The Huangshan Puzzle

Huangshan is not the same as Huangshan Scenic Area. I knew that, but I didn’t expect how difficult navigating this would be. -__-

Traveling to Huangshan is pretty complex and probably well covered by Chinese blogs. But not English ones.

There are options, and so I label them a, b, c. You can use whichever option, then move on to the next number.

1a. Bus from Suzhou

There are buses available both from the North and South Railway station, at CNY128. The North one leaves at 6:40am, and that’s what we took.

Our bus arrived at Tunxi (Huangshan City) at 12:30pm.

1b. Train/Bus From Shanghai

At around CNY326, the one high speed train leaves Shanghai in the morning and arrives at Huangshan Railway station, taking 4 hours.

There’s a bus option that takes 6 hours.

2a. From Huangshan Station (Tunxi)

This is if you took the bus.

From there, you transfer at the same bus station to another bus (gate 8, no need to buy ticket at the counter, you pay at the bus) that goes to the transfer point near the foot of the mountain. This costs CNY20, and takes more than an hour.

2b. From Huangshan Railway Station, North (Highspeed train)

If you go outside the huge ass train station, there’s another huge ass bus station. Buy the ticket at the counter and board the bus. This costs CNY18 if I remember correctly, and takes 45 minutes.

3. Transfer (?) bus

This is a CNY18 bus that takes you from the foot of the mountain to your preferred cable car. Since me and my friend wanted the East (Yugun) one, we took that bus. Less than an hour I think.

4. Ropeway up!

From here on, your Huangshan Scenic Area maps should work.

When you pay for the Ropeway, you also pay for the entrance (less than CNY200 – I think CNY190?). This you can pay by international credit card.

PS

The Ropeway is CNY80 for the east one, and CNY90 for the west one. The Cable Car in the middle of the mountain in the west course is CNY100.

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Chinese Tourist Visa

Hey China, I wanna go back!

This is my third stop in China – first was as a transit passenger (Xiamen), second was an exchange student (Beijing), and now as a tourist (Shanghai).

So let’s get straight to it.

Where to Apply

  1. Tokyo
  2. Nagoya (this is where I went). They are open weekdays, from 9am-3pm for applications. I went during lunchtime, coz I’m a salarywoman whose only “official” free time is lunch time.
  3. Osaka

What to Prepare

  1. Online application
  2. Passport photo (there is a booth at the embassy at JPY800 for five shots, 3 passport sizes and 2, er, bigger pictures)
  3. Bank book (it might not be necessary, but I didn’t have an ID so I had to show my bank book with transactions showing me receiving money from my company)
  4. Flight reservation
  5. Hotel reservation

What to Do

  1. Go to the Nagoya embassy (Itochu Building, 4th floor. Google will work for you here).
  2. Take a number at the entrance (It’s just one big room). Select the individual applicant button.
  3. Wait til your number is called, then submit requirements.
  4. Go back at the designated date (around one week. In my case, one week exactly).
  5. Pay the JPY9,400 fee.

Done!

Quick notes

  • They will never give multiple entries for tourist visas. Yes, I asked. Come on, it’s my “3rd time”!
  • Apply 3 months maximum in advance, per website. But the girl in the counter recommended I apply at 2 months 3 weeks max.
  • Bring your company ID. I didn’t have one, hence I showed my bankbook showing I receive money from the company. Or a business card will also work.

Pretty simple and painless. Except for how expensive the fee is, China visa application is probably a favorite. 🙂

Doing Business in Asia (whereas Asia means China, Korea and Japan)

~August 2017

One of the nice opportunities for my university is an exchange between what I heard was called chopstick countries – China’s Beijing, Korea’s Seoul, and Japan’s Tokyo.

What is it for? Probably fostering the relationship between these powerhouses. Hence, in terms of selecting students in my school, I think that they prioritize the Japanese students, then work on the diversity (seriously, diversity is a BIG deal). Either way, what happened?

Btw, this is an extremely late blog entry and I can’t remember the details that well, so I’m no longer separating the rants and facts. Read at your own risk.

