AnneMarie and Andrew

Annemarie and Andrew – Trekking Asia

Ferry from Qingdao


Posted on Jul 2, 2014

Buying Tickets If you want to take the ferry to Japan from Qingdao you can buy the tickets a few days in advance from the ticket office which is near the International Finance Centre. That is about 5 miles (8km) from the port itself and the railway station, plus they add a bit extra to the prices. The ferry for South Korea has a ticket office next to the passenger terminal. We booked our ticket at the passenger port on the day of departure, around 9am. The boats seem to run with almost no passengers so don’t worry about late booking. Because we bought tickets directly from the port they were slightly cheaper and we paid 1,400 RMB for first class. At the time of boarding at 4pm it looked like tickets could still be purchased. We were due to sail at 8pm, but didn’t leave until 12:30am and between 8pm and 10pm a fair few people were still boarding. Currency Only Japanese Yen is accepted on board. No credit cards or other currencies! At the passenger port in Qingdao is a currency exchange counter, but be warned, they only stock ¥10,000 notes, which cost us 620 RMB. You’ll need to buy currency in multiples of ¥10,000. Food Food is about ¥600 per dish and drinks can be bought for ¥150-200. There are a number of restaurants on board. Hot water is provided for free. The restaurant opening and closing in announced on the tanoy system. All announcements are in Japanese and Chinese only, but the opening times of the restaurants are on the notice boards. The timings are very precisely enforced. You select your meal from the menu outside the restaurant and input the code into the machine just inside the main door. Drinks can be bought from vending machines on floor 5 next to the shop and near the information desk. Cabins We paid for first class and got a 4 person cabin with only the two of us in it. In fact only 2 first class cabins are in use on this whole deck. The cabin is reasonably large, we have a window, a table with teapot and cups, a TV and a washbasin. A little wash bag was provided in our cabin. It contained some shampoo, a bar of soap, a shower cap and a small towel. Wash Rooms The toilets are down the corridor as is the onboard onsen, a Japanese style washroom. You get undressed, then wash yourself whilst sitting on a little stool. Shampoo and shower gel is provided beside each wash area. After washing you can relax in the large bath....

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From Chengdu it is possible to visit both Mount Qingcheng and Dujiangyan Irrigation System in a single day. Here’s how we did it: 1. At Chengdu North Station book a one-way ticket to Qingcheng (the end of the line). We went on the 8:30am train. Book a return train from Dujiangyan to Chengdu for around 6:30pm or later. We had time to eat a quick meal of noodles before leaving Dujiangyan. Book the train in advance! The train was full on a Monday morning. 2. Upon exiting the train station turn left. You’ll see the bus station very soon. Take bus 101 to the mountain. The fare is 2 RMB, no change given! Ask the driver for Qingcheng Shan. 3. The mountain is the end of the line. Get off and take a buggy (10 RMB) to the entrance. The walk is beside the road for about 2km. 4. It’s 90 RMB entrance fee. Chose whether to walk up or take the cable car. It’s 35 RMB each way, or 60 RMB return. We walked up in 1hr 10m and took the cable car down after eating in a restaurant near the top. Be warned drinks are expensive, 10 RMB for 500ml bottles, bring your own if you want to save some money. 5. Take the buggy back to the car park for 10 RMB. 6. Get on bus 101 again and ask for Dujiangyan. You’ll go to the train station but then continue into town. It’ll take about 40 minutes and the irrigation system is at the end of the route. Flat rate of 2 RMB with no change given! 7. Pay the 90 RMB entrance fee for the irrigation system. We spent quite a few hours wandering around here. Drinks were expensive here too! 8. Go back to where you got off the bus for the irrigation system and get on bus 4. This will take you to the train station – it is the last stop and takes 40 minutes. Flat rate 2 RMB with no change...

