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Archive for September, 2007

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Favorite Travel Blogs (Part II)

Sunday, September 9th, 2007

I picked 5 of my favorite travel blogs during Blog Day 2007. I ran into Rambling Traveler’ s Favorite Travel Blogs post today and found a few travel blogs in the list are also my recent faves too. Following the rule, I would like to nominate a travel blog i like: The Daily Transit, a travel reporter on bike.

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The Originals

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Carnival of Cities: Beijing, China (travel tips from a native Chinese)

Thursday, September 6th, 2007

Tian An Men Square, Beijing

Beijing is the capital city of our great motherland.” I believe this is the first knowlege of “Beijing” in many Chinese of my age. I don’t remember since when I was asked to memorize this sentence. What did that imply? I guess I had interpreted it as ”Beijng is a serious, but not a fun city”. But now, with the whole “2008, 08, 08Beijing Olympic Games being expected, it is becoming more and more exciting place.

I did some research before putting up the tips. Two surprising discoveries:

Google thinks people are looking for “Beijing travel” when people type in “beijing”: 3 out of 10 results on first page are about “travel” v.s. 1 result for “san francisco“;

– “Hong Kong” is a suggested related word for “beijing”.

beijing history

beijing facts

beijing airport

beijing pictures

beijing shopping

hong kong

map of china

forbidden city

Ok, here are my bet on top 5 tips for you (as a non-Chinese speaker) to get around the city:

Forbidden City, Beijing1. Best Travel Guide Book: DK Eyewitness Travel Shanghai & Beijing. Beijing is a big city with huge history. It is not easy to get around to see everything in a short tip. This guidebook help you to decide where you want to go by showing the vivid pictures from difficult angles. I like the walk-trip plan especially. You don’t get to know the city without walking on the lanes.

2. Best way to know Beijng: Join a tour? No, never ever if you only visit Beijing. A tour package might save you some time in planning the trip, booking hotel, but you have to pay a lot more. Price is one thing. The other thing I don’t like guided tour is that the itineraries are tend to be outdated. Well, you see the history of the city, but you will miss what’s going on the city if you rely on your tour guide. Suggestion? Find a personal travel guide. Advantages include: flexible schedule, more communication about what to see and what to eat, and more updated local news.

3. Best blog about Beijing life: Make sure you check out DanWei at least once when you plan to visit China. I guarantee you some laughter from it.

Beijing Breakfast.jpg4. Best worst Beijing food: I own the reputation of being brave enough to eat every cooked food. But, there is one kind of Beijing food I can’t take. It is a drink made from soy bean, white in color, sour taste, a tradition drink for in breakfast Beijing native. I basically run away from the restaurant after I have my first sip of the drink. If you want to test your tolerance of bad food, show these two characters to your guide: 豆汁(literary translated as ‘bean juice’).

5. Best attraction: Temple of Heaven is my favorite. Known as Tian Tan (天坛), it is one of the largest temple complexes in China and a paradigm of Chinese architectural balance and symbolism. The temple is situated in a very large and pleasant park.

Temple of Heaven, Beijing

Hearst Castle, Bring Your Kids Back to 16th Century in California

Tuesday, September 4th, 2007

ef6c9fe1.jpgI’ve never been to Europe. Maybe that is the reason I found Hearst Castle in San Simeon California is amazing. Built from 1919- 1947 by William Randolph Hearst, all the bits and pieces are authentic — “400-year-old Spanish and Italian ceilings, 500-year-old mantels, 16th-century Florentine bed-stead, Renaissance paintings, Flemish tapestries, and innumerable other European treasures.” (Frommer’s)


1873, William took a Europe tour with his mother. It was “a journey of epic proportions” where he went “to the galleries, palaces, churches, etc.” This tour was a life of impermanence, and one important impact was how this grand castle was designed and constructed.

tennis court It was my first visit to the Hearst Castle. We took a 2-hour tour which is organized in the way to show the overview of the 60,000-acre ranch for first time visitors. It was a misty day which enhenced the atmosphere of “back to 16th century”, but we were not able to see the Pacific coast which was a pity.

Ok, Let’s take a visual tour of what I have seen.

Casa Grande, Hearst Castle, San Simeon California

Casa Grande, has more than 100 rooms.

Indoor Swimming pool, hearst castle, california

A Roman-inspired Indoor Pool

Outdoor swimming pool, Hearst castle, california

Outdoor Greco-Roman Neptune Pool, this is the 3rd edition

Frommers picks this castle as one of the “500 places to take your kids before they grow up”. It will be sure of a different travel experience for older kids (over 8 years old). Though one of my Hungarian friend won’t agree with it. Anyway, your call. Check out reviews here to make you decision.

Monterey and Big Sur, a must visit in California

Tuesday, September 4th, 2007

Big Sur, California is one of my favorite place. It is the No. 1 of top 10 romantic places by “Big Sur” means “big mouth” in Spanish. It is not a spot in the map, instead, it is a coastline on Highway 1. The scenic charm can be extended from between Santa Cruz to San Simon. From Carmel to Lucia alone, touring Big Sur on Highway 1 is one of the most captivating drive anywhere. The inland strip along Highway 1 provides access to state parks, redwoods, coastal streams and Los Padres National Forest.

The last time we visited Big Sur was mid spring 2006,driving from Mountain View (where Goolge is headquatered) to San Simon, Hearst Castle. The mode of our trip was relaxing. We stopped many times at the turnout along Highway 1. It seemed that I will never be bored by the deep blue of the Pacific Ocean.

TentWe stayed at a tent cabin in Fernwood Resort. It is on the right hand side of road if you drive towards south. All the lodgings in Big Sur don’t have specific address but a common simple address “Highway 1, Big Sur”. So I will recommend you do some homework about your hotel’s location if you will check in after sunset. The tents area is next to Big Sur river in the redwoods, you can hike easily to Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park. We got an special rate by mentioned its website. Find more accommodations and review here. Check out trip planner here.
Big Sur Bridge

Big Sur Coast on Highway 1