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Enchanted China Trip Report July 26, 2009 - August 7, 2009

Discussion in 'Adventures By Disney' started by figmentfan2009, Jul 26, 2009.

  1. RweTHEREyet

    RweTHEREyet DIS Veteran

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    Thanks for this info. While we are not on the ABD tour, we will be in Beijing and Shanghai the majority of the time.
     
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  3. RweTHEREyet

    RweTHEREyet DIS Veteran

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    Thanks for another installment FigmentFan. Hope tomorrow is another great day for you guys.

    Looking forward to seeing your pictures.
     
  4. Siliobear

    Siliobear Mouseketeer

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    Wonderful to read your posts, as it brings back fond memories of our trip from just a few weeks ago (tell Brian the Quan family says HI). We just ordered our PhotoPass CD, so I've been able to relive the memories thru the photos and your entries. All I can say is just when you think each day has been great, it just keeps getting better and better! Enjoy!
     
  5. figmentfan2009

    figmentfan2009 Mouseketeer

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    Sorry, time to catch up a bit. It has been a busy couple days.

    Thursday was pandas in Chengdu. It was, apparently, an amazing day for Pandas... it was also a great day for ducks. It rained buckets while we were on our way to the research facility and while we were looking at the pandas. But the rain made the pandas much happier and some of them more active. I've seen them in San Diego zoo years and years ago. It is not the same. They are way more active and they seem to just take for granted that food will magically appear. And it does. I was grateful to have my waterproof camera on Thursday because there were pictures (not as close as I could have gotten with my other camera) that I would have missed if I had not had that camera along (I would have been afraid of ruining my good one). DD and I got our pictures taken with pandas. They schedule the picture taking around the panda's mood, their break schedule and several other factors, and it was close that we might not have been able to get our pictures taken... the pandas were a bit moody and it was interesting to watch everyone getting climbed on by the "kids". Mine bit me. Not hard, more like... hmmmm wonder what this is.... and he really liked his tummy scratched. DD was in her glory and I honestly thought she was going to cry she was so happy.

    I seem to be a source of humor because I'm always taking pictures...

    It was afternoon on our own. Kids slept off the cold and wet. DH and I walked around Chengdu, walked down the river and watched local men fish and found a park to walk through. It was along the river and had several temples and building to walk through. We only managed to get a little wet. Cafe-Z at the hotel is a wonderful buffet and there is something for everyone.

    Face Changing Opera was, thank goodness, under a canvas roof. It is at a tea house, and you get a cup of jasmine green tea to drink. The opera isn't anything like any opera I've ever seen, and I love the way that they mix music with comedy and the music is wonderful. The lady who is the MC of the opera narrates half in chinese and half in english but you really have to listen to catch some of what she is saying. The tea is great, the outside venue is interesting (and if it rains, the rain on the 'roof' adds to the atmosphere). One of the most interesting parts of the opera is the fact that, for 50 yuan you can get a massage, a foot massage or an ear massage. Most of our group got one or more of them.

    Friday morning... Up well before crack of dawn to head out for the airport. It was still raining when we left... but the first leg was only about an hour. When we landed in Xian, it was still overcast and trying to rain. The bus ride wasn't too long (they just opened up one highway within the last week or so) and we got to the terracotta warriors in time for a quick lunch at the tea house. The place smells wonderful. Be warned, though, they don't have any drinks at lunch, so take a bottle of water with you!!!

    Words cannot describe the warriors. They just can't. You do get to see the farmer (who is now about 80) in the gift shop signing books. The crowds are pushy (REALLY pushy... they have NO manners at all and will shove you out of the way and get snotty if you try to GET out of the way). The destruction of all of the history when the armies destroyed the tomb is really sad. DS spent an amazing amount of time looking at everything, reading all of the signs, taking everything in. He spent an enormous amount of time taking pictures and explaining to me to me the way the army was laid our and how the infantry worked during his dynasty.

    Back on the bus and to the airport.

    Please note, if you buy tea/coffee at the airport, it is EXTREMELY hot. I scalded myself on my tea when I spilled just a little on my shirt. They passed out 'box lunches' for dinner before we went through security and between that and the chinese dinner there was an enormous amount of food on the plane. We landed in record time and actually got to see most of the trip to the Hotel of Modern Art in the daylight.

