Suzhou: Heaven on Earth

Hi folks I am back. Have been busy doing assignments, catching up with people, dancing and led a history tour for the first time in my life (Have done related things before but the duration of this is the longest). Just tried it for experience sake. I don’t think I’d ever do it again though. I prefer behind-the-scenes work.

Oh here’s a photo as evidence (holy s**t that’s wayyy too candid)

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Anyway if you aren’t sick of it already, here is an account of my 3 days spent in Suzhou and the next post will be on Shanghai.

As the saying goes, 上有天堂,下有苏杭. It means there is heaven above, while there is Suzhou and Hangzhou on earth. Suzhou has been in existence 2000 years ago and the centre of silk trade. At present, it is the 2014 awardee of Lee Kwan Yew’s World City Prize, which recognizes the city’s sustainable urban development.

Suzhou’s airport is only for domestic flights, so we took a 2 hour long bus ride from Shanghai Pu Dong airport to Suzhou. Photos of Shanghai en route to Suzhou I will post in the next entry.

Day 1

To start off here is a must-take of the cloudsIMG_0010

Was quite surprised to find Suzhou so clean and the road so spacious, only to realize that the area is part of the Suzhou Industrial Park which is a Singapore-China venture, which accounts for the ordered urban planning. (Make shift police posts out of nowhere)

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Passed by the Gate of the Orient while heading to the restaurant for dinner. Supposedly a skyscraper located in Suzhou’s central business district, but ridiculed to resemble a pair of trousers.20140706_185523

Yeah didn’t do much on the first day because nearly half the day was spent travelling. Mostly conking out and looking at how the roads are similar to that of Singapore.

Day 2

Lecture about China’s background information at Economics and Management School of Wuhan University. Many many facts and figures. Quite motivating for students to see the vision of the institute erected in classroom walls and how they are striving in that direction. IMG_0011

Went for lunch and get some grocery shopping done at Hua Ren Neighbourhood Centre after that. Here they call their shopping malls as neighbourhood centres. Meanwhile there is some ongoing promotion of doraemon. 20140707_123102

Suzhou hypermarts are the solution to first world consumer problems.

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Visited the Suzhou Culture and Arts Centre (SCAC), a permanent base for the Golden Rooster awards. Yet another Singaporean concept to introduce performing arts into lives of the Chinese. While Singapore’s esplanade is shaped like a durian, SCAC is shaped like a bird nest. Even in the souvenir shop they have Singapore themed magnets saying that we are a fine city.

SCAC is located at the east of Golden Rooster Lake so there is a scenic walk down the waterfront. Meanwhile, all hail the haze and trouser building.

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IMG_0035Banners about making the best out of life, carpe diem etc. IMG_0059

The Golden Rooster statuette as a commemoration

IMG_0060The  ceiling.

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SCAC also doubles as a movie theatre.

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The streets of Suzhou old town, a far cry from the modern looking roads at Suzhou Industrial Park.

IMG_0080On the way to the garden entrance. Love the rustic appearance of the houses.

IMG_0164Up next is the Suzhou Humble Administrator Garden. It is a private man-made garden built in 1513 by official Wang Xiancheng who experienced heavy Ming court politics so he wanted to seek some recluse and re-connect with nature. The garden is created based on landscape paintings Much of the layout here abide to Chinese philosophical teachings and poetry.

Can’t describe using the appropriate vocabulary of how it looks like. It is supposed to be 诗情画意 and a 世外桃源 (idyllic, retreat away from the world.) back then. But now the place is just full of people shoving their way past others. And no, I did not manage to re-connect with nature with all the excited visitors around. Feels as though something is gone.

Suzhou is famous for its classical gardens from the imperial period and the city’s ability to preserve them while balancing with modernity is remarkable. Over here is the inscription of the garden as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

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One of the many pavilions. This one is for a water well 天泉. Pavilions have poetry lines written, asking visitors to “stop and smell the flowers” or admire the scenery etc.

