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Links to the actual TR

Part 1: Planning
Part 2: LAX-NRT
Part 3: Transiting NRT
Part 4: NRT-SIN
Part 5: Day 1 in Singapore
Part 6: Day 2 in SIN, Shabbos
Part 7: Day 3 in SIN
Part 8: Day 4 in SIN
Part 9: Day 1 in PEK
Part 10: Day 2 in PEK
Part 11: Day 1 in HKG
Part 12: Day 2 in HKG
Part 13: Day 3 in HKG, Shabbos
Part 14: Day 4 in HKG, flight to HND
Part 15: Tokyo; flight home

Author Topic: Yehoshua's Singapore, Beijing, Hong Kong and Tokyo TR: Flying Solo  (Read 47303 times)

Offline Work-for-ur-muny

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Re: Yehoshua's Singapore, Beijing, Hong Kong and Tokyo TR: Flying Solo
« Reply #140 on: January 31, 2016, 06:58:37 PM »
Thanks, but it makes more sense to post prices in local currency than to post everything in USD.
Sure. You're doing great. But most of those reading the TR are trying to translate it, so I just posted it to help make sense of what you paid for the dishes, transportation etc.

Offline Yehoshua

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Re: Yehoshua's Singapore, Beijing, Hong Kong and Tokyo TR: Flying Solo
« Reply #141 on: February 02, 2016, 04:51:32 PM »
Tuesday, January 26, 2016: Day 1 in Beijing
Let me just preface by saying I donít do well on less than 7 hours of sleep.

We landed in PEK around 6:15am and taxied to our remote stand which took about 20 minutes. While we did get on a bus just for business passengers, it took us another 15 minutes to get to the terminal due to aircrafts blocking our route all over the place. I got through immigration and found a nice area to daven Shachris. Sometime in the middle of shmona esre I realized Iíd left my food bag on the plane!

I asked the police just past immigration what I could do. He called the airline and had them check the plane and hold me that if they find anything itíll be at lost and found after exiting baggage claim. It wasnít. They claimed the cleaners had cleaned the plane and not found anything. At least someone got a free lunch.

For my day in Beijing I decided to book a full day tour of Tienanmen Square, the Forbidden City and the Great Wall at Mutianyu with China Highlights. While it was a group tour, it was guaranteed there would be no more than 6 people in the group and given the fact that it was January I assumed thereíd be a lot less. The tour included lunch at Subway, but I told them I wonít be needed it so they took off 10RMB form the price. The total cost was $114 for the tour. Because I was arriving that morning, they strongly suggested I use their airport pickup service for $25 to make sure I meet the tour. If I didnít and was delayed, it would be up to me to make meet up with the tour and if I missed them Iíd be out of luck. For that price and the security of knowing Iíd make the tour regardless I opted in. The total was $139, paid via Paypal in USD.

Anyway, my driver, Mr. Han, didnít speak much English, but did a fine job of getting me to town. We ended up going straight to the St. Regis to meet another guest and our tour guide, William. I said goodbye to Mr. Han and hellow to Silvie, my first tour companion. She is a mother of two girls who was visiting from Lyon, France on business and decided to stay (with her husbandís blessings) an extra day to tour the city. From their we battled our way though Beijing traffic to pick up our other two tour-mates, Debbie and Jeanie. Debbie is an expat living in Shanghai and Jeanie is her friend who was visiting. They were in their late 50s.

The four of us headed off with William and the driver to Tienanmen Square. The tour was really nice of both the square and the Forbidden City. If Iíd toured on my own I wouldnít have gotten any of the history and background to the various buildings and palaces since there were very few signs with explanations.

Pictures from Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City:













Frozen moat around the Forbidden City

We met up with the driver around 11:30 for our 2 hour drive to Mutianyu. Once there we went to Subway for lunch. We were each allowed to spend 50 RMB. This is when they learned I wouldnít be eating the food their, but I did use the stipend to order some whole tomatoes and cucumbers to tide me over. I also ate some snacks Iíd packed from home which did the trick and kept me satiated.

