All Aboard!

This post is for all you train lovers. The Guardian recently published a wonderful photo essay of China’s last steam train line,which runs along a rail line in Sichuan province.

steamtrain

Here’s the introduction:

It’s a bumpy ride, and it takes over an hour to go 12 miles. But the trip from Shixi to Huangcunjing in rural Sichuan is one of the last regular passenger steam train services in the world – and a lifeline to locals, who could not travel to nearby towns without it.

Click on over to The Guardian to see all the photos.

Related Posts:

Of Tones and Trains

So, How Fast is this Train? 

A Tale of Two Tickets — The Train

Dancing on a Chinese Train

On the Train

Night Train to Manchuria

Image credit: Kevin Freyer, Getty Images, via The Guardian

Road Trip Dreaming: Minnesota to Beijing

As I have written on this blog before, I love a good road trip. I have road-tripped my way around the US and Canada, Europe, Pakistan and Afghanistan, and taken a few trips around China.

One dream I have always had is driving from Minnesota to Beijing (I’m getting sick of that flight).

tkhzzcxgmqe8ygmtk19j

So you can imagine my excitement when I read on a site called roadtrippers.com (yes, such a site exists) that the president of Russian Railways has proposed building a superhighway that would link New York and London, and run right through the Twin Cities.

The proposed route doesn’t actually enter China, but I’m sure that there will be a junction with a highway heading south.

I wonder if it’s too early to start packing the car….

Related Posts:

Scenes from a Western Road Trip

Road Trip: St. Paul to Skagway

An Impromptu Road Trip

A Western Road Trip

A Ningxia Road Trip

Road-Tripping

Book Review: China Road

Image Credit: Roadtrippers.com

How to Use a Horse Bucket

I ran across this photo on Flickr recently, and had a good chuckle. It’s a sign posted in a public toilet giving instructions on how to/not to use a “sit down” toilet.

funny toilet sign

The direct translation of the characters over the picture is “how to use the horse bucket.”

For some reason, the Chinese word for a western toilet (the kind you sit on as opposed to squat over) is literally “horse bucket.”

I’ve never understood why that is, but have always found it interesting!

Related Posts:

Why Foreigners Can’t Squat

Sit More Lightly

Port-a-Potties at the Wall

Image credit: Loo Sign, by Denni Schnapp, via Flickr

Friday Photo: St. Dominics

During my last year living in China, I had the opportunity to visit Macau a few times, and I grew to love the city — the old city, away from the casinos. It’s in the old city where you can see the legacy of Portuguese rule, such as St. Dominic’s Church.

St Dominics Macau

 

10 Things to Know About the 10-Year China Visa

Since writing with joy about obtaining a 10-year tourist visa to China last November, I’ve fielded a steady stream of question from friends (and strangers) about the new visa and how to get it. So I decided to put a post together about some things you need to know about the visa. They are in no particular order.

8341442999_587d1bf6ec_o

 

1. It’s real. I admit that when it was announced that China would be issuing a 10-year tourist visa last fall, I was skeptical. But I applied for it and got it, so I know first hand that it is real.

2. This new validity period is the result of a bilateral agreement between the United States and China that was announced in November and designed to encourage more travel between the nations. Visa requirements for Chinese tourists and students coming to the US have been relaxed as well.

3. In section 2.1 of the application form, check “tourist.” (see an application example here)

4. In section 2.2 of the application form, check “other.”

5. This 10 year visa seems to be the new standard issue visa; however, the embassy/consulate reserves the right to issue it at their discretion.

6. You need to submit evidence of a booked flight itinerary. This can be a ticket or evidence of a booked, but not necessarily purchased reservation.

7. You need to submit evidence of confirmed lodging. You can book a hotel online, and cancel it later, if need be.

8. The visa is multiple-entry; this means that in the 10 years of its validity you can enter/exit China as many times as you want, staying up to 60 days at a time.

9. It is valid for 10 years even if your passport expires, SO LONG AS you retain possession of your expired passport and have it with you upon entry into China.

10. The cost is the same as the 1-year tourist visa, which means its ten times cheaper!

I used the good folks at Allied Passport in Washington, D.C. to obtain my visa. They were great to work with and I had my passport in hand in less then one week. You can visit their site for a detailed explanation of the requirements to obtain this visa, as well as a sample application form.

And in the interest of full disclosure, I have signed on to their affiliate program. When you apply for a visa through Allied, you can write my name (or the name of this blog) on your order form to get a $5.00 discount. In addition, I’ll get a referral fee.

The way I see it, everybody wins!

Image credit: Coming Up, by ronx ronquillo, via Flickr

Related Posts:

Touring Karachi

When I was growing up in Karachi, Pakistan in the 1960’s we (surprisingly) had quite a few visitors come through and stay with us. In fact, it often felt like our place was a guest house (something we loved, by the way). If the visitors were from out of the country, we would all pile into our green and white Volkswagen Microbus and my dad would take us on a grand tour of the city.

Our old VW may not be plying the streets of Karachi anymore, but apparently there is a new tour company that organizes bus tours of the city. Here’s the story, as told by Robin Show on a YouTube video:

The Pakistan city of Karachi, infamous for targeted killings and carjackings, ranks in the top 10 of the most violent cities in the world. But one man has decided to show that there is more to Karachi than crime and terror and has started the first ever guided bus tour of the city. It involves armed guards, an itinerary that changes all the time and highly negotiated access to sites where people are worried about coming under attack if they attract too much attention.

If you’ve spent anytime in Karachi, I think you’ll really enjoy this video! And if you haven’t, it’s interesting as well!

(If you receive this post by email, please go here to see the video.)

Related Posts:

Karachi Memories

Nixon in China, 43 Years Ago

Evacuation

Evacuation, Part 2