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The windows here have different patterns and by looking through them, they give a view of a painting. IMG_0234

The pavilion that looks like a houseboat. IMG_0279

The famous 借景 view (borrowed scenery). The pagoda is not part of the garden, but the way it is incorporated into the garden view misleads you into thinking that there is a pagoda nearby. IMG_0244

Most of these walkways are built in a zig-zag fashion to confuse evil spirits. IMG_0285

Many many lotus LEAVES. I didn’t see much lotuses to be honest, even though they bloom in summer.IMG_0272

Just a side remark which was not caught on camera: a garden cleaner immersed his cleaning net into the waters and scooped out a net full of rubbish. IMG_0258

Bonsai exhibit. IMG_0308

Silk exhibit. These paintings are hand-stitched. Really delicate and intricate. IMG_0220

Can you spot the bats on the tile? The chinese also play with word puns. The 蝠 (Fu) in 蝙蝠 (Bian Fu, chinese word for bat) sounds like the word 福 (Fu), which represents good fortune and blessings.IMG_0319

Took boat ride down the Suzhou canal in the evening. The Suzhou canal is part of the larger Grand Canal. The Grand Transport River is an artificial river built during the Sui Dynasty running from the north-south direction of China because China doesn’t have a natural north-south river. It connects the Yangzi river with other canals built before Sui dynasty.

And again, the Suzhou canal is also a UNESCO Heritage Site. They received the conferment on 22 June 2014.

 

While waiting for the queue. The ride is located at Shan Tang Jie (山塘街), a 1500 year old street. IMG_0340 IMG_0334

 

 

 

The shops located at Ping Jiang Road. Spot the bridge up ahead.IMG_0332The light at the end of the tunnel IMG_0365

If we rode on the boat even further, we might have ended up in Beijing. IMG_0403Yeah this is how it looks at night. I have to brush up on my night scene photo taking skills. For a city person, I find it a luxury to just sit by the river bank and watch time go by.

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Day 3

As usual, lessons again. Unfortunately the professor didn’t manage to finish the part on the business etiquette of the Chinese due to time constraint, which I’d thought it would be fun to know. Singaporeans are usually the kind who needs terms to be put down in black-and-white, while mainland Chinese talk over a meal. Pretty intriguing to know how ethnically similar people have different ways of dealing with the same matter.

Company visit to Suzhou Jiahe food industry. Accordingly, they are the top producer of non-dairy creamer in Asia, boost world-class production methods, emphasize on Intellectual Property Rights and quality assurance and consumer welfare. They also embody the Harmonious Society resolution where they use environment friendly production methods, give back to society through charity and pay attention to employee welfare.Their brand name is called 晶花 (King Flower).

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Their wall of achievements. And this is only one side of the wall. They even got recognition for paying past a certain amount of tax to the government.

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Their workplace organisation method. Took this picture while walking past as the company worker didn’t introduce it to us. 5S methodology is some organisation method for work space productivity, so employees have understanding on how work should be done. If you look at the alphabets, they are Romaji. Talk about learning from the success models of different countries.IMG_0620

Some behind the scenes of production

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After that is some free-and-easy time at Ping Jiang Road, whereby I already covered the shopping part in the previous post. So here is another quirky photo of the otherwise rustic place.

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Went to Ou Shang hypermart at night. The flags reminded me of Singapore national day.

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Day 4

Visited Suzhou museum, founded in 1960 at the former residence of Li Xiucheng, a military commander during the Taiping Rebellion. A museum in a rebel’s home! Seriously how cool is this?! But anyway the current building adjoining the residence is built in 2006 with some modern architectural design.

Anyway we were only given about half an hour to roam about so we sort of just looked at most exhibits roughly, and it is difficult to take photos of artefacts without people getting in the way.

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Say hi to Li Xiucheng

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Collections include buddhist sculptures, burial objects, calligraphy & painting from Ming ang Qing dynasty. The bowl artefact is a celadon lotus shaped flower bowl from the 5 dynasties in Huqiu Pagoda. Lotuses are often used in Buddhist pagodas because it symbolise cleanliness and virtue even though it grows in dirt, and it also has something to do with rebirth. Likely that the artist is a Buddhist.

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One last shot of Suzhou before leaving for Shanghai.

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My thoughts about Suzhou? Talking about achieving a balance between opposing forces, you can see it here. On one end there are preserved historical sites, while on the other there are the modern-looking areas found in cities. Amidst the industrial development, there are promotion of the arts to soften the concrete effects. And with the potential harm done on the environment, there are gardens planted by the road. Although I’d thought some areas looked like Singapore, but that is the Suzhou way of learning-by being modest and constantly studying success models around the world to create a dynamic city.

