Recollections of November trip

Now that I am back (returned on 4 December 2008), it’s time to write down a few pointers gained from the trip.
 
Macau :
  • The airport is quite ordinary, but efficient enough
  • My only problem with Macau is the immigation service. To enter Zhuhai from Macau, one has to go through a very crowded immigration checkpoint. There is huge crowd of people, and it took about 45 minutes to clear
  • Visited the Venetian Complex, which is made of a few 5 stars hotel, shopping mall and what else but a gigantic casino. Crowd was quite large at the casino
  • The food variety at the Venetian is quite good. For cheaper food, eat at the food court which is found near the ‘canal’
  • Macau is my entry point because I usually take Viva Macau nowadays when going to Asia from Sydney

Zhuhai:

  • I like this coastal city, very livable as it is not very crowded
  • Not much time to explore this city during this trip
  • To get to HK or Shenzhen, take a ferry from the Jiuzhou terminal. Cost of the 1 hour trip to SZ is RMB 95
  • Stayed in Nanyang Seascape Hotel. It is a good 4 star hotel and within walking distance to Gongbei checkpoint. Hotel rate is rather pricey though at about 380 RMB
A recent European visitor has this to say:
I have been for one week in Zhuhai, for Airshow China 2008, and I would like to offer you the comments of an European in China.
First of all, the Air show was very good, the stands were elegant and the ground organization (including transport and assistance) were excellent.
The city of Zhuhai is very beautiful, and the level of life amazed me, because it was much richer than I expected. I would say the quality of life in that part of China is almost on the level of Europe.
The people were universally friendly, and little children said hello to me on the street.
I found the people extremely honest, taxi drivers always drove me straight to the destination, without cheating. Once I had a broken shoe, I contacted a cobbler in the market, he fixed it and didn’t want any money, I offered him 10 yuan, he took only five!
Prices were higher than I expected: food and restaurants are cheap, but clothing in the stores was not that cheap, and all electronic products cost just the same as in Europe.

The thing that I admired the most were the public services: excellent busses, very good maintenance of the city. The police also made an excellent impression to me: well trained, very polite.
You must understand that in the West there is a constant steam of slander and insults against China, by a few sources, who try to influence public opinion against China, but if a foreigner comes to China and looks with his own eyes, he understands that it is just an offensive of lies.
Above all, the people of Zhuhai to me seemed very relaxed: little girls walking alone in the evening, people smiling, no threatening attitude. It is obvious that people in China are less neurotic and aggressive than people in Europe, and much more, than people in America.
A strange thing that I noticed, nowhere in Zhuhai did I see a church or a temple or a pagoda.
Another strange thing: there were many cars, all of them new and well kept, but almost no motorcycle or scooter. In Italy there are millions of scooters, very useful for city driving, and many of them are built in China but … they are not used there!
Now for the negative things:
Very few people speak English, and that is negative in a city like Zhuhai that is a tourist center. Even in my hotel, which was excellent from all points of view, and relatively cheap, few people spoke English well. Tourism is now the Number 1 industry in the world, China is a country full of beauty, but English is necessary to host the tourists.
In the markets, there were things that Westerners don’t like, for instance, turtles to be eaten. In the West all turtles are protected. Treating badly animals, or ignoring Western sensibilities in this field, may seem a little thing to Chinese, but it can have a negative effect out of proportion.
My final comment is: I liked China so much that I dream that when I retire, I could buy a little house there and move over!

