Vibrant Shanghai: Part 6

Jun 16, 06 at 1:34 pm

0630 hours. Usual morning call. Headed down for usual hard-to-eat breakfast. That morning was a bit colder than usual. We started the day with a visit to General Yue Fei’s Mausoleum located just opposite West Lake. Another local guide joined in to brief us. She has a very good command in Cantonese.

General Yue Fei is the well-known national hero in the war against Jin invaders during the Southern Song Dynasty (1127-1279). He, with his army, had won many great battles, so a minister named Qin Hui was quite jealous of him. With the authority of Emperor Gaozong, Qin Hui ordered Yue Fei back to court at once at a time that Yue Fei was fighting furiously with the northern invaders on the battlefield. In fact, the command was just an excuse to order him back. Yue Fei was wrongly accused of seriously defying military order during his mission and was subsequently put to death at the age of 39.

Literally, the mausoleum was better than the one we had in Shanghai. At least, I could take a few more photos.

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The entrance

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The General

Overheard this while I was busy snapping photos.

Aunty #1: *Running out from the toilet* *Panting* *Take deep breath*

Aunty #2: “What’s the matter with you? You saw cockroach?”

Aunty #1: “No…. no… ” *breathe heavily*

Aunty #2: “What’s in the toilet actually?”

Aunty #1: “The toilet… unbearable smell… I vomitted the whole breakfast I took this morning!”

Aunty #2: “Hah?!?! Is it that smelly??” *Disbelief*

Aunty #1: “Super-ultra-damn smelly inside! You better hold on til we get better toilet.”

Aunty #2: “Wah.. if like that, I’d rather wait…”

A popular tourist destination with poorly maintained toilets. Common in China – this was what Vicky told us earlier.

It was very cold that morning. I could feel it in my bones. We hopped into bus and headed to tea plantation located at inner parts of some Hangzhou hills. “Longjing” or Dragon Well tea is another famous product of Hangzhou.

Longjing (Dragon Well) Tea is most famous for its unique fragrance and flavor; flat, slender strips of tea leaves in bright green liquid. Furthermore, Longjing tea aids one’s health in many ways regardless of your age. It is used to deter food poisoning, refresh the body, stop cavities, fight viruses, control high blood pressure, lower the blood sugar level, and to prevent cancer. Hence, Longjing tea is regarded as the elixir for health and is widely sold and accepted all over the world.

The name Longjing is from a small village on the Fenghuang Hill, in Hangzhou Zhengjiang Province. It is said that residents in ancient times believed that a dragon dwelled there and controlled the rainfall. As a result, people went there from all the surrounding areas whenever there was a drought to pray for rainfall, from as early as the Three Kingdoms Period (221-280).

Longjing tea is grown in the Longjing mountain area of Hangzhou, southwest of the West Lake. The fertile land is both rich in phosphorus and sub-acidic sand. This region prevents the cold current from the north and holds back the warm current from the south, thus the growing area of Longjing tea can be coated by cloud and mist for long periods of time. With such favorable growing conditions, needless to say, Longjing tea is considered the best tea in China.

Upon our arrival, we were ushered to a room and the promoter surprisingly spoke good Cantonese also. We were introduced a few types of “Longjing” tea and they tasted good. We also bought some of the tea leaves.

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Teahouse

We left the tea plantation and headed straight to Six Harmonies Pagoda, which took 15 minutes drive. The pagoda looked so grand perching magnificiently atop a rather small hill. We hiked up some stairs to get to the pagoda and from there, we oversee the whole city of Hangzhou.

Commanding a spectacular view of the surging Qiantang River, the pagoda presents a quiet image of age-old majesty. The original pagoda has nine stories with a light on the top, which serves as a navigation tower. In 1156, the pagoda experienced a large-scale restoration. The artisans used carved bricks when reconstructing the inside of the pagoda. By the end of the Qing Dynasty, the upturned wooden multi-eaves and wrapping structure was added to the pagoda and, in the eyes of the people, presented the soul and labor of ancient Chinese. The pagoda we see today is an octagonal structure 200 feet tall. Seen from the outside, the pagoda has the appearance of a 13-story building; in actuality, there are only seven stories.

