Panjin’s Red Sea

Probably the only famous part of Panjin (aside from the Panjin Crab dish, apparently) is the red seaweed that grows in late summer and fall. The seaweed in the wetland reserve begins to grow in April but turns red in the fall.

Despite what you might think, it’s totally natural and happens every year. It also covers a huge area so you can take your time as you visit. You can also check out the slightly-horrifying figurines that look like monsters turned into straw. (Let’s hope they don’t come back to life…)

To be perfectly honest, while the sights are unusual and picturesque (on sunny days) I wouldn’t recommend making a special trip just for the seaweed. Transportation out of Panjin isn’t as reliable as you’d think, and it’s not guaranteed to have the big swathes of red you might hope to see.

That being said, if you’re in the area, it makes for a pretty cool sight. It certainly put me in an autumnal mood to see fiery colors, straw monsters and all.

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Travel Tip #3: Bring a Thermos/带上自己的保温杯

(下面有中文版)

It may seem like a no-brainer to bring along a water bottle when traveling, but when traveling in China, you should make that a thermos. You know, the hot water container. It’s not that China doesn’t have cool water (that would be pretty weird, huh?) but that the culture is accustomed to drinking hot water. “You mean tea?” you might say. No, I’m talking about plain hot water. Tea is an entirely different matter altogether.

Why bring this up? Because if you’re from outside of China, you might be expecting to find drinking fountains everywhere. You won’t find them in China, and if you do, I wouldn’t recommend drinking the water. That’s where a thermos comes in handy! See, in lieu of drinking fountains, there are hot water machines. EVERYWHERE. All trains, major transportation hubs, hotels, schools, and other places have them. Some are pretty basic, and some look like rejected robots from the Jetsons. The point is: if you bring a thermos with, you can drink lots of free water (and pop in some tea bags or instant coffee, too!)

What about hot summer days? Or, what if I just don’t want to drink a bunch of hot water? Well, the other alternative is honestly just buying water bottles from convenienve stores (usually 2 rmb, depending on the brand, but personally I can’t taste much of a difference so…no need to get super fancy). If you don’t like the idea of buying water bottles, then you can consider boiling water in your hotel, putting it in the fridge, and then drinking it. Or, best case scenario: if you’re staying in a nice-ish hotel, they often supply free water bottles in each room. You can just take them! But…make sure they’re actually free first.

If you’re going on a longer trip, and especially for train rides, though, I definitely recommend the handy dandy thermos. It doubles as a hand-warmer for cold weather, and it’s just an all-around staple in China.

Some useful Chinese:
保温杯 (bao wen bei) = Thermos (hot water bottle)
白开水 OR 热水 (bai kai shui OR re shui) = Boiled/hot water
矿泉水 (kuang quan shui) = Mineral spring water
我还是要喝冰水 (wo hai shi yao he bing shui) = I still want to drink cold water.

当然旅行者应该自己带一个杯子,但是在中国这个“杯子”应该换成“保温杯”就是为了喝热水。不是因为中国没有冰水(太奇怪了吧)就是因为这个文化习惯喝热水。(“你应该说‘茶’吧!”你说。不,我的意思就是白开水。茶就是完全另一件事情。

为什么要提呢?因为如果你不来自中国,你可能习惯看到公共饮水机,但是中国很少有。(而且说实话我不那么相信它们的卫生)。所以呢,保温杯会给你很大的帮助!中国可能没有饮水机,但是到处都有热水器,包括在火车上,交通核心,学校等等。有些热水器比较简单的,有的有点像《杰森一家人》被拒绝的机器人。主要是你带上保温杯,你随处都可以喝免费的水(也可以泡一杯茶,咖啡等)。

那如果是夏天呢?或者你就不愿意喝热水呢?其实你只能去超市买一瓶矿泉水(基本上两块钱,有些品牌比较贵,但是味道其实都差不多了)。如果你不那么喜欢买很多瓶水,你也可以在宾馆里烧水,然后把烧开的水放在冰箱里,然后放在你的杯子里。或者,如果你在稍微好点的宾馆,有可能你的房间里已经有几瓶水,免费的!就可以把它们拿走……但是你要先确定是否是免费的。

如果你的路线比较长的话,尤其是如果你要坐火车,我还是建议你带上自己的保温杯。它也可以当做你的热水袋,也是中国旅行路上的必需品。

Hannah’s Top 5 Chinese Provinces/中国排名的前五省

(下面有中文版)

When you’ve been to as many provinces as me, it’s hard to list Top 5 or Top 10 Places, since there are just too many to choose from. Do you list cities? Attractions? Local food specialties?

For me, it’s none of the above. I’m going to share with you my Top 5 Favorite Provinces.

5.  Xinjiang
Because Xinjiang is just so different from other places I’ve seen in China, it’s automatically special. The language is different (and not everyone even speaks Mandarin!), and there’s a huge range of natural scenery. You’ve got mountains, a huge desert, ancient rock fortresses, and even lavender fields way up north. What did it for me, though, was Kashgar. I could hear the call to prayer every day from the rooftop of my hostel, and got to spend afternoons strolling through the International Bazaar. Though not easy to get to, definitely a personal favorite.

