Steve's China Blog

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Vacation planning

I started thinking about my winter vacation when I got back from my trip to the US. There are a lot of great places to visit, and I generally want to visit countries that I have not been to before. Initially there was not a lot of information about flights leaving and entering China online, which I think was because they do not update their flight databases as quickly as other countries. Eventually though I could find enough information online to make some decisions.

Initially I had 2 destinations at the top of my list that I wanted to visit... One is Bali in Indonesia and the other is Australia. Now I do not know who comes up with flight plans and schedules for flights around here, but looking online I found some really terrible options to get to these destinations. There was one flight path that was like ChengDu to Beijing, then to Tokyo, then to LA, then to San Francisco, then to Sydney... forget that! One round-trip flight to Bali was to fly from ChengDu to Shanghai, then to Singapore, then to Bali, then to Perth Australia, then to Hong Kong, and then to ChengDu. I did try to figure out a vacation where I could stay in all of these places, but the amount of time flying was just too much.

I was leaning toward going to Bali, but then started reading news articles (such as this one) about a lot of volcanic activities in Indonesia recently, and since I had heard of Krakatoa before (see history here) I decided Australia would be a safer bet. I decided on a flight that would go from ChengDu to Shanghai, and then on to Auckland New Zealand where I could visit some friends during Christmas. After that I could fly to Sydney and then on to the Lindeman Islands in Australia where I would spend New Year's, and then to Singapore for a few days, and then back to ChengDu.

Now for the fun part... buying the tickets. I am not sure if I mentioned it before, but they have a screwy system here where you can not buy domestic tickets and international tickets at the same time. Most agencies can only do domestic flights, there are a few that can do flights to and from China from other countries, and very few that can do international flights that originate and end in other countries.

Anyways, after spending too much time calling too many travel agencies I actually found one that can do all of it for me (I hope). It's called TUI China Travel and they have an office in Beijing. I think they are a German company, so they can do all of the international travel stuff. I am now waiting to see if they can put together something nice that won't cost too much. I'll let you all know how that goes later.


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