25 September, 2013 at 17:33 | Posted in China, Society, Travels | Leave a comment
Tags: China, Society, Travels
Here are a few “must know” tips for first-time China travelers that can save you from getting into awkward and costly situations.
1. Bring Toilet Paper
Always travel with toilet paper, because generally toilet paper is not supplied in China’s public restrooms. You may be able to get free toilet tissue outside the restrooms at the Shanghai Hongqiao International Airport, or at Xianyang International Airport in the city of Xi’an, capital of Shaanxi Province. Toilet paper can also be found in restrooms of upscale restaurants, clubs, or pubs, but I have not seen it in other places.
2. Beware of Pickpockets
Keep a close watch over your personal belongings, such as bags, luggage and items in your pockets. Keep your hands on them to avoid becoming a victim of pickpockets and thieves. If you leave your personal belongings unattended, the chance of losing them is high, and getting them back is all but zero.
3. Taxi Perils: Take Your Luggage First
Taxi cab rides are quite cheap and a popular way to get around in China. When you put your large luggage in the trunk or back seat of a taxi, at your destination remember to first take hold of your luggage and then pay the taxi driver for the fare. If you pay first and then get out of the vehicle, the taxi driver may drive away with your luggage. This is how I lost my luggage in the city of Nanchang, Jiangxi Province.
4. Taxi Perils: Get a Receipt
Don’t forget to ask the taxi driver for a fare receipt, as it can help you get your luggage back or claim your money back when the cab driver takes a long detour to make more money. I didn’t realize how useful a cab fare receipt could be until I lost my luggage in Nanchang.
5. Taxi Perils: Avoid Unlicensed Cabs
Beware of illegal or unlicensed cabs, which are frequently seen in China. Such taxi cabs are not hired by taxi companies, rather, they are private drivers. I once took a fake cab and paid two times higher than regular fare. I highly recommend taking taxis that are equipped with fare meters and using taxis operated by larger companies.
6. Fake Money
Watch out for counterfeit money, especially 20, 50, and 100 yuan bills.
You may wonder how you can tell counterfeit bills. Here is a good article on how to identify a fake bill:
7. Youth Hostel
Here is a good point. My personal experience with China’s International Youth Hostel has been positive. Their staff is cordial and enthusiastic, and they maintain a comparatively safe and sanitary environment. This hotel is a good choice for a moderate price.
8. Food Safety
You have to be really careful when eating mutton—or, in fact, any kind of meat— because some places, especially in the south of China, may sell fake mutton. They may put “mutton powder” on non-mutton meat. Who knows what kind of meat it may be. If it’s pork or chicken, then it’s not so bad, but if it’s rat meat it would really make you sick!
9. Protect Your Passport
Always carry your passport on you, and safeguard it to prevent having it stolen.
10. Use Suntan Lotion
Remember to put on suntan lotion before going sightseeing. I don’t burn easily, but I got a bad sunburn after spending about three hours in the sun during my visit to China, probably due to air pollution.
Smart shopping in China means bargaining, unless you are buying luxury brands. Start by offering one third of the asking price.
12. Brand-Name Knock-Offs
Never buy brand-name products in China, unless they are exclusively sold in China, because there are too many fake products there. Items that bear real trademarks, would be priced much higher than in other countries because of high tariffs imposed on imported products in China.
If something really bad happens to you, and you need help from the police, you should let the police know your “status” as clearly as possible.
When my friend and I lost our luggage in Nanchang, we first asked for help from a local radio station, police station, and train station. They paid no attention to us. After we explained that we were exchange students from the United States, that our passports were inside the stolen luggage, and that we wouldn’t be able to return home until our passports and luggage were found, the police and other agencies suddenly became very active in helping us—though in the end we recovered nothing.
Translated by Euly Luo. Written in English by Gisela Sommer.
Read the original Chinese article.
via Pack Toilet Paper, and Other Travel Musts For China
12 November, 2012 at 12:36 | Posted in Funny things :-), Nature, Travels | Leave a comment
Tags: funny things, Nature, Travels
About two hours from sophisticated Stockholm, at the gate of Lapland, you’ll find one of Europe’s last wilderness areas.
Here, Grano Beckasin Lodge offers accommodations in “bird nests,” comfortable tree houses high above ground, in addition to cabins and camping options.
Grano Beckasin, which opened on June 10, is a unique nature destination where you can find large mountain areas, lakes, and several large national parks.
