From Xi’An to Shanghai to Hong Kong

I woke up super early on my last day in Xi’An which was a Friday, and I had to be super fit, because it should be a day where I would be in 5 different cities on ONE DAY!!! How is that possible, you might ask. Read on to find out.

It takes around half an hour to 45 minutes to the airport, and during the ride, my taxi driver kept on talking to me. He was the same age as me as I found out, but he could only speak chinese. I understood most of it, until he tried asking me if I had a son. That was weird :’D At first I wasn’t sure if I understood him correctly, but it turned out that I did. Next thing, he wanted to talk about money and how much money german people were earning. It was an interesting cab ride, but I was glad when I reached the airport. I really liked the Xi’An airport. It’s not that big, but everything is easy to find and it has all the important shops you need before a flight.

I arrived in Shanghai at around noon, and then had quite some time until my train ride back to Yuyao, where my boss picked me up. 

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This was the cutest kid on the train from Shanghai to Yuyao. He kept on distracting me with his toys and his cuteness :’D His sister joined him later on as well. 

Here is why he picked me up. Shortly before my trip, I was told that I still had to go to Hong Kong for one last time because my visa had to be renewed for only a few days. So I had to look for a hostel last minute and buy a bus ticket to Ningbo Airport. If they had told me earlier, I could have just made them book a flight from Xi’An to Hong Kong, or at least, from Shanghai to Hong Kong. But I had already bought my train ticket ages ago.

Well, it was still manageable. I put all the important stuff in my backpack and left my suitcase with my boss. In the late afternoon, I made it to the bus and in the early evening, I was already at Ningbo airport for the 4th time now. So the next post will be another Hong-Kong-in-less-than-24-hours post.

I spent another night at that amazing hostel from last time which was also very central. This time, I met a Korean girl from London who was a fashion buyer but wanted to start a career as a fashion designer in Asia, so she started to check out the market in Hong Kong. She admitted that it was a tough job but it was her dream.

This is one of the most amazing things about Hong Kong. You can meet all different types of people from all around the world here. I have already met a Canadian who was a malay, indian, and chinese mix, I met two german girls, I met a Thai girl who I am still in contact with today, and this time I met this Korean girl from London.

After talking to her, I went to bed and fell asleep with the thoughts for the next day’s plans in my mind.

For the next post, you can look forward to more Hong Kong related stuff, but it’s also gonna be the last post about that gorgeous city.

So for me, I was in 5 cities on that day: Xi’An, Shanghai, Yuyao, Ningbo, and Hong Kong. That was a record for me.
What about you guys? What was the highest amount of citites you have travelled through/visited on one day?

Let me know and stay tuned.

Thanks for reading and travelling with me.

Merveille

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Beijing Part 1: Getting lost and overwhelmed

As promised, I am writing about my final trip I did around China in March, before I headed back home last year April. I still had Beijing and Xi’An on my list to tick off, so I decided to do the typical trip to those two cities. I heard many tourists and travellers take that route between the two cities via train, and I decided to do that as well.

That was not all, though. Last minute, before I left for Beijing, my boss told me that I had to go to Hong Kong one last time, because I had to extend my visa once more, for only a few days. That did piss me off, because I have already booked all the planes and trains already, and I could have taken the plane from Shanghai airport. This way, after arriving in Shanghai from Xi’An, I’d have to take the train to Yuyao, my boss would pick me up, take my suitcase, and take me to the hotel for me to catch the bus to Ningbo airport. Such a hustle can only happen in China :’D

During that one week, I took 4 trains, 4 planes, and 2 busses in total :’D If it wasn’t enough, we even planned one last Shanghai trip after I came back from Hong Kong :’D That was insane! Never travelled to so many cities in such little time :’D Almost felt like funforlouis :’DD

Anyway, my flight to Beijing was early in the morning from Shanghai Hongqiao Airport. I took one of the earliest trains to Shanghai, and upon arriving at the check-in, I was happy to see a great seat which turned out to be an emergency exit seat. The views from the plane were great. The sun was blasting and the sky was clear blue. A pity I didn’t use my camera to take a photo.

I flew with China Eastern Airlines, and I really liked it. Everything was on time, the stewardesses were friendly and the flight was smooth.

I think everything was just too good.

After landing, I took the metro to find my hostel. I had the directions and I also had the address in chinese. I was doing fine, but then, I completely lost my way. It was ridiculous. I was already on the way for almost 3 HOURS!!! Walking around in circles, asking for the way, trying to stop taxis to take me there. Nothin worked.

Because I was so stressed, I didn’t take so many pictures. I was despairing. Finally, a taxi stopped and took me to my hostel. But he was driving in the opposite direction that I came from. I was starting to get really confused. Then, he just let me out in front of a construction and told me I had to walkd behind it to get to the entrance of the hostel since cars couldn’t drive there. It was ridiculous. Ive had enough. I walked and walked through bumpy streets with my huge suitcase and finally, FINALLY found the entrance. It was very hidden, the taxi driver was right.

I entered, relieved and they were looking for my room on the computer. And the bad luck didn’t stop. They said there was no room unter my name. I was panicking. I showed them the e-mail and the girl understood. I was at the wrong hostel. It had basically the same name.

Happy Dragon is a hostel name that is used for three different hostels in three totally different locations in Beijing. They called the hostel and asked if there was a room booked and they confirmed. The receptionst was so kind to organize a driver for me to take me there. And again, they took me back to where I came from.

As it had turned out, I had the directions to the right hostel, but wrote down the wrong chinese address. So guys, please, if you decide to book a room at Happy Dragon, double check which one it is you are staying at and make sure you have both the right directions and the right address.

