china

Former French Concession, Shanghai, CHINA

The Former French Consession in Shanghai is the perfect place to get lost in. Quaint lane ways, boutique shops, hidden museums and minimalist cafés; there’s something to satisfy everyone.

It’s easy to access via subway and is worth an afternoon’s worth of exploration, at least. The main drawcard for many people is the architecture. Serving French flavours with a Shanghainese twist, the residences are graceful and sophisticated. There are even placards out the front of the historical ones, helping orientate you along the way.

You’ll never know what you’ll find down these streets. I’ve heard of a few speakeasies, but I didn’t find them on my excursion there. I didn’t look hard enough. I need to go back.

Disclaimer: This review was also posted by me on TripAdvisor. This blog has no affiliation with TripAdvisor. I just share my experiences to spread the love to fellow travelers.

Advertisements

Mercure Beijing Downtown, CHINA

The Mercure Beijing Downtown is a great place to stay. Although out of the way from the city centre, it’s within walking distance to shops and the subway. We felt outside the hustle and bustle which was a little disappointing, but it did give us space to unwind. There’s a pool (although we went in winter so no swimming for us) and a restaurant. I recommend the breakfast buffet for value and variety, and I was able to have my Chinese delights, like congee and pork buns. Fast wifi and a good bar, this is was a home for us in Beijing.

Disclaimer: This review was also posted by me on TripAdvisor. This blog has no affiliation with TripAdvisor. I just share my experiences to spread the love to fellow travelers.

Nanjing Road, Shanghai, CHINA

Nanjing Road is hyped up beyond compare. It’s a famous retail strip in Shanghai that leads through to The Bund and the water there.

Personally, I was underwhelmed by Nanjinglu mostly because I went to Shanghai to sightsee, rather than to shop. The outlets are impressive and offer fantastic markdowns, so bring your cash if you’re into that sort of thing.

If like me you’re not, have a stroll and see if you can find hidden gems along the way. There are handicraft shops and boutique couture.

If you’re not retail minded, however, it’s just a road that leads to the waterfront.

Disclaimer: This review was also posted by me on TripAdvisor. This blog has no affiliation with TripAdvisor. I just share my experiences to spread the love to fellow travelers.

Lantau Island, HONG KONG

I didn’t do as much of Lantau Island as I could have, but I left feeling as if I had seen what I needed to see. This island left me with mixed feelings; I was overwhelmed by the attraction of it as a tourist trap. I was curious about the opportunity to visit a local village, but wary that it may be tainted by manufactured superficiality. I was gobsmacked by the amount of retail stores that boasts teachings of piety and self-reflections from Buddha, on commercial wares flogged at obscene prices. I was floored by the irony. And the Starbucks and the wifi. I hope that the Shaolin Monastery practiced Buddha’s ways of freedom from material possessions, but I was uninspired by the copious trinkets and wares for sale. And the fact that the 30m bronze Big Buddha was only erected for the masses in recent decades.

I’m still reeling from the contradiction of it all.

Disclaimer: This review was also posted by me on TripAdvisor. This blog has no affiliation with TripAdvisor. I just share my experiences to spread the love to fellow travelers.

Grand Mercure Xi’an on Renmin Square, CHINA

The Grand Mercure is a fantastic hotel to stay at in Xi’an. It’s central to most of the sightseeing landmarks around the city centre and is within walking distance from the Muslim Quarter, Bell Tower and night markets.

The hotel staff spoke limited English which made transactions a little confusing; we had trouble confirming the logistics of a deposit using credit card. We also had miscommunication around how many beds were available in our room.

However, the language barriers aren’t a reflection on the service or the hotel, just keep in mind that Xi’an is less cosmopolitan than other Chinese cities like Shanghai.

We were very pleased with our room and we’re warm and comfortable through snowy winter nights. Would definitely stay here again.

Disclaimer: This review was also posted by me on TripAdvisor. This blog has no affiliation with TripAdvisor. I just share my experiences to spread the love to fellow travelers.

Tiananmen Square, Beijing, China 

Tiananmen Square is such an interesting place. Harsh, brutalist buildings enclose a vast empty space right before Chairman Mao. It’s true grandeur.

We made a couple of rookie mistakes purely because we had no idea what we were doing and we couldn’t speak a word of Mandarin. We alighted the subway at Tiananmen Square and planned to see it and the Forbidden City in one venture. When we reached street level, we saw enormous queues and security check points cutting off any direction remotely leading toward where we wanted to go. We couldn’t check if we were in the right place or where to go, or why there was security because we couldn’t speak the language, so we walked around. We walked a full length of the Forbidden City, through a local community until we reached the side entrance and entered there. It took us some time to figure this out.

When we came back to Tiananmen Square, it was sundown and the queues were less, so we went through the security check point. Lo and behold, both the Forbidden City and Tiananmen Square are right there before you.

Moral: follow the crowd.

In a serendipitous coincidence, dusk was the perfect time to be here. The major road was blocked off for a slow of military might as the army marched in to lower the flag. Be there for that if you can.

Disclaimer: This review was also posted by me on TripAdvisor. This blog has no affiliation with TripAdvisor. I just share my experiences to spread the love to fellow travelers.

Muslim Quarter, Xi’an, China

The Muslim Quarter is a labyrinth of food stalls and trinkets. In all my travels, I found this area to be one of the most interesting food scenes for sizzling squid, chilli tofu, dried spices and vats of mystery broth. It was cold, so we walked through mists of steam and smells of roasting delicacies. There seemed too many options to choose from, all of them pungent, all of them packing flavour. We found respite from the cold in a cute little bakery and ordered hot chocolate; which was a whole squeeze of Hersey’s chocolate sauce into warm milk.

This whole area is absolutely worth exploring, at no cost to you. It’s a full sensory experience of lights and sounds. Plus you can do all your souvenir shopping here too!

Disclaimer: This review was also posted by me on TripAdvisor. This blog has no affiliation with TripAdvisor. I just share my experiences to spread the love to fellow travelers.