A Travellerspoint blog

Last Day in Shanghai - Farewell China!

June 6
Today we woke up and were sad to know that we would be leaving china. We had such a great journey and don’t want to leave. We have taken so many cab rides throughout our trip we decided we would end our journey with a unique way to transfer to the airport...via the Maglev Shanghai train. The Maglev picks up passengers in Pudong and heads straight for the airport. In fact its the fastest way to get to the airport! For only $9 Canadian we traveled 30km in 8 minutes and reached a max speed of 431 km/h in only a few minutes! What an experience that was! While on the train a local informed us that we were actually levitating above the train tracks and being held my powerful magnets just centimeters above the tracks! Super scary but definitely was a wicked way to remember the end of our trip. Our journeys throughout China went great but I do say it helped having all our documentation and necessary identification in order which made travelling very easy. Canadians travelling to China need to apply for a tourist visa prior to leaving Canada and you can apply for this at your nearest Chinese embassy. It is an approximate $50 fee to get this tourist visa and you need to provide two passport photos along with your filled out application. You need passport that is valid at least 6 months prior to your return date and I strongly recommend taking several photocopies of your passport and carrying around the photocopies instead of your actual passport in order to prevent losing it or getting it stolen.


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Day 2 in Shanghai

June 5
We had a busy day in Shanghai today! After buffet breakfast in our hotel we headed to the Jade Buddha Temple where we got to see prayer and song taking place. The temple was like a maze with constant walking through different little buildings and up and down stairs to different rooms. We got to see the famous Jade Buddha statues and ended our visit with a tea ceremony where we got to sample and learn about the different type of teas native to China and that the monks drink daily. Just before grabbing lunch we made a pit stop at the Jin Mao Tower to go up to the 88th floor and take beautiful pictures of the Shanghai skyline and river. It was exciting being in this tower not only because it’s the 2nd tallest in Shanghai but because it was were scenes from Mission Impossible 3 was filmed! After lunch we headed over to the The Bund which is a one mile area along the west side of the Haungpu River giving a scenic view of Pudong. Walking around and seeing the difference in architecture on this side of Shanghai was very unique, beautiful Romanesque buildings made me feel as if I were in Europe not Asia! It was very hot and humid today in Shanghai so we decided it would be a good idea to head indoors to the silk factory. The silk factory was so cool, we got to see and hold the silk worms and see how silk is produced from beginning to end. I ended up purchasing a silk comforter which just so happens to be perfect for Calgary’s unpredictable climate because it is super breathable to keep from sweating on warm nights but super warm and can’t forget so soft. After we left the silk factory it was cooled down a bit and we decided to stop at the famous China Town in Shanghai which is a popular shopping district where you can find nick knacks, souvenirs, clothing, local and international food options and so much more. It was a packed place to shop, so many people squeezing in the narrow walkways. It was kind of funny for us Canadians to be in “China Town” in Shanghai! The buildings had authentic Chinese architecture and looked just like our version of china town in Canada. I found a few souvenirs here in China Town which I just had to have to take home which included a jade bracelet, a silk robe, chopsticks with pretty Chinese designs painted on them and a tea cup set with some Chinese tea herbs! After dinner at a local Peking restaurant we headed straight back to the hotel and I passed out right away.

Monks and locals praying in Jade Buddha Temple and famous Buddha statue carved of pure Jade!
Jin Mao Tower - 88 floors!
Silk factory and silk worms!
China Town in China?! haha

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Day 1 in Shanghai

June 4
Today we were up super early and wasted no time to get out and explore this amazing city. Shanghai is a big modern city with amazing architecture and a futuristic feel. We hoped in a Expo cab which we were told are the safest and easiest to communicate with in English and toured around the Pudong New area which is located on the east side of the Huangpu River which divides Shanghai. We enjoyed a dinner at a restaurant right on the river and I was actually thanked for declining a fork and using chopsticks like the locals. It shows acceptance of the culture and they appreciate that. I was told by the waiter that you should not lick, stir your food nor leave your chopsticks in the middle of your dish. Since our waiter was so friendly and eager to answer our questions I asked him why so many people ignored us when smiling and trying to greet and he said it is important for the younger person to greet the older person first or else they may not respond and this may be why people were “ignoring” us! Afterwards took a nice river cruise along the Huangpu River and got some beautiful pictures of the Pudong New area and the lit up sky rises. It was a long day since we were up so early to catch our flight so it was a early night. Excited for the rest of our adventures in Shanghai these next few days!

Sky rises in Pudong!

Bird shaped restuarant where we ate on the pier and Huangpu River cruise

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Yangtze River Cruise

May 31-June 3
It was a early morning trying to get packed up and then off to the Xian airport to catch our flight to Chongqing. Once we arrived in Chongqing we took a cab to the pier where we embarked our river cruise ship for our 3 day cruise along the Yangtze River. The cruise took 3 days and was an experience I will never forget! We stopped at a town named Fengdu Ghost City which was strangely unique because we found demon and devil statues decorating a famous temple. We explored the Lesser Three Gorges and Shennong Stream where hillside houses and hanging coffins decorated the shorelines and got to check out the Three Gorges Dam project. At the end of the cruise we disembarked our cruise ship in Yichang and unfortunately dint have any time to tour the city as we had to catch a flight to the futuristic city of shanghai. we arrived in shanghai that evening and were so exhausted we just decided to eat in our hotel and get a good nights rest for our shanghai adventures tomorrow.
Visit this site for more information on this 3day cruise.

