China

Lounge Review: Sanya First Class Lounge, 25 October 2016

Sanya First Class Lounge

There sure is a whole lot of nothingness! The Sanya First Class Lounge looks very grand, but the lounge offerings are rather bleak, and I found the furniture very uncomfortable. They do have decent service, though.

The lounge is one big open room, with separate areas created through the use of screens. Within each of these screened options are wood sofas, and wood chairs. They were very uncomfortable, but with the little privacy, I did manage to lie down and nap for a bit, as I got up very early (for me) for my morning flight.

Sanya First Class Lounge

The food and drink on offer is rather sad. They are pre-packaged snacks, quite frankly, not something I’d even buy for myself. The soda and bottled water was pretty ok, and did come in handy, because I was getting on a low cost carrier. Having a bottle of water for the 4hr flight was a nice bonus.

The service was pretty good. They don’t actually have flight update displays, and I’m not entirely sure if they even have wifi in the lounge, but just as I was about to exit, the receptionist informed me that my flight was delayed, so I just went back to sitting on the hard chair for a bit longer.

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Macau and Hong Kong, 22-26 August 2012

Another classic Macau/Hong Kong trip with the folks, i.e. daddy got the itch to gamble.

With the exception of Tiger Airways, there are no real direct flights going from Singapore to Macau (who woulda thought!). Nevertheless, no reason to fret. If you do want to head to Macau from Hong Kong, it’s actually pretty easy. You don’t actually have to even go into Hong Kong. There is a direct ferry link from Hong Kong International Airport, and you don’t have to clear immigration. Just look for the signs in the Hong Kong International Airport, buy your ferry tickets, and you’ll be on your way.

This time, we stayed at Galaxy Hotel, which is just beside Venetian Macau. It touts itself as the only integrated resort in Macau to date, and its facilities are pretty impressive. They have quite a number of pools, including a wave pool, a lazy river, and a jacuzzi, and a fake beach. Be sure to bring your access card with you, if you want to check out their facilities. It’s a pretty packed facility, so expect the usual waits, e.g. check in, dinner, etc. You’re advised to book in advance if you want to have a buffet dinners at one of the dining establishments that offer them. I do kinda like the casino, as it is bright, as opposed to some other casinos, which tend to be dim. Call me cheap, but the free milk tea they offer in the casino is pretty good, too!

After a day in Macau, we headed towards Hong Kong. I did my usual round of shopping and eating, but that has become somewhat routine. I decided to explore another suburb this time round. As it was hot and my aching feet were killing me, I opted to take a bus to Tuen Mun. There is a pretty nice waterfront promenade, where you can get views of ships/tankers docked far from shore. It is also possible to go to some of the outlying islands and Macau from Tuen Mun pier.

Come night, my family decided to explore the seafood options at Leiyu Mun. Here, you are supposed to be able to shop for your own seafood by weight, and bring it to one of the several restaurants available, and ask them to cook it according to your preference for a fee. It can get pretty pricey. Four seafood dishes worked out to more than 400 SGD for the five of us.

Galaxy Hotel (and its pools)

View from Tuen Mun Promenade

Shopping at Leiyu Mun

Leiyu Mun at Night

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Hong Kong – Stanley, 01 September 2011

We had an afternoon flight, so we decided to venture a little. In my random, open a map and point fashion, we ended up in Stanley. To get to Stanley, take the MTR to Central, and at the Central Exchange bus station, take 6, 6A, 66, and 260 (I think). The Hong Kong tourism map is amazingly helpful for this purpose.

I think the highlight of this trip is the bus trip. The last time, I got to southern Hong Kong via the tram, so I saw mainly cityscapes. But this time, we went by southern Hong Kong. One would not think of Hong Kong as a beach destination, but guess what? They do have quite a number of beaches, for instance, at Repulse Bay. I spotted at least three beaches on the way to Stanley.

After arriving in Stanley, we didn’t really go into Stanley market. In any case, it was like about 10 am, and most of the people opening the stores were not early birds. There was, however, the spectacular Murray House which was built in the late 1800s, which still stands there. There is a restaurant there open for lunch, if you want some of the 19th century ambience. Otherwise, I think Stanley is kinda like a laid-back escape for Hongkongers who are looking to get away from the city. They do have a decent-looking hotel there as well.

Southern Hong Kong beach at Repulse Bay

Hong Kong is very island-y

Stanley Market

Murray House

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Greater ‘China’ – Taiwan and Hong Kong, 25 Aug – 01 Sep 2011

25 August 2011: Singapore – Taipei

26 August 2011: Taipei

27 August 2011: Taipei – Kaohsiung

28 August 2011: Kaohsiung

29 August 2011: Kaohsiung – Hong Kong

30 August 2011: Hong Kong

31 August 2011: Hong Kong

01 September 2011: Hong Kong – Singapore

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Hong Kong – Shek O, Cheung Chau, 27 July 2010

Long day ahead, for some Hong Kong beach, and one of the outlying islands.

