Author Topic: Hopping Around Asia (Mostly)  (Read 33206 times)

Offline moish

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Re: Hopping Around Asia (Mostly)
« Reply #100 on: July 09, 2015, 10:12:40 AM »




There is an extremely somber picture room displaying chilling and graphic images of the war and its aftermath including the many terrible deformities caused by Agent Orange and napalm, including some actual preserved deformed fetuses. There is also a reproduction of the tiger cages where the South Vietnamese would keep their prisoners and the torture methods used.






« Last Edit: July 09, 2015, 10:27:04 AM by moish »

Offline moish

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Re: Hopping Around Asia (Mostly)
« Reply #101 on: July 09, 2015, 10:12:50 AM »
The museum has often been criticized as being one sided and full of propaganda, such as the prominent display of a photo of an American soldier proudly holding the head of a North Vietnamese soldier, but I felt it was worthwhile to go. I have to admit, though, that at certain points I felt uncomfortable walking around as an American surrounded by Vietnamese.

Outside the museum there are some shops selling souvenirs including ďauthenticĒ American soldier Zippo lighters from the war. Although I know itís probably a fake, itís still a super cool item.



I then headed back to the Park Hyatt. Since I generally travel with my family, mattress running is not something I engage in. However, travelling solo I didnít have a problem with it and so I booked the Sheraton for Friday night. I wanted to try out the Park Hyatt, and I wanted to get an SPG stay to keep up my platinum status.

I packed up my stuff and made my way downstairs hoping I wouldnít bump into my friend the Front Office Manager. But as Murphy predicted, he was right there and offered to call me a taxi to the airport. Not wanting to look like an idiot, I graciously accepted his offer. He called the taxi and told the driver in Vietnamese that I needed to go to the airport. As soon as we started driving, I explained to him that I actually needed to go to the Sheraton located a block away. I gave him a few extra dollars to make him feel better and to buy his silence.



The Sheraton gave me a suite on a pretty high floor which was nothing to write home about, but did the job. I went to check out the club lounge which is famous for its extensive food offerings. Obviously nothing I could partake in, but it did look good.

Sheraton lobby


WARNING: Might contain music

« Last Edit: July 09, 2015, 11:33:26 AM by moish »

Offline moish

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Re: Hopping Around Asia (Mostly)
« Reply #102 on: July 09, 2015, 10:12:59 AM »








Shabbos at Chabad was very nice and consisted mainly of businessmen who prefer to deal with the Vietnamese over the Chinese. It was also a struggle to climb the stairs to get to my room, not only for me but also the employee they forced to ascend with me. Right after Shabbos ended, I gathered my stuff and rushed off to the airportÖ
« Last Edit: July 09, 2015, 10:32:53 AM by moish »

Offline harrym

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Re: Hopping Around Asia (Mostly)
« Reply #103 on: July 10, 2015, 08:05:01 AM »
Thanks for the time. Amazing.
And we can't let this TR fall down to page 2 at least until its done

Offline Tankchucker

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Re: Hopping Around Asia (Mostly)
« Reply #104 on: July 10, 2015, 07:57:16 PM »
I love the taxi story :)

Offline moish

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Re: Hopping Around Asia (Mostly)
« Reply #105 on: July 12, 2015, 06:30:59 PM »
I had booked a Jetstar Asia flight to Singapore ($95) to connect to Air China. This was necessary to maximize the next day. The flight was to arrive in SIN at 12:15am and the Air China flight was scheduled for 2am. Although they donít have an interline agreement, I figured that would be enough time to clear immigration, pickup my luggage and recheck it, especially at Changi.

However, for some undisclosed reason, the departure out of SGN was delayed. As the seconds ticked, my heart was palpitating at a faster rate. After about an hour delay, we finally took off. At SIN, I raced through only to find a long line at passport control. I saw a woman sitting on the right side that looked like she worked at the airport. I told her my story and that I needed to get through immediately. She said no problem, and she brought me to a desk where she just stamped my passport and I ran right through. I grabbed my bags and thankfully Air China still accepted them.

Welcome to SIN


After a 4.5 hour flight I arrived inÖ


Chengdu, China

I had been to China before, in 2010, when I spent a few weeks (with the fam) touring Shanghai, Xiían and Beijing. We hadnít visited Chengdu, and it was on my short list of places to visit. Once this trip to Beijing materialized, I knew Iíd have to hit up Chengdu.