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Day 8 & 9: Xian Attractions

Monday, May 30th

Sorry I didn't write a blog yesterday. It was a much needed R&R day for all of us. We just hung out in our hotel room and did a little haggeling with the street merchants for wicked souveniers. So today we had the morning to ourselves and met the rest of the group in the lobby for 12:00 noon. We took a public bus to the Ancient City Wall in the center of the city. This wall is about 12 m high and surrounds all of Xian. We spent a few hours at the wall taking pictures and reading about the history. This wall was in very good condition considering its age and was more impressive to see in real life than in photographs. We rented a couple bikes and rode around the top of the wall from the South gate to the East gate and back. One of my tires was flat so I had to work a little harder than everyone else.

China's Ancient City Wall

Cynthia on her bike for our afternoon cruise around the Wall

This tour was then followed by the “symbol of the city” the Big Wild Goose Pagoda. We heard that there was a story that goes along with the pagoda and it goes like this…That a monk thought how nice it would be to have a goose for dinner when he saw a flock fly over head. The leader goose broke his wing and fell to the ground. The monks believed it was a sign for greater piety and vegetarianism. They built the pagoda on the spot the goose fell. Nice, sunny weather today, we had a high on 19 in the mid afternoon! So those two tours pooped us out, so we went back to the hotel in the early evening, for a much needed sleep for tomorrow events. I took so many pictures today! Tomorrow we leave for Shaghai, looking forward to more adventures!

Big Wild Goose Pagoda

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Day 7: Dumplings and Beer!

Saturday, May 28th

Woke up at the crack of dawn to start our busy day. We went to the Shanxi Provincial Historical Museum in the morning. I forgot my camera half way there, so the group had to turn around for me. I think I was still half asleep when we left the hotel this morning…oops! We had a yummy lunch at a local noodle house and had a couple tasty beverages. We all decided to try China’s most famous beer, Tsingtao Beer. I got the dark ale and Mmmmmm! I think I need to find a duty free shop on the way home and take some back with me! After the lunch, we watched the locals do a noodle making demonstration so we knew where our delicious meal’s secrets. We enjoyed a typical China lunch - huge dumpling meal! We also taste tested another local dish a spicy szechuan stirfry type appetizer. I was so full after I could barely walk back to the hotel.

China's Tsingtao Beer

China's famous dumpling dish

More pictures from our yummy meal

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Day 6: Adventures in Xian


Friday, May 27th

We arrived in Xian after a sketchy flight from Beijing. My stomach is still tossing and turning not only from the anxiety, but from the bumps and crazy air gusts we encountered during the flight. We checked into the 5 star Titan Times hotel and got settled and unpacked a bit. In the early afternoon, we engaged on our Terra Cotta Warriors and Horse Museum Tour. It’s said that these warriors go back to 210 BC. They were created to guard the tomb of the 1st Emperor or China, Qinshi Huang. The archeological site was found by some farmers digging for a water well in 1974. So not that long ago! We walked around for hours gazing at this wonder. For dinner, we enjoyed an awesome dumpling meal. Mine had a fly in it, but it didn’t stop me! After dinner we cruised through the Art Ceramics Factory and then headed to the traditional Tang Dynasty Singing and Dancing Show for the rest of the evening for a couple tasty beverages. After that it was free time, so we decided to head back to the hotel for some R&R. It was a long, busy and tiring day and we had another one planned ahead of us.

The Terra Cotta Warriors

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Beijing- Day Five- The Great Wall, and The Ming Toombs

May 26- Day Five- Beijing- Day Three- The Great Wall, and The Ming Toombs

Our first stop today was at the Ming Toombs in the hills. This was the coolest attraction, because the history behind it really interested me! Long story short, there are thirteen imperial tombs of the Ming Dynasty scattered in these beautiful hills just to the northwest of Beijing. The first tomb was built in 1409, and the last one in 1644. All of the 13 emperors built their own Toombs up in these beautiful hills and when they died the people would bring them up there and lay them to rest. These tombs are designed with elegant gold, jewelry, jade, and diamonds. They are luxurious and you can see the gold roofs scattered all throughout the hills. I can’t remember exactly but I think only one was opened, and that was because when they opened it the oxygen made all the colors and beauty totally disappear. Next we had a delicious lunch, and shopped at a little souvenir mall quickly before it was on to the infamous Great Wall of China. Seeing it for the first time was the most surreal feeling. It looks exactly how you would expect it to but being there, and standing on it, is the weirdest feeling. At the section that we were at there were two different ways you could go, one way was easier, and the other way was harder and looked really steep. I obviously chose the easier way, which wasn’t easy at all!!! The first section that we walked was re done and every step was even, but then you get to the older part, where the steps are all uneven, slanted, and some were steep where others were not. It was really hot today, so I think if it was a little cooler, it may have made it a bit easier. Next time I go back I will be in shape and walk much more of it!! After the great wall we went to an authentic Chinese show. To be honest I fell asleep because I was so tired, but from what I did see, it was a beautiful show. Now we are back at the hotel again, and I am really sad that we move onto Xian tomorrow because I feel like there is still so much to see in Beijing, but at the same time, I can’t wait for Xian and Shanghai!
The Great Wall of China

