Monthly Archives: April 2018

Beijing: The Sacred Way of the Ming Tombs

Exploring Asia Overview
Cathay Pacific B777-300ER Business Class San Francisco to Hong Kong
Cathay Pacific Lounge Review: The Cabin at HKG
Cathay Dragon A330-300 Business Class Hong Kong to Beijing
Lodging Review: Regent Beijing Hotel
Beijing: Dongcheng District
Beijing: The Great Wall
Beijing: Run-ze Jade Garden
Beijing: The Sacred Way of the Ming Tombs
Beijing: The Legend of Kung Fu
Beijing: Tiananmen Square
Beijing: The Forbidden City
Beijing: Hutong Tour via Rickshaw, Tea Tasting, Flying to Xi’an
Lodging Review: Hotel Shangri-La Xi’an
Xi’an: Qing Dynasty Terra Cotta Warriors
Xi’an: Tang Dynasty Dinner and Show
Xi’an Wrap-Up, Flying to Lhasa, Lhasa Home Visit
Lodging Review: Shangri-La Hotel Lhasa
Lhasa: Jokhang Temple and Barkhor Market
Lhasa: Canggu Nunnery and Sera Monastery
Lhasa: Potala Palace
Leaving Lhasa and Flying to Chongqing
Viking Emerald
Shibaozhai Temple
Cruising the Three Gorges
Three Gorges Dam
Jingzhou City Walls Tour
Wuhan: Hubei Bells Performance and Provincial Museum
Shanghai: Shanghai Museum
Lodging Review: Fairmont Peace Hotel, Shanghai
Shanghai: Old Shanghai and Yuyan Gardens
Lodging Review: The New Otani Tokyo Hotel
Tokyo: City Tour
Mt. Fuji and Hakone Tour Returning by Shinkansen
ANA Suites Lounge Review, Tokyo Narita
All Nippon Airways B777-300ER First Class Tokyo Narita to Houston

Our next stop was a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Sacred Way of the Ming Tombs. The tombs are a collection of mausoleums built by thirteen of the emperors of the Ming dynasty. The third emperor of the dynasty was the first to have his tomb constructed here in the early 15th century. The last emperor buried here was the 17th Ming emperor who committed suicide in 1644. The tomb site was selected based on the principles of feng shui which indicate that bad spirits and evil winds come from the north, so the tombs are built on a south-facing slope of Tianshou Mountain in an effort to deflect them.

I don’t feel we really got a good feel for this attraction but it was due to the weather. It rained steadily the entire time we were there, which meant we hustled through it faster than we likely would have otherwise. There were no vendors out either which no doubt saved some of us some money but it would have been interesting to see.

The Sacred Way is named as such because it leads from the valley to the foot of the mountain where the tombs are found. This map of the site illustrates the Sacred Way and its relationship to the tombs.

Sacred Way Map – The tombs are in the red area and the yellow line indicates the pairs of statues that we walked past

Continue reading

Advertisements
Categories: Asia, China, River Cruise, Tours, UNESCO World Heritage Site, Viking | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Beijing: Run-ze Jade Garden

Exploring Asia Overview
Cathay Pacific B777-300ER Business Class San Francisco to Hong Kong
Cathay Pacific Lounge Review: The Cabin at HKG
Cathay Dragon A330-300 Business Class Hong Kong to Beijing
Lodging Review: Regent Beijing Hotel
Beijing: Dongcheng District
Beijing: The Great Wall
Beijing: Run-ze Jade Garden
Beijing: The Sacred Way of the Ming Tombs
Beijing: The Legend of Kung Fu
Beijing: Tiananmen Square
Beijing: The Forbidden City
Beijing: Hutong Tour via Rickshaw, Tea Tasting, Flying to Xi’an
Lodging Review: Hotel Shangri-La Xi’an
Xi’an: Qing Dynasty Terra Cotta Warriors
Xi’an: Tang Dynasty Dinner and Show
Xi’an Wrap-Up, Flying to Lhasa, Lhasa Home Visit
Lodging Review: Shangri-La Hotel Lhasa
Lhasa: Jokhang Temple and Barkhor Market
Lhasa: Canggu Nunnery and Sera Monastery
Lhasa: Potala Palace
Leaving Lhasa and Flying to Chongqing
Viking Emerald
Shibaozhai Temple
Cruising the Three Gorges
Three Gorges Dam
Jingzhou City Walls Tour
Wuhan: Hubei Bells Performance and Provincial Museum
Shanghai: Shanghai Museum
Lodging Review: Fairmont Peace Hotel, Shanghai
Shanghai: Old Shanghai and Yuyan Gardens
Lodging Review: The New Otani Tokyo Hotel
Tokyo: City Tour
Mt. Fuji and Hakone Tour Returning by Shinkansen
ANA Suites Lounge Review, Tokyo Narita
All Nippon Airways B777-300ER First Class Tokyo Narita to Houston

For our lunch stop on the way back from the Wall, it was not really a surprise that the restaurant was also a jade showroom. Hey, we knew we’d have at least a couple of these type of stops so I guess it was just as well that we got one of them out of the way on the first day.

