Happy 2018!

First welcome to my blog, back in the beginnings of the Internet I had a blog on Xanga that I did a decent job keeping up. As one of many parts of my 2018 New Year’s resolution I’ve decided to pick blogging back up. My other resolutions are traveling more, getting into optimal mind and body.

I will be challenging myself to write a blog entry every other week. This will be a collection of my musings, travels, and whatever else from my life. Why you may ask? Well, first it’s out of my comfort zone and that’s good for my own personal development and secondly it’s nice to keep a journal to not forget my travels.

 

Trip to China and Korea

This holiday I spent my Christmas and New Years in China and Korea, with my parents, my sister and her family, and my boyfriend Matt. We were able to spend the 23rd and 24th with my boyfriend’s family in San Diego.

 
San Diego Christmas
 

 

Chengdu

We flew out at midnight on Christmas morning from Los Angeles airport and arrived 14 hours later on the 26th. We landed in the city of Chengdu as a 23 hour layover (thanks to skiplagged.com) and was picked up by a driver from (WestChinaGo.com) and driven to the Giant Panda Breeding Center (http://www.panda.org.cn/english).

This center was massive and is incredibly well known around the world for have successfully increasing the population of pandas and lesser pandas (the Red Panda), both animals are endangered due to their shrinking habitat. I do think it is unfortunate these animals do not live in the wild and believe zoos are incredibly unfair, however the pandas looked happy and healthy. We spent 4 hours at the park just watching the pandas, and then headed back to our hotel for one night stay at the Temple hotel (http://www.thetemplehousehotel.com/). We were wiped from the plane ride and the zoo, that we grabbed a quick dinner of noodles and congee at the plaza next door and headed to bed before 10pm.

We were up at 5am the next morning, due to our flight being at 7:55am. It turns out that when we got to the airport at 7am, the flight was pushed up to 7:05am. I guess this is totally okay in China to do this! We ended up getting on the 10:50am flight, so we ate food at 5 different restaurants and filled the time goofing off on their baggage carriers.

Chengdu Panda Research Center Baby Pandas
Temple Hotel Bar
Chengdu Temple Hotel
Chengdu Panda Research Center
Chengdu Aiport

 

Changsha

In Changsha we found a taxi to take us to our hotel, we found out later that he charged us double to the hotel. A lesson for next time is to contact the hotel ahead of time to find out what the appropriate taxi amount should be. This hotel was so incredibly nice it was 63 levels high and we had a personal butler. I usually don’t travel this nice, but when a top of the class hotel that will be $500+ in the states is a $180 a night in China figured it would be the time to do it.

I was able to meet up with my parents and my sister’s family in Changsha.

Changsha is in the Hunan province and where my Dad’s side of the family is from. A quick background about my Dad… He was carried as a 2-year-old baby to Taiwan when Mao and the communists took over. My mother’s side is native Taiwanese and so the only relatives I had met was from there.

During this trip I was able to meet my extended relatives and get a history on the family and what happened to them during the communist takeover. My great great great grandfather and my great great grandfather were big in education. They taught as professors, won scholarly recognition, and founded a junior high and high school in China. My Dad as a tribute decided to give scholarships to the top 10 students yearly. After this visit to the school we visited the ancestral home which Mao places 4 families in as punishment for being educated and well off. Then we headed to dinner with relatives I was meeting for the first time.

Changsha High School
Changsha Mao Memorial Park
Changsha Hill Top
Changsha St. Regis
Changsha Buns

 

Shanghai

The entire family went to Shanghai and was picked up by the driver and tour guide (thechinaguide.com) and was driven to The Shanghai Museum where we spend the next 3 hours looking at antiquities from China’s past. This included bronze sculptures, calligraphy, clothing, paintings, currency and furniture. Then we headed to The Bund which is the walkway that the old side (Pudong) from the new developed side of Shanghai. We took the Huangpu river cruise which was gorgeous at night to see all the buildings lit up.

My sister’s kids were tired from the day and the headed to the hotel at the Four Seasons (very old and not impressive). Matt and I ended up meeting one of my BFF’s Kevin and his GF at The Union Trading Company to taste their award winning cocktails.

The next day we headed to the Longhua Temple, which was 20 minutes in the French Concession district of Shanghai. This was a beautiful garden located inside the Old Town area, it was was incredibly surreal to beautiful be here. However since this was a Saturday of their 3-day New Year’s break it was incredibly busy. We had lunch at a restaurant known as No.1 Seafood and had some of the local fare. We then went to the Tianzifang district and enjoyed the stores on either side. Due to the weather being cloudy we forgoed going to the top of the World Financial Center for the Shanghai Aquarium, which has the longest water tunnel (not impressive if you have been to Monterey Bay Aquarium and Georgia Aquarium). We ended the evening by going to the Shanghai Circus World and saw the show “Intersection of Time,” which was very much like Cirque du Soleil and was incredibly worth it. I was catching myself audibly saying “woah” many times.

On the last day of Shanghai we headed to Suzhou which is a 90-minute car ride away. I thought this city was beautiful and wish I had left a couple days in the itinerary for this city. We visited their main center and visited the Humble Administer’s Garden we grabbed quick bites from the store vendors.

Then headed to Tongli Water Town, which was my favorite it was like the Venice canals and I wished I had another day to spend here. We took a boat ride trip down the canals to look at all the buildings and restaurants.

Shanghai Skyline
Shanghai Aquarium
Longhua Temple
Longhua Temple
Shanghai No.1 Silk Factory
Shanghai Old Town
Tongli Boat Ride
Shanghai Old Town
Shanghai Old Town Buns
Tongli Boat Ride
Tongli Store

 

Korea

We headed to Korea on an 8 hour layover, as you can tell I like these layovers so I can get in extra cities. The layover with customs and getting back in, plus an hour both ways into the city only ended up being a 3 hour visit to the city. We took the 6011 airport bus to the Gyeongbokgung Palace and saw the changing of the guards ceremony. We walked down the street to Changdeokgung palace and finally to Isadong streets. We had some Korean street food and some traditional food like the Dragons Beard Desert and this Churro like thing. All and all not enough time in Korea and in the future worth a longer trip back.

Gyeongbokgun Palace
Changdeokgung Palace
Icheon Aiport
Changdeokgung Palace
Gyeongbokgun Palace

All and all it was a fantastic trip and China is way more futuristic then I could imagine. If you go to China make sure your WeChat is available, this is how people authenticate wi-fi access, chat, and pay. Everywhere in China there’s free wifi, but if you don’t have VPN setup you won’t be able to access Gmail, Instagram, and Facebook. If you decide to see a ton of cities and constantly travel it's was super helpful to travel light, so all I had with me was a backpack and a handbag. Feel free to reach out to me if you would like to do a trip like mine and have any questions! 

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