4.  Sichuan
Sichuan should be on everyone’s Top 5 list. Like Xinjiang, it also has a huge range of scenery. It’s home to many Tibetan nomads, and mountainous, western Sichuan is actually a great place to go if you want to experience Tibetan culture, but can’t get to Tibet Autonomous Region. The capital Chengdu is one of my favorite cities (and this comes from someone who generally doesn’t like big cities). You can see baby pandas here, and as any Chinese person will tell you: eat lots and lots of delicious snacks (if you don’t mind your lips going numb from the spices).

3.  Gansu
This might seem like an odd choice for some. But, with its important place along the Silk Road, and bizarre scenery, it has a special place in my heart. In Gansu, you can find rainbow-colored mountains. You can go mountain trekking. You can see (and hopefully interact with) Tibetan nomadic culture. You can go to the end of the Great Wall and look out into what ancient Chinese believed was the beginning of nowhere. Then, once you venture into Nowhere, you can go to the Dunhuang grottoes and play around in sand dunes like it’s a normal thing.

2.  Yunnan
Many would consider this a top choice, and I can’t blame them. Yunnan is like Pandora’s Box: once you’ve opened its doors, there’s no closing them: You rarely go there just once. Whether it’s the chill, artsy town of Dali, the staggering heights of the Tiger Leaping Gorge Trail, rippled rice terrace fields, the stone forest outside of Kunming, or even the tropical Xishuangbanna, you’ll defintely fall in love with something. I guess the only reason this isn’t in my #1 spot is just because transportation can be iffy at times just because of the mountains, and some spots can get quite touristy during peak seasons. But, it’s still the rare kind of place where just about anywhere you go, it’ll be almost postcard beautiful.

1.  Inner Mongolia
Are you sensing a theme? Indeed, I love big swathes of nature, and Inner Mongolia is exactly that. Inner Mongolia still maintains a sense of wildness, while also being fairly accessible for travelers. (I say “fairly” because it’s friggin’ huge, almost spanning half the width of China). Not only that, but it’s not yet being overrun by tourists outside of public holidays. If you go out east by the Russian border, you’ll be met with sprawling grasslands. In the west, the Gobi Desert (and the Badain Jaran Desert, where there are LAKES IN THE DESERT!) I’ll admit that I’m a bit biased, since I did my epic hitchhiking trip and desert jeep-riding here. I’ve also been told that Inner Mongolia’s climate is most similar to my home-state, Minnesota. All the same, of all places I’ve been in China, Inner Mongolia has left me with the deepest impression.

That’s all for now! What about you? What are your favorite places? Let me know in the comments below. And if you have questions/want travel advice, don’t hesitate to ask!

如果你像我去过了好多省,你会发现其实很难去选五、十个最好的地方,因为地方太多了!要选城市吗?景点?特色菜?

对我来说,不能根据所提到的几方面而选。我要给你们分享我最喜欢的五个省。

五、新疆
因为新疆跟我去过的中国的好多地方完全不一样,就是很特别的。语言不一样(而且有些当地人并不会说普通话!),也有各种各样的自然风景。有高山,茫茫的沙漠,远古的石头构建的小村,北方也有大大的薰衣草花田。但是给我最大的印象就是喀什。我每天从我青年旅社的顶楼上能听到清真寺的宣礼,白天可以去国际大巴扎逛逛。虽然有点麻烦到这个地方,我还是挺喜欢它的。

四、四川
四川应该在每个人的五大最喜欢的地方之一。像新疆也有各种各样的自然风景,但是四川也有很多藏族文化,所以如果你去不了西藏自治区但是还想体验藏族文化,四川的西边是个很好的选择。四川的首都成都是我最喜欢的城市之一(要记得我不那么喜欢城市,所以成都就是很特别的)。在这里你可以看到小熊猫,而且像我每一个中国朋友也告诉我,可以多吃点四川小吃(如果你可以接受麻辣的考研)。

三、甘肃
有些人可能觉得这个选择有点奇怪,但是因为甘肃在丝绸之路的重要位置与它奇怪的风景,对我来说还是在我心中。在甘肃,你可以找到彩虹色的山,去爬山,接触藏族文化,甚至去长城的末端看到茫茫的沙漠,我听说古代人以为那里什么都没有,像天涯。你就可以进去这所谓的“天涯”到敦煌看石窟,然后去沙山玩耍。

二、云南
大部分人肯定会觉得这就是最喜欢的省,而且我可以理解。云南像潘多拉的小盒子:你一打开它的门,你很难去关上,换句话说你肯定不会感觉只去一次就够了。不管是文艺的城市大理,还是高高的虎跳峡,或者是荡漾的天梯,或者昆明附近的石林,或者热带雨林西双版纳,你一定会爱上云南。为什么不是第一个呢?因为对我来说这个天堂有两个缺点:一,因为山太多交通没有那么方便,二,旺季的时候游客超级多。但是云南还是挺了不起,因为到处都像明信片上的图片一样美丽。