 

Suzhou and Shanghai Part 2: Shopping

And so I was wondering how I should organise this post because we spent a considerable amount of time during our field trip shopping. Anyway, here are the shopping areas we went if you are interested to check out, and some advice which may not necessarily work for eveyone.

Be warned: Extremely long, grandmother story post and unintentional advertising.

And I gave away most of my haul.

Bargaining 

1. Bargaining is key for non-price tagged items

You have to cut at least half the price of what the vendors offer. They are reluctant to sell their wares at low prices because they think they barely earn enough to get by, but customer is always right.

2. Do a mental calculation of how much the item will be worth in your home currency

So that you can decide whether it is more worth it to get it in China or back home, unless you don’t see the item at all in your home country.

3. Use the “Walk away” method and be firm in your stance.

Should they stubbornly refuse to sell the product at the price you want, walk away and pretend you are heading to another shop. They will then shout at you to come back and ask you to quote your desired price. Less money is better than no money.

4. Don’t feel guilty for denying the livelihood of the vendor.

He might be a tycoon in disguise. Who knows?

5. Be prepared to get yelled at in Chinese, or get black-faced by the vendor.

Oh well that can’t be helped. But whatever. You got the deal.

6. Never ever push your luck bargaining for a price tag item, or in a wholesale shop where items cost 10RMB storewide.

The shop staff will think you are nuts.

City God Temple

Not only it is a temple, it also possesses tourist shops, Shanghai local product stores,  international eateries (Starbucks and McDonalds), local food stores and links to other shopping centres. Navigating around the complex can be tedious as it is a maze of passageways and entrances  to new places.  Most products are fixed price, but you can take advantage of those placed outside the shop with no price tag. The tourist shops tend to repeat as you walk around the area.

(photo credit chinatouronline, because I didn’t take photos of the temple!!!)

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There are department stores with entrances that camouflage with the row of shops. The McDonalds located at Basement 1 is actually part of a shopping centre which I don’t know the name. There is a shop at basement 1 that sells quirky stuff like wallets with world currency designs. No price tag so you can bargain, but the owner is a tough nut to crack.

Got the mirror below for 25 RMB after much haggling. I really love it! (Dancer problems)

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Imitated Goods

China is well-known for imitated goods. So the tour guide bought us here to the 4 storey tall Han City in Shanghai to get counterfeit products which resemble their branded doppelgängers.

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Han City has a variety of “branded” merhandise such as bags ( esp Cath Kidston- they are everywhere!), shoes (New Balance, Converse, Toms), children clothes (Juicy couture, abercrombie) here. Others include tourist souvenirs, hello kitty toys, scarves, optical and gadget shops.

There are no price tags attached so it is time to put your bargaining skills to the test. Usually the owner will quote you a high price so be sure not to let them take advantage of you.

The shops tend to repeat after a while and sell the same things. The 4th floor is less vibrant as the bottom floors as their business might have been competed away. Come to think of it, it doesn’t make sense to repeat shops unless they are all part of the same company assuming different shop names. Conspiracy!

So here’s what I got: Hello Kitty wallet with an acyclic mirror, a Mao t-shirt and some of the chinese-saying pouches (you will see them later).

 

Han city shanghai

Only 3 shops sold Hello Kitty Wallets. 1st one was a wallet shop but I didn’t like the designs. 2nd one sold mixed wares and I initially wanted to get the wallet from there, but it looked rather bulky. Ended up at the 3rd one and got this. Out of all designs I felt this was the most compact, “won’t get dirty easily” and “number of card pockets is just nice”.

It wasnt cheap in SGD though. When I checked Singapore TaoBao for wallet prices I saw in Han City, most of them were around $16, including the bulky wallet I wanted to get. I got the current wallet at nearly double the price. But since I didn’t see this design on Singapore TaoBao, I guess it is better not to know its market retail price.

Ping Jiang Road 

It is a straight path of shops located in Suzhou old town. The old and quaint facade houses many quirky shops and themed cafes attracting hipster fans. Opposite the shops lies the suzhou canal. It is pretty scenic to shop along here with the mix of old and new elements. Be prepared though, to be confronted with scooters and bicycles coming from both directions of the road.

