Saturday, 18 March 2017

The Travel Diary | Shanghai pt 7

Firstly, can we appreciate how beautiful Sydney looks up in the sky (first picture). Truly stunning! It is always sad to part a city especially when relatives are involved but you know you'll be back in the near future. This was a really new experience for me because it was actually the first time I was travelling alone. Long story short- I work in retail and December is a blackout period because Christmas and all that so I couldn't get any extra time off work and hence why my mum and I went on separate flights. My mum went the week after. Bit sad and weird but the truth. 

Like I mentioned in the first installment, the airport is really, really, really far from the city centre. Really far. It is definitely like an hour and a half car/bus trip. I felt really weird hanging out in the airport alone and I literally only had 100 yuan with me or something like that (like $20 AUD haha) and so I bought a bottle of water and a bottle of coke. Duty-free in Shanghai isn't that great anyway. 

The flight I got on was a midnight flight and I really, really liked this. Firstly, since you don't leave until midnight, you only need to leave at about 8pm (you probably could do 8:30-9 but that's pushing it). We had a lovely huge family dinner to say goodbye to everyone. Whereas, before when our flight was around 8, we had to leave at like 4pm to account for traffic and it was much more hectic. The later flight was much more pleasant and you can squeeze dinner too. You get food on the airplane almost immediately and then you just sleep. I had my laptop, music and everything to pass the time but it wasn't very necessary because I was sound asleep until about 6-7am and by that point, it was time for breakfast and almost time to land. 

Travelling alone sounds scary but isn't nearly as daunting as it sounds. This is the last installment of my travel series and so I hope you enjoyed it!! 

Saturday, 11 March 2017

The Travel Diary | Shanghai pt 6 (Xujiahui)

Xujiahui. I went to this place way too many times. Firstly, it is very accessible to where I was staying as it is only a short bus ride away (maybe 10-15 minutes) and short train ride away too. Secondly, it is also another major shopping hub and is literally flooded with shopping centres. I swear there's at least like 6 big shopping centres within walking distance. There is an immense range of food, clothing, electronics, etc. 

If you are a major Simpsons fan like I am, there is an official Simpsons store in Xujiahui. I do not know which shopping centre or any other details but I know it was here and I am sad I didn't take a picture of this. I would like to point that I find Chinese retail very different to here in Australia in that I find that Chinese retailers tend to constantly nag and push to make a sale. They don't all do but I have noticed and it does get me very annoyed and also very scared as well. I got a denim jacket that had the Simpsons family embroidered on it and a Bart Simpson shirt. (I really wanted the jacket that had a donut at the back which said- can't talk eating! Anyone get this reference? but it was too small because Asian sizing). 

Also food! There is so much variety and also there are so many supermarkets. Shanghai has this supermarket called Carrefour and it literally sells everything! It's amazing. I also realised here that some people like to push a sale to you but in return, chuck in a few freebies in to compensate nagging you I guess. I also included a picture of prawn crackers because well, I love food. I feel like despite the fact I went to Xujiahui many times, I feel like I didn't truly experience it. Perhaps because it was very 'local' for me if that makes sense.

Saturday, 4 March 2017

The Travel Diary | Shanghai pt 5 (Xintiandi and Tianzifang)

From my previous installment of my Shanghai travel diary, I mentioned Huaihai Road and with the choice of seeing Huaihai Road and Nanjing Road again- we opted for Huaihai Road. One of the shopping centres looked absolutely stunning in a modern way. Sometimes you wonder how they were able to construct buildings like that. There is an embarrassing selfie here but only because the toilets in this shopping centre were luxurious. I've never been to a bathroom where there were flowers everywhere and a huge seat in the middle of the bathroom to sit on and large fancy mirrors. In China, it is incredible hard to find decent toilets. Don't quote me but I think there's actually a thing about people stealing toilet paper from toilet cubicles so many public toilets don't have toilet paper (disgusting I know) and to get a toilet that you can sit on is also not always the case. 

Enough about toilets haha.

After browsing Huaihai Road, we went to Xintiandi which is very close (about one stop away on the metro?). Xintiandi is definitely a European inspired place. It's the most expensive place to live in Shanghai and it is full of many foreign restaurants and bars. This affluent neighbourhood also has much historical significance and despite the modern restaurants, it very much feels as you've stepped into Shanghai in the 1920s. 

Close to Xintiandi is a place called Tianzifang which is famous for its market stalls. It's a perfect place to visit at night like we did because there is such a relaxing, soothing vibe to it. I love this because I love the promotion of small arts and crafts stores as well as keeping true to its historical roots in the French Concession area. It feels very authentic with the electricity cables overhead, air conditioning units overhead, animals walking around and the small alleys (which I love). I would recommend this place with so many diverse small businesses such as arts and crafts, cafes, bars, studios, etc. Conveniently, there is also a huge shopping centre adjacent full of food stores. The metro station to get off at is Dapuqiao. 

