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Made in China: Trip Overview

Nihao!  My family & I braved the summer heat, droves of vacationing crowds & somehow managed to avoid phlegmitters for 17 wonderful days in China.

 China Highlights:
1) It was breathtaking seeing for the first time the snakelike stretch of the Great Wall. The fact that we had the Gubeikou section all to ourselves made it all the more amazing. Day 1 death hike lasted 8 hrs from Gubeikou to Jinshanling. Day 2 was a a bit less strenuous, 'only' 4 hrs. It was the best birthday ever though! Peking duck for dinner to boot!
2) The serene bamboo raft float at Yulong river in Yangshuo, Guilin is a dream (if you get there before everybody else, that is)
3) Trek through gorgeous Longji Rice terraces
4) Bike the whole length of the Xian City Walls 
5) Explore an old folk home in Xian Muslim quarters
6) Biking around the rural farmlands of Yangshuo
7) Super awesome Liu Sanjie Water show at Yangshuo
8) EXPO!!! This was like Disneyland for architects!
9) HK! I liked how familiar it felt because of all the Filipinos in the city. We saw a group of Filipinas dancing to Madonna's "Like a Virgin" on the city streets!
10) Sunset cruise at Shanghai harbor

Cast of Characters: Mamu, Mel, Kih, Noemi & our local tour guides along the way
Logistics/ Links: We used a local tour operator-http://www.pandaadventures.com/
Since we were gonna be short on time, doing a tour would be best. I used Gap for my other trips but their China trips were too expensive. Panda Adventures had all the destinations we wanted for a decent price. If there's under 6 in a group, you get local guides. I think we would have preferred 1 guide for the whole trip.
When: We went at the worst time possible (maybe next to winter). It was August, 2010. School was out. Droves of vacationing families. Hot, humid, raining. Spring or fall might be better.
Cost: 17 days $1,400 for some excursions, guides, lodging & transpo. I think I spent about $500+ for food (beware of translated menus! $$). This is the trip we did--> Wonders of China 
Mmm! Tasty treat?
Trip Report:
1) Watch out for 'Phlegmitters'! You'll know exactly what I'm talking about as soon as you land in China
2) Their domestic tourism is MASSIVELY successful. We encountered their 1B populace on day 1. I don't recommend going when we did.
3) So did I mention that it was packed in China? Despite that, I was very appreciative of everybodys good hygiene. The only stinky, unhygienic people were the tourists, us.
4) Also, despite the fact that we encountered the 1B people, we probably only saw 2 pregnant women! If you have more than 1 kid in China- you'd get ostracized & taxed like crazy. If you accidentally (i.e. not IVF) have quintuplets from 1 birth- you're OK. Btw, its not one child policy- its "family planning" policy
5) Sharpen your elbows! Pushovers are extinct in China. You'll be trampled on as they overtake you on everything!
6) The Shanghainese are noticeably better looking & healthier
7) I think a cuisine has developed to its finest when the vegetable dishes actually taste good. The Chinese has done a great job. However, their food is soooo greasy! I have never had greasier food in my life! And I live in US!
8) Chinese love/ welcome tourists! There are a lot of friendly locals curious to learn about you & where you're from. He may not look like it, but that guy across your train berth prolly does speak English. (English is almost a job requirement according to some folks we talked to)
9) Their favorite tourists are Americans. I was surprised (especially since American media seems to demonize Chinese government at every opportunity). At first I thought it was because of tips. I found out that its because most other western tourists are too reserved, not as warm or outgoing as Americans.
10) A lot of people were surprised about how we were built like the Chinese. Wonder what they were expecting?!
Locations: Check out Pandaphelia                                  



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