We had all opted to take the chair lift up and the toboggan down instead of just taking the gondola both ways. William talked about the wall a bit and gave us 75 minutes to do our own thing up top. I hiked from the chair lift tower to the gondola tower and back, which took the whole time. The weather that day was absolutely clear, without the slightest hint of smog or haze. This made the views from the wall (and in the city itself) that much nicer!


Chairlift up


Toboggan down

Pictures of the Great Wall in winter:











The toboggan ride down was very fun indeed. Enjoy this video I took of the ride (nearly 5 minutes long!). Sorry for the vertical format:



I did go slower since I was filming (and donít yet have a GoPro), but it was fun all the same.

I davened mincha, met back up with the group, and then we drove back to Beijing, a feat that took 2.5 hours in rush hour traffic.

I was the first to be dropped off at the Park Hyatt Beijing. Before I get into detail about the hotel, let me say that I was starving. It was 6pm at this point, so after quickly checking in I tried to go to eat.

First Uber couldnít find Diniís address (the restaurant). Then there was 3x surge pricing. I had no cash and the ATM in the building was broken. This is where Leah from the Concierge came to the rescue. First she offered to charge my room 200 RMB and gave me cash. Then she used her phone to order a car on a local app called DiDi where you pay the driverís in cash.

It took the car 30 minutes to arrive and a further 50 minutes to get to Diniís, suffice to say I was famished at 8:00pm when I arrived. The restaurant was empty except two Israeli Chabad girls who were there on shulichus who were not eating at the time. I didnít care: I ordered food and thatís all that mattered at that point.


Outside of Dini's


Inside of Dini's

They messed up my appetizer, giving me the vegetable rolls instead of the jiaozi, but I was too hungry to exchange it. The food was nothing too special, but edible. I also ordered some sandwiches for the next day for luch so I wouldn't have to go back in traffic to pick them up. The total bill was 290 RMB (165 for dinner, 125 for the sandwiches). I handed over my credit card and low and behold: cash only. Well I only had 139 RMB left and needed some of it to get back to the hotel.


Vegetable roll


Main course

The woman at the restaurant said there was an ATM next door, not a problem. Well that ATM didnít like my two debit cards (probably didnít accept US cards) so I couldnít take out money. I wasnít sure what to do, so I asked if they could call the hotel to ask Leah what to do.

Boy did Leah save the day! She transferred money via a mobile app (like whatsapp) straight to the cashiers account and then charged my room for the cost! What a savior! The restaurant once again used DiDi to call a car and I was back at the hotel a short 20 minutes later (traffic was a lot lighter).


Light, late night traffic, as seen from my room, PH Beijing

By this point I was dead tired. It was almost 10pm, so after going up to my room and a quick shower, I hit the sack for a solid 9 hours.

Offline lfas25

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Re: Yehoshua's Singapore, Beijing, Hong Kong and Tokyo TR: Flying Solo
« Reply #142 on: February 02, 2016, 05:01:15 PM »
Great stuff!!
I only paid 15% by switching to dansdeals

Offline benjie1305

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Re: Yehoshua's Singapore, Beijing, Hong Kong and Tokyo TR: Flying Solo
« Reply #143 on: February 02, 2016, 05:04:16 PM »
Excellent!
Work hard, Play harder!

Offline Yehoshua

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Offline zow

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Re: Yehoshua's Singapore, Beijing, Hong Kong and Tokyo TR: Flying Solo
« Reply #145 on: February 02, 2016, 09:08:34 PM »
Another excellent installment. May I ask whether you tipped Leah and, if so, how much? I never know how to handle these things. My gut would have been to give her $20, but maybe that is too low and insulting?

Offline Yehoshua

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Re: Yehoshua's Singapore, Beijing, Hong Kong and Tokyo TR: Flying Solo
« Reply #146 on: February 02, 2016, 09:42:05 PM »
Another excellent installment. May I ask whether you tipped Leah and, if so, how much? I never know how to handle these things. My gut would have been to give her $20, but maybe that is too low and insulting?
Tipping in China is not really a thing. Plus since there was always someone around her, it would have been awkward to give her money and not them. When I offered to do something for her she said naming her on Trip Advisor would do her more good than money.