Our guide from the shop spoke great English (as did many of the salespeople) and we first walked past a couple of workers who were polishing and shaping the jade, which was actually pretty cool to see.

Continue reading

Categories: Asia, China, River Cruise, Tours, Viking | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

Beijing: The Great Wall

Exploring Asia Overview
Cathay Pacific B777-300ER Business Class San Francisco to Hong Kong
Cathay Pacific Lounge Review: The Cabin at HKG
Cathay Dragon A330-300 Business Class Hong Kong to Beijing
Lodging Review: Regent Beijing Hotel
Beijing: Dongcheng District
Beijing: The Great Wall
Beijing: Run-ze Jade Garden
Beijing: The Sacred Way of the Ming Tombs
Beijing: The Legend of Kung Fu
Beijing: Tiananmen Square
Beijing: The Forbidden City
Beijing: Hutong Tour via Rickshaw, Tea Tasting, Flying to Xi’an
Lodging Review: Hotel Shangri-La Xi’an
Xi’an: Qing Dynasty Terra Cotta Warriors
Xi’an: Tang Dynasty Dinner and Show
Xi’an Wrap-Up, Flying to Lhasa, Lhasa Home Visit
Lodging Review: Shangri-La Hotel Lhasa
Lhasa: Jokhang Temple and Barkhor Market
Lhasa: Canggu Nunnery and Sera Monastery
Lhasa: Potala Palace
Leaving Lhasa and Flying to Chongqing
Viking Emerald
Shibaozhai Temple
Cruising the Three Gorges
Three Gorges Dam
Jingzhou City Walls Tour
Wuhan: Hubei Bells Performance and Provincial Museum
Shanghai: Shanghai Museum
Lodging Review: Fairmont Peace Hotel, Shanghai
Shanghai: Old Shanghai and Yuyan Gardens
Lodging Review: The New Otani Tokyo Hotel
Tokyo: City Tour
Mt. Fuji and Hakone Tour Returning by Shinkansen
ANA Suites Lounge Review, Tokyo Narita
All Nippon Airways B777-300ER First Class Tokyo Narita to Houston

Monday was the first official day of the tour and we met our Viking guide, who went by the English name Jack. All the Asian Viking staff both on the tours and on the boat all had an English name which was so helpful to us. We later learned there was another group, led by Leo, doing the exact same tour we were so our groups were often at sites at the same time.

Our groups were kept to reasonable sizes: 31 for our group and probably 26 for Leo’s group. This made it easy to fit one guide’s group on a motorcoach (except in Tibet but that’s a story for later). We got to know each other over the course of the next two weeks and all-in-all we had a pretty good group. While there were certainly some folks we got along with better than others there were no really obnoxious folks in our little band.

After an early breakfast we boarded the motorcoach and drove about 1.5 hours northwest of the city to the area of Badaling where there’s a well-preserved section of the Great Wall as well as all of the tourist shops. It rained the whole time on our drive out and it rained most of the time we were climbing the wall and I do mean climbing. I was surprised at how steep it was in sections – and some without stairs so it meant walking up steep inclines on slick, centuries-old stones. The only good thing about the weather is that it kept the tourist traffic down. I’ve seen photos where the walkways were so crowded you could barely move but that was not the case during our vist. Unfortunately it meant our photos didn’t come out great but it was definitely a thrill to get to see it.

I didn’t realize that different Warring States had built different sections, some as early as between the 8th and 5th centuries BC, continuing all the way into the 12th century AD. It was apparently Emperor Ming who stitched the various sections together in the 14th century to help prevent Mongol raids.

This display welcomes visitors. It’s along one side of the walkway up to the entrance.

