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11/12/2013

Travel tech: snagging a deal in Hong Kong

Electronics – are they really cheaper in Asia? Yes…to a point. Hong Kong is undoubtedly the cheapest place to snag a bargain – just look at prices on eBay and note where the products are shipping from. Yep, Hong Kong.

If you want to save some money, you’ll need to arm yourself with some basic knowledge before you go. I can't stress that enough. And the first thing you'll need know is how much things cost. Anecdotally, prices in Hong Kong Hong Kong travel guide are 10-15% cheaper than back in the US (this excludes local sales tax in the US, so if you factor that in, you're saving even more). Make a shopping list of all the items you want with a corresponding list of prices from back home.

It's important to note that there's NO sales tax in Hong Kong Hong Kong tours. So stores with signs saying 'tax free' are false advertising. Bargain hard and don’t get suckered into buying 'extras' for your devices. You may be getting that Digital SLR cheap but you may be paying high mark-ups for the memory card and a camera case for example.

If you do want the peripherals, make sure you know what the asking prices are back home. Also note that quality varies on these items. Some memory cards, for example, are better specced than others.

Apart from cameras and computers, stuff that can be cheaper in Hong Kong includes little peripherals for your computers and laptops (accessory cables, laptop cases, keyboards, RAM etc). Aftermarket brands for Apple such as Moshi are often much cheaper in Hong Kong Hong Kong tourist attractions than they are in the US.

Here are some other things to keep in mind:

Does it convert? When buying electronics, make sure that it works on 110V for back home if you’re in the US or Japan. You might also need to get a converter plug in order for it to work on your wall socket back home. Converter plugs can be found cheaply across Asia - $US2-3 is on average.

Check warranties. Note that cheap electronics mean that you might not get international warranty support back home. However, I've never had a camera break on me within warranty period, so it's your call.

Check that the product works at home. Yes, that iPhone 4 may be cheap in Hong Kong, but make sure it’s not locked to any network so you can still use your SIM card back home. Also, turn it on at the store to make sure the language is set to English (some phones sold in Hong Kong default to Chinese language). Also note that if you're on a CDMA network back home, that iPhone 4 sold in Hong Kong won't work. CDMA networks don't use the same SIM-card system as regular GSM networks.

Where to go? Mong Kok District in Kowloon and Stanley Street are both good areas to look for bargains. Apliu St has computer parts and peripherals for low prices. For cameras, try Echo Photo & Audio. Also try Tin Cheung Camera - they have three locations listed on their website. If you're loathe to shop at small spots, try Broadway. It's a large electronics chain dotted all across Hong Kong. You have only very little room for bargaining, but you trade higher prices for peace of mind.

Have a heart. Bargain but spare a thought too. Sometimes we get too swept up in getting the best deals. But really, what’s 50 cents off an item that’s being sold for $1? It’s not much to you but may mean a lot for the locals.

tags: travel to China

04:32 Publié dans Voyage | Lien permanent | Commentaires (0)

09/12/2013

Bamboo Rafting Down the Yulong River in Yangshuo

Description:

Taking a ride on a bamboo raft down one of the many sections of rivers Yangtze River tour near Yangshuo is a quintessential thing to do while you're there. You might shake your head and say "too touristy". I did. I spent two days watching hundreds of tourists float by my balcony at the Yangshuo Mountain Retreat until finally I succumbed. It was 35 degrees outside, what better to do than take a meandering ride down the river, armed with water guns and places to stop for beers?

Touring Guangxi Region's Rivers:
Ask your hotel/tour guide/agency/taxi driver how to organize a river trip for you. Granted, there are multiple ways to experience the Guangxi region's rivers: by fast speed boat, by hundred-tourists-with-lunch large motorized boats, by big bamboo rafts, by two-seater bamboo rafts (our choice due to proximity). So you can think about your group, what you'd most enjoy and how much time you have. This profile will explain how floating on a two-person bamboo raft works.

The Bamboo Raft:
The two-seater bamboo rafts that ply the Yulong River China travel deals are simply constructed and rudimentary. They are comprised of about eight large bamboo logs put together, a two-seat uncomfortable bamboo and metal chair sits atop the raft with an umbrella for shade. The raft may or may not be equipped with life jackets. A rafter stands behind the seats with a long bamboo pole and guides you down the river. He may point out interesting scenes along the way that you may or may not understand. He will certainly make stops for you at photo purchasing stands (more on this below) and a designated snack/beer shop where he will say he's thirsty and you'll have to wait for him to have a beer and be asked to purchase it for him (not necessary).

