topblog Ivoire blogs


Warnings and Dangers You Should Know in Xiahe

When you visit Xiahe near Lanzhou (a destination for Silk Road tours), you should know the following warnings and dangers.

1. Chinese racists

1> The colonising Chinese in Labrang nearly all treat the indigenous Tibetans as sub-human scum. They have many dirogatory phrases which are constantly used to disparage and insult Tibetans eg. dirty barbarian, unclean flea. Doesn't sound like much? Words like "kafir" as used in apertheid era South Africa don't sound too bad out of context. But believe me they hurt Tibetans deeply. Obviously Labrang is no worse off than anywhere else in Tibet but Labrang is becoming something of a tourist centre and most visitors come and stay for a few days and on the surface everything seems hunky-dory. Unfortunately if you believe this you are just falling into the Chinese trap.

2> As of 6/11/07 foreigners have been banned from using the internet in Labrang. All the hotel and internet bar owners have had the frighteners put on them and will turn you away if you try to use the internet. I do not know if this is only in Labrang or in the rest of Tibet.

3> According to the Labrang PSB (Police) foreigners are only allowed to stay in one place in China for a maximum of 15 days even if their visa is for a far longer period. After 15 days they must leave for "Beijing or Chengdu". Foreigners who have been in Labrang for more than 15 days are currently being "persuaded' to leave.


Gansu Province, where Xiahe is located, is the troublesome province that has a rule that all foreigners must purchase bus 'insurance' to China travel on buses within the province.

This came about because years ago, a tourist died in a road accident in Gansu and his family sued the bus company.

So, while tourists are made to purchase the bus 'insurance' of around Y40, it actually appears to be more like an INDEMNITY against the bus companies for with this 'insurance', tourists CANNOT sue the bus companies in the event of an accident.

If you try and buy bus-tickets from ticket-windows, the ticket sellers may actually refuse to sell you the tickets if you fail to produce the insurance and if you refuse to pay for the insurance.

Sometimes, they just jack the price up to more than double before selling you the tickets.

If you are up for it, try and stand outside the bus-station and wave the bus down after it has pulled out of the bus-station. However, buses can be pretty packed by then.

Xiahe is Tibetan area which you can consider it for your last minute China travel deals.

09:55 Publié dans Voyage | Lien permanent | Commentaires (0)


Tourist Traps You Should Know in Yangshuo

When visiting Yangshuo for your China vacation deals, the following traps should be avoided.

1. Model for photo

When leaving the boats, tourists are attracted by the presence of a man, with two cormorants, waiting to get photographed. If he gets it, he will ask you for some money.

It’s a ridiculous amount, so you better assume that you will pay him, don’t do it from distance and compose your picture as you like.

2. The Cormorant Guy

The famed Cormorant guy, a staple of the area for years, still stands to await China vacation packagesfor a paid photo.

Kid gets face cleaned, Cormorant guy looks on.

Unique Suggestions: I don’t want to take away his livelihood, but do you really need a head-on photo of a guy with birds? If so, he’s happy to help. If not, or if you don’t believe in paying for photos, there’s always the hip shot.

3. Budda Cave

What a piece of sh**!!!

Spent 128RMB (equal to $16) per person and were completely disappointed.

It was a very dangerous place:

- slippery (especially in those flip floppers that were given to us instead of our hiking shoes - STUPID!!!),

- very narrow (I mean I`m a slim girl and I had troubles crawling through those tunnels),

- dark (not that there is anything to see really, but still),

- hot and humid (people with athma and other breathing problems can be in trouble),

- dirty (you`ll see what I mean after the tour is over).

If, for some unknown reason, you`ll still decide to go there, make sure you:

- do not put that slippery flip floppers on (you can slip and hurt yourself);

- dress appropriately (may be have a pair of shorts and a t-shirt - for cave and then change clothes);

- do not take your backpack (I did and regretted big time - it was extremely hard to carry it through, not to mention how dirty that thing was after we got out);

- are not scared of the close spaces (I was not and still felt uncomfortable).

Oh, yeah, there will be a guy with a camera ahead of you, who`ll be taking rather annoying and endless photos how you crawl through the narrow tunnels. 15RMB (~$2) for a picture if you decide to buy it later.

Fun Alternatives: The alternative to ALL their caves, Banyan Tree, etc would be just bicycling in the country side. I sure enjoyed it much more for my    popular China travel package.

4. Li River Show

There is nothing to describe really. It was just bad. Big idea, bad execution. The result - we left before it ended and so did many other people. Basically this is what I remember - hundreds of people running with bands, fire torches. Little girls singing for ages on the stage. There were many people performing on that show, but it was a mess, not thought through.

Payed 160RMB ($20) per peson and still sat pretty far from the stage.

