Monday, August 20, 2012

China Trip Autumn 2011 (Oct 22nd - Nov 13th 2011) Part V-Hong Kong in 24hrs

Hong Kong 11th-12th Nov 2011:

I arrived in Hong Kong via MRT metro and got off at Wanchai MRT stop and found my way to my hotel in Wanchai. I had to lug my luggage everywhere on the streets of Wanchai whilst attempting to find my hotel and it was pretty tiring given the heat (despite being mid-nov!) and crowds on the streets of Wanchai. I did cross some interesting things though such as a filipino sari-sari store and a group of students with their teacher on an outdoor study excursion in the markets. I checked in and rested for 1 hr or so before heading out and making the most of my 24 hr in Hong Kong.

I had Teochew/Chiuchow Fishball soup, Hong Kong style Milk Tea, visited and ate traditional chinese rice cakes at my favourite chinese rice cakes store in Hong Kong located in Sham Shui Po as well as toured the area and visited a Hong Kong wetmarket.

I took the MRT to Yuen Long and then the lightrail, both the first time for me i think. I toured Yuen Long downtown area and it was very lively and i ate at a Michelin star place called Hou Dou Dai shop, and had their Wonton noodle soup which was really only average i felt. Then i took a lightrail to Tin Shui Wai new town, which i had wanted to visit as it was famous for being a lower socioeconomic area with frequent cases of domestic abuse and social looked quite normal actually..i also went into a Hong Kong sports/running track for the first time, as i passed by one called the Tin Shui Wai Sports Ground whilst there.

I took the light rail and Metro back to Kowloon and visited the Mongkok area and then made my way to the Star Ferry terminal in TST and took the iconic ferry ride to Central (just for the experience once again and photo ops!) and then took a tram (again for the experience more than anything else even tho i have taken both during the last time in HK!) and went back to the hotel.

The next morning, i woke up early and checked out and then checked in at the downtown checkin station with my luggage. Then i took the metro as well as lightrail to the Pingshan Heritage Trail which is the only heritage trail in Hong Kong. It was a unique and different experience away from the usual shopping and city experience of Hong Kong.

I took the metro back to Central and toured the streets quickly before having a quick Wonton Noodle at the famous Mak Kei's on Wellington Street (just opposite another famous wonton shop called Tsim Chai Kei's). I took the famous Mid-Levels Travelator and then rushed to buy the well known  Joy-Hing roasted duck and chicken takeaway from Wanchai, gobbling it down at the MRT station and leaving the rest to what looked like a homeless man then took the airport express to the airport and taking my flight to Sydney enroute stopping over at Pudong International Airport, given it was on China Eastern Airline.

This thus finished my 3 weeks Cross China Trip 2011 and my blog post series on it, finally, after almost a year since i left! Hahaha..;)

China Trip Autumn 2011 (Oct 22nd - Nov 13th 2011) Part IV-Natural UNESCO Town and the Original Reform/Opening-Up City

Lijiang 9th-10th Nov 2011:

I arrived by plane from Chongqing to Lijiang, the UNESCO world heritage ancient ethnic minority town situated in the mountains of Yunnan province. I met my dad there and we spent 2 days together. It was a very touristy place and although the view of the Snow Jade Dragon Mountain was beautiful..overall the ancient town was very touristy and commercialised for my liking with nightclubs and bargirls pumping out loud music deep into the night serving alcohols and half-naked dancers inside the clubs as well as girls asking you to go into the clubs..there were alot of artistic shops and nice cosy looking cafes and restaurants too, but they tended to be further away from the central ancient town centre.

I visited another village in Lijiang which was less well known and liked it way better...some of the architecture there was reminiscient of some 1930s set movie..haha..

I ate with my dad some of the hotpot and bbq food there and it was nice...also got a chance to see the ancient town from atop a small hill area...overall, i personally wouldn't go back to Lijiang again as it was just too touristy for my liking..;)

Shenzhen 10th-11th Nov 2011:

I flew into Shenzhen from Lijiang, after a delay of the flight, and took the airport bus shuttle into the area where my hotel was located then took a taxi.

I had a good rest and think i was upgraded once again (throughout my China trip 2011, i was upgraded into a way better room on many occasions, for reasons i do not know, but i'm not complaining!!) and had one of the largest hotel room experiences of my life with the powder room being so large, and a nice bathroom with stand-alone bathtub, separate shower area, and even a separate toilet area with floor to ceiling windows out on the city views!!

The next morning i woke up later than expected and behind my schedule but hurriedly took a quick soak in the bathtub again with the city views outside and rushed out to Dongmen main pedestrian shopping street of Shenzhen. I took a quick tour and headed by metro MRT again to visit the Shenzhen Library/Concert Hall area. This area looked very new and clean. The Shenzhen Library was designed by a famous Japanese architect apparently and was one of the nicest and most modern public libraries i've been to. China is changing, and it was very impressive. There were many study areas and desks and even sections with South East Asian newspapers as well as overseas study abroad reference books!

I rushed back by MRT to the JW Marriot Shenzhen (where i was staying) and checked out and took a taxi to the Futian Port Immigration checkpoint, being the closest to my hotel, and crossed over to Hong Kong.