一、内蒙古
感到一个主题吗?没错,我就是比较偏爱大自然的地方,所以肯定最爱内蒙古。在内蒙古,你还是能感到一种野性,但是基本上交通还可以。(我说“还可以”因为内蒙古毕竟超级大,是中国宽度的一半!)现在,节日以外游客也不是很多。如果你去内蒙的东边,就靠近俄罗斯,到处都是草原。去内蒙的西边,就是戈壁沙漠(也有阿拉善右旗的沙漠,里面有湖!)其实我会承认我爱内蒙是有点有偏见,因为就是在这个省当中我做了我超级好玩的搭顺风车游记也是我坐吉普车进去沙漠的地点。我在去之前就听说内蒙的温度比较像我的家乡,美国的明尼苏达州。但是,从我的经历来看,我还是感觉内蒙古给我的印象最深刻。

就写到这里吧!你觉得呢?你最喜欢哪一个地方?可以给我留个言。还有,如果有类似于中国旅行的问题,可以随时联系我。

Hard Sleepers/卧铺

(下面有中文版)

In another post, I talked about the different kinds of trains, and also touched upon five different types of slow train tickets: soft sleeper, hard sleeper, soft seat (sometimes), hard seat, and no seat. I’ll write about hard seat/no seat soon enough, but for now, let’s dive into the wonderful world of hard sleeper tickets!

First off, when is it a good idea to get a hard sleeper?

Well, I personally think hard sleeper tickets are the most cost-effective way to do overnight trains. True, you can save a lot of money by getting a hard seat (and if money is a big issue for you, then you might not have a choice), but the major downside to a hard seat is that you probably won’t sleep. (Unless you have buns of steel). For some, it’s a worthwile trade-off to save that much more rmb. However, as I’ve come to appreciate more and more, sleep is a GREAT thing! Get a hard sleeper if you have a long ways to go, and enjoy your night’s rest. (Tip: bring earplugs and a face mask, in case your bunkmates are there to play poker all night…that, or join them!)

So, okay, you’ve chosen a hard sleeper. Which bunk should you get?

I’ve slept in all three beds (top, middle, bottom), and there are advantages and disadvantages to each one.

Bottom bunk: This one is indisputably the best. The ticket is slightly more expensive than the others because of this, but for good reason. As a bottom bunk, you don’t constantly have to climb in and out of bed, AND your bed doubles as a seat with its own side table for when you want to enjoy the scenery. The only disadvantage: others may crowd your bed to use it as a seat, too. But most respect you if you want to lay down. You just have to speak up!

Middle bunk: This is my personal LEAST favorite, if only because it’s the most awkward for me to climb into. Others may have no problem whatsoever getting in, but not me. I have to weirdly swing over from the side ladder and unceremoniously plop into my bed while shimmying in the rest of the way. Some (*coughmostcough*) are more flexible than me and don’t mind. Alas, this one feels awkward to me. Though, two major perks: you can look out the window from your bed (because it’s not too high) and you can still reach the side table by the bottom bunk to leave your water bottle at night.

Top bunk: This one’s the cheapest, and most people don’t like it. I like it more than the middle bunk, if only because it’s easier for me to climb into. I just have to go all the way up the ladder and then fall onto the bed. True, there are some major disadvantages: you have no side table access, you can’t see out of the window, and if you’re tall like me, you also can’t sit up without hitting your head. Major perk: you can easily access your luggage from the top rack, which for a fatty like me who likes to snack, this is a great thing.

Once you get a hard sleeper ticket, the rest is pretty straightforward. The conductors take your ticket and give you a plastic card in exchange so that they can keep track of when you need to get off. There are side tables by the windows across the aisle and enough walking space if you need to stretch your legs.

Sure, planes are faster ways of travel, but sometimes, it’s nice to take the longer route, and this is a good way to do it.

我在另一篇文章提到了火车的类型,也提到了慢车的五种票:软卧,卧铺,所谓的软座,硬座,无座。我稍后会谈到硬座与无座,但是现在要讲的是卧铺!

首先,什么时候应该买卧铺票?

我个人感觉卧铺票是火车最经济的过夜火车票。当然,你可以买硬座票更省钱(如果你的钱很紧张,你可能只有这个选择),但是硬座最大的缺点就是除非你的屁股像钢筋一样硬,绕不然你整夜都不可能睡着吧!有些人可以接受为了省钱而熬夜,但是我慢慢感到其实睡觉是一件非常重要的事情!如果你的路比较远,那就买卧铺,睡个好觉吧。(我建议你也带着耳塞、眼罩,因为有可能其他乘客要过夜玩扑克牌……这样,或者你就加入他们的游戏!)

好了,你选了卧铺。要买那一个床呢?

