The Summer Palace

Beijing, China

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I was in Beijing last week and I visited the Summer Palace [颐和园], a UNESCO World Heritage Site in Beijing, China. This was the Imperial family’s summer retreat. The Summer Palace is mainly dominated by Longevity Hill and the Kunming Lake. I have been to the Forbidden City but this Summer Palace was more impressive to me because of the scenic views.

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I have a travel companion this time – my friend Nin from Thailand! *Sawadeeka* I know I am like so “emo” to be traveling alone on my past few trips but it is not easy to find peeps who are crazy about travel too. Most people will just want to stay in the hotel and hibernate but I can’t. I am scared to stay in the hotel room alone and I have not watched horror films for a very long time. I like having ME-time but I am not that anti-social. Of cos I enjoy having company because there is someone who can help you to make decisions, find directions, spam photos and etc.

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We helped each other to spam photos and we took quite a bit of lame photos.

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MONKEY SEE, MONKEY DO

This China auntie copied our pose. Auntie, be creative a bit la! Dun copy leh…

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Suzhou Street is definitely one of the places you must visit in Summer Palace. Suzhou Street was built after the market street in Suzhou as an entertainment place for the Emperor and his imperial family to take part in the daily life of ordinary people which was forbidden to them. When the royals went there, the eunuchs and maids of honor would act as shop assistants and customers to mimic market activities on the streets.

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Spam… Spam… Spam photos… 

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Our next stop was Garden of Harmonious Interests. This garden is a reproduction of a famous South China garden called Jichangyuan in Huishan, Wuxi. Also known as “the garden within a garden”, it is typical of the large imperial gardens of the Qing Dynasty.

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Another place that we have visited is Garden of Virtuous Harmony, renowned for the largest Theater Building inside it. This is where Emperor Guangxu and Empress Dowager Cixi watched performances of the Peking opera. Empress Dowager Cixi was a huge fan of Peking Opera and the Great Theater was built in honor of her 60th birthday.

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The Tower of Fragrance of the Buddha is one of the places you must visit in the Summer Palace. The entire tower is built on the middle of the hill slope and it stands our strikingly in the Summer Palace.

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I don’t kid you but there are freaking many stairs to the top. A lot..really A LOT of stairs! *faint* Please make sure you wear a pair of comfortable shoes when you visit the Summer Palace. My legs really ache for the next few days after walking up all these crazy number of stairs.

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WE DID IT! There is a feeling of satisfaction when we reached the tower. Tired is an understatement. It is crazyyyyyy… Inside the tower, there is a statue of the thousand-hand Guanyin Buddha. I did not take photo of the Buddha statue out of respect. I have climbed so many stairs to offer my sincere prayer and I really hope Guanyin Buddha will bless me and my loved ones.

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I am ending this post with a photo of Nin and me. Thanks for the company babe! 🙂 And till then… 🙂

Xiao Long Bao, My Love!

Shanghai, China

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This is my first flight to China this year. Like finally! I love flights to China! Food is cheap! Everything is cheap! I love chinese food! I live like a Queen whenever I am in China. I re-visited YuYuan (豫园) and you can view my previous post on YuYuan here. I took a cab to YuYuan and the dishonest cab driver wanted to charge me more. The cab fare was RMB46 (SGD9) and I gave him RMB100. He only returned me RMB24 instead of RMB54, thinking that I wasn’t aware of the exact charge on the meter. I was traveling alone, a little scared but still, I demanded for my exact change and luckily he returned. A small tip for women traveling solo is that before you board a cab, you can check with your concierge the approximate cab fare and travel time to reach your destination. Stay vigilant and if something is amiss, do not hesitate to leave and board another cab. So yea, be careful.

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I wanted to go to YuYuan because I have a craving for Xiao Long Bao (小笼包) and Nanxiang Steamed Buns Restaurant (南翔馒头店) is well known to both locals and tourists as the place to eat Xiao Long Bao. I wanted to try the famous Xiao Long Bao on my last visit but I did not have enough money and I was very determined to try it this time round. There was a super long queue on the ground level for Xiao Long Bao (10pcs) at RMB20 (SGD4). SO CHEAP RIGHT?  The average queue time was about an hour. I tried to queue for 10 minutes and gave up when I noticed that there was a staircase leading to second floor. I went up to the second floor but there was some queue too so I continued my way to third floor. Voilà, there was NO QUEUE.

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I was so happy that I did not need to queue and I was given a table immediately. Woah! I did a little research about the restaurant while I was waiting for my food. I then realized that there were 3 different levels of service and pricing at Nan Xiang. The ground level is for take away (forever long queue!) and the cheapest compared to second and third level. The second floor dining level is casual whereas the third level dining level is more formal with more options in the menu. No wonder no queue la! Lol!

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I ordered the King Size Nanxiang Crab Roe Steam Soup Bun (蟹黄湯包). I sucked up the broth through the straw. It was super hot but damn shiok! I have wanted to order Nanxiang Drunken Chicken and Chicken Soup but I was informed that these chicken dishes are not available in the menu anymore. I was quite impressed that the restaurant has taken preventive measures against H7N9.

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This is my favorite dish, Crab Roe & Pork Filling Steamed Bun (蟹黄小笼). The skin is thicker than the Ding Tai Fung’s Xiao Long Bao in Singapore but gosh, the filling is substantial and soupy. The broth is so much that it fills the spoon and I should have taken a picture to show! Damn good, damn shiok la! Simply the best Xiao Long Bao I have ever tried!

