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  #521  
Old April 16th, 2012, 04:14 PM
ruthlynn ruthlynn is offline
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Kohola: Beautiful pictures of your lovely trip....you two travel with such eagerness and such pleasant smiles.....that makes for a great time! Thanks. Ruthlynn
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  #522  
Old April 16th, 2012, 07:49 PM
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Kohola: Beautiful pictures of your lovely trip....you two travel with such eagerness and such pleasant smiles.....that makes for a great time! Thanks. Ruthlynn
Thanks Ruthlynn...we embrace China warts and all. It's easy to smile in a place where the people treat you like a celebrity if you just take the time to say NiHao. I am so looking forward to traveling as a relative and living in a "soil" house with an actual Chinese family...the ultimate honor in my opinion to create a relationship where you're considered family and not another tourist...now I just have to convince my wife it will be just like camping;-).

Hey Mtlycrew1 enjoyed reading your report...we traveled with Jin and sat with Candy and Jacky at the forward stbd table for most meals. Nice to see you explored JinJiang, that place was amazing! Hope you ventured over to the lake and mingled with the locals.

A lot of the Chinese will say MeiGuo which is Chinese for the USA when they try to talk to you...pronounced like May then like Guave minus the "ave" and add an "o." Or ChangJiang which is the Chinese name for the river the English speaking people call the Yangtze because they want to know if you're traveling on the river and where you're going.

We also think Larry is an incredible guide...he is one of those guides that is always available when you have a question even if he isn't your tour escort.

The vendors will not bother you if make it clear it's a waste of their time...no eye contact and a verbal, but polite BuYao...boo yow, rhymes with how, then a little sterner if required and normally you won't see another one. BuYao translates as "don't want or don't need." There are more than enough tourists that will smile and make eye contact for them to pounce on.

Another change for those who have traveled before...Lesser 3 Gorges boat tour has been shortened, they now turn around at the hanging coffin.
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  #523  
Old April 17th, 2012, 05:33 AM
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We also had Francis as our guide during our China trip back in 2009. He was such a wonderful person and we felt we really got to know him. He was very open about sharing information on his family, his life, etc. VRC does an excellent job in China.

We just booked our second cruise with VRC to the Mekong for 2013. Can't wait!
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  #524  
Old April 17th, 2012, 09:49 AM
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Another change for those who have traveled before...Lesser 3 Gorges boat tour has been shortened, they now turn around at the hanging coffin.
That is disappointing.
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  #525  
Old April 17th, 2012, 11:57 AM
Kohola Kohola is offline
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That is disappointing.
It was for us;-) We used the more Chinese looking tourist boats this time vice a regular vessel...a lot more room on deck.

In 2009, we stayed at the Shangri La in Xian and thought the Xian was just another industrialized polluted city, but this time we were inside the city wall at the Hyatt. The city center is a beautiful place especially at night. We never had an opportunity to walk around and see the city with the hectic schedule, but those staying at the Hyatt are within a few blocks of the wall and there is a Chinese Muslim community just across the street that comes alive at night for some great photo ops.
Our guide told us the Chinese eat garlic shoots to help kill bacteria to prevent issues with eating some foods. We were served garlic shoot dishes during most of the hotel meals...don't know if this was a preventative measure or just a change in cuisine. Last time we had sweet and sour fish at most Chinese meals served with a complete fish, but only once this time...
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  #526  
Old April 17th, 2012, 03:23 PM
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Good information mtlycrew1. I have 2 questions:
re outlets # 11...Is the bathroom outlet labeled "shavers only"? I have tried my straightener in these before and it fried my appliance.
re silk/pottery etc # 18.....so, we have a choice to take the daily tours or go off on our own?
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  #527  
Old April 17th, 2012, 03:29 PM
swanny727 swanny727 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kohola View Post
Thanks Ruthlynn...we embrace China warts and all. It's easy to smile in a place where the people treat you like a celebrity if you just take the time to say NiHao. I am so looking forward to traveling as a relative and living in a "soil" house with an actual Chinese family...the ultimate honor in my opinion to create a relationship where you're considered family and not another tourist...now I just have to convince my wife it will be just like camping;-).

Hey Mtlycrew1 enjoyed reading your report...we traveled with Jin and sat with Candy and Jacky at the forward stbd table for most meals. Nice to see you explored JinJiang, that place was amazing! Hope you ventured over to the lake and mingled with the locals.

A lot of the Chinese will say MeiGuo which is Chinese for the USA when they try to talk to you...pronounced like May then like Guave minus the "ave" and add an "o." Or ChangJiang which is the Chinese name for the river the English speaking people call the Yangtze because they want to know if you're traveling on the river and where you're going.

We also think Larry is an incredible guide...he is one of those guides that is always available when you have a question even if he isn't your tour escort.