I paid for the drive at the reception and was told that I got a room upgrade. I actually booked a dorm, but I got a private room. And I didnt have to pay anything extra. I was so happy, and even happier when I saw how clean and beautiful it was. The bed was soft as well. I was so tired and exhausted that I could just lie down and sleep. Even my hunger couldn’t keep me from sleeping for around 2 hours.

When I woke up, I was still tired, but I had to get something to eat and I wanted to explore the city a little bit. It was slowly getting dark, so I got out of bed, got dressed and left. First, I also signed up for the Great Wall trip the next day.

I walked to the metro, and since it was already around 7pm, the streets were full with people. The metro as well. I thought Shanghai metro was full, but the one in Beijing was even worse. I couldn’t believe when I saw how many people were still getting in.

I somehow got off at my station which was the entrance to the Forbidden City.

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Of course, I wasn’t planning to get inside, since it was already closed, but I just wanted to explore the area. I guess I would have done a better choice if I went to get some street food somewhere.

After walking around the area, I quickly got bored and felt my hunger. I took the metro again, this time to find a restaurant somewhere. I didn’t have to walk too far from the metro station. It was a modern american-korean-mexican fusion restaurant in a Hutong. The area was very quiet and old but it looked very authentic.

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Nachos and a salad, Although I was pretty hungry, I didn’t want to eat anything too heavy at that hour.

When I was soon finished with dinner, the only thing I wanted to do was go sleeping in my warm, comfy bed. I took a taxi and enjoyed the late night views I got from Beijing. A beautiful, big city with a huge history, but very overwhelming for me. I saw the beauty of Beijing, but it was still very confusing to me.

What about you guys? What were your first expressions of Beijing?

Post-Spring-Festival Weekend: Shanghai Eats

Saturday, February 13th 2016:

After landing at Hongqiao Airport, we straightly went to our Hostel, Captain Youth Hostel, our go to place when in Shanghai. On our way there, we were looking up restaurants where we could have dinner. On tripadvisor, I looked for the best restaurants in Shanghai, and I was surprised to see that a turkish restaurant, Efes Restaurant, was rated as the best restaurant in Shanghai. Ana was interested too, so we decided to go there later for dinner.

It was a bit hard to find, but we finally made it. It is in the Lujiazui area and it looks really fancy from outside with high glass windows and doors.

Inside, the waiters were all chinese, at least that’s what I thought, so I spoke english with them.
We ordered our food and before our food arrived, the owner of the restaurant also came to our table to wish us an enjoyable meal. I knew he had to be turkish, so I talked in turkish with him and he was surprised. He was really nice and friendly and wanted to ensure us a perfect service. when the asian-looking waiter came to bring us our food later on, he asked me, in TURKISH, why I didn’t talk turkish  earlier? We would have gotten a better service. “Better than that??” I thought, but only said: “I didn’t know you could speak turkish. Where did you learn it?” and he said he learned it at school. I was a bit confused by that so I asked: “Oh really? I didn’t know they teach turkish at schools here in China”. Maybe I shouldn’t have said that because he went like this: “I am not from China. I am from Kyrgyzstan. Do I look chinese?” And as though it wasn’t already enough, I said “yes”. I think this was one of the most embarrassing moments I had in China :’D Luckily, he didn’t seem to be insulted.

After this surprising turn of events, we finally could indulge in our food. We both ordered Pide, the turkish version of Pizza.

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We also had some side dishes as hummus, turkish sheep cheese with tomatos, and an eggplant salad. After that, we got dessert on the house. That was really nice of the restaurant owner. We still talked with him after we finished our meal. He imported almost all the food from Turkey or western Asia. He then asked me how we found out about the restaurant, so I told him about the number one rating on tripadvisor, and he told me that many visitors come to the restaurant because they see it on tripadvisor.

It was a lovely evening, but we returned to the hostel after dinner because we were really tired.

Sunday, February 14th 2016:

We woke up a bit late that morning and went to have brunch at a cafe/restaurant called Kathleen’s Waitan which is located on the Bund and has an amazing brunch menu and yummy looking drinks. I ordered the poached eggs with salmon, tea, and for dessert a chocolate lava cake <3 Everything was super delicious, and the service, again, was one of the best I had in China.

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After our amazing lunch, we slowly had to return to the train station to catch our train back to Yuyao.

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Here is a picture of Hongqiao train station. All train stations in China look like this. Basically, a small airport in Europe :’D

We had an amazing Spring Festival trip in Sichuan, fuelled with cuteness and adventures. Our short stay in Shanghai was pretty amazing, too, especially foodwise.

This was not the last trip I had in China yet. There are still many more to come, including my amazing trip to Beijing and wonderful Xi’An. So, stay tuned for those.

Thank you all for reading and travelling with me.

Merveille.

Shanghai Disneyland

Here it is, the post I have been waiting to write! The most magical day of my trip! The place, where dreams come true! For the first time in my 25 years of life on earth:

SHANGHAI DISNEYLAND!

For my last day in Shanghai, I didn’t have certain plans. I thought I could indulge in some fancy food again, do some shopping and stuff. But that sounded boring, so I wake up in the morning with my friend and asked her if I should go to Disneyland. “Why not?” was her answer, so I did it!

I got ready and went out and about! Well, not yet, I still needed to get breakfast/brunch, so I searched for a cafe close to the Bund or Nanjing Road. I found a cafe called Equilibrium which is very close to East Nanjing Road and Fuzhou Road. It actually is right next to that famous club M1nt, the one with the shark tank.

I ordered a salad, a vegetable quiche and a coffee.

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It was light but yummy, and after that I was ready to go. Taking the metro to Disneyland was easy. So, wherevery you are, you just have take the metro or change lines until you are on the right line. And the final stop says Disney Resort anyway. So, you can’t get lost.

