Posts Tagged With: osprey backpacks

Beijing – The last two weeks in China

We rode the train into Beijing for what was to be our last two weeks in China. The main reason for being here is to get visas to go to other countries that we are headed towards…while also giving Jill enough time to get a head start on some assignments that she needs to do for her Masters. As we were making our plans we learnt that my cousin Andrew would be in town for a one week work trip so plans were made to catch up. This was quite a funny experience as we have seen each other about twice in the last decade in Australia but ended up spending heaps of time together in Beijing.

He was being hosted by Frank…the dean of the university…who was happy to let us join in on the festivities…but would not allow us to contribute to any of the costs. Frank, Andy and the local crew worked all day and (when available) in the evenings we hooked up for about 19 dishes each night. Despite being incapable of eating all of the food…Frank would not let the guests starve…or contribute. Andy was almost dying as he was subjected to Frank’s over ordering for lunch as well.

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Don’t get me wrong the food was magnificent and Frank happily picked up the tab for all concerned (including us). But he would order about twice as much as anybody could reasonably ingest. After our last night eating with them…Jill did not ingest any food for the next 40 hours. On the Friday we headed off to the Great Wall to the Mutianyu section. While we had already been there it is by far the best of the sections and Andrew’s lot was taking us.

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We were in Beijing and made our first trip to the Vietnamese embassy to apply for our visa which was remarkably simple but required submitting our passport for the week. We had a blue sky day so tried to climb the mountain at the end of the forbidden city for the panorama Beijing shot (for those that remember right back to when we started this). Alas the clouds rolled in by the time sunset was due so we didn’t get the photo but we did the nighttime walk around Tiananmen Square.

The other thing of note was that my backpack had been beaten and bashed along the journey and required some maintenance as the plastic clips had snapped and there was a few scuff marks etc. Having spent the money on good packs (Osprey backpacks) this too was very simple. I sent an email advising them I needed a repair, they asked for photos, I sent them, they agreed to replace the bag. That simple.

What was not simple on the other hand was the logistics of getting the correct bag from Shanghai to Beijing in the time frame when we were there. The language barrier was a major issue to our communications but the intent behind all of this on behalf of osprey was good as they really tried hard to fix the issue. The first parcel was a smaller backpack and had to be returned. The other issue was getting a clear answer of what to do with the old pack. After much to and fro it eventually got sorted.

While in Beijing I made contact with a former colleague who was now working at the Australian embassy here in Beijing and arrangements were made to catch up. He invited us to Friday night drinks at the embassy and a Peking duck dinner with his wife and a few embassy staff directly afterwards. This was accompanied by an invitation to watch the Bledisloe Cup rugby with the New Zealand embassy staff the next night.

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Jill settled in to her studies while I killed time and prepared a summary of our time here in China for the blog. On our second last day we got to catch up with Cindy (the Canadian Chinese girl we were in Tibet with) for a great lunch. We got some trinkets for the guys we would meet in Sri Lanka (met them in a hostel in Guilin) and basically ate and drank our way through the last little bit in China. We will be returning to Hong Kong in October to catch up with mike and Patricia but our China adventure is coming to an end.

There will be one final summary China post with an overview of where we have been and the highlights and lowlights of our time here…doing the maths on things here got pretty big pretty quickly…and it is fair to say that we have experienced China more so than most would ever do…and we still want more.

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Hong Kong and Shenzhen

The order of this post is a touch out of order as we are heading back to Xiamen for Jill to do her assignment but nevertheless on we go. We took our first flight with dragon air which is a Cathay pacific affiliate and other than huge delays due to Hong Kong weather and air traffic control it was pretty good…newish plane, smooth flight, pleasant flight attendants, nice tasting food, range of entertainment options.

Got into HK and went cruising around town, doing our usual mix of sightseeing and eating. It must be said very early on in this post that Hong Kong is incredibly expensive when compared with the rest of China. It remains about half of the Australian price but is a lot more than what we have been paying for everything on the mainland. Food is about 4-25 times more expensive depending upon which joint you hit.

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We headed over to Kowloon to get our backpacks mended (due to some damage inflicted by dodgy Indian baggage handlers) and generally just poke around. After our chores we hit Nathan road which is a major shopping district on the Kowloon side then on to the park, the mosque (interesting to note that after dark near the mosque the streets turn into markets selling vibrators and ice pipes), then down to the water for a walk along Tsim Sha Tsui, the city light show and the avenue of the stars walk.

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PAUSE – We paid a lot of money for our Osprey brand backpacks and the experience of having them mended justified the expense. Jill’s bag had violently skidded across every Tarmac in India and had a couple of minor holes from intense scuffing and my trolley handle catch was not releasing properly. Two emails each way and all sorted…no fuss no bother…no cost. The extra money buys you top quality and customer service.

The next day we headed back across to mainland China to the city of Shenzhen where we caught up with Chris Rea an old rugby friend and Laurie’s boy who had spent a long time living in Asia. We wandered the city and saw how easy life could be if you had the language skills that Jill and I are still struggling to manage (I swear that there is a switch in your brain somewhere that we just can’t find). We all headed back to HK together for the rugby the next day (rugby gets its own post).

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On day 2 we were joined by Jeff and Bec Ballinger long time friends dating back to school. The boys went to the footy while the girls apparently went to the Chi Lin Nunnery, the Nan Lian gardens, Hong Kong park, hit the computer market, and had high tea at the Azure hotel. Then we all hooked up for a lottery dinner and a few drinks at the end of the day.

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Sunday was all about the football for the boys and Bec for the early part then she bailed on us and went with Jill to see the Bruce Lee exhibit at the heritage museum the 10,000 Buddhas Monastery.

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Monday was a group day where we wandered town stopping for yum cha brunch at the oldest place in town (Lin Heung Tea House). There is a Michelin star rated dim sum place in HK that is the cheapest Michelin star restaurant in the world but alas we never got there.
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We caught up with Chris again in the afternoon and all had a farewell drink before Chris headed off to china that evening, we returned to Xiamen the next morning and Bec and Boof were due to head back to Rockhampton the day after. A great week, good times and awesome friends.

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