It's A Small World - A Never-ending Pre-trip Report

dolphingirl47

In Search of the Tag Fairy
Joined
Dec 25, 2007
My leave for our next trip was approved this morning so I can now share our plans. This is still in the relatively early planning stages so elements of this may yet change. However, the first half of the holiday is pretty much set in stone. We will be away from 2nd to 17th June. So it is not long now at all. Here is the itinerary as it stands at the moment:

2nd June: Fly from Manchester to either Shenzhen or Guanzhou in China (arrive 3rd June) and take the train or ferry to Hong Kong

3rd to 6th June: 3 nights in Hong Kong. We will spend one day sightseeing in Hong Kong and I will spend one night at Hong Kong Disneyland, which then completes the collection of all Disney parks around the world. For the sightseeing day, we will probably just get a ticket for a hop on hop off bus.

6th to 11th June: 5 night cruise on my favourite ship, Ovation of the Seas. We will have two sea days and will stop in Borocay and Subic Bay in the Philippines

11th June: Fly from Hong Kong to Xi’an

11th to 12th June: 1 night in Xi’an. All going according to plan, we will be there by mid afternoon, which will give us some time to explore the city walls and the historical district on our arrival day. The next day, we will go to see the Terracotta Warriors

12th June: evening flight from Xi’an to Beijing.

12th to 16th June: 4 nights in Beijing. We have not really discussed yet what we want to do, but a repeat visit to the Great Wall of China, Forbidden City and Temple of Heaven is a distinct possibility. I also really want to see the Summer Palace, Lama Temple and Panda Garden.

17th June: early morning flight from Beijing to Manchester

I am so excited about this and will update as and when the different parts of this trip get firmed up.
 
  • Pinkocto

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Jul 22, 2011
    That sounds fabulous! Thank you for sharing the plans :) may I ask how you find good international flights? That’s one thing that stresses me about trips is finding the flights.
     

    dolphingirl47

    In Search of the Tag Fairy
    Joined
    Dec 25, 2007
    How exciting!
    It definitely is. I have been bouncing off the wall with excitement since Sunday.

    What another wonderful adventure!

    Jill in CO
    I can’t wait.

    That sounds fabulous!
    I think it will be.

    may I ask how you find good international flights? That’s one thing that stresses me about trips is finding the flights.
    I tend to use Kayak and Skyscanner as a starting point to get ideas for options and prices. Once I know what is doable, I can then refine it. For instance for this trip, we realised very quickly that Hainan Airlines is the best option and that it is significantly cheaper to fly into Shenzhen or Guangzhou in mainland China rather than into Hong Kong. Both of them are very close to Hong Kong, but by doing this, it saves us £200 per person. So now we just need to check out which of the two works better.

    Corinna
     
  • Pinkocto

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Jul 22, 2011
    I tend to use Kayak and Skyscanner as a starting point to get ideas for options and prices. Once I know what is doable, I can then refine it. For instance for this trip, we realised very quickly that Hainan Airlines is the best option and that it is significantly cheaper to fly into Shenzhen or Guangzhou in mainland China rather than into Hong Kong. Both of them are very close to Hong Kong, but by doing this, it saves us £200 per person. So now we just need to check out which of the two works better.

    Corinna
    Thank you very much for sharing.

    That’s a considerable savings.
     

    dolphingirl47

    In Search of the Tag Fairy
    Joined
    Dec 25, 2007
    ooh the cruise portion sounds exciting
    Although I am absolutely delighted to go back on my favourite ship and excited about the itinerary, this is probably my least favourite part of the trip. I am hugely excited about being able to complete my collection of Disney parks and to see the Terracotta Warriors. I also can't wait to get back to Beijing. I absolutely adored this city in December.

    That’s a considerable savings.
    It is. I suppose we are only competing with the local market. A number of the major cities in China have a visa free transit arrangement if you are traveling on to a third country, which Hong Kong qualifies for. However, Shenzhen never was part of this scheme and Guangzhou used to be, but has stopped. If you need to apply for a Chinese visa to travel via those airports, then it becomes a false economy. However, as we already have our visas, this makes perfect sense.