The Beijing Nightmare

This happened in summer. In August. If you ask me when to NOT go to any of these countries, August will probably be my answer. It’s hot. It’s humid. And it RAINS a lot.

A group of students from Peking University welcomed us at the airport, which was, well, very welcoming. We got into the bus, and went straight to the Hotel.

We checked in our hotels, and immediately felt the lack of access to the world’s internet. Goodbye email. Goodbye facebook. Goodbye line. I felt like the Chinese government was basically putting me in a box that tells me how I should act and the extent at which I can do things (well, they probably are).

We then proceeded to the university where I the value of the small piece of paper from Guagua (???) School of Management was evident. People were lining up to get into the school, and I’m talking hundreds of meters worth of line. Our bus skipped the line (and in the next couple of days), we sometimes are dropped off outside the school and we have to show that piece of paper to get in).

For the next week, we had classes in the school, company visits and a cancelled visit to the Great Wall of China. Why? Because it. just. won’t. stop. raining. on our free day.

Leaving Beijing, we were a couple of hours early, but with the extremely long and convoluted lines, we made it to the boarding gate 10 minutes after boarding time. Was it the scariest time in my flying life? No (see offloaded). But darn it’s a close second. Good thing the plane was late for half an hour, which we were told when we got into the boarding gate.

Fun in Seoul

Hello, internet! Plenty of notifications the moment we got into Incheon airport.

Same drill as the one in Peking – get into the bus, check in to the hotel, sleep, go to school and go to company trips.

For our free time, the students brought us to Lotte World, where other people went shopping and my group got lost walking looking for seats. We also went to plenty of restaurants, and a kitchen play (which was hilarious but whose title I no longer remember).  We also had an activity where we make Korean alcohol from rice. Unfortunately, we were flying the next day and the concoction is not allowed for flying (coz it’s alcohol and it’ll explode on air. No thanks) so we had to leave it.

Home, sweet home, Tokyo.

Finally! We’re back to Tokyo!!!

Same drill  – except the Tokyo people went their own way the moment we landed at Haneda.

For our free time, there’s no organized activity (yeah, Tokyo didn’t care). But we did tour our own groups! 😀 My group did the Omotesando – Meiji Shrine – Shibuya – Akihabara tour.

 

 

Well, this is just an overview, and if I do get the time (and can still remember it), I’ll probably write more.  Or not.

Chinese Visa

June 21, 2017

Since I’m going to Beijing for an exchange and Filipinos need visa to go almost everywhere, I had to apply for my Chinese visa.

Planning

Accomplish the online form (just google Chinese visa application form, there’s one site applicable to all countries). You’ll have to tick which type of visa. In my case, they refused a tourist visa (which was recommended by Peking University). They (the consular) wanted a short, non business visa. Guess who wins?

Fortunately, the type of visa you selected in your application form can be changed manually, so it’s pretty convenient.

Prepare your requirements:

  • Photocopy of invitation letter
  • Photocopy of resident’s ID

Yup, that’s it.

Consular Office

The Tokyo visa service center is about 15 minutes walk from Toranomon station, Ginza line. Go in the building (it’s in the 8th floor), fall in line at the counter, and they’ll tell you what to do. At this time (July 2017), there’s a Tully’s Coffee at the ground.

It’s like the US visa, they have a quick “interview” then you are told whether the visa will be granted, and told when to go back. Regular processing is around 4 days, and payment is made when claiming the passport. I need to pay JPY9,400 (If i remember correctly).
So after my entire offboarding story when I was in Netherlands transiting in Xiamen, China, I’m now going back, this time armed with an actual visa! 😀

6 hours in Xiamen

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April 30, 2017

With six hours for my layover, there’s NO way I’m staying in the airport. Almost all nationalities can leave the airport if they have a 24 hour transit. Some nationalities even have 72 hours (not for Filipinos). Since my layover is from 6pm to 12mn, might as well have dinner in China, right?

Immigration

There’s a separate lane for the 24/72 hour visa free entries. The girl at immigration speaks decent English, and that’s about all the English I encountered. I had a friend write some Chinese phrases, and boy were they helpful!