Too bad, due to the condition of the pagoda, we were not allowed to go in. We just snapped some photos outside before heading back to bus again.

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Six Harmonies Pagoda

 

 

Vibrant Shanghai: Part 5

Jun 15, 06 at 1:32 pm

0620 hours the next morning.

Phone: *TooOOoOoottt* *tOoooOoOooooTTT*

Me: *Half-sleep mode* “Heeeelllllooooooo?”

Voice from phone: “Good morning, this is a morning call. Thank you.” *Hang up*

Damn morning call. I never felt so tired. Woke up feeling giddy. After packing everything, we headed down for breakfast. Thanks to the not-so-delicious breakfast which included hard-to-chew noodles, sugarless soy drink and herbal eggs, I felt so fresh. We moved on to Oriental Pearl TV Tower, which took 20 minutes drive from our hotel. The weather has been kind to us. Clear but hazy.

The Oriental Pearl TV Tower, which is 468 meters high (1,536 feet), is the world’s third tallest TV and radio tower surpassed in height only by towers in Toronto, Canada and Moscow, Russia. However, even more alluring than its height is the tower’s unique architectural design that makes the Oriental Pearl TV Tower one of the most attractive places anywhere. The base of the tower is supported by three seven-meter wide slanting stanchions. Surrounding the eleven steel spheres that are “strung” vertically through the center of the tower are three nine-meter wide columns. There are three large spheres including the top sphere, known as the space module. Then there are five smaller spheres and three decorative spheres on the tower base. The entire structure rests on rich green grassland and gives the appearance of pearls shining on a jade plate.

Hurriedly, I snapped a few photos of the gigantic structure. Surely beats our own KL Tower many many times.

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Nice structure

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The entrance looks so grand! Wait!! They have a function on that day.

Our visit lasted more than an hour. Sadly enough, we left Shanghai for Hangzhou which was 2 hours drive. The glimpses of modern building slowly disappeared. I took this opportunity to rest my eyes.

We reached Hangzhou around noon. To my surprise, Hangzhou is indeed a modern city, far from what I imagined earlier. 😛 We headed to a restaurant to grab our lunch before “torturing” our legs later.

We began our adventure after filling our stomach. The first destination was Lingyin Temple. Oh no, temple again? Along the way to Lingyin Temple, I saw a huge lake called West Lake. It was so beautiful but too bad, we weren’t making any stop at the moment. Besides, the government of Hangzhou has indeed placed a lot of efforts to beautify the area surrounding the beautiful West Lake. I could see various plants which were planted along the lake and also the road being trimmed nicely.

We reached Lingyin Temple after a few turns. We got down and walked to the entrance. I was so surprised to see a garden at first. A temple in a garden? After walking further, we passed some small caves which brought us to the real temple. It was so serene around the temple with birds chirpping and nothing else.

The presence of a temple on this site can be traced back to the Eastern Jin Dynasty (317 – 420AD) when, according to local legend, Huili an Indian monk came to the area where he was inspired by the spiritual nature of the scenery to be found here. To his mind this had to be a dwelling of the Immortals and so he gave the temple a name “Ling Yin (Temple of the Soul’s Retreat). The Chinese name is translated into English as either “Temple of the Soul’s Retreat’ or ‘Temple of Inspired Seclusion’ for the setting has a quiet and beautiful grandeur that encourages a feeling of peace and for contemplation.

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The garden

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The cave

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The temple

We ended our visit to Lingyin Temple at around 4pm. The sky has already darkened a bit. We then headed downtown to have a round of shopping. I just wandered around aimlessly with my mum. After an hour later, we had our dinner and sampled Hangzhou’s specialty, “Tung Po Yuk” or braised pork. We checked into the hotel around 8.30pm. Because we have ample time and coincidentally, there was night market right below the hotel, we strolled along the street and bought some fruits before going back to hotel to prepare for Day 3.

