Category Archives: travel

China’s New Frontier

This is taken from an article in Adventure’s September 2006 issue. I haven’t been able to find the article online but luckily I have a copy of it. Below are 5 trips it recommended.

1) Bike across Szechuanz – This is a 12 day vehicle supported mountain bike trip through Bike China Adventures. It’s spendy ($2,720) and lots of biking. But you do get to hang out in a monastery and see yak herders.

2) Hike the Great Wall – Self explanatory and just plain awesome! (china-hiking.com)

3) Raft the Yangtze -Imagine this: Class IV rapids, Asia’s longest river, a 12 days trip though a gorge twice as deep as the Grand Canyon. (mtsobek.com)

4) Trek through Yunnan – Subtropical climate, bamboo huts, elephant habitats, and fertile rain forests typify this 6 day trek though Southeast Asia. (wildchina.com)

5) Drive the Silk Road – See thousands of years of history along this road to the Middle East. (caravancafe.com)

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What will I get out of my trip to China?

During my brief hiatus from blogging I’ve been mulling over what I want to get out of my trip to China. I know I want to experience the culture both as a tourist and as an in depth traveler. What I mean by “in depth” is the extreme opposite of a tourist. I want to really experience authentic China. I imagine that to get this authentic experience I will have to travel far off the beaten path. That leads to the question of where to go.  That will have to be another blog post.

Another part of me recognizes the development that China is making and wants to be a part of it. I imagine the county’s progression is similar to the United States at the turn of the 20th century. There are those that say China will own the 21st century like the U.S . has owned the 20th. Unless the U.S. makes some drastic changes, I see no reason why this shouldn’t become a reality. What an opportunity to visit a country on the cusp of something great. I want to take full advantage of this while I am there as well. But I’m not sure how to do this.

The commercial real estate market is exploding over there. Companies both new and old are growing exponentially. Technology, the Internet, even universities are advancing. It’s hard not to when you have a billion “customers”.

Seattle has many ties to China both economically, politically, and socially. I haven’t decided which avenues I will pursue as my journey to China gets closer. It seems a shame to not do something, but I’m realistic enough to know that I cannot do it all.

So what to want out of my trip to China? To experience its culture, to take part in and be a witness to its economic prosperity. But how do I do that??? These are the things I’ve been thinking of lately.

Overcoming Olympic Obstacles

As I said yesterday, there are lots of people going to the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games and one needs to be prepared for it. I listed several discouraging facts about the Games next year. Here is a quick recap:

  • 2008 Beijing Olympics will be the most highly attended in history! Good for the Olympics, bad for me.
  • Several hotels (including at least one that isn’t built yet) are already completely booked during August next year. And those that have space are jacking up their prices four times the usual amount.
  • There are 286,000 hotel rooms in the area but 2 to 3 million visitors coming. Not sure where they are all going to stay (myself included).
  • Flights to Beijing are rising in price tenfold. There just aren’t enough seats to fill the needs of travelers.
  • Tickets to the Games are hard to come by. The first phase of ticket sales has already passed. I missed it by a few weeks!

And here are my thoughts…

1. Yes, the Games might be the highest attendance ever, but there’s nothing you can do about it. Look forward to meeting a lot of interesting people from different places around the world and collectively being part of something that happens only once every four years.
2 and 3. It’s true there are so many hotel rooms. But who says you have to stay in a hotel!?!? There’s hostels, couchsurfing.com, friend’s apartments and friend’s of friend’s apartments and for who truly know no one in Beijing, there’s www.homestaybeijing2008.com. A truly ambitious local from Beijing organizes renting someone’s house/apartment/space room next August. If you must stay in a hotel, work right now with a Travel Agent to find the best deal.
4. Flights are going to be expensive. You’ll just have to budget for that. But there are ways around it. Try flying to another city other than Beijing. Then training, boating, flying to the Games. You’ll not only get to the Games cheaper, you’ll see some of China’s beautiful country side.
5. The first phase has passed, but the 2nd phase of ticket sales begin in October so be ready! In the US, tickets are sold through CoSport.com.

