Trip to China

Okay, so I haven’t been blogging for a while… for a good reason…  which is that I didn’t have a computer to use!  We have laptops at work, but I can’t use that for personal work, and we do have a shared tablet at home, but I found the wordpress app to be quite difficult to use.  It comes with a keyboard, but still…

So I am blogging about this out of guilt.  I am currently excited about planning a trip to Japan, but I couldn’t exactly do that without blogging about some previous trips first, could I?  Hubby and I went to Shanghai, China last summer and it was lovely!  It was his first trip to China, and the second trip for me, the first being a business trip to Beijing during the cold, cold month of March a couple of years ago.

 

But first, why Shanghai?  The main reason for travelling was because I had some hotel points that were set to expire in January 2016.  I got the notification in January 2015, and summer vacation was the only time that we could get away for travel since hubby works in a school.  From there, we had to choose which locations were feasible with the number of points available.  Our best options were two nights in a really nice resort in Thailand or five nights in Shanghai.  Aside from the extended vacation days, hubby and I were both raised in the chinese environment so going to China to experience the “real stuff” would really be grand.  I also did some background check — the hotel is in a good location near a subway station, it was rated as a 3-star hotel but would very easily pass for a 5-star hotel, and it had very good reviews. The only downside was that breakfast was not included, but I was not too worried about finding bread or pastries or a noodle place somewhere. Worst case scenario, there is a branch of McDonald’s and Starbucks across the street. I was psyched!

After finalizing the dates, the next step was to look for our flight. The best option (read: cheapest!) that I saw was with China Eastern Airlines. I always check for online reviews. They didn’t have very high ratings in terms of service, but flight schedules were on time and no complaints were posted regarding lost luggage, so I was good with that. I also made sure hubby was aware of the conditions so that he would know what to expect. Oh, and another good (awesome, really) part about riding China Eastern was the schedule. Our flight would arrive 8AM and depart 9PM. Now that’s REALLY maximizing our trip!

This is where I discovered that I enjoyed making trip itineraries. So exciting!

Roughly, here is our schedule:
Day 1 — Arrival, Hotel Check-In, cross the river to the Pearl Tower, lunch at IFC Mall, visit our company office in Shanghai (just to meet colleagues I correspond with via email)
Day 2 — Fuxing Park, Sun Yat Sen house, Tian Zi Fang, hotpot lunch, museums
Day 3 — Day trip to Suzhou
Day 4 — Day trip to Zhujiajiao, an ancient watertown
Day 5 — visit The Bund, Yu Garden, watch the Acrobatics show
Day 6 — last minute shopping, hotel check-out, departure

Our trip was considered as spring season in Beijing (though summer in Manila) so the weather would be perfect. No need to bring bulky winter clothes yet cool enough to walk around comfortably. Hubby also speaks pretty good mandarin chinese, so less worries for me. Some advice on preparing for a trip like this…
– Research the subway map, print it in color.
– Have a list of “priorities” on the things that you want to do. For example, I explored the idea of joining a cooking class and calligraphy class (we didn’t do both, due to what I felt was unreasonably high fees aimed at western tourists. 🙂 )
– Read reviews on which places would be interesting to go to. Plot accordingly to ease navigation. I found a great app in the Play Store called Maps.Me which allowed me to plot all the places we were going to. It helped visualize which places of interest were near each other
– Draft a realistic budget and stick to it as much as you can. It also helps save in the long run in terms of getting good exchange rates instead of incurring bank fees at your destination
– Research the most efficient means of getting around in terms of cost, comfort, safety, and flexibility
– When planning, write both english names and foreign characters in your little notebook to help you with navigation. If you can’t write it, do a print screen or copy-paste from a website. Also, instead of just writing “get off subway at Station ABC,” go into more detail by specifying which exit is nearest to your destination.
– Know that not everything will go according to plan, and be okay with it

Now, with food. I plan to eat chinese food. Real chinese food. Being that I have been to China before, I know the food will have lots of vegetables but will somehow be on the oily side. Shanghai is known for their Xiao Long Bao (dumplings with meat and soup inside) so we will definitely try that. Sometimes we will eat at a fastfood place because of budget or convenience, but we are aiming for the majority of our meals to be chinese food. And the question that needs to be answered: May Lumpiang Shanghai ba sa Shanghai?

I will cover our daily adventures in future posts, so stay tuned! 🙂

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