卧铺的下中上铺我都睡过了,各有利弊。

下铺。这个无疑是最好的。下铺也是最贵的卧铺票,但是贵有贵的道理。有下铺,你就不用断断续续爬上床,加上你的床也可以当做你的座位,包括你自己的小桌子在窗户旁边。这样很方便看风景。只有一个缺点:有可能其他乘客也想坐在你的床上,所以你要睡觉的时候就要胆子大点让他们走。

中铺。其实这个铺是我最不喜欢的,因为我感觉是最难爬上去的。其他人可能感觉没问题,但是我就不行。我要特别尴尬地从小楼梯爬到床边,然后转身,最后将自己一点一点挪进去。有些(大部分吧……)人比我更灵活,所以觉得也没什么。可惜,对我来说就很尴尬。但是,这个床有两个优点:一,你还是可以从床上看窗外,二,你还是可以摸得到下铺的小桌子,刚好把杯子放在那儿。

上铺。这个床就是最便宜的,但是大部分人不那么喜欢。我个人觉得上铺比中铺好,因为对我来说比较好爬的。你主要爬到最高的位置,然后落在床上。那当然有一些比较大的缺点:你没有旁边的小桌子,你从床上不能看到窗外,而且如果你跟我一样个子很高,你坐不起来。但是最大的优点是你从上铺很容易拿到你的行李,所以跟我一样好吃的游客,这个方法最方便偷吃东西。

你拿到卧铺票之后,其他都很直接的。列车长会及时换票并提醒下车,这样他们也清楚你在哪一个站下车。过道旁边也有很多小桌子,很方便看窗外的风景,你也可以在过道上走走,锻炼身体。

当然,飞机是更快的旅行方式,但是有的时候漫游很好,而且卧铺票是最好的选择。

Qinghai Lake/青海湖

(下面有中文版)

One of the most well-known places to explore in Qinghai would undoubtedly be Qinghai Lake. It’s also one of the most congested places, depending on what time of year you go. If you go in July-August, when college students are on summer vacation, the road along the lake will be very crowded with cyclists, all vying for the same “off the beaten track” adventure…in a giant crowd of people doing the same thing. Any other time of year will be less crowded.

Should you avoid biking it altogether because of this? No! It’s a circuit that will take you around the famed salt lake in 3-4 days (depending on your speed) and will show you scenery ranging from snow-capped mountains, to herds of farm animals grazing, to nomadic Tibetans in the fields. You’ll see temples, prayer flags, and of course, the lake!

I will admit that Qinghai Lake has definitely been touched by the hand of Chinese tourism, meaning that many of the prettiest spots have been given poetic names and have entrance fees. Local Tibetans in this area are also well-tuned to the tourist part of this lake, charging people to take pictures of their sprawling fields of rapeseed flowers. There will be random spots where you can ride horses, yaks, and in the small portion with sand dunes, even sled down sand. If this sounds like too much for you, Qinghai has other areas to enjoy, but if you’re like me, you can enjoy this scenery while avoiding the slap of tourist attractions for the most part.

If you want to bike around Qinghai Lake, most start at a small town called 西海镇 (xi hai zhen) and take 3-4 days. There are also buses that go along one half of the lake, to 黑马河 (hei ma he) which is generally seen as “the sunrise spot.”

Or, you could take a gamble like me, and hitchhike. I made my way around the entire lake in 2 days purely by hitchhiking, and even lucked my way into a kind Tibetan family on my way back who took me for a spin in a roadside temple. All things considered, Qinghai Lake might not be the natural getaway you’d hope for, but it’s certainly beautiful nonetheless.

青海省最有名的景点肯定是青海湖,但是它也是青海最拥挤的地方。如果你是7、8月份去青海湖,这就是大学生放假的时候,所以到处都是骑自行车的年轻人。他们都在追求最奇览的经验……而且都在大群当中寻找同一个“没有人经历过”的感觉。其他时间会好一些。

这么多人说明你要放弃把青海湖绕一圈吗?并不是!这一条路会化3、4 天时间把这个有名的盐湖绕一圈(但是也要看你的速度)。你会经过雪山,大群野物,还有藏族农民。你也会看到经幡,寺庙,等等。

我会承认青海湖受到了中国旅游业的影响,说明青海湖最美丽的景点有很美丽的名字,所以有门票。当地人也发现了可以赚钱,所以如果你想拍油菜花的图片,会收钱。有些地方你可以骑马,也可以摸牛拍照。在青海湖的沙漠区,你也可以坐雪橇下沙山。如果你觉得太过分的话,你可以去青海其他地方玩,但是如果你跟我一样,你可以不那么在意这种旅游业的东西,从自己内心去看青海湖。

如果你想骑自行车,大部分游客是从西海镇开始,花大概三、四天时间。青海湖也有汽车到黑马河(被称作“看日出”的地方)。

你也可以跟我一样碰运气地搭顺风车。我花了两天时间把青海湖绕了一圈,全部是从搭车过来的。我第二天运气特别好,就碰到了一个藏族的一家人,带我去路边的寺庙。总体来说,青海湖可能不是你想想的“无人风景区”,但是它还是很漂亮,还是值得赞美的。

Travel Tip #2: Toilet Paper/卫生纸

(下面有中文版)

Now, some of you may already know this, but many of you don’t: most Chinese bathrooms DO NOT have toilet paper in them. Yes, Chinese people still use toilet paper (obviously), it’s just that everyone is expected to bring their own. I’ve speculated about this, and have a couple theories: 1) China is trying to reduce toilet paper waste, 2) With such a large population, it’s easier to make people bring their own rather than constantly have workers stock it, and 3) China hates me (just kidding).