Hopefully, I’ve put you back on track to getting to the Games next summer. I feel like each of those bullets could be expanded into a post on their own. Keep checking here at Crouching China for some more in depth info on those topics. That’s all for now.

I’m not the only one going to Beijing?!?

As I was reading an article in the WSJ last week describing the Olympics and all of the attention it is getting, I came to the disheartening conclusion that I’m not the only going to see the Olympics.  I realize that that is an obvious statement.  Here are some sobering facts from the article:

  •  2008 Beijing Olympics will be the most highly attended in history! Good for the Olympics, bad for me.
  • Several hotels (including at least one that isn’t built yet) are already completely booked during August next year. And those that have space are jacking up their prices four times the usual amount.
  •  There are 286,000 hotel rooms in the area but 2 to 3 million visitors coming. Not sure where they are all going to stay (myself included).
  • Flights to Beijing are rising in price tenfold. There just aren’t enough seats to fill the needs of travelers.
  • Tickets to the Games are hard to come by.  The first phase of ticket sales has already passed. I missed it by a few weeks!

Hopefully, I haven’t dissuaded you from going to the Olympics yet. But one does needs to have plan. Tomorrow I’ll post some ways to overcome these discouraging facts.

Unusual Hotels from around the World

Though this blog focuses on China, I came across this article last week and couldn’t pass up posting on it. Miss Cellania from Mentalfloss.com lists 8 hotels that are unique, amazing and just plain strange. Check out the article for pictures of each hotel.

The Ice Hotel – Found in Sweden, it offers a completely bone chilling experience; even the beds are made from ice! This hotel is rebuilt (or should I say carved!?) every year.

Cabañas Copal Hotel Tulum – This bare bones escape in the Caribbean is a must for anyone who can do without electricity, gas, water, telephones and air conditioning. From the beautiful picture, I think I could suffer through it.

Wild Canopy Reserve -Straight out of a Swiss Family Robinson story, this tree house hotel has running water and a working toilet. And it’s 41 feet above the ground! It’s in India.

Jules’ Undersea Lodge – A truly unique experience, the only way to get to this undersea lodge in Florida is to scuba dive. It has 2 bedrooms, a common room (kitchen), and a full bathroom. Too bad I don’t scuba dive.

Dromoland Castle – A luxurious castle, originally an Irish stronghold in the 11th century, there is over a 1000 years of history in the surrounding area. And there is even a golf course!

Das Park Hotel -The complete opposite of a castle is this drainpipe you can rent for the night in Austria. This ultimate simple residence gives you a once in a lifetime opportunity. The best part? You pay ‘what you wish’.

Gamirasu Cave Hotel – This Turkish former monastery has several rooms built underground. Most of the rooms are of the above ground variety.

Propeller Island City Lodge – Perhaps the strangest hotel on the list, this Berlin establishment has a different theme for each room. Not too strange until you see the picture below of the Coffin Themed room.

coffin.jpg

That’s it for unusual Hotels from around the world. Tomorrow I promise I’ll post something China related. Have a great day!

Upcoming at Crouching China this week

Here’s a preview on what you’ll see on Crouching China this week. If you want to suggest a future topic I’ll cover here at Crouching China, leave a comment below.

Monday – Word of the week

Tuesday – I review some extreme hotels!!!

Wednesday – I explain “cloud seeding” and what to expect in Beijing during the Olympics

Thursday – I profile bigwhiteguy.com

Friday – I’ll introduce a new 5-part series. Stop by Friday to see what it’ll cover

5 Reasons you must read this blog!

1) Learn insightful and interesting information about China’s past, present and future!

2) After reading Crouching China for a year, you will know everything about the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics!

3) Learn a new word/phrase in Mandarin each week (this starts next week)!

4) Hear about others’ experiences traveling, living and being from China!

5) Read book reviews on traveling in China (this way you can skip the boring ones)!