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

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

Meeting Big Buddha on Lantau Island

I’d never been in a glass-bottomed cable car before, but we decided to splash out on an upgrade from normal cable car to glass-bottomed one! It was a fun experience, floating across the sea and over a lush green island.  It was also fun to watch my boyfriend squirm as he refused to sit on the glass floor. Payback for when he got to watch me squirm as I handed over 170 HKD each – approx. £13 each for a cable car ride (!).

Cable Car to Lantau IslandYou have to be careful to find out what time the last cable car back is as the cable cars were pretty busy. Continue reading

Mr East meets Mrs West in Hong Kong

It’s crazy to think that in my lifetime (ie. not long ago!) Hong Kong was owned by Britain! The British influence was evident and it certainly felt more western than Beijing. Most things were written in English as well as Chinese, particularly in the shopping malls and business districts, and there seemed to be lots of western business people about. Some of the buses even looked familiar (same make!). But this created a pleasing mix with the sights and sounds of China! (Although this is technically not China proper, but the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (SAR for short, which is unfortunate as it makes me think of SARS- sorry!)).

We dutifully visited the giant cigar that is the monument to the British rule, and the Golden Bauhinia statue (a flower), which are situated in front of the Convention Centre on the waterfront. However we were soon torn away by the excitement of crossing the harbour on the ferry and marvelling in the famous skyline.

Hong Kong Skyline (night)The buildings are fairly creative, with bizarre geometric shapes. They celebrate the awesome skyline with a laser light display, called the Symphony of Lights, Continue reading

How to Travel in Countries with Different Alphabets

A colleague once told me that I could not, would not, should not travel in China without being part of a guided tour group. I wasn’t sure if this was correct or not, but he had been there, after all, so I was inclined to semi-believe him.

Well, I am happy to say that I laugh in the face of this advice now, as I have travelled in many countries where I cannot read the “A, B, C”, let alone speak.

Hong Kong streetThis blog is not about travelling anywhere abroad Continue reading

Best and Worst of Beijing

As Charles Dickens said, “It was the best of times; it was the worst of times”. I don’t think he was talking about a trip to Beijing at the time, but if the glove fits…

The Best

Food

We had some lovely meals in China. Provided we chose wisely, food was inexpensive and delicious. (See my blog on Food in Beijing).

Shopping street, Beijing

Shopping

China has the usual high street shops, but also a plethora of markets: from the designer market selling designer knock-offs to the pearl market where you can buy real pearls relatively cheaply. Continue reading