Author Topic: Trip Planning And Trip Report: Shanghai, Beijing, Macau, Hong Kong, Istanbul  (Read 13770 times)

Offline chuchem

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trip report Shanghai, Beijing, Macau, Hong Kong, Istanbul
« Reply #15 on: May 10, 2010, 07:38:35 PM »


Here my trip report. After I got a lot of help from this forum I think its nice to write , maybe it will help someone else in the future. Please feel free to PM me or ask any questions.

Day 1 / 2 Sunday/monday Zurich Shanghai First

The trip really started with a few negatives.

The night before we left my wife had a problem with her foot. I didn't want to take any chance, so she went to ER. B'h it was nothing bad, she got it bandaged and had some pain. The next morning I realized my wallet was missing. I searched everywere and just could not find it. Really bad, all CC gone. I quickly got my fathers CC, so I should have it for deposit in the hotel and hoped they will not check, that the first names dontmatch. I got a lot of extra Chinese cash at the airport, so that I can survive without using my dads CC. Check in was very fast and we got the first row seats on Swiss Airbus 340. We went to the first class lounge. The guy at the desk gave us a time when our driver will pick us up, to drive us to the plane. We had a half hour in the lounge. For someone eating kosher the first class lounge is not very different to the business lounge. I took a quick shower there, the shower was nicer then the business lounge i normally use. Refreshed, they took us down to the car park were there is a separate security. A Mercedes drove us from there straight to Terminal E and they brought us to the boarding counter. It was very nice, but I had to stand in line with everybody else to get my visa checked, so it was missing the touch until the end. We had 6 out of 8 passenger in F class. seats are not the newest but very nice. After take of we got served lunch. They offered us fish or meat, we took the meat meal. we got alot of other side dishes with it. Was very good. After watching 2012 we asked for the beds to be made and changed into swiss PJs. We got a couple of hours of good sleep on the fully flat beds. Breakfast before landing was ok, expected better in F. We landed in Shanghai about 7 am. Passport control and luggage was very quick. Since were touring Shanghai the whole day, we dropped our suitcases by the luggage storage desk and only took some food along to town. We booked Gal Dvirs tour about the jewish Shanghai. He starts of, at the peace hotel. The easiest way, to get to town, was to take the maglev speed train. Before 9 am it only goes 300 km/h so we didn't have the top speed of 420 km/h. From the maglev station we took the subway to the peace hotel. Its right next to the bund area, so we walked around, until the 10 am tour start. The tour was ok, for my taste there was to much talking and to little walking around and seeing things. I am not saying it was not interesting, but almost 2 hours out of the 4,5 were getting a speech about history in two separate sitting rooms. We did tour the old ghetto area, saw the museum and went into a old house, were jews used to live. We saw an old shul as well. Cost was 400 RMB, that's about 55 USD p.p. He does it almost every day, so its not a bad business. We were 15 people. After the tour we walked around the bund area and then went to the shanghai market area. My wife found some cheap pearls and tablecloth. We had 2 hours time,until we had to go back to the airport, so we got used to the Chinese shopping and bargaining. We took a cab back to the airport (45 min) at a cost of about 15 USD. After picking up our suitcases from the counter we checked in for our flight to Beijing. The lounge in Shanghai was ok, the airport is very big. So its very good, that they take you there with a small electric car. The air china flight only had business and no first. After the pilot announced a delay of 3 hours, we b'h pushed back with a 30 min delay only. The seats were ok. They are quite old but comfortable. service was good as well, kosher food was 3 fruits. We landed in Beijing 11 pm and had to take a bus to the gate. We drove a really long time and they put all people on one bus, not very pleasant. I ordered a car from the st. regis to pick us up. Cost was about 90 USD. To be honest, its really not necessary. They do greet u by the gate and help get the suitcases on the trolley. But for 15 Dollars one can take a cab as well. I ordered it, since I was in china first time and landed really late, but you can save that money and take a cab.
The ride was 30 min in a Audi A6. They offered cool towels and a drink in the car. We got to the st. regis and they upgraded us to a nice statesman suite, my fathers CC was also not a problem. I emailed Beijing's kosher restaurant before the trip and ordered kosher food, so we should have something to eat after a long day. By check in the hotel gave it to me. some fresh kosher sushi and some other food. I must say the manager of the restaurant was really helpful and a very nice guy. The room was very nice, with alot of luxury. wasnt hard to fall asleep!