I had to be in Beijing Sunday evening, so with arrival in CTU at 6:30am, I booked my flight to PEK for 3pm.

The main thing to do, and the only thing I was interested in doing, was to see Giant Pandas and hold one. The Sichuan province is the home to the Giant Pandas, and the most accessible place for tourists to see them is at the ďChengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding.Ē



I had read that there are limited spots available per day to hold a panda and works on a first come first served basis, so as soon as I arrived at CTU, I immediately took a taxi to the CRBOGPB. As soon as I got there, I made a beeline to the Sunshine Nursery House to sign up. I was the first one on the list and was then able to walk around and explore the park.


« Last Edit: July 12, 2015, 06:34:34 PM by moish »

Offline moish

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Re: Hopping Around Asia (Mostly)
« Reply #106 on: July 12, 2015, 06:31:05 PM »
I walked around to the various enclosures and watched Giant Pandas of all stages, from adult to child.








« Last Edit: July 12, 2015, 06:35:31 PM by moish »

Offline moish

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Re: Hopping Around Asia (Mostly)
« Reply #107 on: July 12, 2015, 06:31:11 PM »




Young pandas untangling themselves


At the assigned time, I made my way back to the Sunshine Nursery House where I donned shoe covers, blue scrubs and plastic gloves. Holding a panda was my second splurge of the trip but was worth it. They are as soft and cuddly as they look.

Not me

« Last Edit: July 12, 2015, 06:36:26 PM by moish »

Offline moish

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Re: Hopping Around Asia (Mostly)
« Reply #108 on: July 12, 2015, 06:31:19 PM »
Afterwards, they gave me a swag bag which included 2 framed pictures of me holding the panda, a tie, cufflinks and a stuffed panda (possibly more, but I forget). I also got them to email me all the pictures they took.

I strolled around a bit more before taking a taxi back to the airport.





Red panda


Chengdu has fully embraced the panda, it has become their symbol. Itís found on taxis, and has been even known to impart sage and timely advice.


« Last Edit: July 12, 2015, 06:37:24 PM by moish »

Offline moish

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Re: Hopping Around Asia (Mostly)
« Reply #109 on: July 12, 2015, 06:31:27 PM »
In JFK






I have a friend from Chengdu who raves about the food there, that Sichuan food is the best in the whole China. I will have to have a talk with him, though, on their choices of snack food I saw for sale at CTU (the airport, not where Jack Bauer works).


« Last Edit: July 12, 2015, 06:38:16 PM by moish »

Offline moish

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Re: Hopping Around Asia (Mostly)
« Reply #110 on: July 12, 2015, 06:31:35 PM »
Domestic Chinese flights are notorious for their delays and this was no exception. After about a 1.5 hour delay we were airborne and I had to endure my neighbor cutting his nails which I thought was disgusting.



Soon enough, though, we arrived inÖ


Beijing, China

Itís absolutely necessary to have your hotel name and address printed out in Chinese characters to give to your taxi driver. I also found the Google Translate app to be an absolute lifesaver to communicate with the taxi drivers who know no English. At all.

I had my hotel name, address, and even a printout from Google Maps which I gave to my driver. He either didnít read it correctly or just didnít know exactly where it was, but at some point towards the end of the journey he was just going around in circles. I told him to at least shut off the meter at that point since it wasnít my fault, but he ignored me. I made a mental note of where the meter was holding.

When he finally found the hotel after another 20 minutes, I paid him the amount at the point when I told him to shut it off. He wasnít happy with that and followed me inside the hotel. I explained the situation to the check in desk and showed them the paper I had given him. They told him something in Chinese and he left.

The point of this whole trip was to be in Beijing where I had something to be there for, for 4 days, Mon-Thu. I stayed at the Rosedale Hotel due to its proximity to the synagogue and Diniís restaurant, a mere 5 minute walk away. While certainly not in the least bit luxurious, I was comfortable and happy with my stay.

Throughout the week I sampled everything on Diniís menu, most things twice. I would rate the dishes there to be average-good, with maybe one or two items being very good. A fantastic option for food whilst traveling, however not as good as what you can get in the US, imho. A cool gift you can buy at Diniís is a Chinese style yarmulke. They also print a very useful tourist guide.

