Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Chinese Travel

This is an essay I wrote for English class in home school...

Whether living or vacationing in China, there are several kinds of transportation available for travel. Buses can be used if you are commuting short distances or taking long trips. Locals enjoy train travel as a cheap alternative too. Those who live or travel near the water might even enjoy boat travel for a ride down one of the various Chinese rivers. Each of these forms of Chinese transportation can make for an interesting and unique cultural experience.

Traveling by bus in China can be a very exciting way to see areas beyond the cities or to go to work each day. The commuting buses are useful for getting almost anywhere in both large cities and small towns. There are stops on every street corner, and quite a few buses visit each metal sign. The only time to beware of these metal beasts is during rush hour when they are packed like sardines. Besides this kind of bus, there are also long-distance buses that will take you most places in China. Rides in these range from two hours to twenty-four hours and can either have seats or bunk beds. If you don’t know where the bus stops are, though, you might never get on a bus, because sometimes the stops are just random places in the middle of the road or on the shoulder of a country highway!

Buses are, overall, fairly convenient but one of the most comfortable ways to move around China is by train. Sleeper trains are filled with cabins of four or six bunks and ensure relaxing rides overnight. Some of these rides can take up to two days if going cross-country by speed train. For shorter distances, hard and soft seat trains make for easy rides. There are both express trains and slow trains. The latter double the time, but are half the price. Some people even choose slow, hard-seat trains for overnight travel because it is the cheapest option. Trains with seats can also take visitors to areas of the Great Wall outside of Beijing or to other towns outside major cities. Train travel is probably the least expensive and most relaxing form of transportation on land, but if you live near the water, there is another way to cruise to your destination.

There are over 50,000 rivers in China, several of which are great places for boat rides. The two main kinds of boats are the ferry boats and tour boats. If you are traveling for speed from one river town to another, ferry boats are quick and easy. They are normally filled with locals or commuters, and they prepare and sell food during lunch time. If you want to experience the river, though, tourist boats are a better option. Depending on the river and the destination, these types of boats can take passengers from one hour to as long as five days. Overnight boats have cabins with beds and can have lounges, bars, tea houses, and karaoke rooms. Chinese tours are lots of fun to be a part of and have tourists from all over the country. There are western cruises too, but the prices are much more expensive. Traveling by boat is a great way to see China’s rivers and associate with the laobaixing!

Transportation is just one of the many reasons that China is such an easy and fun place to travel around. Between the buses, trains, and boats, visitors and locals can never be bored of the many convenient ways to see one of the largest countries in the world. Plus, what better way to learn the various dialects from each province and town than to spend time with native speakers!

~Julie

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