Archive for the ‘China’ Category

Shanghai Airlines


2011
06.11

I took my first flight on Shanghai Airlines on this past trip, flying from Wuhan to Shanghai on our way to Tokyo. They’re a wholy owned subsidiary of China Eastern, but maintain their own branding. As far as flights go, it was fine. We managed to get an exit row (no clue how), so there was plenty of room. A nice ride.

It's beautiful up above the pollution.

I thought you should know that I don’t ALWAYS get  to ride up front.  And if you think US airline food is rough…try an inter-China flight sometime.  This looks like a nice plate of noodles and mushrooms; not so much.  By mid-day I was hoping for some caffeine, but water was the only drink offered.

Noodles with mushrooms, and some "pork"

Fairy Lake Botanical Garden


2011
06.10

After arriving late on Sunday night, I had Monday to adjust myself to a time zone 12 hours ahead.  I find the best way to do this is to be active, so I decided to get outside.

I had originally planned to hike Wutong Mountain, which is the highest point in the area.  But I had difficulty finding anybody that could tell me where to start the hike, and the 20-something bellman at the hotel seemed to think I was nuts to try to hike up there.  :)  So I backed-off and decided to go see the botanical gardens which were located on the side of Wutong Mountain; I figured I’d get at least a bit of hiking in.  As it turns out, I had a great day.  The highlight was meeting this very nice family who allowed me to tag along behind them for a couple hours.  Below are three pages of photos from the day.  Enjoy.

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Overnight to Hong Kong


2011
06.06

I’m home from my week-long trip to China and Japan, and am excited to share some of the great experiences I had on my trip.

The week started off on Saturday morning with a flight from Atlanta to Detroit, then on to Hong Kong.  I was actually on the same plan for both legs of the flight; one of Delta’s “long range” 777-200LR’s.  These are equipped with these ultra-sweet lie-flat seats.

Delta's Lie-flat Seating

All laid down and ready for a nap.  The nice blanket and pillow are excellent!

reclined for sleeping

This is the last seat in the forward cabin (there are two business class cabins in front of coach).  What’s cool about this seat is that there’s nobody behind me.  That means I got an extra little “table” (see triangular spot by my left elbow, and there’s a coat closet to the side of me which provides some privacy.  The photo was taken by Doug Sonders, a photographer who happened to be sitting in front of me on the DTW-HKG leg.  Nice to meet you, Doug!

this is how I roll

The flight from ATL-DTW was rather uneventful.  Frankly I don’t remember anything interesting to say at all, but I suppose that can be good.  :)

Then I had a short layover in Detroit; about an hour before re-boarding.  I strolled around the terminal a bit to stretch my legs before the long flight, and then had a snack.

our chariot

The dark spots on this window are from the terminal windows in Detroit.  All of the glass is covered in these little polka dots.  From about 10 feet away you don’t even notice them…they act almost like tint to lower the light level inside.  But when you get close, it’s a bit uncomfortable to look through.  In any case, the point of this photo is to show the MASSIVE engines on this 777.  If one engine goes out, the other one has to keep 278 passengers + crew/luggage/supplies in the air for at least three hours.

Delta has the very nice charging stations throughout many of their terminals (these are in Detroit).  You can get both 110V and USB (5V) power.

Charging Stations

The long/straight McNamara Terminal has two trams that run back and forth down the length of the terminal.  They use a single rail, and pass each other using a bypass at the center stop.

DTW Tram

They didn’t serve any food on my 11:00 flight from ATL-DTW.  :(  I was on the plane from 10:30-13:15…yea, who’d want to eat then?  But on the plus side, I had plenty of room to enjoy some yummy snacks in the Sky Club.  :)

SkyClub Snacks

After a last minute update on the wifi and a couple phone calls, I was back on the plane.