Welcome sign at the Great Wall

Continue reading

Categories: Asia, China, River Cruise, Tours, UNESCO World Heritage Site, Viking | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Beijing: Dongcheng District

Exploring Asia Overview
Cathay Pacific B777-300ER Business Class San Francisco to Hong Kong
Cathay Pacific Lounge Review: The Cabin at HKG
Cathay Dragon A330-300 Business Class Hong Kong to Beijing
Lodging Review: Regent Beijing Hotel
Beijing: Dongcheng District
Beijing: The Great Wall
Beijing: Run-ze Jade Garden
Beijing: The Sacred Way of the Ming Tombs
Beijing: The Legend of Kung Fu
Beijing: Tiananmen Square
Beijing: The Forbidden City
Beijing: Hutong Tour via Rickshaw, Tea Tasting, Flying to Xi’an
Lodging Review: Hotel Shangri-La Xi’an
Xi’an: Qing Dynasty Terra Cotta Warriors
Xi’an: Tang Dynasty Dinner and Show
Xi’an Wrap-Up, Flying to Lhasa, Lhasa Home Visit
Lodging Review: Shangri-La Hotel Lhasa
Lhasa: Jokhang Temple and Barkhor Market
Lhasa: Canggu Nunnery and Sera Monastery
Lhasa: Potala Palace
Leaving Lhasa and Flying to Chongqing
Viking Emerald
Shibaozhai Temple
Cruising the Three Gorges
Three Gorges Dam
Jingzhou City Walls Tour
Wuhan: Hubei Bells Performance and Provincial Museum
Shanghai: Shanghai Museum
Lodging Review: Fairmont Peace Hotel, Shanghai
Shanghai: Old Shanghai and Yuyan Gardens
Lodging Review: The New Otani Tokyo Hotel
Tokyo: City Tour
Mt. Fuji and Hakone Tour Returning by Shinkansen
ANA Suites Lounge Review, Tokyo Narita
All Nippon Airways B777-300ER First Class Tokyo Narita to Houston

The Regent Beijing is located in the Dongcheng District, a 16.16 square mile area which seems to cover the geographical city center. The Forbidden City, Tienanmen Square and Mao’s Tomb are all considered to be inside this district along with Jingshan Park, the National Museum of China and the Lama Temple. As of 2010 over 900,000 people live within this district.

Dongcheng in relation to the rest of Beijing

Continue reading

Categories: Asia, China, River Cruise, Viking | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

Lodging Review: Regent Beijing Hotel

Exploring Asia Overview
Cathay Pacific B777-300ER Business Class San Francisco to Hong Kong
Cathay Pacific Lounge Review: The Cabin at HKG
Cathay Dragon A330-300 Business Class Hong Kong to Beijing
Lodging Review: Regent Beijing Hotel
Beijing: Dongcheng District
Beijing: The Great Wall
Beijing: Run-ze Jade Garden
Beijing: The Sacred Way of the Ming Tombs
Beijing: The Legend of Kung Fu
Beijing: Tiananmen Square
Beijing: The Forbidden City
Beijing: Hutong Tour via Rickshaw, Tea Tasting, Flying to Xi’an
Lodging Review: Hotel Shangri-La Xi’an
Xi’an: Qing Dynasty Terra Cotta Warriors
Xi’an: Tang Dynasty Dinner and Show
Xi’an Wrap-Up, Flying to Lhasa, Lhasa Home Visit
Lodging Review: Shangri-La Hotel Lhasa
Lhasa: Jokhang Temple and Barkhor Market
Lhasa: Canggu Nunnery and Sera Monastery
Lhasa: Potala Palace
Leaving Lhasa and Flying to Chongqing
Viking Emerald
Shibaozhai Temple
Cruising the Three Gorges
Three Gorges Dam
Jingzhou City Walls Tour
Wuhan: Hubei Bells Performance and Provincial Museum
Shanghai: Shanghai Museum
Lodging Review: Fairmont Peace Hotel, Shanghai
Shanghai: Old Shanghai and Yuyan Gardens
Lodging Review: The New Otani Tokyo Hotel
Tokyo: City Tour
Mt. Fuji and Hakone Tour Returning by Shinkansen
ANA Suites Lounge Review, Tokyo Narita
All Nippon Airways B777-300ER First Class Tokyo Narita to Houston

We took a car service from the airport to the hotel. We used the folks at Tour Beijing and paid extra for an English-speaking guide. We also paid for a vehicle that could seat six and that turned out to be a very good thing because each of the three of us had a very large bag and a carry-on and I also had a backpack. We ended up with a mini-van and the back was full. I had thought we were paying for an extra person to give us a tour as we made our way to the hotel but that was not the case. As a side note, our friends who arrived later that evening were told no English-speaking guides were available after 9 PM.

