OTHER PEO­PLE’S HOL­I­DAYS

Sunday Herald Sun - Escape - - WELCOME SOMEWHERE NEAR PORT AUGUSTA, SA -

Last week I played spec­ta­tor to a China hol­i­day plan­ning ses­sion. An old fam­ily friend was sprout­ing travel ad­vice gleaned from years liv­ing in Shang­hai while my sis­ter – who’s head­ing that way in Oc­to­ber – fran­ti­cally took notes and started map­ping out an itin­er­ary. I’m also tak­ing on China later in the year on a Vik­ing cruise, so my shore ex­cur­sions will be put to­gether by the ex­perts on board, but I too soaked up the DIY ap­proach with en­thu­si­asm.

The ex-ex­pat’s Shang­hai guide in­cluded rec­om­men­da­tions on the best ho­tel lo­ca­tions, pros and cons of pub­lic trans­port ver­sus a pri­vate driver who dou­bles as a per­sonal tour guide, and the im­por­tance of ad­dresses for pre-booked restau­rants writ­ten in Chi­nese to en­sure on-time ar­rival. Fur­ther in­struc­tion was given on how to nav­i­gate the fa­mous fab­ric mar­kets and or­gan­ise a mas­ter tailor to re­pro­duce your favourite silk or linen shirt/dress/suit, the joys of xi­ao­long­bao – the leg­endary soup­filled dumplings of the re­gion – and a rec­om­men­da­tion on the op­ti­mum time of day to jump on the world’s fastest pas­sen­ger train for the fourand-a-half hour ride to Beijing.

My friend came armed with pho­to­copies of busi­ness cards of her favourite bars, restau­rants, shops and tourist at­trac­tions and strong opin­ions on how to max­imise ev­ery se­cond of the hol­i­day.

Then I spent time with a dear friend who’d just re­turned from a six-week eat­ing and ex­plor­ing ex­trav­a­ganza in Spain and whose son was in the mid­dle of an epic road trip from Syd­ney to the NT. Both en­coun­ters left me in­spired to add new places to my travel wish list and happy with the tales of other peo­ple’s trav­els.

JANA FRAWLEY, NA­TIONAL TRAVEL EDI­TOR

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