From Lijiang

For years I’ve wanted to visit Southwest China and Lijiang in particular, but flights here were always so pricey. I finally figured it’s cheaper to fly to Kunming and then take a bus to Lijiang so I could see its UNESCO World Heritage Ancient Town.

N.B. There are no fast trains to Lijiang and the slow trains aren’t much faster than the bus. I wager my bus was cleaner than the train.

IMG_20170612_114136

The bus station was a bit confusing, but once you get past the noise and construction, getting a ticket is just a matter of showing the clerk the name of your destination in your guidebook, showing your passport and paying. I left from Kunming and the ticket was 217 rob ($32). A friend had taken the bus and suggested it was a pleasant journey as you get to see a lot of mountains, rice terraces and rural homes along the way. That was true, but my bus attendant made sure we sit in our assigned seats. Till I was on the half empty bus I had no idea there were assigned seats. So I was on the aisle the whole way. I could glimpse the scenery, but it’s not a great view. I did get a lot of reading done.

Since I’d taken a photo of the address of my hotel, I thought I it would be easy to get a taxi there. I showed two drivers the enlarged Chinese address and they refused me. The number I had for the hotel didn’t work.

DSCN5654

A kind old man with an electric cart wanted to help. I figured he’d has as much trouble as the other two. So I just took out my Lonely Planet and pointed to an address of a hostel near my hotel. I know that the Hostel International staff tend to speak English well. Once there I could walk or get a short taxi ride to the hotel. That plan worked. It took longer and I was tired, but it worked.

DSCN5696.jpg

Today I’ve spent most of my time exploring Lijiang’s Ancient Town. It’s full of shops, inns, cafés and craft shops. As is often the case most of the shops sell the same goods. I don’t think you’d make much money selling tea, drums, silver or traditional scarves here. The scarves and tea seem good quality, but I’m not in need of either.

DSCN5662

Sepia Saturday

13926042655_52478d5e5a_z

From LOC, Flickr Commons. Date: between 1865 – 1870

The prompt for this month is “Travel or Transport,” which provides loads of inspiration. My favorite is the image above as it’s so whimsical.

14781675913_612e2272be_z

LOC, Flickr Commons. Doesn’t this beckon you still?

2163844406_82dc904dce_z

I’ve never traveled this way. Would you like to try? (LOC, Flickr Commons.)

Sepia Saturday

2015.01W-63

This week’s Sepia Saturday prompt featured buses and transportation as a theme. If you think about it, it’s amazing all the various conveyances used to help us get around. Here’s a few I found on Flickr Commons.

4669580487_8a3d7a9b9d_z

Washington State, woman driver, no date

Traffic, London 1927, London Transport Museum

Traffic, London 1927, London Transport Museum

from Florida Memory, 1922

from Florida Memory, 1922

It Was My Fault, But Then

I didn’t make it to Wuhan as planned for the holiday. I got to the airport and discovered I’d forgotten my passport. Drat! It’s the most basic travel item.

I did have a copy of it, which in some places is enough. (Not many, so I knew that was a long shot.) However, the agent at check in said “No problem and gave me a boarding pass. If she had said no way right then, I could have jumped in a cab and gone to the apt and back just in time for the flight.

When I went to security the clerk said he’d have to check into this. I waited and he called another clerk over and they talked a while. Then they got a woman in a more impressive uniform. They all talked. Lynn had mentioned that when Immigration told her they’d have her passport for 9 weeks, she could travel with a copy of it and I had a tiny bit of hope I could. Then the most important woman said, “Follow me.” I hoped we were going to an office where they could look me up in the computer and see I was legit. Maybe they’d issue me some paper so I could return as well.

She then led me to the Information desk to a woman who didn’t speak English. They talked. I lost hope as I wasn’t moving up the chain of command, I’d been thrown down. Now too much time had elapsed and a round trip to the apartment was impossible. The security woman left and the Information clerk was on the phone. Finally, she handed me the phone. The speaker said, “Are you the woman with just a copy of your passport?” I said, “Yes,” and she told me to give the phone back to the Information clerk. They talked and then I got the phone again. “You can’t fly without the passport.” This I’d sort of known so I was frustrated that the first person I encountered hadn’t said this. Then I had a chance to get the flight. Now I didn’t.

I got back in the check in line to see about a change for today. After waiting, I was sent to another desk, then another. I explained my story and handed over my boarding pass asking for a change. With another woman who spoke English, I was told that for 420 rmb I could get a flight on Friday (today) at 15:25. I found out the flight number and arrival time. I texted Lynn with this information, asked if I could pay with a credit card and got a lengthy explanation about if I wanted to I’d have to do that over the phone, etc., etc. I just gave the agent the cash.

It seemed we were done and I was set. Then I asked for a receipt. A search for the pads for receipts ensued. Finally they found it and the girl started filling it out. Then the second girl told me “There are no flights tomorrow.” What???

What was all that information you gave me? Was it made up? How did you arrive at 420 rmb? How could you take my cash, Southern China?

The girl told me that Xiamen Airlines had a flight tomorrow. Right, but at least I had a reservation with Southern China so there’d be some money that could be applied to the new ticket. With Xiamen at the last minute I’d be lucky to get something for 1000 rmb, which I didn’t want to spend. (Already by flying rather than taking the train, I was spending more than I’d like.) And still I’m perplexed by the 420 rmb I would have been charged had I not asked for a receipt.

I decide just to go home on the airport bus and think this over.

I called Lynne and explained that contrary to what I thought, I wouldn’t be flying tomorrow and she encouraged me to find a fast train ticket.

I was so tired just from the red tape and somewhat miffed at myself for forgetting my passport.

Last night I did look for trains and it seemed that midday there were some tickets. I also tried elong and ctrip.com, but paying with an American credit card, just doesn’t work though the site says you can. (The site rejects the transaction.)

This morning I woke up and went to the train station since the booking agent near school is closed. I wasn’t looking forward to the long line at the station. I did see a booking agent office in front of the station and went there. He could look at all the stations from Jinan. No luck.

I’m just tired of all this business and will read and watch DVDs this afternoon. It would have been good to see Lynne, but things haven’t worked out. I’ve texted Brooke twice to see if she can get a refund for my return ticket on Monday. I have to cancel 48 hours in advance. She made the reservation so I need her to cancel it. She’s not responding. I don’t like losing the total 1500 rmb if I don’t have to.

I realize the fiasco is my fault, but if some of the airline staff had acted differently, I could have salvaged the trip. Oh, well.

Pullman Journeys

pullman-exterior-louisa-chu-09dbb8a6cff300ccf5326b33713749379028bb2f-s6-c30

There’s a new Pullman Car service between Chicago and New Orleans. A few old style Pullman Cars restored to their 1950s version with a dining car, club car and porter service offer a kind of time travel. Click here to see the CBS Morning feature on these Pullman journeys.

In the fall there will be Pullman Cars going weekly between New York and Chicago.

If they had the 19th century style cars, I’d take one anywhere. The 1950s isn’t a decade I think was so special. Still if someone else were paying, I’d try one.