    The hotel is amazing. The art is amazing. The mountains are amazing. It is SO quiet. It is SO hot and humid. It is wonderful to take a nice quiet stroll outside in the trees and the art after the busy day. The beds are soft and the down comforter is a welcome addition.

    Today was the trip down the li river. It was warm and humid and the sky was blue and just a few clouds. Perfect weather after the last 2 rainy days. Perfect weather to take a boat trip and see the stunning scenery. The river is full of water buffalo and boats. Several places along the river you can see (or at least we did) "markets" that were set up in the middle of the river on little islands or along the river bank. The markets are nothing more than tent roofs over tables.

    The market is crazy. The food in town is fantastic, and the shopping is an adventure in itself.

    And, it is time to pack and crash and burn.
     
  6. clarabelle

    clarabelle <font color=green>Pandas don't seem to have much o

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    Thanks so much for taking the time to write this. You write really well.
    I am enjoying it
     
  7. WeLoveABD

    WeLoveABD DIS Veteran

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    Thanks for the on-going report! We went last summer and missed Chengdu because of the earthquake in that region (our time in Bejing was extended, and we saw pandas in the Bejing zoo). We didn't go to Xian (reason alone to go back to China some day)--and because we didn't go to Chengdu, no face changing opera...so please, more details on that! Do the singers change masks quickly etc? (guess this is what I envisioned). The HOMA is just such a cool place. With the addition of Xian, what was taken out of the trip? Do you have just one night at HOMA?
     
  8. figmentfan2009

    figmentfan2009 Mouseketeer

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    Face Changing opera was totally awesome. The face changing part was only... maybe... 15 min long but it was (depending on who you talk to) the best (and last... duh) part of the show. The masks are beautifully colored and everyone in that part of the show has big hats.. and there is one of the people who spits fire several times during the show. Literally, if you blink you miss the change. They usually change the face behind a fan but it is so fast, if you weren't paying attention to the color of the mask BEFORE the change, you are totally sure you actually saw the difference. There is a lot of show to that part of the opera and it is interesting to watch. Everyone was trying to "catch" how they change. There was a running commentary on the fact that it was something to do with the way they turn their heads or the way they flick the fan. Bobby, our Chengdu expert, had fun with us around the face changing part. (if you didn't get to go... and NOT if you haven't gone yet... PM me and I can explain more).

    I have a video I've been trying to get up to YouTube but for some reason youtube won't load here... it is of the shadow puppet part of the show, which was equally as amazing.

    What did they take out of the Guilin trip for Xian? Sleep. That is all that I can find that they took out. They moved movie night from the night you get here to the night before you leave. You stay 2 nights (people are voting for 3 and one less in Shanghai). I'm most disappointed in having to have the bbq in the Lotus restaurant rather than by the lake but if that is my biggest disappointment, I will so totally live.

    If you haven't been on the trip yet and are going, I suggest looking at all of the bathrooms in all of the public places. Not for the commodes themselves but for the "art" and decoration that are the bathrooms. There is one out by the lake built into what is supposed to be a rock that has quartz crystals decorating the walls and the water in the sinks comes out of stalactites. I took pictures (go figure) of the decor of most of them just because it was so neat.

    HTH... let me know if you have any more questions.
    popcorn::

    :flower3:
     
  9. CBEB

    CBEB <font color=deeppink>We're ready to do it again!<b

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    Love the report! Wow, I never would have thought about taking an underwater camera - great idea!

    High hopes for going next summer!

    Can't wait for your next post. Hopefully you'll get a chance to post pictures when you get home?
     
  10. BriarRose59

    BriarRose59 WDW Once Upon a Dream

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    The young man that picked us up at the airport in Beijing said that youtube had been blocked throughout China. Facebook was still okay at that time. I don't know about now.
     
  11. figmentfan2009

    figmentfan2009 Mouseketeer

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    Yes, pictures will be forthcoming when we get home. LOTS of pictures.

    Li River Cruise was a wonderful down time kind of day. Getting to the dock was a real adventure (the bus had to drive in some places that I wouldn't have probably taken a compact car. I would NOT like to drive in china. It was a nice "countryside" kind of bus ride, lots of water buffalo, lots of rice paddies, lots of beautiful scenery. On the boat, they had snake wine that is supposed to be good for manly vigor and arthritis. DH and I spent the entire ride on the upper deck of the boat. It was plenty warm, but it was beautiful. We passed island markets and lots of other boats.