    Corinna
     
  • buteraa

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Feb 19, 2008
    Wow sounds like an amazing trip. I was fortunate enough to see the Terracotta Warriors years ago and it was so incredible. I know you'll love it.
     

    dolphingirl47

    In Search of the Tag Fairy
    Joined
    Dec 25, 2007
    Wow sounds like an amazing trip. I was fortunate enough to see the Terracotta Warriors years ago and it was so incredible. I know you'll love it.
    That is good to read. I have read a few reviews recently that stated that the Terracotta Warriors are rather disappointing.

    Corinna
     

    dolphingirl47

    In Search of the Tag Fairy
    Joined
    Dec 25, 2007
    I meant to update this last weekend, but never got around to it and this was just as well. Did I ever mention that often our trips evolve before we actually get to travel? Well, this one definitely is. This time last week, I had booked all the hotels in Hong Kong, Xi'an and Beijing. I have to admit the only one I was 100% happy with was ironically the one in Xi'an. I love the location of the hotel in Beijing, but I was at the same time longing for something with a bit more character.

    The weekend was full of mixed emotions. Friday evening I noticed that a spa junior suite had become available on our cruise and better still, changing over to this would save us about £400. This is the second time in our journey with Royal Caribbean that we saved money by upgrading. Better still, this will also give us access to the suite restaurant Coastal Kitchen and the solarium again. By the time I spotted this, the UK office was closed, but fortunately it was still there Saturday morning and I got this switched over. I then made reservations to Coastal Kitchen straightaway.

    Unfortunately my good mood did not last very long. Graham had tried to book our flights and the price had shot right up. This was now more than he was willing to pay and it looked like that this trip may go the way of the dodo. I was breaking my head over how we could salvage this trip ever since. In the process I realized that I was actually pretty indifferent about Xi'an. I figured we could cut this out to save some cost on the flights. When I came home from Mandarin class on Wednesday night, we had a chat and Graham asked if I wanted to keep the cruise. Too right I wanted to keep this. With the issue with the flights, I never had told him about the fact we were now in a junior suite. I was not really willing to give this up.

    Yesterday morning, Graham looked at flights while I was getting ready for work and found a really good deal on flights to Hong Kong. They are with Etihad via Abu Dhabi. We had not realised that they had a sale, but Graham just happened to check at the right time. Unfortunately the website was being temperamental and kept throwing up error messages. I quickly checked the website of one of the suppliers we use at work and they were even slightly cheaper for the same flights so I booked this via them. We figured that we would get the internal flights at a decent price.

    I went off to work, but Graham was at home for the day and around lunch time, I got a somewhat cryptic email from him saying "The trouble with starting to speculate on possibilities is you come across other interesting places. Guilin is such.” Of course, I had to Google this and what I saw just took my breath away. Here is a bit of a sneak preview:

    1351472725e19b776-0_Cut736447.jpg 54fbb2fb43166d224f91116b412309f79152d26e.jpg guilin-cli-is-beautiful-001.jpg
    Guilin-landscape--China-Highlight--On-the-Go-Tours-288631456840563_crop_960_390.jpg

    I then checked hotels and they are insanely cheap with 3 star hotels that look nice and get fantastic reviews costing as little as £63 for both of us for a five night stay. So at the moment, this looks like the way to go. Graham suggested that we should do a land-based trip at a different time taking in both Beijing and Shanghai. That sounds good to me. I am hoping that we will finalize the arrangements over the weekend and then I will share our plans in more detail.

    On a different note, I put in for leave today for the Run Disney weekend at Disneyland Paris in September and this was approved. I am hoping to run both the 5K and the 10K this year. Now I just have to wait for bib only bookings to open.
     

    Pinkocto

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Jul 22, 2011
    What an interesting turn of events. Lovely about the cruise upgrade. Guilin looks gorgeous. Glad the flights got sorted.

    Exciting about the Run Disney events. :)
     

    jedijill

    Chiefs fan living in Bronco country
    Joined
    Jan 17, 2005
    So many exciting changes! Good news about the cabin upgrade and the flights.

    Jill in CO
     

    franandaj

    I'm so happy, I could BOUNCE!
    Joined
    Nov 15, 2009
    Sounds like a very exciting trip, and I wouldn't want to give up the upgrade either.
     

    dolphingirl47

    In Search of the Tag Fairy
    Joined
    Dec 25, 2007
    What an interesting turn of events
    It is indeed and one I am thoroughly delighted with.

