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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?
Airplane News / New Routes / 787 / Boeing / Boeing 787 Dreamliner / ANA / Dreamliner / Boeing 787 / Japan Travel / Airplanes / Hong Kong Travel / Frankfurt Travel / HKG / NRT / FRA / PEK / Beijing Travel / → All Tags
DRUMROLL PLEASE! The first destination to get regular, scheduled service on the very first Boeing 787 Dreamliner will be...Okayama, Japan! Why Okayama? Well, the airline with the pleasure of introducing the 787 to the traveling public is Japanese airline ANA, and after a few fun flights to show off the shiny new plane, she'll be put into domestic service between Tokyo-Haneda and Okayama.
Okay so this is literally yesterday's news, but we got a little wrapped up in the East Coast Earthquake drama, so chillax.
Finally, some dates: the very first scheduled flight will happen on November 1, to be immediately followed by the start of Tokyo-Haneda to Hiroshima service on the 787. Want to go international? You've got to wait a tad bit longer, but Tokyo-Haneda to Beijing begins as soon as December, with Tokyo-Haneda to Frankfurt kicking off the long-haul routes in January, 2012.
Here's the official schedule, straight from ANA:
Does anyone even remember a time when passenger were allowed to bring such threatening items as scissors and full water bottles through airport security? We've had perfectly good bottles of bug spray and shaving cream thrown out for being .5 oz over the 3oz rule, and once witnessed a foreign traveler having his giant jug of very expensive pure maple syrup confiscated at Vermont's Burlington Airport. It's no fun, for sure, and a couple airports have stepped up to at least offer an alternative to the trash can: shipping your banned items home.
Singapore's Changi International pioneered the service, whereby travelers holding more than the allowances or with forgotten box cutters in their bags can now just ship it right from the airport to their home.
Following Changi's lead is Beijing International Airport, where Shanghaiist reports Beijing Capital International Airport Terminal 2 is charging 20 RMB for items weighing less than 3kg shipped to Beijing addresses, and 100 RMB ($15.50) to be shipped anywhere else. Not too shabby at all! Everyone is getting Chinese ginseng and swords at Christmas this year!
[Photo: nemo's great uncle]
Amazing news from Shanghaiist today: The world's fastest train will begin traveling between Shanghai and Beijing as soon as July 1! For lovers of train travel, technology and more transportation options, this is huge news. Plus, it means far less airport congestion and delays on this popular and heavily-trafficked route.
The zippity-quick train at the focus of the new service is the CRH380, a beast of a bullet train that most closely resembled an actual bullet, more so than any other bullet train we've seen. It's a China-designed and China-made train, coming in both 8-car and 16-car lengths. It made the world record for fastest train last year, after the 16-car version hit an incredible 486 km/h (302 mph).
· Time it takes to fly between Beijing and Shanghai: 2 hours for just the flight, not counting airport transportation, security and wait times.
· Time it takes the CRH830 to travel from Beijing to Shanghai: 4 hours, 48 minutes
· Time it takes a regular train to travel from Beijing to Shanghai: 9 hours, 49 minutes
Tis the season for fresh museum exhibitions, and this year seems to be all about the blockbuster fashion brands. Alexander McQueen is the talk of the western hemisphere, with the giant Metropolitan Museum of Art show in New York, and it seems Louis Vuitton is set to he be the talk of the eastern hemisphere, when the Voyages exhibition opens at Beijing's National Museum of China on May 29.
The Louis Vuitton: Voyages exhibition will last from May 29-August 30 this year, tracing the highs of the Vuitton Maison since its establishment in 1854. As the name of the show suggest, the focus will be on the traveling heritage of the house, from the handmade trunks of the past to the modern globetrotting figures who continue to stand by the brand.
The World Expo is over, the Barbie flagship store has opened and President Obama has said 再见 (goodbye) to the Great Wall for now...so what else is going on in China these days? Well, you can go see for yourself as a huge trip deal just hit our inbox and we'd be booking it right now if China didn't block sites like Facebook and Twitter. ChinaSpree.com is offering a $777 Winter Special package that includes air from San Francisco (New York is $200 more), 6 nights in four-star hotels with breakfast, airfare between Shanghai and Beijing, and airport-hotel transfers.
Okay now think about it: $777 for all thata week-long trip to the two big Chinese cities with air, hotels and transferscosts less than just the regular airfare should be. Granted you'll probably be flying Air China, but we've been before and would fly them again.