The raft is pretty stable though you don't want to get too crazy. But you can stand up and walk to the front of the raft for photo opportunities and such.
What You'll Encounter on the Trip:
Our meandering trip along the Yulong River went something like this:

After purchasing water guns and hiring the boats, my son and husband boarded one boat, my daughter and I on another. We floated along, enjoying the scenery and allowing time for photography as my son filled his water gun.
We established Rules of Engagement for the water guns, e.g.
No squirting in the mouth
No squirting while Mom is taking photos
No squirting sister in the face
No squirting un-armed older people on neighboring rafts
No squirting people you don't know unless they squirt first
My son and husband then got into a heated water fight with a bunch of tourists from Hunan Province and became soaked through.
We approached a small dam where our rafters guided us down the small fall to the delight of my kids. Just in front of the fall a photographer is positioned taking photos of you on the raft and sending them to a small dock where folks at computers with printers show you your photos instantly and print them out and laminate them in about five minutes. It's hard not to purchase. On our ride, there were four opportunities to go over dams and then purchase photos of the escapade.
We continued on, lazily floating, looking for people to engage in water fights and enjoying the scenery top China tours.
At a dock with coolers, our rafters stopped for a beer so we did too. This stop enticed my son to start jumping off the dock into the relatively clear and clean looking river. He basically swam the rest of the time holding onto the raft intermittently.
Our rafters dropped us back at our hotel. The whole experience took about two hours.

Preparing for Your Raft Trip:
What to Wear:

Clothing that you don't mind getting wet.
Shoes that are easy to take off and that you don't mind getting wet.
Sunglasses and or hats that you don't mind losing.

What to Bring:

Cash to cover the hire of boat, purchase of water guns, any photos you want to purchase, incidentals such as snacks and drinks and a small tip for the rafter.
Camera
Large waterproof bag for your camera and money.

Who Can Go on the Rafts:
I would say the age limit has no upward issues. My daughter is about two-and-a-half and can't swim (at time of visit/writing). I originally thought rafting would not be suitable for her but there were life-vests (though I didn't make her wear one) and the water is relatively shallow so I felt confident that if she accidentally fell in I could easily save her. In the end, she did not dare to move much but did enjoy sitting on the raft with her feet in the water (while I held on to her). I would not take a child younger than two.
Overall Enjoyment Factor: 10 out of 10:
Like I stated above, I thought the whole thing was a ridiculous tourist trap but in the end, it might have been what we enjoyed most about our weekend in Yangshuo popular China tour package. All of us enjoyed the ride and scenery. My kids loved playing in the water and the rafters had fun playing with our kids - splashing them and swimming with my son. The water fight scene with guns is hilarious and totally unexpected. Where else can you shoot people you don't know with water and get away with it? Everyone on the river is having a good time and it's just really very pleasant.

04:25 Publié dans Voyage | Lien permanent | Commentaires (0)

06/12/2013

Wonderful experience along YANGTZE RIVER

Coursing a distance of almost 4,000 miles, the mighty Yangtze River Yangtze River tour is the third-longest river in the world and home to more than 300 million people. To see the power and majesty of China's greatest river aboard a cruise ship is an unforgettable experience. The scenery is breathtakingly beautiful. As the ship passes through deep valleys of lush green hills and narrow canyons with sheer rock cliffs on either side, passengers become lost in a timelessness that has escaped the rest of the world.

A cruise down the Yangtze is an excellent way to see a large area of China in a short time. From spring through fall, dozens of comfortable cruise ships and ferries sail the waters of the Yangtze. Trips are usually taken on cruise ships with luxurious staterooms and fine-dining facilities. Cruises affordable China travel packages usually dock overnight at towns and villages along the way so that passengers will not miss any of the magnificent scenery. They also allow passengers an opportunity to disembark and explore a small river town for a few hours.

Although there are many cruising options between towns, many travellers opt for the voyage between Chongqing and Wuhan. This cruise is a memorable 850-mile trip that takes 4 days and 3 nights sailing down- stream, or 5 days and 4 nights cruising upstream from Wuhan, passing through the rugged and majestic section of the famous Three Gorges. Visitors often comment that they will never forget its breathtaking beauty. Qutang, Wu, and Xiling Gorges top China tours are also popular sections that traverse several narrow and meandering passages, passing mist-laden canyons with an occasional pagoda perched on the side of a cliff with calligraphy carved out of a sheer rock face.

Another scenic side trip takes visitors on a smaller boat through the Three Little Gorges of the Daning River (or Shennongxi Stream), a tributary of the Yangtze. Shore excursions to the ancient towns of Wanxian, Shibaozhai, Fengdu popular China travel package , Yichang, and Jingzhou reveal both the richness of local history and the colorful life along the mighty Yangtze.

03:18 Publié dans Voyage | Lien permanent | Commentaires (0)