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Posts Tagged ‘Transportation’

Daily rental cost of a 4WD is around 500 rmb, while a 7-seater mini van (aka “bread van”, mianbaoche, 麵包車) is around 400 rmb. Please don’t mind paying that extra 100 rmb, and go for a 4WD. Not only it gives a more comfortable ride, but also much safer. Unless traveling alone, the extra spending probably costs less than a McD happy meal when splitting it among with others in the car.

bread van

bread van

The thin metal used to make the mini van makes the car crumble easily in car crashes. In addition, the lack of advanced safety features like stability control or airbags makes this “bread van” not a smart pick, especially for road trips to some snow mountains.

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Yik and I are happy that we rent a 4WD for our Meili Snow Mountain trip 😀

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Ok, for those of you who have patience or don’t have Yunnan in your priority list, it may be a good idea to wait for another year or two. Apparently, the Yunnan local government is in the process of developing its tourism industry. When we were on our way to Lugu Lake (瀘沽湖) and Meili Snow Mountain (梅里雪山), we saw many road constructions. We are told that the roads, which will be ready in some time next year, will be much wilder and less bumpy. This means a safer and more comfortable ride, if not faster as well.

But of course, this also means that these places will get more touristy and lose the peace and quiet nature as they become more accessible to the outside world.

many road constructions

Yunnan: many road constructions

There were many road constructions like this on our way to Lugu Lake and Meili Snow Mountain.

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Try to avoid traveling on the road on rainy or snowy days, especially if you are going to / from the mountain areas. Most of these areas have not yet been fully developed and their very narrow, winding roads become especially dangerous when it’s raining or snowing.

In fact, there are many fatal car accidents every year due to the poor road condition in the mountain areas. And the local government is aware of this that it blocks the roads in the mountains whenever it rains/snows heavily. It will be so bad if you are in the middle of your 8-hour ride, only to learn that you can’t proceed any further but change your plan, or even worse, cancel your trip and head back to wherever you are from.

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It is very important to get a good driver. Yik and I were just very lucky that we met XiaoWu (小武) and XiaoMo (小莫) and had them to refer us to a responsible, friendly Tibetan driver – Zhaxipeichu (扎西培楚) . Even on the bumpy winding roads in the mountain, Zhaxi drove quite fast, yet very stable, that I felt safe enough when sitting in his car. And because he drove so fast, our ride from Meili to Shangri Las had cut short for almost two hours.

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Btw, only until when we said our farewell, Zhaxi told us that he is a champion of a Shangri-La rally race 🙂

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Here is Zhaxi’s business card. He told us that he also gives rides to Tibet. Yet, price is double of what he charges for Yunnan – 1000 rmb / day. He explained that it is due to the tough road condition and high gas price in Tibet.

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Mini-bus to Lugu Lake from Lijiang costs 70 rmb, while the return ride costs only 50 rmb. These are the market prices. So, unless there is a special discount due to a particular situation, everyone pays the same prices. But while everyone pays the same, not everyone gets the same. With the same cost, you may be arranged to a comfy 20-seater bus, with spacious legroom and headroom, or a crappy, tiny 14-seater with little or no air-con, legroom, headroom, whatsoever.

So, my suggestion: always ask for more details when you book for a ride. Ask about the car model, the departure and arrival time, the stops made in between, the number of seats that are planned to leave empty to put luggages… it just won’t hurt to ask more 😉

Yik and I didn’t know any better before we went to Lugu Lake from Lijiang.  So we ended up taking this fully loaded 14-seater bus for our 8-hour bumpy ride to Lugu Lake. Lucky that everyone in the car was good passenger though; at least nobody was sickly coughing, or had car sick, or snored loudly when sleeping in the car, etc, etc.

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This is the 14-seater we rid to Lugu Lake. O ya, we had a flat tier too… :mrgreen:

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We didn’t take the 14-seater bus back to Lijiang, but this 20-seater bus. They cost the same, but the 20-seater was so much better!

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Bumpy Rides in Yunnan

I had some very long tough car rides during my Yunnan trip. To be specific, they were the 8-hour ride to Lugu Lake (瀘沽湖) and the 6-hour ride to Meili Snow Mountain (thank to our rally-champion driver for his very fast-yet-steady drive, cutting our ride 2 hours short from the usual 8-hour ride :P). It was not the long hours in the car that made the ride so bad. I had some very long car rides before when I visited Xinjiang and India, yet, nothing as tough as the ones I had in this trip.

While the weather made a difference in the comfort level of the rides, the super bumpy road condition was the main cause of these uneasy car rides.

On top of all the rocks and soil that lay along the already-very-narrow road to Meili Snow Mountain due to landslides and constructions, the road is built very bumpy on purpose, covered with stones, so to avoid the narrow mountain road from getting frozen and icy.

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There are many road construction along the way.

Apparently, Yunnan government is in the action of developing its tourism. Both the road to Lugu Lake and the one to Meili Snow Mountain are currently under construction, and are targeted to be completed in next year. Hopefully, the rides to these places will be much easier and safer.

And for those who hate crowds, I would suggest you to go to these places as soon as possible! For once the road constructions are completed, the easy accessibility will lead to buses of tourists visiting these places!

I can tell the guesthouses and shops in Lugu Lake and Shangri-La Old Town are waiting for this day to come 😀

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Most of the guesthouses in Lige (里格) of Lugu Lake are built in the recent 2,3 years, and there are more being built now.

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Based on the experience of my trip in India and Nepal, following are links to my reviews of accommodations, restaurants, and other services that I would like to recommend you to try or NOT to try.

This is just my two cents. For more reviews and suggestions, I would recommend one to check out IndiaMike.com, an online community for India travelers. I especially like its forums. The personal experiences and up-to-date information given by its strong member base are far more trustworthy and helpful than many other random travel sites.

And things change quickly in this world, especially places like India and Nepal. So please don’t take the numbers I gave here as they are, but only as a reference. I have two advices for you when shopping in these countries.

  1. Check and compare the prices of different shops or hotels before making your purchase.
  2. Bargain always. You will be surprised by all the better deals that you can get for yourself by doing so. =)

Another website that I used a lot when I was doing my research is Trip Advisor.

Here are some reviews of accommodations and restaurants.

Delhi – Waves Restaurant, Prince Polonia Hotel, Hotel Blue Sapphire
Varanasi – Scindhia Guest House
Khajuraho – Hotel Zen
Agra – Taj Home Stay, Maya Hotel
Jaipur – Umaid Mahal Hotel
Kathmandu – Annapurna Lodge

In addition, here are more information that you may find helpful.

Cost Breakdown of My India & Nepal Trip

Itinerary of My India & Nepal Trip

Transportation in India
Travel in India – Car Rental
Indian Drivers & the Evil Commission System
Car Rental in India: How Much Tips for a C+ Service?
Transportation in India: Car Rental & India Railways

Tour Guide in Nepal
Nepal Tour Guide

Trekking in Nepal
Jap Quality Hot spring in Jhinu

Shopping in India
Travel in India – Beware of the Commission System!!!
Travel in India – Have Fun Bargaining
Travel in India – The Best Anti-Hawker Strategy
Different Entry Fee for Indians and Foreigners
Indian: Friendly? Tricky?

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