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Cave Adventure in Yangshuo, China (Photo Tour)

Tuesday, December 4th, 2007

Bodhisattva Water Cave

Bodhisattva Water Cave is the best known cave in Yangshuo, China. The whole cave is about 3 km long, runing through three mountains. The bottom level of this 2-level cave is an underground river which is about 2.5 km long. Two things to do in the cave: mud bath and fishing/swiming. On above adverstisement/description of the cave at the entrance, it is claimed to be the MUST VISIT in Yangshuo area.

Bodhisattva Water Cave, Yangshuo,China

View of the inside of the cave. The name “Bodhisattva” comes from the Buddhas shape stone in the cave. In fact, there are much more other strange sharped stones in it!
Bodhisattva Water Cave

I was cheated to crawl through this extremely narrow hole when the cave guide said we have no other way going futher! It was painful on the other side of the cave, but such a relief when I made to this side. Even a smile on my face!!! We walked without crawling when we were back!

Bodhisattva Water Cave

Mud? Chocolate? We were fighting. It took me about 1 week before I can’t find any more mud in my hair! You can borrow clothes like these from the cave guide if you don’t want to ware bikini or wash or throw away your own nice T-shirt and pants.
Bodhisattva Water Cave, Yangshuo,China

Hand in Hand with my cavers! We come, we see, we conquer! I have to endorse our cave guide who took great pictures for us in such back condition and keep my DC clean. The tempreture was hot high enogh in April for us to explore more of the underground rivew or the waterfalls. We didn’t see any fishes, and nore of us would swim here. – All above images were took in 2003.

This is an image from George. Check out the story of their recent trip to Yangshuo.

Budget Traveler in Beijing: A Hotel Review

Monday, November 12th, 2007

During my recent trip to Beijing alone, I stayed in a new budget hotel called Master Inn (贏家酒店, meaning: a hotel for winner or a hotel better than home). It is a business economic class hotel in China. One of my friend founds this online when we wanted to find a budget hotel near “Tsinghua Science Park” area. It is located in the campus of Peking University, Health Science Center, and recently remodeled from a college-run hostel into this business chain hotel, and it is in “beta phase” during my stay.

What I like about the hotel:

1. Brand new items: the hall, the floor, the carpet, the wall, the sheet and towers…When everything is new, everthing looks and feels clean and good; and more important, I didn’t smell any “renovation odor”.

2. Quite environment: It is no surprise that I didn’t hear much noices since it is in campus. The wall is not as thin as other new hotels, and I really had the same sound sleep as at home.

3. Free Internet and breakfast: the price of a queen-size bed room is 188/night, the lowest I can find online at that location.

What I dislike about it:

1. Unclear direction: I went to the hotel with a local fiend who has looked up the hotel location on map before. We need to ask direction to the hotel; on the second day, I was with another friend and we both got lost in the campus.

2. Small room: The bed/living room and restroom are really small, but the layout is good enough for ONE person to stay. I don’t know if the room with two twin-size beds is larger.

3. Service: I asked for a hair drier and was told that all the driers were borrowed. They didn’t follow up to ask if other customers have finished using the drier.


beijing hotel review


beijing hotel review

The Chinese Blogger Conference 2007 @ Beijing

Sunday, November 4th, 2007

I am in Beijing for the 3rd Annual Chinese Blogger Conference from Nov. 2 -5. I took an overnight train to Beijing. Here is the tour from Beijing Train Station to the conference venue: Tsinghua Science Park (where Google is located at.)
Beijing Train Station

Beijing Train Station

An ancient building I shot on taxi.

the main entrance to Tsinghua Science Park

The main entrance of Tsinghua Science Park

Conference sponsors and popular bloggers (the thumbnails)

The hostess

Boat Trip in Sai Kung, Hong Kong (西貢,香港)

Sunday, October 28th, 2007


When I told people that “we went hiking in Sai Kung”, most of them would respond with a question:” huh? you went to Vietnam?” “No, no, we went to Sai Kung in New Territories,Hong Kong“.
So, for people who are not familiar with Hong Kong, Sai Kung = Hoi Chi Minh city. For Hong Kong residents, Sai Kung = sea food, boat trip and maybe parks.

DSC_6258.JPGLast August, we flied back to China and stopped at Hong Kong for a week. My ex-colleagues invited us to a company retreat – a one-day boat trip in Sai Kung. Well, we have hiked there, have had great sea food there, this would be a great opportunity to complete our experience of “Sai Kung“.

I know most of local travel agencies have a kind of tour for people to “fish cuttlefish” at night.What you can do on a boat? You don’t need to bring any gadgets for fishing, but invite a large enough group of friends to reduce cost per person and bring food & drinks. Young people like to “hang out” on sea for party and fishing at night when it is much cooler. If you rent a boat and go boating in daytime, you can have more options for water activities. Make sure you have insurance coverage.

