Archive for the ‘traveling in general’ Category

Here is the check list I use every time when I pack for a vacation. I found it very helpful, so I guess some of you may as well.

Travel Packing List (English)

Travel Packing List (Chinese)

Don’t be scared by this long list. I don’t bring everything on the list with me when I travel. Before I start packing, I will go through the list and cross out all the items that are not needed. An item may be very important for a trip, yet, totally inapplicable for another. What to pack varies, depends on the destination(s), as well as the type of vacation.

And since there already are many articles and tips on the internet preaching the art of travelling light, I am not going to say much about it here, but would recommend you to read a few of them when time allows. Who knows! You might get enlightened and ended up cutting down 90% of the things on your packing list 8)


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Three months ago, when I told my dad that the air tickets I bought for my Hokkaido trip were of Korean Air, he wasn’t very happy.  I bought the tickets just becuz of its price.  For some reason, the tickets of KAL was cheaper than other major airlines (e.g. Cathay, JAL, ANA) by more than USD 500.  Yes, there was a trade-off – a five-hour waiting in Seoul Incheon Airport.  But, I didn’t mind at all, for every hour I wait would be a hundred buck I save :mrgreen:

Then, my dad said: besides the five-hour waiting, Korean Air wasn’t a good airline anyway, for it’s not safe…

Humm… that I didn’t know, hence, couldn’t judge whether what he said was true.  But since I was very happy with the big saving and didn’t feel especially unsafe flying KAL, I traveled as planned; in fact, I had a very good flying experience with KAL this time (mainly becuz of its yummy bibimbap haha 😀 )

But nevertheless, the question about airline safety has kept lingering in my mind…  Which is the safest airline in the world?  And which one is the most dangerous?  I did some research, and surprisingly, found that there actually was no one commonly acknowledged ranking for airline safety.

This is because evaluating airline safety and ranking airlines is an extremely difficult task. There are many factors that contribute to the safety of an airline, for examples, accident history, maintenance procedures, age of fleet, types of training programs, etc.  And safety doesn’t always depend on the airline itself too.  What about factors such as airport security in cases of hijackings, bombing attempts, etc?

And there are so many different ways to analyze past accident data.  Should we rank airline safety based on the number of hours flown? Or by the passenger miles completed? Or by the number of trip made?

And, air crashes are very rare events (fortunately!).  With an average of one crash for every three million takeoffs, there are too few fatal accidents to serve as a basis for reliable statistics.

But anyways, here are two websites with some flight safety related data and rankings that you may find helpful.

Aviation Safety Network – Airlines’ Accident History

Plane Crash Info

Airline Accident Rates

There is an interesting stats stated in the Airline Accident Rates page.

Aviation accidents are extremely rare, with the probability of a passenger being killed on a single flight at approximately eight million-to-one. If a passenger boarded a flight at random, once a day, everyday, it would statistically be over 21,000 years before he or she would be killed.

Does this make those with aviophobia (fear of flying) feeling any better? haha

KAL Bibimbap, the best airplane meal I have had.  It is used to be served only in the first class and business class.  But apparently, this has changed.  Now econ class passengers can have this too 😀

Seoul Incheon Airport is a nice one; new, spacious, and comfy.

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When I travel, I always want to find out how much the locals are paying for the same products that I am about to purchase. So if the shop owner tries to charge me much higher just because I am a tourist, I will know and will start bargaining down with a good target price in mind.

While one can save some money thru bargaining, the point of bargaining is really not that much about saving money here; many times, the differences are just a couple of dollars. I just don’t like the idea of being thought as a dummy, whom one can easily take advantage of and rip off from. And of course, the crappy feeling of being cheated after learning how much I have overpaid is equally terrible.

Hey, I know more than you think I do, ok!? I don’t want to let the locals get a feeling that every foreigner is stupid enough to be ripped off big time. These foreigners are here, now, because they are interested in the history and culture of your country, admire its unique tradition and the magnificent beauty of its scenery. These people have spent a lot to fly to your country, and they will definitely spend more along the way during their vacation in your country.

But on the other hand, I understand that the locals are just doing whatever they can to earn more for a better living. Most of them are good, friendly people with a kind heart, only that some of them think we, the foreigners, are too dumb not to trick and rip off from. Haha.

Well, this is just a part of the game for traveling and exploring the world. While the locals try to trick us for more from our pocket, we play defense and try to get a fair, if not better, deal. In fact, along the way when we are playing this game with the locals, Yik and I have made some friends with this other team 😀

So, let’s just play along and enjoy our trips 😉

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Shower CartoonIt is important to have a stable supply of hot water when we travel, especially in cold weather. In China, many guesthouses and cheaper hotels have no heater, so in the winter, when the temperature isn’t very low, it could already be quite chilly. When I was in Yuangshuo (陽朔) in mid Dec, with ~5-10 C, the wooden floor was already freezing cold that I couldn’t walk around the room without my flip-flops on.

Don’t Assume 24/7

While most guesthouses say that they have hot water supply, don’t assume that the supply is available for 24/7. Ask first. While we most likely can work around our schedule and take our shower when the hot water supply is available, we don’t want to get ourselves naked in the freezing bathroom before finding out all we get is biting cold water. And if one needs hot water out of the scheduled time, ask the hostel manager for special arrangement. I bet they won’t mind to make such arrangement for you.

Stable Supply?

Notice I say “stable” supply? I remember when I was in Altay Mountains of Xinjiang, I stayed in a hotel for a night, so we could get to Hanas Lake very early the next morning. Altay is in the northern Xinjiang, close by Mongolia and Russia, so it was already quite cold when we were there in September. I shared a room with a friend and she took her shower first. When she came out from the bathroom, I saw her lips turned purplish. She told me the water turned cold after a few minutes of shower, so she just rushed herself and got her shower done asap before getting frozen. Later we went to the front desk and found that we should give the electric water heater in our bathroom a much longer time to heat up the water before using the water. And due to the small size of the water heater, we should keep our shower time within ten minutes. Good that I learnt this before I took my shower. Haha.

Shower Cartoon

Either Too Hot or Too Cold

While there are many stories of water not being hot enough, it could also be disastrous when water gets way too hot. The guesthouse I stayed in Huanghao had hot water, some very hot water. Unlike most showers, the hot water temperature for this one was fixed. So, one got either cold water or boiling hot water. Instead of getting into all the trouble of drying up, putting on clothes, getting to the lobby and finding the manager for some not-guaranteed help, I just moved as fast as possible and get out of the shower as quickly as I could.

Hence, by learning more about the hot water supply of the guesthouse that we are staying in before jumping into the shower, we may save ourselves from getting a cold after a ten-minutes attempt to adjust the water temperature for the shower, while standing naked and wet in a freezing bathroom, with teeth chattering and knees knocking.

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