Little Fish in a Big Pond

Fishies in the Deep Blue See

Originally uploaded by ryanocerosk.

This week it’s time to start planning my post-J-Term travel. I have two and a half weeks (Jan 28-Feb 13) to do as I please in China before the mandated arrival day in Hangzhou for the spring term.

Originally, I was planning on spending all that time in Beijing with perhaps a short trip to Harbin. But many Beijingers have already weighed in on that prospect saying that Beijing shuts down mostly during the Spring Festival (or Chinese New Year) as people go home. So, I decided to leave Beijing behind and travel.

But where to? Help me decide! Leave a comment.

So far, I’m looking at making a Western run. First, Xi’an, the old old capitol of the country where the Terracotta Soldiers were kept. Then perhaps to Chengdu (Sichuan Province — yes, that’s the spicy province). Then perhaps to Lhasa in Tibet, if I can figure out the logistics of getting a permit to go. If that doesn’t work out, Kunming or Shangri-la could be added quickly. Finally, the backup plan (or perhaps my final destination) is always to just go to Hong Kong — what’s not to like there? Home cooked food, milk tea, and family!

But let me know if you have other ideas that could spice up or make more efficient my travel plans. I need to make this decision quick as trains and planes are filling up!


2 thoughts on “Little Fish in a Big Pond”

  1. Okay, this just in: 179 million people will travel by rail and 22 million by air over the Spring Festival. Better get on this ASAP.

    Also, Shangri-la is out because the town according to Lonely Planet, “shuts down during winter.” But panda reserves in this part of China still seem to be open.

  2. I don’t think you should necessarily rush to get tickets… In fact, I think it’s predominantly the case that you can’t buy train tickets until closer to the date. In China the case with plane tickets is sometimes different from the western world’s–the tickets sometimes get cheaper the longer you wait (albeit with the obvious risk of not getting one at all). Elong and ctrip are sites to check on that.

    As for locations… Shangri-La is nice, but sometimes a bit chilly still in late spring… Shangri-La (Zhongdian), however, doesn’t have much to show except a temple and a fake Lijiang-style “old town.” Getting beyond Shangri-la, to places like Deqin (and Meili Snow Mountain and villages) is a more rewarding pursuit–which though I’ve heard is beautiful, I can’t imagine it’s practical to visit safely in winter. Northern Yunnan and western Sichuan are all probably shut down in the winter. And I’d figure the same thing for Tibet.

    Some friends went to Xi’an, and said the Muslim Quarter was the most (only?) interesting part. They also climbed the mountain nearby (Hua Shan?). Everyone that went to Chengdu (though later in the spring) loved it.

    Because it’s winter, you might consider places farther south, excluding places near Hangzhou, which you’ll have opportunity to visit in the spring. I’ve heard Xiamen is nice, but not sure what’s there besides a view of Taiwan and propaganda. Yangshuo (outside Guilin–and Guilin itself?) might be of interest to you. Xishuangbanna (southern part of Yunnan) is tropical with a SE Asia feel, so it’s surely warm, but someone said don’t go alone… If you’re considering Hong Kong (technically an international flight), it might be a nice opportunity to jump the country and see somewhere nearby… I found the Lonely Planet forums (Thorntree forums) useful in getting information.

    You also don’t necessarily have to leave Beijing the entire time. In my case, we had a chunk of time off before Chunjie actually started–enough time to get out, enjoy, and get back to relax in Beijing while those 179 million are going at it. Beijing has a lot to see and do, and there’s a lot of stuff you don’t appreciate until you’ve left it behind.

    -Mingde tongxue, fellow blogger

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