When I finally arrived, I was pumped to finally enter the park. The entrance fee is 370 RMB, which is around 40 €. I have never been to Disneyland Paris, nor to any other Disneyland in the world, so I can’t really compare prices, but I have heard that the one in Paris should cost around 50€ for a single-day entrance ticket. It might be because it consists of two parks by now. Still, Shanghai Disneyland is the biggest Disneyland in the world now, and for it being not too expensive is pretty cool.

I also bought my first souvenirs even before entering the park. I saw a stand that sold Minnie Mouse ears, so I got them, for roughly around 10€ and I saw a Disney passport where you can collect stamps which was around 9€. I would recomment the ears, but I don’t recommend the passport, because as I realized later, finding the machines where you can get the stamps turned out to be quite of a challenge, maybe even almost impossible. I only saw one stamp machine, the one for the Alice in Wonderland maze. Very frustrating tbh.

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Anyway, when I entered, I took loads of pictures of course. Then, I wanted to have a ride on the carousel, although it was almost only kids and their parents on there, all of them chinese. And in the middle of the madness, there is this white girl with minnie mouse ears on :’D

After the ride which was a lot of fun, I realized that I should have waited because I heard music from the Storybook Castle and there were lots of people standing around there: Stupid me has missed the performance at 2pm!!!! :'(
Small but useful advice: Before you go to Disneyland or any other theme park, check out all the times for performances, so you can choose which one you wanna see and be ready for that.

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Since I was already at the Castle, I saw the line for going inside the castle, so I waited. The queue went for ages. It was again, mostly kids with their parents. It was quite cute inside, but rather targeted for younger audiences.

When I got out, I saw an array of shops and restaurants at the exit. I also hoped to see some mascots, as it as shown on the map, but I didn’t, unfortunately. Oh yeah, without the map, I would have been totally lost, so make sure to get one at the entrance. Ask for an english one if you can’t find any.

Now, it was finally time for the Red Queen’s maze, from Alice in Wonderland. It was based on the Alice in Wonderland movie, the new one with Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter. I recommend you this attraction a lot because there is no queue, it is relaxing, it offers great photographing opportunities and you’ll feel just like in Wonderland <3

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When I got out of the maze, I found myself at Treasure Cove. After walking around a little bit I saw a plan on a board and it said something about a Frozen sing-along performance. I checked the time and it was almost about to start, so I headed to Fantasyland. The queue wasn’t too long this time either. We got in, could choose our own seats and waited for the show to start. It was a little bit of acting and singing from the performers, but most of it was on screen with subtitles and the certain scenes from the movie. Everything was in chinese of course, I couldn’t sing along, but oh I wished I could!

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It was still very entertaining and I would recommend you to keep this in mind.

I was slowly starting to get hungry, so checked out some food attractions nearby. I found one which was very close and sold pizza in shape of Micky’s head. It is the Pinocchio Village Kitchen. I had to have a look, and it actually looked yummy. They had one with tomato mozarella, hawaii, and peking duck. I took the duck one, because I am in China, d’uh! It also wasn’t expensive. Around 10€. That’s okay for Disney Food.

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When I was full and content, I took a ride with a boat ride at the Voyage to the Crystal Grotto and the set-ups around that ride were spectacular.

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The ride was over too quickly. Since this attraction was very close to the Storybook Castle, I decided to stroll around the place again, but I realized that some lanes were closed. I was wondering if they were preparing for closing. So when I walked towards the Castle itself, I saw that more and more lanes were closed and secured, so I asked one of the workers. She told me that it was for the big firework that was about to start at 6pm. People were already starting to find the perfect spot to watch it. But I didn’t want to wait there all on myself for over an hour, so I headed back to the entrance area with all the shops, restaurants and bakeries and I was on the hunt for some cakes and stuff. I found one that said Remy’s Pattisserie and inside, there were doughy type of snacks that you could take away. I took a Mike Bun from Monsters Inc. and another Micky shaped chocolate Muffin.

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I’ve gotta say though, that now I check the map again, I found some pretty interesting food locations there as well, especially at Mickey Avenue which is the street after you enter, and on Gardens of imagination. Looking at the map makes me wanna go back to Disneyland all over again :'( It was such a magical day, even if I was there on my own, I actually wasn’t! My childhood self was there with me, and all the Disney characters were just right there :’) It sound like I am crazy, but it’s true. Disneyland will always be a lot of fun, if on your own or in a big group (well, actually, I think it might be better to be alone than in a big group, because then everyone wants to do something else and you just end up getting annoyed).

With my snacks, I headed to the Gardens of Imagination to now choose the perfect spot for me to watch the fireworks. There were already lots of people, and we still had more than half an hour left for it to start.

After some here and there, I found a good spot. While waiting, I devoured my snacks.

The last 20 minutes were the longest. The place was getting as full as a concert now, and everyone was using their freaking umbrellas. It was blocking the view a little bit. Luckily, the rain got weaker a few minutes before the start, so many people were putting down their umbrellas and then, it was finally time!!! Enjoy the pictures:

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It was breathtakingly incredible! I couldn’t believe the immensity of the performance. There were fireworks, fountain performances, music, video elements, even fire explosions! At the end of the performance, I got so emotional because everything reminded me so much of my childhood and the beauty of Disney that I had to cry. I just couldn’t hold it back.

The park wasn’t closing after the show. It was still open until 8pm. Still, I didn’t feel like going on any attractions. I felt tired and cold, and I still had a suitcase to pack, so I slowly headed towards Mickey Avenue again. Although I already had some dessert, I spotted another place. This time, it was waffles! And if I am not mistaking, the place was called Il Papperino. I chose the waffles (they were shaped like Donald Duck) with only maple syrup as a topping. I forgot the price for this, but it was okay.

