Suitcase and World: March 2018

Saturday, March 31, 2018

At the Circus.

Tonight is our last night in Shanghai and I wanted to end it with something fun.

Cherry Blossoms at Gucun Park.

Today was set aside as blossoms day. I planned this day with Bro and I in mind, well before we learned that SK would be joining us on this trip and well before I found out that the poor thing suffers from really bad spring time allergies.  Pollen is not her friend!  Despite the fact that she's been outdoors all day, with the pollen fluttering all about, she's been a real trooper about it ....runny nose and puff eyes and all!

The Stilt Performers at Nanhui Peach Blossom Village.

Stilt walking is a centuries old performance art form in China; more traditional in the northern part of the country than in the south. Typically, performances take place in conjunction with the Spring Festival aka Chinese New Year but on occasion, if you are lucky, you'll catch a performance. It was our lucky day when we were in Shanghai. It was the time of the annual Peach Blossom and we had made our way to the Nanhui Peach Blossom Village on the outskirts of town. We were strolling around the gardens when we heard the sound of music. We followed our ears and saw the performers so we sat and watched for a few minutes.

It's All About the Blossoms. Nanhui Peach Blossom Village.

Today was the day that I had been looking forward to ever since I started planning our visit to Shanghai. I had set aside the entire day to visit gardens to see blossoms. More specifically, peach and cherry blossoms as it just so happens that our visit to Shanghai coincides with the annual festivals for both types of blossoms.

Friday, March 30, 2018

Xitang Water Village.

The last stop on our sightseeing tour today was Xitang, a small ancient water village located about 90 kilometers (56 miles) from Shanghai.  If you look for tours to Xitang from Shanghai, you'll find that a lot of them start in the late afternoon because it's popular to be in Xitang when it's dark and the village is all lit up.

Hangzhou. Zhongzhu Monastery.

After leaving the tea pickers behind, we drove a very short distance to Buddhist temple, nestled in the green hills somewhere near Meijiawu Tea Village. It's a very lovely, secluded and tranquil spot for a temple.  According to the itinerary, we were at Zhongzhu Temple which dates back about 800 years.  I have not been able to find any information about it on the internet but obviously, it exists!  So, I have no information about the place other than the name.

Hangzhou Revisited. The Tea Pickers.

The Qingming (phonetically pronounced "Ching Ming" in English) Festival, also known as Tomb Sweeping Day, is the day when Chinese people visit family graves or burial grounds to pray to their ancestors. They sweep the tombs and offer food, tea, wine, chopsticks, and joss paper, among other items, to the ancestors. This year the festival will take place on April 5 which is just a few days from now.

Hangzhou Revisited. West Lake.

On our boat ride on West Lake.

It was a really long day today but unfortunately, most of it was spent going from one place to another....either on a train or by car.

Thursday, March 29, 2018

A Slice of France in Shanghai. The French Concession.

Strolling along one of the streets in the French Concession neighborhood.  We picked up a walking partner along the way. 😁

Under international law, a concession is a territory within a country that is administered by an entity other than the state which holds sovereignty over it. This is usually a colonizing power, or at least mandated by one, as in the case of colonial chartered companies.

The Bund.

Ironically, I've only walked along the Bund at night. Today was my first time seeing it in daylight.

The Bund refers to a stretch of embanked riverfront in Shanghai that runs along the western bank of the Huangpu River in the eastern part of Huangpu District. The area along the river faces the modern skyscrapers of Lujiazui in the Pudong District. The Bund usually refers to the European style buildings and wharves on this section of the road, as well as some adjacent areas.

The Backstreets of Shanghai.

From Yu Garden, my plan was for us to go to Shanghai Old Street which is located about a two block walk from Yu Bazaar. But, there were no signs pointing us which way to go so we started out just wandering without a clue.

Yu Garden.

