internet access – wireless, in room safe, television, bathtub, shower, separate shower and tub, mini bar, satellite/cable TV, coffee/tea maker, internet access – wireless (complimentary), fridge

Le Le Hotel - Deluxe double, $27 breakfast (171 Pham Ngu Lao Street)
View: Ocean (partial view), non smoking rooms, air conditioning, bathrobes, desk, hair dryer, in room safe, television LCD/plasma screen, bathtub, shower, separate shower and tub, mini bar, balcony/terrace, satellite/cable TV, internet access – wireless (complimentary), fan, NO FRIDGE OR TEA/COFFEE MAKER
BETTER LOCATION. Has balcony/terrace

Saigon Sports 3 Hotel - Superior Double - Room size: 20 sq.m $28  breakfast, (175/21 Pham Ngu Lao street) Free: Welcome Drink, Fruit.
View: City, air conditioning, desk, hair dryer, internet access – LAN, in room safe, television LCD/plasma screen, bathtub, shower, mini bar, satellite/cable TV, coffee/tea maker, internet access – wireless (complimentary), internet access – LAN (complimentary)

Giant Dragon Hotel - Suite Double - Room size: 30 sq.m $30 breakfast 173 Pham Ngu Lao street,
View: City, non smoking rooms, air conditioning, desk, hair dryer, television, bathtub, shower, mini bar, satellite/cable TV, complimentary bottled water, internet access – wireless (complimentary), fan

Duna Hotel - Deluxe - Room size: 30 sq.m - $30 breakfast, 167 Pham Ngu Lao Street,
View: Park, non smoking rooms, air conditioning, desk, hairdryer, internet access – wireless, internet access – LAN, ironing board, television, television LCD/plasma screen, bathtub, shower, balcony/terrace, satellite/cable TV, DVD/CD player, coffee/tea maker, internet access – wireless (complimentary), internet access – LAN (complimentary), fan, fridge Has balcony/terrace

I'm tossing up between the Duna Hotel and the Le Le Hotel. The Le Le has nicer looking rooms, but the Duna has that "balcony/terrace plus fridge, tea and coffee maker. So, it looks like the Duna it will be. Although ... judging by the photos, the balcony at the Le Le Hotel has seating and looks quite nice, whereas the balcony of the Duna appears to be not as enticing.
(I'll wait until I've reached my final one hundred percent decision and booked it before contacting Madam C and cancelling. With a suitable apology of course. (I may sound flippant, but courtesy and politeness are important.) I think I'm going to go for the Duna.

I found the Duna website Duna Hotel and it says airport pick-up is one of their services, yet on the Agoda web page, they don't offer airport transfer. I'll have to email the hotel. If as I think I will, choose the Duna, perhaps it might be worthwhile booking direct with the hotel.

Another strange thing, I also found the Le Le website Le Le Hotel and on their web page, the room also has a fridge, tea/coffee maker plus a toaster. Plus, it's cheaper to book through Agoda rather than direct with the hotel. We're not talking a few dollars here, we're looking at $108 compared to $132. That's a big difference.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

15. Top 10 Tips for Crossing the Road in Vietnam

Notorious is an understatement!
Although I haven't set foot in Vietnam yet, I've heard all about crossing the road in Vietnam, especially Saigon (HCM) and how dangerous it is. Not for the faint-hearted, that's for sure.

So ... are there any tips or advice for the first timer, the novice in getting from one side of the road to the other without ending up splattered on the ground as flat as a pancake? Yes - there is! there are! While researching information about visas, I came across a most interesting item and thought it a great read. So good in fact, it deserves to be read and studied.

So, without further ado - here it is:

Top 10 Tips for Crossing the Road in Vietnam

Never look a driver in the eyes as your cross the road, it initiates an act of sudden death chicken – in this situation the pedestrian generally looses out.

Don't run across the road, it shows fear and you’re more likely to get mowed down.

Feel free to use fellow tourists as human shields as they cross the road, all’s fair in love and Vietnam road war!

Under no circumstances, never, never ever, even if your life depends on it… turn back! It’s a sign of weakness.

Always have a facial expression similar to Stallone’s – “If you mow me down bastard, I will peel myself of the ground an use your eyeballs to make my Pho tonight!”

When crossing, sing to yourself “it’s a small world after all”, hey it might not prevent an accident but the driver may take pity on the obviously crazed person crossing the street.

Never put your hand up at cars to tell them to slow or stop, it only acts like a red flag enticing a raging bull.

Smile, because if you're going to get run over, at least make the driver feel like you're enjoying the situation.

Standing in the middle of the road and trying to take a photo is never a good idea.

Finally, if worst comes to worst and you’re stuck in the middle of the road, calmly sit down, put your head between your legs and kiss your arse goodbye.

Have fun crossing the roads in Vietnam!

Source: Vietnam visa online

Sunday, February 26, 2012

14. Vietnam and China Itinerary - Final Draft

Back in post 4, I wrote my itinerary for both China and Vietnam which at the time was the final one, but after some advice from a couple of people living in China, have now revised the Shanghai/Suzhou/Hangzhou section. After checking flight times Shanghai>Hong Kong, I've decided to fly to Hong Kong a day early. This gives me a little extra time, particularly if I arrive latish in the afternoon. Bearing in mind the 23rd is the Dragonboat Festival, I'd prefer to be there the day before to give me time to sort of find out about buses and transport to go to Stanley which is on Hong Kong Island and where the festival is held.

My final itinerary for this trip is as follows:

Thu 17 - Arrive Kuala Lumpur
Fri 18 - Saigon arrive 10.10am
Sat 19 - Saigon
Sun 20 - Mekong Delta
Mon 21 - Mekong Delta - o/n Saigon

Tue 22 - Saigon to Dalat
Wed 23 - Dalat

Thu 24 - Dalat to Nha Trang
Fri 25 - Nha Trang - o/n train. Depart 22.12 Train SH2. Arrive Danang 8.59. Get bus.