Saturday, 25 February 2017

The Travel Diary | Shanghai pt 4 (Huaihai Rd and Line Cafe)

If you go to Shanghai, you must past through Huaihai Road as it is a major shopping destination. You can get there via metro at South Shaanxi Road or Middle Huaihai Road station. I actually prefer Huaihai Road to Nanjing Road purely because it is more local whilst Nanjing Road is more targeted at foreign tourists so it can be really crowded. Since it was part of the French Concession, many of the buildings have a French architecture feel which is lovely. Many of the stores are high-end. Think Prada, Gucci, Louis Vuitton, etc. The Chinese love their designer brands but there are the more affordable stores there like H&M, Forever 21, Uniqlo, etc.

One place I recommend going is the Line Store and Cafe. It is opposite H&M and my mum and I had no intention of going there. It just happened to be near a public toilet and I noticed the wall was colourful and funky and there was a huge queue. Even if you don't use Line (it's like an Asian version of Facebook Messenger), it is too cute to not go. Brown (the bear) and his friends are so cute! It's perfect for taking pictures and there is a lot of cute merchandise (not exactly cheap though) and upstairs is a cafe. 

Sunday, 12 February 2017

The Travel Diary | Shanghai pt 3 (The Bund and Nanjing Rd)

If you're a foreigner to Shanghai, you will probably be recommended to visit the Bund and I would recommend it too because it's really beautiful. Most of the buildings are political or bank-related but they are historical and pretty. You also see the Huangpu River and my favourite, the Oriental Pearl Tower. I would highly recommend that if you have time you actually go inside the tower. They do tours and if you go right to the very top, you get to explore Shanghai high up in the sky and it is quite extraordinary. I would say breath-taking but the sky of Shanghai is incredibly polluted as you can tell from some of my photos. However, the views are still cool because the ground is glass and see-through. I did this back in 2014 and it was incredible. Going to the Bund at night is also quite pretty. 

Of course, Nanjing Road is a place you have to visit (in particular East Nanjing Rd). It is the most popular street in Shanghai and is a great place to shop but incredibly populated and also very long so be prepared for a lot of walking haha. 

I can't exactly remember but I think it was the H&M at Nanjing Road and I was getting out of the fitting room and realised I didn't have my phone on me and it wasn't in my bag nor in the fitting room and I was so scared because I couldn't believe I would actually lose my phone in a foreign country even though I am stupidly clumsy. To my embarrassment, I realised I had put it in a bag my mum was holding and I had to apologise to the shop assistant for being an idiot and making a false alarm haha. 

Please click HERE to check out my photos from my last Shanghai trip in 2014 where I actually went inside the tower. The views are amazing so I do recommend you check the link out! 

Saturday, 4 February 2017

The Travel Diary | Shanghai pt 2 (Disneyland)

Shanghai Disneyland has only just recently opened mid 2016 I believe and as it being the 'happiest place on Earth', I was incredibly eager to go. I went with my mum relatively early on our stay as it was one of those things I wanted to tick off my list and visit. Visiting Disneyland is also quite easy. It's about a 45 minute train ride from where we were staying (near the Xujiahui district) and Disneyland is right at the terminal station. 

This is the first Disneyland I've been to and I thoroughly enjoyed it. We went on a Wednesday which meant it was relatively quiet and it was also raining a little. It is also more expensive on a weekend and with the bigger crowd- definitely recommend a weekday. This was perfect for us because that meant all the queues for the rides were quite short. They have this fast pass ticket for certain rides which meant you could book a time for the ride, explore and come back to the ride and essentially jump in the queue. After the first ride, we realised this wasn't necessary as the lines were short.

The Enchanted Book Castle was beautiful and I met so many characters such as Mickey and Minnie, Winnie the Pooh, Donald the Duck, etc. I felt like such a little kid but gosh I was cute. As the weather was relatively wet, the parade consisted of them being on a train. Lunch was nice as the pizza was shaped like Mickey. I strongly recommend getting duck pizza. I've had it many times and it never fails. Food is quite overpriced but that's just the nature of theme parks. 

It was pouring heavily in the late afternoon but by that time, we had already explored pretty much the entire area. They also have Disneyland passports but it was kind of childish and I'm pretty sure I heard remarks when I bought it. Not happy. It's really fun though because throughout Disneyland, they have stamp machines where you place the passport in and it gives you a pretty stamp. After collecting all the stamps, you get a special stamp in the end and a badge. Pretty corny but it's a fun novelty idea and it really shows you've been to Disneyland. When it was raining in the afternoon, we decided to check all the souvenir shops and we spent a little (no a lot) of money. Afterwards, everyone gathered at the castle where there was a storytime display and amazing fireworks to cap off a brilliant day! 

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