I read online that there’s some beginner’s surfing to be had at Big Wave Bay, which is conveniently beside the beach at Shek O, so off I went for my little adventure. Getting there was definitely fun. I took the star ferry to Central, and went a-hunting for the tram that runs through Hong Kong Island to Shau Kei Wan. The tram trip is definitely a must do. It costs around 1.50 USD, regardless of distance, and from the second level of the tram, you can check out some pretty cool places like the Christian cemetery, and Happy Valley. Also, as you wind through the streets of Hong Kong, it sometimes feels as if the tall skyscrapers are converging upon you. Yet, amidst all the skyscrapers, you still some really old school stuff like clan associations in these buildings.

Shau Kei Wan

Shau Kei Wan

After the interesting hour-long journey, I arrived in Shau Kei Wan, and hopped onto the minibus heading for Shek O. It does take an interesting winding journey through the hills of Hong Kong, which really gives you an idea of how the landscape makes it impossible for all the land to be utilized, and why so many people are packed into the little bits of land that are more habitable. Though I wanted to check out Big Wave Bay and try some surfing in Hong Kong, the weather had other ideas. It was raining, and there was lightning as well.

Shek O

Shek O Beach

After all the effort I took to get myself here, I wasn’t about to leave without seeing some beach. So I headed to Shek O beach, and just kinda admired the beach as much as someone can in the drizzle. Small as it is, I think it’d have been a nice break for Hong Kongers to come here to get away from the city. They also have an area fenced off so that you can swim in safety, and not worry about people in boats and stuff. After a short stay, I hopped back on the bus and got back to downtown Hong Kong to meet my family again.

As we all got back pretty early, (and probably tired of my whining) my dad decided we’ll go explore Cheung Chau, one of the outlying islands. It was an easy one-hour ferry ride from the Hong Kong side of the star ferry. Do check the times. I believe they leave every half hour or so.

When we first got off the ferry, it was ever so slightly disappointing. First thing we saw? A McDonald’s. We walked away from that, and saw other stuff like a pretty grand looking temple in Cheung Chau town. It appears that Cheung Chau is some sort of weekend getaway for Hong Kongers. When we went to the opposite end of the island, away from the ferry terminal, they have quite a number of holiday chalets that face the beaches of Cheung Chau. Taking a loop around Cheung Chau probably took us half an hour. Looking at the ferry times, my dad just asked us to come back on time for the next ferry back to Hong Kong, instead of staying in Cheung Chau for dinner. I headed in a different direction from the loop we took, and discovered a little food market. I saw a shop selling Gai Dan Zai (a type of sweet, floury snack), bought some, and got back in time to share it with my bro and mum.

Cheung Chau

Cheung Chau

Gai Dan Zai

Gai Dan Zai

We headed back to Hong Kong, had dinner at some Cantonese restaurant (yes, I have no clue, it’s all the same to me by now). After dinner, we took the mid-levels escalator in Central for a view of Hong Kong. That’s definitely another free thing one can do when one goes to Hong Kong – you get to see the colourful nightlife in the form of its bars, and some pretty interesting sights like cute shops, and even a mosque on the way up.

Escalator to the Midlevels

Mid Levels Escalator

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Hong Kong – Sai Kung, Tai Po, 26 July 2010

I’ve definitely been to Hong Kong several times, due to my family’s predilection for taking annual holidays to Hong Kong. I’ve always thought it was boring, because we pretty much never go further than say, 2 miles from the little strait that separates Hong Kong Island and Kowloon. Knowing that this is probably one of the last times I’ll take a family holiday on my parents’ dime to Hong Kong given that I’ll be moving to the US soon, I decided to try and explore Hong Kong for real. For today, I decided that to explore places that are often depicted or mentioned in Hong Kong dramas – Sai Kung, and the Wishing Tree in Tai Po.

First stop – the Lam Tsuen Wishing Tree in Tai Po. I think I stopped at the Tai Po Market station, which is actually pretty close to the border with China. From there, take either a 25K or 64K bus, and that will drop you off at the Lam Tsuen Wishing Tree. Erm, I guess try asking the bus driver when to get off. Anyways, I got off, walked towards the tree. You can no longer hang anything on the tree, despite all the shows about throwing your blessing on it. But the ladies who act as custodians of the tree will instruct you on what to do. You will be quoted a low price for the blessings, but they’ll ask you for a higher price as a tip. You can always risk your karma if you don’t want to tip. Or you can just choose not to do anything, and just visit the site.