We arrived at the Regent Beijing in the early afternoon. While I had seen the photos on their website I was still impressed with how elegant the hotel seemed. Lots of marble-like finishes, very understated and classy. The lobby was quite large with a water feature in the center and the reception desks to the left. To the right was an elevator that led up to a Morton’s of Chicago steakhouse.

Regent Beijing Lobby

Regent Beijing Lobby Chandelier

Continue reading

Categories: Asia, China, Hotel, Lodging Review, Regent, River Cruise, Viking | Tags: , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Register for Marriott’s Newest MegaBonus

Marriott has a new targeted MegaBonus promotion for stays between April 16 (Monday) and July 20, 2018. Beginning with your third paid night’s stay during this timeframe you’ll earn 750 bonus Marriott Rewards points per night, up to a maximum of 36,000 points. You must book via the Marriott website or the Marriott app to earn the bonus points.  You must register by June 30 to be eligible.  The T&C do not state that you must register before staying to earn your bonus points but don’t take a chance – go ahead and register today even if you have no plans for a Marriott stay.  It’s free and it can’t hurt!

Only one room per hotel will be counted toward the member’s nights or stay and if you’re choosing to receive airline miles instead of hotel points on your stay then there’s no bonus. Ritz-Carlton stays DO country for this promotion.

If you were targeted for this offer you should have received an email about it but you can always check the MegaBonus site to be sure.

Categories: Hotel, Hotel Promos, Marriott | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

Cathay Dragon A330-300 Business Class Hong Kong to Beijing

Exploring Asia Overview
Cathay Pacific B777-300ER Business Class San Francisco to Hong Kong
Cathay Pacific Lounge Review: The Cabin at HKG
Cathay Dragon A330-300 Business Class Hong Kong to Beijing
Lodging Review: Regent Beijing Hotel
Beijing: Dongcheng District
Beijing: The Great Wall
Beijing: Run-ze Jade Garden
Beijing: The Sacred Way of the Ming Tombs
Beijing: The Legend of Kung Fu
Beijing: Tiananmen Square
Beijing: The Forbidden City
Beijing: Hutong Tour via Rickshaw, Tea Tasting, Flying to Xi’an
Lodging Review: Hotel Shangri-La Xi’an
Xi’an: Qing Dynasty Terra Cotta Warriors
Xi’an: Tang Dynasty Dinner and Show
Xi’an Wrap-Up, Flying to Lhasa, Lhasa Home Visit
Lodging Review: Shangri-La Hotel Lhasa
Lhasa: Jokhang Temple and Barkhor Market
Lhasa: Canggu Nunnery and Sera Monastery
Lhasa: Potala Palace
Leaving Lhasa and Flying to Chongqing
Viking Emerald
Shibaozhai Temple
Cruising the Three Gorges
Three Gorges Dam
Jingzhou City Walls Tour
Wuhan: Hubei Bells Performance and Provincial Museum
Shanghai: Shanghai Museum
Lodging Review: Fairmont Peace Hotel, Shanghai
Shanghai: Old Shanghai and Yuyan Gardens
Lodging Review: The New Otani Tokyo Hotel
Tokyo: City Tour
Mt. Fuji and Hakone Tour Returning by Shinkansen
ANA Suites Lounge Review, Tokyo Narita
All Nippon Airways B777-300ER First Class Tokyo Narita to Houston

About 10 minutes before boarding time one of my companions and I left our third companion in The Cabin (his flight was an hour later) and headed back upstairs to our gate, which was only about two gates away from the entrance to The Cabin.

Boarding started on time and we entered through door 1L, turned right and went through the small (8 seats) first class cabin and into the first of the two business class cabins.

KA 900 – HKG-PEK
Departs: 8:00 AM
Arrives: 11:15 AM
Duration: 3h 20m
Aircraft: A330-300
Seat: 12C (Business Class)

Though our flight was on Cathay’s regional subsidiary, Dragon Air, I can’t imagine there was much difference between this plane and the Cathay B777 our friend flew an hour later.

I didn’t seem to get a photo of the seats though they reminded me a bit of those in Turkish Business Class. Seat controls were built into the side of the armrest, above the magazine holder.

