SPRING IN CHINA
MARCH 22-APRIL 6, 2017
It has been amazing to see the changes in less than twenty years – transformed cities, water buffalo giving way to machines, and realization of the world's largest dam among other items. As to railways, there were still steam locos in mainline service up until 2005. A railway to Tibet (world's highest) was completed in 2006. And, high speed trains began operating on one short route in 2008. Today, the high speed network already is more extensive than that of Europe, and is still linking new cities. So, no visit is ever exactly the same! Every trip here brings much which is familiar along with new perspectives and different things to see. If you are a first time visitor, you will surely have many questions. Most of these will be answered by our bi-lingual guides, but we can assist with planning details – what to pack, assisting with the visa, etc. The schedule below offers an overview only – we try to be flexible during the tour to take in things of interest to group members, or if rain, for example, makes the Great Wall not such a good idea! All MEALS are included from the 23rd until end of boat trip.
Day 1 Wednesday March 22: –Arrival into Beijing (BJ)
We will try to meet arrivals, but hotel info will be provided in case you use a taxi. Hotel: CITIC Airport Hotel (formerly Sino-Swiss) – free airport shuttle (though it can be tricky to find…) Meals on your own today. Afternoon to relax. Take in evening performance in the city if you are eager to go, but most will want to relax after long flight.
Day 2 Thursday March 23
Very early start today to take the train to GREAT WALL. Trains depart North Station (First station in BJ but extensively modernized recently). About 90 minute ride climbs into the mountains, actually tunneling beneath the Wall before switching back to BADALING ("8-ways view") station, a 15 minute walk to the Wall entrance. Gradually more tour buses arrive and the Wall may become quite crowded by mid-morning, so my suggestion is to walk as much as you wish in the early part of our visit. We will stay for lunch here before taking the early afternoon train back into the city. Remainder of day can be decided upon later – options include Summer Palace (recommended if good weather), Hutongs (taste of old Beijing with its alleyways, and maybe a home cooked supper), or a revolving restaurant overlooking the city.
Day 3 Friday March 24
On train Z69, depart BJ West Station at 10AM for a 26 hour fast run to Hami – a journey which required three days back in 2001! Our train passes thru the longest tunnel in China in the high mountains where snow is possible this time of year (about 3 PM). While this is not a high speed train, speeds will reach near 100 MPH. Soft class sleepers offer compartments with four beds – two lower, two upper). There may be a two-bed room available (upper / lower). There is a dining car, and snacks / beverages are available from the roving food trolley.
Day 4 Saturday March 25
n early afternoon we arrive into Hami South station. After lunch, our van will take up on to Sandaoling (90 minute drive). The massive open pit coal mine developed here in the 1970s has just about reached the end of its productive life – and with it, the last fleet of working (non-museum) steam locos in the world! 2020 had been noted as closure date, though this could be advanced in view of the curtailment of coal production in China due to a slowing economy and alternate energy sources. Hopefully the 8 or 9 JS-class 2-8-2s – mostly built as recently as the 1980s – will yet be hauling coal.
Day 5 Sunday March 26
Early morning (sunrise is not until about 8 this far west) is a good time to hang around the engine depot, as this is shift change. Every 15-20 minutes or so, an empty string of side-dump gondola cars is shoved toward the mine. As this is on a grade, the loco will work hard, and sometimes slip. There are usually 3 to 4 trains working in rotation. Once loaded, trains head either to the washery or to a coking plant. Processed coal is later taken to the China Rail interchange several miles distant, or may go by truck.
There are also a few deep mines in the complex, but activity here is infrequent. The now abandoned tip area saw rock (overburden) trains until 2014 when this phase of the mine ceased. These and other places may merit short visits to appreciate the changing nature of this place. The workshops could also be visited if any repair to the locos may be taking place.
