Friday, December 14, 2018

Things to Do While on Transit - Chengdu, China

Read the previous post:

Chunxi Road, Chengdu, China

Before departing for Tibet, I first arrived at Chengdu to catch the train departing for Lhasa. I purposely came a little bit early so that I can enjoy Chengdu first for I long for visiting its Giant Panda Breeding. Fortunately, not only I can visited its Giant Panda Breeding, I can also walked along the buzzling street around my apartment. Here are some interesting places I visited during my one and a half day spent in Chengdu:

Chunxi Road
This road is located in Jinjiang District. From my apartment, Chengdu Memory Space Apartment Taiguli Branch, this road is only five minutes away by walk.  This street was initially built to connect two commercial centers. And now you can find almost everything here, from the famous bubble tea, traditional snacks, fruits, until department store such as Isetan. 

To spend one evening there after a tiring long flight is such a memorable first day in my travel journey. This place would be perfect to be visited whether in days or nights, for when the night come you could only stare at the city lights and already feel happy (at least, it was, for me) :)

Tianfu Square, Chengdu, China

Tianfu Square
About 15 minutes slow walk (and a little stop here and there to take some picture) from Chunxi Road,  I found Tianfu Square. This place is located in The Commercial and Business District and a stop for 2 lines of the metro so this place is quite crowded. But I still can enjoy the super clean open space and stop for a moment to enjoy the hustle and bustle of the city. The famous Mao Zedong Statue is located in front of this square so I must say this is a must visit place for your first visit to Chengdu.

Walking passed by The Mao Zedong Statue, Chengdu, China
Me wearing: Top (Unbranded), Wool Jacket (Marks & Spencer), 
Pants (Unbranded), Bag (Fossil), Shoes (Payless)

Mao Zedong Statue
This famous statue is located in front of Tianfu Square. Actually, nothing to do here other than taking picture with the statue, but for a Chengdu first timer I guess it is nice to see this memory of the founding father of China, no? 

Eating halal noodle at one store in moslem area near Chengdu Museum

Moslem Area Near Chengdu Museum
After get enough with the walk and the night started to crawl in, we were looking for some food and we found that there is a moslem are not far from the square. So we walked there, passed The Chengdu Museum and finally about 8  minutes from Tianfu Square we saw this halal noodle store in the second floor of a bakery (the bread is delicious too) and there we went (So sorry I can't read the store's name, but it is easy to be found in the moslem area). 

I ate a beef noodle and I like it. Just like the usual Chinese dishes this noodle is rich with spicy and oily flavor and some of my friends did't find it suit their taste. But honestly, I like it :)

JinLi Ancient Street

JinLi Ancient Street
One of our tour group member wanted to find a starbucks located in an old traditional building, then there we were, finding it inside JinLi Ancient Street. We first thought that this place is not far from Tianfu Square, but actually it takes us about 20-30 minutes by walk from Tianfu Square because we were taking the long way round, getting lost for we were not reading the map carefully. And we totally walked about 10 kms from our apartment to reach this street.

I didn't find any of the starbucks store's photo in my camera (my bad), but you can see it here. A quiet interesting way to end the day by sipping hot cafe mocha inside the ambience of an old traditional building, I must say. But more than that, I enjoyed my walk along this street, buying traditional snack (grilled fish), eating it while watching traditional dance performance and moreover in a breezy spring day.

One Panda was Busy Eating

Red Panda 

Every panda in The Breeding Center have their own personal detail and characteristic described!
 你好 Er Qiao! 

Can't help but wanted to buy all of the souvenirs in The Souvenir Center

Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding
And finally! Can't believe that I have the time to visit this place I've been longing for so long. It took 30 minutes by taxi to go to this breeding center from our apartment. A really vast and beautiful conservatory to wander around. And for erderly or for some people who only want to enjoy the ambience while sipping on hot drinks, there are few beautiful cafes available which overlooking a serene lake. 

I chose to explore this place on foot but of course for some people it might be tiring, but believe me it was worth it. You could also take the train available, but the queue is quite long. There I could see panda and their (always) funny behavior. There is also red panda, anyway have you ever seen it before? Yes, they are exist!

And my favorite is Panda's cub. The little and active baby is located far in the nursery area. Not much people reach this place, but a little tip for you, really you should visit this nursery area!

Explore Time: 3-4 hours
Entrance Fee: 9 USD

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Capsule Transit KLIA 2 Review

The capsule room of Capsule Transit KLIA 2

The aisle in The Capsule Transit KLIA 2

Amenities which are given: toothbrush, towel, and mineral water

Pardon my tired face (have to rush to airport post doing
 tooth filling and tooth extraction to my patients :P)

The Shared Bathroom

On my last Tibet trip, I have a night layover at KLIA 2 before departing for Chengdu, China. I chose not to stay in the terminal building and booked a 12 hours room in Capsule Transit Hotel just outside the departure section of KLIA 2 which cost USD 30.

There is another transit hotel which is located inside the departure section, Sama Sama Express KLIA 2, but the price is way more expensive and out of my budget (about USD 55).

