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Trip Report Round the World-Part 2-Shanghai & Singapore

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This is continuation of a RTW trip DH and I took last summer. Our trip report starts in the Australia/New Zealand forum. Just a brief background: we used frequent flier miles to get RTW tickets from British Airways and spent 5 1/2 weeks last summer travelling.

July 5, Monday - Shanghai

We boarded our Quantas flight from Sydney to Shanghai and settled in for the 10 hour flight. We had a stir-fry for lunch, which was surprisingly good for airplane food. We had a fish with black vinegar sauce for dinner. We landed around 6pm and had a very easy time getting through immigration & customs. We went to the taxi stand – almost no one in line, so we hopped right in. Taxi to the hotel, Le Meridien, was Y153. I was very excited to be in China, especially Shanghai. Years ago, I remember seeing a photo of the Pudong area of Shanghai in a Conde Nast Traveler magazine and wanting to go see it for myself. I remember thinking that it looked like some sci-fi fantasy, not real at all.

We checked in and were told we’d been upgraded. We were on the 56th floor. When I walked into our room and saw People’s Square lighted up in neon—WOW! It is one of the great hotel views I’ve ever had! We enjoyed watching all the lights every night. It truly looked like something out of Blade Runner. The room was very nice—big bed, large flat screen tv, and a “rain shower” showerhead. Our room was at the end of a hall and the hall window, just outside our door had a view of the Bund and Pudong. I was anxious to get out into the city, so we went downstairs and walked around on the Nanjing pedestrian road. Loved that the hotel is right on this road! We looked around the Shanghai First Food Store and just hung out on the road. I was sooo excited to be back in Asia and in China for the first time. We went back to the hotel to have some dinner and went to their Chinese restaurant. We had dumplings and pork & shrimp fried rice. It was very good and not expensive. We slept very well in the exceptionally comfortable bed.

July 6, Tuesday – Shanghai

Breakfast was not included in our room rate and it was quite expensive, so we opted for Mr. Donut across the street. I don’t even know the last time I ate Mr. Donut, so it was kind of a treat! We then walked all the way down the Nanjing Road to the Bund and the river. We stopped in a chopstick store and looked at all the pretty designs. It was a hazy day. We found the entrance to the Bund Tourist Tunnel and got one-way tickets. What a trip that was!! It was hysterical, actually! DH has some video of the ride and we watched some of it recently and my thought was “what the hell was that??” We bought tickets and got in a line, a very, very, very long line to go up in the Oriental Pearl tower. Not great views due to the haziness, but on one of the levels there is a very disconcerting glass ledge that you can walk out on. One of those things where you think “I know this is safe, but it just doesn’t feel right!” It was fun to walk out there—little kids were jumping up and down on the glass! Took a long time to get up the tower, but no time at all coming down. We wanted to go to the Shanghai History Museum in the bottom of the tower, so we got some kettle corn and Diet Cokes and had a quick snack before the museum. We really enjoyed this museum – the old cars, walk-through street scenes of old Shanghai and lots of dioramas. The exhibits were pretty well labeled in English and were interesting.

We took the subway back from Pudong to People’s Square. So easy to use and very clean! We went down the Huanghe Road to Jia Jia Tang Bao. We ordered our food (seaweed egg flower soup, ginger and an order of crab dumplings). Oh, my. I think I found food heaven here. Sooooo good! We were seated with a group of young Chinese women & men (college age, perhaps). They finished their food, and a young couple came over and asked if they could sit with us-they were on holiday from Hong Kong. We told them we were from Florida and they said they had been to Disney World and that it was so large compared to Hong Kong Disney. They asked how we knew about Jia Jia and we told them that Fodors was the source! I was determined to get back to Jia Jia for at least one more meal.

We went back to the hotel for a little while and then took the subway to the French Concession. We walked around and looked in some of the shops and stopped at Simply Thai on Dongping Lu. It was very hot and we each had a cocktail (fairly weak, but a cocktail nonetheless) and Diet Coke. We each got an order of Pad Thai and I also had Tom Kha Gai soup. All was excellent. It was a small place, seemed to be an expat hangout. We took the subway back to the hotel and got out at People’s Square, where there was a mob scene at the ticket buying machines! We made a stop at Hagen Daas. DH had chocolate, I didn’t get any, but did taste the green tea ice cream. I thought it was interesting but DH said it was disgusting. I still try to convince him that it wasn’t all that bad, not disgusting, just interesting!

July 7, Wednesday – Shanghai

We ate at Bread Talk at the bottom of the Le Meridien this morning. DH had a piece of cheese toast with egg on it and I had a pastry with a hot dog in it. We watched the dancers while we ate breakfast.