Vibrant Shanghai: Part 4

Jun 14, 06 at 1:31 pm

We had our lunch at a restaurant and everyone was so surprised when the food was served.

Aunt#1: “Yuckss!!! What dish is this? Very hard to chew la!!!”

Aunt#2: “Oh shit… this one also lar.. wtf!!”

Me: *ROTFLMAO*

Mum: “Food tastes so bad but we don’t have choice, so faster eat la. We’re running out of time.”

Me: “Want meh? Nice to see, but hard to eat wor! But I’m hungry, so eat first, die later!”

I was like experiencing culture shock. Everything seemed to be different from what we have back in our own yard. I began to worry since we have to “endure” 7 more torturous days!

We hurriedly took our lunch and proceeded to a place called Soong Sisters Mausoleum. Practically, there was nothing to see except some memorial plagues and a nicely kept garden. Next to it was a building which housed feng shui stuffs like jade carvings and so on. Besides, they gave talk on how feng shui affects our everyday lives. I was so tempted and finally bought an orange lion jade.

We moved on to proceed to Shanghai Bund and Nanjing Road. The sky has turned dark although it was just 5.30pm. Over the streets, there were lots of cars, pedestrians and also bicycles. After half an hour ride, the bus finally reached Shanghai Bund. It was raining (it hadn’t stop raining since morning) and armed with umbrellas, we made our way to Nanjing Road by foot.

China’s premier shopping street, 3.4-mile-long Nanjing Road, starts at the Bund in the east and ends in the west at the junction of Jingan Temple and Yan’an West Street. Today Nanjing Road is a must-see metropolitan destination attracting thousands of fashion-seeking shoppers from all over the world.

We walked down the street slowly trying to absorb everything surrounding us. We also walked past Peace Hotel, the hotel used during the filming of famous drama “Shanghai Beach”. Practically, rain didn’t allow us to stroll further down the street. So, we just hang around and I bought wool sweater for just RM 50.

When everyone was back, we walked back to Shanghai Bund to snap some photos.

The Bund, also called the Zhongshan Road, is a famous waterfront and regarded as the symbol of Shanghai for hundreds of years. It starts from the Baidu Bridge, which is at the connecting point of the Huangpu River and the Suzhou Creek, to the East Jinling Road and winds a 1500 meters (less than one mile) length. Walking along the Bund, which is at the west shore of the Huangpu River, the Oriental Pearl TV Tower can be seen on the opposite side and also the Jin Mao Tower.Being one of the Top Ten Shanghai Attractions, the Bund is a really beautiful and special place which is worth visiting. The newly-built Flood Control Bank takes the function of preventing the oversize flood; the square with the statue of Marshal Chen Yi is an open air podium which gives new views of the Shanghai Plaza Culture; the Cenotaph which stands on the man-made island is a monument of people’s heroes; the riverside greenbelt, the Electronic Waterfall Bell, and the Great Mural Carving are all representatives of the Bund.

It was cool, windy and coupled with slight rain, so it was impossible for us to stand there for so long. I was so disappointed because it had ruined some opportunities for me to take photos.

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Shanghai Bund

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The Bund

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The other side of Shanghai

We were scheduled for boat cruise along Huangpu River to catch some glimpses of Old and Modern Shanghai from the boat. The cruise was worthwhile as we could see most part of Shanghai and it also offered me some good photography opportunities. The cruise lasted for roughly 45 minutes. We then headed for dinner and we almost gulped down everything on the table because we were hungry. It was 10.30pm when we checked into the hotel and thus ending our first day, half dead! 😛

Vibrant Shanghai: Part 3

Jun 13, 06 at 1:30 pm

We reached the inner part of Shanghai at around 10am. The street was full of people and cars honking non-stop. We then headed to the place of interest called Yuyuan Garden. The garden was located deep inside, and we had to walk for some distance. The amount of people on the street was horrible. We had to stay in a group for fear of getting lost. And coupled with slight drizzle, we made our way through the entrance.