Prices

Room: 1700 RMB night
Internet: 100 RMB/24 h

Day 3

I ordered a tour guide for our first day. We arranged her to pick us up in our hotel at 8.30 am. Well, we made it at 9 am, after I found my wallet and all CC in the suitcase in one of my pants. I can promise I searched them twice, I guess my promised donation to Kupat Hair Bnei Barak if I will find it, did help. I called a butler and asked him to unpack our suitcases, when we came pack all clothing were nicely folded and put away.
We took a cab to the summer palace, our guide showed us around. It was very interesting and nice. I will not describe every attraction (you can look it up online). After 3 hours we took another cab to tiananmen square. We ate our delicious sandwiches from Dinis restaurant and toured the square. Its very big but nothing amazing. The forbidden city is right next to it. We went in with our guide and told her not to go into every detail, so after 1,5 hours we were done. My wife wanted to go shopping, so we went to silk market. I wanted to see the Beijing acrobatic show, our guide got us tickets with a discount. It started 17.30, it was really nothing special, we left towards the end. Any circus has the same, so we returned to the silk market. At 8 pm we took a cab to Dinis restaurant were we had a delicious supper. Its in a tent outside the chabad house in Beijing. Very nice and delicious food. We got back to the hotel at 11 pm and each took a massage by a place across the street open till late. Nice place, they had a man doing it for me.

Prices:

tour guide 8 hours 400 RMB
taxis always between 20 and 35 RMB
show 180 RMB
supper 450 RMB for 2 people
massage 230 RMB 45 min

Day 4

Great wall at mutianyu

Our guide arranged us a nice car and a driver for 500 RMB for the day. At 8.30 we left our hotel and got into some traffic. The ride took about 1 hour 45 min. There is a place, that is a little closer to Beijing, called Badaling. Since there is public transportation there as well, it can be full of Chinese people going. Most tour groups go there as well, so its worth driving an extra 30 min and not have a huge balagan. We got there and took a cable car up to the wall. the cable car arrives by tower 12 and we walked to tower 21. Its a nice walk, about a hour each way. A lot of steps and a very steep climb at the end. It was a stunning day and the views were amazing at the top. The walk down was scary, but we survived. There were maybe 10 other people we met on the way, so we really had the wall to our self, amazing. We took the cable car back down. To make it back to the car park, we had to walk through a street packed with little stores selling all different type of goods. The prices were even better then Beijing, since it was low season and not to many people were visiting. We bought some nice tablecloth for 100 RMB. On the way back we agreed, that the driver will take us to the Olympic stadium. Quite impressing. They charged to see it from the inside, we didn't do it. Since it was 4.30 pm, we got stuck in traffic and it took almost a hour to get back to the st. regis hotel. After freshening up, we wanted to visit another market. On advice from the chabads Shliachs wife, we went to the pearl market. It took the hotel about 30 min to flag us a cab in rush hour. The pearl market was similar to the silk market, they sell about the same. We had a feeling the silk market was better. From the pearl market, we wanted to go to dinis for supper. I tried to flag a cab, but all were full. After 10 min. a guy offered to take me, but refused to go with the meter. He wanted 100 RMB. I was fed up of waiting, so I offered him 50. The ride should cost about half, but i figured the difference bet. 3,5 and 7 dollars will not kill our budget. Supper was again amazing, we ordered some more to take along to macau the next day. We spend the rest of the evening at the pool in the st. regis. It was really huge and no one was there. Its very interesting to note, that the spa of the hotel was separate for men and women. In Hong Kong, as well. I guess asia has a very high zenius ;-)