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While I was eating on a bench, I saw a lot of people passing me by. I though they were entering the toilets, but there were more people going in than coming out. When I finished I check if it was the toilets, but it wasn’t. They were all going to the Merchandise Shop. Of course, I had to check it out!
Guys, if you go to Disneyland, bring lots of money with you! Especially if you want to buy souvenirs or eat all the cute things. I think I spent around 90€ in the park (entrance included). I guess you’d spend more in Paris or the US, so if you wanna buy a lot of souvenirs or eat cute Disney Food, Shanghai is the place for it. The food really wasn’t that expensive which surprised me the most.

I bought quite a lot of things. I found an Ariel mug, THE most BEAUTIFUL one! Then I got a Bell keychain, and I got a plush couple keychain from Alice and the Cheshire Cat. They also had these with Anna and Elsa, with Beauty and the Beast and more.

When I left the souvenir shop, I think at around 7pm, I also left the park. It was such a shame that I only had such a short time in the park, and that the weather was rather bad. Another reason for me to come back, best in spring or autumn :)

I hope you enjoyed this post as much as I did. I was really waiting to write this for a long time.

Have you guys ever been Disneyland? Which ones have you visited?

Thank you for reading, and travelling with me!

Merveille.

Shanghai 2.0 – Brunch, Towers, and Bars

As you could read in my previous post, I have landed in Shanghai very late in the evening and fell into bed like a corpse. Still, I had to wake up early to get some things done like exchange some money and do some shopping.

Anyway, when I finally had my kuais, I was ready to throw’em up for some seriously fun activities, because that what you have to do when in Shanghai.

1. Have a fancy brunch:

I went to the Bund to admire the beauty of Shanghai, before heading to have breakfast somewhere.

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I didn’t have to look for too long. I found a cute but fancy looking cafe at the Bund 18 building which also houses some of the most famous locations in Shanghai including Mr. and Mrs Bund, Hakkasan, Bar Rouge, and my destination, L’Atelier De Joel Robuchon.

I saw from the outside, that it looked extremely yummy and fancy, so I went inside and asked about the place. The nice young lady explained to me that I would have to sit down inside in the lobby and they would serve me. If I wanted to take something away, I could do it at her location which was more like a cute little cafe. I wanted to sit down, so I headed to the lobby. It wasn’t filled, since it was around 12 at noon. The young man who served me was very polite and nice.

I opted for a savoury crepe filled with poached eggs and salmon, white tea, and for dessert, a lychee cake.

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Unfortunately, when I was finished with my cake, I had to leave. I was so impressed by this cafe/restaurant, that I wished to eat here again soon. They also have an afternoon tea package which I was actually craving, but they only offered it at 2pm. It was too late for me, since I was desperately craving some breakfast. Next time, I will surely come back.

2. Have duck for dinner:

Peking duck is actually a top activity for Beijing, but guess what, you can have good duck almost everywhere in China, especially in the biggest city that is Shanghai. My friend Ana arrived at my hotel at around 5pm. We got ready, and headed for dinner. The restaurant we went to is on Nanjing Road. When you walk from East Nanjing Road to West Nanjing Road, it is in one of the side streets on the left side of the street.

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We also ordered some green veggies, and the duck was just heavenly, as always <3

3. Visit Shanghai Tower, the second tallest tower in the world:

Shanghai Tower has been opened to the public in summer 2016, a few months after I have left China, so I promised myself to climb up that big boy when I’d come back next time. Who thought it would be so soon?

So, after dinner we took the metro to Lujiazui, took some photos on the way and got our entrance tickets. It was surprisingly well-priced. Way cheaper than the other towers which is very strange since the Shanghai Tower is the largest, newest, and the one from where you can get amazing views on all the important landmarks like the Oriental Pearl Tower or the Bottle Opener.

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Before you took the elevator up to the observatory platform, there was an exhibition of the story of Shanghai’s skyline, and also of the Shanghai Tower. They also had models of one of the tallest and most famous landmarks in the world, like the Shard in London, The Petronas Twin Towers in Kuala Lumpur or the Burj Khalifa. It was really interesting and amazing of the Shanghai Tower to offer something like that, because most of the time, you only get the entrance to the platform and nothing more.

After getting smarter, we finally went to the elevator and waited to be taken upstairs. When we the elevator doors opened and released us, I coudn’t believe the view I saw. It was breath-taking and I didn’t know what to say anymore. I was making noises with my mouth and Ana thought I was disappointed, but I just couldn’t believe. Words can’t describe, so here are some of the probably most amazing pictures I had ever taken.

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I still have many more photos on my laptop, but I’d have to create an album for them all.

4. Enjoy the evening view at a rooftop bar:

My choice was, again, Bar Rouge. I have already been there twice, but I never got the chance to admire the view over the Bund from there. Plus, the drinks are delicious and the people who visit that bar are always nice and ready to party.

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On our way to Bar Rouge: Old vs. New Shanghai

For a tuesday evening, it was quite full, but we found some seats outside. We were sitting with our coats on, talking, and enjoying our drinks. Probably one of the best bar evenings I had so far.

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So this was it! My short but amazing wrap up of my second last day in China.

I hope you enjoyed the post and the pictures.

What is your most favourite rooftop bar? Let me know in the comments!

The next post is going to be a fun ride! I am not saying anything more, it’s gonna be a surprise.

Until then, thanks for reading and travelling with me!

Merveille

 

Taipei Travels Part 1: Flight and Arrival

As you know from my previous post, I have been to China from the 7th – 19th of January. From the 13th to the 16th, I decided to take a short trip to Taipei, since I have never been there and really wanted to go.

My flight was on Friday afternoon from Shanghai Pudong Airport to Taipei International Airport with a stop in Hong Kong. Of course, there were direct flights as well, but the time wasn’t very comfortable for me. The only flight with a good price and time was with a layover in Hong Kong.