The vendors will not bother you if make it clear it's a waste of their time...no eye contact and a verbal, but polite BuYao...boo yow, rhymes with how, then a little sterner if required and normally you won't see another one. BuYao translates as "don't want or don't need." There are more than enough tourists that will smile and make eye contact for them to pounce on.

Another change for those who have traveled before...Lesser 3 Gorges boat tour has been shortened, they now turn around at the hanging coffin.
Thanks for the Chinese phrases. I always travel with an index card with useful phrases.
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  #528  
Old April 17th, 2012, 03:35 PM
swanny727 swanny727 is offline
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I went to the travel clinic and received a vacine for polio, flu vacine, Hep A, and typhoid. I also received a prescription for the anti-malaria drug Malarone. We are traveling through areas where malaria is possible, but the doctor recommended calling Viking and asking them what they think. Also, avoidance by wearing long sleeves and repellant with DEED is recommended. I also received a prescription for cipro and doxicyclene. The flu vacine is because of the bird flu. The malaria drugs are started right before the trip, so you wouldn't take them now anyway.
I talked with the travel clinic and they recommended the same as yours.
I had Hep A vaccine 10 years ago but I should get the polio and typhoid.
Did you have reactions? I expect some soreness.
(sorry for the 3 posts in a row.....I'm catching up on the last few pages here)
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  #529  
Old April 17th, 2012, 03:54 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kohola View Post
In 2009, we stayed at the Shangri La in Xian and thought the Xian was just another industrialized polluted city, but this time we were inside the city wall at the Hyatt. The city center is a beautiful place especially at night. We never had an opportunity to walk around and see the city with the hectic schedule, but those staying at the Hyatt are within a few blocks of the wall and there is a Chinese Muslim community just across the street that comes alive at night for some great photo ops.
One of our very few regrets about the Imperial Jewels itinerary (May 2011) was that we only had an overnight in Xi'an and no time to see the City Walls. We were at the Kempinski Hotel, pretty far out of town, and it was a really long drive to the Tang Dynasty Show in the city proper. They said they would have taken us by the Walls on the way back, but the traffic was too horrible to do it.

As I posted not long ago, the new itinerary that Viking added for 2013 has an additional night in Xi'an, but two more internal flights as well.... It's too bad the timing/schedule doesn't work out for two nights in Xi'an on Imperial Jewels... (which was still an extraordinary trip).
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  #530  
Old April 17th, 2012, 05:16 PM
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Another phrase to remember is tai gway (pronounced tie gway). This means "too much." I used this consistently with the vendors when they tried to give me prices that were off the charts for their wares. In addition to making them smile, they realized I was a serious bargain hunter!
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  #531  
Old April 17th, 2012, 08:44 PM
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Originally Posted by swanny727 View Post
I talked with the travel clinic and they recommended the same as yours.
I had Hep A vaccine 10 years ago but I should get the polio and typhoid.
Did you have reactions? I expect some soreness.
(sorry for the 3 posts in a row.....I'm catching up on the last few pages here)
Yes, there was soreness in the upper arms for about 4 days, but nothing serious. I did not have a temp or fatigue. Of course, since I got 5 shouts, both my arms were sore. I was up to date on the tetanus, but needed the flu and while I was there also got the Shingles vaccine, which I was due for but had nothing to do with the trip. I would recommend the flu shot for H1N1 also, since it is such a danger.

Can't wait for the trip to start...
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  #532  
Old April 17th, 2012, 11:21 PM
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Mtlycew1: thank you so much for your details! I forwarded the whole thing along to my husband (who never reads CC, but will love this!)

One question: This is of concern to me as a female. How often did you encounter the non-Western toilets? I am not skilled at the whole-in-the-ground models!
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  #533  
Old April 17th, 2012, 11:29 PM
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Good information mtlycrew1. I have 2 questions:
re outlets # 11...Is the bathroom outlet labeled "shavers only"? I have tried my straightener in these before and it fried my appliance.
re silk/pottery etc # 18.....so, we have a choice to take the daily tours or go off on our own?

As for skipping the tours, you cannot do it on the days when you wake up in one city and go to sleep in another; those days you will have to stay with your escort. You can tour on your own in Shanghai and Beijing. But honestly--and file this under food for thought--one of the things that you are paying premium for is the expertise and knowledge of the Viking escorts, so why blow them off, especially if this is your first time in China.

Imperial Jewels only has four stops along river: the morning you visit the school; the Three Gorges Dam observation area (just a few hours); the Lesser Gorges cruise where you don't even leave the dock to board the smaller day cruisers; and finally Shibaozhai Tower (which you can actually do on your own).