Prices

Cable Car 60 RMB
entrance to the gw: 45 RMB





  


Offline chuchem

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Re: trip report Shanghai, Beijing, Macau, Hong Kong, Istanbul
« Reply #16 on: May 10, 2010, 07:38:58 PM »
Day 5 Beijing- Hong Kong First- Macau

We had a flight leaving Beijing at 13:30, so we packed early and went to the silk market for some last minute shopping and to buy a new suitcase for all our shmonzes. We took a regular cab to the airport. We arrived at 12:00 and I checked in, by the air China business class counter. While my wife went to get some Haagen Dazs, I asked the air china ticket desk for a upgrade from business to first. By the time i booked the flights, it was a 2 cabin flight, but they changed it to a 3 cabin flight. I explained them, that I paid for the entire trip with first class miles and they should really upgrade me, if available. Even through they really didn't have to, after flashing my BMI *gold card, they upgraded me. We had to clear immigration in Beijing, since Hong Kong is considered International. Again, the airport is very big. There was a train taking us to the other lounge and by the time we were there we had 5 mins. The air china first class lounge was nice and big, I liked the fresh squeezed orange juice. We had one of these electric cars bring us to the gate. They charged 10 RMB for it, it wasn't free like Shanghai. We again had to take a bus to the air china 777. First class was quite disappointing. For a ride to Hong Kong ( 3 hours ) it was ok, but traveling international for 12 hours in first with seats that are not a full flat bed is not what one expects. Service was good, we got a Bangkok airways kosher meal. It was eatable, but a normal airlines economy food beats it. We landed in Hong Kong at 16:30. The good part is, they have a ferry leaving every hour to Macau. If you buy tickets an hour before, you just have to give them your luggage tags from the flight and they pick them up and put it on the ferry. We didnt even have to go through immigration in Hong Kong, its like being in transit. I bought 2 premium class tickets for the ferry. It was about 600 HKD for 2 people, the economy class would have been 500 HKD, since we were over the economy luggage allowance. We boarded the 18:00 ferry and left 10 min late. Premium tickets are not very different from the normal ones. We were able to sit on the second floor and had free drinks. Economy was quite full, so it was worth the extra 13 dollars. Arrival in macau was very smooth, we once again had to clear immigration. Our hotel had a one way pick up included in the rate and send three people to pick us up. one to shlep the suitcases, one to hold the umbrella and another to drive the mercedes S500. The ride was 15 min. but I didnt mind, what a stunning car, there were more buttons then in a cockpit. massage function.......
We arrived at the Venetian hotel macau. What a stunning hotel, its huge and one can see its luxury everywhere. Check in was very fast. They gave us a rialto suite. The room was huge, 2000 square feet. A big living room, bedroom and bathroom. Unreal. We spend the rest of the evening walking around the hotel, its build like venice, with bridges, rivers and gondolas. Yes, I did gamble as well, but luck was not on my side that night. I called for a guy to warm up our meals we had from Dinis, the guy new exactly what kosher was and told me not to worry, he will leave it double wrapped.

Prices

cab to the airport 115 RMB
ferry 600 RMB
rialto suite 1900 HKD (60 days advance paid booking 20% discount)

Day 6 Friday

We spend the morning walking around in the hotel and seeing it from the outside. For a guy, that has never been to Las Vegas, very impressing. At 13:00 we took the hotel shuttle bus to Macau ferry station for a ride to Hong Kong Kowloon. There is a station closer to the venetian, but there the ferry only goes to Hong Kong. I didnt want to take a star ferry to Kowloon after that, so I decided to try this. Price was about the same and we took the premium class again. It was a ferry from a different company, but basically the same. I must say, something that was very helpful: the exit is at the first floor, so premium passengers could be the last guys to get off, since we are coming from the second floor. On both ferries the staff blocked the entrance for economy passengers until all from the second floor left. The ride to Hong Kong was about 1 hour. We took a cab to our hotel, the intercontinental grand standford. The hotel upgraded us to a stunning harbour view suite on the top floor. That was amazing , since we were able to leave the lights on in the living room for shabbes. We went out to get some drinks before shabbes and made sure we knew were the shul building was ( 5 min walk from the hotel ) After that we had 3 hours to kill before shabbes, so I went for a nice swim in the pool on the roof.