These are the seat controls.  Just super.  It’s really an amazing seat.  You can adjust the back-to-knee length and the head rest angle.  There’s a lumbar support that can be raised/lowered and inflated/deflated.  And there’s a “massage” mode where the lumbar automatically moves up/dn/in/out.  A++

Mission Control

Mission Control

As soon as we leveled off on the way to Hong Kong they started meal service with a cocktail, while I enjoyed some light reading.

oh nuts!

No peanut filler here.

Quality

For the appetizer course, we had tomato soup and seared tuna.  Maybe an odd combination, but both were very good.

Appetizer Course

Clear skies above an icy Hudson Bay.

Clear & COLD

Since you’re flying with the sun, it’s daylight the whole flight.  People pretty quickly pull the window shades down to keep glare off the TV screens, but I love to keep looking outside.  After your eyes are acclimated to the dark cabin, opening a window to broad daylight and a snow/ice covered landscape is blinding…but well worth it! :)

Ice

Ice

Dinner was served next, which reminds me of something.  While we were still on the ground, the purser came around taking dinner orders.  She approached me and said “Mr. Garrett, I noticed that you’re a Diamond Medallion member and wanted to thank you for your business!  We want to make sure you get your first choice for dinner tonight.  What would you like?”  While I don’t enjoy being singled-out in front of other passengers, it was a nice gesture and I appreciated it.  She was very busy at the time, and she went out of her way for me…which was nice.  This was in stark contrast to my flight home where the purser came by and without so much as a “hey, how y’all doin’?” simply looked at me and asked “chicken or beef?”  Not “Could I bring you the parmesan chicken or the beef tenderloin?”  Not “What can I bring you gentlemen for dinner?”  I’m not joking when I say that this woman would have been fired from a TGI Friday’s on her first night.  She was just that bad.  But she’s a former Northwest flight attendant, so shot got where he is because of seniority.  Sorry; rant off.

I chose the shrimp scampi, asparagus, and saffron rice.  The shrimp were quite excellent and the asparagus was cooked just right, but the rice was paste.  2 out of 3 still beats the snot out of coach food!  :)

Dinner

For desert I had a little cheese (I turned down the strawberries and bleu cheese), a hot fudge sundae, and a glass of port.  Mmmmm.

Desert

We flew way up north through the Arctic Circle, further north than I’ve ever been before.

Arctic Circle

The mid-flight snack was served about midnight.  We were served cold grilled salmon and roasted chicken, with some brie, bread sticks, salad and a piece of chocolate.  Light enough that you could go right to sleep, but filling enough to tide you over till breakfast.

Midnight Snack

For those of you Risk fans, these are the mountains of Yakutsk.

Yakutsk

I stayed up till after 2:00 am Eastern time, then laid down and crashed.  I slept right through breakfast; never had the first clue they were serving.  I woke-up as we had begun our descent.  The excellent crew brought me some orange juice in-lieu of breakfast, and the pilot made a memorably smooth landing.  Well done, Delta!  This was a great flight!!!

I had no reason to stay in Hong Kong this trip, so I took an airport “limousine” service (a 6 passenger mini-van).  The service I use is called SkyLimo on the Hong Kong side and Trans-Island Limousine Service on the mainland side (with a W logo?).  It costs $170 HK  (about $22 US), which is more expensive than the train or big bus…but it’s a VERY convenient service.  They take you through HK immigration without even getting out of the car.  Then they drive you across the border and drop you off at mainland immigration/customs.  You fill out your form, run through the line, and they have another van waiting for you on the other side and take you right to your hotel.   After such a long trip, it’s well worth the extra few bucks.

The Panglin Hotel in Shenzhen is quite comfortable, so long as you enjoy sleeping on a pile of bricks.  I could sleep on a Chinese sidewalk at rush hour, so this is no problem for me.  :)  Seriously, though, it’s very simple, but clean and comfortable, with free wired internet service.  That reminds me that I need to post about my Lenovo laptop’s “MyWifi” feature, which allows me to create my own wifi hotspot from a wired connection.  This is perfect for keeping my iPhone connected when I don’t otherwise have wifi.  More later.