    Lovely about the cruise upgrade.
    I was so glad that this all fell into place.

    Guilin looks gorgeous.
    I can't wait to see if for myself.

    Glad the flights got sorted.
    So am I. Until those were booked, there was a risk that this was all going to go belly up.

    This pictures are just gorgeous! Sounds like an amazing trip.
    I am sure it will be.

    So many exciting changes! Good news about the cabin upgrade and the flights.
    I am glad about the way it has all developed.

    Sounds like a very exciting trip, and I wouldn't want to give up the upgrade either.
    I can't wait.

    Apart from the benefits like solarium access and being able to have dinner in the suite restaurant, there was one other reason why I wanted to upgrade. We are now only 8 cruise points short of reaching our Diamond status. This comes with some nice benefits. You get one cruise point per night if you stay in an interior, ocean view or balcony cabin and two points per night if you stay in a Junior Suite or higher. As our upcoming cruise is 5 nights, with the extra points, we will be Diamond once we get back.

    Corinna
     

    dolphingirl47

    In Search of the Tag Fairy
    Joined
    Dec 25, 2007
    I have to say that I have spent a lot more time planning than I have spent writing recently. The good thing about this is that we are about 80% ready for this trip with the only major part outstanding now is the excursions that we are planning to do and even for those we have a rough idea what we want to do in most places.

    The first part that was settled is how to get from Hong Kong to Guilin and back again. On paper, flying was the quickest option as the flight from Hong Kong to Guilin is only 1.5 hours. However, if you take into account the distance to get to and from the airport and the fact that this is classified as an international flight and that you have to be at the airport three hours before, this made this proposition less appealing. The alternative is travelling by metro and train. I have not quite worked out the logistics at the Hong Kong end yet, but we will have plenty of time. Apparently there are free shuttle buses from the port to nearby metro stations and from there we will need to make our way by metro to Lok Ma Chau crossing, which is one of the border crossing points between Hong Kong and mainland China. Once we have our exit stamp, we will walk across a footbridge across the river and into Shenzhen in mainland China. There we will clear the immigration formalities for China and then take the metro to Shenzhen North Station. Up to this point we will just go with the flow. We have tickets for the bullet booked from Guangzhou to Guilin, but will just get the tickets for the Shenzhen to Guangzhou train whenever we get there. They run every few minutes and take 30 minutes. We should be able to pick up the tickets for Guangzhou to Guilin and back in Shenzhen. For the roundtrip Guangzhou Guilin Guanzhou, we have treated ourselves to first class tickets. I can't wait to get to try the bullet trains.

    The next thing that was take care of was the hotel in Guilin and also an additional night in Hong Kong. We decided that it would make more sense to arrive back in Hong Kong the day before. This will give us the afternoon/evening of that day and the morning and early afternoon for some more sightseeing in Hong Kong. For this we have gone with cheap and cheerful staying at an Ibis Hotel in a great location.

    In Guilin, I have gone with character rather than location. The hotel is on the outskirts of the town in a village near a couple of the scenic areas that we want to see anyway. This was literally love at first sight and I have gone for a room with a view.

    mmexport1496585553578.jpg caption-1.jpg caption.jpg

    This hotel definitely has character, I love the scenery around it and it gets fantastic reviews.

    I am still not entirely sure about the hotel in Hong Kong. It is kind of the polar opposite of the hotel in Guilin, being both quirky, very modern and kind of non-descript. I did get a great price on this and it is in a fantastic location on Causeway Bay near Victoria Park.

    2-1200x900.jpg images.jpg air_deluxe_room.jpg

    Other parts of the planning are well in progress as well. I have nearly finished my online check in for the cruise. I just need to upload our photos now. We both had a look at the two ports and came to the conclusion that there is not a great deal there and our best bet is heading for the closest beach for some swimming and snorkelling.

    I have ordered new luggage tags as our old ones were ruined with permanent marker at the port of Shanghai. I also ordered some custom ears for Hong Kong Disneyland. The embarkation shirts will hopefully be in production soon and then I can direct my attention to magnets. All in all, I am pretty happy with the progress we have made.

    Corinna
     

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