You can also find Sweden’s last untouched wild rivers, which flow undisturbed on their journey to the sea. The marshes harbor golden cloudberries. Many people travel for miles to pick the marsh’s “yellow gold.”
A Unique Setting
The location attracts people who are not afraid to venture out into the woods and fields, look for new experiences, and enjoy the stunning surroundings.
The forest consists mostly of pine and spruce, but large-scale logging has reduced the number of old forests, which are a vital part of the biodiversity there.
The spirit of Grano Beckasin is anchored in thinking about the environment. Ecological thinking permeates everything from nature guided walks in the forest, the food, and the building materials.
All the activities are carried out with great respect for the local environment. For example, you can go river-rafting, dog-sledding, go on a moose safari, or take an herbal walk.
The food that is served is organic and local. The meat and fish comes from local forests and lakes.
“We want to give the guests a whole experience with food, accommodation, and activities. The experience aims to open visitors’ minds—becoming calm to see the small in the large and the large in the small,” explains Angelica Johansson, CEO of Grano Beckasin Lodge.
At Grano Beckasin Lodge you live in the middle of nature, yet with full hotel conveniences and amenities.
Read more: Swedish Lodge Models Accommodation After Bird Nests | Travel | Life | Epoch Times
Related Articles: Sweden Grocery Delivery Success Spreads in Europe
16 March, 2012 at 07:55 | Posted in Nature, Travels | Leave a comment
Tags: Nature, Travels
The power of nature is really strong, I’ve seen this here in Sweden, how the sea and waves really can destroy. I wish them all luck to rebuild this beautiful place.
For a long time I have wanted to visit Cinque Terre. Sooner or later I will go there, I hope for sooner! I think the best time to go to the Mediterranean is in May and June; a lot of flowers and not so hot and crowded.
I can see myself walking from town to town along the sea during a week or two, spending the nights in different towns. Smelling the fragrance of different herbs that grows in the mountains, perhaps like in lovely Crete?
Rebuilding the Paths to Paradise
The Italian coast of Cinque Terre, a UNESCO World Heritage site drawing thousands of tourists from around the world, is facing a fight for its future after natural disaster wreaked havoc last year, reports Mitchell Jordan.
Locals compared the severity of the situation to that of WWII, when the area was bombed. What followed was, according to one resident I met during my stay and later contacted, nothing short of nightmare.
“I do not have the words to describe the situation,” she wrote, some weeks after, when Internet access was possible.
“We have problems with food and water, the army bring them to us. There are helicopters flying around. Police walking around the town all the night long. Firemen and the army are working all the night.”
Months later and things are still grim. According to Monterosso resident, Stefano Nicora, his town may have been saved from disappearing completely, but on a scale of one to 10 (worse to best), Cinque Terre is currently sitting on a four.
He reports that many local businesses in the two towns are doing everything they can to bounce back for the tourist season.
“The huge problem unfortunately is that the main street is fully damaged and will take a long time to be rebuilt because there is not much public money.
“Gas for heating is not yet available due [to] the damaging of the main pipes, so many buildings are without heat and gas for cooking,” he said.
Mr Nicora understands the fragile position the area is in. “I hope we will be ready for the tourist season in April. Our economy is based on tourism 100 per cent and works nine months of the year thanks to the Cinque Terre path, our beautiful beach and our more beautiful, clean and clear sea. Without these three points we are in trouble.”
Mayor of Vernazza, Vincenzo Resasco, is likewise worried about Cinque Terre’s ability to remain resilient. In a report, he said: “There’s a lot of work to be done, because Vernazza is still not secure. The territory isn’t in the condition to withstand even normal rainfalls.”
According to the action website Save Vernazza, dedicated to raising money for the town and also raising awareness of the situation, the town alone suffered 108 million euro ($A133 million) worth of damage.
One of the things that saddens Michele Sherman, executive director of Save Vernazza, most is that so few people are unaware of last year’s tragedy.
“This past Saturday morning as I was walking down Vernazza’s main street, a train pulled up and some tourists got off. As they descended the stairs it was evident by their expressions they had no knowledge of what happened in Vernazza on 25 October,” she said.
“Later in the afternoon, a group of American students studying abroad for a semester at the University of Florence arrived. They asked, I explained. I cried, they cried.”
