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Old 02-24-2017, 04:12 PM   #21
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Looking at photos and videos of modern places like Shanghai, I am sure that visitors will be safe there. To tour more isolated places in the countryside to see exotic landscape of which China has its share, I figure one may take some risks. I also have not been to Africa, for example.

My main reason for not visiting China is more of an ideological one. Its government does not allow freedom of speech, of religion, nor allow political dissent. China is not the only one. There are many other countries that fall in the same class to me.

And then, some countries have cultures that I feel highly uncomfortable being in. I know that limits my choice of travel, but it's OK. The world still has plenty of places that I have not visited.
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Old 02-24-2017, 04:20 PM   #22
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That's the cool thing about having the ability to travel at will. This world is so diverse that there is something for everyone.

I've lived in primitive parts of third world countries and enjoyed it immensely for weeks, sometimes months at a time. I've actually been much less comfortable when forced to endure high end accommodations in sophisticated cities in first world countries. Somewhere in between is my happy place.

I know we have some world class travelers here on the forum, and I'm pretty far down that list with only about 15 countries visited, but I'm still adding new ones and loving it.
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Ever Been to China?
Old 02-24-2017, 06:02 PM   #23
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Ever Been to China?

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I know we have some world class travelers here on the forum, and I'm pretty far down that list with only about 15 countries visited, but I'm still adding new ones and loving it.

I never counted how many countries I've visited. Until now. I'm at 17 and that seems low. Going through the list, it's mostly Europe, North America and parts of Asia.

Looks like I need to get out more. This summer we're hoping to add China to the list and probably Vietnam or Singapore/Malaysia.

We've never done tours. I'm planning on winging it for the most part, but maybe for this trip we'll get a local guide/driver for parts of the trip. Figuring out the details is part of the fun, at least for me.
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Old 02-24-2017, 06:44 PM   #24
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I've been to 30 countries so far, and will add one or two more this year. Compared to some of my friends, I am not well travelled at all.
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Old 02-24-2017, 06:49 PM   #25
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I've been to around 70.....doesn't seem like many at all.......another 70 would be nice...if, if, if.....
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Old 02-24-2017, 06:53 PM   #26
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We had a thread a few years back, where people counted the countries that they had visited. I would have to sit down and think about it all over again. Pretty sure it's more than 10, but most likely less than 20. I remember some posters in that thread said they had not been out of the US at all.
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Old 02-24-2017, 09:11 PM   #27
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I have been to Beijing several times on Megacorps' dime. Generally speaking I had no problems, no more so that in any large city. Traffic can get crazy, but having grown up in a city I was used to it. I had no problems with people, even though I am not a blue eyed blond haired American.

If you can pick up some of the language and even try, that goes a long way. There are also many there who are happy to speak English with you as they want to learn to speak it better. My DW is fluent in Chinese, and when she went with her university group she made lots of friends (and many in the group would not go anywhere without her).

You do have to accept that you are being watched, and your hotel room is probably bugged and will be searched. Popular internet sites like anything Google and Facebook are blocked (there are ways to get around it using VPN, but I figured why tempt fate). Being watched, though, has its "good" side - they really do not want to see anything happen to foreign visitors so I felt very safe there. However, on one project I worked on a couple of folks could not get visas to return for the second phase of the project - apparently they took to the "wild night life" - whatever there is of it - and it was noticed.

The major cultural aspect I could not get used to was "clustering" instead of lines in many places. However, I am glad I am a Yankees fan - wearing that logo got me lots of smiles and thumbs up from the locals, even the police.

DW and I have been there separately but never together... a joint trip is something we would consider. It is easier when you can go to places not assuming they are like where you grew up, and are open to learning and sharing with them at the personal level, in an inoffensive manner.
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Old 02-25-2017, 12:49 PM   #28
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Thanks all for the replies.

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We used China Int'l Travel Service (CITS) in 1994 for a customized tour for 2 including mostly 4* hotels.
This looks like another possibility for us. I sent them a message.

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My main reason for not visiting China is more of an ideological one. Its government does not allow freedom of speech, of religion, nor allow political dissent. China is not the only one. There are many other countries that fall in the same class to me.
I guess I don't see that as a reason not to go. Maybe it is a reason to go in order to understand things better.
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Old 02-25-2017, 03:02 PM   #29
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I guess I don't see that as a reason not to go. Maybe it is a reason to go in order to understand things better.
I will not talk someone else out of going. In order to learn how things are, I can read about it, and know a lot more than the visitors.

In Vietnam, some bloggers who badmouthed the corrupt politicians got sentenced to several years in jail. In Cuba, the day right after Obama's visit, a peaceful demonstration by some women immediately drew a gang of plain-clothed policemen who scooped them up and took them away in a bus. Foreign visitors would not know about these things. I know because I happened to spot these stories in the media that very few cared to read. Or they may say that it does not concern them so why care.

And there are countries that do not permit freedom of religion. These are the worse, although I am not at all religious (I am agnostic). They accuse people of sorcery and witchcraft, then execute them.
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Old 02-25-2017, 04:15 PM   #30
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Yeah the govt. and pollution are a couple of the reasons I haven't looked to go.

Apparently Tienamen Square is one of the attractions in Beijing? But most of the Chinese who were children or not born at the time of the massacre are blithely ignorant of what happened.

I remember at the time of the Olympic Games, the Chinese were offended that the Tibetans tried to draw some attention to their plight.