Anyway, the point is that you need to bring your own! You have a couple of options. The most common is buying small packets at really any convenience store in the area (for usually 1 RMB per packet). Some travelers opt for buying them in bulk from a grocery store and using them throughout the trip, which really only works if you’re going to be stationed in the same place for an extended amount of time…otherwise, you’re stuck carting it around. Others pack a small roll of toilet paper before even coming to China (which I recommend if you’re coming from overseas and don’t want one of your first Chinese adventures being “let’s buy toilet paper before I pee my pants”).

But what if you don’t want to constantly buy toilet paper? Well, you have options, good ones being: McDonalds and KFC. Yes, Chinese cities have many of these chain stores, and these friendly reminders of consumerism can be your saving grace. Their bathrooms are almost always reliably stocked with toilet paper (and you don’t have to buy anything to use their bathrooms). Don’t like this choice? Another option is to always ask for extra napkins when you buy/order food. Better yet, pad your pockets with it if you’re staying in a hotel. (Hostels may or may not have their own toilet paper, depending on the price range/quality). You can get pretty creative with where you get your toilet paper, but the biggest takeaway here is that YOU HAVE TO HAVE IT ON YOU!

Maybe even bring extra. You might make a friend.

Useful phrases:
卫生纸 (wei sheng zhi)= toilet paper
餐厅纸 (can ting zhi)= napkin
多给我点餐厅纸吧 (duo gei wo dian can ting zhi ba)= Give me some extra napkins
洗手间在哪里 (xi shou jian zai na li)= Where is the bathroom?

有些人已经知道了,但是有些还不知道:中国的大部分洗手间没有卫生纸。那当然中国人是用卫生纸的,只不过每一个人是应该自己带的。(我考虑了这个问题,有三个可能性;第一,中国就是想要减少纸的浪费;第二,因为人口很大,每个人自己带卫生纸比每一个店断断续续地换卫生纸更方便;第三,中国恨我(开个玩笑)。

关键是你要自己带的!有几个选择。你可以去任何一个商店买一包纸(就一块钱而已)。有些游客去市场买很多包,然后慢慢地用完(如果你一直在同一个地方旅行,这是个好选择,但是如果你要去很多地方,后来会变得有点麻烦因为还是要带上那么多……)。有些人来中国之前买几包(如果你是从国外来的,我建议你还是来之前带一点,要不然的话你在中国的第一个回忆就是“我去找卫生纸的漂游记”)。

那么如果你懒得常常去买卫生纸呢?还是有办法:这就叫麦当劳和肯德基(对呀这种消费主义的符号会救了你的命!)他们的卫生间经常有卫生纸,而且你不用买东西才能上他们的厕所。不想要这样吗?那你每次出去吃饭多拿一些餐厅纸。如果你住在宾馆里,你可以把很多卫生纸塞进你的口袋。(青年旅社未必有卫生纸,如果质量差点的话那肯定没有)。你就要用你的想象力去找办法吧。主要是:一定要带上!

最好是你多带一些。结果呢:你可能会交一个新的朋友。

Travel Tip #1: Bring Your Student ID! 带上你的学生证!

(下面有中文版)

Yes, yes, growing up is a beautiful thing, and we should all embrace it. But, if you look even remotely young enough to be a student, bring along your ID. I’m talking about the crappy plastic ID that’s probably faded from being crammed into your pocket for too long. I’m talking about the one from undergraduate days. THAT one. Doesn’t matter if it’s expired, bring it. (Especially if there’s a lot of English on it.)

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THIS ACTUALLY WORKS

When you go to the ticket counter, show this to them. I try to put on a “I’m so sorry, but this is all I have to prove I’m a student” face and am gently insistent that it’s the real deal. Some don’t even need the effort. If it works, you get half price, which when you’re traveling in China is a really big deal. Everything in China has an entrance ticket. Lakes, mountains, certain parks. This is where the student ID comes in to save the day.

Of course, it’s not fool-proof. Some ticket vendors know exactly what you’re doing or only accept Chinese student IDs. (Or as I unfortunately discovered: only accept undergraduate and below student IDs…as if we grad students are just rolling in the dough…) If they turn it away and refuse the discount, don’t get mad. Because really, you have no right to be mad. Just try again another day.