I first visited Yu Garden when I came to Shanghai in 2009. Back then, I didn't do any pre-trip research so I had absolutely no idea that this place existed.  I came to the area because I found out about Yu Bazaar, the shopping complex that surrounds the garden.  Only when I arrived, did I see the ticket counter for Yu Garden and decided to check it out.  On that visit, there were few tourists around so I pretty much strolled through the place on my own.  It was such a peaceful and tranquil place to be.  Today, when I saw the horde of people entering Yu Bazaar, I realized that it would be high chance that many of those people would be visiting the garden as well.  Sadly, peace and tranquility through a lovely green garden would not be on the agenda today.

Good Morning, Shanghai!

In Gucheng Park, looking towards the Bund.

Poor SK, jetlag kept her up into the wee hours of the morning and so she had barely a few hours of sleep by the time Bro and I were awake. I know she must be really tired but I can see she's determined to push through it so I just have us all carry on as if she was on the same time zone as Bro and I.

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Hong Kong to Shanghai.

SK and Bro.  Lots to chat about as  we walk along the Bund.  It's been a very long time since they've seen each other!

The best part of today was reuniting with SK!  After a lot of back and forth with her and Anna, our Airbnb host, Anna kindly let SK into the apartment 2 hours before official check in time.  The cleaning woman was still in the apartment, getting it ready for our arrival, but SK didn't care.  The poor thing arrived into Pudong International Airport early in the morning.

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Last Views and Meals Kowloon. Sham Shui Po and Claypot Rice.

We spent our last afternoon in Hong Kong back in Kowloon. I have decided that Kowloon offers up more of the iconic "Cantonese" lifestyle experiences that I am interested in.  I love its crammed neighborhoods, filled with semi dilapidated high rise buildings, streets lined with shops selling all things Chinese and people....lots and lots of people.  So many people that Bro is now beginning to yet revise HIS version of the child policy.  He is now at one child per four families 😁

Exploring Lamma Island.

Yung Shue Wan, Lamma Island.

I can't believe it but it's already our last day in Hong Kong. Time has really flown by and even more so considering my original itinerary only had us here for 3 days.  Due to a mix up on my part that had us arriving a day into Hong Kong a day earlier than I had originally thought, I had to come up with something for us to do today.  So, my suggestion was to go to Lamma Island.

Monday, March 26, 2018

Bye Bye Macau. It's Back to Kowloon.

Bro shopping for fruits in Yau Ma Tei.

Oce we decided to leave Macau and return back to Kowloon, we once again had to figure out how to get the bus back to the ferry terminal.  Yes, we could've easily taken a taxi but as a responsible traveler, I always try to take public transportation first and the buses in Macau are plentiful, cheap and if you are in any of the tourist sites, there is always a large display with a map marked with the tourist spots and the bus numbers that will take you to each of them.

A Slice of Portugal in China. Macau. Part 2.

The Ruins of St. Paul's Church.  This is the southern facade of the original church.

After our tastebud satisfying breakfast of Cantonese congee, we set out to see the landmarks of Macau.  It was easier to get around Senado Square than I had anticipated which was great because we didn't have to rely on the Google Map that I had put together for sightseeing around the Senado Square area.  The streets here have pretty good signage.

A Slice of Portugal in China. Macau. Part 1.

Senado Square, Macau.

We spent the day on the island of Macau making our way over by the highspeed TurboJET ferry from Kowloon.  Neither Bro nor I had ever been so exploring Macau was something I was very much looking forward to and Bro was as well.

Sunday, March 25, 2018

Roast Duck and a Light Show.

Today, it was the early bird dinner for us.  For some people in Hong Kong, there was still some time left to linger over high tea.  But, we were hungry.  Not only had we spent the better part of the day walking but we had also skipped lunch.

Escaping the Concrete Jungle.

We took the local bus down from Victoria Peak. It wasn't a long ride and the bus made barely a handful of stops. Our challenge was figuring where to get off as we really had no clue what the route of the bus was.

High up on Victoria Peak.