Shabbes

We decided to spend shabbes in Kehilat Zion in Kowloon. Its a sefardi shul located in a shopping center. They had about 250 people for the davening and the meal. There was a big textile fair across the border that week, so 95% were sefardi. I heard in advance, that the meals are very good, but good is not fair. The meal was unreal, they had 250 people and could have served some basics, they dont even charge, but no. First course was gefilte fish, marinated salmon and three different type of sushi. For the main course, they gave 7 different types of meat, one better then the other. They had so much and this for 250 people, I must say an amazing chessed. The atmosphere was also very nice with singing and dvar toires. The food beat any 5* hotel in jerusalem, that includes the citadel, plaza, Inbal or Ramada.

Shachris was 9:00 followed by shabbes lunch. Again the food was superb. Minche was followed by Seuda Shlishit, mariv and Havdala. Shabbes was an amazing experience, we got to meet a lot of nice people and have to thank Rabbi moded for his amazing work. Moze Shabbes we went to the ladies market. Its the best market in the Hong Kong area, open until 11 PM. Its in Kowloon and a lot of fun as well.
Day 8 Sunday Turkish First Hong Kong-Istanbul First class suite
We got up quite early and checked out from the hotel already. I deposited our luggage for storage in the hotel, since we would pick it up at night before our flight. We walked 5 min. along the avenue of the stars to the star ferry terminal and took a quick 5 min ride across the harbor. Our plan was to take a cab to the tram station to get to the peak. At the ferry station, there was a tourbus, that had a stop by the tram station, so we took that. The bus was a nice open double decker and drove for 45 min through Hong Kong before dropping us off at the tram station. There was a wait time of more then a hour to get tickets for the tram, so we decided to skip it and take a cab from there to the peak. 10 min later we on the peak and the views were stunning. We paid a small amount to stand on the observation deck for some amazing pictures. In the mall on the peak they have a spa, called the wonderfishspa. You put your feet in a big pool full of fish and they chew on your skin and eat all the dead skin away. We did it for 20 min, was quite an experience. We took a cab ride to the bottom and he dropped us off in middle of town. I have to say, there was nothing amazing and shopping was quite expensive, so we crossed back to Kowloon and spend some time at the ladies market again. We made sure to get back to Hong Kong at 18-00 as in the jewish center they have a bbq every sunday night for dinner. It was really great, there was such a big selection incl. sushi, salads, deserts. We crossed back to the Kowloon side and were on the avenue of the stars at 20-00. Every night 8 o'clock, they make a big laser show along the Hong Kong harbor with music. Its an amazing laser and light show from tall buildings and lasts 15 min. We hurried back to our hotel, picked up our luggage and rushed with a cab to the airport. We got there about 1 hour before our flight and checked in at the turkish first class counter. They escorted us to a lounge and I took a quick shower after a long day. I dont even know which lounge it was and the showers were nothing compared to Zurich, but for the 15 min. we had it was ok. We were one of last guys to board the turkish 777 plane to Istanbul. There is a separate entrance for first class, so we really felt like we were the only people on the flight. We had the whole first row for ourselves, in the second row two people were sitting. The plane has been described in other posts already, in short: you have a real suite with proper beds, able to close your door. The seat was the most comfortable ever and I had a huge flat screen tv in front of me. This is for sure the real deal to travel. Service was very good and the crew spoke perfect english. I skipped the meal, being full from the BBQ and had a good nights sleep after a movie. Its just amazing, changing in to PJs, lying under proper blankets and watching a movie oh a huge flat screen tv in your own little room. (the 21 year chivaz was very welcome)

prices
star ferry tickets 3 HKD
tourbus 35 HKD
BBQ 300 HKD
cab to the airport 120 UKD
hotel 1700 HKD