Seat Controls

Continue reading

Categories: Award Travel, Cathay Pacific, Dragonair, OneWorld | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Cathay Pacific Lounge Review: The Cabin at HKG

Exploring Asia Overview
Cathay Pacific B777-300ER Business Class San Francisco to Hong Kong
Cathay Pacific Lounge Review: The Cabin at HKG
Cathay Dragon A330-300 Business Class Hong Kong to Beijing
Lodging Review: Regent Beijing Hotel
Beijing: Dongcheng District
Beijing: The Great Wall
Beijing: Run-ze Jade Garden
Beijing: The Sacred Way of the Ming Tombs
Beijing: The Legend of Kung Fu
Beijing: Tiananmen Square
Beijing: The Forbidden City
Beijing: Hutong Tour via Rickshaw, Tea Tasting, Flying to Xi’an
Lodging Review: Hotel Shangri-La Xi’an
Xi’an: Qing Dynasty Terra Cotta Warriors
Xi’an: Tang Dynasty Dinner and Show
Xi’an Wrap-Up, Flying to Lhasa, Lhasa Home Visit
Lodging Review: Shangri-La Hotel Lhasa
Lhasa: Jokhang Temple and Barkhor Market
Lhasa: Canggu Nunnery and Sera Monastery
Lhasa: Potala Palace
Leaving Lhasa and Flying to Chongqing
Viking Emerald
Shibaozhai Temple
Cruising the Three Gorges
Three Gorges Dam
Jingzhou City Walls Tour
Wuhan: Hubei Bells Performance and Provincial Museum
Shanghai: Shanghai Museum
Lodging Review: Fairmont Peace Hotel, Shanghai
Shanghai: Old Shanghai and Yuyan Gardens
Lodging Review: The New Otani Tokyo Hotel
Tokyo: City Tour
Mt. Fuji and Hakone Tour Returning by Shinkansen
ANA Suites Lounge Review, Tokyo Narita
All Nippon Airways B777-300ER First Class Tokyo Narita to Houston

Our flight to Hong Kong landed a few minutes early and the three of us followed the signs to the gate for our next flight. The closest lounge was The Cabin. We saw the little “cabin” on the main concourse and found that it was basically just a signpost for the elevator or stairs that would take us down to the actual lounge.

My first impression was that it was a bit dark inside but part of that was due to the overcast day. Once we got past the main entrance there were massive windows all along one wall, overlooking the tarmac. In some ways it was a great view for avgeeks but it appeared all the planes were for shorthaul flights and they were all Cathay or Cathay Dragon branded so there wasn’t a whole lot of variety. Still, if the operations side of an airport is of interest to you, this could be a fun place to wait for your next flight.

Tarmac View from The Cabin HKG

Continue reading

Categories: Airline Clubs, Cathay Pacific, Hong Kong | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

Cathay Pacific B777-300ER Business Class San Francisco to Hong Kong

Exploring Asia Overview
Cathay Pacific B777-300ER Business Class San Francisco to Hong Kong
Cathay Pacific Lounge Review: The Cabin at HKG
Cathay Dragon A330-300 Business Class Hong Kong to Beijing
Lodging Review: Regent Beijing Hotel
Beijing: Dongcheng District
Beijing: The Great Wall
Beijing: Run-ze Jade Garden
Beijing: The Sacred Way of the Ming Tombs
Beijing: The Legend of Kung Fu
Beijing: Tiananmen Square
Beijing: The Forbidden City
Beijing: Hutong Tour via Rickshaw, Tea Tasting, Flying to Xi’an
Lodging Review: Hotel Shangri-La Xi’an
Xi’an: Qing Dynasty Terra Cotta Warriors
Xi’an: Tang Dynasty Dinner and Show
Xi’an Wrap-Up, Flying to Lhasa, Lhasa Home Visit
Lodging Review: Shangri-La Hotel Lhasa
Lhasa: Jokhang Temple and Barkhor Market
Lhasa: Canggu Nunnery and Sera Monastery
Lhasa: Potala Palace
Leaving Lhasa and Flying to Chongqing
Viking Emerald
Shibaozhai Temple
Cruising the Three Gorges
Three Gorges Dam
Jingzhou City Walls Tour
Wuhan: Hubei Bells Performance and Provincial Museum
Shanghai: Shanghai Museum
Lodging Review: Fairmont Peace Hotel, Shanghai
Shanghai: Old Shanghai and Yuyan Gardens
Lodging Review: The New Otani Tokyo Hotel
Tokyo: City Tour
Mt. Fuji and Hakone Tour Returning by Shinkansen
ANA Suites Lounge Review, Tokyo Narita
All Nippon Airways B777-300ER First Class Tokyo Narita to Houston

Three of us were flying to Beijing on Cathay Pacific from San Francisco via Hong Kong. Two of us bought positioning flights and arrived a day or two early while our third companion was able to get economy award seats all the way from Nashville. By early afternoon our luggage was in storage at our airport hotel and we spent the afternoon enjoying a late lunch and just killing time at the mall until we could go to the airport.