This officially ended my Cross-China Trip 2011.;) I felt surreal and nourished with the memories, experiences, as well as photos i got from this trip:-)

China Trip Autumn 2011 (Oct 22nd - Nov 13th 2011) Part III- Former Wartime+Ancient Capitals

Xian Nov 6th 2011:

I arrived in Xian on an early flight from Beijing, flying from the current capital of China, Beijing, to the ancient capital of China, Xian. When i arrived at the airport, i was already left with an indelible impression that the city's residents were overall quite wealthy as the first ad i saw at the airport was for Porsche. Indeed, the city is quite wealthy as i saw huge shops selling luxury watches along the main shopping fare and other luxury food places such as Haagen Daz Ice-cream parlours..which i ate in,hahaha;-)

I visited the Bell Tower of Xian (or was that the Clock Tower of Xian?!) and the view atop from the Tower was amazing, walked along the ancient city walls and also visited the Muslim Quarters of Xian, trying out the fantastic and cheap food there. However, commercialisation was to be seen everywhere, with the Muslim Quarter's shops selling very touristy and over marked prices. The food streets of the Quarters were great though!

I spent only a day in Xian and took the overnighter train to Chongqing (formerly known as Chungking) in the interiors of China. One little quirky, interesting, and at-the-time horrifying experience i had was that as i was abit late for the train and so had to hurry to find my carriage. As i had bought the overnight tickets very last minute (and even had the horrific experience in the morning thinking i had lost it meaning i would have to stay overnight in Xian and lose one day in Chongqing due to the delay which would be catastrophic given my very tight holiday schedule) and wasn't familiar that soft bed carriages could be added, my carriage was Jia-Yi Meaning the 'Plus One Carriage' and NOT the 'One Carriage', which was like the cheapest and most crowded carriage. I went onboard and knew something had to be wrong as there were no beds, only seats for the whole night and it was overcrowded with people standing along the aisles. I had boarded an overnighter during the Dongbei/Manchurian leg of my holiday and knew this couldn't be it but then briefly thought maybe the interior Chinese trains were much more backwards..i asked the conductor(whom thankfully was on the carriage!) and he said my carriage was right at the other end of the train! I hurriedly got off and ran with all my might to the other end and got on in time as the train was leaving! And thankfully, this was heaven, being the soft-sleeper trains with comfy beds!! But it was a forever memorable experience as i got to see what the 'hard seat' carriages are like in China's trains (which i would never have known had i not been mistaken!)

Chongqing Nov 7th-8th 2011:

I arrived in the North Chongqing Station, if i remember correctly, and took the MRT to the city centre. The MRT station line had just been opened recently i think and everything looked swanky new. In fact, the design and overall atmosphere of the MRT metro in Chongqing was probably one of the best i had in China and surpassing even Hong Kong's MRT metro i think!

I have always wanted to visit Chongqing, it having been the WW2 wartime capital city of China from 1938-1945. It is one of the 4 directly-controlled central govt municipalities and the only one in the interior away from the coast of China. It is highly modern and i loved the city. It was actually one of my favourite cities in China during this trip, together with Changchun, for their lovely and unique 'feel' and city atmosphere. The landscape here is mountainous with alot of slopes up and down the hills and the rivers criss crossing the city.

I visited the main commercial Jiefangbei shopping and eating district and tried out the lovely Sichuanese spicy noodles and other delicacies. It was both cheap and delicious!! I also visited the People's Great Hall in Chongqing with its unique Chinese architectural style having been built in a traditional manner in the 1950s as well as the Three Gorges Museum of Chongqing which had a dedicated whole section on Chongqing during WW2, which was pretty informative and very interesting for a history buff like me!:)

I also passed by many interesting things and experiences such as local parents waiting outside a primary school to pick their children up and also could sense Chongqing, like much of the rest of China, was booming, with the economy simply skyrocketing. The development and tall highrise buildings were everywhere and all the branded luxury shops could be found in Chongqing. There was also a newly opened luxury upscale mall which i visited in the Jiefangbei area when i was there. There were also luxury high-end bakery stores in Chongqing which i took photos of indicating the wealth that can be found in this interior city of China.

I also went to the suburbs of Chongqing by MRT metro as i wanted to see what the suburban areas, and not just the city centre, was like, and it was very modern-looking too. I also visited the Chongqing Zoo and got to see real life panda for the very first time of my life!! So exciting! Haha!! And it was a nice time visiting the zoo since i hadn't visited a zoo in over 15 years i think!..

I also went to Shibati, a pre-war district in the downtown area which is earmarked for demolition and it felt like i had wandered into a different was like somewhere in the 1930s/40s..people eating just outside their homes on simple tables and stools, and i loved the stairs and slopes and geography of it all..indeed, this was one of the rare times when i saw an older poorer China on this trip as everywhere i went in China, from the north to south, east to west, development and wealth was pretty much everywhere on display.

I took a Yangze River tour on my last night in Chongqing and the nightlights were beautiful. They apparently want to compete with New York and Hong Kong for the night scenery and they've done well i must say! It was glittering everywhere. I bought heaps of delicious take-away food and drinks and went back to my spacious hotel room in central Chongqing and had a wonderful last Chinese supper in Chongqing whilst watching TV. (by the way, did i mention that my hotel room had a fantastic view of the Jiefangbei Monument and shopping area?!! Waking up at dawn, it was a surreal image of emptiness and tall buildings!)..