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Old 02-26-2017, 02:00 PM   #41
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...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...
Wow! What do they do with the info? Run it through their computers to see if the names show up in their list of "reactionary foreign agents" looking to cause trouble? Them working for the CIA?
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Old 02-26-2017, 02:13 PM   #42
Give me a museum and I'll fill it. (Picasso)
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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).
I like Chinese food, and when traveling, I have always looked for a Chinatown to visit. Not the obvious like in SF or NYC, but in Sydney, Honolulu, Paris, Ottawa, Montreal, Boston, Vancouver, etc... But I also know that their food is not the same as the "real stuff", which I may not like as much.

Some friends of mine stick with P.F.Chang. Not that P.F.Chang is bad, but that's not Chinese food! It's an imposter.
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Old 02-27-2017, 07:05 AM   #43
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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.
Up to now this is what we have done in Europe. We see China as being probably more difficult. In just the big cities we would likly be OK, but we want to go to some of the remote and remarkable landscapes that China has to offer, and DW would feel more comfortable with a guide. We would probably do a custom arrangement, not a big tour.
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Old 02-28-2017, 03:50 PM   #44
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I went for work a few times with days off to tour. We used a private tour guide recommended by the hotel. Spoke English, reasonably priced. I think $60 for the day?
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Old 02-28-2017, 05:15 PM   #45
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Yes. We spent ten days in China in 1984. It was an experience.

Seriously looking at doing the Trans Siberian rail trip from China to St. Petersburg with a friend next Sept. It is high on my bucket list.

If it comes together we will probably do a tour prior to the train journey. Why not?
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Old 03-03-2017, 01:36 AM   #46
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Ever Been to China?

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Up to now this is what we have done in Europe. We see China as being probably more difficult. In just the big cities we would likly be OK, but we want to go to some of the remote and remarkable landscapes that China has to offer, and DW would feel more comfortable with a guide. We would probably do a custom arrangement, not a big tour.


Fodor's used to have an active China forum. We visited Yangshou, which is fairly rural. The tours take you to Guilin, a big city near there. Anyway, you can hire local guides. We hired a women who was recommended on the Frommer's board to take us out on bicycles to all the local attractions.

It's not any more difficult than Europe to travel around China. Xi'an airport was only one of two places we encountered where no one spoke any English but the tickets were printed in Chinese so we just showed them to someone who took us to our gate.

No one spoke English when we went to buy acrobat tickets in Beijing at the theatre. We went across the street to a hotel and a couple of bell boys in their teens spoke perfect English and wrote everything down in Chinese for us to hand to the ticket agent.

China's an experience! Spigots in the wall at the airports that dispense boiling water for tea and noodles! Very hot - don't touch! Squat toilets in public locales - my purse was full of Kleenex in lieu of tp. Plastic lace curtains in buses and taxis. The smell of formaldehyde on practically everything. Ducks in the water on string leashes behind restaurants - fresh food! Butchers that nail meat to plywood outside the store - not fresh, no telling the type of meat. Pedicabs. American cigarettes smuggled in from Vietnam. Blaring Chinese music coming from every store. Female tour guides that lead groups around with a mic and karaoke player slung across their bodies, singing loudly so the group follows! Smoking rooms with zero ventilation. People spitting indoors and outdoors (they think it's bad for your health to swallow). SMOG!

You will have culture shock but they are just the nicest and most helpful people.
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Old 03-03-2017, 06:17 AM   #47
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I was in Hong Kong in 1965....have zero desire to return, or to visit the mainland....."I'll take Africa for $*****, Alex".
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Old 03-03-2017, 04:22 PM   #48
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We got 30 day single entry visas for Vietnam one year ago.

We did not find them intrusive. Just the regular details..passport number, expiration, dob etc. Absolutely no questions about relatives, children, etc.
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Old 03-03-2017, 05:12 PM   #49
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I did Visa on Arrival. Besides a stamped letter, I had to fill out a form.

So I filled it out as best as I could at home.

When I arrived, I used "fast" service which would get me through the process of obtaining a visa.

The guy who met me said I should fill in the section about family members.
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Old 03-03-2017, 05:43 PM   #50
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The guy who met me said I should fill in the section about family members.
Coming through Iraq, on a train between Kirkuk and Baghdad, (IIRC), one of the railway employees handed us extensive forms....took a while to fill them out......an hour or so later, no sign of the guy who gave them to us.......when we finally found him he told us to keep them.

Even when we were later 'detained' in Basra, (by the army, and subsequently the police), nobody ever asked to see them......tossed them.
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Old 03-04-2017, 09:39 PM   #51
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We did not find Vietnam chaotic...quite the opposite. It is busy but once you get used to it things make sense. Especially public transportation. It is similar to Thailand. At first everything looks disorganized but when you actually book in country travel it is very efficient. At least this is our experience after three years is wintering in that SE Asia.
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