May 222007

If you stay in Nanjing, a budget hotel is recommended, which is:

It is at a prime site – in the Confucius Temple area. 168RMB per room. The room is clean and with fast internet connection. I chose the hotel for a friend based on hotel users’ positive review. My friend’s comment after using it? Positive, of course.

Opposite this budget hotel is a five-star “Mandarin Garden Hotel” where you can buy train tickets to anywhere in China for a service charge of 5RMB. Very convenient.

 Posted by at 10:55 pm
May 052007

The old Hong Kong Star Ferry Pier in Central was demolished, after the authoritarian HK Government frowned on public protest and anger and went ahead as planned.

I used the new Star Ferry Pier last week, carrying my 3-year-old niece with me. It was a hell. The way from the bus station on the main road of Central to the pier is SO LONG.. With the baby in my arms, it was an uphill battle to walk the minimum 15-min passage to the pier. Anger fired up inside me. What the hell is this demolition for? Not to mention keeping history and collective memory, the simple fact is, the demolition is not in the interest of the residents of the city. The new pier in Central is so hard to reach.

With a nice location, historic value and collective memory, the old pier just disappeared like that, and a fake-Victoria style building as the new pier, stands somewhere, out of touch with people. Just like the government of this city.

 Posted by at 3:23 pm
May 042007

A foreigner wanting to buy a train ticket in China, who cannot speak or read Chinese, will find it very frustrating. It is hard, very hard. The common experience is, you take your chance to queue at one of the long lines, and when you finally get to the front, you are told it is wrong line, or “mei you mei you” (not available).

The tip is, you go to the five-star hotels, if any, and try your luck. In these luxury hotels, they usually have ticketing service and the staff can speak English. You can get your train or bus tickets for a handling fee of 5-20rmb.

You can also try four-star hotels where ticketing service can be available.

You don’t need to be a guest of the hotel to use the service.

 Posted by at 2:13 pm
May 012007

Another China hotel booking website I would like to recommend is Sinohotel. I’ve used their service, which is satisfactory to me.

Their English page has more user comment than elong, and for some hotels, they conduct checks and write their own comment. This is one great advantage over elong – more review in English. The price they offer and the range of the hotels they have are no different from those at elong, though.

As elong, once you fill out the online booking form, they will email you to acknowledge your booking and then email again to confirm the booking. Credit card is usually not needed for keeping the booking. You make payment when you arrive at the hotel.

However, you have to take note that China hotels request guests to pay deposit for their stay and the deposit will be returned when they check out. The deposit can be paid in the form of cash or credit card, usually a few hundred RMB.

 Posted by at 9:29 pm
Apr 292007

I recommend two hotel booking sites. One is elong. This is a US listed company with powerful resources in China flight and hotel booking. I think it is the only company that offers online flight ticket booking in China. 

The hotel range is wide, and its booking service is quick. I made an online hotel booking, and they acknowledged receipt of request via email in two minutes and confirmed the booking through mobile phones in five minutes! I was impressed.

Besides good service, if you can read Chinese, go to their Chinese version and you will find lots of hotel users’ comments, very useful in helping you to identify a good hotel. Comments on some hotels are a few pages long. And the comment is aggregated into an overall rating.

It is a shame that the English hotel booking interface does not have user comment – well it is understandable. The site has much fewer English speaking users than Chinese users. It is another shame that the English page is not automatically shifted to the corresponding page in Chinese when you change the language option. You cannot therefore, just by one click, see the overall rating of the same hotel by Chinese users.

On elong, you can search hotels based on pricing. Once you push the pricing based search button, the cheapest hotels will come on the top. It is helpful for those on a tight budget.

Also, you don’t need a visa card to make reservation. Well, some hotels do require you to make the booking with visa cards if your checking in time is after 6pm and you want to be sure of a room during the public holiday like the Golden Week in May and October. But the visa cards they need usually are those issued in China. So avoid checking in after 6pm, or just take the risk of not having a room – the risk is minimal anyway.

 Posted by at 1:33 pm