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Langtang Trek: Costs


Posted on Mar 16, 2014

Note 1: We hired a porter for this trek. The going rate for a porter is $15 per day. Note 2: Porters/guides require an almost compulsory 15-20% tip. Note 3: All prices are in Nepalese Rupees. Note 4: At the time of writing 100 NPR = $1.01 = £0.61 (which I round to $1 & £0.60). Note 5: You can pay the real price for the bus ticket by buying it yourself from the bus station at Maccha Pokhari (in Kathmandu), most hotels will charge between 500-700 per ticket for the local bus. Note 6: I have put breakfast as part of the daily cost for each previous day. This is because the evening meal and breakfast is paid the following morning to the lodge marked from the day before. Note 7: On the second day we bought boiling water for our hydration sacks. Towards the end we topped up a hydration sack with a bottle of water. At all other times we used the lodge water supply (for free) and chlorine tablets for purification. Note 8: Due to not feeling well we both skipped an evening meal once and both skipped a breakfast once, bringing down costs to an artificial low. Note 9: Until the final days we bought no chocolate or fizzy drinks. No alcohol for the entire trek. Note 10: Take off the cost of the porter and the Jeep (or get a better deal) and large savings can easily be made. Note 11: We did this trek in mid March and all guest houses asked us to name our price for the room. Others told us they paid nothing for their room, we could probably have had free rooms if we’d asked. Note 12: If you don’t eat in the lodge where you are sleeping at least 1,000 NPR will be added to the price of the room. Guaranteed! Summary of daily costs Day 1: 3,470 NPR Day 2: 2,550 NPR Day 3: 3,580 NPR Day 4: 200 NPR Day 5: 450 NPR Day 6: 8,200 + 2000 NPR Day 7: 2,680 NPR Day 8: 3,240 NPR Day 9: 880 NPR Accommodation + food: 27,250 NPR/$275/£165 Porter + tip: 17,000 NPR/$172/£103 Jeep: 7000 NPR/$71/£42 Total: 51,250 NPR/$518/£311 Average / 9 days:$57.50/£34.50 per day Day 1: Kathmandu – Syabrubesi Taxi to bus station: 340 NPR Bus tickets for 3 people: 1500 NPR Accommodation: Buddha Guest House Double room: 500 NPR 24/7 hot shower Power sockets in room WiFi Lavazza Coffee Clean Good beds Carpet Slow food service Front desk not always available Evening meal Small pot of ginger tea: 180 NPR Dal Bhat x2 : 600...

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Water While Travelling


Posted on Feb 25, 2014

The pricing structure for water means that the more you buy the cheaper it is per litre. Nothing new here, the majority of products are priced in a similar fashion, but for water the quantity increase measured against price increase is very steep. It may cost 20% more to get 100% more water. This is why rather than buy 500ml bottles we buy a 1L or 1.5L bottle, which costs not much more for far more water.. When staying in one place for more than a few days we buy 4L or 5L bottles of water and refill a 1.5L bottle from that. In the Philippines the 1.5L bottle cost P50, the 4L bottle cost P90. 80% increase in price for 400% increase in...

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Mobile Data while Travelling


Posted on Feb 23, 2014

Before setting off on the trip I looked at the cost of using my UK SIM abroad, the prices were ridiculous! 1Mb of data costs an absolute fortune. I switched my contract down to PAYG and decided to carry it as an emergency only. Global SIMs also seemed to offer really bad value for money. Yes, the minutes and data were cheaper than using your own SIM abroad but the cost was still high. Solution: My solution has been to buy a SIM card in each country that I plan on spending longer than a few weeks in. These SIMs are usually picked up cheaply in 7/11 stores anywhere in any town or city. Important: The best value usually comes from buying the cheapest SIM card then looking online for short term plans, such as a data bundle or call and text plan. I bought a tourist SIM in Thailand which had unlimited data for 7 days, I then paid about the same for a 30 day 750mb data plan. That was with Dtac, i found all the plans on their website and was able to purchase using my credit card. In the Philippines a 30 day 1Gb plan cost me £6.70 (P500). I had to put that credit on my phone then by entering a code I was subscribed to that plan. Overseas Calls: Sometimes you just have to call back home. For this I use Skype. I get a good WiFi connection make the call, for the price of a local...

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Travel Money


Posted on Feb 22, 2014

Travelling for longer than a month will require you to get money in the country (or countries) which you are visiting. In the olden days people carried travellers cheques and many advice websites still show this as a good method of getting hold of your cash around the world. But that all seems a bit fiddly and old fashioned to me. As of late 2013 in the UK the Halifax was offering a credit card which allowed purchases and ATM withdrawals for free anywhere in the world. This was my favoured option but I can’t comment further as the Halifax screwed up my application and kept demanding I visit a branch with ID. After this happened 3 times they rejected my application as they claimed I never verified my ID. I trawled the British banks for credit cards without fees for overseas usage. I finally decided upon the Post Office credit card. Free purchases anywhere in the world at a good rate but it costs to use at ATMs. I found a company called Caxton who have a card called the Global Traveller Card. This offers free ATM withdrawal anywhere in the world. I use a combination of option 2 & 3. The credit card is used for in store purchases, hotel bookings and online payments. The Caxton card is used for ATMs so I can get cash in the local currency. Both options give an OK exchange...

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