If you are not planning on staying with your group, let your escort know.
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PHOTOS: CHINA'S CULTURAL DELIGHTS • VIKING CHINA PHOTOBLOG • BUENOS AIRES TO VALPARAISO • BALTIC CAPITALS/St.PETERSBURG • FOOTSTEPS OF THE COSSACKS PHOTOBLOG •

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  #534  
Old April 18th, 2012, 12:22 AM
caribill caribill is online now
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Originally Posted by recyclelady View Post
One question: This is of concern to me as a female. How often did you encounter the non-Western toilets? I am not skilled at the whole-in-the-ground models!
On the ship: Western style
In hotels you go for lunch: Western style (some very fancy)
At shops such as carpet factory, jade factory, etc: Western style
At evening venues such as the T'ang Dynasty Show: Western Style
At tourist attractions such as the Forbidden City: A restroom may have one Western style and plenty of oriental style. There may be a very long line at the single Western style.
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  #535  
Old April 18th, 2012, 06:28 AM
mtlycrew1 mtlycrew1 is offline
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Sorry, don't check the site that often. Will try to address several questions in one reply.

According to my wife the non Western toilets are not a big issue. Some of the ladies indicated they preferred them as you don't have the sanitation issues of sitting on a seat. Our Tour Escort Larry always warned us when it was not advisable to drink a lot of water in the morning and he did a GREAT job on directing us to the Western toilets. As caribill indicated you won't encounter them that often and if you do just think of it as part of the adventure.

The plugs are labeled 110/120v and 220. I charged my camera batteries with no problem in the 110 outlet but my wife's flatiron wouldn't heat up in the 110v outlet. Not sure why as everything else worked. I researched her model flatiron on the internet from the ship and it indicated it was dual voltage. I then sent an email to the company just to be sure and they replied it was only 110v. Go figure. She was desperate so she plugged it into the 220 outlet using an adapter and it worked fine. It got hot really fast and she kept it on the low setting. I initially had a concern about frying it but we never had a problem. In hindsight that may not have been the smartest thing to do so she is going to buy a true dual voltage one for future travel.

I agree with Peregrina651 about taking advantage of the tours as it's part of the experience. However, in this case we had absolutely no interest in the ceramics, I had been to facilities like this in the past and most of all didn't want to endure the 4 hr round trip bus ride. The bus rides for other tours were 20-30 minutes which is fine. As it turned out our five hours roaming the city was one of the highlights of the trip.

Hope this helps
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  #536  
Old April 18th, 2012, 09:10 AM
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Originally Posted by recyclelady View Post
Mtlycew1: thank you so much for your details! I forwarded the whole thing along to my husband (who never reads CC, but will love this!)

One question: This is of concern to me as a female. How often did you encounter the non-Western toilets? I am not skilled at the whole-in-the-ground models!
Just flying back from China tonight. I encountered many squatty toilets during the trip. Most have been pretty clean. In most cases, there was a western toilet, but with a long queue, so I opted for the squatty ones. Just remember to bring tissue with you everywhere you go, some provide them, others do not.
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  #537  
Old April 18th, 2012, 10:25 AM
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Originally Posted by mtlycrew1 View Post

I agree with Peregrina651 about taking advantage of the tours as it's part of the experience. However, in this case we had absolutely no interest in the ceramics, I had been to facilities like this in the past and most of all didn't want to endure the 4 hr round trip bus ride. The bus rides for other tours were 20-30 minutes which is fine. As it turned out our five hours roaming the city was one of the highlights of the trip.
Just a clarification, Imperial Jewels does not visit the ceramics/porcelain factory; it is only part of the Cultural Delights itinerary.

IMHO, it was one of the highlights. The long drive was not arduous and it gave us a chance to see the countryside. Personally, even though I have seen potters at work in other locales, I was fascinated watching. This is not a visit to a ceramics/porcelain factory that is mass producing goods, this is historical re-enactment of the ancient techniques--throwing pots, hand-painting designs, ancient kilns, etc. Further, for those who live close enough or who might be visiting the Boston area, visit the Peabody- Essex Museum in Salem, MA and check out the exhibits dedicated to the Far East porcelain trade. (See my blog for more info)

Further reassurance about the bathrooms: though the lines may have been long at times, I never once was faced with choice of foot-prints or nothing. And, ditto, BYOTP (bring your own toilet paper). Also, sometimes if TP is supplied, it is on the bathroom wall, not in the stall. Don't be caught short either buy travel TP or start collecting mostly used rolls from your own house.
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General discussion: VIKING/UKRAINE- Footsteps of the Cossacks -- Ship photos

General discussion for
Viking's China itineraries: VIKING CHINA (Part 2)

PHOTOS: CHINA'S CULTURAL DELIGHTS • VIKING CHINA PHOTOBLOG • BUENOS AIRES TO VALPARAISO • BALTIC CAPITALS/St.PETERSBURG • FOOTSTEPS OF THE COSSACKS PHOTOBLOG •

JOURNALS: CHINA WITH VIKING • Footsteps of the Cossacks (Ukraine with Viking)

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  #538  
Old April 18th, 2012, 12:53 PM
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A few suggestions/comments:
TP...simpliest solution is to grab the used roll from that first "luxury" hotel you stay at in China...the airports in China are modern and the TP is in the stall with you for the occasion prior to reaching your hotel. There is also monitor in the WC in case you need something.

