Friday, October 20, 2006

Go Elong!

Interesting post again at "Migrant Worker" about Elong, the online travel agency and its plane ticket service, here in China.

But I have a totally different feeling about Elong. I actually like Elong and use it all the time. I wanted to post about it so I guess now is a good time.

I 'm booking my plane tickets by Internet because I want to buy it at the best moment. Discount are coming and going away quickly. So with Elong, you can check the price 1 month before and check it again 1 week before from your computer, and if you know the kind of discount you can get, it can be very rewarding to wait or to hurry to buy it. Of course, there are many surprise: "What??!! where is my 70% discount i thought i'd get"

One thing that happened: I had booked the ticket 1 week in advance and i found out about a great discount 2 days before the flight. I could call Elong and cancel my ticket, and book the cheap one. Of course, there is a trick: my cheap ticket was delivered to me but i had to normally pay for it. To get refund, you have to go to their local office (they have one in Chengdu, Kunming...) and there is a 5% fee.

Elong has the best site, according to me. Fast, easy to use... and clear. Better than Ctrip, better than Yoee. (i think Yoee doesn't have a delivery service everywhere). You can really consider the price, the time of the flight and make your choice, the company...
Why the company? Sichuan Airlines has free transportation to and from the airport in Chengdu if you have a ticket which discount is not superior to 50%.
Ctrip is so messy!

Now let me mention some of Even's critics:
- Yes, the English page is terrible as you can't enter Chinese characters. They really should fix that! You can't input your address in Chinese, you can't input your Chinese friends name. But actually, it's not a big deal. Yes, Elong Beijing office will call you and make sure about your booking. If they need the Chinese, they ask you to do that by email (it happened to me) or something else. At that time, they also make sure about the delivery(time and place). From experience, this is quite annoying as Elong Chengdu office will call you if these details are unsure or doesn't satisfy them...
- Not all the staff can speak English, but normally it's no problem: Beijing office call is done by somebody who can speak English. Yes, I had some call from the Chengdu office or the delivery guy... in Chinese. But I could always rely on a colleague, friend, passerby or my poor Chinese:
"- shenme shenme... feiji piao... shenme shenme?
- aaaaah feiji piao, duiduidui!
- shenme shenme... zai bu zai?
- zai zai zai! mei wenti!
- dui ba, xie xie..."
Free Chinese practice for me ;-)

- They do have to deliver to you right away. Well, I think the solution is to find somebody you trust (and is willing to pay for you in the 1st time) they can deliver to... on the webpage, you can actually give the address and contact of another person. Very practical.
- They don't guarantee the price of the ticket. It did happened to me, once or twice (it was also on short notice: on the day of the trip). But i wouldn't say it happens often. In that case of short notice, I think I would call Elong directly, I wouldn't wait them to call me back after my booking. (They do have a booking phone number)

Ok, i didn't try Ctrip. And ok, there might be several phone calls involved but for me, the point of ordering online, is that I can compare price and time and do it when i want.

Some facts (not really related to Elong actually)
-They have the good discounts (like the one you will find elsewhere). I know about the Chengdu-Kunming flight (you'll guess why). The full price is 700 RMB. I could get 210 RMB tickets sometimes. That's about 320 RMB with tax.
-The Fuel Tax has doubled from sept 1st. from 30 Yuans to 60 yuans. And I think the airport tax is 50 RMB. (Total tax is 110RMB).
- Price in Summer were really higher than now. No 70% discount at that time...
- I could get good price, even during the October golden week.

Other Elong anecdotes:
- My first time I knew about Elong was in France, 6 Month ago. I was looking for a ticket from Shenzhen to Kunming. They called me to ask me for my credit card number. At that time, I didn't know if I could trust them so I finally found another solution.
- Elong sponsored an episode of danwei tv show "sexy beijing".
- On the homepage there is a very attractive offer:
Beijing--London(RT) ¥2430
I guess I'll know if it's true only when I'll try to get it. Sounds too cheap to be true.

And another mention of Migrant Worker today on the web: see see Gokunming today's post.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

GoKunming gets RSS

GoKunming: Kunming news, events, travel, business, living:

Welcome to GoKunming RSS feed!
For now, only one RSS feed, for the general kunming news section of the website (blog).
I remember when i first discover this website (at the very beginning i believe), i was already hoping for it.

Eco-tourism in south-west China

Interesting article about Eco-tourism featuring Wanglang Nature Reserve in Sichuan. (but mainly about Yunnan)
Can China embrace eco-tourism? | 生态旅游在中国可行吗?
"Tourists are choosing the holiday that involves the least effort, and China's eco-tourism sector is suffering as a result. Sichuan's Wanglang Nature Reserve is a haven for giant pandas. Since 1996, Peking University professor and panda expert, Lu Zhi, has been promoting eco-tourism to the area. But the lack of dramatic scenery and the need to spend time outdoors in order to see the pandas mean that Wanglang still lacks the number of visitors it deserves. The same could be the case in Yunnan."

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Talking about copyrights and Ghibli...

Talking about Copyrights issue and "studio Ghibli" (see my last post), here is what you can find in a Pizza Hut of Chengdu for Halloween decoration. (picture on the right)

At the first glance, I recognize Kiki from Kiki's Delivery Service, a somewhat famous japan animation movie, and her cat. Yeah, the cat is obviously the same, no doubt. Here is the original, the spanish poster (don't ask why) and a picture of the cat. Don't tell me they didn't took it from there!

Thursday, October 12, 2006

When Copyrights start to be a problem....

Email from youtube:

"This is to notify you that we have removed or disabled access to the following material as a result of a third-party notification by Studio Ghibli Inc. claiming that this material is infringing..."

So byebye to:

Harmony 02:48
Porco rosso / Brandford Marsalis
Tags: miyazaki amv music jazz
Added: November 12, 2005, 12:20 PM From philou155
Views: 2,740 Rating: 13 ratings
(4) comments

I put my other AMV in private video. I guess if they can't find it, it will be ok. Wanna first make sure i kept a version on my hard drive.

"Please Note: Repeat incidents of copyright infringement will result in the deletion of your account and all videos uploaded to that account."

don't want this to happen...

Funny enough, this is the second time in 1 week I've been told to remove contents i had on the Internet. well, this time, they did it for me, and ask me to clean my account. (the other copyright problem: i had pictures on my picasaweb album from a "big environmental ngo", i just upload in "private mode" to send to colleagues, and make our work of gathering pictures easier) . I guess I'm a big copyrights dangerous criminal.

My excuse to studio ghibli... I'll never do it again ;-)