    The market town was interesting. The vendors were less "in your face" than they were in the tourist areas of beijing, but you could bargain down some killer deals. Lunch was family style.

    Dinner back at the HOMA was buffet

    Shanghai is very 'big city'. They are getting ready for the 2010 expo (worlds fair) and there is a lot of construction going on. There is an awful lot of western feel to the town but there are still small shops that are entirely chines. DH has been able to find pepsi for 3yuan each for a bottle (but it is hard to find ones that are cold... the chinese are way more into very hot... water..tea...coffee... than they are cold

    Yesterday we went to old town Shanghai and every kid on our trip got a Chairman Mao watch. It ended up being the running joke. And apparently that was yet another in a long list of firsts for this trip. Shopping in old town was fun and we got some really nice things. Silk, jade, pearls... I even got some really pretty purple wool yarn to make a shawl out of when I get home... Plan is to have it done by the time we go to Germany.... The park part of old town is beautiful but very very crowded.

    Today was the Shanghai museum. DS was enchanted with all of the history, especially the jade, the money, the statues and the bronzes.

    Tonight is soup dumplings and the acrobats of shanghai.
     
  12. figmentfan2009

    figmentfan2009 Mouseketeer

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    Here is it, the morning to go home.

    The dumplings in Shanghai were killer. DD was not overly happy with Chinese food, too many things had seafood and she can't eat any of it. Desert in most places consisted of fruit, the vast majority of it was watermelon. They taught us how to eat soup dumplings and I really like the ginger and vinegar that they suggest you dip them in.

    It isn't good. It isn't bad. It is just different.

    The acrobats were amazing. They say circus... NOT even close. There was humor and music and... well... acrobats. A guy 'juggling' one porcelain vase that was probably 2 feet high. Tumblers jumping through rings. The highlight was probably the 8 motorcycles in a metal ball. Hearing the guides talk about it, it kind of sounds like what you might see in a regular circus at home. NOT even close. I bought a CD of the music (and that came with a free "t-shirt"... that is what the lady called it... it was a polo shirt) and later went back to get the DVD which also came with a free shirt.

    Up and at-em early in the morning. Breakfast and then off to the Maglev train. We made it to the airport in 7 min... 310KM per hour. People had their doubts that I could take pictures going that fast. I did.

    The Shanghai airport is really big, and absolutely beautiful. It isn't quite as nice as the terminal we flew out of in Beijing, but close.

    While waiting at the airport, I got a decent copy of the swine flu movie that they show on every (maybe all but one) flight we had on china airlines.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lCrYpxJUr0c

    The ones on the flights have music and the pig talks, but they are on tiny screens and because they are on a plane, getting them even as smooth as this one isn't easy... this was way better.

    About midnight that night a little typhoon thing went through off shore of Hong Kong. That meant a 30 min delay of flight AFTER we boarded. That could have been bad, but it wasn't really. They served tea and left the air on and it was a nice nap time.

    Flying wasn't bad. Landing in 50 MPH winds is... interesting... especially when you land on a runway that has water at the END of the runway. It was the only interesting landing we had.

    And there we were, hong kong.

    Rain and rain and rain and rain... there were breaks in the rain where it let up, we actually got lucky enough to see the normal water parade even in the rain. We got even luckier because they had the fireworks. TORRENTIAL downpour thunder and lightning... and fireworks. The VIP viewing that ABD arranges is from the platform in front of the train station. There was a cemented in umbrella that many of us stood under to watch the show. I got a video... it could have been zoomed in better... but I figure I'm lucky to get this much given that we were all soaked (badly enough that DH threw away DS's jeans because they would never have dried in time to make it home)... We could not have gotten wetter. Waded water about 9 inches deep in places getting to the bus back to Disneyland Hotel. Lots of drowned rats. But it was SO worth it.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wXfulqc2uLQ

    Shower and into warm dry clothes.

    Up for breakfast... Mickey, Daisy and Pluto were our visitors for breakfast. I SO want to mug one of the cast members/character keepers for their shirts. The HK DL ones are different.

    Hong Kong top to bottom...