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Items at the quirky shops are relatively cheap (Okay that depends on the kind of good, but referring in general) since Suzhou is not as metropolitan as Shanghai. There are shops selling postcards at 2 RMB each (That is SGD $0.40!) and customers can write on them and mail them out in the shop (You will also see that in Tianzifang). Eateries sell mostly fried food, and don’t miss out the potted plant ice cream.

suzhou old district

Street Vendors 

They are aplenty in Suzhou, selling goods from fat juicy grapes to chinese hulu flutes, machine sewn chinese scenery drawings and chinese fans. It is alright to buy from them, just that you have to bargain especially when they quote you a price which you find ridiculous.

Specialized Souvenir shops 

Got those below at Shanghai Jin Mao Observational tower, M50 creative industry and Shanghai Museum. They are marked at tourist price but in SGD they are relatively cheap and provide an alternative souvenir choice.

M50 is a free to roam space built with studios where aspiring artists display their works. Their works are re-designed and sold as various sorts of merchandise, including a miniature reproduced version of their artwork. I like the photos shot by Jin Xuanmin because they are a honest depiction of rural life, and it is refreshing to see his retouches of the otherwise “boring” scenes of daily life.

Shanghai museum souvenir shop sells merchandise designed after their artifacts on display in their galleries. There are also a range of books available, from chinese paintings to phrasebooks.

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Supermarkets 

Suzhou supermarkets (industrial park area) are generally hypermarts selling local products. However, a lot of them require you to be a member by spending a minimum amount of money before you can start shopping there (eg SAM club). Shopped at Ou Shang instead. I did see imports like durians and international brands, but most goods are mostly China based. Also, they do not provide plastic bags in name of the environment.

The Hello kitty chocolate costs 12.50 RMB. Steal.

oushang supermarket suzhou

 

On the other hand Shanghai supermarkets import more international brands and prices are relatively more expensive. Saw the same hello kitty chocolate in this supermarket near Xin Tian Di, retailing about 20 RMB. Still cheap in SGD, but Suzhou hypermarts have better deals.

Tian Zi Fang

A fusion of quirky shops, art studios, themed cafes, fashion botiques and narrow passageways. Prices depend on the kind of product sold, so just exercise your judgement to determine if they are within your budget.

It is challenging to navigate around because one alley leads to another new place. The art studios are located in the inner part of the area . I can’t describe exactly where because it is complicated for a tourist. You get the idea. Since the lanes and shopfronts are very narrow, expect much shoving with other shoppers.

The entrance is rather nondescript and blends in with the surrounding shopfronts by the road. Read here for a more comprehensive guide. Shops also repeat after a while if they sell the same product, such as Shanghai lady vanishing cream and teahouse.

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Teahouse sells a variety of fruit and chinese tea LEAVES. I love their packaging as it is compact and pretty! Have been drinking the Anji white tea and it is quite fragrant. Check out their taobao shop here (have to find a way to make them ship to Singapore). Standard ones are 25 RMB, but if you buy their pre-packaged ones (i,e. those in boxes), expect to pay for the box too.

quirky shops shanghai tianzifang

Wholesale Markets outside Shanghai Oriental Bund Hotel 

There is a stretch of wholesale shops within a walking distance from our hotel, and located near City God temple. Items range from children toys to souvenirs and accessories. Most shops price their items at a flat rate of 10 RMB unless otherwise stated, so you have to exercise discretion to see if they are worth your money. No bargaining, but seriously prices couldnt go lower anyway.

In fact, you will see chinese scenery embroidery and fans from Suzhou in these wholesale shops. Since they now have a price tag, make the best bargain from the Suzhou street vendors.

They close rather early around 6-7pm since the sun sets early in China. Closing also depends on weather I guess.

Got the canvas bag for 10 RMB. Seriously that was a steal. Somemore the quality looked decent.

wholesale market shanghai

Tourist shops 

Most of them (located at City God temple and wholesale market street) sell typical china memorabilia like fridge magnets, key chains etc. Prices depend whether there is a price tag or not. If you are the kind who goes for conventional souvenirs then this is the place for you.

“You see them everywhere” products 

This section is difficult to write because many items are seen everywhere and I was trying not to repeat what I wrote earlier. Anyway, most come at a fixed price because they are from the same company, while others are bought wholesale and sold at a higher price quoted by the vendor. So here are some of the commonly seen items from Shanghai.

Expect to see many panda retail stores selling panda themed items because pandas are icons of China. They cost relatively higher than most souvenirs because of marketing and branding etc.