(And if you think “Wow, this is shady and morally wrong and I think you’re a bad person, Hannah,” you should know that there was a time I signed on for an English tour of the Terra Cotta warriors, and the guide specifically handed out fake student IDs to all of us just to get the discount. My fake ID was a French student, though I forget the name.)

Useful Chinese phrases:
有没有学生票? (you mei you xue sheng piao) = Are there any student discounts?
这是我的学生证。(zhe shi wo de xue sheng zheng) = This is my student ID.
我学生证就是这样,没办法。(wo xue sheng zheng jiu shi zhe yang, mei ban fa) = This is just the way my student ID is, nothing I can do about it.

**If the ticket vendor is still not giving you the discount, count your losses and just pay the full price. No need to make a scene.

当然,长大是一个好事情,而且我们应该尽快适应这个生活阶段。但是,我跟你说,就算你只有那么一点点学生样,你就应该带上你的学生证。哪一个学生证?就是你上大学的学生证。
你到买票的地方, 就给那里售票员看。我经常用一个“我真不好意思,但是就没办法,学生证就这样”的表情,然后温暖地迫使他们使用。有的时候也不用费力。如果有用的话,票会半价,在中国这就是很宝贵的因为任何一个景点都要门票:山,湖,公园等。所以学生票对你大有帮助!

当然也不是每次都是那么容易的。有些售票员很清楚你在干什么,或者只看国内的学生证(或者,像我这样发现:只看本科以下的学生证……似乎我们研究生那么有钱哎呦)。如果他们不接受你的学生证,那你千万不要生气。因为说实话,你就没有权力生气因为学生证毕竟是没用的。你就换个地方换个时间再试试吧。

(还有:如果你读这篇文章感觉我特别坏,我跟你说,有一次我是跟着一个英文旅行团一起去参观兵马俑,然后导游竟然带上了很多假的外国的学生证为了买半价票!我那边假的学生证好像是一位法国女性,但是具体我已经忘了)。

Trains! 火车!

Trains, hands down, are my favorite way of traveling China (behind hitchhiking, of course). They’re economical, and they’re more scenic than taking a plane. If you have the time to spare, hop on a train!

On my last trip out west, I rode very long trains: a 36-hour train out to Xining, a 21-hour train to Lhasa, and then a 48-hour train back to Shanghai. In my time in China, I’ve managed to ride every type of train there is (even the Maglev in Shanghai). While I’ll get into more details about the different places to be within trains, let me first do a quick run-down of train types.

Fast trains
There are two types of fast trains: the G train (高铁, gao tie) and the D train (动车, dong che). These trains are pretty damn fast, and also tend to connect bigger cities together. There’s even a line between Chongqing and Shanghai!

What are the differences between a G train and a D train? A D train is the slightly older model that runs ever-so-slightly slower. The G train is the newer model. A G train is more expensive than a D train, by a little bit.

For example, as of writing this, a G train to Shanghai takes 45 minutes or an hour, and costs 73 rmb (about 10 USD). A D train takes one to one and a half hours to get to Shanghai, but costs 56 rmb (about 5-6 USD). It’s a slight difference, but a worthwile one to know. That being said. There aren’t as many D trains, so the tickets sell out very quickly.
The major perk of the high-speed trains is that, obviously, you get to your destination faster. The hot water machines and bathrooms tend to be cleaner. The only downside (for some) is that people tend to be a bit less chatty on fast trains. Then again, that might be a nice thing, too.

Slow trains
There are several types of slow trains. There are the T trains. There are the K trains, the Z trains, and the trains that are a string of numbers without a letter. These are the trains that tend to make overnight trips, and have different cabins: hard sleeper, soft sleeper, hard seat, and sometimes soft seat (but don’t be fooled: the seats aren’t actually that soft).

The T and Z trains are the faster ones of the bunch, though the K train is also decent. (Fun fact: the Chinese names for these trains all mean “fast,” but in different degrees. T is 特快 which means “especially fast,” Z means 最快 or “the fastest” and K means 快 which is just the plain ‘ol “fast,” which isn’t to say that any of them are actually all that fast. Oh well!) The string of numbers train is definitely the slowest, though depending on where you’re going, you might not actually have a choice of train type. Most train booking places show the amount of time it takes to get there.

I actually do like these slow trains when I have a longer journey to make. They’re meditative in their own rights, you meet an interesting array of people, and you get to see the scenery unfold. If you’re going a short distance (like from Hangzhou to Shanghai) and a fast train is available, though, I don’t really recommend this route. Because for short distances, the slow speed is maddening.

With any luck, you can avoid the L train, which is a very old model sometimes used out west in Xinjiang. How old is it?! The AC unit is just a fan bolted into the ceiling. The hot water machines are still powered by coal. I mean, it was cool for me to experience, but given the choice, I might have chosen a T or K train.

Crazy fast train
This would just be the Maglev. It goes over 300 km/hour, and it’s currently in Shanghai, connecting the airport with the downtown area. When is it a good idea to take it? Aw, just take it. It’s pretty wild to experience something that goes that fast!