The town of 40,000 is a mixture of Chinese and native Uyghur peoples. In March 2015 a night party marked the end of the Chinese New Years period. Restaurants specialize in lamb and spicy rice dishes, while others are more typically Chinese – but don't look for a KFC here!! We will come back to town for a couple hours in mid day to rest, when the high sun makes for less interesting photography.
Day 6 Monday March 27:
Final day to enjoy the best remaining steam show in China! Again, early morning and late afternoon are prime times to get out and enjoy a slice of coal mining history soon to fade from the world scene. Go to bed early!! We are off to Hami train station by about 2 AM….
Day 7 Tuesday March 28:
Our train departs at 5:11 for the long but scenic trek toward Chengdu! Train K2060 offers soft class sleeper and diner for the 39 hour trek, arriving 20:05. There is an alternate train which is a bit slower and takes 2 nights, but we chose this train as it maximizes daylight viewing. In the early morning (5:47, Baoji) our train reverses direction and heads up China's steepest mainline grade of 3%. Helpers are used on freights, and an extra loco will be added to the front of our train. The scenery – sometimes quick glimpses between tunnels – is spectacular. Once we have arrived about 8 PM, transfer to hotel for a good nights sleep.
Day 8 Wednesday March 29:
PANDA! Near the city is the Panda Breeding and Research Center which has been in the forefront of efforts to understand and protect the species. You will see various stages of life. The red panda (not really a panda…_ and various other animals and birds make this a memorable morning. Signs along the bamboo lined walkways encourage quiet – routinely ignored by groups of children when they greet some foreigners! We will enjoy lunch at one of the signature tea houses before our afternoon transfer to the Shibanxi Narrow Gauge.
Day 9 Thursday March 30:
The Jiayang Coal Company operates what has become China's premiere railway tourist venture. The first mine from 1938 began as a joint English – Chinese venture to supply coal to new steel mills near Chongqing (from where our boat departs). The coal was moved by mule down the mountain to the Min River. By the 1950s increased development spurred the need for a railway connection, which allowed access to additional mines. Most of these mines closed in the late 1980s, and one is now open as a tourist attraction (and quite well worth a visit). The lower end of the line is electrified, hauling coal from the yet active mine to a power station. The steam trains haul local passengers three times daily, plus a variable number of tourist trains. More details on these will be explained on the tour. Some prefer to ride these up and down (just buy a ticket); others like to watch and walk the right of way to seek out good photo locations. The yellow flowers, which produce rape seed, are usually at their peak at this time.
Day 10 Friday March 31:
More time to ride and watch the Narrow Gauge. There should be about 4 or 5 active C-2 type 0-8-0 locos, which where made in Dalian, China, during the mid 1950s to a Polish design.
Day 11 Saturday April 1:
A short trip on the Leshan River will allow us to see the giant carved Buddha. Then it is on to Chongqing, the mountain city.
Day 12 Sunday April 2:
Most of today we will have time to explore this Pittsburgh of China, junction of two rivers. The ropeway over the river and monorail alongside offer two unique modes of local transport, both of which we will sample. Due to the hills, bicycles just are not popular here. In the evening following our supper, we will head for our five star boat. We will have four nights on the boat, which for the most part will be docked after dark to allow for daylight viewing of the best areas. ("Century Sky" is a five star boat, 2006 construction, 5 decks with revolving open atrium among other features. Cabin upgrades may be possible in advance.
Day 13 Monday & Day 14 Tuesday April 3 & 4:
On the boat with various shore excursion options which can be purchased individually or as a group packet. Be aware that excursions require some walking (such as White Emperor City with 600 steps – unless you want to try the sedan chair!). Some excursions are subject to water conditions. There will be bilingual guides on the boat. Much more detail about the fascinating Three Gorges and other aspects of the river trip will be covered later.
Day 15 Wednesday April 5:
Shore excursion to see the big dam, before ending the river ride in Yichang late morning. Train G308 ("G" denotes High Speed, CRH) departs at 14:05 for the 7 ½ hour run to Beijing (old train was 18 ½ hr.). Check in to the CITIC Hotel.