Day 9
Breakfast on the flight was decent, from Hermolis. I asked them to bring me the supper and packed alot of stuff for our day in istanbul. We landed 05.30 am and were greeted by a lady at the door of the plane, that will escort us in the airport. Her electric car took us to passport controll. Our luggage was tagged to Zurich, so we were able to skip that. I dropped our handluggage by the storage area and only took a small bag with some food along. Our escort then showed us were our mercedes from turkish airlines was waiting for us, to take us to town. I asked him to drop us of at the center by the blue mosque. Here was the problem, it was only 6.15 am. Everything, was closed. We didnt bring our coat along, since the sun was not yet out, it was really cold. There was no restaurant open and my wife was not to happy ;-) We saw a tram passing by and jumped on the next one for a hour ride to keep us warm and also got to see the town for 1 dollar. I called the local chabad rabbi and asked to pray by him, since i didnt want to put tefilin in middle of istanbul and at the airport it was to early. We took a cab to his house. Its not a proper chabad house like in other places around the world, they have two apartments in a normal house. From there we took a cab to Topaki palace. Its a big palace right next to the blue mosque and has some stunning view of istanbul. we were able to rent headphones and get a tour without a guide like this. From there we walked over to the blue mosque, I didnt go inside but however much one can appreciate such a building, it was very nice and big. My wife wanted to check out the Bazar, thats the market in istanbul. We walked through these little alleys and streets for an hour but after shopping in China all other places seem like a rip off. Our connection flight to Zurich was only in 3 hours, but traveling so much in a week got to us and we could not bother walking around anymore. We took a cab to the airport and spend 2 hours in the turkish airways lounge. It was nothing special but it had free wifi, some nice chairs and my (must do) shower. Our flight to Zurich left on time, it was a small A320 in business class. Normal seats, with the middle one blocked in business. Quite a change from the 777 suite. We were so tired, that sleeping was no problem. 3 hours later we landed in Zuerich. Swiss customs made sure to extend our trip for another hour, as they opened all our suitcases. B''h i was careful and put all fake watches in my jacket pocket in advance, so they were left sorting through all the fake clothing. swiss law only lets them confiscate products of companies that requested it and paid for this. So they had to check every brand in their computer, if such a request was made. I felt quite bad, after one hour they were not able to find anything to take away from us and had to let us go.
--------------------------------------
The trip was amazing, we got to see a lot and I really feel we saw the basics in every city, that would interest us. We didnt go to every museum and temple, but that was fine. Turkish airways is a must do, if you fly in F. Thanks to damaxer91 for all the help he gave me in planning this trip. Please feel free to ask me for any info you might need. I hope you enjoyed reading this long trip report. My english is not the best, so please ignore the mistakes.



Offline Mikeoracle

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Re: trip report Shanghai, Beijing, Macau, Hong Kong, Istanbul
« Reply #17 on: May 10, 2010, 08:12:15 PM »
Wow- thanks for taking the time to write up such an elaborate trip report. It was a good read and well detailed.

Offline steve2

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Re: trip report Shanghai, Beijing, Macau, Hong Kong, Istanbul
« Reply #18 on: May 10, 2010, 08:38:36 PM »
 for Beijing tours I used these guys, they were very good and the cheapest by far: http://sinohotelguide.com/travel/index.php

 just know if you do there small bus tours with others that lunch is included OK for us a glass of coke. And they stop off at some Ripp-Off factories where theer were nice things to learn just DONT BUY anything its all over priced. Unfortuantely its a waste of some good time but I guess thats why they can offer teh tours for so little hoping people will buy stuff and they get their % cut

Offline me

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Re: trip report Shanghai, Beijing, Macau, Hong Kong, Istanbul
« Reply #19 on: May 10, 2010, 10:33:24 PM »
Great job! Loved it!