My flight from Shanghai to Hong Kong didn’t start really well. I was on time at the airport and also at the gate. However, my gate was changed, and it hasn’t been announced. I only realized it when I noticed the tickets of the queueing passengers were not from Cathay Pacific but some other airline. Then I just saw on the screen of my gate that it has been changed. It was written in the tiniest font ever, so of course I went to the wrong gate, asked there, was sent back, and on the way a ground steward saw my ticket and sent me to the right gate. While I was rushing to the new gate, I finally heard the announcement that it was the final call for my flight.
This has never happened to me before.
Pudong Airport is really big, but I don’t really like how the gates keep on being changed all the time.

Anyway, I was relieved when I finally made it to my flight and was sitting on my seat. The flight with Cathay Pacific was very pleasant, but we took off around half an hour later due to the long take-off queue.

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When we finally landed in Hong-Kong, I was picked up by a ground hostess from Cathay Pacific. Together with around 6 other passengers, we were told that we wouldn’t make it to our flight and we would have to take the next flight, which would take off at around 8pm. She took us to the counter to get us new tickets for the next flight. That took quite long actually but finally we made it to the gate and could sit down for a while before boarding again.

So Guys, this is the reason why it is so important to book your layovers from one airline company. If I had booked 2 seperate flights, I would have missed my connecting flight and would have to pay for the next flight.

I arrived in Taipei at almost 10 pm. Yet another pleasant flight.

First things First: 

  • If you are flying to Taipei over the weekend, then make sure to exchange all your money at the airport. The exchange rate is, unlike other airport exchange stations, very accurate. I made the mistake to only exchange a part of my money which was enough for a taxi and my hostel fee. The next morning, I was told that banks are closed on Saturdays in Taiwan, very unlike the opening times of banks in China. On Saturday morning I was then sent to a department store to exchange money, and their rate was a little bit lower than the one at the airport. Bummer!
  • Make sure to buy a sim-card at the airport as well. In my rush to make it to the hostel before it got too late, I totally forgot to get one at a stand right next to the money exchange. You won’t miss it, it’s right there. And it was really cheap too.

 

I paid around 1100 NTD (around 33€) from the airport to downtown (my hostel was very central), so I’d say that the price for the taxi was quite cheap actually.

I stayed at Oxygen Hostel which is a great hostel with interesting interior and useful amenities offering everything you might need. The only negative side to the hostel was the limited space. I was travelling with my huge suitcase, and there was barely any space for it in my dorm room. I guess most hostels in Taipei are like that because of the limited space there. So if you are travelling with a suitcase, just like me, make sure to check the size of the rooms in your hostel/hotel.

I took a shower and fell to bed, almost dead tired from flying too much.

I know that this post was rather uneventful (except for the airport anxieties), but I promise that the next two posts will be full of surprises.

Thanks for travelling with me!

8 Times I had a Culture Shock in China

Disclaimer: None of these things listed here are written to present China in a bad light. I left my heart in China and it is an utterly beautiful country that I can’t wait to explore further in the future. To be honest, I didn’t have that much of a culture shock when I arrived in Mainland China. Still, there were some things I had to get used to, and some of these things were a little bit strange, up to disturbing :’D
And they are:

1. All these shiny, new cars:

Yes, you heard right. The first culture shock for me were all these cars I haven’t even seen in Germany before. And I live in Stuttgart, the birthplace of Mercedes. I guess I was just so shocked because I didn’t expect such modern cars from a rather small town (1 Mio. citizens, still a small town in China). It was the first time I saw Lexus cars, Buicks, Maseratis and Jaguars. I even saw some Bentleys cruising through the bustling, small streets of Yuyao :’D

Source: photoshelter.com

Well, not exactly like this, but almost :’D

2. The Spitting: 

Oh my, this one is serious. I have read something about that before I arrived in China. My friend gave me a China book as a goodbye present and it was really interesting. They also explained the spitting and why it is so important for many people in China to do that. It is a way to clean your throat and your lungs from all the phlegm inside your body that can cause you to have a sickness later. I can understand that, but I don’t understand why they do it in public :’D It was the only thing I couldn’t get used to when in China.

Source: wikimedia.org

3. The smells: 

Be it from incense smells to the pungent smell of stinky tofu: You can detect fragrances you have never smelled before.
On my first day, the first thing I noticed were the different smells I wasn’t used to, mainly from restaurants. Of course, chinese cuisine is so different from german or turkish one. The way food is sometimes cooked in chinese restaurants can be healthy, but also very oily. The first restaurant I went to with two friends was a fish restaurant. They had a lot of seafood. I love seafood, but that day, I lost my appetite because of the strange oily and fishy smell. On my first day in China I didn’t eat much. I still had to get used to the different smells and tastes. But I quickly got used to it and soon devoured everything on the table :’D

Source: forbesconrad.com

4. The cockroaches: 

Well, I guess this is something you have to expect when travelling to East Asian, South Asian or South-east Asian countries. What I didn’t expect, though was to find them almost anywhere: They sneek in into your stairwell, on the streets in front of shops, sometimes they will be in juice shops or restaurants and we even had one sneak into the office :'( It was huge and I was alone in the office. I screamed and ran out and all my students looked at me amusedly :’D Someone came and killed it with a broom (number 1 tool to kill a cockroach in China :’D)

Source: boredpanda.com

[I didn’t want to put a picture of a cockroach in here, so you have something fun to laugh about, and maybe some inspiration for funny christmas presents]

