144 hours in Shanghai

What can I say about Shanghai? The pictures in the guidebook showed an exciting fast-moving city with bright lights and an impressive cityscape. And it did not disappoint.

Shanghai felt fairly western so was not difficult to navigate. Signs were in English, and there was an abundance of western high street chains. This centred around Nanjing Lu (Nanjing Road) which is full of neon lights and large shops and shopping malls. You can find the likes of H&M, Forever 21 and the Apple shop here as well as Chinese brands, souvenirs, jewellery, electronics etc. Continue reading

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How to Travel to Shanghai Without a Visa from Taiwan

While planning our trip to Shanghai, we read about the TWOV (Transit Without Visa), meaning you can transit through Shanghai without the need for a Visa. There are some restrictions, but if you read and follow the rules you can get yourself a big fat trip to China without the hassle (and cost) of a Visa!

I should say that this does not constitute immigration advice – this is just my understanding of the information online, and my experiences. If you are going, you should also research it yourself!

Essentially, if you are from certain countries, you can take advantage of the 24, 72, or 144 hour Transit without Visa rules which apply to certain cities in China. You also need to be coming from a third country, transiting through China, and travelling on to another third country. There are other rules about where you can go when you enter Shanghai, and when the time starts running to measure the 144 hours. Continue reading

Eating “Poo” out of a Urinal while sitting on a Toilet?! – Food in Taipei

Probably the funniest and most bizarre culinary experience we have had was at the Modern Toilet Restaurant in Taipei. This is, um – UNIQUE – to say the least! A whole restaurant themed around Toilets. The seats were toilets, the plates were like urinals, and all the interior design was themed around toilets.

The meals – all themed around excrement, naturally, included dishes such as Turd Sub Sandwich, and Poop Meatballs. These were advertised outside with a sign saying “Welcome to try our crap!”. Continue reading

Exploring Thermal Valley and Tea Plantations near Taipei

Enthralled as we were with Taipei, we also wanted to escape the city for the cooler air of the countryside, and see some of the rest of Taiwan.  We chose two easy day trips from the capital; Beitou Thermal Valley to see some geothermal action, and the Maokong Tea Plantations in the hills.

Beitou Thermal Valley

Beitou is just north of Taipei and is known for its thermal activity – namely hot springs! Upon arrival I was slightly taken aback to read all about where the local earthquake shelter is – but as Taiwan sits near the egde of two tectonic plates, earthquakes are possible so it pays to be prepared! Continue reading

Travelling 101 in Taipei 101

Having explored the ancient sights of Taipei it was time to see the new heart of the city. Taipei 101 is one of the most iconic buildings in Asia. At over half a kilometre tall (a staggering 509.2 metres to be exact), it was the tallest building in the world until 2010 when the Burj Khalifa in Dubai (at 829.8 metres) took the title.

Taipei 101 is 101 floors high, and can be seen from most places in the city. If you want to visit, check the boards in the 5th floor lobby as this will tell you how the visibility is and which sections of the observation deck are open. Continue reading

Hidden Delights of Taipei

Taipei was a massive surprise. My BF wanted to go here as it was off the beaten path, and sometimes it is fun to explore the path less travelled. I am immensely glad we did, as it was a real gem, and has actually become my favourite place that I have been to in Asia!

Taipei blends the intrepid nature of Asia (night markets, great food, beautiful temples) with elements that are sometimes missing (road discipline eg lines marked on the street, no spitting, friendly locals who don’t hassle you at all). It also has a good mix of old and new; temples and small alleys filled with shops and markets, and then trendy neon shops and cafes, and the towering Taipei 101. All in all, it was a dream, and my favourite destination on this trip. Continue reading

A Day Trip to Hong Kong (because, why not?!)

If you have a spare day in Macau, you can easily do a day trip to Hong Kong. Most information online is for people staying in Hong Kong and wanting to do a day trip to Macau – but we did it the other way! 🙂

We took the Cotai Water Jet from Cotai in Macau, to Sheung Wan, HK. This takes around an hour but the boat is comfortable so you can quite easily be lulled to sleep. And when you wake, you are in the hub-bub of Hong Kong! Continue reading

Munching in Macau

Hmmm what shall I have for dinner… “His Aging Mother Tofu”? Or “Rape Heart”? Or maybe “Angus Steak to the Naked Eye”? These were just a few of the delicious choices greeting us at a food court in Macau.

I was surprised by the food in Macau. As the casino chains are the same as in America, I had expected to find some western chains. Continue reading

Holy Macau! A tour of Old Town Macau

I was taken aback by the beauty of the architecture in the old town of Macau. It is a former Portuguese colony so there remains churches, libraries and theatres which are very gorgeous.

I was also taken aback by the sweltering heat! I thought i was going to pass out. After a short walk we had to take refuge in a McDonald’s to have a very necessary ice cream sundae and take advantage of their air conditioning! The good thing is that many of the main sights are concentrated in a relatively small area so if you are in a rush (or about to pass out!) you can see them without walking too far.  Continue reading

No Money, No Friends in Macau Casinos

It is often said that Macau is the Las Vegas of the East. We have been to Las Vegas not one, not two, but three times, and we really love it! So we decided to complete the pilgrimage so visit Macau.  In fact, Macau has overtaken Las Vegas many times over in being the world leader in terms of revenue. So really, is Macau the Las Vegas of the East, or is Las Vegas the Macau of the West? Ooh controversial! (My view: LV came first so will always be the OG!)

First impressions of Macau was quite overwhelming – I had expected it to feel like Vegas, but it didn’t feel anything like it. Strangely it reminded me of Panama due to the thick jungle around, low lying cloud, and stifling heat.  It was also poorer than I had expected in terms of the housing of the local population, in contrast to the opulence and excess of the casino hotels. Like nearby Hong Kong, Macau is its own Special Administrative Region of China. And Macau is the only place in China where gambling is legal, and coaches bring tourists from the nearby Chinese border straight to the casinos. Continue reading