The pros of staying in Capsule Transit Hotel
  • The price is cheap for a 12 hours room rate
  • Able to take a proper nap compare to staying inside the terminal building
  • The bedding and the pillow is quite proper. The pillow is a medium micro or nanofiber one so it is quite comfortable, and the bed sheet is smooth
  • Able to take a proper shower and even have our hair dried for a hair dryer is provided by the hotel
  • Able to enjoy the free wifi provided by the hotel
The cons of staying in Capsule Transit Hotel
  • Because the hotel is located just outside the departure section, we have to clear immigration first to be able to stay there, which will quite takes time
  • The bathroom is not really clean when I first arrived at 12.00 am that night, probably because a lot of the guest have already used it and the staff hadn't clean it yet
Despite the cons, I will still stay in the hotel rather than waiting for my flight in the terminal building where I probably wouldn't be able to get a proper rest and probably also wouldn't be able to directly enjoy Chengdu right after I arrived there.

For me, this hotel is scored 3.5/5 and I probably will stay there again on my another layover trip in KLIA 2, unless I have more budget to stay in Sama Sama Express :)

Sunday, November 18, 2018

Chengdu-Tibet-Nepal: Budgeting Recap, Documents, Tips & Trick

Read the previous post 
Overland Trip from China to Nepal (Chengdu - Tibet - Kathmandu)

Yamdrok Lake, Tibet, China

Speaking about my Chengdu-Tibet-Nepal trip, some of you requested the details on the budgeting. So, here it is and some tips on reducing the budget.

Chinese Visa

Tibet Permit

1. First thing first, to travel to Tibet we must join one tour operator available from Tibet, we can not do solo travel. So, to join an open trip available is the easy choice. I was joining an open trip from Stalkingnina, how much did it cost? What was included? 

It costs USD 1150. Including:

  • 3 stars accomodation.
  • Meals (breakfast and one dinner time each in Tibet and Nepal, bottled water everyday).
  • Bus for accomodation while on tour including 4 WD car which take us from China border to Kathmandu (the actual price is about USD 32).
  • All permit needed in Tibet (Tibet travel permit and alien's travel permit were included).

2.What kind of documents are needed for a trip to downtown Tibet and Everest Base Camp (EBC)?

  • Chinese Visa: IDR 650.000 (USD 42). Our group asked for help from a tour operator to take care of our visas, it was simpler that way. You could choose any tour operator you trust. 
  • Tibet Travel Permit by Tibet Tourism Bureau. It was included in the open trip payment. 
  • Alien's Travel Permit (could be taken care of once we arrived there, mine was taken care of in Shigatse). Also included in the open trip payment. 
  • Frontier pass needed to travel to border areas, such as Tibet-Nepal border and Mount Everest area. Also included in the open trip payment. 
3. How to approach Lhasa, Tibet?
First thing first, there are several options to approach Tibet. By domestic flight to Lhasa Airport from several Chinese hub cities like Chengdu, Beijing, or Shanghai. So you have to fly to these cities first.  Or by international flight from Kathmandu, Nepal (cost around USD 400) which is the only availabe international flight to Lhasa. Or by train from Chengdu. 
Pros of Each Choices
Chengdu - Lhasa Flight: If you looking for a convenience and fast journey you could choose the   flight // Chengdu - Lhasa Train: If you looking for a once in a lifetime journey with breathtaking view which is operated on the highest railway in the world, then train is the perfect choice.  Moreover, the slow ascent give our bodies time to adjust to the altitude hence the chance of getting accute mountain sickness (AMS) is lower.  
Cons of Each Choices
Chengdu - Lhasa Flight: But it means an immediate ascent which can cause accute mountain sickness (AMS). // Chengdu - Lhasa Train: Even in the soft sleeper compartment you might find it uncomfortable for a 36+ hours journey, not to mention the public toilets which will get dirty and stink overtime. 
My choice
I fly budget airline AirAsia from Lombok to Chengdu (cost USD 204) then continue the journey with Chengdu-Lhasa train. The Chengdu-Lhasa flight and Chengdu - Lhasa train have a similar price, around USD 190. And I take the train (the hard sleeper one) for the sake of the experience. 
Ps. This choice is more budget friendly than flying Lombok-Nepal-Lhasa (which will cost me around USD 470) and I love to explore Chengdu first :)
As for the flight back to Indonesia, I fly Malindo air to Kuala Lumpur (cost USD 165) and continue with AirAsia to Lombok (cost USD 69)

4. What insurance did I use during the trip?

It was not easy finding insurance which covers trip to a a high altitude (more than 3000 m), moreover it was a trip to Everest Base Camp, where the health and safety risk were no kidding. But luckily,  after searching here and there, I found Zurich Passport Worlwide (cost USD 58) and it covers everything. So, next time you need travel insurance, I guess Zurich could be a choice. 

5. What are other expenses along the trip?

  • Nepal Visa. In this trip we went back to Indonesia via Nepal rather than going back to Chengdu. So, a Nepal Visa is needed. A visa on arrival cost USD 25.
  • Hotel while in Kuala Lumpur, Chengdu and Nepal will be shown at detail below.
  • Transportation while in Kuala Lumpur, Chengdu, Nepal will be shown at detail below.
  • KLIA Express while in Kuala Lumpur will be shown at detail below.
  • Entry tickets will be shown at detail below.
  • Souvenirs budget will be shown at detail below. 
  • Culinary delights budget will be shown at detail below. 

I really do hope this post will give you some insight on the important matters on traveling to Tibet. As always if you have any questions feel free to comment below or email me :)