Review of Datong Hotel, Shanxi Province, China

Datong Hotel
Datong, Shanxi Province, China.

Front view of Datong Hotel.

Datong Hotel looking out from hotel window.

Datong hotel is located in a relatively convenient location to most things. The Datong Great Wall is just a 20 minute walk if you don’t stop to look at things. The train station is a 20 minute taxi ride away (cost me 15 Yuan). Right after the front yard of the hotel is a major street with a small area where taxi’s and buses often wait. There’s an overhead bridge crossing this street with restaurants, convenience stores all around.

During our 3 day 3 night stay, we encountered 3 staff members that could converse in English. All were met at the front desk. Other staff may seem rude and just ignore you if you don’t speak Mandarin, they get nicer if you try to communicate with a different Chinese dialect.

The hotel itself is rather old. Dimly lit in many places, thin walls, faded paint and carpets and the like but most importantly, it’s not dirty. The beds and pillows were way to soft for my liking, it felt like i was embedded in the mattress and had to stack 2 pillows to even feel there was one. We got a street facing hotel on the 5th floor. Nice view but you can hear the street noise. Doesn’t bother me but if it bothers you, you may want to request for a room on the other side. Don’t hold your breath for an email response though. They’ve NEVER answered any of my emails both pre check in and post check in.

I booked via and as stated on the website, Datong hotel does take Mastercard/Visa and payment is at checkout. Whether or not they honor the rate confirmed via is a different story. It’s not that they flat out deny it, they just over charge the security deposit and refuse to rescind the security deposit charge and charge the correct rate. To date, this has not been resolved and the total overcharge amounted to 188 Yuan which comes out to roughly $28 USD. I think that had I had time to argue they would not have pulled this fast one on me. As it stands, we were in a rush to catch a train and the taxi we had per-arranged to pick us up was already 20 minutes late. As the amount is smaller than the cost of re-booking train tickets, I just took my lumps and will regard this as a cost of travel / education. So that’s what this post is for, to save you some $.

UPDATE: As of 9/30/17 The security deposit is gone from my credit card statement and the proper charge is reflected.

There is free WiFi in the rooms and the whole floor shares one password. So while in the lobby, I couldn’t get free Fifi. Lucky I brought my travel router with wifi, just buy a local sim card with data and you’re set. Our rooms had air con,a sit down toilet, a bathtub and all the toiletries.  Rooms are arranged by even numbers on one side of the corridor and odds on the other. Size of room was normal, 2 beds, a desk, a night stand, a coffee table and chair, a closet with extra blankets/pillows and a safe. The one in my room was locked and housekeeping came in and punched in number and it opened, don’t know if they locked it or they have a universal code.

View in a 5th floor room of the Datong Hotel.

View of the hotel room's bathroom in Datong Hotel

There are 2 restaurants in the hotel, one is only for breakfast (at least we’ve only seen it in operation during breakfast hours 7-9:30 am) and the other is on the mezzanine and looks like a small coffee shop area. Don’t be surprised if the waitstaff / management are a bit rude. It seemed like they only had one menu so we had to wait our turn for it. This was after we tried to get a table and the Manager just grunted and walked away. So we went to the front desk and asked what was up and they called someone and told us to go back up and everything should be fine and it was. The food was good and well presented. The free breakfast had a large selection of food, mostly of the Asian variety. You will find cereal, bread, bacon, eggs (egg station), some pastries and coffee. Be aware of the closing time, we almost missed one because we didn’t know it closed so early.

All in all, I think this hotel gives you good bang for your buck if you don’t mind a good stroll to older parts (touristy) places. Should you brave this hotel, At check in, make sure they charge a security deposit amount you are comfortable with. Make sure you allot PLENTY OF TIME to deal with any shenanigans they may pull on you at check out (including paying cash because their machine is “broken”).


For more photos from Datong, check out my flicker page.

What a Juror is Looking For in Your Art

Art Essay: What a Juror is Looking For in Your Art.

FIRST AND FOREMOST: Does your art impart a feeling, a mood, a sense of place. Does it tell a story, does it make a social statement, or does it embrace what the light is doing? The juror is looking to be moved by your work, to experience it, and to be taken in by its expression, its sense.”

Good read, have a look at the rest. Here’s the link.

Photo trip to Sydney and Gold Coast

The trip has pretty awesome despite some speed bumps such as. Weather while on the Gold Coast was not conducive to sunrise shots despite having a balcony directly facing the sunrise over the ocean. I did manage some on 1 day of the 5 we were there. On top of this, my LCW ND fader broke (the glass came off the ring so it wouldn’t rotate) and my 24-105 lens stopped working, here’s the post. While horsing around with my kid, I managed to get my fist/hand hit by the ceiling fan. Luckily for me, even though the fan was at max, I only got a smallish cut, not deep enough for stitches but it sure was painful. The worst of it was my finger’s allergic reaction to the Rapaid brand of “band aid”. So my finger looked like my feet prior to being healed. Which also started blistering from all the walking. More info on my blistering feet here. This was day 4 of our 10 day trip. I also had a molar break in half and my computer stopped working “properly”.

Dorchester Apt.

The apartment complex we were in is called Dorchester on the Beach it’s right on the beach, and although our unit had the balcony on the side, you can still get a great sunrise view. Lots of awesome opportunities for great beach, ocean, sunrise shots can be had here especially if you get a balcony fully facing the ocean. More photo opportunities await depending on which route you take to Surfer’s Paradise (15-25 minute walk depending on the route). If you choose the beach it’ll take you longer to walk due to the difficulty of walking on sand. Choose the sidewalk and you’ll get your “street” shots. More Dorchester apt. and area shots in our Flickr Gallery.

After enjoying three theme parks, Movieworld, Dreamworld and Seaworld and wishing there was more time to enjoy the many many other attractions, it was time to fly off to Sydney.

Of course while in Sydney you have to check out the Opera House, Harbour bridge. St. Mary’s Cathedral was really nice too.  We joined a free walking tour (we chose to donate as it was REEAALLY good). They showed us alot of the historic sites (photo worthy), gave us a bit of a history lesson (interesting) and wasn’t rushing at all. They’re called I’m free walking tours. This will give you a really good idea of what is where so you can mentally plan your time and shoot. If you’re lucky you may get a wedding shoot or two as your backdrop.

Overall, as always, my trip was not long enough. I want/need to go back ! ! ! Photos to follow on Flickr when I get enough time to put some up. Will update this post as well.