China Travel Guide
Isn't it just the worst when you've taken a chunk out of your day and money out of the ATM to head on over to the Chinese consulate to get your Chinese Visa paperwork submitted, and then find out you've filled out the wrong form? #worldtravelerproblems
Even if this hasn't happened to you, it most likely will at some point because scoring that necessary visa for travel to China is only getting more convoluted with the addition of extra documentation.
Up until recently, Americans with China travel on the horizon needed only to complete a form, turn in their passport (valid for at least another 6 months), turn in a 2x2" passport photo and $140, then make it over to China within 90 days of the issuing of the Tourist Visa to keep it valid for the year. On August 1, new requirements came into effect and now you'll not only have to be ready with all of the above, but also provide the following:
Political Travel / United / EWR / PEK / China Travel / Politics Travel / Business Class Travel / → All Tags
United Airlines Flight 88 is a direct, 12.5 hour Beijing-PEK to Newark-EWR flight flown by a Boeing 777-200. Seatguru says that United's particular 777-200 configuration has 8 First Class Suites, 40 new Business class flatbed seats, and a 3-3-3 configuration in economy. So far it just sounds like your average trans-Pacific flight, right? There's comfy accommodations in first and business class, and an economy cabin where people wake up 8 hours into the trip, realize they've still got 1/3 of the flight to go, and want to kill themselves.
But last Saturday this very route became a focus of international attention. It was boarded just before takeoff by blind Chinese activist Chen Guangcheng (in a wheelchair), plus his wife and their two children. The family had been driven across the tarmac by Chinese officials and deposited into an elevator, which took them up to the skywalk and onto the plane.
The mini-drama marked the beginning of the end of a standoff between American and Chinese diplomats, stretching back to last month when Chen escaped the Chinese guards who were keeping him under house arrestas China likes to do with "dissidents"and fled to the U.S. embassy.
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Tax day has arrived, and your happy not because you may have stand in line at the post office, but because you're probably getting a fat refund. Probably. The economy may be on it's way back up, but you should try to stretch that tax refund as far as you can...like with a little "you did a great job last year" trip.
By now, you will probably know what type of refund you will getting back from Uncle Sam. This post is devoted to those refunds that are on the larger side. If you want to completely splurge and use your entire check to see more parts of the world, China is your destination.
By now you've all heard the story of the family with two toddlers kicked off a JetBlue flight from Turks and Caicos and, regardless of where you stand on the incident (for the parents or against), it's clear that flying the so-called friendly skies with little ones is not an enviable journey.
Our first thought when we heard about the family getting kicked off was, "Dear God, we hope that never happens to us." Our second thought was actually about this little playground we saw at the Beijing International Airport back in China.
We kind of already have our favorite international airport picked out, as the place where the airplanes do their thing over in Singapore is pretty much second to none. However, it looks like Hong Kong Airport is continuing to try their very best to woo travelers heading to—and through—the airport, as they're about to have something that no other airport in the world has.
While racing to finish up work, stuff the last necessary items into our suitcase (we would not be a good candidate for I am Packed right now), print out our boarding passes, double-check our camera equipment, charging cords and TSA-sized toiletries and do other last-minute errands before hopping on a flight, we caught eye of this snapshot from the Beijing International Airport in our photo archives.
Posted just before the trains to the baggage claim, it says: Relax. Train Comes Every Three Minutes.
Isn't that just...nice? We wish all airports had that sign so that us hyper-active, worrywart travelers could at least take a moment off (or three minutes) from stressing.
There's another bonus for the OCD traveler at Beijing's airport, as the lifts and train cars are frequently disinfected. But of course, we understand if you still want to bring your own personal hand sanitizer.
You can find the footlong mecca at the entrance to the impressive 2.5-kilometer stretch of the Great Wall in Mutianyu. From here you can walk in, out and around several of the 22 watchtowers that were built during the early Ming dynasty.
