Archives For preparing for travel to china

Have you noticed how hot it has been in China this summer? Even cities in the three most extreme northeastern provinces of China have recorded temperatures of 100 degrees Fahrenheit or more in the recent weeks! In one of these cities, I have personally been there in December when it was 18 degrees below zero (Fahrenheit), so you can see that a climate like that doesn’t get to 100 degrees or higher very often!

There are lots of precautions that should be made when dealing with extreme temperatures like these, and there are some for travelers as well. Would you like to review a couple of them?

First and foremost, stay hydrated! Bottles of water are inexpensive in China and easy to find in cities, so please stay hydrated and wear loose-fitting light-colored clothes. Another one is to know some of the aspects of when and where to go. I can show you an example of a mistake I made once. Would you like to see it?

Some Friendly Travel Advice - BeauSides.com

This is the Great Wall of China at the Badaling location, which is the closest to Beijing so it is full of tourists. Also, it is the most commercialized of the locations near Beijing, so the crowds just getting there are quite large. This photo was taken in the summer, so not only was that the height of the tourist season, but it was also hot! As you can see from the photo, the air movement is somewhat restricted by the upper section of the wall. On this day I was convinced the stones in the Great Wall were absorbing the heat from the sun, and reflecting it back on the tourists!

If your travel takes place in the summer months, I would encourage you to think about getting to an outdoor tourist site early in the morning. This way it will be cooler, and you should be ahead of the crowds. On this trip to the Great Wall, combining the heat with the crowds did not make for the best experience, and that is what I want everyone to have, the best possible experience. Hopefully you can learn from my mistake!

Do you have any travel tips for sightseeing in hot weather?

There are sights to see almost everywhere we look, even at an airport in a country where you have visited many times. If you have followed my blog posts, you will know that I not only encourage people to travel, but to have a camera ready when they do travel.

So, there I was standing in the security line at the airport when I noticed the most unique backpack I think I have ever seen being carried by an adult! It truly caught me by surprise, and since I am a dog lover, I liked it very much! Check it out below!

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Another image that caught my eye not long after getting through the security line at the Beijing Capital Airport was for marketing. I think most of us know who Michael Phelps is, and apparently so do the people in China. After the scandal that rocked the Olympic Swimming Team, it is good to see that some are rewarded for not “messing things up!”

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Don’t forget, travel when and where you can, and have your camera ready.

I regret not capturing some of the sights I have seen, because I didn’t have a camera with me and ready to use. There have been many other mistakes I have made, so keep reading my blog posts and you can learn from my mistakes!

What’s the most interesting sight you’ve seen — that you missed a chance to get a picture of, because you didn’t have your camera ready?

Breakfast Breads

March 15, 2016 — Leave a comment

Most of the nicer hotels I have stayed in China have a breakfast buffet, and today I want to mention some of the breads that can be found at the buffets. Usually you can find the traditional manto, which is a solid white steamed bread or multi-grain bread, but I don’t think I have ever seen a bagel. The manto is usually served warm and in small serving sizes for breakfast. Much larger sizes of manto are found for the other meals.

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breads2In the picture to the left, you can see a couple of breads that are common on the breakfast buffets. The one furthest away is a fried bread, sometimes it is hollow. The item closet to the camera is a pastry which has a very flaky exterior. Inside is a sweet paste and I will say it tastes like figs. The pastries are reasonably filling, but the fried bread isn’t filling at all.

It is common in hotels that have foreigners staying there to have toast of various shapes and flavors. On my last trip, a friend with me wanted toast and butter. I must admit that I got a good laugh watching them try to spread their butter with chopsticks!breads3

On my last trip to China, I had two friends with me, and they have both been to China multiple times. They are both truly world travelers, one is even a flight attendant. All of that is to say that even if you think you know “the system” for packing, you can be surprised.

As we checked in at the airline’s counter at Terminal 2 in Beijing, we were stopped. Apparently something in our luggage had caused a problem, and we had to wait for a person with more authority to come and tell us what was wrong. When you have a connecting flight to catch, have already had to go through customs, get your luggage, exchange money, take a shuttle to another terminal, and get checked in for your flight, you don’t want any problems. Oh and did I mention the 14 hour flight we had already taken just to get to Beijing? So, you might say my state of mind wasn’t the best it could be, and now we had to wait for the security guy to approve their luggage.