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My “script” has ~three sentences: 1. Please take me to xxx restaurant. 2. Please take me to Xiamen Airport and 3. I don’t have a visa. Can I stay here for 24 hours, and may I leave the airport?

Transportation

At the taxi stand, I talked to the lady helping everyone. She helped us hire a car for only CNY60. It took us 15 minutes (yes, I timed) to go to the restaurant another friend recommended.

Since the restaurant was full, my buddy and I decided to just walk around. We asked some people (they have a google translate-ish app they used to talk to us), and off to the lake we went.

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Sorry for the picture quality. We were rushing. Either way, you’re not missing anything.

Food

Near the lake is a restaurant. Of course we didn’t order the weird stuff. We paid CNY96 in total.

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This is one of those restaurants where you point and they cook it for you, I think. Since we don’t speak Chinese and these are probably expensive, we decided to just go with the normal dishes.
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This is streetfood. Of course we didn’t try it.
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At the airport, a drink is around USD0.15. That’s so cheap! In Japan, a drink is at least a dollar. O.O

Back to Xiamen Airport

We then flagged a cab, and it took us 20 minutes and CNY40 to get back. We were back to at the airport three hours before our flight, with the check in counter opening 10 minutes after we arrived.

It was a good two hours of experiencing Xiamen.

 

Flying Xiamen Airlines

April 30, 2017

Leg 1: Narita to Xiamen

I don’t like long lines in Japan. Why? Because this is Japan. Except for themeparks, the Japanese just DON’T DO long lines. Unfortunately, Xiamen Airlines is Chinese, so wait I must.

Everything went smoothly afterwards.

Leg 2. Xiamen to Amsterdam

Once we got off Xiamen, we had to go through their immigration. Even if you are just transferring, you still have to pass through them.

We had to go through the entire check in again, but since we were the only flight in Xiamen at that point (we had the airport to ourselves!), it went quite smoothly. Everything was on time.

Oh, unfortunately they don’t have slippers, eyecovers or toothbrushes up the plane. And as most airlines, their earplugs suck.

Leg 3. Amsterdam to Zurich

I LOVE the Schiphol (Amsterdam) Airport. They have a pretty cool and automated conveyor belt for the security check which facilitates the process. The guy handling it was pretty cool, even asking me to say hi to Manny Pacquiao (it weirded me out how he figured out I was a Filipino. In hindsight, he probably saw my passport).

Their internet is also free and fast. Plus we can access google, facebook, etc. (I never thought I’d miss them so much until I went to China.)

We had to pass through immigration here, and not in Switzerland. Apparently with the entire EU thingy, flights across member countries count like a domestic flight.

We used KLM lines, and they’ve got really good sandwiches. I wouldn’t go so far as to say they’ve got the best sandwiches, but I can’t recall a single sandwich that is as good. Or maybe it’s the European bread. Hmm.

Zurich Airport.

I lost my hair clip in the plane! I immediately went back, but they apparently were done cleaning when I did and there’s nothing they could do! Ugh!

Oh, and no free wifi! You need a phone number (which I don’t have) to register.

And this concludes my 30 hour-ish trip. I left my unit at 10am, Tokyo time, and arrived at Zurich around 4pm Tokyo time. Yep, that’s a loooong flight.


DBIA:China, Japan and South Korea

July 7, 2017

As part of the Doing Business in Asia program, MBA students from Hitotsubashi University (Japan), Seoul National Univeristy (South Korea), and Peking University (China) spend one week on each school during the month of August.

Only ten students are selected from each school, and as of now I don’t know how the other schools selected theirs. Heck, I don’t even know how ours are selected.

Either way, I got in! So what does that mean?

That means I pay my own share – no final amount yet.

That also means I apply for my own visa for South Korea and China. The fun part? Since we get invitation letters from basically their top schools, the visa process is easy. I know others don’t have this problem, but I’m a Filipina. Come on.

That means I get to bond with students from SNU and Peking University.

And that’s all I have to write… for now. :p