This is my experience in Beijing, China in the Summer of 2009. If you came to this webpage first, it's better if you start from the beginning of the story.
The last time I was in Beijing was in 1999! It's funny because I seem to be visiting Beijing every 10 years. The last time I was in Beijing, I was taking this intense course in Mandarin Chinese. I did learn a lot but I haven't been practicing. This trip has motivated me to pick it up again.
It is now 2009. FISM, the international magician's convention, is being held in Beijing for the first time! It sounds like a lot of fun so I signed up! But since I'm going to be in China, I might as well look around the country. So I signed up for a tour that lasts a few weeks before the convention. This pre-FISM tour of China was organized by Joan Caesar of Canada. For you magicians out there, you may already know Joan was a past president of IBM, another organization of magicians.
The main points of this trip is to see parts of China I haven't seen before, perhaps revisit other places and see what's new and, of course, to attend FISM! The real point is to have a blast while doing all of this!
The cost of the tour for me was about $3800USD which includes airfare, room and board, and sight-seeing day trips for 14 days. I thought this was fair deal this year considering what you are getting. I bought the tour through Nexus Holidays Toronto Inc. in Canada but I do NOT recommend them. I experienced poor/apathetic service from dealing with the travel agent to last minute changes in the tour which made me see less than I paid for. The only reason I went on the tour was because the tour group consisted of all magicians and I thought it would be more fun to go with them.
The cost for the week during the FISM convention, hotel and meals are extra. So I plan to be in China for a total of 3 weeks.
My main itinerary will be to fly from LAX to Beijing and then onward Xi'an where I will meet the rest of my tour group. After sightseeing in Xi'an including visiting the Terra-Cotta Warriors, we will fly to Jiuzhaigou to see its natural beauty. Then fly to Chengdu to see the Panda Bears. Then fly to Hangzhou to go sightseeing (this was a last minute change). We will take a bus to Huangshan to see its natural beauty. Then we will fly back to Beijing for a few days of sightseeing. Then a week of FISM! Then I will fly back home to LAX. For the more visually inclined, the map of China below shows my travel route.
This map is derived from a public domain map of China from the
Perry-Castaneda Library Map Collection at the University of Texas at Austin
My original intent was to keep a daily log of the activities in my trip which I could upload onto a webpage for my friends to see. Internet access in China has improved so much for tourists that I can update this website almost daily. What actually happened was the tour kept me so busy that I didn't have time to write a daily webpage. Also, some hotels still did not have an Internet connection or only had it in their business centers.
I must apologize for the identification watermark on the pictures of my China website. It was an extra hassle for me to put them there. But some people have no qualms about stealing pictures that don't belong to them and that ruins it for the rest of us. Just be glad I didn't put the watermark in the middle of the picture like some of the more paranoid websites. :)