The issue was the battery charging sticks in their checked luggage. They are frowned upon by the security people in China. Here is a picture of my friends going through their luggage at the check in counter trying to find what was causing the problem within their luggage.

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We were told that the battery charging sticks should not be in the checked luggage. It was necessary for them to be in our carry on luggage. So, on the return trip home at the airport, my friends had their battery charging sticks in their carry on luggage, and they were stopped again! This time we almost missed our flight because it took so long to get through all of the issues the security personnel had in relation to the battery charging sticks. My advice is don’t travel with any battery charging sticks if you are traveling within China!

The huge airport built in Beijing for the 2008 Summer Olympic Games is very impressive in many ways. I would suggest you know which terminal you are heading to if you are getting into a taxi to take you to the airport. There are two main terminals for travel: Terminal 2 and Terminal 3. Terminal 2 is the one I always used when I started going to China. It isn’t as new as Terminal 3, but it functions quite well. Here are a couple of pictures of the terminals.

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You need to know what airline uses which terminal and plan accordingly, especially if you have a connecting flight. I say that because it will take you at least 25 minutes to take the shuttle bus between the terminals. It can take more depending on traffic, the driver’s style of driving, and how long you have to wait for the bus to leave.

image006The shuttle buses are free but crowded because most people have luggage with them. You can meet some nice and interesting people on the shuttle buses. On my last trip, I overheard someone whom I assume was from western Europe telling a Chinese man about some cultural issue he had read about China. The Chinese man kept saying no, it wasn’t true, but the other man kept insisting it was true because he read it on the Internet.

There is a Terminal 1, but I am going to guess it is for cargo since I have never heard of a passenger flight being used from that facility. Also, don’t be surprised if your gate at either of the terminals has some stairs and an elevator near it. You may be instructed to go down a level and get on a bus that will take you to your plane, which is parked away from the building waiting for the passengers. The terminals are easy to use, and there are many signs in English directing you to where you want to go. Also, they have information booths, and usually the people can speak English.

Residential Wiring

September 29, 2015 — Leave a comment

There are several differences in the wiring of homes and apartments in China and the States.  The first one is that homes in China use 220V, and the states use 110V.  That isn’t something you can see, but you may need to know that when you plug in your appliances.  Don’t worry about your laptop, because the power cable probably can make the adjustment, so no problem with it.

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The lights would be another difference.  It is not uncommon at all to see a light in China that doesn’t have a glass globe around it.  That is not to say that nice light fixtures aren’t there, it is just to say that frequently you will see just the light socket to hold the light bulb.  In fact, sometimes you will see some electrical wire hanging from the ceiling with a socket at the end, and that is the light fixture for the room. RW5 

Another difference is with the unused cables.  Sometimes you will come across an electrical outlet or light switch that has some unused cables protruding from them.  You never know if they are hot or not, so be careful!RW4

 

I am not aware of anyone having a problem with being electrocuted by these exposed wires, and that obviously is a good thing.  So, if you are traveling in China, don’t be surprised if you encounter wiring like this.

Many stores with merchandise that we may want or need in a hurry are called convenience stores.  Something I have noticed is that they all have snacks for you to enjoy.  Also, convenience stores are usually in a good location, so your access is easy and unobstructed.  The Beijing Capital Airport has similar shops placed throughout the terminals and other features to enable you to enjoy your time in the airport.

In the pictures below, you will see how you can go to a convenience store and purchase a container of noodles.  To prepare the noodles for eating, you need to add hot water and then cover the noodles so they can cook, and then you are ready for your meal.

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These water dispensers provide water that is too hot to touch with your skin, so be careful if you use one of these devices. They are free, which can save you some money if you are traveling on a tight budget.