Tears may be easy to wipe away, but rebuilding the pathway to Cinque Terre’s future may be the greatest challenge this Italian coast has ever faced.
via Rebuilding the Paths to Paradise | Travel | Life | Epoch Times
21 June, 2011 at 22:43 | Posted in Music, Travels | Leave a comment
Tags: Music, Travels
Sometimes music brings up memories from the past. This soft and melodious singing makes me remember hot deserts, bare rocks and free nomadic people in beautiful colorful clothes. What the text is about, I have no idea…
28 May, 2011 at 11:59 | Posted in Funny things :-), Nature, Travels | Leave a comment
Tags: funny things, Nature, Travels
Treehouse holidays are going up in the world, but the new Treehotel in Sweden’s Lapland, with its futuristic pods, aims to soar above the rest, says Rhiannon Batten.
High style … the two-person Cabin at the Treehotel, Sweden.
By Rhiannon Batten – The Guardian
Towards the end of his 2008 documentary, The Tree Lover, which explored the link between trees and people in Sweden, Jonas Selberg Augustsén says: “Imagine being here on the veranda on a summer evening, or listening to the rain on the roof with the stove purring quietly.” As he says this he’s sitting in a treehouse he’s spent the summer building, looking out over a wide tract of pine forest with a river flowing in the distance, reflecting a sinking sun. You don’t have to imagine it any more. Since last month, when the Treehotel opened in Swedish Lapland, anyone can check into a treehouse and survey the landscape from Jonas’ viewpoint.
Set just outside the small village of Harads, an hour’s drive northwest of Luleå and very close to where The Tree Lover was filmed, the Treehotel is the creation of Britta and Kent Lindvall. Britta, a guesthouse owner, and Kent, a fishing guide, were inspired to action by the film when an area of forest behind Britta’s guesthouse was sold for logging. Instead of waiting for the inevitable to happen in a country where forestry is such an important industry, they contacted the forest’s owner and offered to buy the land from him. Calling in favours from various architect friends Kent had been on fishing trips with, they started building the Treehotel, determined to demonstrate that the natural environment around them had value beyond supplying timber. Along with daughter Sofia, who also moonlights as a stuntwoman, what they have created is a high design, back to nature retreat where guests can slow down, switch off and breathe more deeply.
Arriving at the guesthouse late on a light-soaked summer’s evening, I was met by Britta. Ushering me in with motherly warmth she sat me down in the 1950s-style surroundings and served up a delicious homemade fish pie on vintage china, explaining that the guesthouse operates as a kind of base camp for the treehouse rooms. “Guests leave their luggage here and just take a small overnight bag to the treehouses,” she said. “We want you to get the feeling that you’re leaving one world behind and entering another.”
It certainly felt that way when, after dinner, Sofia led me along a narrow gravel path through a glade of birch trees and then higher up, through sturdy pines, to the Mirrorcube. The most striking of the treehouses, it’s a glass box perched high in the forest. Like an architectural magic trick, it almost disappears into the foliage, so sharply are the surrounding trees reflected in it. The only giveaway that things are not quite what they seem is a wood and rope bridge leading up to a near-invisible door.
Way to go
Return flights from Heathrow to Luleå via Stockholm with SAS (+44 0871 226 7760, flysas.co.uk). From 6 November 2010, there will be direct flights from Heathrow to Luleå.
Where to stay:
Rooms at the Treehotel (+46 928 10403, http://www.treehotel.se/en/start)
visitlulea.se and visitsweden.com
Read more: Rooms at the top: Sweden’s stylish new treehouse | Travel | The Guardian
More info: Harads Tree Hotel : Luxury of a tree house in Sweden
Almost invisible mirrored tree house built in Sweden
4 March, 2011 at 15:35 | Posted in Environmental issues, Nature, Science, sustainable development, Technology, Travels | Leave a comment
Tags: environmental issues, Science, sustainable development, technology
By Kat Piper
Epoch Times Staff
The work of a “retired” chemistry professor has led to the discovery of a new, clean, green instant energy source that can power a portable electronics charger.
Aimed at the outdoor enthusiast, the charger could also prove valuable to residents of Third World countries where electricity is not always readily available, said the developers.
James Dye joined Michigan State University (MSU) in 1953. He officially retired nearly 17 years ago, but continues to frequent the lab in the chemistry department’s basement, inspiring undergraduate students with his love of chemistry.