Offline zow

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Re: Yehoshua's Singapore, Beijing, Hong Kong and Tokyo TR: Flying Solo
« Reply #147 on: February 02, 2016, 09:44:26 PM »
Nice. Thank you.

Offline Luvtotravel

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Re: Yehoshua's Singapore, Beijing, Hong Kong and Tokyo TR: Flying Solo
« Reply #148 on: February 02, 2016, 10:14:36 PM »
awesome!
Don't wait for the perfect moment; take the moment and make it perfect.

Offline Yehoshua

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Re: Yehoshua's Singapore, Beijing, Hong Kong and Tokyo TR: Flying Solo
« Reply #149 on: February 03, 2016, 04:52:33 PM »
PSA: Due to the change in Snapfish's site and the now inability to copy image URLs, I'm in the process of uploading my pictures to Flikr for sharing. It may take a while so please be patient for the next installment.

Offline Martyb

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Re: Yehoshua's Singapore, Beijing, Hong Kong and Tokyo TR: Flying Solo
« Reply #150 on: February 04, 2016, 01:25:09 PM »
I'm heading to HK in a few days, when do you think that part of your TR will be up?

Offline Yehoshua

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Re: Yehoshua's Singapore, Beijing, Hong Kong and Tokyo TR: Flying Solo
« Reply #151 on: February 04, 2016, 01:31:51 PM »
I'm heading to HK in a few days, when do you think that part of your TR will be up?
Shortly. As mentioned above, I'm waiting for pictures to upload to Flikr. When are you leaving?

Offline Yehoshua

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Re: Yehoshua's Singapore, Beijing, Hong Kong and Tokyo TR: Flying Solo
« Reply #152 on: February 05, 2016, 12:25:27 AM »
Wednesday, January 27, 2016: Day 2 in Beijing, flight to HKG
Because I was wiped out from the day before, not in the mood of battling traffic, and needing to catch up on work, I decided to relax and just work from the hotel.

Let me now describe the PH Beijing. It was my favorite Park Hyatt Iíve stayed at, and among the nicest hotels Iíve ever stayed in as well. Besides for the lobby being on the 63rd floor making it the highest hotel in the city, the room had a great view. Allow the pictures to do the explaining:

The following are pictures of my room:














This is the view from my room:


Gas masks just in case:


I will mention that the bathroom area has sliding doors on both sides so you can close it off if you so chose. The bath robe was also extremely soft, made out of a terry cloth that was also extremely static-y. There was one main sink just next to the bed, on the back of the cabinet looking thing, and another smaller sink in the bathroom near the toilet. Finally, the shower had a handheld and rain shower heads.

For breakfast Iíd arranged with the chef of China Grill to have a kosher breakfast from Diniís. For breakfast Iíd selected an omelet, French toast and pancakes. I was also offered hard boiled eggs which I declined.

Diniís had delivered the breakfast in double wrapped microwaveable containers. I met the chef who even gave me a brand new plate to eat on. He knew about kosher, about the dishes and reheating the food. I at in China Grill on the 66th floor at a table by the window overlooking the city. While there was a bit of haze compared to the day before, it was still pretty clear.


View inside China Grill


Breakfast with a view; view from China Grill


Really cool table in China Grill. The middle is a Lazy Susan

Some of what everyone else could have chosen for breakfast, including a fresh juice bar:






My breakfast:


After an amazing breakfast accompanied by (fresh!) green tea in a paper cup (they even sent a second cup so I could strain the leaves since they didnít know if I could use the metal strainer provided), I spent the rest of the day working.


Fresh green tea

Around 2:00pm I checked out, ordered Uber (they are offering a nice discount for off-peak UberPeoples rides) and got a lovely Audi A6 for the drive to the airport. The total cost after the discount was 54 RMB.






PEK Terminal 2, mainly Star Alliance terminal



Down to the train to the concourse

Check in was quick, but customs and immigration took about an hour. There are no priority queues.

After security I headed to the Air China Business class lounge where I struggled with the internet before just using the Boingo hotspot courtesy of my AmEx Platinum card. To use the free public wifi in PEK airport you need to scan your passport to get a code from a kiosk, even in the lounge. It was then too complicated to actually use the code to sign in, so donít count on free internet without Boingo.


