Live from Enchanted China

Discussion in 'Adventures By Disney' started by abdmom, May 31, 2008.

  1. abdmom

    abdmom DIS Veteran

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    Hi Everyone

    We just landed last night. It's 5 a.m. here in Beijing, 4 p.m. in Mpls where we started.

    I have free internet here in the hotel along with, wonder of wonders, a 100V outlet! As long as these circumstances continue, I'll continue to post.

    From the time I got in the taxi until arrival in the hotel room, it was exactly 24 hours. A very long trip. We flew Northwest, direct from MSP to Tokyo and then direct to Beijing, again on Northwest. I frequently travel NWA and I must say that these two flights were two of the most pleasant I've been on. There were several tasty meals on the MSP-NRT leg and another on the flight to Beijing. Although we took off almost an hour late, we still arrived on time. The connection to Beijing was only an hour and a half after the Narita arrival. I think that many of the people on the Tokyo flight ended up being on the Beijing flight. We had to pass thru security again at Narita, which made me nervous about making the flight to Beijing, but we had no trouble although the line at secruity was very long.

    We arrived in Beijing at about 10 p.m. I think we were the only flight landing in the terminal at the time, so it was very empty. Another long line for immigration. Picked up our bags and headed outside baggage claim, where Sandy, one of the ABD guides was waiting for us. He says that the other guide is Fred. He took us to our minivan and our driver delivered us to the hotel. It was about a 30 minute drive, very little traffic.

    Checkin was quick. They did take copies of our passports. All of us had to sign a registration form, yes, even the kids. The room was a king room. There are 3 of us staying here. I find it a little on the small side. The furniture is attractive, but there is no place to store the luggage. The bed is very very firm by North American standards. I took the very soft pillows and arranged them around me so that I could sleep. It took me a while to find where the thermostat control in the room is: It's on the phone! I woke up quite chilled since I couldn't find the thermostate before bed and am still wearing my jacket over my pajamas. There is room service from 5 a.m.-11 p.m. Of course, we picked up the room service menu at 11:10 p.m. :( There is a minibar with Pringles and peanuts and some of the MOST expensive prices I've ever seen in a minibar - $6 for a small can of peanuts. There is also liquor, tea, Sanka, soda, chocolate. The room has a DVD player, flat screen TV, hairdryer, safe, a kettle, phone, Wifi and a fax machine. No coffee machine . That's fine by me, I'm a tea drinker so am thrilled with the kettle. There is a pool and gym on the premises. There is a concierge and a currency exchange desk in the lobby. There is a restaurant - can you tell I'm hungry? - that we will check out when the kids wake up. The kids deal with jetlag better than I do. They're soundly sleeping.

    Just plugged my laptop into the wall 110 V outlet. So far, so good.

    Will post again. If you have questions, I'll try and find out the answers.

    Abdmom
     
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  3. caj0901

    caj0901 Earning My Ears

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    Thanks for the update. Although we're going to Peru, we're very interested in the China trip. Appreciate all your comments!!!:) :)
     
  4. dingoballs

    dingoballs Mouseketeer

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    Hi AbdMom,

    WoW, how exciting! You're finally starting your China ABD.

    I have a few questions: How far is the Peninsula Beijing from the airport? Does the king room have 2 beds? Is the WiFi free? Did you use the hotel's currency exchange?

    Please keep posting if you can. I'm looking forward to reading all about your Adventure before we ours begin... :thumbsup2
     
  5. sandybobandy

    sandybobandy DIS Veteran

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    Hi neighbor! We're in Bloomington. There's severe weather going all through the cities so be glad you're not here. :)

    Have a wonderful trip!!!!!
     
  6. abdmom

    abdmom DIS Veteran

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    We had breakfast in Jing, the hotel restaurant, this morning. Excellent buffet with American, Chinese and Japanese dishes. For an adult it was 248 rmb or approx. $30. Children are half price. :cool1:

    Found out in reading the hotel's room service menu a little more closely that there is limited room service available after 11 p.m. So 24 hr room service.

    Dingoballs: I don't have the distance from the airport - but it was 30 minutes at top speed on the highway. There is only the king bed in the King room. The had to take out a small sofa to get the rollaway in. They also gave us the option of a room with 2 twins (plus a rollaway). At home I sleep in a King with my littlest, so opted for the King. For sitting area, there are two desk chairs left. One is holding one of the suitcases. I get the other one. The kids are happy to hang out on the beds. We may head out a little later. It's still very early in Beijing - 9 a.m.