Day 16 Thursday April 6:
PRICES PER PERSON
|DOUBLE ROOM OCCUPANCY...........................................................||$3,995|
|SINGLE ROOM SUPPLEMENT............................................................||$250|
|SINGLE OCCUPANCY HOTELS:|
|Beijing, Sandaoling, Chengdu, Qianwei , and Chongqing.|
|DEPOSIT TO HOLD SPACE................................................................||$1,500|
|FINAL PAYMENT DUE BY DECEMBER 22, 2016|
DOUBLE ROOM OCCUPANCY$3,995
SINGLE ROOM SUPPLEMENT$250
SINGLE OCCUPANCY HOTELS:
Beijing, Sandaoling, Chengdu, Qianwei , and Chongqing.
Deposit to hold space$1,500
FINAL PAYMENT DUE BY december 22, 2016
TOUR CONDITIONS FOR 2017 **PLEASE READ CAREFULLY**
Tour Price: All tour prices are subject to change without notice, at any time. All prices based on double room occupancy. We reserve the right to change tour prices if necessary without prior notice.
Prices do not include:Personal items, meals not listed in the itinerary, laundry, phone calls, excess baggage charges, rental cars, side tours, insurance, passport fees including visas, vaccinations, gratuities, medical costs, tips to train or motor coach staff, extra tour costs due to unanticipated changes in the itinerary for reasons beyond our control, including weather, travel conditions, or cancellations, government intervention, sickness, political disputes, and failure of transportation or other causes beyond our control.
TRAVEL AND HEALTH DOCUMENTS:A valid passport is required for our international tours. In some cases a visa is also needed. Consult your health professional for the recommended immunizations and documents. Trains and Travel , here on referred to as TT, assumes no other responsibility if a client is refused entry into a country. Cost and cancellation fees will be paid by the client in the event they do not have valid documents.
CHANGE OF ITINERARY:We reserve the right to substitute, alter or modify the tour if any unexpected and unforeseen conditions beyond our control preventing the completion of such. Conditions can include weather, train schedules, equipment, motive power, revision of train consist, train delays, labor strikes, political disputes, derailments, closure of a rail line, break down of railroad or motive power equipment, railroads not honoring contracts and bus equipment problems. We will always endeavor, in each case, to provide substitutes, if any changes take place. TT is not responsible for canceled trains, delays, hotel rooms, route changes or missed connections, for any reason whatsoever. We will not give refunds if such conditions or cancellations take place.
TRAVEL INSURANCE:Travel insurance is strongly suggested. Insurance will cover and give tour members many benefits and protection. Benefits include baggage loss, accident, life, trip cancellation, sickness, bankruptcy, strike, weather conditions, employer termination or layoff effecting you or a person sharing the room with you, terrorist incident in your departure city or city of destination, jury duty, you are subpoenaed, hijacked, or quarantined, your residence or traveling companion residence is rendered uninhabitable, emergency military duty, traffic accident, single supplement upgrade when your room- mate cancels their trip, trip interruption, trip delay, missed connections, itinerary change, emergency medical benefits, medical evacuation, pre-existing medical conditions if enrollment is within 21days of your invoice date, assault of you or your traveling companion before departure, burglary of you or your companion before departure 24 hour hotline emergency assistance, emergency cash transfer and more .