My Room

They even have a little sitting area.  Too bad I don’t have anybody on these trips to sit and chat with.

Sitting Area

Well, that about covers the trip over.  The following day I visited the local botanical gardens, but that’s another post.  Good night all!

You Meet The Nicest People


2011
05.31

I had the day off on Monday, as did most of you, and wanted to go do something outside.  I had done some research ahead of time, but I left the hotel feeling a bit low.  For a couple weeks I had been thinking I’d hike up Wutong Mountain; it’s the tallest mountain in the Pearl River delta, at over 900m.  I thought it would make for an exhilarating hike, but was having difficulty finding any information on exactly where to start the hike.  I read lots of posts online that talked about how it was a great place to hike, etc. etc., but nothing that said how to find the trail head.  I think I found it via Google Maps, but when I talked to the concierge at the hotel yesterday morning, they thought I was crazy to be hiking up there.  They said it would take an entire day, despite the 5 hour (rt) estimates I’d been reading.  And he was careful to warn me that there are no roads up there, so I would need to remember how I got up there, so I could find my way down.  I’m not worried about my land nav skills, but I was having second thoughts about my plan.

So the other thing I’d been reading about is their botanical garden.  It’s supposed to be “the most beautiful garden in China”.  Not that I’ve been to a lot of Chinese gardens, but that seems pretty high praise considering the size of the country!  Given that I wasn’t sure how to get to Wutong, and the concierge thought it was a really bad idea, I headed off to the botanical garden.

As it turned out, I had a great time!  The map they gave me at the entrance had English in the title, and nowhere else.  And their signs were an absolute joke.  So I wandered around somewhat aimlessly, finding some cool stuff.  Then at one point I stopped to pull out my map and a young family walked by.  One of the guys said, “Come on, we’re going this way!”  I laughed and said “Oh yea?  Where are ‘we’ going”?  They said they were headed for the temple (which does exist there).  They seemed like nice enough people in the 2.4 seconds I’d “known” them, and I figured…what’s the worst that could happen by walking off into the woods with a group of people I don’t know, in a land where I don’t speak the language?  Right?  LOL

I had a great afternoon.  Jimmy and his family let me tag along behind them like a lost dog for about 3 hours.  We visited several sites in the park that I might never have found.  Good times.  Photos to come soon.

New Friends

Heading to the Tropics


2011
05.27

No, I’m not going to Destin, or on an Caribbean vacation.  I’m headed to China and Japan for a week.

Here’s the plan…Atlanta to Hong Kong (via Detroit), Shenzhen to Wuhan, Wuhan to Tokyo (via Shanghai), and finally Tokyo to Atlanta (via Minneapolis).  That’s 17,438 miles, on 7 flights, with 44+ hours of scheduled travel time.  Yea, that’s an entire weeks work for most people, just in the flights alone.  Ah, the glamorous life, right?

Red = Day 1, Blue = Day 4, Yellow = Day 6, Green = Day 8

But don’t get me wrong.  I love this part of my job.  Working directly with customers in challenging environments is what really drives me in my job.  Plus, I don’t expect any sympathy since I was able to upgrade the long-haul legs.  On the way over I’ll be on a 777-200ER, in Delta’s new lie flat seating.  It’s a window seat and and aisle seat all in one!

Photo courtesy of Delta

The Rickshaw


2011
05.26

If you ever find yourself in Beijing and need some good Mexican food, The Rickshaw is where it’s at!  Open 24/7, this tiny free-standing bar caters to expats, and is a welcome reprieve.

The Rickshaw is a Mexican restaurant, in China, owned by an Aussie.  Oooook.  Regardless, they have a great burrito, some outstanding nachos, non-Chinese beer, as well as American and Aussie sports on the tube (can I say that since everything is flat scree now?).   Being open all night is a godsend!  My flight to Beijing gets in near midnight, so by the time I get to the hotel is pushing 01:00 local time…but that’s lunch time when my body is still on Eastern time!  Thankfully, The Rickshaw will hook me up with some comfort food, and some beer to help me sleep.

