China, 10th to 22nd of September 2005
With Em's job vacations must be planned at least 6 months in
advance. However, once her vacation time was secured we couldn't
decide where we wanted to go and in fact didn't decide until 2 days
before we left. That wasn't necessarily a bad thing since we
planned the time off to coincide with the longest international trips
allowed through United E-fares and as the vacation approached things
looked good. Every Tuesday morning I would check the e-fares and
there were always trips to Asia for around $500, Mexico City for an
unbelievable $200 plus other options to South America. On the
Monday night before we would buy our tickets we were so excited that we
woke at midnight to the sound of NPR and groggily booted up the computer
to see our choices.
Zero, zip, zilch, nada! That week United offered no
international e-fares at all. Needless to say, we were
crushed. We quickly checked a last minute vacation package
destination, Site59.com, only to find that trips to the Caribbean,
Mexico, and Central America had significantly increased in price in the
last few days.
However, it turned out the Emily's dad was in China at the time and
her mom was going to fly over the day after we planned to start our
vacation. For her parents the trip represented work but they said
if we tagged along they would show us around. In short order we
exchanged our airline miles for tickets, got visas, and on a clear and
cool Saturday evening, after Emily had worked all day, we found
ourselves walking from our apartment to the Berkeley BART station, the
first leg of what would turn out to be a very long day.
The following was our rough itinerary:
||Berkeley-San Francisco-Hong Kong
||A night flight on Singapore Airlines across the
Pacific followed by a tour of Victoria Peak.
||After many hours and 3 drivers we end up in the
boom town of China.
||A pleasant 100-minute flight on a Chinese airline
followed by an alteration of our pants.
||A bus tour of the city with 19 other Chinese
tourists, several of which have very bad hair.
||A surprise visitor shows us around the city and we
climb on 700 year-old animals.
||The food catches up with us so we decide to get
beaten about the head and shoulders, again.
||A 3-hour train ride to Shanghai then a taxi ride
to our hotel with giant beds.
||We explore the Bund, the Oriental Pearl Tower, and
||A 6 km walk from our hotel along Nanjing Road to
||A morning stroll with the locals in Luxun Park
followed by an afternoon thunderstorm.
||A 1-hour bus ride, a 2-hour flight, a 9-hour
flight, and finally a 1-hour train ride and we are home.
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