5. Kids and men peeing in public: 

Well, obviously, the kids don’t only pee but also poo in public :’D Many laowais (foreigners) seem to be disturbed by this, but I actually found it very funny, especially the kids with the slit in their pants :’D That was so hilarious! Maybe that’s because I love kids, especially the ones in China since they are so chubby <3
The reason for this, I think is to prevent the kids getting rashes from cheap diapers, since I don’t think that everyone in China can afford expensive brand diapers. And I think this makes totally sense.
Still, I have this one experience I will never forget. I was on the plane in Hong Kong, when we got news that 2 passangers wanted to leave the plane. Because of that, we were standing still in a plane, trapped there for 2 hours. Sitting next to me were a mother with her child and he was crying all the time. He obviously had to poo but the toilets were always filled. So she just grapped her kid by his legs, spread them and made him poo into his pants/diapers or whatever he was wearing underneath. I was happy he wasn’t wearing one of these slit in the pant ones :’D Anyway, the plane stank like sh*t the whole time and it was probably my worst flight ever, later trying to land inside of a Taifun. I seemed like the only one freaking out since everyone around me in the plane looked so freaking chill.
Other than this incident, I really don’t care where kids are peeing or pooing. What bothers me more is when I walk past a grown man in a parc or by the river, obviously peeing into the bushes. Sometimes they aren’t even trying to hide it.
I kind of feel like chinese people like to show themselves naked.

Source: travelbugjuice.com

6.The Fame: 

If you wanna go to China (or probbly most of other asian countries), prepare yourself to get touched by strangers. Usually, it is the elder people who are not as educated as the younger ones and have no problems with physical contact. To be honest, I don’t really mind it as long as it is not violent, and most of the time it is not. But I just feel weird when they touch you (let’s say your arm or your hair) and then look at you like you came from a different planet and then they (if it is a group) start grinning and laughing and say something in chinese :’D
Another thing that foreigners are annoyed by is the photographing experience. Expect to suddenly become very famous in China (or any other asian country), since most of the people have never seen a white person in real life. Therefore, a bunch of people will ask you if they can take pictures with you. It can be really funny, but especially when you are a traveller as well, it will take up some of your precious sight-seeing time. Still, it can be a whole different experience and I can only advise you to try it out if the possibility is offered to you :)
What you have to be more careful of are crowds and being pushed and dragged. This can actually be very dangerous and people in China do not shy away from pushing strangers. With this, you also have to be careful of bacteria. It makes a lot of sense wearing a face masks when going into crowds, because there will definitely be some sneezing on you without covering their mouth :/

Source: amazonaws.com

7. The pollution: 

Well, it wasn’t really as bad as I had expected it, especially not where I was living which is the east of China, close to Shanghai. Still, I got really bad skin when living in China and we had some serious smog days in December, after Christmas from the 25th – 27th. I woke up in the morning and started crying. It was horrible. I couldn’t see the apartment building in front of me.
Still, if you tavel to China don’t stress about the pollution that much. It is not as serious as shown on tv. I went to Beijing in March and I had the most perfect blue sky on the Great Wall.
Still, I would maybe not try to go to China in Winter, especially in December it is pretty bad.

Source: tokyodesu.com

Fortunately, I have never seen Shanghai THAT smoggy. We had some smoggy days when we went there at the beginning of February, but it wasn’t that bad actually. It rather looked like a low cloud or fog.

8. The streets: 

Actually, I imagined the streets to be worse. In main streets, especially shopping streets and tourist areas, the streets are even cleaner and more modern than in Germany. But I was living in a rather small town for chinese standards, and most of the time you really have to take care where you are stepping on. Especially in summer, it gets really disgusting, with all the rain. I once walked into a loose pavement stone and found myself ankle deep in black, dirty rain water. At least I thought it was rain water. I was just hoping it was not water from the drain.
So, with this said, be careful where you step on!

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Source: scmp.com

 

This post won’t prevent you from having a culture shock, neither of the things I listed here, nor of some other things I haven’t regarded as shocking as other people have (e.g. the traffic, the loud speaking, or the squat toilets which I was used to from Turkey). Still, I think culture shocks belong to a full experience of a new country. Without them, something is missing and it will broaden your mind for sure.
I love remembering my reactions to all the different culture shocks listed here. And how is that saying:
“If you don’t love me with all my flaws, you don’t deserve me with all my perfections.”
I guess this fits perfectly into China or any other country you are travelling to, and experiencing some majoy culture shock.

Top 10 Things to do in Shanghai

If you have been following me for a while now, you must have read some of my blogposts about Shanghai already. But there can never be enough blog posts about Shanghai, in my opinion – the pearl of the East.

Here are the Top 10 things to do in Shanghai summarized in one post.

1 The Bund:

This is a must when you are in Shanghai. You haven’t been there if you haven’t seen the Bund. And once you see it, you will miss the view, and everytime you’ll visit Shanghai you will be longing to see this view.

img_20150727_062109img_20150725_065417img_20150726_223738

2 The IFC – International Financial Center and the Greenbelt: 

You can take the metro or the ship to cross the river. Here you will be walking underneath all of those mega skyscrapers that you could see across from the Bund.
The Greenbelt is a small, green oasis in the middle of the financial district.

3 Cross the Huangpu river: 

This only takes about 5-10 minutes, but it is a nice feeling, especially during the humid heat of the summer.

4 Dive into the nightlife:

Shanghai is famous for its vibrant nightlife. It is easy to get around with taxis, and as foreigners, you usually get in any fancy clubs.
Enjoy a delicious cocktail on the rooftops of Shanghai at the Bar Rouge, or dance with the sharks at Mint Club. To read more about nightlife possibilities check out my older blog post here.