Obama-Around-The-World / Presidential Travel / Barack Obama / China Travel / Shanghai Travel / Beijing Travel / → All Tags
Whereas Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie might be our Super World Travelers, there's no doubt that President Obama is our Super Business Traveler. After wrapping up a summer of whirlwind around-the-world meetings and appearances with his family in tow, autumn is marked by his huge solo visit this week to China.
Over the weekend, Obama landed in Shanghai after a quick visit to Japan and Singapore. Already in China, he has hosted a town hall-style meeting with Chinese students to discuss freedom of informationwith a small nod to Twitter, saying: "Well, first of all, let me say that I have never used Twitter...my thumbs are too clumsy to type in things on the phone." This came in response to China's past ban on Twitter, although access to the website was re-opened at university campuses for this special event.
Important statistical news just in: the number of chocoholics found in China is rising. This could be bad news if we think of having to share the world's supply of chocolate with an increasing number of people, but the flipside is positive stuffChina's going to open a "world chocolate dream park" in Beijing next year.
The theme park will be housed in the Olympic Green (where the famous Olympics "Bird's Nest" stadium is) and will include five indoor pavilions and two outdoor sites full of chocolate-themed exhibits. They say this will include life-size, edible chocolate versions of the Great Wall of China and the Terracotta Army.
Hopefully you are following Jaunted correspondent Claire Duffett's China travel diary, a series of entries which chronicles her journey around the country in vivid, first-person detail. If Claire's travels, the recent Olympic games, or China's captivating history in general have inspired you to take a trip there yourself, then thank the deal deities for shining down on you.
Friendly Planet Travels, an "all-inclusive escorted" tour company is currently offering their popular "Taste of China" package at a discount of up to $600, provided you act quickly and book your spot by September 23rd. The tour starts in Beijing, where a guide will show you around Tiananmen Square, the Forbidden City, the Summer Palace, and the Panda Zoo. While most stretches of the 10-day tour are guided, you do get free time to wander the included cities on your own. Other stops on the excursion include Xi'an and Shanghai, where more gardens, art museums, and the Pearl Tower await.
Have our Hong Kong tales been driving you to hunger for dim sum and pork floss pastries while your (lack of) hefty paycheck has been keeping you down? Well, we may have found a happy medium in a "China Spree" deal if you're ok with visiting Beijing and devouring peking duck.
If you can fly out of San Francisco next winter on selected dates and book the trip by March 31, then a week in Beijing inclusive of hotel, breakfast, airfare and transfers is only $588. We're sure we don't have to stress how awesome this price is, but really, why so cheap? With a combination of advance booking, winter travel (Beijing gets cold like Chicago), and general stress over tourism levels in the city post-Olympics, deals with low prices like this should be popping up here and there throughout the year.
Adding to the discount is that this is a package without the structure and added expense of a tour group. Daytrips to the Great Wall or visits to temples and palaces can be arranged as you like and as your budget allows. We'd be tempted to take it if we hadn't just stepped off of a 15-hour flight from China.
All the details on the package can be found here. Be sure to let us know if you do jump on the deal or find any other budget Asia excursions we've been missing.
Determined to tick the Great Wall off your list in your Olympics-inspired visit to China in the future? The Chinese have just created an even easier way for millions of tourists to head out to Badaling, the most popular part of the Wall for snapshots and tacky memorabilia.
The Great Wall Express is a direct train halving the travel time from central Beijing to the wall. Only it doesn't quite take you all the way there: You still have at least a fifteen minute walk ahead of you, but they're "working on it."
The nice part about the Great Wall Express train is that you get to bypass all those nasty traffic jams that would otherwise await you riding in and out of Beijing by bus or taxi. That, and that at just 17 yuan ($2.50) for a first class seat, it's really cheap.
· All Aboard for the New Great Wall Express [The Age]
· Beijinging: Tick the Great Wall of China Off Your List [Jaunted]
We all know how the Chinese army has contributed to world peace, don't we? Well, if you're not so sure, it's time to visit the new "Our Troops Toward the Sun" exhibit at the Military Museum of the Chinese People's Revolution in Beijing. The timing's right to commemorate the 80th anniversary of the founding of the People's Liberation Army.
Among other things, this display will include a calculator used in research for China's first atomic bomb and a punching bag used by Mao. Visitors will also be able to try a simulator for driving a tank or firing the guns on a warship. Exactly which part of the exhibition shows the PLA's contribution to world peace isn't exactly clear, though.
· Beijing Hotels [HotelChatter]
· Beijing Travel Stories [Jaunted]
[Photo: Marc van der Chijs]