For 50 years Dye has worked with alkali metals—a group of highly reactive elements including sodium and lithium that are known for being dangerous to store and work with. Dye found a way to stabilize alkali metals with silicon, turning them into a safe powder.
“In our lab, we were able to produce alkali metal silicides, which basically are made from sodium and silicon, which, in turn, are produced from salt and sand,” Dye said in an MSU press release.
“By adding water to sodium silicide, we’re able to produce hydrogen, which creates energy for fuel cells. The byproduct, sodium silicate, is also green. It’s the same stuff found in toothpaste.”
Last month, the company Dye co-founded, SiGNa Chemistry Inc., unveiled its new Mobile-H2 hydrogen cartridges, which are the energy source for the pocket-sized PowerTrekk, a wireless portable electronics charger developed by Swedish fuel cell technology company myFC.
Read more: New Recharger Harnesses the Power of Alkali Metals | Technology | Epoch Times
16 February, 2011 at 22:08 | Posted in Nature, Travels | Leave a comment
Tags: Nature, stars, Travels
Sark, one of the Channel Islands between England and France, was designated as the world’s first “dark sky island” on Jan. 25 by the International Dark-Sky Association (IDA).
IDA announced the isle as a Silver Tier International Dark-Sky Community at the same time Hungary’s Hortobagy Starry Sky Park received Silver Tier status.
A “dark sky community” means an inhabited area that has very little light pollution and hence a darker night sky, making it a prime destination for viewing the stars.
Read more: Dark Sky Island: Sark Becomes World’s First Dark Sky Island | Science | Epoch Times
15 April, 2010 at 08:35 | Posted in Travels | Leave a comment
Tags: paris, tips, Travels
Now is time to start dreaming away to southern Europe. There are certainly blooming in full swing. I remember a warm London in February with yellow daffodils and red tulips. I came from snow and ice with far too warm winter boots…
I also remember a bit cooler Paris in March, with flowering cherry trees. There I had dressed more for the season.
Here are some tips for wonderful coffeehouses in this beautiful and romantic city. Myself, I remember an expensive coffeehouse in a traditional art déco-style near Notre Dame.
I love to walk around and go to coffeehouses and cosy restaurants in nice places when I’m traveling. For me it is the memory of these experiences of pleasant surroundings and beautiful places that I carry with me back after have been in a big city. Not shopping.
Some coffeehouse favourites in Paris – from Expressen (translated from a newspaper in Swedish)
by Bobo Karlsson
Café de Flore
Tourists benches at the pavement, other regulars are in the inner or upper regions. Heavy memories of Sartre and Beauvoir days. Flashy neighbor, Les Deux Magots.
172 boulevard St Germain, St-Germain-des-Prés, 6ème
Tel. +33 1 45 48 55 26
A few blocks east at the old mall is still Charbons the obvious café and meeting place to have as a base before shopping.
109 rue Oberkampf, Ménilmontant, 11ème
Tel +33 1 43 57 45 95
Young, funnier, cooler than most coffeehouses.
It is perfectly charming located by the canal. Hip Hôtel du Nord across the street.
36 rue Beaurepaire, Canal Saint-Martin, 10ème
Tel. +33 1 42 41 30 47
Most tourists end up at the usual, a bit stressful coffeehouses right next to the Bastille. Connoisseurs are drawn around the street corners. This is one of the favorites among some little different charming coffeehouses for the quarter’s careerists and philosophers.
41 rue de Charonne, Bastille, 11ème
+33 1 40 21 89 06
Over-wintering child of the year 68, Neo-Beatniks, like a circus in awareness and superficiality, the right policies and stylish jacket among all baba cools.
43 rue de Seine, St-Germain-des-Prés, 6ème
Tel. +33 1 43 26 68 15
Café de la Paix
Among all les grands coffeehouses this picks up first prize. The elegance, the alarm, the crowd, the murmur, the oysters…
5 Place de l’Opera, Opera-Grands Boulevards, 9ème
Tel. +33 1 40 07 36 36
Still going strong since 1925th. Here hung Hemingway, Picasso and Henry Miller. Brassaï lived above. Cineasts of today, yuppies, creative professionals and tourists mingle and pick up nicely.
99 boulevard du Montparnasse, Montparnasse, 14ème
Tel +33 1 45 48 38 24
via Tio fikafavoriter i Paris – Resor -| Expressen Res