Victoria Peak.
Panoramic view from Victoria Peak.  The buildings of Hong Kong Island in the foreground, Kowloon in the distance. Use the horizontal scroll bar to pan to see the entire photo.

Victoria Peak on Hong Kong Island. Locally, it is simply known as The Peak. With an elevation of 552 meters (1,811 feet), it is the highest mountain on Hong Kong island. The summit is occupied by a radio telecommunications facility and is closed to the public. However, the surrounding area of public parks and high-value residential land is the area that is normally meant by the name The Peak.  It is a major tourist attraction that offers panoramic views of Central, Victoria Harbour, Lamma Island, and the surrounding islands.

Man Mo Temple.

We exited the Central-Mid Levels escalators at Hollywood Road and walked down the road until we go to Man Mo Temple.

Man Mo Temple is a temple for the worship of the civil or literature god Man Tai and the war god Mo Tai. The two gods were popularly patronized by scholars and students seeking progress in their study or ranking in the civil examinations in the Ming and Qing dynasties. There are several Man Mo Temples in Hong Kong, the best known of which is the temple in Sheung Wan which is the one located at 124-126 Hollywood Road.

Up, Up, Up, and Then Down.

I think Bro thought I was crazy to drag him to see escalators but that's exactly what I did and it was the first thing we did today after our dim sum breakfast at Lin Heung. The Central-Mid Levels Escalator system in Hong Kong is not only an important transportation system for residents of the city but it's also a tourist attraction so we had to go.

Tea and Dim Sum to Start the Day.


oday was a really long day and we kicked it off with a meal at a very traditional Cantonese tea house called Lin Heung Tea House (Chinese: 蓮香樓; literally: "Fragrant lotus")  located at Chinese restaurant located at 160-164 Wellington Street, at the corner of Aberdeen Street, in Central, Hong Kong Island.  We took the MTR to Central and then walked from there. 

Saturday, March 24, 2018

End of Day 1 in Hong Kong.

After visiting Lantau Island, we decided to head back to Kowloon but we weren't quite ready to call it a day yet. We had read about a fruit market in Yau Ma Tei that we wanted to check out. As we all know, Bro is a fruit addict and well, there is no way we would have skipped visiting this place once we knew of its existence.

Buddha Time! Lantau Island.

Tian Tan Buddha on Lantau Island.

After our leisurely stroll through the Goldfish, Flower and Bird Markets, Bro and I walked to the nearest MTR station and made our way to the Tung Chung MTR station.  Final destination?  Lantau Island.

Markets of Hong Kong. Fish, Flowers, and Birds.

Fish for sale at the Goldfish Market.

We spent our first full morning in Hong Kong exploring three markets - the Goldfish Market, the Flower Market and the Bird Market. All three are located within walking distance of the Prince Edward MTR station. We made our way there after having a classic Cantonese breakfast of congee at Sun Kee Congee in the Hung Hom neighborhood.

Starting Off Our Day, the Cantonese Way....With Congee.

Waiting for our bowls of congee at Sun Kee Congee.

We kicked off our first full day in Hong Kong by getting up bright and early!  When I checked the time on my phone, it was barely 6:30a.  I looked over at Bro's bed and while there was no sign of him rustling around, I decided that we had at least 7 hours of sleep and well, that should be enough to get over jet lag.  Basically, there would be no jet lag for us!  Since I was up, I decided to hit the shower first.

Friday, March 23, 2018

Hong Kong!

View of the Temple Street Night Market from our Airbnb.

Greetings from Hong Kong! This is the starting point for our epic trip through China. Bro and I will be here for the next few days getting reacquainted with a place that I have not been to since I was a kid....literally decades ago. Even though I have been here several times, as a child, I don't remember much about Hong Kong so I will essentially be experiencing it for the first time. For a Chinese person like me, who is of Cantonese heritage, Hong Kong is above all, culinary heaven. I have picked out a few special places I want us to eat at and am very excited about that.