Gamblers Trips » January 2018

Monthly Archives: January 2018

Travel and Gamble

Hiking the Great Wall of China

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Like many of you, I have dreamt of hiking the Great Wall of China for as long as I can remember.

Needless to say, this has been very high on my travel bucket list even before I met Matt. Thankfully, the onslaught of budget airlines in the country as well as across the Asia Pacific region has made it possible to travel to regional destinations for cheap.

I’ve been to Beijing several times and have hiked the Great Wall twice, and both at winter season: first with friends (Nov 2011), and second, with my mum and sister Len (Feb 2012). On both occasions we went to the Mutianyu section of the Great Wall.

Something about Mutianyu

Our travel brochure mentioned that the Mutianyu was built as early as the Northern Qi Dynasty (550 -557) and it was rebuilt in the 1300s in order to strengthen its defense. They are built with slabs of granite and stretch to about 22 km long. The walls are about 7 to 8 meters high and 4 or 5 meters wide. As is the other sections of the great wall, the Mutianyu was built primarily to guard the capital and the imperial tombs from the Mongol tribes that invaded China.

Why go to Mutianyu over Badaling?

The Great Wall at Mutianyu is a little further away from Beijing than the crowded Badaling, which is the more famous section for group tours. I can tell you though, I’ve seen Badaling (although we didn’t stop). It’s way too commercialized and crowded.

It’s better driving all the way to Mutianyu (If i remember correctly, about an hour’s drive further) as this section is considered the most beautiful section of the great wall. The drive up there is scenic and the tour normally stops at the Ming Tombs before going to the great wall. The best part about this section, other than the fact that you’ve got spectacular views, is that this is not crowded. The area has 90% forest coverage. On both occasions that i went to it, there were hardly any people there. As a result, I”ve got tons of photos where I was alone with the whole section of the Great Wall. That is pretty rare for China! :)

What to expect at Mutianyu

This section of the wall is fully restored; and there are hand rails to help you up on the very steep parts. There are 22 watchtowers, but we only made it to 3 because the altitude and the steep steps were not an easy challenge. That, or I am just physically unfit! haha!

There are two cable cars that will take you to the top of the wall and back down again. I have tried both on separate occasions. The other cable car is open , more like a chairlift (kinda what you use when you’re skiing) where 2 people can ride, the other is an enclosed cable car that fits about 4 people.

You can buy return tickets or you can buy one way and buy the return at the top. Keep in mind the 2 cable cars are owned by different companies, so when you buy a return ride for one cable car, you can’t use it for the other.  Before you decide that you would like to use another cable car, look at the map you will see at the entrance and anticipate the distance from the one cable car to the other. Do you really want to walk that far to try the other cable car? Can you bear all the hike and will you make it in time before the day ends? Trust me, you don’t wanna mess with those steps! They are quite a challenge!

If not, it may be better for you to just book a return trip. As far as i remember, the fee is cheaper if you book round trip, and that’s what we did.

An alternative way to go down is via a single-rider sled or toboggan. This looked like an adventure to try as you descend from the wall at the top of the hill via a winding metal track. We wanted to experience try, but hesitated in the end as it was too cold at the great wall at that time and we thought using the single rider sled going down may be too tough to do and bear with the cold weather.

There was a Chinese restaurant at the base of the wall where we ate food and had tea before we went up. There are also many souvenir shops at the base where you can haggle for prices.

Why do you need to see it?

This beautiful and massive human ingenuity is said to be the largest man made structure ever to have been built; so large that it can be seen from outer space (of course we all know that this is disputed).  Recently, the Great Wall has also made it to the New 7 Wonders of the World list; a definite must see destination at least once in your lifetime!

Tips when you go:

1. Ensure you look at the map and plan your bathroom visit accordingly as there’s only limited places where you have them.

2. Haggle for the prices at the souvenir shops before paying. Most of the prices they offer you first hand are ballooned (of course, you are a tourist!). I have been able to haggle up prices up to reduced rate of 60-70% of the original price. My friend Teta was an amazing haggler who was able to haggle down to 90%. Now that’s what i call talent! haha!

3. The Ming tombs is normally part of the tour en route to Mutianyu. In our view, you can pass the Ming tombs. Or if you visit, don’t spend as much time there. Rather, ask your guide to drive you to Mutianyu and spend more time there, especially if you  plan to hike up several watch towers.

Good luck and Happy Travels!

Blackjack Tips

Knowing the Blackjack Craze

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Historians have attributed blackjack origins to France during the 18th century. Blackjack is a game of cards and luck that most casinos refer to as the cards probability game.

The card game got its term from Americans who did not recognize the blackjack’s increasing popularity in Europe. Before, casinos have thought of bonus offers on payouts to new and regular gamblers, which comprised of the hand called “blackjack.” In this hand, the player gets two cards consisting of the ace of spades and Jack of Spades or clubs. Blackjack usually had the jack of spades. In every turn, there was a bonus payoff of 10. Thereafter, the game carried with the name blackjack even though the bonus payouts were removed.

This card game requires the winner to have the highest sum, although it should not be over than 21. When the hand has a sum greater than 21, gamblers term this as bust. Initially, the main objective of blackjack gamblers is to attain the highest score that isn’t busted. When the player and dealer busts the game, the blackjack gambler loses. On the other hand, if the gambler’s hand value is similar to the dealer’s cards, there is the presence of “push” and both parties are neutral. In each game, the dealer plays independently with one blackjack gambler.

Essentially, the blackjack gambler should know the time when the dealer shows the cards. In order to manifest this, certain methods are applied to reveal cards on table. Firstly, the knowledge on number of decks should be present. Certain casinos provide blackjack gamblers single sessions consisting 10 cards. Therefore, the number of decks solely depends on the policies of casinos. Doubling cards are optional for single blackjack sessions. When the player doubles the cards, it should contain nine, ten, and eleven. This is appropriate when four, five, and six numbered cards are present.

Primarily, the goal of blackjack gamblers is to win over the dealer and prevent cards’ sum of over 21. To address this, a single tactic is necessary that is, doubling down. All gamblers intend to do this trick to increase their winnings. Further, this strategy also establishes understanding on the dealer’s presented amount and the blackjack gambler’s funds. Lastly, we can attest to experience as the main tool in winning blackjack. For every session, a gambler learns what strategies are applicable and which tactics give unfavorable results.

Playing blackjack necessitates its gamblers to take advantage of techniques. This does not only give the best experience but also the amazement they want.