    Drove for an hour to get to Stanly Market. The market was interesting... you could do some hagling, but not a whole lot. DS got a wood and leather box that he was wanting. DD got a tiger painting on canvas that now we will have to have framed for her. I got 2 cashmere shawls to go with my silk one from Shanghai.

    Up Victoria Peak for lunch on our own and a stunning view of fog shrouded hong kong harbor. When we got there you could see about 30 feet from the top of the hill off into the trees. NO buildings... no harbor... a couple trees maybe. By the time we left, the wind had changed directions and we were able to see better for the cable car ride down. The view is amazing.

    Star Ferry across the harbor to catch the bus in Kowloon back to Disney property. DH remembered the boat ride from 40 something years ago when he was in the service. The seats on the boat are open air with great windows or air conditioned with so so windows. We went open air. The rest of the people on the tour went AC. It wasn't too too bad. It was more humid than we are used to but a lot like "home".

    Back to the hotel with time to spare to go to the park for some last pictures, and a trip to the lion king that we missed seeing the day before. I would SO not miss that show if I were anyone going. It is worth the time. It is totally different than the one in Florida. I think the only thing that is the same is the fact that is is Timon, Simba and Pumba and the floats have the same animals on them. The kids opted to stay in the room and rest so they missed out on seeing it.

    Farewell dinner in the crystal locus. The food was good, but it was kind of weird. Everyone was waiting for the "main course" and it never really seemed to come. They brought soup and salad and some other stuff like that, but the real DINNER like the dinners we were used to most of the time was kind of... a let down.

    We went downstairs for the slideshow viewing and that was awesome. Can't wait to see the photopass version. Got a picture of DS (in the slideshow) eating a duck face. That was well worth it.

    And now we are packed and getting ready to leave.

    This trip was SO worth every penny. It was absolutely the trip of a lifetime.

    One parting thought... Again, it's not good, it's not bad, it's just different. The trip is in China. There are MILLIONS and MILLIONS of people in China and most of them are packed into Urban areas. They have learned that, to claim their place in life, they need to muscle their way into whatever they want to do. So they do. This trip, don't expect niceties everywhere from the locals. For the most part you won't be disrespected but you WILL be treated like everyone else. Lines for tickets and to get into things are a lot like lines on the road... they are suggestions, but if you aren't willing to be just a little pushy, you will never get to see anything. This is especially true if you do things on your own during your "down" time. They aren't doing it to you because you are a visitor they are doing it because that is the way they survive.

    Learn just a few words (like hello and thank you) and everyone brightens up (you aren't so much the ugly american... you become human). Expect to be taken advantage of by cabs that are questionable. Expect to haggle over prices for things. Expect to have a trip you will never forget, one that may change the way you look at things.

    I will probably post more as I realize all of the things I forgot... don't hesitate to ask question.

    :teacher:
     
  13. 2GirlsMama

    2GirlsMama Happy Wife and Mom

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    Figment Fan,
    Thanks for sharing your trip to China with us. I loved reading your posts. The Swine Flu video was really interesting. We didn't get to see that while we were in China. (They didn't show videos while we were in quarantine :rolleyes1)

    I hope you have a safe trip home. I would love to see your pictures!
     
  14. Aburns8

    Aburns8 DIS Veteran

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    Thanks for sharing! I hope to see some wonderful pics!
     
  15. sayhello

    sayhello Have Camera, Will Travel Moderator

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    Oh, man, what a wonderful trip! I am really looking forward to seeing your pictures! This trip is definitely on my short list of "must do" ABD's. Especially since it now includes Xian & the terra cotta soldiers... If they make that a permanent feature, I am so doing this trip. :cool1:

    Thanks for sharing your report!

    Sayhello
     
  16. figmentfan2009

    figmentfan2009 Mouseketeer

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    You can follow along with my uploads (which promise to take nearly as long as the trip if current status is anything to go by...) here
    and... trip reports extended can be seen here
     
  17. Siliobear

    Siliobear Mouseketeer

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    I can still hear Brian's (the ABD guide) voice say that phrase thruout our tour. Thanks for throwing in that little insider's joke :)

    Looking forward to your other posts and photos on your links.
     
  18. smep013

    smep013 DVC Member

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    Booking this ABD tonight! Cannot wait!!!
     
  19. BriarRose59

    BriarRose59 WDW Once Upon a Dream

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    Too funny! I thought the same thing! This was a mantra throughout our trip.
     

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