 

5 Yu Garden:

This place is a mixture of temple, garden, and an arrangement of shops and food stands. It is definitely worth a visit if you are souvenir shopping and want to tick off some sights from your list. I also found stands that sold pretzels and turkish ice cream :’D

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6 Have brunch on top of the roofs: 

In Shanghai there are rooftop anythings: bars, restaurants, cafes, pool parties, and clubs. One late morning when we woke up and were hungry, we wanted to have brunch at a good place so I looked up on instagram and found Kathleen’s Waitan, a cafe/restaurant/bar. They offered a brunch menu and it sounded so yummy. We booked a table and were seated very close to the floor-to-ceiling windows where we could have a full view on the Bund. It was amazing, and probably the most beautiful place I had brunch at with the best service you can imagine.

img_20160214_143914

7 Go on an observation platform: 

I did this on 2 towers, the first time I had been there I went up the Jin Mao Tower, the one that looks like Taipeh 101. The second time I was in Shanghai I went up the IFC Tower, the Bottle Opener. They also have a skywalk, with glass floor, but some of my friends were afraid to go up there, so we just went up the usual observation floor. Next time I’m in Shanghai, I wanna go up the Shanghai Tower, the second tallest tower in the world.

img_20150727_230427
Taken from Jin Mao Tower
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Taken from IFC Tower

8 Try the streetfood: 

You will have so many possibilites to try the street food in Shanghai, or in China in general. Try the Jiaozi or the Xiao Long Bao which are famous for Shanhai. They are like somewhat bigger dumplings filled with minced meat and chinese cabbage and they taste heavenly <3
If you are braver, you can try some stinky tofu at the Yu Garden :’D

9 Have a short visit to People’s Square:

This is a small parc close to Nanjing Road. Here, local parents advertise their sons and daughters to find the perfect mathes for their spouses. It is funny to watch the people stand by their signs with photos and information of their children. It is also bizarre for Westeners though, to realize how important marriage is in the eastern culture.

eeb80-20150725_1423281bda8-20150725_142409

10 Visit Jing’An Temple:

This is a beautiful, gold-embellished temple in the middle of the shopping streets of Shanghai.

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These would be my top 10 suggestions. Of course, there are always different ways to create your trip to a city. I’ll be happy if I could just help a little bit.

Enjoy your trip!

Final rating:

Sightseeing: 3/5
Food: 5/5
Shopping: 5/5
Clubbing: 4/5
Transportation: 5/5

 

One Night in Shanghai

Not only one week after my trip to Shanghai, I was about to visit that city once again, but this time just for one reason: Party.
Our friend Ana was leaving for her summer vacation so we all had a goodbye party since some of us wouldn’t see her again after she’d come back.
We were 8 people on the train and we had a lot of fun pre-gaming and playing Never Have I Ever.
When we arrived in Shanghai and checked in at our hostel, we continued our pre-gaming. We had already decided upon a club, which would be Mint Club.

In this post, I will introduce some clubs I have visited during my 10-month stay in China.

Let’s start with our pick for the night:

1. Club Mint

Situated close to Nanjing Dong Lu (East Nanjing Road), it is quite central and easy to find (not at least for the huge building which reads M1nt on it).
This is a very fancy club with a dress code. Men can’t wear sneakers or short trousers. By that, you can expect to find expats working as models and chinese new riches alike in this club.
The most famous characteristic of this club is its shark tank though. That was the reason for us to go there in the first place as well.

Source: luxus-welt.de

Another good side about this club is the service and its drinks. Some of them might be a bit too strong, and some might be too expensive, water for example, but most of them are excellent. On the main floor, the music is either electronic or a mix of party hits. On the lounge floor they usually play R’n’B or Hip Hop.

2. Bar Rouge

This Bar/Lounge which turns into a club in the late night hours, can be found right at the Bund. This club is famous for its view on Pudong and its fancy, but wild parties. Another treat for me to come back to this club are the delicious cocktails. Again, they are a bit more expensive than in usual clubs in China, but considering the location and the quality, I am always willing to pay for 1 or 2 drinks here. The music here is usually a mix of party hits.

source: bar-rouge-shanghai.com

3. Club Fusion

This is one of the smaller clubs in Shanghai, but nonetheless popular, especially among young people who just wanna have a good time. The location is not quite central, so be prepared to take a taxi there (and don’t forget to have the chinese adress ready). The music is a mix of famous radio and party hits and electronic music.

source: smartshanghai.com

4. Myst Club

This club is another small-room club which is popular for its Star-DJ’s that perform in this club. Again, taking a taxi to this club might be better if you’re staying in the city centre, although it is not very far away. The music is a good mix of party hits, and of course, electronic. The audience is mostly chinese than expats, especially when compared to other clubs like Mint or Bar Rouge. But the people are all very friendly and intend to party and dance.

source: evilyoshida.com

This was my short wrap-up of the clubs and bars I have visited in Shanghai, not in one night of course. Of course, you can combine 2 or 3 of these clubs and bars in one night if you are adventurous enough :D
My favourite Bar is definitely Bar Rouge. Next time I go to Shanghai, I will surely go there again.

Shanghai – Biggest City in the World

In that week I was anticipating my first trip to Shanghai. I should be meeting an old friend of mine there who I used to know from uni. He studies chinese and was just doing his study abroad in Beijing. For his last few days he would be staying in Shanghai together with his girlfriend who came to visit him in China.
I was really excited since it would be my first time in such a big city, to be exact, one of the biggest and the most populated city in the world as I found out.

Friday, July 24th: 
After I left work at 4pm, I quickly left for the train station. Since it was still new to me to travel by train in China, I was a bit nervous that I would miss the train, but I didn’t.
I finally arrived in Shanghai when it was already evening, so the streets were all lit up, and crowded. I can’t describe how positively overwhelmed I felt when I first had a glance at this bright, colourful street of Nanjing Lu. I was nervous and a bit anxious, but at the same time I was so excited to spend time in that gorgeous metropolis.
After appreciating the view, I started to look for my hostel called Captain Hostel. It wasn’t hard to find since it was close to the shopping street and to the Bund. I had to share a dorm with other people of course, but it was really comfortable and the people kept to themselves.
My friend texted me already and told me that they were at KTV and I should take a taxi and join them. I actually wanted to, but I was really exhausted and wanted to take a shower (which I had to give up in the end, because they didn’t have slippers at the hostel and I forgot mine). So instead, I checked out the hostel’s rooftop bar which was supposed have a great view over Pudong and the Shanghai Skyline and I can assure you that it didn’t disappoint. I took my camera and got upstairs. And it really was breathtaking. Look at that:

I have seen many pictures of different skylines around the world, but I never imagined that they could all look so boring and dull compared to the colorful, bright skyline of this city called Shanghai. I immediately fell in love with the view and couldn’t wait for the next day already.
After lingering there for about 15 minutes and just enjoying the sight, I went to my room again and fell asleep immediately.

