Buddhas, Pandas and River Cruises - Savy's China Adventure

Discussion in 'Trip Reports' started by savydog, Nov 28, 2011.  |  Print Topic

  1. savydog
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    Bamboo Rafting on the Yulong River near Guilin.

    Time for another trip to China. Previously I have been to Beijing with a side trip to Xian and another trip to Shanghai during the 2010 Expo. The visit to the Terracotta warriors involved a day flight which went smoothly, and it was at that time that ideas of linking other Chinese city's into a holiday first surfaced.

    This trip I will be flying to Singapore and enjoying some food there, before an afternoon flight to Chengdu. Here I will make a visit to the Giant Buddha of Leshan and also to the Panda research centre. Another flight leads me to Guilin where I will cruise the Li river, climb moon hill and spend some time in Yangshuo. Heading home with an overnight stop in Guangzhou where it seems all of China's manufacturing is on sale.

    I am not offering a perfect holiday, instead I will share my experiences both good and bad. Going from a small town of 300+ people to a city of 12 million can take some adjustment :) The help of two local guides made sure that I made the best use of my time and also that I learned something about the places I visited.

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  2. savydog
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    I left Rockhampton on Friday after work and my Qantas flight had been contracted out to alliance airlines.

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    Much nicer seats than the usual Dash 8 so fine with me. Alliance use a Fokker 100.

    An hour flight to Brisbane and a short bus ride to the International terminal. My first problem at customs being a large tube of sun screen which I had forgotten to put into checked baggage. Why the guy bothered to go check with his supervisor is beyond me as it took a few moments for a shake of the head no, before my tube was tossed into the bin.

    After this I had no doubt I would be taken away for questioning and yes I was selected again. Single male does not help when they do their profiling. A check for explosives and a run through of questions designed to find out my real intentions for leaving Australia, and I was free to go. A parting shot was to usher me away from the express passport check line until I showed my business class ticket and my express pass. I was dressed as if going to a business meeting not in shorts and T shirt :rolleyes:
     
  3. savydog
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    I found refuge in the SQ lounge. Set up a camp next to a large HD TV which was showing Owen Wilson in Behind Enemy Lines. Plenty of action as I enjoyed a few Tiger beers.

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    Dinner :)

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    Beer snacks :)

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    Beer :)

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  4. savydog
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    The overnight flight to Singapore is on a A330 and service was good as usual. I always have seafood which is often served with pasta. This time I tried a rib eye fillet steak dish for a change and it was not much good. A bit overcooked. Spiced it up with salt and pepper :) it did have some tasty mushrooms with it so not a total loss. Bollinger is the champagne on offer with this flight and after 4 tiger beers in the lounge I was quite keen to make the switch to bubbly.

    One glass pre-flight and 3 more prior and during dinner. After dinner I watched a movie " Friends with Benefits " a sexy romp romantic comedy starring Justin Timberlake and Mila Kunis. Cocktails with the movie included 2 Singapore Slings and 2 Vodka Flushes. There may have been one or two more after that but my memory escapes me :p

    Am I the only one who starts off a holiday hung over from mixing drinks the night before ? Probably not, but luckily I had time to rest a little in the Silver Kris lounge and get some coffee into my system :)

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    French toast. Chicken and pear quiche. Prawn dim sum and spicy noodles with strong coffee :)

    I showered and changed into something more suited to 26C weather outside before checking my carry-on bag at the left luggage counter. This costs around $5 for the day and meant I now had a day pack with camera, water and travel wallet. Much easier to get around.
     
  5. Rejuvenated
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    Very good point! :) Can't wait for the rest of the report even though from time to time at FL, you did give us some insights! :D
     
  6. savydog
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    I have mentioned elsewhere that Chimpy has a younger brother who lives in Vietnam and works as the General Manager of KOTO in Siagon. He and his wife take short trips to Singapore to enjoy the food and take a break from the hectic crowds where they live. Sometimes flights to SIN can be picked up for $60 one way. I got a list of more great food options to try while I had some time before my afternoon flight to China.

    My instructions were as follows ;

    I used the MRT from the Airport Station and then a map that I had picked up for free inside the airport. The food court was easily found but it did take a good wander around to realise that I had to go up one level to get to Rafee's shop.