What you can do on a boat?On the trip, some (including ME) played poker games, engineers played PSPs (see above right), some went to swim and took “banana boat“ and some were just idle and relaxing.

Ok, here are our photo tour of boat trip.

Lang Kei Bay & Beach, Sai Kung, Hong Kong

This is the view of Long Ke Wan Bay & Beach from sea. (Check my previous post Go hiking in Hong Kong, have you ever think about that? for a closer view.)

A cave, Sai Kung, Hong Kong

What you can do on a boat trip?

Teenagers on the next boat were playing some dangerous game.

What you can do on a boat trip?

Banana Boat!

sai kung, hong kong

sai kung, hong kong

3 Key Questions and Answers about a Trip to Jiuzhaigou

Friday, October 26th, 2007

Our recent trip to Sichuan, a western province in China, was my first “vacation” in China. Well, I had a road tripjiuzhaigou with college friends 10 years’ ago in Xinjiang province. But that wasn’t really a vacation (if you know what I mean). This time, we only had 4 days in the destinations: jiuzhaigou, songpan and huanglong, so our desired experience was to see the best natural beauty of these places. Not culture, not people, though they are something unique and special to experience, we just don’t have time. These tips are most usefully when you are in our similar situation, who have some budget concern (don’t want to be ripped off) .

#1. Where to Go?

Jiuzhaigou in FallWhat? Having said that the destination is Jiuzhaigou doesn’t mean you can go to Jiuzhaigou directly. You can fly to Jiuzhaigou or take bus or hire a private driver or drive yourself there. There are flights from 6 cities in China to Jiuzhai-huanglong airport which is built in the altitude of 3200+ meters. Chengdu, Chongqing and Xi’an are the major connection city to Jiuzhai airport. So you can plan in advance to visit one of these cities before flying to Jiuzhaigou.

There are more than 20 flights every day departed from Chengdu v.s. 6 from Chongqing. In theory, you can get cheaper tickets by fly in from Chengdu. But in peak season when Chengdu is a HOT destination, the theory doesn’t work. So I got at least 20% cheaper tickets by flying in from Chongqing.

If you are taking bus (120RBM/person) or hire a private driver by road (around 800RMB one trip), the trip from Chengdu to Jiuzhaigou takes about 10hrs (without traffic in Chengdu downtown). From north such as Langmusi, it this the same hours due to bad road condition according to Man Man Zou’s Jiuzhaigou Park and Chengdu trip in 2006.

#2. When & Where to Buy Air Tickets?

New online travel sites/service providers are helping to get cheaper and cheaper tickets for consumers inJiuzhaigou, Pearl Shaol waterfall, jiuzhaigou valley, Sichuan, China China. So don’t be surprised if your tickets are 80% off. It is not a spam! I will strongly recommend for ticket booking. It is a meta search engine like sidestep. Its competitor is Qunar, found by 3 American. I prefer Kooxoo for its clean simple interface design.

I booked my tickets about 3 weeks before departure date at a quite satisfactory rate. And later a travel buddy told me she got a 20% cheaper ticket a week later. So it is not always the earlier the better. Travel agents say 14-day-advance is the best. My other friend claims that 2-day-advance is the best (in non peak season week days). I will test her theory. 🙂

#3. Where to Stay?

I made at least 20 phone calls to hotels to quote hotel room rates and book hotel. That means there are very limited data about hotel rooms in jiuzhaigou on the Internet. I collected the phone numbers from the websites that ask for an extremely unreasonable price of hotel rooms. At last, we stayed at a hostel recommended by a lot of young travelers. Because most of the hotels won’t tell me the rate until check in which made me feel very “unsecured”. They usually reserve most of the rooms for tour operators or travel agents. If you book through elong or ctrip (Chinese expedia and travelocity), you can get a confirmed, but very HIGH rate.

We arrived at jiuzhaigou on Oct. 7, the last day of national holiday. We shared a private car with a couple from Songpan to Jiuzhaigou. They didn’t book any room, but easily find a nice hotel room in walking distance from the park entrance. The biggest learning is: in 99% of cases, you don’t need to book your hotel rooms in advance if you travel to a place like Jiuzhaigou. Go there and shop for hotel room as you shop for gifts.

jiuzhaigou, five-flower lake

My previous posts about this trip:

4-Day Trip to Jiuzhaigou, Huanglong, Songpan of Sichuan, China (Part I)

My coming & dream travel destination: Jiuzhaigou, Sichuan, China

Wish Our Wonderland Stay Forever!