You also pay 2RMB per person (one way) for a shuttle, which picks you up at the end of the West Street and brings to the show and then back.

Fun Alternatives: Just do not go, it`s a waste of money.

5. West Street

Everything on West Street is a tourist trap. That’s OK if you want banana pancakes, toga parties and souvenirs. However it’s not China. All of the restaurants and bars are more expensive than where the Chinese people go. You must bargain very hard for everything here, these people are professionals. At the time of my visit (10/05) the Chinese government was trying to keep the restaurants and shops from being on the sidewalks. One day it was OK, the next day it wasn’t. So streetside dining may be a thing of the past.

Unique Suggestions: Enjoy yourself and bargain hard. Remember you can find a hotel, restaurant, clothing, etc. much less expensively a couple of blocks away.

6. Souvenirs are more expensive

Prices of souvenirs in Yangshuo are generally higher compared to other parts of Guilin. Due to high influx of backpackers and tourists disembarking from boat cruise for shopping, prices have been pushed up a little. Remember to bargain or you still can purchase the souvenir that you like from other parts of Guilin.

Eg: Mini Osmanthus Flower wine costs 15RMB (unit for Chinese currency) in Yangshuo and RMB10 only in Guilin downtwon.


Dalian Local Customs You Should Know

1. Constant Construction

In Dalian (an optional destination for China vacation deals), there is always something being built or being torn down. The cool thing is when the construction team finishes as floor on a new building there is a rope of fire crackers that are set off from the current floor to the ground. Very loud and painful to the ears, but very interesting at the same time. I ended up with red fire cracker paper all over my hair on more than one occasion.

2. Playing Chinese Chess

Chinese like to play, at least many of them. And you can see it everywhere. Sometimes its not so easy to take photos (like the people in Wuhan while they play Mah Jong). You also can see many people playing Chinese Chess. But normaly they dont play in this way as at the Xinghai Square.

3. International Fashion Festival

The Dalian International Fashion Festival has made the city well known throughout the world.The national young designers' contest, the fashion show featuring Chinese and foreign models, and the large-scale cultural square party have all proved a great commercial success, promoting Dalian to the world and letting friends from overseas feel the warmth of the local people.

4. Drinking water.

The tap water cannot be consumed. I do not know if it is safe after it is being boiled. By the way, I had water from the tap after boiling for a month and nothing happen to me.

It is normal to have a mineral water dispenser in the house. When I went visiting friends, they have mineral water dispenser. The apartment that I stayed in have water dispenser too.

If you are going to stay there for some time, you can just find out the number to order the big bottles of water. You have two choices: mineral water, or distilled water. Mineral water is more expensive and expire faster.

5. A la carte

Generally in the north of China, the main food (zhu3 shi2) is the dumpling which is a must-try for China tour. The other dishes are usually served and the main food will be served last after you have finish the vegetables or meat, etc.

There are several types of dumplings.

Steamed buns (man2 tou2) without filling is one of them. I love steamed buns. There are many types, shapes of steam buns as well, and my favourites among them is the "hua1 juan3" (literally translated as flower swirl).

Another type of dumpling is the "jiao3 zi". These are thin, flat pieces of flour wrapped with meat or vegetable fillings, and then steamed, pan fried or deep fried. There will be some vinegar or soy sauce to dip in. It is a bit too much meat for my liking. These are certainly worth a try and very interesting with the different types of fillings.

6. Prepare for the squeeze while boarding buses.

It is not advisable to use the crowded public buses when travelling with children. The buses will be especially crowded during peak hours, such as during the morning rush to work, evening rush to get home, and during lunch time. It is not that bad during off peak hours. When there's a lot of people, the locals will not hesitate to push one another and squeeze to be the first to get on the buses. Be prepared to be able to stand firm (a bit difficult sometimes) and squeeze up the buses. If you are in front of the crowd, the force will push you up the buses. No such things as manners like in the western world when boarding buses.

Boarding the buses at bus stations is in a more orderly manner. In that case, everyone will have to queue up. There are also many who cut queue. Many locals seems to be satisfied to cut queue even by a couple of people. Many occasions from my experience of popular China tours is that when I reach the end of the queue first, the person behind me will certainly cut in front of me. Perhaps I did not stand very close to the person in front of me, which I am not used to and prefer not to. I prefer to have some breathing space. :-) Whenever there's opportunity to cut queue, many will not hesitate.

7. Gambling tables in garden.

I went to a park called "er-tong gong yuan" - translated to be children's garden. It was in the mid afternoon and gambling tables were being set-up. Perhaps that how they kill their time by gambling in the park. You can join in if you like, just select which table you want to join. Different tables have different games and rules.

You can obtain more through China travel agents.

10:08 Publié dans Voyage | Lien permanent | Commentaires (0)