Offline Smirk

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Re: trip report Shanghai, Beijing, Macau, Hong Kong, Istanbul
« Reply #20 on: May 10, 2010, 10:40:59 PM »
two thumbs up!

Offline SuperFlyer

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Re: trip report Shanghai, Beijing, Macau, Hong Kong, Istanbul
« Reply #21 on: May 11, 2010, 12:55:36 AM »
We can learn two lessons here:

1) "Super was again amazing"

2) BMI G is a must have

Tnx, very nice trip report.


Offline E

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Re: trip report Shanghai, Beijing, Macau, Hong Kong, Istanbul
« Reply #22 on: May 11, 2010, 01:22:15 AM »
wow great stuff I'm personally more adventurous, but i don't travel with a wife. I like your constant food reviews !

Offline Crazy tools

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Re: trip report Shanghai, Beijing, Macau, Hong Kong, Istanbul
« Reply #23 on: May 11, 2010, 01:40:05 AM »
you did all the flights in miles?? how many miles did it take??

Offline SuperFlyer

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Re: trip report Shanghai, Beijing, Macau, Hong Kong, Istanbul
« Reply #24 on: May 11, 2010, 01:49:38 AM »
If done the right way, and as damaxer was involved I'd say 100k pp.  ;-)

Offline chuchem

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Re: trip report Shanghai, Beijing, Macau, Hong Kong, Istanbul
« Reply #25 on: May 11, 2010, 03:23:15 AM »
We can learn two lessons here:

1) "Super was again amazing"

2) BMI G is a must have

Tnx, very nice trip report.



How can we learn, that super is amazing? ;-)

The * gold is a nice card to have, if you travel business or first it only gives you the benefit of extra luggage. I have it for 3 years already and for eco. travel its great

Offline chuchem

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Re: trip report Shanghai, Beijing, Macau, Hong Kong, Istanbul
« Reply #26 on: May 11, 2010, 03:26:12 AM »
for Beijing tours I used these guys, they were very good and the cheapest by far: http://sinohotelguide.com/travel/index.php

 just know if you do there small bus tours with others that lunch is included OK for us a glass of coke. And they stop off at some Ripp-Off factories where theer were nice things to learn just DONT BUY anything its all over priced. Unfortuantely its a waste of some good time but I guess thats why they can offer teh tours for so little hoping people will buy stuff and they get their % cut


I know there are cheaper tours, but lily was an amazing guide. I didnt want to waste the little time we had there and wanted to see the things that interest me in my own pace. We saved a few hours by not visiting factories or having lunch in a restaurant. At the end its about 55 Dollars for the day with her, how much would I have saved by going with a tour? in my opinion not worth it

Offline damaxer91

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Re: trip report Shanghai, Beijing, Macau, Hong Kong, Istanbul
« Reply #27 on: May 11, 2010, 03:29:48 AM »
If done the right way, and as damaxer was involved I'd say 100k pp.  ;-)

Yup. Only 100k US Airways Miles!

Offline chuchem

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Re: trip report Shanghai, Beijing, Macau, Hong Kong, Istanbul
« Reply #28 on: May 11, 2010, 03:30:01 AM »
If done the right way, and as damaxer was involved I'd say 100k pp.  ;-)

Damaxer knows a lot about all these places, since he has been there a few times and was a great help for info on the destinations. The flightplans I booked myself with ana's websites help.  I booked it for 100k in F. Really cant complain!

Offline steve2

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Re: trip report Shanghai, Beijing, Macau, Hong Kong, Istanbul
« Reply #29 on: May 11, 2010, 10:09:36 AM »
Damaxer knows a lot about all these places, since he has been there a few times and was a great help for info on the destinations. The flightplans I booked myself with ana's websites help.  I booked it for 100k in F. Really cant complain!

 seems you booked a ZRH-PEK with a layover in PVG of <24 hrs , then PEK-ZRH with a Stop in HKG and routing via IST again gave you a layover of <24 hrs

 also I think starting in the US would cost a person more than 100K