| Hong Kong, Shanghai,
This is a report of a 17 days
trip across China, which I started and finished in Hong Kong. During
these 17 days I visited a number of locations and because of the
limited time and the long distances, I used flights to get from one
place to the next. Despite the limited time it was possible to visit
all places without rushing. Here are some impressions about China (from
a first time traveller):
- I'm surprised at how
- The infrastructure is in
excellent state - the
roads are well built and smooth with no holes or bumps; you see no wire
trees spoiling the view in towns, meaning that all wires except the
high voltage ones run underground. Compare that with Thailand for
instance, where there are poles everywhere with a multitude of wires.
- People are doing well. You
see many poor
people on the streets and the average seems to be reasonably affluent.
In Yangshuo I saw a girl, the cashier in a food store, wearing a teeth
prothese to straighten the teeth. Such a thing is actually
quite expensive, at least here in Germany.
- In Guilin the youth seems to
at the Internet
cafe which I visited. There are 100-200 computers and the kids are very
- The young
seem to have a good time everywhere.
Perhaps they are all spoilt single kids (?), pampered by their parents
- People are very friendly -
everybody smiles at you
and is helpful.
- People are honest. The taxi
don't try to
cheat you and always use the meter - compare that to Malaysia, where
the taxi drivers frequently refuse to use the meter or even fake the
meter. Nobody also seemed interested in stealing my things (but another
guy reported having caught a pickpocket in-flagranti who had already
opened the zipper and put his hands inside the belt bag).
- In Shanghai on Saturday
and evening the
girls in Nanjing road are so OPEN and want to make your acquaintance.
They could be prostitutes, but maybe not all of them are and some are
really interested into making your acquaintance (instead of grabbing
- Overall China seems to be a
safe place to
- So far nobody has tried to
(except for some
tour/travel opeator trying to sell me an overpriced tour).
Travelling in China was reasonably cheap, because of the convenient
exchange rate (the Euro traded at over 10 RMB while I was travelling
there). I stayed in mid-range hotels spending between 100 and 400 RMB
night, on average around 200. For a meal I used to spend arounf 30-40
RMB. Taxi trips in town were inexpensive, mostly between 10 and 30 RMB.
For internal flights I payed between 500 and 1100 RMB, depending on the
/ Exchange rate (December 2004)
1 Euro = 1.32 US $
1 Euro = 10.9 Yuan (RMB)
1 Euro = 10.27 HKD (Hong Kong dollars)
1 Euro = 57.9 INR (India Rupees)
1 Euro = 2.18 SGD (Singapore dollars)
1 Euro = 5.01 RM (Malaysia Ringgit)
1 Euro = 51.7 THB (Thai Baht)
The cheap dollar (all the above currencies were more or less tied to
the USD exchange rate) made our holiday less expensive. For current
the Universal Currency Converter.
phones / Prepaid GSM cards
In Shanghai I bought a China Mobile card. The card itself, with no
airtime, cost 100 RMB. Then you could charge it with 50 and 100 RMB
increments. I used it mainly to call my wife in Malaysia. A call to
Malaysia was 8 RMB/min. Calls within China are around 1 RMB/min, local
calls probably less than that. For incoming international calls from
Malaysia I had to pay RMB 1.90/min. But I was told that there is a card
from China Unicom, where you don't have to pay for incoming calls.
By the way, I bought the card at one booth in an underground station in
Shanghai. No questions asked and I didn't have to show my passport. It
just took me some time and a couple of calls to my (Chinese) wife in
Malaysia, who acted as a translator since the girl selling the card
only spoke Mandarin, to get the card working. The phone I was using was
a Siemens S45i bought in Germany (no need to use a Chinese phone).
Good network coverage in all places where I've been.
Internet access is cheap and available everywhere in China.
Costs are in the region of a few RMB/hour. There are no restrictions to
the web sites you can visit (at least I was able to access all sites I
was looking for), an indicator that there is no censorship.
Overall fresh; cold in the north and in Yunnan, warmer in the
south. No rain during the 17 days I was in China.
I took the usual set of tropical vaccinations (polio, tetanus,
diphteria, Hep A + B, typhoid). I didn't take any anti-malaria pills
(not even as a standby medication) and had no rabies shot. The latter
however might have been a good idea. I didn't catch SARS by the way.
VISA / Entry
A visa is necessary for nationals of most countries. I got
mine at the Chinese consulate in Munich (30 Euro, one
entry, valid 30 days). Obtaining a visa for China
in Hong Kong would have cost 900 HKD (= 90 Euro) in a travel agency
(for a multiple entry one year visa).
I felt safe all the time and nobody tried to steal anything
from me or cheat me.
As I said I used internal flights to travel around. Given the time
constraints and the long distances this was the only option. I booked
all flights in the Shoestring travel agency in Hong Kong, paying the
lower price for Chinese nationals + a 100 HKD profit per flight for the
travel agency. In Dali I rented a car + driver for two days, to travel
to Zhongdian and Lijiang, paying 900 RMB for two days. Taxis are cheap
everywhere and Shanghai has a good cheap underground
This is the plan for the trip to China:
||HKG -> Shanghai
||Boot Guilin-Yangshuo, 6 hours
||into Hotel; organise Tour for Kunming