 

SZ:

  • The air seems better with winter approaching – less hazy
  • Weather from mid November is very pleasant at around 20 to 28 degrees
  • Taxi fare to airport is quite expensive. Save more by taking airport shuttle bus service
  • Also, one can take the Metro there. Ticket machines use 5RMB notes
  • Traffic congestion at around 6 to 7 PM
  • The Cultural Village is worth every bit of the 120 RMB entrance fee. One can spend a whole day in it, watching the exibits, displays and various performances
  • Tried Western (actually Japanese style Western), Karaoke restaurant, Korean, Chinese fusion and Hotpot restaurants  
  • Found another entry point to HK. There is a new immigration checkpoint in the Futian district. It will then lead to the Lok Ma Chau train station in HK. There is less crowd in this checkpoint
  • Many hotels to choose. Stayed in business hotel called Xiang Xie Li Gong Jiu Tian (Channel Palace Hotel – practically no one will understand the English name though) in FuTian. It’s 3.5 Star with free internet broadband service and breakfast at around 300 RMB a day. Quite close to Metro station. Staffs speak Mandarin only though.

Xian:

  • Airport is quite far away from city centre
  • The city and outlying area seem hazy most of the time. Not sure whether due to mist or pollution, or both
  • Take shuttle bus instead of taxi to or from airport. Nearest airport shuttle bus near city centre is Mei Lun Hotel, which is opposite the GuLou.
  • Taxi within the city wall is around RMB 6.
  • Various day tour packages being organised by tour agencies, based on the direct. North, South, East or West. The cost is around 250 to 300 RMB, excluding meals. Meals can be expensive as I discovered to my dismay. We were brought to a restaurant next to the Terracotta Museum, and charged about 50 RMB for a large bowl of Shaansi beef noodle.  I shared table with a North Shaansi guy, and he made alot of noise to the tour guide regarding the steep price. It was a rip off allright.
  • Easiest way to taste local food is go to Muslim street (Huimin jie). Another street side food place is near the Stele Museum. The street near museum is also another good place to buy works of arts. There are many artists there.
  • It already quite cold in Xian when I was there. Need to wear thick jacket even in November
  • Stayed in Yong Ni Palace hotel. Suppose to be 4 star, but it fell below expectation. Not recommended, though location is very good, as it is next to the South gate. Photo of hotel shown below:

 

 

HK:

  • HK has amazing variety of food. Love the Japanese food there
  • HK seems very clean nowadays. The streets of Shatin where I stayed are very well maintained and livable. There is extensive parkland and a nice river flowing along the parkland
  • Enjoyed the half hour walk from Shatin Di Yi Cheng area (where I stayed) to the Fotan train station

Singapore:

  • Did not spend much time here this time
  • The budget air terminal in Changi is quite small, and food available is limited and expensive
  • Many Singaporeans are worried about the jobs, as the banks here have shed many jobs
  • There are still many foreign workers in Singapore, especially those from South Asia

KL:

  • Bukit Bintang area is still a very active with tourists and locals
  • Introduced to a clean, simple, convenient and rather cheap hotel near Bukit Bintang area
  • Just behind the hotel is Times Square, which is a very good shopping mall
  • There are too many touts asking tourists for foot (body) massage the road in Bt Bintang
  • Taking the monorail is a convenient way to go around in KL – the Imbi station was most convenient for me
  • Eating out is cheap in KL, especially if one has likingfor simple Indian Muslim food

Malacca:

  • Did not spend much time here except for a visit to cousin’s house and having dinner
  • Visited the suburb or housing estate (as they are called in Malaysia) called Pringit Jaya. It has lots of restaurant, and seems rather nice, just like Subang Jaya near KL.

Viva Macau:

  • The airline can offer very good rate at times
  • However, inflight food and drink are expensive. A hot meal cost about AUD 18. Thus, bring some food, as they do turn a blind eye to passengers bringing their own food
  • It took about 10 to 10.5 hours to arrive in Macau from Sydney. The return flight took about 9 hours and 20 minutes only

  Air Asia:

  • Flight from KL to Macau was delayed by about 1.5 hour. Thus I am not exactly happy with Air Asia’s service
  • The low cost terminal in KL is small and very crowded. There is an extension going on there, and hopefully it will be completed before my next visit 

 

 

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About kchew

an occasional culturalist
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