Sushi @ Diniís


In the evenings we would go out, including to the hutongs/Houhai area.




« Last Edit: July 12, 2015, 06:39:12 PM by moish »

Offline moish

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Re: Hopping Around Asia (Mostly)
« Reply #111 on: July 12, 2015, 06:31:44 PM »
On Thursday afternoon, I went to the Yashow market.







As with all Chinese markets, itís necessary to haggle like a fiend. I also kind of figured out a tactic they use which you can avoid. They usually start with a high price, and you of course reject it. They then make you counter. DONíT DO IT! Hereís why:

There was this one item that almost every souvenir kiosk had. It was a cheapish wood Chinese fan. After going to enough kiosks and getting prices, I learned that the magic number was 5 RMB. That was the lowest price anyone would accept for it. However, most kiosks would start at 80, and one even started at 120! He gave some BS story of it being high quality wood etc. When I rejected it, they asked me to counter. Now, they expect, after they start at 80-120, that I would ďlow ballĒ them no lower than 20-30, and then we would agree at 35-40. That would be a total win for them. Instead, I would never give a counter offer, rather, forcing them to lower their price on their own. They would get flustered, but more importantly, they would be off their game. In this manner, I scored some awesome deals in the markets I visited, on pearls, watches, souvenirs, and even an NHL replica jersey.
« Last Edit: July 12, 2015, 06:40:10 PM by moish »

Offline moish

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Re: Hopping Around Asia (Mostly)
« Reply #112 on: July 12, 2015, 06:31:54 PM »
I then began mattress running. I checked out of the Rosedale and checked in to the Park Hyatt Beijing which I hadnít been to before, for the night.







View from my room

« Last Edit: July 12, 2015, 06:40:53 PM by moish »

Offline moish

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Re: Hopping Around Asia (Mostly)
« Reply #113 on: July 12, 2015, 06:32:02 PM »
The next morning, Friday, I walked around Tian Tan Park, and then went to check out some more markets including the Pearl Market, the Toy Market and then finally, the Silk Market.





I had originally planned on checking back in to the Rosedale and spending Shabbos at Diniís, but I was convinced to spend Shabbos with some people who were going to be at Chabad of Downtown. I therefore checked in to the St. Regis, located a few minute walk away.

The St. Regis is where I stayed with my family in 2010. I was upgraded to the same suite, but the hotel had gone through much wear and tear and aged significantly in the 4 years since I had been there. Despite that, I still enjoyed my stay.






« Last Edit: July 12, 2015, 06:41:44 PM by moish »

Offline moish

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Re: Hopping Around Asia (Mostly)
« Reply #114 on: July 12, 2015, 06:32:08 PM »
After Shabbos, I quickly took a taxi to the Donghuamen night market to see the creepy crawlies on a stick available for sale, but as it was close to closing time, the lights had already been shut, and most things were already put away.






« Last Edit: July 12, 2015, 06:42:26 PM by moish »

Offline moish

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Re: Hopping Around Asia (Mostly)
« Reply #115 on: July 12, 2015, 06:32:18 PM »




I then checked into the Great Wall Sheraton Hotel for my last night in Beijing. It was the weakest of the hotels I had stayed in in Beijing even with my suite upgrade.





I called it a night before my 8:35am flight the next morningÖ
« Last Edit: July 12, 2015, 06:43:07 PM by moish »

Offline Wafflemuffins

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Re: Hopping Around Asia (Mostly)
« Reply #116 on: July 12, 2015, 06:34:23 PM »
Spam?

Offline moish

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Re: Hopping Around Asia (Mostly)
« Reply #117 on: July 12, 2015, 06:43:27 PM »

Offline grodnoking

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Re: Hopping Around Asia (Mostly)
« Reply #118 on: July 12, 2015, 06:46:59 PM »
Spam?
No. Something to do with upload speed. You cant enter everything at once. He might have inserted all the info to close together. I see it all now.
I'm not who you think I am.

Offline grodnoking

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Re: Hopping Around Asia (Mostly)
« Reply #119 on: July 12, 2015, 06:47:35 PM »
??
Instead of your posts thier were single letters
I'm not who you think I am.