Neville and Lyn are regular customers of Travelbay and we're also big fans of theirs - when you see their smiles how can you resist? In March 2017 they visited China on a Travelbay Private Tailor Made Tour and here are some of their photos and travel tales.
Travelling by private car with a guide and driver is the best way to see China – we did not have to wait for a number of passengers to get on and off the bus and we used the time between venues to do our chatting. We covered miles in Beijing, glad that we had more time there as there was a great deal to see.
Highly recommend the tourist company you used. We received a follow up/feedback telephone call from the company on the first night in Beijing and feedback forms completed in both Shanghai and Beijing.
We had no problems catching up with our guide at the Cruise Terminal (we disembarked from the Queen Mary 2). Christine, our guide was a very delightful girl and so very friendly. She came into the hotel to attend to our check in. We then had the rest of the day to explore Shanghai on our own.
We took a taxi to The Bund area – taxis are very cheap. Unfortunately it was cold and wet with very low cloud cover.
Here we boarded the “Hop on Hop off” (HOHO) bus - The Big Bus – excellent way to see Shanghai when one is “time poor”. Cost 100 CNY each for 24 hour ticket and they offered three different routes (refer to the attached map). We only had time to do the BLUE and RED.
Once we completed both routes we got a taxi to the MAGLEV Station – very fast train from the City to the Pudong Airport – round fare cost 80 CNY each. Very comfortable train, speed differs according to the time of day - we went out about 5pm so the speed was 300kph (the maximum speed midday is 400kph) – the trip took 8 minutes whereas if one drove it would take 45 minutes.
On our return to the city station we were approached by a few men asking if we would like a taxi – as it was dark and wet, we accepted one of the offers - he then took us to a private car which turned out to be UBER (later told Uber illegal in China). We were told the fare would be metered but once on our way Nev noticed that there was no meter in the car. Not only did he charge us double the taxi fare but then tried to make us pay additional 50% of our fare to pay “the spotter”. We reluctantly paid the fare, first making sure that he dropped us off at our hotel and not dump us in the middle of nowhere, but refused to pay the spotter fee … he was not very happy and we learnt a big lesson !!!
We stayed at the Greenland Jiulong Hotel - Very comfortable room on the 22nd floor with a great view over the Pudong Area, especially at night when all the buildings were lit up. Breakfast was on 25th floor, a large restaurant with a great selection of food both eastern and western. Dinner was available on the 25th floor – room service dinner also available. Free wifi available – good service.
Christine collected us in the morning – unfortunately it was cold with very low cloud cover.
Shanghai Global Financial Centre – building of 100 floors with lift from bottom to top taking ONE minute. Very low cloud prevented us from experiencing a magnificent view of the whole of Shanghai. Top floor has partial glass floor … not for the faint hearted !!!
Yu Markets – warning, make sure your bag and camera case are well protected !!! Here we had typical Shanghai cuisine lunch.
Yu Gardens – there is a lot of walking here on uneven pathways and would look marvellous during the summer months with all the flowers and leaves out.
Christine collected us from our hotel for our trip out to the Railway Station, she came into the waiting hall to make sure that we knew our platform number and the procedure to follow.
Here we learnt that being seniors was a great advantage and permitted to go to the front of the queue !!! There was a large queue going through the xray machine but Christine immediately took us to the front. When boarding the train there was once again a very long queue but we were allowed to board the train before the rest of the passengers. Never been so grateful for our white hair !!!!
Very glad that we chose to travel first class on the train – we had seats at the back of the carriage and had room to place our two large cases behind so that we could keep an eye on them. We were watching those boarding the second class carriage and there was one big fight for luggage space !!! Second class for the young but first class for seniors.
Train trip very comfortable, average speed around 300kph with eight stops before arriving in Beijing. All important messages in both Chinese and English.
On arrival we were met by Zack, a delightful, friendly young man (30). His English and knowledge of Beijing excellent and he carried out his duties in a very professional manner. Zhang, our driver, was also very friendly but unfortunately could not speak English, we would have loved to include him in our conversations. We had two very full days with them in Beijing and right from the start, we felt that we were on a family outing.
When we arrived at the train station Zack met us on the railway platform as there are a number of exits. We were driven to our hotel where Zack attended to our check in.
We stayed at the Howard Johnson Paragon Hotel. Very comfortable room on the 7th floor. Breakfast was on 3rd floor, very large restaurant with a great selection of food both eastern and western. Dinner available on 3rd floor – room service dinner also available. Free wifi available – service dropped in and out.
Under the hotel is a large shopping mall including a supermarket and KFC.
The Great Wall – the big highlight of our trip. This involved a huge amount of walking, up and down hills with a lot of steps – Zack was amazed how we handled it all at our age, said that Chinese over 55 years of age would never attempt it … yeah we are amazing !!!!
Lunch at a local restaurant with typical Beijing cuisine close to The Great Wall.
Ming Dynasty Tombs – this entailed a bit of walking
National Stadium – the “Birds Nest”, the stadium used during the Beijing Olympics. This was just a photo stop.
Tiananmen Square – this was the second highlight of our trip.
The Forbidden City – very interesting and Zack full of information - also entailed a lot of walking up and down steps
Lunch at a typical local restaurant where we were the only western folk, once again typical Beijing cuisine
The Summer Palace – also a lot of information to absorb and a lot of walking
Tea making/tasting ceremony – here we tried five different local teas, all of which used for medicinal purposes
Beijing Capital Airport - very sad to say farewell to our friends. This is a huge airport, built for the Olympics, including a train to get from the check in area to the security area and gates."