The pic below is Shanghai Sisters vanishing cream. It is a very old house brand, Shanghai exclusive and supposed to be moisturizing and nourishing. Tried it but couldn’t feel anything magical (I am a sucker for beauty products). They are sold at 1 for 20RMB and 3 for 50 RMB , flavours are jasmine, rose and evening flower. If you visit their full-fledged stores in Tianzifang, there are more product variations available.

the you see them everywhere products

Got these pouches from wholesale market and Han City, but they are seen in most tourist shops. They are sold at 5 RMB each at the wholesale street, and for Han City it was 1 for 25RMB but I bargained until 5 RMB. Most of the designs poke fun of chinese society or reflect someone’s personality.

Playing cards of different themes are also available in quirky and tourist shops. Most tourist shops sell designs like AV stars. I got the china history one from a quirky shop in suzhou. Each playing card has a portrait of the emperor/empress (because chinese history is just damn long that there are more than 54 rulers) and brief background about them. A history buff item, I would say.

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Yup that’s all for the shopping post! For an avid shopper I had fun writing this, and I kept spelling “souvenir” wrongly each time I typed the word. Thanks auto correct!

 

Suzhou and Shanghai Part 1: Accommodation and Food

I’d thought of starting off with a light (but long) post about the China trip about what most people might be concerned about-accommodation/travel and food. Here are my 2 cents worth about these aspects and some advice, hopefully of help to anyone.

Accommodation

Suzhou: Stayed in the 4 star Suzhou Jin Ling Guan Yuan Hotel.

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Location: Quite isolated with almost nil amenities of walking distance, but I guess that’s just the way it is. Buildings in the new Suzhou area are sparsely located since urban spaces are systematically planned. At night, the streets are so empty that it looks like a ghost town.

Rooms: Really spacious since the hotel has the whole piece of land to itself. Depending on your room location, you might end up turning bends and tunnels to find it. Also, you might be facing part of a yard instead of some other scenery.

Service: Staff are efficient and polite. The doorman even puts his hand on the taxi door just in case you bump your head while boarding/alighting from the taxi.

Food: The room key contains breakfast coupons that last you throughout your stay. Breakfast is an international buffet, quite a spread ranging from duck blood soup to bacon.

Wifi: Depends on room location and device strength connectivity. You can borrow a router from the counter if you want a faster internet speed.

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Overall the atmosphere and surroundings are good for a restful night since it is away from a busy location. You will need to call a taxi to get to the nearest shopping mall, which the hotel can it for you. From experience some taxi drivers have never heard of this hotel as it is relatively new, so be prepared to memorise some landmarks and road names to direct them here.

Shanghai: Stayed in Shanghai Xingyu Oriental Bund hotel

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Location: Located right smack in a busy street of old shopping centres and a construction side. It is pretty convenient to get to tourist places like Shanghai Bund and City God temple since they are within walking distance. At night expect to hear the symphony of traffic and honking, as well as the Shanghai Customs House clock tower chiming “The East is Red” every hour.

Rooms: Much narrower, but that’s understandable since the surroundings are occupied by buildings. Spatial organisation is weird too. The sofa in the hotel room is within 1 arm distance from the bed if you are staying in a double room, and the mirrors are placed right behind the bed. Bed too hard and pillow too soft. You can get a view of the financial district apart from that out-of-place building (as seen in the photo)

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Service: Staff not that proficient in English and lift is rather slow. Strangely enough the lobby and breakfast area is located on the 8th floor, and to exit the hotel you have to go to the 1st floor. I mean, most hotels have their lobby and exit on the same floor, right?!

Food: Moderate selection of breakfast. There is a dessert section available, and check out their translation of the dish:

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Wifi: Pretty bad in rooms (hotel even ran out of routers), but able to get some reception if you stand outside your room door. The connection is best at the end of the corridor near the last room, which can be identified the tables and chairs placed there for users.

Overall the hotel’s convenient location beats every other thing else it offers. It will be suitable for adventurers who are keen to explore every nook and cranny of the area and be comforted that “home” is within walking distance. Just be careful that the lane leading back to the hotel is quite quiet at night since the shops close early (but further out it is noise pollution).

Food:

The Chinese place great emphasis on food and table manners. Even business deals are made over a meal in restaurants. Honestly, I felt that the food is quite 重口味 (lots of seasoning, oil etc.) as compared to Singapore food.

Restaurant food highlights: Nearly all restaurants we ate at served sweet sour pork for lunch and dinner, so I am going to avoid it whenever I eat chap chye peng for the rest of the year.

