Travel companion request -> Autumn 2011 trip
May 6, 2011 15:36
Antwerp, Belgium, 06/05/2011,


I’m going to China for the twelfth time now, from September the 16th to October the 14th, 2011. It’s mainly a vacation for me, but as me and another friend of mine (Who was been in China fourteen times already…) are working on a photo book about China too (More specifically about scenic railways lines through special landscapes and everything around it…) one of the goals during this tour will also be photography. Photography of those scenic railways, but also of other things, such as landscapes, buildings and general atmospheric shots… Of course, it’s also a vacation for me, so there will also be time for some relaxation… :-) And to make things go smoother I am seriously considering to hire a travel companion again, which was the reason for posting this… :-)

But let me first introduce myself... My name is Joeri Vanvaerenbergh, I’m a Belgian guy (31 years old), who is very fond of travelling through China, mainly to places that are less known or to areas that lie well off the beaten path… In my opinion that is where the “real China” can be seen and enjoyed, without hawkers behind every corner or without “Mickey Mouse” atmosphere… ;-) Furthermore I’m also interested in Chinese culture, Asian food and last but not least also Chinese railways. Professionally, I am a freight train engineer in Belgium too (Operating within Belgium and to/from Germany), and that’s also why I have a keen interest in railways… What I like the most is combining all the things I like, for example by hiking through great landscapes all day long, while taking pictures of landscapes and trains, and finishing the day with some tasty Chinese food… ;-)

But now more about the tour in September/October… As I already wrote, the goal is to focus on photography for our future book. And therefore I already planned a schedule for this tour, focusing on places in Northwest China… Some of the places I have already visited, but other destinations will be completely new to me… This is the planning so far:

- Beijing
- Chifeng / Inner Mongolia
- Jingpeng / Inner Mongholia
- Huhehaote / Inner Mongolia
- Ejina Qi / Western Inner Mongolia
- Baiyin / Gansu
- Xining / Qinghai
- Tianzhu / Gansu
- Zhangye / Gansu –> Linze Daxia
- Jiayuguan / Gansu –> Jingtieshan (July 1st Glacier?)
- Tulufan / Xinjiang
- Dunhuang / Gansu (Not sure yet)

As you can see this is far from a “standard” tour through China… :-) And most of you might not even know all these places, but that’s really no problem, since I already did a lot of research, and I’m also used to travelling through China by myself… (This planning is still not definitive by the way, and it can still change, since I’m still working on it to improve it even more...) There’s a good chance that there will be a younger colleague coming with me too (Also a Belgian guy, he is now 23…), but he’s not sure yet whether his application for leave will be granted, so I might be on my own during this tour…

(See below)
May 6, 2011 15:39

Normally I don’t mind that, I can enjoy travelling on my own too, but it’s of course always nicer to have someone to talk with, too, certainly at the dinner table… :-)

So what would I expect from a travel companion? Well, mainly helping me with translation when it’s needed (Checking into hotels, ordering food in restaurants, telling taxi drivers what to do, etc…), and if also help me with train or bus ticket bookings. Getting the kind of pictures I want to take also involves some walking, so you should also be prepared for some long(er) walks… Also, you have to be prepared for getting up very early sometimes, for example at around 6:00 am… (But I will always make sure that we can sleep earlier too then…)

And what can you expect from the facilities and so on, during the tour? Well, since I’m travelling on my own, I am a bit budget conscious of course, although within reasonable measures… I usually like to travel in soft sleeper on trains, but in hard sleeper is OK for me too, and I usually choose basic hotels that are clean and offer enough comfort. Once in a while a basic guesthouse might be the only choice available at a certain place, and then we’ll have to go for that, but that will be an exception…

In general I think this is a unique tour, with some great opportunities for seeing special places, but it will also be a tour without many known destinations and it won’t be luxury travel either, so I think you would either love it or hate it… :-) If you like this planning then of course feel free to contact me about this! I will of course pay all your expenses during the tour and also the transport to/from your hometown, but the service charge I would pay you above that can – unfortunately – not be too high… Usually I pay 100,- RMB per day. I know that this isn’t too fancy, but keep in mind that I will normally have to pay all those things by myself, so the sky is not the limit here… ;-) (If you can give me a good reason why I would have to pay you more I’m always prepared to negotiate about the price of course…)