Wishing Tree at Lam Tsuen

Lam Tsuen Wishing Tree

After that, I got myself back on the MTR, and headed to Diamond Hill Station for a look at the sea in Sai Kung. I hopped onto bus 92 (it’s pretty easy, just take a look at the guide at the bus stop) for the trip to Sai Kung. By the time I arrived, it was a little late for me to do some hiking, but they do have a resource centre there, and you can sign up for some of the coastal hiking tours, which I think would be a pretty interesting view of Hong Kong. I think it’d definitely change perspectives of Hong Kong merely as a spot for shopping and food, if other tourists can see some of the natural landscapes. I just walked the jetty and took in some of the sea air. After which, I just made my way back to meet my parents for dinner in Hong Kong.

Sai Kung

Sai Kung

Seafood sellers at Sai Kung

Seafood for sale in Sai Kung

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China – Hong Kong, 25 July 2010

Travel day. We took an afternoon flight from Shanghai Hongqiao airport to get back to Hong Kong. We arrived in the late-afternoon, in time for dinner. It was a bit of a shame, as there was some sort of boating Regatta going on, and we had a hotel with a great view of Hong Kong.

Anyway, we just had dinner. I don’t remember what, but here’s leaving you with a view from our hotel, Royal Pacific Hotel  in Hong Kong. It is in Kowloon, and if you’re interested in taking a ferry to Macau, the ferry terminal is just below the hotel. Unlike most other hotel rooms in Hong Kong, which are tiny, our rooms were huge, and there’d have been no problems accommodating more than four people comfortably. It is incredibly convenient, as it is near the Star Ferry, and it’s about fifteen minutes walk to the Tsim Sha Tsui MTR station. Shopping galore for the shopaholics.

View from Hotel Room

I haven’t been up to the Peak in a long while, and really miss Hong Kong’s gorgeous night view, which from my point of view, is nothing short of mesmerizing. My dad kindly went along with me. Initially, our plan was to take a tram up, but after taking a look at the snaking lines, we just decided to do the taxi option. It did not disappoint. Here’re some pictures to prove my point.

Hong Kong at night from the Peak

After the trip to the peak, we did one of my favourite things – we took the star ferry back to Kowloon. It is an incredibly cheap way to travel, and the some 30 min journey between Kowloon and Hong Kong is just scenic. In my opinion, it’s definitely one of the best cheap things to do in Hong Kong. After getting back to our hotel, I decided to capitalize on our hotel’s excellent location, and take pictures of the Hong Kong skyline.

Star Ferry and Hong Kong Skyline

Hong Kong Skyline

In my previous trips to Hong Kong with my family, I never explored much. But knowing that this might be one of my last trips with my family to Hong Kong as I will be based in the USA in the near future, I decided to make the most of this trip, instead of just staying in the hotel room. I decided to go to Temple Street, which features quite prominently in Hong Kong gangster films.

It was quite a fun trip for me. I saw those mahjong houses that also feature in the aforementioned films, and also saw the famous palm-reader, though I decided against getting my fortune told. I also explored some of the new pub-crawly areas, Knutsford Terrace, which is a new area, and fairly gentrified. After a drink, I decided to retire for the night, as I have grand plans for the next day.

Temple Street

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China – Shanghai, 24 July 2010

My parents wanted to see one of the ‘ancient’ tourist towns near Shanghai, and having heard that the more famous one, Zhou Zhuang was kinda crowded and overhyped, they opted for a nearer one, Zhu Jia Jiao. 珠家角

Zhu Jia Jiao is about one hour car ride from Shanghai, and it is kinda like Venice in China. There are old Qing stone houses surrounded little water ways, and bridges connect the different areas for passengers on foot. For about 30 yuan, you can hire a little boat that’ll take you from one end of the village to the other end of the village. The waterways sure are narrow!

Despite not being as famous as Zhou Zhuang, there were definitely a lot of tourists. Authenticity sells here, and so, various vendors were trying to advertise traditional medicines and other traditional foods that were sold in Zhu Jia Jiao in the past. The presence of tourism-driven endeavors is, however, very obvious here. There are plenty of signs advertising ‘sunset view’ or ‘water view’ in English. i guess it is trying to attract a Western backpacker crowd?

Included in the price of our entrance ticket, were some museums, so my brother and I decided to capitalize on that. We went to a medicinal hall, which had one of those ceiling-high, wall-wide medicine chests, where they pick out herbs for you based on a prescription. We also went to Qing dynasty post office, which I thought was pretty cool. It is always interesting to see pre-modern communication networks.

We left Zhu Jia Jiao before lunch, as my dad was not so convinced about the dining options in Zhu Jia Jiao, and preferred to go with city options. After lunch, my brother and I walked the French concession again. It does certainly have a very bourgeois feel to it. My mission this time was to find the Sun Yat-sen museum, since that’s a theme for a lot of my holidays in the Chinese world.

Sun Yat-sen’s museum, like Soong Ching Ling’s was set in a pretty villa. Having been to many, I guess sometimes, I don’t quite know what to get from new ones, since they repeat information. But oh well, fascination fulfilled!

