We rented the house yaaaayyyy!! Boy is that a load off my mind. But they come Aug 1st so, much to do! Anyway, here are notes on some planning I have done recently and some from a few months ago. Also, I spent time a few days ago with a woman who just returned from 3 months in Thailand and she said not to plan too much! She said housing, etc. is easier and cheaper when you are there. Good to know.
Shanghai to Nanning
I have been researching the train routes from Shanghai to the border town of Nanning, China. If we go to see the terra cotta warriors in Xi’an from Shanghai (still not sure if we will do that from Shanghai), we will go between Xi’an and Nanning. It is basically along the eastern border of China going south towards Hanoi, Vietnam. I wanted to consider stretching this journey a bit, especially since we just paid almost $1200 for Chinese Visas (good for 10 years but still! We gave cash to the travel agency in Philly’s Chinatown, along with our passports and also our cruise itinerary and a hotel reservation in Shanghai we were told we had to get, and copies of our kids’ birth certificates!!! This better work out!!) So here is a list of towns, and notes to myself about them. p=population in millions, (+/-) indicates whether or not they have a train station, *1-10 is my ranking based on what I read about them in a 2008 lonely planet guidebook I have.
Hangzhou p=6.16 (+) *7, known for beloved-by-poets West Lake
Nanchang p=1.9 (+) *5, city undesirable but nearby ‘bucolic’ villages
Jiujang p=4.7 (+) *5, access to European-style village LuShan
Wuyuan p=0.334 (-) *10, historic villages outside of town, known for best-preserved ancient architecture
Wuhan p=4.23 (+) *8, is on both sides of Yangtze
Changsha p=2.1 (+) *2, Mao-related sights
Pingxian p=0.1? book confusing, there looks to be 2 of these I have to research further
Hengyang p=7.1 (+) *6 near Mt. Heng, impt mtn.
Guilin p=0.67 (+ but not recommended) *5, great scenery but maybe too touristy. Karst land formations may make this closer to a 10, see this article http://www.geotimes.org/apr07/article.html?id=Travels0407.html
Yangshuo p=0.3 (-) *9, backpacker haven, many nearby trips+activities
Liuzhou p=1.2 (+)*6, nearby minority villages
Kaili p=0.153 (+ but recommend bus) *8, markets/festivals/good base for trips
Guiyang p=1.7 (+) *7 minority Ming/Dong festivals
Quinzhou p=0.18 (+) *7 walkable town, puppet museum!
Yichang p=4 (+) *4, gateway for Yangtze cruises
Chongquing p=5 (+)*3 expensive, ancient town restored for tourists
Fenghuang p=1.3(+) *8 minority Miao & Tujia, good sights for walking around
Nanning p=1.3(+) *3 but we have to go, train ends here then there appears to be a bus and train to Hanoi. people stay here to get visas for Vietnam, which cannot be bought at border. We may get visas before leaving US so maybe not spend time in Nanning.
Bangkok to Cambodia
I want to settle in Cambodia for a time, since it seems affordable per budgets from Bootsnall, lonely planet and also Traveljunkies and Globegazers, and it is central on the SE Asia peninsula, bordering on Laos, Thailand, and Vietnam. So, on to Battambang. It is in northwestern Cambodia about 170 km from Angkor Wat and boasts a bamboo railroad, a scenic river trip to Angkor Wat, and a lot of bicycle tours. I chose it as a place to stay a month or so due to its size, bikability, location, and the fact that it is a quieter place than, say, beach/bar/backpacker favorite Sihanoukville. Those days, if I ever had them LOL, are gone for me and I am looking for a family friendly place.
Here is a place with a pool for $235/wk. I like that B’bang is not too far from Thailand.
signing off for now!