Sat 26 - Hoi An
Sun 27 - Hoi An

Mon 28 - Hoi An to Hue. Depart 8.00 arrive 4.30 with Easyrider.
Tue 29 - Hue
Wed 30 - Hue - o/n train. Depart 17.11 Train SE4

Thu 31 - Hanoi
Fri 01 - Hanoi - o/n train. Train SP1 depart 21.10pm

Sat 02 - Sapa - Arrive Lao Cai 5.25am then bus.
Sun 03 - Sapa & Bac Ha - o/n train. Train SP2 depart 20.05pm

Mon 04 - Hanoi arrive 4.35am. Breakfast then 7.30 pickup for Halong Bay
Tue 05 - Halong Bay to Hanoi arrive 17.00pm

Wed 06 - Hanoi to Xi'an (fly) depart 11.45 arrive 19.05
Thu 07 - Xi'an ~ Terracotta Army
Fri 08 - Xi'an ~ Wild panda base? Tang Dynasty Music & Dancing Show?
Sat 09 - Xi'an - o/n train. Train 2672: Depart Xian 22.48, arrive Pingyao 7.08

Sun 10 - Pingyao
Mon 11 - Pingyao
Tue 12 - Pingyao - o/n train. K604: Depart Pingyao 18.47, arrive Beijing West 6.28

Wed 13 - Beijing
Thu 14 - Beijing ~ Great Wall Mutianyu
Fri 15 - Beijing ~ Day tour Forbidden Palace etc.
Sat 16 - Beijing - o/n train. T109: Depart Beijing 19.28, arrive Suzhou 9.17 or D311: Depart Beijing 20.52, arrive Suzhou 7.49 (costs $30 more)

Sun 17 - Suzhou
Mon 18 - Suzhou ~ Morning, taxi/bus to Tongli, early afternoon return to Suzhou. Bus to Hangzhou (from South long-distance bus station (qiche nanzhan; cnr Yingchun Lu & Nanhuan Donglu)
Tue 19 - Hangzhou

Wed 20 - Hangzhou to Shanghai
Thu 21 - Shanghai

Fri 22 - Shanghai to Hong Kong
Sat 23 - Hong Kong ~ Dragonboat Festival
Sun 24 - Hong Kong
Mon 25 - Hong Kong ~ Day trip to Macau?

Tue 26 - Hong Kong - afternoon flight to KL
Wed 27 - Kl to Melb

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

13. Travel Between Suzhou, Hangzhou & Shanghai

Suzhou to Hangzhou
From the South long-distance bus station (qiche nanzhan; cnr Yingchun Lu & Nanhuan Donglu) buses to Hangzhou run every 20 minutes, cost 70 RMB and take 2 hours.

Suzhou to Tongli
The bus station is to the south of the train station in Suzhou. Costs 8 RMB, takes 45 minutes. There are also buses from the north bus station, south bus station and the Wuzhong bus station to Tongli. Same price.

Hangzhou to Wuzhen
Buse from the east bus station hourly, cost 25 RMB, takes one hour. From Wuzhen to Hangzhou, minibuses for Y14.

Hangzhou to Shanghai
Five express trains daily, cost 40 RMB, take 2 hours
From Hángzhōu’s main train station.?

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

12. China - Trains

Saturday 9 June
2670: Depart Xian 20.46, arrive Pingyao 6.01
Ticket price: Soft Sleeper ( Lower ): 206 RMB ($30.92)
Ticket price: Hard Sleeper ( Lower ): 133 RMB ($19.62)
(Train 2670 is from Baoji to Taiyuan)

K690: Depart Xian South 22.19, arrive Pingyao 7.38
Ticket price: Soft Sleeper ( Lower ): 232 RMB ($34.23)
Ticket price: Hard Sleeper ( Lower ): 154 RMB ($22.72)
(Train K690 is from Chongqing North to Taiyuan)

2672: Depart Xian 22.48, arrive Pingyao 7.08
Ticket price: Soft Sleeper ( Lower ): 206 RMB ($30.39)
Ticket price: Hard Sleeper ( Lower ): 133 RMB ($19.62)
(Train 2672 is from Xian to Datong)

Tuesday 12 June
K604: Depart Pingyao 18.47, arrive Beijing West 6.28
Ticket price: Soft Sleeper ( Lower ): 254 RMB ($37.44)
Ticket price: Hard Sleeper ( Lower ): 169 RMB ($24.91)
Train K604 is from Yuncheng to Beijing West

1164: Depart Pingyao 21.48, arrive Beijing West 10.16
Ticket price: Soft Sleeper ( Lower ): 243 RMB ($35.83)
Ticket price: Hard Sleeper ( Lower ): 158 RMB ($23.30)
Train 1164 is from Hancheng to Beijing West

Saturday 16 June
T109: Depart Beijing 19.28, arrive Suzhou 9.17
Ticket price: Soft Sleeper ( Lower ): 472 RMB ($69.62)
Ticket price: Hard Sleeper ( Lower ): 308 RMB ($45.42)
(Train T109 is from Beijing to Shanghai

D311: Depart Beijing 20.52, arrive Suzhou 7.49
Ticket price: Soft Sleeper (Lower):691 RMB ($101.89)
Ticket price: No hard sleeper
Train D311 is from Beijing to Shanghai

Hangzhou to Shanghai
Trains run regularly from Hangzhou station and Hangzhou South station to Shanghai Station and Shanghai Hongqiao. Average time on train is 2 hours and ticket price ranges from $11 and up, depending on train.
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