Furthermore, I don’t have a specific profile in mind. Both male and female companions are welcome, age does not make a difference (But if you would be around our age that would be an advantage of course…), and besides English I can also speak Dutch (My native language), French and German, so this would not be a problem either. The only thing I require though is that you would be a non-smoker…

So if this offer appeals to you feel free to respond to this, I’m already looking forward to it! :-)

Best regards,

Joeri Vanvaerenbergh

PS: I will try to reply to all of you, but if I get a lot of reactions then please have some patience… ;-)
May 7, 2011 10:13
GUESTCHRISTINA How I envy you! I am a woman in Hong Kong and always dream of going to those places you listed. But it is dangerous for a lady or 2 ladies to travel on their own in those more primitive and inner places. However, if we can go with young people like you, it will be much safer. We won't charge anything at all, we understand most of the Chinese culture and most of its history, we speak English, Cantonese and putonghua. But this year, I don't have any leave left becuase I will take a long vacation in May/June, but since you always to Mainland China, let's keep in touch and perhaps we can join and travel very soon, say like tibant towns and cities and scenic places not visited by tour groups. Usually we book in chain hotels which are not expensive and of reasonable service. I have travel to a little called the Snow village where the only lodging is homestay. I think we can be of very good assistance to each other, with us as the translator and telling you backgrouds of places, while you will make the group safer because women (especially those from Japan, Hong Kong and Taiwan) make good target to the thieves & robbers. Anyway I think you knwo what I mean. We are older than you, the problem is we look 10 years younger than the real age (Europeans always guess at least 10 years less). We dare to travel all thru Japan, but not in Mainland.
May 7, 2011 10:23
GUEST18154 I wrote a whole lot and the system said checking and it disappeared!

Do I need to join as a member befor eusing my name instead of Guest?
May 7, 2011 10:48
  • MONICAYR2005
  • Points:
  • Join Date: May 7, 2011
  • Status: Offline
Do you traval there every year? If so, let's keep in touch and perhaps we can join as companions. I am from Hong Kong and I long to go to the places you listed but dare not. But with you as the companion, iI think it will be safe then. I don't need you to pay me, what you mentioned looks fun to me. I can speak English, Canontese and Putonghua, and I have reasonable knowledge about Mainland China, its folklores and its History. But Mainland China always poses cultural shocks to people in Hong Kong. However, the places you mentioned have a lot of minority groups, muslins, and other races than Han people. The budget you mentioned is OK for me. I also prefer chain hotels which are convenient and clean. But in those remote areas, sometime homestay (commercialized) will be the only choice. I tried it last Dec in a little Snow town 7 hours away from Harbin, and believe me, it is best experince you can have.

This year I have already got the leaves in May/June to Greece, so unlikely to to on long trip again in Autumn. But I really crave to go to the places you listed, and also Xian and Tibet, and try the tibetant railway. But I am much older than you, though might perhaps look young (often the case with Hong Kong woman due to the climate and food). For one thing, I don't go clubbing very often, but it will be OK once in a while, say like in places like Shangrila or the Pheonix city(Dali).

May 7, 2011 11:11
  • DAVIDWU1103
  • Points:
  • Join Date: Mar 24, 2011
  • Status: Offline
good idea
May 7, 2011 11:57
Köln, Germany, 07/05/2011,

@ MONICAYR2005: Hello Monica (?), thanks for your reply! ;-)

To answer your message, I can tell you that I have been travelling around China every year since 2004. Every time I go to different places, some new, some already known... I always like to discover new things, combined with places I already visited in the past but which I like very much... And I can also say that I mostly go to the North and the West of China (Heilongjiang, Inner Mongolia, Gansu, Ningxia and Xinjiang...), and that's mostly because of the weather and the light for photography. You have to be very lucky to be able to see blue skies and crisp, clean air in the southern provinces, and the high humidity in the south is also something I'm not used to... :-) I can't say that I don't like the south though, on the contrary! I have very fond memories of my visits to Guangxi, Guizhou and Sichuan, and I have also been to Hong Kong several times already... :-) But I have a "weak spot" for the Northwest, I can't help it... ;-) Haha... Gansu and Inner Mongolia are my absolute favorites... But anyway, you don't need to be afraid of those places, I find the people and the general atmosphere there very nice! :-) For example, I have never ever been overcharged in Gansu, and I visited that province six times already! :-) On the other hand, if you step out of the train in - let's say - Zhengzhou and try to take a taxi as a foreigner, you can be pretty sure that they will try to cheat you in one way or another... ;-) also, there are not so many people in Gansu... I remember sitting at a table in the shadow of a row of trees on the pavement in the main street of Jiayuguan, having dinner there! ;-) Blue sky, sunny weather, some wind, and the sight of the snow capped Qilian mountains in the distance! And very few people or traffic noice... Really nice! :-)