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Of cos, I must order the original flavor, Fresh Pork Filling Steamed Bun. The broth was flavorful and rich with fats. However, it will be better if the meat is more tender. And YES, I FINISH EVERYTHING all by myself! The bill only came up to RMB130 (SGD26). Damn worth it with such delicious Xiao Long Bao! I have tried the Nanxiang outlet in Singapore but it is not as good as the Shanghai’s outlet.

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I took the train back to my hotel. The 20 minutes train ride only cost RMB4 (SGD0.80). Cheap! When back to my room, I enjoyed my mango bubble bath with coconut scrub (great combination) and then a 2 hour call in full body oil massage. Guess how much the 2 hour full body oil massage cost? ONLY RMB185 which is less than SGD40!! CHEAP AND SHIOK! 😀

I think I deserve to enjoy my life because I work hard… Work Hard, Play Hard and Enjoy life! 🙂 

The Forbidden City

Beijing, China

This is a late post on my trip to The Forbidden City in Beijing on January this year. I always feel that there is an air of mystery with a lot of untold stories in this imperial palace. Prior to the trip, my Chinese colleagues have already advised me not to stay till too late and the haunted activities is the very reason why the imperial palace never stays open to the public late at night.

January is the coldest month in January and it is so cold that the whole lake is frozen.

The trip is about 4 months ago and I cannot remember much of the details so I will just let the photos do the talking.

The Hall of Supreme Harmony

The throne in the Hall of Preserving Harmony
The throne in the Palace of Heavenly Purity

I had hotpot for dinner at this pretty popular hotpot chain restaurant called Xiabu Xiabu (呷哺呷哺) which is easily found in Beijing. It is a very comforting to have hotpot in this cold winter. This sumptuous meal is only less than SGD10. Everything in China is so cheap! I can take cab everywhere I go and also enjoy an affordable 2 hour full body massage at the end of the day. Like a Queen!

I ordered room service for supper after the 2 hours full body massage! Shiok! Can you spot the pinky bolster? It is my beloved bolster girl! My boy made it for me and I bring it with me around the world ever since the first day I started flying. It is a must-bring item if not I will not be able to sleep. Hee.. 🙂

A Day To The Ancient Watertown…

Shanghai, China 

It was an impromptu call up to Shanghai but nevertheless, I had a worthwhile trip to QiBao Ancient Watertown (七宝古镇). There is lots of photo opportunity found in this quaint little thousand year old town, where you can still find antique buildings from the Northern Song Dynasty.

Entrance to QiBao
The Pagoda near the entrance

May I suggest having an empty stomach when you visit this ancient water town. If not, you will be missing out on some good local snacks (上海小吃).

Xiao Long Bao (小笼包)

It was so good that I had two baskets (16 pcs) by myself. I am a Xiao Long Bao’s lover! I am a Chinese and I like my food to be served pipping hot! I always miss our Asian food when I am in European countries. And an interesting thing that I have noticed is that they do not provide shredded ginger and spoon in China. So…Does that mean the authentic way of eating Xiao Long Bao is without shredded ginger and spoon?

Tangyuan (汤圆)
Candied Haw in a Stick (冰糖葫蘆)
Vinegar Pork Trotter (猪脚醋)
Braised Pigeon (乳鸽)

This is one of the three bridges found in QiBao. It gives me a feeling that I was in those ancient chinese series (古装剧).

When you are in QiBao, you got to take the boat trip along the canals to complete the whole feel.

Aaaahhh… So nostalgic…

Personally, I think it would be even better to have tradition performance acts such as an old Chinese man playing erhu (二胡) on the streets to enhance the whole laid-back atmosphere.

I also tried an attempt on street photography to give more characteristics to my photo album for this trip. Here are some of my amateur shots..

An emo me..

If you are trying to figure out this photo, this is me sitting in the old boat.

I am pretty satisfied with my photos as I have captured the feel that I wanted to portray for this place. Looking forward to my next trip.. Till then.. 😉

Shanghai Tang

Shanghai, China

Headed out to Yuyuan Garden,  a place where you can find architecture from the Ming and Qing dynasty. You can find many local snacks in Yuyuan Garden too.

Ordered the Da Zha Xie 大闸蟹 (hairy crab) and it costs RMB48 per pc. And I thought it was RMB48 per plate! So it costs a wholly sum of RMB144 which makes up about SGD30 for 3 tiny crabs! Wah.. Is my mandarin that bad to differentiate between per pc and per plate…

The worst thing is I only change RMB300. After the deduction of taxi fares and my lunch, I only left about RMB40 to survive the rest of the day! The yolk and fat of Da Zha Xie taste heavenly and I just wish that there is more.

Long queue at Nan Xiang Xiao Long Bao takeaway counter. Really want to try it very badly but after much consideration, I decided not to eat it. Worried that if I ordered it, I might not have enough money to make my way back to the hotel. So I can only drool salvia thinking that how nice it gonna taste!

More views of YuYuan Garden. YuYuan Garden is a walking distance to the Bund.

Took a slow stroll along the bund waiting for the building to be lighted up. It is really cold despite that the temperature is about 18-21 degree Celsius.

Spotted some interesting English translations. Can you spot it too?