Friday, April 4, 2014

北京 | BEIJING


My last post was about my trip in Shanghai. My grandparents took me on a trip to China as a late high school graduation present (better late than never right?). We stayed in Shanghai from March 21 to March 28 and stayed in Beijing March 28 to the 31st. We took the bullet train from Shanghai to Beijing in order to get there faster. It was fun watching China go by!

In Beijing we stayed in a place called the Sihe Courtyard Hotel, which was hard to find because it was down an alley and we didn't think we would be staying in an alleyway. We arrived the night of the 28th and as it was too late to go on any excursions, we just settled into our hotel, chatted it up with the hotel manager and then walked around the area to say hello to Beijing, get a feel of our surroundings, and of course grab a bite to eat! We found a place nearby called JL Gatto Caffe. Though I was immediately attracted to this place, as it had a cat sign on the building and they made specialty coffee (coffee addict coming through), I was skeptical as I don't like sandwiches but I figured they would have other things on the menu. Turns out they really had only sandwiches but I set my feelings aside and ate a sandwich anyway without a fuss (I'm a very picky eater). I got an order of Kenya AAA coffee and a ham sandwich. Funny part is, I liked the sandwich more than the coffee.









The next day we had to get up and have breakfast really early as we had a full day ahead of us. We started our day going to the Great Wall which took 2 hours to get there. My grandpa and I hiked the great wall for about 2 hours. One part was so steep we had to stop about 8 times to catch our breath. My advice if you ever go to the Great Wall is to bring lots of water! You can bet I wore lots of sunscreen too. 







After an exhausting yet exciting hike at the Great Wall, we then headed over to the Summer Palace. The Summer Palace was so beautiful I can't even begin to tell you. It was absolutely breathtaking and my grandma and I got stopped a few times with people wanting pictures with us, which is always fun! I really wanted to take a boat across the water to the Palace but there was so many people in line we would've been there all night!
 The next and final day in Beijing we visited the Forbidden City. It was within walking distance from our hotel so that was fun walking around the busy streets of Beijing and passing by all the fun and cute shops. The Forbidden City was pretty crowded but the atmosphere and architecture was so lovely. The little garden was my favorite. 




















Now I love cats so I wasn't about to leave Beijing until we went to a cat café called 'Cats Love' which is a cat shelter/sanctuary for stray cats. We thought the cafe was not far from the Forbidden City so we thought to walk. We weren't finding it and got passerby's to help us and it seemed the cafe kept getting farther and farther away. Not to mention it was so hot outside! After a two hour walk we finally made it and it was so nice to sit down and relax with the cats. I purchased a package of cat food to feed the cats and curry for myself. So we all ate together and everyone was happy. Something I definitely want to do again. Oh, and we were smart enough to take the subway back to the hotel!







 We had a really nice stay here and the staff was so generous and tended to our every need. Beijing was more what I thought China would've looked like as it had more peaked roofs and traditional buildings while Shanghai was more modern. I'm so glad I was able to go to China. It is definitely a place I want to visit again. I also posted a video of my trip (here).

我会想你,
Mickey

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

上海 | SHANGHAI

Last June I graduated high school. I am probably one of the few out there that actually loved high school. Yes you saw that, LOVED! Despite having to leave my friends and amazing teachers, and my longing to stay in high school forever, with graduating came an exciting graduation gift. My grandparents gave me the opportunity to go anywhere in the world I wanted to go. ANYWHERE! And I chose China. Why China - I'm not exactly sure. But that's what I decided.

I'm a girl who wishes to travel the world, so picking anywhere in the world was hard as there is so many places I want to go. It was hard deciding where first. Growing up, I watched a lot of Chinese and Taiwanese TV dramas, listened to Chinese music, and even studied Mandarin for about a year or two - learning the language and Chinese culture. So it only seemed fitting to give China a go! We decided to stay in Shanghai for a week and Beijing for 3 days. We had the trip planned for last year after graduating but plans changed and was postponed for my spring break in college.

There's so much to say I don't even know where to start! Well, Friday, March 21, my grandparents and I headed off to the airport at around 5am. We flew out of LAX, which is about 2 hours away from us, so we had to get an early start with our plane leaving at 9:35am. We had a flight change in Seattle and from there to Shanghai it was about a 14 hour flight. I thought I would get so bored but the plane had TV's on the back of everyone's seat so I was able to watch movies, TV, listen to music, play games, etc. We landed in Shanghai at the Pudong airport around 6pm on March 22 and our journey began.




We stayed at the Sun Island Resort and Spa while in Shanghai, and I'm glad we got a taxi to drive us from the airport to the resort because we would've gotten so lost! It was practically off into the middle of nowhere, but at the same time I guess it was nice because it was peaceful and quiet at the resort. We stayed in what looked like European cottages and it was a really beautiful atmosphere - the birds sang almost non-stop, vibrant colors, beautiful trees and architecture, and the staff was so so so nice and always willing to help us if we had any trouble. It was amazing everywhere we went we found English-speaking people...almost.





Every morning I would wake up at 4am and walk around the resort. The resort was outlined with the Mao River so I would walk by the water for about an hour every morning. Every morning we would eat breakfast in a buffet at the resort, where I would always have muffins - topped with either sliced almonds or pine nuts, fried vermicelli - with steamed carrots and cabbage, a side of steamed vegetables, dumplings, and eggrolls. Unfortunately, my grandpa HATES Chinese food so we never ate at any Chinese restaurants.












The resort had so much, like a farm, spa, restaurants, golf course, etc. There was a fashion show going on one evening but we couldn't stay as we were exploring then. We became friends with the chef, Calvin, at an Italian restaurant at the resort. Unfortunately I never got a picture with him, but I should have. He was lovely.



While in Shanghai, we went to an ancient water town called Zhujiajiao about 3 times. There we would shop, go to the bank, and just wander around enjoying the ambiance of the place. We spent all day there once just walking around what was called Shanghai Civilized Park. I took pictures with a lot of little lion statues that I fell in love with (luckily they were everywhere).


























The Bund






























 City God Temple




People's Park
  



  

The day before leaving for Beijing, we payed Calvin (the chef at the Italian restaurant as previously mentioned) a visit. He brought us brownies on him and recommended a spot at the resort to visit if we hadn't already. Turns out we hadn't, so later that day my grandpa and I visited the Mao Pagoda Square featuring the Mao Pagoda Lighthouse. It was built in 874 during the Tang Dynasty to guide ships along the Mao River and is one of five ancient lighthouses remaining in China.






China was surreal, captivating, and memorable. I already want to go back!




Sorry this was such a lengthy post - and I didn't even cover half of the material - but I hope you enjoyed the post and pictures and see you soon in another post about the last part of our trip in Beijing!

Until then,
 Mickey