ChengDu (I) Get me out of here

ChengDu (成都)

This city sucks…I am glad that I could make CITS give me a flight to Macau for tomorrow (Sunday) afternoon already. I knew I dislike this city as soon as I was walking back towards my hotel after the bus dropped me off some 100km after my street. Construction works…grrr….looks like they get a subway. Good. But why do they move the bus stops several streets away? The air unbreathably hot and thick, typical Chinese industrial continental climate. No big sights anyway, that I knew upfront from Lonely Planet, which mentions two or three times places where it is OK hanging out entire afternoons (foremost the tea houses in People’s Park). For tourists and backpackers ChengDu seems to be mostly a transportation hub only. I originally planned to come here with the thought in mind to carry further on to China’s south. Now with the changed plan of squeezing Taiwan in I only want to get outta it. And CITS made it after some back and forth (didn’t accept my credit card, but luckily Bank of China’s ATM did). The only good thing about ChengDu: They have some Starbucks. Continue reading ChengDu (I) Get me out of here

Tibet-QingHai Railway

A train you don’t take to get from A to B…there are a lot faster ways to get out of Lhasa. The term “scenic train” probably fits it best. And contrary to my believe it is also quite full on the way back from Lhasa. But certainly full of tourists. And so it happened that our compartment of 4 soft sleepers was shared by an Austrian lady, a Malaysian couple, and me, which made communication in English perfect. All Malaysians I ever met have perfect, nearly native English knowledge. If of Chinese origin, like this couple, then also native Chinese knowledge, which certainly comes in handy when trying to understand train announcements or talking to the train officials. Continue reading Tibet-QingHai Railway

Lhasa (V) Potala Palace’s Back

Liberation Park

As I always like parks I went for the only one I had not yet seen: A park at the back of the Potala Palace by the euphemistic name of “Liberation Park”. As I had written earlier: The Chinese government had moved people from the palace’s front to the back to make room for the Tian’AnMen-like square which now is there, a large tiled empty space. But they also formed a nice Chinese park around a lake, which was left from the actual palace’s construction with the earth used as building material. While China is not loved here they definitely know how to build parks. And it seems the locals have accepted the park. I saw Tibetians sitting in a Chinese-style pavillion within Liberation Park, still turning their prayer wheels, and having a rest inbetween their pilgrimage. Continue reading Lhasa (V) Potala Palace’s Back

Lhasa (IV) Yandrok Lake / Future Plans

Yandrok Lake

…supposingly a nice sight with varying shades of green and blue if the sun happens to treat you well. Weather was fantastic. And with the first point of view being on no less than 4.700m altitude, i.e. another 1.200m higher than Lhasa, it was refreshingly cool despite the bright sun shine. But there were few opportunities enjoying the outside coolness: In the end it all was a 2,5 hours drive from Lhasa out to that lake, getting off twice for 10 minutes each, and drive 2,5 hours back to Lhasa. You can’t avoid but question yourself, if it really makes sense to have a guide, a driver, and a car going all this way for just one single passenger. Continue reading Lhasa (IV) Yandrok Lake / Future Plans

Lhasa (III) Jokhang Temple and Potala Palace

Today a small revolution: My guide came without car and just walked me the 5 minutes to the first temple. But later they could not resist driving me to the Potala Palace, although even that would have been just a 20 minute walk that I have done earlier and afterwards again. Potala Palace…that’s the impressive World Cultural Heritage everybody pictures first when hearing “Lhasa” or “Tibet”. Access to the Potala Palace is nowadyas highly organized with a limit of 800 visitors per day. My guide called me yesterday evening only to tell me the time of our visit as that was not confirmed earlier: 13:00, fairly inconvenient with regards to lunch. Continue reading Lhasa (III) Jokhang Temple and Potala Palace

Lhasa (II) Crash Course Buddhism

One guide just for me, and I had to listen most of the day. And she, native Tibetian, juggled with all the Buddha, Lama, and Bodhisattva names and was really hoping after seen one of them twice I would recognize him the third time by name…oh, I was glad already if I could make out the 3 Buddhas of the past, the present, and the future, and that only because they reminded by of Charles Dicken’s famous “A Christmas Carol”, but dared not mentioning this far-fetched comparison… In addition, in Buddhism live is reborn in reincarnations. So it might happen that you come across the same ‘spirit’ in different forms. The Dalai Lamas, for example, are continuous reincarnations. Continue reading Lhasa (II) Crash Course Buddhism

Lhasa (I) Arriving

Lhasa – Arrival by plane

Actually…it wasn’t so bad a deed to arrive by plane. The scenery was mostly covered under clouds, but those few holes left open provided a magnificient mountain area so completely different from the other places I have been so far. When the plane turned in to land it followed a river bed to get down between the mountains. That’s also the reason why the airport is so far outside Lhasa (1 hour drive): You’ll need to find a long straight stretch of land where you can build a 2~3km runway and still have some space for an ordinary passenger plane to get down between the mountains. Continue reading Lhasa (I) Arriving

Xi’An (III) ShaanXi Historical Museum

Shaanxi Historical Musem (陕西历史博物馆)

As I had been unable to organize for a “Western Tour” with a tempel and some tombs I decided to check out the well-praised Shaanxi Historical Museum, claiming itself to be the “first modern museum in China”, and rated by Lonely Planet as “one of the best in China”, promising some overview of Chinese history from Neolithic to Qing dynasty times. As I didn’t find a suitable bus I just walked the 20 minutes there. I had seen the building the day before, also praised by the CITS tour guide while passing by in our bus. But if I would not have seen it before it would have been hard to figure out which exact building it was. There was a stone with its Chinese title carved into it in front of the building, but no other sign whatsoever, neither Chinese nor English. Eh…do they want to attract tourists or not…? 35 RMB admission was quite OK though.
Continue reading Xi’An (III) ShaanXi Historical Museum

Map of China

Map of China with my travel route, updated as of 2007-08-25, returning to Shanghai. For Vietnam please see the Vietnam map.

This map is (no longer) interactive, but I keep it as you can see the means of travel here better. See here for an interactive map showing all posts.


Straight Red: By Train (e.g. BeiJing -> Xi’An)

Dotted red: By Plane (e.g. Shanghai -> QingDao)

Straight Green: By Bus (e.g. QingDao -> YanTai)

Blue Dashes: By Ferry (YanTai -> DaLian -> TianJin)

Categories: AsiaGeneral Infos

Originally Created: 06/21/2007 11:48:38 AM

Last Edited: 08/25/2007