The oh-so-exciting lounge

I headed to the gate for my flight to Hong Kong just a few minutes before the closed it since there was nothing special about the A321 J that would require my getting there early.


CA A321 J seat

The flight was quite choppy and about an extra 35 minutes longer than scheduled, but the kosher meal (from Bangkok) was actually decent, with a curry sea bass and rice as the main.




KSVML

Before I knew it we were getting ready to land in Hong Kong. We once again parked at a remote stand and took busses to the terminal, though this time they didnít have a special bus for J passengers.  Even despite that fact and despite the fact that there were 2 other flights arriving by bus at the same time, I only waited 5 minutes for immigration and was on the Airport Express in no time at all.

Once we arrived in Kowloon, I took the free hotel shuttle for Airport Express passengers (but was never asked for my ticket) to the Hyatt Regency TST, the 2nd stop on the K3 line.

Offline Martyb

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Re: Yehoshua's Singapore, Beijing, Hong Kong and Tokyo TR: Flying Solo
« Reply #153 on: February 05, 2016, 03:03:33 AM »
Shortly. As mentioned above, I'm waiting for pictures to upload to Flikr. When are you leaving?
Leaving to Thailand tomorrow night, and then heading to HK Thursday morning.

Offline Yehoshua

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Re: Yehoshua's Singapore, Beijing, Hong Kong and Tokyo TR: Flying Solo
« Reply #154 on: February 05, 2016, 10:37:37 AM »
Leaving to Thailand tomorrow night, and then heading to HK Thursday morning.
I should have the HKG parts out by then.

Offline @Yehuda

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Re: Yehoshua's Singapore, Beijing, Hong Kong and Tokyo TR: Flying Solo
« Reply #155 on: February 05, 2016, 11:26:14 AM »
Thanks! I don't mind. The more posts the TR has the more people are likely to read it, especially when it keeps getting bumped to the top of the list.  :D
lol!

Thanks for explaining the baboon situation. GREAT pics of the Wall! Really cool toboggan - are you sitting on anything to slide down on? How do you control the speed - just putting your feet down? Anyway, keep it coming!

Offline Yehoshua

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Re: Yehoshua's Singapore, Beijing, Hong Kong and Tokyo TR: Flying Solo
« Reply #156 on: February 05, 2016, 11:30:54 AM »
lol!

Thanks for explaining the baboon situation. GREAT pics of the Wall! Really cool toboggan - are you sitting on anything to slide down on? How do you control the speed - just putting your feet down? Anyway, keep it coming!
:) I was so curious about the baboons until I found the sign, I figured I'd share it in case anyone else was wondering.

The toboggan looks like this:



If you push forward on the stick you go faster, if you let go you slow down, and if you pull back you stop.

Glad you're enjoying!

Offline shwarmabob

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Re: Yehoshua's Singapore, Beijing, Hong Kong and Tokyo TR: Flying Solo
« Reply #157 on: February 05, 2016, 11:58:58 AM »
Gas masks just in case:
I think these are not gas masks but Fire Emergency Escape Mask that can give a person extra time to escape from smoke inhalation in case of a fire. They can be the difference between life and death. It is very impressive that they had them at the hotel as they are often overlooked.

Offline Yehoshua

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Re: Yehoshua's Singapore, Beijing, Hong Kong and Tokyo TR: Flying Solo
« Reply #158 on: February 05, 2016, 12:04:53 PM »
I think these are not gas masks but Fire Emergency Escape Mask that can give a person extra time to escape from smoke inhalation in case of a fire. They can be the difference between life and death. It is very impressive that they had them at the hotel as they are often overlooked.
I know, I know. I honestly thought they were a great idea. I wasn't making fun.

Offline @Yehuda

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Re: Yehoshua's Singapore, Beijing, Hong Kong and Tokyo TR: Flying Solo
« Reply #159 on: February 05, 2016, 02:21:01 PM »
:) I was so curious about the baboons until I found the sign, I figured I'd share it in case anyone else was wondering.

The toboggan looks like this:



If you push forward on the stick you go faster, if you let go you slow down, and if you pull back you stop.

Glad you're enjoying!
Cool!