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    I did try the Ginger Milk Tea and it was great :)

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    Rafee was indeed happy to see me being a friend of his regular customers from Vietnam and he and another store owner sat with me and we chatted about differences between Australia and Singapore. I was very entertained :)

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    I also bought some Kaya toast from the store opposite Rafee's. The bread is sweet and served with 2 poached eggs. Very tasty stuff :)

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    I also tried a glass of ginger, lime and honey drink before saying goodbye to the guys. They were still in deep discussions as I headed off :)
     
  7. savydog
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    I had a second breakfast option if needed, but as I had eaten in the lounge much earlier that morning, I was not up to it. I will post the instructions if any explorers want to go and have a look ;
    Instead I stretched my legs with a wander around the city :)

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  8. catgirl
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    Excellent, SavyPanda! I can't wait to read more! :)
     
  9. savydog
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    Curry for lunch was the plan so my wanders lead me in the direction of Little India :)

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    This one was easy to find. Out of the MRT onto Buffalo then down to Serangoon Road and turn left it is across the road on the corner of Norris road a few intersections down ;

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    I had the mutton curry with 2 Chapati's :) ... and 2 large bottles of beer :p

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    One last food option for you, didn't get to try it but maybe you will ;

    Thanks also to Rejuvenated who gave me a list of food options in Singapore, much appreciated. I ended up going with my friends recommendations, as I wanted to sit and eat where he and his wife go to eat, if you know what I mean :)
     
  10. savydog
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    More wandering after lunch until it was time to head back to the MRT and out to Changhi Airport. I had left my MRT card in Australia so I wanted to purchase a day pass. This cannot be done at the airport station so I had to purchase a one way ticket to central station. The day pass costs $18 and is good for trains and buses. At the end of your day you can cash it in for a $10 refund. Just don't have too many beers and try cash it in after your ride out to the airport. The manned booth was closed when I got back there.

    I saw a couple of travellers coming down the escalator to head into town and gave one of them my day pass. He was very happy and surprised to receive it. I do believe in good karma :)

    Back in the Silver Kris lounge I got changed and ready for my Silk Air flight to Chengdu. I should clarify that Silk Air passengers use the SATS lounge but I was told there that as I flew business class from Brisbane I could go into the Gold Krisflyer lounge. There I was told to instead go to the Silver Kris Lounge :rolleyes::D:p

    Next up a flight to China and a visit to the Giant Buddha at Leshan :)
     
  11. Rejuvenated
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    Is that you or Raffee? :) Though for some correction, Char Kway Teow is a rice noodle dish that is unique to Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia. It is not a HK-style dish. There are various HK-style/Cantonese rice noodle with
    乾炒牛河 (Beef Chow Fun) being the most common one. But the Char Kway Teow you see in Singapore/Malaysia/Indonesia is not one of them. Nontheless thanks for the Singapore portion of the trip and look forward to the next installment. :)
     
  12. savydog
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    Me, I told you I had some trouble at immigration :) .... No that is Rafee :D
     
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  13. milchap
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    Love the photos of Singapore. Brought me back there. I had an retired air force friend who flew for SIA and I visited him and his wife for at least once a year until his retirement.
     
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  14. ACMM
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    Definitely enjoying your tr Savy - thanks. Makes me see how much I missed when I was in SIN the last (and first) time... gives me some insight for a future visit.
     
  15. moa999
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    Watching this intently.
    Am doing HKG, GZ/CAN, WUH via hi-speed rail, KWL (staying Yangshuo) from 16-23 Dec...
     
  16. canucklehead
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    Can't wait for the pandas! :D

    <===== especially the Red pandas! ;)

    (and the Giant Buddha!)
     
  17. cennas
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    Excellent start! Looking forward to more!
     
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  18. ACMM
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    It appears that my Beijing trip in February may now be a Chengdu trip in January - so I wait patiently with all paws for the insight into Chengdu :)
     
  19. savydog
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    My afternoon flight to Chengdu is with Silk Air an offshoot of SQ. I did have some hesitation about having a drink on the flight as I had consumed quite a few beers while wandering around Singapore and a couple more tankards of Tiger in the Silver Kris Lounge. For some reason when I boarded the flight and was offered champagne I accepted :)

    The FA's on Silk Air are I guess the Singapore girls in training. They seem to be a bit younger and a bit more bubbly than the girls on the main carrier. I didn't have my camera out so will have to illustrate via google :)

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    As with my previous experience with Silk Air flying to Lombok there always seemed to be one of the girls chatting or pouring me another drink. Quite fun on a 4 and a half hour flight. I was wearing my MP T shirt and that may have helped :) I tried to pace myself, but things did get a bit out of control with the constant supply of champagne. I remember getting onto glass 16 and thinking there is still a bit of flying to do. :) Slowed up considerably by putting on my headphones and listening to some music. I did manage 2 more glasses somehow.