And introducing… THE SQUIRREL MANDARIN FISH!

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It is a popular delicacy in Suzhou and originated from there. The flesh of the fish is spiked out, and arranged in a manner resembling squirrel fur. It is then fried and dripped with sweet and sour sauce.

Restaurants in Suzhou serve nearly the same food everytime we dined, while those in Shanghai offer more variety. When we saw fried egg and xiao long bao during our first dinner in Shanghai, everyone was… exhilarated. Just to note, we did not have anymore fried egg during the rest of our restaurant meals in Shanghai.

Beer, gassy soft drinks and chinese tea are served in every restaurant. Also, be prepared to use chopsticks for meals. Restaurant staff will only give you a fork if you look distinctively non-Chinese.

beer served in restaurants

Fast Food: Just for experience, we tried KFC (at Shanghai Pudong Airport), Mcdonalds (City God Temple) and Burger King (Pudong Airport again). Surprisingly they are less oily than Chinese food in general. For KFC, the chicken looks uncooked.

KFC at airport. chicken looks uncooked'

Fast food staff generally give out tomato sauce, and only give chili if you ask for it. Menu is mostly in Chinese, which surprised me because I thought the airport would have bilingual versions since it is an international place. If you are adventurous enough, you can try out their “localised fast food” such as rice with the chicken thigh (Mcdonalds), or their mushroom egg soup.

Street Food/Food Court: The amount of oil leftover from a packet of noodles is enough to fry an egg!

City God temple in Shanghai has a selection of street food such as smelly tofu, takoyaki, and 灌汤包 (a pau with soup filling). It also has a multi storey food court serving Chinese dishes of different provinces, where you can choose and make payment at the counter. However as all portions comes in minimum 3 pax, it is better to dine as a group. The temple area is also famous for xiao long bao, which saw a really long queue. Didnt try it, but classmates said it wasnt that fantastic.

guan tang bao, cheng huang temple

 

Had fried rice in a food court in Suzhou Hua Ren Wan Jia shopping mall (They call it neighbourhood centre). You need to become a food court member to buy food, even if you are a tourist. Basically pay a deposit of 10 RMB for the card, then top up with any amount you want. At the end of the day return the card to the counter if you dont need it anymore to get back the balance and deposit. The counter lady will shout out your order instead of a “collect when you see your number on the LED screen” system. Anyway, the food court also displays models of the dishes so that you can see the food in real life just in case you cant read the chinese menu.

egg fried rice, hua ren wan jia food court

Supermarket Food: Expect to see food like these. (More supermarket elaboration in the shopping post)

Oreo in 734314 flavours e.g. banana, peach cum grape.

lays, different flavours

Lays in lime and cucumber flavour. Also saw a braised pork flavour but didnt capture it. But you get the idea.

oreo, different flavours

Other food: Tried the red velvet cake at Simply Bake Cafe in New world. Wasnt as velvety as those I had in Singapore, and that piece of jelly on top tasted like war heads. Not sure if this is representative of Red Velvet in China, but it was still an experience trying the same kind of food overseas.

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Potted ice cream from Suzhou old town. Basic flavours such as chocolate, mango etc are available, then a layer of choco powder will be sprinkled over the ice cream. Just a typical ice cream, but I loved the concept.

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LAST BUT NOT LEAST: WATER! You gotta remember this even if you thought what I wrote above is crap. It is best to buy bottled water in China as the tap water is not suitable for drinking. I didn’t use the room kettle to boil water just in case it is not rinsed cleanly (from my Royal Caribbean experience). So far I didn’t have any body reactions from drinking iced soft drinks in fast food restaurants, but if you want to play safe/ have a sensitive stomach, it is better to avoid iced drinks.

And so that’s it from me about the food and accommodation aspect from the trip. Initially I wanted to lump shopping together with this post but realised that it will be so long that I decided to make shopping another post of its own.

Horrible Flight Delay

Can anyone believe that I am blogging this at 4:56am Singapore time?

Just had the worst 8-10 hours of my life.

Our flight was scheduled to depart at 4.50pm, but it started pouring at around 3pm and didnt stop. In the end the captain announced that due to bad weather, the flight will be postponed for an hour (5.50pm). At that time of announcement we have already boarded the plane. So I sought some in-flight entertainment to pass the time since shows are not that long.