Then again, some external observers think the hold of the Party on power is somewhat tenuous. If the economy slows way down, then the loyalty to govt. may dissolve rather quickly.
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Old 02-25-2017, 04:26 PM   #31
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We used China Highlights for a two-week tour including Beijing, Shanghai, Xian, and Chengdu. There were 3 of us (DW, DD, and myself) and in each city we had a private van with English-speaking guide and non-English-speaking driver. It was a "custom" tour, so we specified what we wanted to see in each city, where to eat, 4/5 star hotels, no trips to factories/shops, etc. We went back and forth by email over the itinerary for a couple weeks and ended up with a nice balance of cost and stuff to do. They were extremely helpful and accommodating and made all the arrangements. It's a very efficient way to get around China and see a lot in a very short period of time. We wanted to eat local food, so the guides were essential for picking good places and helping us order. The local food was amazing and something I will never forget. Would definitely use them again.
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Ever Been to China?
Old 02-26-2017, 01:29 AM   #32
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Ever Been to China?

I took my 15yo to China in 2005. It's not hard to explore China on your own. You can book airplane tickets at any travel agent in China or just go to the airport. Same with hotels. Everything gets cheaper last minute. I booked airplane tickets as we went along and had the hotels booked ahead of time from home thru Sino.com. There are gov't buses at every airport that take you to the city center.

I copied the keys to the walking maps on Fodor because they are in both languages then just showed the cab drivers where to go in Chinese. We encountered one cab driver who couldn't read and I had a passerby tell him where to go.

An Internet search will tell you everything you need to know about what buses go to what tourist sites (terra cotta warriors, Great Wall, etc).

May seem scary but very easy and the Chinese are super nice and helpful!
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Old 02-26-2017, 08:39 AM   #33
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May seem scary but very easy and the Chinese are super nice and helpful!
When we arranged our train travel someone waiting in the ticket line with us would invariably take the time to translate for us when we bought our fares. Same with the subway -- we'd be puzzling over the ticket machines for a minute or two, and someone would come up and lend a hand.
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Old 02-26-2017, 01:25 PM   #34
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I will not talk someone else out of going. In order to learn how things are, I can read about it, and know a lot more than the visitors.

Foreign visitors would not know about many of the bad things that happen. I know because I happened to spot these stories in the media that very few cared to read.
I agree that tourists would not see all that goes on. (I also read a great deal.) I guess I just do not see a visit as an endorsement of the system. There are just a number of things and places to see in China that are unique to the world, and I would like to see them.
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Old 02-26-2017, 01:31 PM   #35
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Would you try to visit without a tour?

Just plan your own trip using a tour outline as a guide. What to see, how many days for each city, etc.
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Old 02-26-2017, 01:37 PM   #36
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There are just a number of things and places to see in China that are unique to the world, and I would like to see them.
This is true. I am not really trying to talk someone out of going, just sharing my thoughts. I do not think less of people who disagree with me.

My interest in some countries just does not overcome my abhorrence of their governments, to whom I have to apply for a visa. It's my principle, and contrary to Groucho Marx, I do not have another.

"Those are my principles. If you don't like them, I have others" - Groucho Marx
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Old 02-26-2017, 01:48 PM   #37
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My interest in some countries just does not overcome my abhorrence of their governments...
The same could be said of many countries, including the one you live in. It all depends on one's perspective. And principles, of course.
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Old 02-26-2017, 01:50 PM   #38
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The same could be said of many countries, including the one you live in. It all depends on one's perspective. And principles, of course.
Certainly. It's the devil you know. That's why I live here. And it's my principle, not somebody else's.

Generally, where people can demonstrate peacefully without facing arrests and jail time, I do not have a problem with.
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Old 02-26-2017, 01:55 PM   #39
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I just returned from a trip to Vietnam, which is really my first trip to Asia other than Hong Kong.

What a big difference between the two.

Vietnam is chaotic and to get a visa there is pretty intrusive. For instance, they demand to know the names of your family members, even those who are not traveling with you.

Traffic is chaotic and the pollution is bad from the scooters and the polluted rivers and lakes. The Vietnamese, especially in Hanoi, blame China for the pollution as the river around the city is downstream from some Chinese cities.

But they must recognize that 5 million barely-regulated scooters in a city of 7.5 million is a big pollution problem. They are trying to get people to ride a new bus system, which they reportedly borrowed money from the World Bank to build. But the Vietnamese aren't going to give up the mobility, getting virtually anywhere, of those scooters. Most of them wear masks but doubtful that's going to protect them much.

Of course China has a bad reputation for pollution as well. They shut down a lot of plants for the Beijing games in 2008 but it was still suppose to be bad.

Lot of that pollution impacts Hong Kong, where visibility across the beautiful harbor can be poor a lot of the time.
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Old 02-26-2017, 01:58 PM   #40
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I have been to China at least 20 times, all on business. I have no grand desire to return, but if I did I would probably combine a tour with some independent travel. Shanghai is very easy for a westerner, Beijing less so. But I still have business contacts that could help with arrangements.

In the big cities there are many western hotels (Marriott, Sheraton, Hyatt) but they are expensive, since most of the clientele are western business people.

There is a China group named Jin Lin. These hotels are very comparable to a Marriott, but can be 1/2 the price. Lower still in price is what we referred to as the "Grey Box" hotels. Large, ugly buildings with adequate facilities, and quite inexpensive.

Train travel is fairly simple, but be aware: in Shanghai everything is labeled in English, but if your destination is not a tourist attraction, you may find it more difficult on the other end.

I will say that I always found the locals helpful and friendly, and the food can be quite good (but entirely different than US Chinese food). Also, using chopsticks and eating from communal platters is still the norm, at least in local eateries.

And as was mentioned earlier, there is no such thing as an orderly line while waiting. That elderly grandmother will push you aside without hesitation.
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