    The service is great, but the planes are a bit old. In flight entertainment consisted of drop down screens with no headphones. I did enjoy a few episodes of Mr Bean which can of course be watched with no sound anyway. Food was well presented and hot, I hate getting something that looks great and is luke warm to cold. My one leg of the trip with Silk Air and I was wishing that I had another.

    I wasn't legless, but I did float through customs. I had a car waiting for me to take me to the Shangri-La Chengdu. As I was going to be out and about most of the time, I had booked a basic room. It had a comfortable bed and I was soon in it and fast asleep.

     
  20. savydog
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    The morning was a bit of a rush as I had not unpacked anything and woke up about half an hour before I was to meet my guide and head off to see the Pandas. Threw a few things around the room and into the room safe. I made it downstairs with a few minutes to spare but no sign of my guide. After 10 minutes I got my Samsung Tablet out of the day pack and pulled up the email confirming my booking to get the contact phone number. The concierge desk was helpful and dialled for me.

    Despite my clear request and an equally clear confirmation, my guide now tells me that everything had been arranged for the following Saturday :rolleyes: She asks for some time to investigate and will get back to me. 20 minutes later back in my room I get a call to confirm that all is well but as we have lost some time, we will head to Leshan to the giant Buddha today and leave the pandas for the following day. 20 more minutes and another call confirms that she is down in the lobby with a car waiting outside. Holiday back on track :)

    Chengdu is a big city and it takes some time before we start to get to more rural areas. The drive is around 2 and a half hours. When we get to a tea growing area we stop for breakfast. Chengdu makes some of the best green tea and I wanted to get some of it for my friend Chimpy. We pulled into an area that serves meals and also had a tea showroom.

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    Crumbed Chicken Legs.

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    Parcels of sticky rice. These were tea infused and the rice is grey/black with beans and chicken in the mix. Very tasty :)

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    Preparing spicy beef noodles.

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    A lot of flavour in these noodles. I crushed a sichuan pepper while chewing and it sort of makes half the side of your mouth numb. I love spicy food so I really enjoyed these, my guide ended up watching and warning me about the peppers :) For breakfast she and the driver had some noodles and tea infused eggs. I tried some later that day and they were good, the egg is cooked normally and then cracked in a few places before being packed in tea and salt. When you peel the egg there are lines where the tea has gone inside.
     
  21. savydog
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    A visit inside the tea shop, about as big as a car showroom :) I got Chimpy a tin of green tea which was sealed and also the tea inside was sealed into 30 individual satchels with enough for a good sized pot in each one. He can comment on how it tastes. I probably should have got a few tins :)

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  22. Concerto
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    Loving this, Savy! :)
     
  23. savydog
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    We arrived at Leshan and instead of going into the city we cross the river to the other side where the giant Buddha is situated. Carved into the side of a mountain around 700AD it is 71 metres from top to bottom. It is situated where 3 rivers combine and this was a hazardous spot for boats to pass. It was thought that the Buddha would tame the wild waters and it did work. The rock removed when the Buddha was carved was placed into the river which changed the way the waters flowed and calmed down the wild water :)

    There are two options to see the buddha, the first (90 yuan) is to start from the top and decend a series of stairs where you can stop off and take photos, working your way down to the bottom. Be warned that once at the bottom you have to climb another steep path to get back up to the top again. The second option (70 yuan) is to take a boat out to the foot of the mountain and view the buddha from there. The boat stays off shore so you do not have the opportunity to get off and walk around. As I had travelled a long way, I decided to do both, 70 yuan is $11 :)

    First to get to the top of the mountain there is some walking and steps to work your way through. Over the years carvings have been added to make the walk more interesting. I love dragons so I did enjoy this fellow who's tail formed a wall of a pond :)

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  24. savydog
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    At the top was a crowd of people waiting to start the climb down. There is also an active temple for worship. My guide is Buddhist but she did not like how they sold large sticks of incense for burning. Later in the tour we visited her temple where the monks provide regular incense sticks for free to believers to use in prayer. Quite a difference. The people buying the sticks on the mountain top are praying for more money, she told me :)

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    I think the queue took between 20 to 30 minutes before we could start to descend and see the buddha, once you can see of course you do not care so much about the slow moving line :)

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  25. savydog
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    There are few areas on the way down that you can leave the queue and take some photos from viewing platforms on the way down. Each reveal more of the buddha :)

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    Some of the path, little statues have been carved into the walls over the centuries and they have worn away over time.

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    The view down with Buddha's foot and tour boat that I would be boarding later that day :)

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