Our flight was due to depart at 12:50 AM and the Cathay counter doesn’t open until 8:30 PM. We’d arrived at the airport a bit before that so had to hang out and wait for the counter to open. After seeing the chaos that was the Economy check-in line, we were so glad to be in premium cabins – one of us in first, the other two in business.

As there are only six first class seats, our companion seated there was through the check-in process quite quickly. It obviously took a bit longer for the two of us in business class but the line still moved quite efficiently. We all received our invitations to the Cathay lounge and were directed to the A gates security line.

While there was a priority line for premium cabin passengers, it didn’t move all that quickly as there were flights by several airlines leaving at the same time and there were language barriers as well, with many non-English speakers moving through. They were having everyone move through the nude-o-scope machines until the line got so backed up that they allowed ten or so of us to go through the regular metal detector. I was thrilled to be in the right place at the right time for that.

We made our way to the Cathay lounge and were granted access. After walking around all day, a couple of us wanted to take showers and that was so refreshing. The shower rooms were clean and plenty big enough that your clothes didn’t get splashed while you were showering. It really made a difference for the long flight ahead.

Continue reading

Categories: Award Travel, Cathay Pacific, OneWorld | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

Trip Report: Exploring Asia

Exploring Asia Overview
Cathay Pacific B777-300ER Business Class San Francisco to Hong Kong
Cathay Pacific Lounge Review: The Cabin at HKG
Cathay Dragon A330-300 Business Class Hong Kong to Beijing
Lodging Review: Regent Beijing Hotel
Beijing: Dongcheng District
Beijing: The Great Wall
Beijing: Run-ze Jade Garden
Beijing: The Sacred Way of the Ming Tombs
Beijing: The Legend of Kung Fu
Beijing: Tiananmen Square
Beijing: The Forbidden City
Beijing: Hutong Tour via Rickshaw, Tea Tasting, Flying to Xi’an
Lodging Review: Hotel Shangri-La Xi’an
Xi’an: Qing Dynasty Terra Cotta Warriors
Xi’an: Tang Dynasty Dinner and Show
Xi’an Wrap-Up, Flying to Lhasa, Lhasa Home Visit
Lodging Review: Shangri-La Hotel Lhasa
Lhasa: Jokhang Temple and Barkhor Market
Lhasa: Canggu Nunnery and Sera Monastery
Lhasa: Potala Palace
Leaving Lhasa and Flying to Chongqing
Viking Emerald
Shibaozhai Temple
Cruising the Three Gorges
Three Gorges Dam
Jingzhou City Walls Tour
Wuhan: Hubei Bells Performance and Provincial Museum
Shanghai: Shanghai Museum
Lodging Review: Fairmont Peace Hotel, Shanghai
Shanghai: Old Shanghai and Yuyan Gardens
Lodging Review: The New Otani Tokyo Hotel
Tokyo: City Tour
Mt. Fuji and Hakone Tour Returning by Shinkansen
ANA Suites Lounge Review, Tokyo Narita
All Nippon Airways B777-300ER First Class Tokyo Narita to Houston

For the last several years a small group of us have taken trips together, mostly to Europe, like our cruise down the Danube last year or our Rhine cruise in 2014. This year we decided to look to the other side of the world and visit Asia. In Europe, even if I don’t speak the native language, I usually feel like I can muddle my way around because there are typically English-speakers, I have retained a little of my high school French and often I can figure out foreign words based on their spelling. But exploring Asia without a guide was not something I was comfortable doing. Although I know lots of people have disdain for guided tours, I’ve come to appreciate them and enjoy the extras that can come with traveling as a group.

As we’ve done in the past, we booked with Viking River Cruises and signed up for their Roof of the World tour that includes stops in Beijing, Xi’an (home of the terra cotta warriors) and Lhasa in the mountains of Tibet. From there we flew to Chongqing where we boarded the Viking Emerald – a much larger ship than we sail in Europe – and floated down the Yangtze River to Wuhan and from there flew to Shanghai to end our tour. Three of us decided that since we were flying to the other side of the world anyway, we might as well take the extension to Tokyo for an extra four nights.

Roof of the World tour itinerary
(image courtesy Viking River Cruises)

Continue reading

Categories: Asia, Award Travel, China, Japan, River Cruise, Viking | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.