China on the Cheap

We arrived in China almost two weeks ago. The country has made a good impression so far. This is actually our second trip to China, our first being five years ago to the south (from Hong Kong to the Yunnan). After five years, this behemoth of a country is advancing in leaps and bounds. Economic growth can be witnessed everywhere. At the same time, ancient culture and personal experiences await around every corner.

After arriving in Beijing late in the evening, we found our hotel down one of Beijing’s many Hutong alleyways. These microcosms of Chinese culture, where locals live in close proximity to one another and share a tight-knit neighborhood, are slowly being torn apart and replaced with towering skyscrapers. Beijing as a whole is impressive. It’s huge and modern in some parts, but ancient and cultural in others. We visited Beihai park, where crowds perform Tai Chi in unison along the shore of an ancient lake with a modern skyline as a backdrop.

Playing the Airfare Game

The other day, we finally purchased our plane tickets for our trip to China and Mongolia. We’ve been planning this trip for a while, but recent life events led us to actually settle on some specific dates for our trip. However, like any good traveler (and anyone who wants to save money), we’ve been monitoring the prices of tickets for quite some time in hopes to get the best bang for our buck. This ended up being a waste of time, because on many of the popular airline booking sites, the price they give you when you’re about to buy a ticket can be much different than the price you’re shown at the beginning of the process.

Let the following story be a warning to anyone trying to play this game.