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Another feature at the airport for your convenience are vending machines.  These vending machines have a fairly wide selection of beverages, and yes, they are chilled.  Since the currency in China has a different size for each bill (a 1 RMB bill is smaller than a 5 RMB bill,) you will need to pay attention to the slot you use for your payment.  Make sure your bill goes in the correct slot. Otherwise, the machine may not read your bill correctly and not give you credit for the right value.  By the way, making a purchase from the vending machine is less expensive than a purchase from a convenience store at the airport.

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One last thought about the convenience features at the airport, if you are not accustomed to drinking the water in China, please don’t use the water fountains.  Many travelers get sick if they drink the tap water in China. I would hate for anyone to get sick just before a 14 hour flight returning home!

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As I understand it, Beijing Capital Airport is considered the second busiest airport in the world, trailing Atlanta’s airport.  As you can see from the picture below, this airport is HUGE and full of people, so steps have to be taken to keep the crowds moving in an efficient manner.

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One way this airport has tried to become efficient for not only moving people, but also keeping expenses down, is to let people scan their tickets when going to the domestic boarding area.  There are several lanes for this and airport employees are available  to assist, if needed.  It has been my experience that this system works very well, but make sure you have your boarding pass out before it is your turn to scan!

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If your mind starts to drift and you are trying to remember what time it is at home (wherever home may be), this airport has a feature to help you.  This global clock is very large and can be seen from a long distance away.  So, if you want to know if it is an appropriate time to place a phone call to someone back home, you may want to consult the clock on the wall!  I am sure anyone that is saved from a call which wakens them from a sound sleep will appreciate it very much!

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Just so you will know, the round devices above the clock are air conditioner vents.  In the summer you will want to look for these when selecting a seat, because it is quite warm in the airport during the summer months.  If you have been running trying to make a connection in the summer, I promise you that you will want to find an air conditioner vent as soon as you can!

One of the things I enjoy most about this amazing airport are the sights.  When you land and taxi to your gate, you can see airlines from all around the world. Some of the jets have fascinating paint jobs.  Also, you may see a new style of airplane there.  I saw my first Airbus a380 there; it truly dwarfed the planes around it.  Thanks to the Beijing Capital Airport, I had my first ride in a 747 and a380.  747s aren’t being used as much as they were 12 years ago. 777s have a nice feature in the entertainment of passengers.  When I first started going to China, there was a screen at the front of each section, and everyone watched the same movie at the same time.  When it was over, there was a big crowd at the restrooms!  Now that people can select their own TV shows, movies, or music, the flights seem much more relaxing!

The Beijing Capital Airport is the second busiest in the world, so there is always something to see.  If you like to people watch, you have a very diverse group to view.  If you like aviation, there are very many planes to see!  If you like to watch the sunrise or enjoy a beautiful sunset, that is easily accommodated as the exterior walls of the airport are made of glass.  Getting a great view is very easy.  In fact, in the summer, you may want to choose to sit on the shady side of the terminal because it can be a little too warm for comfort in the sunshine.

 

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Everyone knows that sometimes you have some time to kill at an airport. I have some suggestions for you if your find yourself in that state at the Beijing Capital Airport.  You actually have some pretty good options, including, but not limited to, using the free WiFi!  You can find a fairly strong signal at all of the places I have tried at the airport and, as I previously mentioned, it is free.  If you have some work or emails to catch up on, or pictures to send, you can stay current via the airport’s WiFi.

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If you enjoy art, there are some unique items to enjoy at the airport.  It would surprise me if there wasn’t some story about the artwork, but I don’t know what it is. Sorry!

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Also, if you are a shopper, you have many options within the airport.  There are plenty of restaurants and many shops where you can pick up snacks. There are also many high-end shops available to keep you occupied and give you a chance to spend the money you didn’t exchange!

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If you want a little taste of home, you never know what you may see at the Beijing Capital Airport!  Who would have thought Lady Liberty would be at this airport!

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OK, I agree with you, I wouldn’t go to the airport to purchase a chandelier, but it is interesting to find them for sale there.  It is also interesting to see that some of the light bulbs needed to be tightened or replaced.

Another way to relax at the airport is to go to the floor which has showers and beds for rent by the hour.  If I remember correctly, this is on the third floor (or the floor just below the main terminal).  I have seen the signs for this facility. I have never been there, but it is nice to know that the option is available!