China: Shanghai-Suzhou Part 1

27th May 2007 

The China trip is to the following cities: Shanghai, Suzhou, Hangzhou, Nanjing, & Wuxi. The flight is Garuda plane (not luxury at all) at 2am, we need to check in at 1150pm, but we end up arriving super early at 1030pm. The plane food is not nice at all so i wont be showing the pictures. We arrived at Shanghai Pudong Int’l airport 7am 28th May. Shanghai is the biggest city in China also known as – The Oriental Paris

As the 8 days journey has too much things to share, i will be breaking down into 8 parts to desribe the 8 days, everyday we encounter a lot of things and took a lot of photos, so not possible to share everything, but i will try to highlight the essence of the tour. The tour is under SA tours, there is two bus, bus A & B, we are under bus A which has 31 person, and B has 22 person i think. But i am really glad we are in Bus A and not B because the people in A are younger (a lot children & teenagers), and also partly because the people from B are those typical-rich singaporeans; english-speaking and snobbish. Our bus 31 person is break down into 5 groups, group 1 consist of 6 malaysians; 1 mother, 3 kid, 2 young adults. Group 2 has 2 elders, 1 mother and her daughter, all also from malaysia. Group 3 has two parents, with three daughter, the eldest daughter, Veron is same age as me (singaporeans). Group 4 has 9 members from two family, Liwen, her mom, aunt and sister, and Yixing, his dad, mom, brother and grandma. We are in group 5, our family of 4 with my dad friend family of 3.  As you can guess, out of 31 members, 19 are from malaysia, i think the reason why i prefer our bus to bus B is because the malaysians are more friendly, and also bus B has more elders : )

So after leaving our luggage on the Coach, we went to take the Maglev train. Experience the world’s first 430km/hr (or so they claimed) on board the train, for a normal vehicle to travel that distance it is 40mins, but taking the train, we took only 7mins. But the thing is even as we took 7min to arrive at the stop, we have to wait another half an hour for the coach to catch up and fetch us. lol

First stop: 城隍庙 has lots of tourist going, from the place we alight, have to walk 5min before we reach the place. The buildings there are all low-traditional with 中国风 feel. But inside there are stores like starbucks, haagan-diaz, and lots of small shops selling chinese products. We had our first taste of the famous 小笼包 in Shanghai, the guide say this store is the most famous selling 小笼包 so we wait for the long q.

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Building of 城隍庙

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Starbucks in China looks so cool rite? Western restaurant with a chinese-touchimg_1446.jpg 

Do you know: The Shanghai version of the xiaolongbao were originally from a town called Nanxiang, a suburb of Shanghai in the Jiading District. The inventor of xiaolongbao originally sold them in his first store in Nanxiang next to the town’s famous park, Guqi Garden. From there on it has expanded into downtown Shanghai and outwards. Two specialist Xiaolongbao restaurants are traditionally regarded as the most authentic. One is the Nanxiang Bun Shop (Nanxiang Mantou Dian), which derives from the original store in Nanxiang, is famed for its crab meat-filled buns.

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16 xiaolongbao for 20RMB!! How cheap is that man, one xiaolongbao barely cost 30 Singapore cents. There is also another type, filled with crab egg. That one is 6 xiaolongbao for 20RMB, we did not tried that because the restaurant was full, but its definitely better than the normal xiaolongbao filled with meat i guess. But still, the xiaolongbao we tried is the authentic xiaolongbao in Shanghai. 

After that, we went walking around, there is a food-court type selling all the Shanghai 小吃, but not much people eating, and the food does not seems too hygienic so we did not try any. After shopping around for 1 hr, we head back to the bus and go for lunch. One thing i’ll like to say now, during our 8 days tour, we did not have too special food, every meal is very normal, chinese restaurant serving 8 dish 1 soup and plenty of rice. Steamed eggs, xiao bai cai, steamed fish, meat, are some of the dishes which we almost had everyday. But on occasions we had some of the special dishes like Hangzhou Dong-po meat & Beggar Chicken, Nanjing  Salted water duck, Wuxi Pork ribs. Other than that, our lunch and dinner are simple meals with simple chinese dishes, join tour is like that one, they can’t be providing good food every meal. So i will only be showing the special local food we have sampled.

After lunch, we leave Shanghai and head for Suzhou (we come back to Shanghai on the 5th day). The journey to Suzhou takes about 1 half hours. Suzhou is a city with a long history on the lower reaches of 长江, and on the shores of 太湖 in the provience of 江苏. The city is renowned for its beautiful stone bridges, pagodas, and meticulously designed gardens, which has become a great tourist attraction. Suzhou has also been an important center for China’s silk industry.

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Suzhou is all about the beautiful scenaries and garden, places like this can be seen all over the place

Anyway, upon reaching Suzhou, we passed by the Singapore Industrial Park, and went to 藕园 which consists of two parts, East garden and West garden. 藕园 represents a unique Suzhou garden architecture, in old china days it is a garden in the house of a rich offical. But to be honest, listening to the local guide explain about the history of 藕园 is very boring. So i am very glad when we leave there and went to Guan Quan street, its the most famous shopping street in Suzhou, there we brought the local food products, some sweets and snacks.

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Temple

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Qi li shan tang river

After one hour shopping at Guan Quan street, we proceed to 寒山寺 which is also known as Fengqiao temple, which was delicated to a Tang Dynasty abbot who once presided there. After which, the bus bought us to Qi li shan tang river where we took pictures of the beautiful river. We had dinner at a typical chinese restaurant, Suzhou cuisine taste is plain. Here’s a interesting fact, China beer is very cheap, two bottle of beer can only be exchange for one bottle of coke. Guess how cheap is that? haha

Following dinner, we head to the hotel for the night, Greentree Inn to rest. We reached the hotel quite early about 7pm because the previous night we did not have much of a sleep (5hours on plane). The hotel is not too shabby, just that the location is quite remote. That marks the end of the first day in China Suzhou. Next stop: Hangzhou!

” A good traveler has no fixed plans, and is not intenting on arrival “

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