RESPONSIBILITY AND LIMITATION OF LIABILITY:Accepting your payment represents an agreement that you understand all the conditions, to be a member of our tours. TT gives notice that they are acting agents for the owners, contractors and suppliers, providing the transportation and all related travel services and assume no responsibility for equipment problems, mechanical failures, injury, sickness, damage, loss, additional expenses accidental delay or irregularities which may be caused through willful and or negligent acts or omissions on the part of the companies providing or engage in transportation, accommodations or services related to the accomplishment of the tour. Nor do we assume responsibility for natural disasters, social or political upheaval, acts of terrorism or acts of nature. TT reserves the right to substitute hotels, tour leaders, equipment, motive power, trains, onboard accommodations, routes and to alter the itinerary when deemed necessary without notice. The right is also reserved to cancel any trip or train prior to departure for any reason . TT is not responsible for expenses incurred by tour members in preparing for the tour, including non-refundable airline tickets, visa fees, planning, phone calls, or any other expenses. TT reserves the right to decline to accept, or ask to leave a tour, any person whose actions impede the daily operations of a tour, welfare or or enjoyment of other tour members. TT cannot give any refunds for any unused services. The terms contained herein shall serve as a waiver of liability to TT . Assumption of risk on behalf of the client, their heirs, executor, administrators, successors, and assigns for any and all known persons injuries. In many cases it is not possible to advise the passengers on reasons for train delays if beyond our control.
RESERVATIONS: A deposit is due in our office within 14 days after you make your bookings. Full payment is due 90 days before departure except for the Grand Canyon Limited in which full payment is due on a different schedule. You will receive an invoice, reservation form and current tour bulletins with your confirmation and travel insurance forms. No notice for final payment will be sent to you. It is your responsible to make the final payment on-time.
CANCELLATIONS:TT does not accept cancellations on the phone. Cancellations must be received by postal mail, email or fax before any refunds will be considered. Allow enough time if sending your written notice by US mail postal system. When a written cancellation is received in the Trains and Travel office this will be the effective date of the cancellation. Please take note that it can take up to 60 days to to process some refunds. Cancellation refund rules: 120 days prior to the start of any tour you will receive a refund less a $200 per person administration fee. 119 to 61 days before the departure of any tour there will be a 80% cancellation penalty based on the full cost of the tour. Cancellations received 60 or less days before the start of any tour will not receive any refund. GW Travel Ltd has their own cancellation rules and these will apply. If booking on GW Travel Ltd ask for cancellation rules.
PRE-DEPARTURE TOUR BULLETINS:Tour bulletins will be sent to clients that have booked on tours operated by TT . Bulletins include travel info related to the tour. Final documents will be sent out about two to three weeks before a tour begins. We offer tours operated by other companies and they may or may not send out tour bulletins and updates and most send out final documents only one to two weeks prior to the start of their tours.
PAYMENTS: Payments can be made with personal check drawn on a U.S. Dollar account, money order for U.S. Dollars, bank wire transfer, or credit card. We accept Visa, Master Card, Discover or American Express. Final payment for all tours is due 90 days prior to departure and we will charge your credit card on file unless you have given us other instructions. If final payment has not been received 7 days after the due date, a late fee of $50 per week will apply.
SINGLE SUPPLEMENT:All prices are based on double room occupancy. We will try and match you with a roommate if one is available. If not, you may be charged the single room supplement listed for the tour you are booked on. Single rooms may not be available in some remote locations and on some trains.
TOUR REFUNDS:If for any reason tour members amend or delete any arrangements during travel, and leave the tour on their own, we cannot give any refunds on unused portions of the tour. If buses and trains are cancelled by the carrier or there is a labor strike or they go out of business, we cannot be held responsible and we cannot give refunds. Travel insurance will protect you for any of these reasons. If TT needs to cancel any tour everyone will receive a full refund. Please take note that in some cases refunds can take up to 60 days to process.
PARTIAL TOURS:We will allow passengers to join or leave a tour at certain points. Give us a call and we will try and work up a custom option for you.
MILEAGE COLLECTORS:Mileage collectors please take note that TT does not cater just to mileage collectors. We cater to all folks that enjoy trains and Rail journeys. We give strong warning that itinerary and route changes do happen and this is totally beyond our control when it does. If the only reason that you would want to book a tour is to collect the rare mileage, you need to understand that possible route changes do happen.
Questions? Send Email To: Chris@traintrips.biz
Trains & Travel
Portola CA 96122
1-800-359-4870 USA or (530) 836-1944