ELCABRON's Travel Tips

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Cheap places in Beijing
ELCABRON | Beijing | 10/24/2005 8:07:38 AM

If you have a backpacker soul, these tips are helpful:

I recommend the BEIJING FAR EAST YH.
Phone: 63018811-3118 or 3119 They charged 45 Kuai in a 3-bed-room. They offer a complete kitchen, washing machine, drier and western style showers and toilets. But the best thing is the location. Outside there is a market street full of streetkitchens, restaurants, supermarkets...only 5 minutes walk from TianAnMen and the ForbiddenCity!

On our difficult way to find a nice place we passed:
1. BEIJING YH, JianGuoMenNeiDaJie No.9 close to Beijing Railwaystation which was said to be brand new...in fact they were still building it in 2003
2. SAGA YH in some bad alleys 700m behind the Beijing YH, with 60 Kuai in a shabby 4-bed-room too expensive for the run down state.
3. ORIENTAL YH, Dondang-third-lane at Donfang Plaza No.8 - good location close to the TianAnMen and fair prices....but booked out! Ah, keep on walking;-)
4. Another place in the middle of nowhere: DIAO YUAN HOSTEL, somewhere next to the channel on YouAnMenDongBinheLu No.135...which is closer to the Temple of Heaven
BUT they have the best guy for organizing trips to the Great Wall!
It is Mr. John:
TieShuXieJie No. 66, XuanWu District. Phone: 83151553, 13901123938, 138012211089 or 13611326769.
Email hotmail.com|jian_min
His place is called ManGuoXiangHuoGuoDian.
A great trip to Simatai for two persons (60 kuai each) for a driver (Mr. John himself) in a jeep. to Simatai it is a 3h drive each way.

Souvenirs, fakes, cheap clothes......
ELCABRON | Beijing | 9/14/2005 9:02:20 AM

If you are looking for calligraphies, porcelain, antiques you have to go to the PANJIAJUAN market in Beijing. It is only on the weekend and you have to go there early, but it is the biggest market in Beijing. The size is about 4 football fields filled with people selling everything possible. And because there is such a big offer the prices are fine. Of course you have to keep in mind that there is a tough bargaining necessary. It`s part of the Chinese culture (like in Morocco or many other countries). A simple rule for a beginner is always less than half of the price they offer to you as a foreigner or lowai they say in Chinese.Advanced traders knock prices down to a third of the original price, it depends(keep in mind that vendors try to get moonprices so actually it is often just a tenth of their original price). Bargain is a part of Chinese life, it is not offending towards the trader. Everything is negotiable in China. As long as they still sell it to you, you can be sure they have a good profit. And it actually is big fun for you and the trader.
An example:
A handpainted calligraphie with a size of 190x70cm, with so called silkpaper and a wooden roll, sometimes covered with porcelaine endings should be less than 80 kuai. Check with hands and eyes that it is no print!!!
Without wood roll you get the same size for 20 Kuai!
When they pretend that they don? want to sell it for a certain price - leave them. They will come after you to bargain again. If you do this process two or three times you will get the right price!
For a good bargain you need time. Never be in a hurry.
(Chinese friends checked prices, too. They didn? get it much cheaper)

How to get there:
Take Metro Line 1 from the ForbiddenCity/Tiananmen for 5 stations and get off at GUOMAO Station. Outside the station take Bus No. 28 for 20-25 minutes to the market. Just ask people on the bus, they know the market.

If you are looking for cheap clothes, technical equipment and fakes you should try the HONGQIAO market which is inside a big building with three or four storeys. It is situated closer to the Temple of Heaven. From there it is easy to reach by bus, changing lines once.
An example:
A "real" fake of Lacoste or Ralph Lauren Polo Shirt should cost under 30 or 40 Kuai in the end, never pay more than that!
Oh, and never believe something is real;-)

A great TEA HOUSE in Chongqing
ELCABRON | Chongqing | 5/1/2005 10:01:35 PM

My first tip is one of the best Tea Houses I have ever seen in China. It is a pitty I could not read the Chinese name, but it is not too difficult to find. Itis situated in the Yuzhong District, close to Jiefang Bei. From JiefangBei walk down the MinquanLu to the round about or rotary traffic meeting the XinhuaLu (10 minutes walking). From this traffic circle you take the second street on the right side, which is called ZhongxingLu and heads down to the ChangJiang, but it is already the second building 100 meters on the left side of the road (from there you look down on to an older part of Chongqing. From the outside you donot realize that it is a Teahouse (if you can not read Chinese of course) and it looks so small you only see one storey. But if you enter you will find another world.
There are three more storeys downstairs, because it is situated on the hangside to an older quarter of Chongqing. Everything is decorated with antiques, woodcarvings, bamboo, calligraphies, buddhas and so on. In summer time you can enjoy a nice terrace, lovely decorated, with a view over the mentioned old quarter all the way to the ChangJiang (if they havent built 10 new skyscrapers by now, you never know in Chongqing). On the lower floors they have a little well running like a river through the floor, so that you have to do some stone-stepping to reach the other side with dry feet, Im serious. You can choose between cosy corners, private rooms or normal tables but you always feel very comfartable. I dont have to mention the Tea quality in a Chinese Tea House, do I?
Here I used to take a break with a relaxing cup of tea after a tough bargain at the Antique Market down the street, which is my second tip for Chongqing.

A helpful soul just told me the name of the tea house: Eighteen Stairs Teahouse
Thanks for that!

Mountains of the famous Lungjing Tea or Dragons Well Tea
ELCABRON | Hangzhou | 4/1/2005 4:29:10 AM

Do some hiking in the mountains of the Lungjing tea plantations. Its behind the Westlake and easy to get there by public bus. In those small villages you can see the complete production line of the most famous green tea of China. On your hiking route you can get through Bamboo forests and climb up the paths along the mountain ridges covered by beautiful fresh green woods. Enjoy some sugar-cane on the way or take a break and taste the dragons well tea in a village of its origin.
I enjoyed it very much! The pic shows my friend Omed on the ridge of a tea plantation.

Drepung Monastery
ELCABRON | Lhasa | 3/5/2005 6:43:59 AM

Within close distance around Lhasa you can find the major monasteries of the Gelugpa Order. Drepung is still the biggest one with round about 600 monks today. In the past it was the largest monastery of the world with more than 10.000 monks. Dont get lost in the narrow alleys embraced by beautiful decorated buildings because it got the size of a small city! But you can still see many ruins of destroyed buildings from the cultural revolution. The surrounding is also worth to take a look at. On the left side you can take a hike up to the pitoresque stone paintings. Behind the monastery on the ascent of the mountain you can see a rock plateau where the traditional sky burial took place.
In one sentence, Drepung is a MUST!

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