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China, 10th to 22nd of September 2005


With Em's job vacations must be planned at least 6 months in advance.  However, once her vacation time was secured we couldn't decide where we wanted to go and in fact didn't decide until 2 days before we left.  That wasn't necessarily a bad thing since we planned the time off to coincide with the longest international trips allowed through United E-fares and as the vacation approached things looked good.  Every Tuesday morning I would check the e-fares and there were always trips to Asia for around $500, Mexico City for an unbelievable $200 plus other options to South America.  On the Monday night before we would buy our tickets we were so excited that we woke at midnight to the sound of NPR and groggily booted up the computer to see our choices.

Zero, zip, zilch, nada!  That week United offered no international e-fares at all.  Needless to say, we were crushed.  We quickly checked a last minute vacation package destination,, only to find that trips to the Caribbean, Mexico, and Central America had significantly increased in price in the last few days.

However, it turned out the Emily's dad was in China at the time and her mom was going to fly over the day after we planned to start our vacation.  For her parents the trip represented work but they said if we tagged along they would show us around.  In short order we exchanged our airline miles for tickets, got visas, and on a clear and cool Saturday evening, after Emily had worked all day, we found ourselves walking from our apartment to the Berkeley BART station, the first leg of what would turn out to be a very long day.

The following was our rough itinerary:

Day Location Activity
-1- Berkeley-San Francisco-Hong Kong A night flight on Singapore Airlines across the Pacific followed by a tour of Victoria Peak.
-2- Hong Kong-Shenzhen After many hours and 3 drivers we end up in the boom town of China.
-3- Shenzhen-Nanjing A pleasant 100-minute flight on a Chinese airline followed by an alteration of our pants.
-4- Nanjing A bus tour of the city with 19 other Chinese tourists, several of which have very bad hair.
-5- Nanjing A surprise visitor shows us around the city and we climb on 700 year-old animals.
-6- Nanjing The food catches up with us so we decide to get beaten about the head and shoulders, again.
-7- Nanjing-Shanghai A 3-hour train ride to Shanghai then a taxi ride to our hotel with giant beds.
-8- Shanghai We explore the Bund, the Oriental Pearl Tower, and Jinmao Tower
-9- Shanghai A 6 km walk from our hotel along Nanjing Road to the Bund.
-10- Shanghai A morning stroll with the locals in Luxun Park followed by an afternoon thunderstorm.
-11- Shanghai-Tokyo-San Francisco-Berkeley A 1-hour bus ride, a 2-hour flight, a 9-hour flight, and finally a 1-hour train ride and we are home.

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