Monthly Archives: April 2018

Beijing: The Forbidden City

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 approached the Forbidden City from Tiananmen Square via a tunnel that crosses under the busy street running between the two sites. After seeing the way people drive in busy sections of China, I was very glad we didn’t have to dodge any cars!

The Tiananmen Gate faces the square of the same name and is the main entrance

The palace is the former seat of the throne of Imperial China which began with the Ming Dynasty in 1420 and lasted through the end of the Qing (“ching”) Dynasty in 1912 – nearly 500 years. It was both the home of the emperor and his household and the ceremonial and political center of the Chinese government. If you’ve seen the movie The Last Emperor starring John Lone, it was the first feature film ever authorized by the PRC to be filmed inside the Forbidden City.

An ornamental column with the dragon facing out, waiting for the emperor to return

The name “Forbidden City” is a translation of its Chinese name that literally means “Purple Forbidden City”. The purple would refer to the North Star which in Chinese astrology refers to the heavenly abode of the Celestial Emperor and thus the emperor’s residence is its counterpart here on earth.

It is a massive complex of over 980 buildings covering over 180 acres. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site as the largest collection of preserved ancient wooden structures in the world.

The moat is diverted to create a stream running through the grounds.  This stream is called the Golden Water:

A view from one of the bridges over the Golden Water

Though the design of the walls and the buildings were different, the general flow of the buildings reminded me a bit of the Topkapi Palace complex in Istanbul: Entering via a gate into a courtyard, then through another gate into a courtyard and so on until finally reaching the family quarters at the far end. I guess it’s not surprising as Topkapi was built a few decades after this palace so it’s very possible this was a tried-and-true style of the times.

The Meridian Gate is now the site of the ticket counter

This is the Hall of Supreme Harmony is the largest surviving wood structure in China. It was here that the Emperor held court though in its later years as court was held more often, a less grand location was used instead. By then this hall was used mostly for ceremonies including coronations and imperial weddings.

The Hall of Supreme Harmony

This is throne in the Hall of Preserving Harmony, which was used for rehearsing ceremonies and was where imperial examinations, to see who was qualified to become members of the bureaucracy, were held.

Throne in the Hall of Preserving Harmony

There were several interesting sculptures around including Cranes and the Bixi Turtle like we’d seen the day before at the Sacred Way of the Ming Tombs:

Crane Sculpture

Bixi Turtle

And we saw at least a few things that we didn’t know what they were for but they looked interesting:

Maybe for keeping water hot?

I have no idea what this is for!

The corners of most of the roofs have a line of statuettes featuring a man riding a phoenix followed by an imperial dragon. The number of statuettes indicates how important the building is. The Hall of Supreme Harmony had 10, the only building permitted to have so many during imperial times.

Statuettes on the Roof

This is the throne in the Palace of Heavenly Purity, which was initially the residence of the Emperor but during the Qing dynasty became the Emperor’s audience hall.

Throne in the Hall of Preserving Harmony

Toward the back of the complex was the residence of the Empress.

The Dragon (Emperor) and the Deer (Empress) outside the residence of the Empress.

A glimpse into the Palace of Earthly Tranquility, the residence of the Empress

In the Imperial Garden were a number of rocks worn by water over time, making for some interesting art pieces.

A pagoda in the Imperial Garden

The moat is 171 feet wide and 20 feet deep.

The Tongzi Moat

The walls are 26 feet high and over 28 feet wide at the base though they taper to just under 22 feet at the top. Their core is rammed earth with layers of baked bricks on both sides.

Walls of the Forbidden City

We were thrilled that the rain finally let up when we were about halfway through the tour. We didn’t get to visit any of the internal exhibits of jade, porcelain or artwork but it was enough to soak in all the parts we did see. My pictures don’t come close to doing it justice – it’s just a vast, amazing place.

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

Earn 1000 AA Miles for Hyatt House or Hyatt Place stays

American Airlines and Hyatt are teaming up to allow you to earn 1000 miles for each stay at a Hyatt Place or Hyatt House property between February 20 and June 30, 2018. You must register by this Monday, April 30th. The date of your stay is determined by your checkout date.

When you check into a Hyatt Place or Hyatt House, you must choose one of these options:

  • Earn 1000 AAdvantage® bonus miles plus the standard 500 AAdvantage® miles for your stay OR
  • Earn 1000 AAdvantage® bonus miles + World of Hyatt Base Points for your eligible spend

The terms and conditions further state:

Back-to-back stays within one 24-hour period at a single participating hotel are considered one stay. Only one (1) check-in/check-out permitted per stay. Please allow four to six weeks after your qualifying stay for bonus miles to be posted to your American Advantage account.

If you didn’t get the email about this promotion you can register on the World of Hyatt website.