Saturday, July 25th:
I woke up early that morning to go and find slippers for the shower. I was feeling so disgusted. You have to know that it was in the middle of summer, and travelling always ended up to be a sweaty activity. I was optimistic that I would find a pair of slippers right away, but I was wrong. When I left the hostel, it was about 8am, but the shops were all closed, and there weren’t any street vendors either which I saw the last night when I arrived. I was desperately walking around Nanjing Lu, the main shopping street with all the malls and stores. Although I was feeling a little bit stupid, I managed to discover Shanghai a little bit more. When I realized that most shops would open at 9.30 the earliest, I decided to get breakfast at Starbucks. There was one with a rooftop sitting space where I could enjoy another view of Shanghai:

In the end, I did manage to buy slippers and take a shower in the end. Finally, I was ready for the day so the first thing on my list was to see the Bund. It was quite a nice day, sunny, but a little bit foggy, though. Still I was able to take some really nice pictures:

It was also insane how many chinese tourists wanted to take a picture with me. I thought it wouldn’t be that extreme in Shanghai because there are also many foreigners living there, but it seems like the amount of chinese tourists in Shanghai is bigger than the amount of foreign tourists :’D
After my little tour alone on the Bund, I prepared to meet my friend at about 3pm at the People’s Square. He described me the place and I went there. Because I still had some time, I stopped at the Korean cosmetic shop Etude House which was close to the Metro Station in Nanjing Lu. I bought a Mascara there (which is pretty amazing) and some face masks.

It felt really funny to meet an old friend from back home in that huge metropolis after some years. It also felt really weird to be speaking german again.
We walked around the People’s Square a little bit which is a little park famous for its old-fashioned dating platform run by single people’s parents attempting to find a good match for their children. It was fun observing the people and “reading” the signs :D

After that small entertainment, we went to Nanjing Lu and ate Sushi in a quite luxurious mall. But they gave us a red bean dessert for free so the high prices were acceptable.

When we came out the mall, we realized that it was raining cats and dogs and none of us had umbrellas. We bought some cheap ones and walked around the street a bit more. We decided to buy some alcohol for our little night out later in a club called Mint which had a shark tank. But I still haven’t been at the Bund during the evening, so we went there, took some pictures and headed to my hostel to get ready and have some drinks on the rooftop.

The old buildings of the Bund

The huge mass of people in China is reality

Soon, another friend joined us as well and we headed to the club.

When we finally entered the club, we had a first look at the shark tank. My friend was a bit disappointed because the sharks were quite small, but I liked it.

f you go to Mint, you have to make sure that you look nice. Plus, you should probably turn down your thirst a little bit, since the drinks are not the cheapest. There are 2 floors there, one main floor which usually plays electronic music, and one lounge which is more relaxed with hip hop and r’n’b tunes. I really enjoyed the latter one, but only towards the end of the night, when there were not many people.
At past 3 am the club was getting emptier already. Don’t expect to have a crazy night out in this club. You probably won’t find alcohol corpses, but chinese new riches and bored-looking foreigners. It is a good club if you want to have a relaxed night.

When we left the club, I was already feeling sad that I had to leave the next day. I realized that I really enjoyed Shanghai.

Sunday, July 26th: 
I woke up a bit earlier that day, considering that I had a night out the day before. Before I checked out from the hostel, I realized that they were sending out future postcards if you bought one. So I did it. I wrote a postcard to my future self and put my card on the shelf of may 7th. That is such a cool idea, that I had to do it, and it was quite cheap as well. Now, I can’t wait for my postcard to arrive in Germany this year :)

The one in the May 7 box is mine :)

Anyway, I headed out to the Metro Station and went to Liujaizuo, the financial district which has all the famous skyscrapers there. I though I could walk around the Oriental Pearl Tower and maybe find the Disney Store. I found both. The Orient Pearl Tower was too expensive to get up to, and too crowded. You would have to stand in line for 5 hours probably. Since I didn’t have the time, I first visited the Disney Shop which turned out to be a bit expensive as well.

The elevator was pretty fast, too. Actually, that was an interesting fact about that tower as well. When we arrived at the top, it was pretty narrow to walk around. There were many people taking photos, so it wasn’t hard to ask someone for pictures, plus, look at the view:

That was the elevator tunnel
The bottle opener a.k.a. World Financial Center
After I was done up in the tower, I decided to have an early lunch, so I got coffee and a sandwich from a coffeeshop

I didn’t have a lot of time left in Shanghai anymore, so I met my friend for the last time and we walked around the Greenbelt – a park in the middle of the financial district. It was nice to have such a beautiful green oasis in the middle of some of the world’s highest towers. If you go to Shanghai, make sure to visit this place full of contrasts:

These figures look a little scary

Although it was only 2 days, I was happy to be able to spend some time with an old friend and meet some new awesome people on the way. The trip was way too short but that was not the last time in Shanghai for sure.

Final rating:

Sightseeing: 3/5 – Offers interesting places, but Shanghai is more famous for its city life.
Food: 4/5 – You can find anything you want, but you have to consider the high price, too.
Shopping: 5/5 – All the shops you know from home, and more.
Clubbing: 4/5 – There is yet a lot to explore in this city’s nightlife, but be sure to bring money.
Transportation: 5/5 – The best metro system I have seen.