CD tour: The trip to the birth place of porcelain in Jengdezhen is a folk lore museum, by all means go if you enjoy that activity...in the spring there are beautiful blossoms everywhere and the graves are decorated for the "memorial" festival to provide some beautiful scenery along the way.

The alternative is to remain in Jinjiang which sees relatively few tourists so you become the main attraction...young ladies tend to know some English so they are your best bet for communication. There is a market, clothing, and appliance store at the head of the pier and you can enter it thru the backway to save a few steps and to shop as a Chinese would. This city also provides the opportunity to compare those bargain basement prices you received at the various factories with what the Chinese pay for their merchandise. About 2 busy streets straight up from the pier is a lake full of activity...dancing, Chinese board games, music, paddle boats, and curious Chinese. There is also a promenade running the length of the river in the area to walk on.

Our tour escort explained the Chinese are taught in grade school that staring at a foreigner beyond 2 minutes is considered rude:-). It may seem a little uncomfortable at first, but a smile and a Nihao...(knee how) will quickly break down the barrier.

Having done both the porcelain factory tour and Jinjiang, my favorite was the city because I came to China to be immersed in their culture. The stores around the luxury hotels in Beijing and Shanghai tend to cater to tourists...this is one of the few cities where you see China not wrapped in a tourist's veil. Or you can shop at Walmart in Wuhan;-)

If one of the Chinese parrots your Chinese phrase directly back to you they are trying to correct your pronunciation...if they are used to dealing with foreigners anything in the ballpark is acceptable, but in a city like Jinjiang they will not understand a simple phrase like Xiexie, (she drop the "e", yes drop the "s" shye shye quickly) unless you are very close in the pronunciation. If your Chinese is passable, they will begin a conversation much like we do when a Chinese person says Hi...I greet them and add a "how are you" or a "good afternoon" to see if they know some English.
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  #539  
Old April 18th, 2012, 05:11 PM
swanny727 swanny727 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mtlycrew1 View Post
Sorry, don't check the site that often. Will try to address several questions in one reply.

According to my wife the non Western toilets are not a big issue. Some of the ladies indicated they preferred them as you don't have the sanitation issues of sitting on a seat. Our Tour Escort Larry always warned us when it was not advisable to drink a lot of water in the morning and he did a GREAT job on directing us to the Western toilets. As caribill indicated you won't encounter them that often and if you do just think of it as part of the adventure.

The plugs are labeled 110/120v and 220. I charged my camera batteries with no problem in the 110 outlet but my wife's flatiron wouldn't heat up in the 110v outlet. Not sure why as everything else worked. I researched her model flatiron on the internet from the ship and it indicated it was dual voltage. I then sent an email to the company just to be sure and they replied it was only 110v. Go figure. She was desperate so she plugged it into the 220 outlet using an adapter and it worked fine. It got hot really fast and she kept it on the low setting. I initially had a concern about frying it but we never had a problem. In hindsight that may not have been the smartest thing to do so she is going to buy a true dual voltage one for future travel.

I agree with Peregrina651 about taking advantage of the tours as it's part of the experience. However, in this case we had absolutely no interest in the ceramics, I had been to facilities like this in the past and most of all didn't want to endure the 4 hr round trip bus ride. The bus rides for other tours were 20-30 minutes which is fine. As it turned out our five hours roaming the city was one of the highlights of the trip.

Hope this helps
Yes this helps, thank you. After a similar experience as your wife, I bought a straightener in UK so it is 220v. Peregrina651 has said the ceramics tour is not part of the Imperial Jewels, which is the one we are taking. 4 hour bus ride did not appeal to me. I was interested in seeing the village, as also described by Kohola.
Are there restrooms om the bus? If not, I will monitor my fluid intake
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  #540  
Old April 18th, 2012, 05:45 PM
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Are there restrooms om the bus? If not, I will monitor my fluid intake
No restrooms on the buses. But on Imperials Jewels, the longest bus rides (May 2011) were only about 60-90 minutes (to and from airports, the Great Wall, out to the Terra Cotta Warriors)....

BTW, the Eastern toilets are no big deal to use (at least they weren't for me. You don't have to squat that far down! :-)) And in at least in one of the airports, I was able to bypass a really long line of women waiting for a Western toilet.

These travel size toilet paper rolls were really a must-have in China; perfect size, fits easily in your pocket or whatever you are carrying:


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