PS  The Comfort Inn & Suites is right by The Rickshaw, and I’ve stayed there several times.  It’s MUCH nicer than a Comfort Inn in the US, and I’d highly recommend it.

Hot Pot Lunch In Beijing


2010
07.20

I was treated to a delicious lunch today after morning meetings!  “Hot pot” is a pretty generic term for a group of Asian meal styles.  Wikipedia has more info for you.  The one common component is a pot of boiling liquid at the table, but the composition of the liquid varies widely.  Today we had  Beijing-style hot pot, which has two different broths for cooking.  The one on the left was a beef broth, made by boiling beef bones for many hours.  The right side is filled with a vegetable broth.  Both were very mild.  Notice that both sides have two ladles: one slotted, and one solid.

two-sided hot pot

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Lunch in Wuhan


2010
07.18

After my long/late trip to get here, I didn’t roll out of bed till about 10:00 on Sunday morning.  I pulled down photos of the trip, made a blog post, called my family, etc.  By the time I left the room it was time for a late lunch.  There’s a restaurant here at the hotel, but where’s the adventure in that?!?!  So off I went in search of food and fun.  Thankfully, I found both!

The restaurant that I chose didn’t have an English menu or even a menu with pictures.  The ordering process was one of the funniest things I’ve ever experienced!!!  But I’ll have to write more on that in another post, since I’ve got to get out the door.

I’m trying out a new photo gallery, rather than putting all the photos in-line.  There are descriptions of the photos below each picture, after you click on a thumbnail.  Please let me know if you like this, or prefer the images embedded in the post.

PS  I had some family ask about the cost of my lunch.   Food in China is very cheap!  The fish was $4.32 , beans were $1.79, and beer was $0.89 for 16.5 oz bottle.  CHEAP!  The fish and beans could easily serve 3 people, so call it $2/each.  The beer was drinkable.  Not good, but worth 89 cents on a hot summer day.   So for under $3/each, you got a delicious meal.  Beats the pants of a $2.99 burger value meal!!!  :)

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Wuhan, China


2010
07.17

After 28 hours of travel, I arrived at my hotel on Saturday night just after midnight local time.  This is my first trip to central China, and I’m really excited about experiencing the cultural differences here.

Unusual for Google, the street map and satellite views don’t line-up here; the satellite view is right.  The Lake View Garden Hotel is the red building to the west of the park on the south edge of Swan Lake (seriously!). It’s a nice hotel.  The grounds are very well maintained, with lots of beautiful garden areas.  The room is well worn, but fine, and it has a great view of the lake and city in the distance.

I’m going to get cleaned-up and head out to see what I can find.  I’ll grab some lunch and wander around for the afternoon.  I’ll meet my colleague for dinner, then start our meetings in the morning.

This is the view from my room at the Lake View Garden Hotel

Asia Trip – July 2010


2010
07.14

I’m getting ready for a very hectic week in Asia, and have decided that I need a day at the start to recover a bit from jet lag before adding sleep deprivation.  So on Friday I’ll fly from Atlanta to Wuhan, China, via Detroit and Shanghai.  I’ll get to the hotel late on Saturday evening and will have Sunday to explore Wuhan.  I’ve never been there before, so that should be fun.  Wuhan is the largest city in central China (10M+ people).  It’s also known as one of the “Three Ovens” of China, so it’ll be nice and toasty in late July!

I’ll have meetings in Wuhan on Monday, then fly out to Beijing that evening.  After meetings in Beijing on Tuesday, I’ll fly out to Seoul that evening.  Finally after two days of meetings in Seoul, I’ll fly home on Friday, via Portland.  That’s 7 flights in 8 days, covering 16,861 miles.  Please put your seat back and tray table in their fully upright and locked positions.  And remember, smoking is…not allowed…on any Delta flight.

ATL-DTW-PVG-WUH, WUH-PEK, PEK-ICN, ICN-PDX-ATL