So fast it doesn’t exist yet train
Is there something faster than the Maglev? Maybe in the near future! If you check out this link, you can read about some of the super-fast trains that are bound for China!

Those are some train types in China! Stay tuned for more information about hard sleepers, hard seats, and so on.

火车就是我在中国最喜欢的交通方式。坐火车很经济,相比坐飞机在火车上可以看到更美的风景。如果你计划旅行的时间足够的话,我建议你坐火车。

我最近去中国的西边旅行,也坐了很久的火车:36个小时从上海到西宁,21个小时从西宁到拉萨,48个小时从拉萨到上海。我在中国期间也坐了中国所有的火车类型(甚至上海的磁悬浮)。我以后会写到关于火车更详细的文章,但是现在我主要是稍微描写一下中国有什么样的火车。

快车
快车有两个模式:高铁与动车。这两个火车都很快,也把中国的城市、首都连在了一起。从上海到重庆就有!

高铁跟动车的区别来自哪里呢?动车是稍微老一点的,也比高铁稍微慢一点。高铁比较新的,也比动车稍微贵一点。比方说现在坐高铁从杭州到上海只要花45分钟或一个小时,二等座的票要73块钱。动车要花一个小时或一个半小时到上海,但是票只要49块钱。区别不大,但是还是值得考虑的。但是说完这些,要说动车的票比较少,所以比较难买到。

快车最大的好处当然就是速度,你到你的目的地更快。热水器和卫生间比较干净。缺点(对一些人来说)就是别的游客没有那么乐意跟你聊天。但是,说实话,这个也算是一个好处。

慢车
慢的火车有好几个类型。有T火车,有K火车,有Z火车,也有“没有字母,只有很多数字”的火车。这种火车可以过夜,也有好几种车厢:卧铺,软卧,硬座,软座(但是不要被骗了,软座也没有那么软)。

T与Z火车比较快一点点,但是K也还可以。“没有字母只有很多数字”的火车肯定是最慢的,但是按照你的出发点与目的地,你可能也没有其他选择。大部分订火车票的地方会给你看每一个车有几个小时到目的地。

如果我要去比较远的地方,我其实很喜欢慢车。游客可以聊天,你可以见到各种各样的人,也可以看风景慢慢的改变。但是如果你要去稍微近点的地方, 我并不建议你坐慢车。去那么近坐那么慢的车会让人疯掉。

运气好的话,你可以避免L火车。这就是一个超级老的模板,也只是偶尔在新疆用的。有多么老呢?“空调”只是一个风扇挂在车顶上。热水器还是烧煤炭的。我个人感觉很了不起,所以很有味道,但是如果能选其他火车,我肯定会选T或者Z。

超级快车
这就是磁悬浮。这辆车超过300公里的时速。现在只有上海有,也把机场与城市中心连起来了。你什么时候应该坐呢?哎哟,就坐吧!那么快的火车是一个很难忘的体验。

那这就是中国的一些火车。我下次会讲火车的卧铺,软卧,硬座等方面的特点。

I’m Back! 回来了!

As my previous post suggested, I went a-traveling this summer to Qinghai and Tibet Autonomous Region. It was an incredible trip that left me with deep impressions and a desire to go back. (And if you wish to read more in depth, check out my other blog here!)

I’ve actually been back for several weeks now, but have been slow at updating. I promise, more content will be coming! Until then, enjoy your summer!

就像我上一篇文章所说的,我这个夏天去了青海和西藏自治区!这次旅行实在太棒了,也给我留下了很深刻的印象。我希望我能回去!

我其实早已经回来杭州了,但是就懒得认真地写文章。我保证马上会有更多的文章!

祝你夏天好啊~

My next trip! 我下一站

(下面有中文版!)

I’m going to take a break from listing favorite places and write about more pressing matters: my trip to Qinghai and Tibet Autonomous Region next month!

As I’ve mentioned before in other posts, I only have 4 more provinces to travel to in China before I’ve been to them all! In the fall, I’ll be going to China’s northeast, but for the summer, it’s out west. I’ll be experiencing the world’s highest altitude and stunning scenery, and of course, will come back with information and tips to share.

Here’s a breakdown of the trip.

Qinghai
First off, to get to Qinghai, I’ll be taking a 30-hour train from Shanghai to Xining, Qinghai’s capital city. I’ll be in Shanghai for a night because of a literary magazine launch. As the train rolls out west, though, I’ll see the landscape change and enter the Tibetan Plateau.

Since Qinghai is home to Tibetan people, and is historically Tibet, much of what I want to do in this province is related to Tibetan Buddhism. I don’t have many specifics nailed down for the 10 days or so that I’ll be here, but there are three things I want to do: Find the salt lakes, go to a Tibetan village, and go hiking. From what I’ve read online, all of this is extremely doable. There’s the Chaka Salt Lake, which is just to the North/Northwest of Qinghai Lake (the huge one), and there are national parks, and there are several Tibetan villages, including Tongren, to name just one. In addition there is the gorgeous Amnye Machen Mountain, which if I can’t hike around, can at least admire from a distance.
For this part of the trip, my travel will be cheap like the kind I’m used to. I’ll be staying in hostels, taking buses, perhaps even hitch-hiking. But that’s just fine with me!

Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR)
To get to Lhasa, I’ll be taking the Qinghai-Tibet Railway, which has been dubbed “The World’s Highest Railroad,” because of the altitude. While there are flights going into Lhasa, it’s better to go in slowly because 1) the scenery is amazing, and 2) it helps you adjust better to the high altitude.

As for my time in TAR, I will be on a much clearer schedule, because I’ll be going with a small group tour.

To be honest, I’m not a huge fan of group tours, but traveling alone in TAR as a foreigner is simply not the most economical idea. This is because all foreign travelers in Tibet must have a guide and a driver, since we are not allowed to take pubic transportation outside of Lhasa. Likewise, there are areas that foreigners are discouraged from visiting. Because having a guide and a driver can get pretty expensive pretty quickly, I’m joining a group to make it more affordable. That being said, the two company I’m going with (Budget Tibet Tours) seem to have a good itinerary in mind. Tibet Highland Tours also has a very good reputation and offers good services, from what I’ve read.

(By the way, if you want to know a lot more about traveling in Tibet, check out this website. The writer is very friendly.)

The trip I want to take will be an 8 or 9-day journey from Lhasa (where we will see the Potala Palace, which in itself is enthralling) all the way to the Mount Everest Base Camp. (“OMG you’re climbing Mt. Everest??” Hell no! I’m not a mountaineer and would need many years of training to even think of that — this is a “poking the base of the mountain” trip). The journey will take us past glaciers, the world’s highest monastery, and more gorgeous scenery.

Oh, and while I’m in Lhasa, I also plan on riding the World’s Highest Ferris Wheel. (Again, because of the altitude.) It has nothing to do with Buddhism, but seems just odd enough to be great.

Anyway, I’m getting pumped for my trip, and will share details as they come/I hit the road. As for now, that’s just a glimpse of where I’ll be in less than a month!

我现在暂时不写关于中国最喜欢地方的文章,我会先写一些其他的经历:我下个月就要去青海和西藏自治区!

我在其他的文章里已经写到在中国我只剩下四个省还没去过,我马上就可以说我踏遍了中国的每一寸土地!秋天,我会去中国的东北,但是夏天我要往西走。我会体验世界上最高点,也是让所有诗人极力赞美的风景。我当然会把照片,我的旅行经验以及一些建议分享给大家。
下面是我的旅行计划。

青海省
首先,我会坐30个小时的火车从上海到青海的首都西宁。我会直接从上海的一个杂志出版庆祝晚会出发坐火车慢慢往西走。我会渐渐看到中国的不同的景色,一步一步接近青藏高原。
因为青海是藏族人的家乡,也是历史上的西藏,我大部分的活动会跟藏族佛教有关。我会在青海十天左右,还没有很具体的安排,只不过我有几个地方特别想去:盐湖,藏族小镇,爬山。根据我网上查到的信息,这些项目应该不太难。首先有茶卡盐湖(就是在青海湖的西北边),有国家公园,也有各种各样的藏族小镇比如同仁。加上也有超级好看的阿尼玛卿山,如果我爬不了这座山,那最起码我也可以站在远处赞扬它。

这一部分的旅行就会按照我熟悉的方式:我会住青年旅社,坐巴士,有可能也搭顺风车,都没有问题!

西藏自治区
我会坐因为高地而被称作“世界上最高的铁路”的青藏铁路到拉萨。当然拉萨有很多航班,但是坐火车第一,可以看很多景色,第二,会慢慢习惯西藏的高地。
我在西藏自治区的时候我会有一个更系统的安排,因为我要跟一个小旅行团走。
说实话,我不那么喜欢跟团旅行,但是在西藏自治区独自旅行对外国游客来说不划算。这就是因为所有的外国游客必须有自己的导游和司机跟着,而不能在拉萨之外坐公共交通。除此之外,也有些小区外国游客不允许进去。当然,有导游和司机就会很贵,所以我决定了跟一个小旅行团比较划算。因为这样,我在考虑的两个旅行社好像不错。它们的计划看起来很好,而且评价也不错。

我想做的计划就是8天从拉萨(在那里可以看到布达拉故宫)到珠峰大本营。(“哇靠!你要爬珠峰啊?”当然不要!我并不是一个专业的登山者,也没有打算参加专业的训练……只是打算近距离看看而已。)这个路线会经过冰河,世界上最高的寺庙,还有意想不到的美丽风景。
哦,对了,我在拉萨也打算坐因为高地被称作世界上最高的摩天轮。跟佛教并没有关系,我只是感觉很高大上,所以想体验。

我现在就恨不得马上出发,但是还有几个星期做准备。我准备好以后我可以给大家分享更多的细节,现在只能给你们一个大概的描述。