    Sandybobandy - I'm not a native Minnesotan. Those storms scare me! I missed quite a few last summer when I was on vacation too. Maybe I should give my neighbors my vacation schedule so that they know when to take cover. ;)
     
  7. dingoballs

    dingoballs Mouseketeer

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    Thanks Abdmom. We'll have to try Jing too...

    Just one other question: did you have to use an adapter to plug your laptop into the electrical outlet?
     
  8. DisneyVeteran

    DisneyVeteran Earning My Ears

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    Looking forward to hearing more about your trip!
     
  9. abdmom

    abdmom DIS Veteran

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    We finally met our tour guides: Dusty and Fred. Dusty will be doing all of the China trips this year. This is Fred's first tour. We were given an updated itinerary. However, this being China, nothing is carved in stone until it happens. They emphasized that things are still changing. Even for tomorrow morning, the meeting time is different than that listed in the itinerary.

    We met our fellow adventurers today too. They are all American. There are only 31 on the tour. I think the largest group is 5. Most are 4. The smallest is a group of 2. Someone must have cancelled since they had told me in April there would be 37. There are somewhat fewer children on the tour than I expected. Since a couple of families were delayed for dinner, I don't have an accurate count of children.

    The only activity for today was dinner. We had a traditional Chinese dinner at the restaurant across the street. Very good food. Our tablemates are from Houston and have 3 children with 2 of them the same ages as my 2. :)

    The 110V outlet did not need an adaptor. There is a single 110V outlet in the room and the electronics have been taking turns on it. This is the only hotel that will have 110 V. We haven't had any issues using the 110V outlet here. However, Dusty tells us not to use curling irons, even the dual voltage ones, without a converter at the other hotels. He says they invariably overheat.

    There is an ATM in one of the lower levels of the hotel. I was able to use my US ATM card here. The first time I put it in, it rejected it - said the PIN was wrong - oops I used the wrong card. Second time - it rejected it -said the PIN was wrong again - definitely wasn't wrong. I went into the bank - little bit of culture shock to walk into a bank on Sunday morning - they said try again. ;) OK, tried again and this time it worked. Maximum amount that I could withdraw is 2500 rmb/day or about $300. Most stores do not take credit cards, so I would recommend bringing travelers checks or U.S. cash to exchange.

    Off to sleep now. Tour starts at 8:30 a.m.

    abdmom
     
  10. isyt

    isyt DIS Veteran

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    I can't wait to hear more. This was the one I really wanted to do so I am really interested in your report!! Thanks
     
  11. Kareau

    Kareau Earning My Ears

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    Thanks for posting Abdmom. Glad to hear that that your trip went smoothly.

    What type of food did you have at your Chinese dinner? From what I hear, authentic Chinese food can be quite different from what we are used to in America.

    I can’t wait to read more of your posts. Hearing about your trip will make me even more excited about mine.
     
  12. MJGirl

    MJGirl DIS Veteran

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    Thanks for the report .. Can't wait to hear all about your adventure!
     
  13. abdmom

    abdmom DIS Veteran

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    Dd and I are still jetlagged. We've been up since 2:30 a.m. Our mistake has been lying down for naps in the afternoon, but we're sooo tired. Hopefully tonight will be better.

    Day 2

    We went to Tiananmen square and the Forbidden City in the morning. A lot of walking. I would definitely not recommend this tour for someone with mobility problems or children under age 8. There are a lot of stairs, it's hot and it's long. Not a lot of opportunity to explore things on our own. However, both Tiananmen and the Forbidden City are huge and I'm sure someone would have gotten lost if we had explored on our own. The tour lasted about 4 hours.

    Lunch was banquet style, like last night. The food is adjusted to Western tastes on the tour. It is rarely spicy. Lunch had duck, chicken, beef, broccoli, egg rolls and about 6 other dishes that I can't recall. Plenty of opportunity to pick and choose.

    Back at the hotel around 1:30. We intended to go shopping, but fell asleep.

    They had some actiivities for the kids before dinner- calligraphy, mask making, small kite-making. Dd and ds weren't interested when I asked them, but dd was kind of sorry she missed out when she arrived at dinner.

    Dinner was Westernish food - salad and chicken or fish. Pasta for the kids. Everyone was tired. I didn't see too many people eat too much. My kids were falling asleep. There was a brief acrobat performance at the end of dinner.

    It's now 5 a.m. on Day 3. Off to the Great Wall today.
     