After a long day of walking, we joined our parents for dinner at one of those fancy hotel buffets. Boy, was it expensive at over 300 RMB. China has certainly gotten much, much fancier and more expensive since I last lived in the Yangtze River region some five years ago!

Zhu Jia Jiao

Old Building, New Use – H&M in French Concession

Former Residence of Sun Yat-sen

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China – Shanghai, 23 July 2010

The main reason why my family wanted to take this trip to Shanghai was because they wanted to visit the Shanghai World Expo 上海世博, and this was the main event for today. But after depositing us at the Shanghai World Expo, my parents decided we could go our own ways. Well, let’s just say I wasn’t that interested in the World Expo, as I am not a huge fan of queues, and it being a China event, queues were inevitable.

Anyway, I went into the Shanghai World Expo, thinking to myself that I will go to the one country that I might have the most trouble accessing in my world quest – Saudi Arabia. When I saw the line, I gave up. I think it will take less effort for me to get into the real Saudi Arabia than to spend that six hours in line to get in. I did go into the exhibition halls for the ‘smaller’ (in a geopolitical sense, not in an area sense) countries, like the Africa exhibition hall and the Oceania exhibition hall. It is kinda stereotypical, but part of me was just trying to justify the entrance fee. Anyway, after about two hours, I kinda gave up, and decided to explore the city of Shanghai instead, revisiting some old haunts, and seeing others that I didn’t get a chance to see in my previous trips.

First stop – Cheng Huang Miao 城隍庙 (Temple of the City God). I guess I went there first, because it was the last memorable place I went in one of my last trips to Shanghai. The changes were … jaw-dropping. It really hit home the point that China is changing fast (duh). The last time I went there was in 2005, when I went to Nanjing as an exchange student. Back then, it was busy and commercial, but not to this extent. This time, when I got off the cab, the first thing I saw were many shops in a big mall with Haagen Daaz and Marks & Spencer. It was really shocking for me. Anyway, the last time, I didn’t go into the temple itself, so this time round, I stepped in for a look.

After visiting the Temple of the City God, I decided visit the French Concession to look at the architecture of colonial Shanghai (sorry! – about the use of the world colonial). It does really give one the sense of Shanghai’s unique architecture, as it is a mishmash of Chinese architecture and Western colonial architecture. Sometimes, I do wonder why Singapore doesn’t keep as much of the colonial architecture as part of its heritage. I can understand the part about defining a new nation, but, well, I guess I also think that we don’t make things like we used to.

Another part of my trip involved me stuffing my face with my favourite dumpling shop – Da Niang dumpling 大娘水饺. I definitely went all out this time round, and went for 4 jin of dumplings, which equates to about 24 dumplings. I topped that off with a sliced beef vermicelli soup. It just reminds me of one of my favourite combos when I used to live in China. Over the course of five months, I think I ate more than 1000 dumplings. Impressive, eh? 🙂

That amount of food naturally induced a food coma. So, I took an evening nap, and waking at 10pm, I decided to take a walk along the Bund. This is perhaps the epitome of colonial architecture in Shanghai. To quote my cousin, who’s a trained architecture, the Bund is “a museum of architecture”. It is definitely one of my favourite stretches in Shanghai, and when the lights go up, it is simply spectacular. There is something about the city of Shanghai that enthralls me, and the song that runs through my head every time I am there is the very haunting Shanghai Night 夜上海 from the early-twentieth century. As I stroll along the streets of Shanghai with its beautiful architecture, the song just keeps playing on auto-repeat. Well, I will leave you pictures to let you see what I saw that captured my soul.

Dutch Exhibition in Shanghai Expo

Temple of City God

My favourite meal at Da Niang Dumpling

New Shanghai – Pudong

Shanghai Bund at Night

The Bund after Lights Out

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China – Shanghai, 22 July 2010

We flew from Singapore to Shanghai in the morning, with an hour transit in Hong Kong. This left us with little time to do stuff, except have dinner, by the time we arrived in Shanghai.

We met my cousin for dinner at Jade Chinese Restaurant in Intercontinental Hotel, which served Cantonese and Shanghainese cuisine. I am under the impression that Central China (华中) is famous for its small dishes, and so, the food was appropriately small in its servings. The taste was very subtle. Not quite my kind of thing, but I am sure it has its attractions for people who have a finer palate than mine. Unfortunately, my favourite is the 红烧肉 (roasted pork?), which is really tasty, but extremely sinful, due to the layers of pork fat. Melts in the mouth, but I would advise one not to eat it too often.

The meal came up to about 500 RM (100 SGD / 75 USD) for 8 people. There were about 10 dishes.

Chicken

Lotus Roots

Shrimp

Roasted pork?

Pan Fried Buns Stuffed with Minced Pork

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