Yuyuan Garden, a place of peace and comfort in the heart of bustling Shanghai, dates back to the fabled Ming Dynasty. Now a popular tourist destination, Yuyuan began as a private garden created by Pan Yunduan, who spent almost 20 years – and all of his savings – to build a garden in order to please his parents in their old age. That is why he called this garden “Yuyuan” – because “yu” in Chinese means “peace and health”.

I was like going to faint because people, mostly tourists were jostling to get into the garden. Oh, what is so special about this garden and why everyone is so eager to get into it? Fearing the rain might get heavier, the guide quickly explained the surroundings to us. I did not bother to listen because I was busy taking photos.

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Getting to the entrance

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Almost there

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Inside Yuyuan Garden

We spent like 2 hours inside the garden. The garden has marvellous view and it came no surprise that Yuyuan Garden is one of Shanghai’s top attractions. More photos below.

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Dragon carving on the wall

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Weird-looking rocks 

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Classy architecture

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A view inside the building

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Nice view

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More nice view

Vibrant Shanghai: Part 2

Jun 12, 06 at 1:29 pm

0620. The time we reached Pudong International Airport. Earlier on, I had to endure difficult 5 hours cramping myself in one of those Economy Class seats. And also thanks to the passenger behind me who kept pushing my seat. What an experience. Back to the topic, we also had to endure an hour just to reach the immigration counter. All due to influx of incoming passengers arriving at the same time. The moment we stepped in…

Me: “Wah…. China got cheap sales ah? Why so many kuai lo queuing up geh?”

Mum: “Yalor… how are we going to get out?”

Me: “The queuing line is so long like the Great Wall of China. Probably the longest queuing line I’ve ever seen!”

Aunt#1: “I think we need at least 2 hours to get out.”

Mum: “No gua…”

Me: “There you see those Chinese Immigration Officers. They’re working like tortoise. So slow. This is not good.”

We finally got out of there, hurriedly collected our baggages which had spun for xx times while our guide looked for her China counterpart. The weather was cool but slight drizzle. I saw the magnetic train but never get any opportunity to ride because we need to take breakfast nearby the airport.

Talk about breakfast, the food was bad. I forced myself to eat for fear I might get gastric later if I didn’t eat. And it didn’t help either as I had stomachache, probably due to the problematic food I ate earlier while on the plane. Phew, I really wanted to forget these misadventures.

The bus continued its journey to Shanghai. I was too tired so I took a nap. In the middle of it, I overheard Xiao Zhi (local guide) briefing us some of the landmarks around but didn’t pay attention to it. Anyway, the bus driver drove too fast that he couldn’t finish explaining the landmark before it disappeared from our sight. 

Vibrant Shanghai: Part 1

Jun 11, 06 at 1:21 pm

Hey all, I’ll start posting my travelogue today. The next few posts will only focus on this. Enjoy the post and I hope these posts will influence you to visit Shanghai one day!

I embarked on a journey to the land of Shanghai, China with my mum from 14th-21st Nov 2004. It was definitely a trip to remember because what you see in China is totally different from my own country in terms of food, weather, culture and so on.

Serving as the largest base of Chinese industrial technology, the important seaport and China’s largest commercial and financial center, Shanghai draws the attention of the whole world.

We reached KLIA at 10pm and began the check-in process. The check-in process took roughly 2 hours. I was sweating as I stand there for quite a long time. Those MAS personnels were damn slow at work. When everything was fine, we went over to the departure hall. And while waiting to board plane, I overheard a conversation…  
            

Aunt#1: “Wah! This bread costs RM7!!”

Aunt#2: “Where you buy wor? How come so expensive???”

Aunt#1: “(pointing to the shop) Neh… that shop lor… I think better ask Vicky (our guide) ’bout that!”

😛 Those aunties were unfortunate but they learned their lesson! They must be thinking KLIA is just like a normal grocery.

After waiting for some 15 minutes, we finally left KL for Shanghai.
View of sunrise from the plane 
I’m literally speechless upon witnessing such beautiful view.