Some of the steps are steep and tiny and, as to be expected, you need to watch where you're going.There are no handrails and very few informational signs. It's just you, the wall and silence (well, when the other tourists aren't chattering that is. We managed to grab a quick little video on our iPhone of the Mutianyu section. Enjoy!
What Not To Do In / Travel Tips / Tourism / China Travel / The Forbidden City / Beijing Travel / → All Tags
We told you the other month how powerful it was arriving at Tiananmen Squarewhich sits across from the Forbidden Citybut today we're telling you what NOT TO DO when you actually step inside the imperial walls. As always, these are just our tips so by all means, please add your own!
So without further ado, here is the Jaunted guide of What Not To Do In The Forbidden City: The Top 5 Tourist Mistakes.
5. Don't pay for your tickets with a credit card
Both locals and tourists mostly pay cash in the city, and the admission booths only had one window that accepted credit cards. Since we don't read or speak Mandarin or any other Asian language, there was a bit of back and forth with the cashiers about which one had the credit card machine. Save yourself the trouble and bring 40 RMB ($6.35) with you, per person.
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Yesterday, we showed you around the Dragonair lounge at Hong Kong International. Now today, we're taking you on board with us!
Being major travel geeks, we took a second before we boarded our flight on Dragonair from Hong Kong to Beijing to soak in what was happening--we were about to fly on an airline called Dragonair. And we weren't at a Harry Potter theme park. Win!
Of course, onboard things weren't nearly as exciting. Business class sports some very well-kept but still rather aged seats. We had a little flashback to the 90s sitting in these chairs.
But as with so many Asian airlines, the experience was completely sublime compared to American domestic carriers. The boarding process from start to finish was entirely calm. Service was friendly and incredibly helpful. They even offer three different types of vegetarian fare (Asian, Indian and Western but you still have to order pre-flight.)
We've given you a glorious tour of the unbelievable Cathay Pacific airport lounges at the Hong Kong International Airport from The Wing to The Pier but today we're taking you inside the less-exciting G16 Lounge of Dragonair, a regional carrier of Cathay Pacific.
Located at, as its name indicates, Gate 16, the lounge overlooks the gate area up on highsort of like a Loft Lounge. The seating areas are very traditional (no Solus pods here) although plentiful. The self-service refreshment counter features plenty of drinks and finger snacks (both Western and Asian, alcoholic and non) as well as coffee and cappuccino.
There's also a kitchen with an on-site chef to prepare Hong Kong specialties like fishball noodles. (We were hoping for some Dan dan noodles like the ones we ate at SFO but alas, we were out of luck.)
Airline Security / China Eastern Airlines / Martial Arts / Flight Attendants / Airline News / China Travel / → All Tags
Last April, we told you about Hong Kong Airlines training their cabin crew to ward off terrorists and unruly passengers by using kung fu. Now, the martial art safe for onboard combat is being offered to flight attendants on China Eastern Airlines.
The Shanghai-based carrier announced that the first group of 20 cabin crew recently finished their courses. In all, 2,600-plus flight attendants will be trained for self-defense by using the ancient fighting technique. Airlines executives think that flight attendants could be seen as an easy target for would-be baddies.
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One of the most surreal moments we've had yet while traveling has to be our arrival the other day at The Forbidden City in Beijing.
Once the home for emperors from the Ming and Qing dynasties, the Imperial Palace today is now pretty much an outdoor museum for tourists (mostly Chinese) to walk through since many of the actual halls and rooms of the palace are off limits. You can peek into these various halls and take photos; however, be prepared for a mob of people attempting to do the very same thing.
But what actually moved us most about arriving at the Forbidden City was standing in Tiananmen Square, where we snapped this photo. We were young when the 1989 protests and subsequent killings happened but we do remember hearing about the uprising and even watching some of the news clips. We just never imagined in a million years we would actually go there one day. But that's the beauty of travel isn't it?