Monday, October 15th, 2007

Bloggers Unite - Blog Action Day
I just got back from one of the most beautiful places in China, which is called Jiuzhaigou Valley in Sichuan Province China as I planned. It is a much less well-known national park among foreginers since i didn’t see many there, though it is one of 166 UNESCO World Natural Heritages in the world according to the number on wikipedia, and one of 45 in Asia Pacific. I have to say this is a MUST visit place in China if you want to get out of city to see the natual beauty of China.


Different from the United States, China has a very short history in running and managing national park. But Jiuzhaigou Valley is a well managed and kept place where normal gas-consuming vehicles were banned in the park. To make up the high maintenance cost, visitors have to pay 400RMB (more than $50) / visit (2 days) per person in peak season from March to November. So the cost for a 4-person family per visit is about 10 times of that for a national park in US ($20-$25 admission fee/vehicle). It is the cost for a sustainable travel environment, and it will be justified.

As a Chinese, I am very glad to see such a wonderland is still in a good shape. My simple wish for Blog Action Day 2007 is that this fairy place will stay forever for people from all over the world to visit and share.


4-Day Trip to Jiuzhaigou, Huanglong, Songpan of Sichuan, China (Part I)

Monday, October 15th, 2007

Before I come up with a well-organized travel report, I would like to share some pictures with you. They are just too Beautiful to be kept in my own hard-drive.

From airplan, before landing on Huanglong Airport

The airplane to Huanglong

Huanglong, Sichuan, China, 黄龙

Huanglong, Sichuan, China, 黄龙

Huanglong, Sichuan, China, 黄龙 - Yellow Dragon

Go hiking in Hong Kong, have you ever think about that?

Wednesday, September 19th, 2007

I love Hong Kong, since I can go shopping whenever I go out for food. Services in Hong Kong is probably the best in the world. So, I can enjoy great food, great services, great people, great stuff and great city view. Who won’t love Hong Kong?

But another reason I like Hong Kong is because I can go hiking, no just shopping, as well. We have hiked mostly in Sai Kong, one or twice in Hong Kong Island and Lautau.

Hong Kong hiking trail map

You can see from above map, hiking trails system in Hong Kong actually is quite well developed. The basic information is mostly maintained by the government but not easy to find on Internet. The tips, guides or reviews are mostly in Cantonese Chinese and are very limited too.

long ke wan, beach

This beach: Long Ke Wan beach is one of the most romantic secluded place Hong Kong. It is in the first stage of MacLehose trail. The only ways to get this beach are 1) hike over the mountain; 2) boat there and swim to the beach. Roz’s Hiking Page tells you the detailed direction to get here. Please be reminded that it is very time consuming get the start point if you don’t drive yourself.

A reward to your day hike: a seafood meal in Sai Kung downtown!

Ok, photo tour: (all photos were took on 2003 )

Long Ke wan Hong Kong

On the way to see the bay and beach.

beach of Long Ke wan Hong Kong

On the beach, we were the 3rd and 4th persons on this beach in that afternoon. The sand isn’t very good, but the view is fantastic!

the side of beach of Long Ke wan Hong Kong

coastline of Long Ke wan Hong Kong

The only way to see another beach behind this mountain is to hike over it. We didn’t do it.


A close look on the rock on the beach, and my foot.

Youtube Link about Long Ke Wan:

Hong Kong hiking trails

Do a Lahaina Vacation, When You Care Much about Eat, Shop and Walk…

Tuesday, September 11th, 2007

I always tell my husband that I don’t need a beach vacation. Why? In my sense of a beach vacation, it is all about relaxing and relaxing. You go to the beach with your favorite book and stay there for a long afternoon. But I want to walk around, seeking and trying out local authentic food cooked with special seasons that I will never find in my home city. Otherwise, I am motivated to leave Shanghai, a great city I am enjoying Chinese food so much so far.

Well, I compromise sometimes, for places like Lahaina in Maui Island, Hawaii.


Can you believe there actually is a downtown in Lahaina? I am fine with the fact about this 1.5 mile downtown that you might find it a problem: crowded. Without the popularity, the charm of being busy and energetic but relaxing won’t exist. Strolling on Front Street, where you can park your car for FREE for 3 hours, you can DO a great Lahaina vacation:eat, shop, walk, and even boating (it used to be a whale port). The best parking opportunity is from 9 a.m. to 10 a.m. when you have great chance to get a street-side stall.

A vacation in Lahaina will be made a perfect one if you stay in the resorts or hotels in north of Lahaina, say Ka’anapali. Ka’anapali beach is rated as a “real gem” by wizardpub, a travel guide book publisher specialized in Hawaii islands. Other fun activities (suggested by wizardpub guidebook) in west Maui include: snorkeling in the right side of Honolua Bay,seeing trees in Banyan Tree Park or having best banana bread at Last Stand in Kahakuloa.
Yalong Bay, Sanya, Hainan Province,China

Yalong Bay, Sanya, Hainan, China

beach on West Island_Sanya Hainan China

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