Well, I of course don't know whether you'll be able to take a vacation this autumn, that's up to you to decide, but we can of course stay in contact, that goes without saying! As a matter of fact there are some friends of me living in Hong Kong, and I might visit them this autumn or this winter, and if you want we can meet anyway. I think that would be nice! :-) By the way, you said you were much older than me, but I saw that the difference is only two years (I'm from 1979), so I consider you as young, don't worry... ;-) If I don't, it would mean that I should consider myself as "old" too, which is a frightening idea! :-D Hahaha... ;-)

In my profile you can see my email address, so feel free to send me an email!

Best regards,

Joeri Vanvaerenbergh
May 7, 2011 13:11
  • Points:
  • Join Date: May 7, 2011
  • Status: Offline
so cool!!!!
May 17, 2011 08:04
  • Points:
  • Join Date: May 17, 2011
  • Status: Offline
Hi Joeri

My name is Linda and I'm a Singaporean Chinese. I am planning a 3 weeks trip to Xinjiang Autonomous Region in September 2011 and chanced upon your posting while googling for a travel buddy. It's a pity that our itinerary couldn't be more similar. The only common places that we have are Jiayuguan, Tulufan and Xinjiang. To be honest, I'm surprised that you are not covering Northern Xinjiang in this trip which is best viewed during Autumn...

Being an avid photographer of landscapes myself, I can fully understand where you are coming from when you mentioned about some walking involves or even waking up early to capture the kind of pictures that you want. Excellent pictures doesn't come easy...they require sacrifices and patience.

I went to Tibet back in 2009. If you love railways and beautiful landscapes, I'd strongly recommend you to try the Qinghai-Tibet railway. The sceneries along the way to Lhasa is simply breathtaking...


May 20, 2011 13:07
  • Points:
  • Join Date: Dec 18, 2008
  • Status: Offline
HI Joeri, I really like your plan. I like trvel very much.

I lived in the capital city lANZHOU of GANSU FOR 4 YEARS. Half of the places you listed i've visited at 2006 and 2007.

I've been to Beiing for two times at 2008 and 2009 , each time one week. I like beijing so much.

I lived in Lanzhou from 2003 to 2007, visited to Zhangye for 5 days and Dunhuang for 4 days; lived in Jiayuguan for a month; visited to Yinchuan for a week.

But i haven't been to inner Mongolia and xinjiang and i missed the chance to xining and tibet. I have friends in Yinchuan and baiyin, and xinjiang, and lanzhou etc. I left northwest back to souch china in 2007.
i really miss my friends in northwest and i always find the chance to go back there. I want to go there at Oct holidays this year, between at the end of sep to the early of oct. Maybe I can join your mongolia and xinjiang trip. I like train trval though it needs more time. But it save money and safe if we have time.

So keep in touch .

Kind regards,
Jul 30, 2011 10:00
GUEST18147 HI, I am really interested to travel with you guys to mongolia, I am based in hong kong and work for myself, so basically i can travel anytime i want. but just not for the whole trip. I am sorry to say i can't speak mandarin very well, i can understand a little only. I can speak fluent english, cantonese and read simplified chinese. I wouldn't need you to pay for my expenses either. i just want to tag along to all the great scenic places. please reply me at my email|naturally_quiet

thanks! looking forward to your response.
Page 1 of 2    < Previous Next >    Page:
Post a Reply to: Travel companion request -> Autumn 2011 trip
(You can post as a member (login first) or a guest!)
Content: ( 3,000 characters at most, please )
You can add emoticons below to your post by clicking them.
characters left
Name:    Get a new code