Close to 5.50pm, the captain announced that as the weather worsened, we will be expecting another 1.5hours delay in take off. From then on I got really worried cos I didnt want my parents to be waiting for me at the airport for hours. I couldnt whatsapp them due to nil reception, and thy arent tech savvy to google for the airline arrival time. Now that I am writing this, I should have taught them. Arugh.

Anyway to continue my story of agony, the 3rd announcement was made saying that the flight will be delayed indefinitely as the captain didnt receive any signal from the airport for him to start the flight. The rain did stop in between the delay announcements, but it soon got worse and there was lightning. Oh gawd whyyyy

Had dinner on a stationery plane, wondering when the wait will end. We arent rich people who can afford spacious first/business class seats. Economy class seats are forever crampy and have a zero concept of privacy and comfort. If you let me dine on a business class seat and then return to the economy seat, probably I wouldnt have complained that much.

End of dinner, plane still on runway. Then came the announcement that we are given the signal to proceed to the runway to prepare for take off (mind you, it is “prepare for take off” and not “take off immediately”). Apparently there are a large volume of planes arriving and departing the airport so we had to wait for our turn. Not sure if the take off order is by “first scheduled first serve” basis, but didnt want to find out. Too much of a mental strain.

After more waiting came the final announcement that we will have to wait for another 25-30mins for take off cos our plane is 5th in the queue. WTFFFF (Controlling my swearing). I lost count of how many more announcements were made in between these few I have written, but each time after a piece of good news was made, it will be followed by bad ones.
Was so agitated, annoyed, anxious (Wow they all start with ‘a’) that I felt like crying, especially when I thought of how my parents would have felt at the airport.

When the plane finally took off, the timing was supposedly the time we would have landed in Singapore if there was no delay. Seriously I rather spend the 4 hours plus of waiting time in the airport departure hall, rather than to be seated with little space for moving and a tv screen nearly plastered on the face.

With all the Singapore customs cleared and all it was already close to 3am. That means we havent ate anything for about 8 hours, we have been seated in this uncomfortable position even longer than 8 hours!

Wonder why the 老天 kept holding back our departure with bad weather. Probably he doesnt want us to leave so that we can contribute more to the Shanghai economy.

Whatever it is, I am back!

Thinking about the amount of blog backlog I have to write. Since some readers might be interested in some places to explore in China, I am very willing to share about them and my insights about these destinations. Will update soon!

P.S special shoutout to the crew of SQ833 for being so professional with their service despite how everyone on board is probably grumpy about the delay. Job well done!

Knotted

Not feeling good emotionally for the past week. My thoughts are too disorganised and even writing them down didn’t solve the problem.

Leaving for field trip tomorrow and I haven’t even packed my luggage. I guess this shows how un-enthusiastic I am. Still going to attend dance lessons and go for tour guide trial run later in the afternoon

Writing this past midnight because I am having insomnia. Or rather I dont want the night to end.

Part of me isn’t excited for the trip because I am still trying to get used to people of different temperament and making the best out of different interests. Somehow the more outgoing people get, the more reserved I become.

Yet another part of me is looking forward for the trip as it is another opportunity, and I just wanted to get away. Even if it is only one week. I hope not only looking at landscape gardens can enrich my knowledge about China, but also get some insights about life and how I should live it.

Speaking about escaping…Met up with YH and KY on Thursday over dinner and as usual talked about uni life and how much we disliked it. KY got selected for exchange and said that she accepted the offer because she wanted to escape from here.

To be honest my initial mindset while applying for exchange was also to escape. I just wanted to taste the outside world without being constrained by commitments or rigid rules. But since it failed I guess some metaphysical force is telling me to stay, take another shot at 2nd upper and get whatever opportunity is available.

I admit I still feel sore when schoolmates update their social media  that they are going for exchange, but everything happens for a reason even though I dont know what the answer is.

Okay better get some sleep now because I dont want to end up drinking coffee for the 2nd consecutive day and later is another long day.

On another note I rather tire myself and sleep through the 5 hour long flight on plane and another 2 hours on train. Then I can block out reality and plan in my head how to face the week.

Will update about life when I return. Missing my wreck it journal already. Cant bring it along because it adds extra baggage space (Oh no I didnt write any post related to wreck it journal!)

Meanwhile 2 recent photos:

Photobombed fellow shelter volunteer and the new tortie.

Picture1

Thursday’s meet up. YH looks as though she is going to eat my head.

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