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Beijing- Day Four- The Summer Palace

May 25- Day Four- Beijing- The Summer Palace

Today was amazing. First we went to the Summer Palace which was the most beautiful place I have ever been to. This was the emperors summer home (hence the name) but this palace is absolutely stunning. There was a lot to see, but my favorite part was the boat ride on the lake. This took up most of our day, lots of walking, but lots of great memories and photos. After we left we made a quick stop at the pearl factory where we got to watch an oyster get opened and see what the pearls look like fresh out of the shell. I bought lots of jewelry from there, some to keep, some to give away as gifts! I can’t believe how cheap merchandise is here, compared to at home! After that we had a delicious Peking Duck dinner. I know it sounds weird, but it was actually so good, I never thought I would be one to eat duck, but may as well try everything that you can while you are here. I am beat, and my feet are killing me from all the walking that we did today so I’m going to get a good night’s rest to get ready for our Great Wall adventure tomorrow.
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The Summer Palace

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Beijing- Day Three- The Birds Nest and Aquatic Cube

May 24- Day Three- Beijing- The Birds Nest and Aquatic Cube

Today was a nice day, we didn’t have too much on our agenda we had the morning and afternoon to ourselves. This afternoon we got a chance to explore Beijing in the coolest mode of transportation. It was called a Pedicab, and it was basicly just a bike with 3 wheels (2 in the back and 1 in the front) and it has a little carrier on the back which can carry about 2 people. I have attached a picture because they are hard to explain, but super cute, and a great, unique way to get around Beijing. After dinner we got the amazing opportunity to check out the Birds Nest and Aquatic Cube which is where the Beijing Olympics were held. That was so amazing to see, unfortunately we were there when it was dark so my camera couldn’t capture any really good pictures, but they are good enough to see beauty. Those building are architecturally stunning, they look nice on TV, but up close in person they took my breath away. We are back at the hotel now; it was nice to have a more relaxed day that’s for sure. So now I am going to get a good night’s rest so I am ready to go again tomorrow. I am beyond pumped for the Summer Palace tomorrow. Night!
The Birds Nest
The Aquatic Cube
Local Pedicab

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Beijing- Day Two- Forbidden City, Tiananmen Square

May 23- Day Two- Beijing- Forbidden City, Tiananmen Square

Thankfully I got a really good sleep last night, and I was well rested and ready for the day ahead. First stop, Forbidden City. This was such an incredible tour, with so much to see, and so much history to learn about, the thought of actually being there blows my mind. We were there for about 2 and a half hours, and as we were walking out, we saw the military practicing a drill I guess you could call it. It was really neat to see, I was scared to take pictures, but everyone else was so I managed to snap a few. Right across the street was Tiananmen Square. There is a tunnel that goes under the main road which is direct access for people to get to and from Forbidden City to Tiananmen Square without interrupting traffic. To be honest, I didn’t even know we were in Tiananmen Square, because really it’s just a cement square with a little cement statue which is where the locals say is a big gathering spot. Most tourists know what really happened there, and why it is a popular attraction to see but to me, it really does just look like a gathering spot. Next we had lunch and then had time to go shopping at a huge knock off mall where we spent the remainder of our day. It was another great day, but I am exhausted!
Forbidden City
Tiananmen Square

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Calgary to Beijing- Day One

May 22- Day One- Calgary- Beijing

Today Meg, Cynthia, and I departed Calgary for a short flight to Vancouver where we had a 2 hour layover. It went quickly, we had some drinks and I stocked up on some more Yuan (China's local currancy). Its hard to believe that $20.00 CAD can buy me $100.00 Yuan; and then it was on to our long haul flight to the northern capital of China, Beijing. The flight attendants were really nice, the food was decent for airplane food, and overall the flight wasn't as bad as I had anticipated. I kept occupied by reading my travel books and I tried to become more fluent in Mandarin (China's local language). I don’t know what I expected China to be like, but when we got there all I could think was “this is China??”. The Beijing airport is absolutely stunning, and everything is very well organized and very efficient. When we arrived at the hotel, we had time to get settled in, and get freshened up before our first meal in China. My stomach didn’t adapt very well to the new food, good thing I brought lots of drugs to help, and hopefully it gets better from here on out. After dinner we went for a quick walk around the hotel to get to know our surroundings, and now I’m going to hit the hay. We have been awake for about 48 hours straight now, so I am exhausted. I’m so excited for tomorrow!!

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