Archive for February 2010
This entry and the next few entries will be about a 7-Days tour to China, particularly Kunming- Dali – Lijiang. I post this as a favor to my friend, Frederikus Elvinto, who himself wrote the journal of the tour with his family and especially took the beautiful photographs you will see along the posts. As a note, I do the translation and editing of the journal (many changes, addition, and some subtraction :p). I hope you will enjoy these entries. 😀
Jakarta, 10 January 2010
10.20 PM Jakarta time (+7 GMT) We were in the Soekarno-Hatta international airport, boarding for a flight to Changi Airport with ValuAir. We took a tour package from an agency in Singapore. I’ll tell you why. It is way cheaper than taking a package from some local tour agents in Jakarta. This is true especially for China tour, as it is more uncommon in Indonesia. For a family of three, you can save up to 50% of the total cost. Quite a deal right? For the flight to Singapore, with advance booking months before we could get return ticket at only USD 100 per person. Adding in the fact that we were not going during high season, the total saving could be up to SGD 2000 per person! (why did I sound like advertising this)
That night, we sat on the rear of the plane cause I forgot to do seat blocking while doing the online reservation. The weather was rough, with thunder and turbulence along the flight. A shaky ride to Singapore indeed.
Singapore, 11 January 2010
01.00 AM Singapore Time (+8 GMT) Arrived in Changi Airport, Singapore. After passing immigration and taking our baggages we met my friend, Andrew. He was the one helping us with the tour booking via CTC travel. While it is cheaper to book a tour package in Singapore, they don’t normally accept online reservation unlike airlines. So you will need to have your friend do a booking for you directly. Afterwards, we checked in to China Eastern Airlines in Terminal 3 of the airport. We were greeted with a little bad news that our flight was delayed for one hour.
Getting hungry in Changi in the middle of the night, the perfect choice is the food court located at B2. Mini Steamboat rice was a stomach fulfilling menu. Mom ordered a set of kaya toast in the food court, which was disappointing in taste. Not long afterwards, we realized they did have Ya Kun Kaya Toast in the terminal.
Having filled our stomach, we hurried to departure gate A11. On the way dad bought a travel package perfume. Apparently the had not opened the gate yet. So while we were waiting, I took Mom & Dad romantic photos, a la pre-wedding (or should I call it “post-wedding”). Being in Changi in the middle of the night was actually not bad at all. It’s as if we were in our own airport. The quiet night in the airport made my photos look more interesting.
05.00AM Our plane left Singapore to China. Maybe it’s because cheap tickets from tour agent, we got seat on the rear again. I have expected it to be a long and painful flight. Four and a half hours of flight in such small aircraft (3 seats left, 3 seats right and an aisle, standard Boeing 737 plane you usually find in Indonesia domestic flights). But I was so tired I just fell sound asleep immediately. About one hour later a stewardess woke me up to offer me fried noodle or egg for breakfast. I chose egg, which was served with sausages, mushroom, broccoli, and croissant. I didn’t touch the yogurt dessert they serve ‘thanks to’ my digestion problem 😦
Kunming, 11 January 2010
07.30AM Kunming Time (+8 GMT) No we were not there yet. It was my stomach, demanding for proper restroom and a nice morning ‘exercise. I wanted to wait until we arrived at Kunming airport, but the steward said we would only arrive in an hour time. There’s no way I can hold it that long! So I made up my mind to take my first ‘exercise’ up in the air. Okay, I only think it’s worth mentioning because it’s a first time thingy 😄
08.30AM now we really arrive at Kunming airport. Immigration was tight in Kunming, they even told Mom to take off her glasses to see her face more clearly. I went to the restroom then and was surprised by how dirty, smelly, and unattended it was! This is an international airport in the capital of a province. How bad could it be? How far worse are public restrooms in more remote places in this country. I could only imagine.
Kunming at the first sight.
The tour participants including us were gathered together by a local guide called Xiao Bai. We took a walk to the bus provided and I got my first sight of Kunming. The city is located on a highland at the altitude of 1800 m above sea level. It was a sunny day that day but the weather was cold and dry.
We went to Danguan Park next. A beautiful park surrounding a lake (kinda like Chinese Garden in Singapore). The clear morning sky was reflected on the murky water of the lake. The surface glistened not so brightly covered partly with shadow of the water plant in the middle of the lake that still smelled like the dawn. Morning photos in Danguan Park can be eye-catching.
morning in Danguan
From the front gate to the dock beside the lake, it did feel lot like China (of course, d’oh!).
And by the way, the Danguan Park is inhabited by a lot of pigeons. They are white pigeons migrated from Siberia on the far north. You can see a flock of pigeons hovering over the lake as you stroll on the bridge across it.
Getting healthy in Kunming: Lu Yu Tea Center.
10.30AM we continued our journey to Lu Yu Tea Center. They gave us a lecture on the benefits of consuming tea and how to differentiate expensive 9-years old tea to normal 1-year old tea (I wonder whether the tea becomes alcoholic cause I’ll be then interested – alright this one is added by Jonx). It might seem interesting in the beginning but of course at the end what hey really want is to sell their products. Seems like it’s already part of normal practice in tours around the world to bring their participants to their sponsoring companies. Dad offered to buy one packet for 400 CNY (almost IDR 600K) with buy one get one free option. But the best they could offer was only a bonus of one small packet of tea. As the result, none of 14 tour participants buy anything there. Never mind, we can also get healthy consuming Sari Wangi back in Indonesia (why did I sound like advertising again).
Lunch, the inn, the dinner, and the end of the day.
12.00PM We had lunch at a place behind the Yunnan Grand Theater. Fourteen tour participants were divided into two big tables. After lunch we went back to the bus going for the inn to end today’s tour. One thing interesting when we were walking back to the bus: some people were selling souvenirs and there is a beggar missing one arm asking for money. But nobody gave him anything and he stood in front of our bus grumbling. It was then said that if somebody gave the beggar money, soon you’ll find another ten to twenty beggars come and ask for money too. It was a harsh reality in China whose people is almost four times as much as in Indonesia and in which the gap between rich and poor is sometimes bigger than in my country.
The place we’ll be spending the night in is called La Nice Inn (are u sure? why it sounds so French?). A beautiful small hotel. And yes, the name is La Nice, here’s some proof.
Some time around 03.00PM After few hours of nap we decided to take a walk around and search for some bites. We saw a group of Korean teenagers in soccer uniform after pratice (don’t ask me how do I know they’re Koreans, I can tell Song Hye-gyo from Zhang Ziyi but of course for them it’s the language). We saw two huge buildings which appeared to be Sport Center (which I forgot to take the photos). Then we strolled to some kind of electronic center plaza. We found a store that sells cellphones but strangely they did not sell SIM card. Some stores that sell SIM card are quite far from the inn. So I have to stay not contactable for one more day.
Some time around… dinner time. We were looking for a nice steamboat dinner and we decided to have it in Shi Shang Yu Du Restaurant. We had steamboat of Chi fish (it looked like catfish but it’s not) with additional vegetables, mushrooms, and tofu. Good food 🙂
So after dinner, I just found out that any stores selling SIM card closed at 7 and only open at 9 the next day. But we have to depart early at 8 tomorrow morning for our next tour. So I decided not to get a SIM card first but go back to the inn, have a good rest and enjoy the holiday. And that’s the end of our first day! 🙂
p.s. wait for the next chapter with more interesting photos, which will be posted depending on Jonx’s mood and how busy he is. He is very busy right now. LOL :p