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@RebelRabbi asks: I am looking at a trip to China and want to complete all Starwood brands. St Regis Tianjin has good rates. How is the city?
I worked in Tianjin for several years. It is convenient from Beijing with bullet trains as fast as 33 minutes. Tianjin has limited international flights if you bypass Beijing.
It is a huge city by any standard except China, where despite its size, it feels small. It is one of the 4 provincial-level cities in China along with Beijing, Shanghai and Chongqing.
There aren’t big tourist draws. Instead there are pleasant neighborhoods such as around Nankai University, one of China’s best schools. You can stroll the neighborhoods to get a local experience far from tourist crowds and touts.
The Huanghua section of the Great Wall is a great trip though not in the same league as sections north of Beijing.
The food is hearty, similar to Beijing. The men smell of garlic and smokes. For local noodles, try zhajiangmian (炸酱面) at Lao Tianjin Wei Zhajiangmian (老天津卫炸酱面) which has outlets around town. The famous dumpling is Goubuli (狗不理), also with outlets around town. You will have to request non-pork versions and with much dining in China, strict Kosher eating requires a lot of effort and for non-Chinese speakers may best be left to international hotels. These restaurants should be halal and that can be verified by halal certificates issued by the government, hanging in the restaurant.
Scott asks: Were you able to arrange flights so that you had a short stopover in Nauru? The last time I looked, there was only one flight a week, so I’d need to have a transit or stay a week (neither of which appealed to me).
Nauru Airlines has greatly expanded flights, several times a week from Brisbane plus Nadi and also Majuro for those linking up with United. I flew Brisbane to Nauru, 2 nights, continued up to Majuro, 2 nights , out to Tarawa, 1 night and onward to Fiji. Majuro is on their weekly Micronesia Hopper, which includes Chuuk, Korsae and Pohnpei. Every Nauru flight was on time. Loads of food served.
Only hard part for Nauru was to get a hotel confirmation for the visa approval, and you need the visa to board the flight, though once you get to Nauru, immigration marks short visits as transit and doesn’t charge for the visa. Book hotel early, the two main ones sell out and the third is not highly responsive. No Airbnb or the like.
@MPWtravels asks: I see some fantastic fares on China Eastern in economy from Chicago to Asia. Any experience to share with them?
Delta earn is improved, SkyTeam status recognition is fine, almost all lounges in China any airline are poor. I like them enough for economy, avoid A340 if can, language/service barriers only a problem for high maintenance travelers.
Send mailbag questions to stefan (at) rapidtravelchai.com or to me on twitter @rapidtravelchai.