Categories: American Airlines, Hotel, Hotel Promos, Hyatt, OneWorld | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

New benefits, slightly higher fee for the Citi AA Platinum Card

The Citibank AAdvantage® Visa was the first rewards credit card I ever had and I’ve held on to it through various iterations including a switch to MasterCard for over 20 years. But it’s one I keep for the benefits instead of for its earning power.

To me the primary benefits are a free checked bag on domestic flights and the 10% rebate on miles when purchasing an award ticket (up to 10,000 miles per year). But at present the card earns 2x miles on all American Airlines purchases and 1x miles everywhere else. While I do have a couple of small recurring charges on this card, I spend less than $50 per month on it.

Starting July 22, 2018 it seems that Citi will attempt to get me to spend more on this card by offering 2x miles at restaurants and gas stations as well as a $100 AA flight voucher if I spend $20K or more during my cardmember year and renew the card. They’ll also raise the annual fee from $95 to $99 which seems…cheap.

My reaction: well, it’s better than nothing. But if Citi was hoping to drive me to use this card more often, this is not going to do it. I already get 3x Ultimate Rewards points per dollar at restaurants through my Chase Sapphire Reserve card. I get 3x of Citi’s own Thank You Points per dollar at gas stations via the Citi Premier card. Thanks to my Barclay’s American Airlines AAviator card I can earn that $100 voucher for $20K spend, get the free checked bag AND, thanks to having converted that card over from the US Airways card, I get 10K miles bonus each year I renew.

The only reason I keep this card is for how it’s helping my credit rating’s average age of accounts score and the 10% mileage rebate though that only helps in years when I redeem AA miles. And it’s frustrating to me when I want to book an international trip as soon as the window opens but AA hasn’t released ANY award seats from Memphis to an AA hub so I have to buy a positioning flight.

So, nice try, Citibank but let’s see if you can do better.

Categories: Credit Cards, American Airlines, Citibank, Citi AAdvantage Platinum Select World Elite MasterCard | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Beijing: Tiananmen Square

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 next day it was still raining but we had places to go and things to see. At the top of the list was Tiananmen Square.

“Tiananmen” means “Gate of Heavenly Peace”, which is the name give to the giant red gate with Chairman Mao’s portrait that separates the square from the Forbidden City, which is just to its north. Based on size, it is among the top ten city squares in the world at 109 acres. It is notable for a number of protests, first in 1919, then in 1949 when Mao made the proclamation of the People’s Republic of China, in 1976 after the death of the first premier of the PRC and most recently in 1989 when a man famously stood in front of a line of tanks. Our guide told us that the man later disappeared and no one knows what happened to him.

The Tiananmen Gate, or Gate of Heavenly Peace

China’s National Day is October 1st so we had arrived a week after the national festivities, which was good timing. In the midst of the square was this giant floral arrangement in celebration of the holiday.

Giant Floral Arrangement

And the flowers along the sides were glorious as well.

Pretty Poinsettias

On the east side is the National Museum of China. We were told and have read online that this is an excellent museum but we did not have time to visit.

National Museum of China

The Great Hall of the People is on the west side of the square. This is where parliament meets as well as the National Congress of the Communist Party of China.

The center section of The Great Hall of the People

On the south side is the Zhengyangmen Gate, a structure  that remains long after the city walls were demolished. It was first built in 1419 during the Ming dynasty.

The Zhengyangmen Gate

In the center is the Monument to the People’s Heroes which memorializes the martyrs of the revolutions of the 19th and 20th centuries. It is nearly 125 feet tall.

The Monument to the People’s Heroes with Mao’s Tomb in the background

On the south side of the square is the Chairman Mao Memorial Hall, better known as the Mausoleum of Mao Zedong. Though he wished to be cremated, his body was embalmed and is still on display inside a crystal coffin. We did not go inside due to time constraints but I bet that is a fascinating tour.

Chairman Mao’s Tomb

This sculpture is near the tomb. It appears to be a number of different types of workers uniting in support of Mao, whose profile is etched into the large rock.

Sculpture near Mao’s Tomb

The rain was starting to let up a little bit as we made our way toward the Forbidden City via the tunnels under the street. We may have even lingered a bit as we tried to get dry. But soon enough we were making our way upstairs to our next “must see” attraction.

Categories: Asia, China, River Cruise, Tours, Viking | Tags: , , , , | 2 Comments

Beijing: The Legend of Kung Fu

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

After drying out from our daytime excursions, some of us opted for a show after dinner. The Legend of Kung Fu is apparently quite the tourist attraction as all the salespeople in the lobby spoke decent English and the entire show was narrated by an English recording.

The Red Theatre (in case you couldn’t guess)

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

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

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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.

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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

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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

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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

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

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