  14. abdmom

    abdmom DIS Veteran

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    Day 3

    Great Wall

    Drove to the Great Wall today. The motorcoach that we have is excellent, very clean and comfortable. I must say that the accomodations, food and transportation have been first rate. The hotel in Beijing, the Beijing Peninsula, appears to be the best hotel in Beijing. Other than the fact that the rooms are a little small, I can't think of anything to criticize. The restaurants, other than the breakfast buffet, are extremely pricey though and it is best to find meals which are not part of the package, offsite. This is no problem as there are plenty of restaurants in the area.

    We drove to an area of the Great Wall which is not very crowded. We took a gondola to get to the entrance. We spent about an hour or so walking around and taking pictures. There are plenty of vendors at the bottom for shopping for souvenirs.

    Lunch was at the nearby Schoolhouse restaurant. Afterwards, we saw a pasta making demonstration and glass blowing demonstration. Both were excellent.

    We arrived back at the hotel around 5 p.m. Dinner was not included. We did some quick shopping and had a quick bite. Dd was asleep by 7.

    Today, the plan is to see the Temple of Heaven and do a pedicab tour. I say the "plan" since the itinerary is different from even the printed itinerary that they handed out on the first day. Tomorrow and the next day are days 4 and 5. These were originally supposed to be spent in Chengdu. The itineraries for these days were still changing this past weekend, so I'll let you know what we end up doing after we do it. :thumbsup2
     
  15. redzinner

    redzinner Me Wants the Medianoche!

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    Thanks for the daily jots. Although I'll never do this trip it is interesting to read about it. It also sounds like you are going with the 'flow' of the itinerary in good spirits. Kudos.
     
  16. dingoballs

    dingoballs Mouseketeer

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    Hi Abdmom,

    Thanks for posting your daily adventures! I'm glad to hear that the Peninsula Beijing is first class. When you went shopping, did you bargain with the vendors? If you did, how did you do?
     
  17. abdmom

    abdmom DIS Veteran

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    Dingoballs

    I am not so good at bargaining. ;) My late dh was Chinese and would always take that role. I hate to negotiate. The rule of thumb that I am told by the guides is to pay 20-30% of the initial price. This only applies to roadside vendors, not downtown Beijing stores. I made an error yesterday in my calculations, just for a couple of t-shirts, and have been kicking myself since. Ah well, I figure that I overpaid about $15, which is not so much to me, but might make a big difference to the vendor, even if they are now laughing at the stupid American. :rotfl2:
     
  18. dingoballs

    dingoballs Mouseketeer

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    Don't you just hate it when that happens?? Well, at least you're able to laugh about it... ::yes::

    What is on your itinerary for tomorrow?
     
  19. Traveling Tinkerbell

    Traveling Tinkerbell Mouseketeer

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    Our family will be starting our China trip with ABD June 16. We have some questions - Are most of the members on the tour wearing shorts during the day? How dressy at night do you have to be for the dinners? We can't wait to hear the rest of your adventures in the coming days.
     
  20. abdmom

    abdmom DIS Veteran

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    Day 4

    We went to the Temple of Heaven and rode pedicabs through a hutong (old-fashioned neighborhood). We had a Tai Chi lesson near the Temple of Heaven and learned some crafts and yoyo near the hutong. Tonight we are having Peking Duck - yumm!

    Most people are wearing shorts. Dinners are equally casual. They mentioned that the first night's dinner in Shanghai might be an occasion to wear long pants or a skirt, but it is not required. While we're on the subject of attire, I recommend bringing a wide-brimmed hat. Even though it is not that hot out during the day, the past few days, we have spent a lot of time outside, doing a lot of walking. My son left his hat in the bus this morning and really regretted it.

    Not sure what's on the itinerary for tomorrow. LOL. We have a printed itinerary for days 4 and 5 which was revised since the earthquake, but we're not even following that! Even for the June 16 departure, I wouldn't count on following our itinerary.

    I am running out of disk space on my camera -and we're not close to halfway through. I'm not so computer savvy that I can download to my laptop. I'm also running out of camcorder disk space. Bring twice as much camcorder and camera memory as you think you might need.
     
  21. Beth

    Beth Just happy to be here...

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    ABDMom - please tell Dusty that "Beth & Scott from Tampa" said Hello...

    I just heard from him yesterday via email, and he said that all the last-minute revisions to the tour has kept him really busy.

    ...But I'm sure he's doing a good job for you - he's super!

    Enjoy the rest of your tour!!!
     

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