We then walked down to the Bund again, walking down a ways looking at the architecture and the signs on the old buildings stating the date they were built, the materials they used and the architectural style. We turned in at Renmin Road and walked through Gucheng Park to the Yu Yuan old street. We browsed the souvenir stalls along the corridors and I bought a lovely pair of blue embroidered/beaded shoes. We also bought a set of chopsticks and a little stuffed animal panda bear who wears a red silk jacket. We bought tickets and went into the Yu Yuan Gardens. I thought this place was beautiful. I love the architecture and it was fun to just follow the many rock paths and bridges without any plan. The Naxiang Steamed Bun restaurant had massive lines, so we set out to look for another place for lunch. We found a huge food court area, cafeteria-like, very wild. We could see that finding a seat would be a problem and we didn’t have a lot of cash on us right then and didn’t want to order food and take it through and have a problem paying for it, so we headed out again. DH was very hungry by this point, so we were naughty and stopped in at McDonalds. Ahh, this is where all the Americans are! It was the highest density of them we’d seen since we arrived! We got chicken nuggets or some such, luckily found a table, ate and got under way again.

Next stop: the Taoist Temple of the City God. We saw lots of people burning incense. (Whenever I smell incense now, it takes me back instantly to temples in Asia). We looked all around the temple then went to the Chen Xiangge monastery. It was very serene and peaceful there. We found the new subway stop for the Yuan Gardens on Line 10 and took it back to the hotel. We went for a swim in the pool and cooled off and had a little rest. We headed out again to do some walking in the French Concession, looking in a few of the shops. We enjoyed the tree-lined streets and the lanterns in the trees. We found the restaurant “Grape” and went in for dinner. We ordered spring rolls, pork dumplings, pork in brown sauce and sweet & sour pork. We had green tea and salted peanuts and two Tsingtao beers. They brought 6 slices of watermelon for dessert. Our total bill was 112 Y. We had good service here too. After heading back to the hotel, we walked around on the Nanjing Road a little and took some photos. DH bought some pistachios in the Shanghai First Food Store.

July 8, Thursday – Shanghai

Breakfast was at Mr. Donut again today. We headed to the Shanghai Museum. We waited in a 20 minute line to get in, and wanted to rent audio guides, but they said we’d have to exit and re-enter the building at the opposite side and we didn’t want to wait in line again. So we headed up and looked at the bronze gallery, the clothing of the many ethnic groups and the painting gallery. This museum is very well done and very interesting. I bought a little notepad for my mom in the gift shop.

Since we were in the area, we decided to head back to Jia Jia Tang Bao for lunch. I also wanted to try Yang’s Fry Dumplings so we ate a few dumplings there first, then crossed the street to Jia Jia. While we were in line at Jia Jia, the woman who takes the orders turned around and said something to the women making dumplings. While she was doing this a woman cut in front of us in line (we were next up to order). DH and I just shrugged. The woman who takes orders turned around, saw this line-cutting woman and really let her have it. She yelled at her and kind-of pushed her away. She then turned and smiled at us and took our order—I imagine she recognized us from the other day. The older man who seats people found us seats and we had another delightful dumpling feast-we got crab dumplings and pork dumplings this time. When we left, the man came over and patted DH on the shoulder. So nice.

We took the subway down a stop or two and walked around Xintiandi and over to the Dongtai Lu antiques market. Didn’t buy anything, but had fun looking at all the things for sale. Lots of birds in cages, ceramic and bronze items. We headed over to the former home of Sun Yat Sen. They have a little museum area with photos and memorabilia from his life, then we went through the rooms of their former residence and into the backyard garden. I don’t know a lot of the history of China, but am very interested in learning more now that I have been there.

We headed back to the hotel to pack for our next stop, Singapore and went for another swim. We stayed in the hotel again for dinner, having a pizza in the Italian restaurant. It was good, and not too much, as we were still stuffed with dumplings from lunch.

We absolutely fell in love with China. So much so that we are heading back there in 4 days!! American Airlines started a new direct LA to Shanghai route, and we booked it a few months ago. We will have some time in Shanghai and in Hangzhou this time. I am so excited - Jia Jia Tang Bao, here I come!!! And now that we have our multiple entry visas that are good until next April, I plan to go back again at least once. Beijing is next on my agenda!

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    July 9, Friday – Shanghai to Singapore

    We checked out of the hotel (so sad to leave our wonderful room!) and got a taxi to the airport. On the highway, there were police vehicles starting to shut down the road. Our driver hit the gas and squeezed through just as a policeman was walking across to stop traffic! In my memory, our driver sort of sat up taller in the seat and chuckled afterwards. We saw police blocking exits all along the highway as we drove along. I believe DH insisted on a tip for him once at the airport – who knows how long we’d have been there, and might have missed our flight!

    We checked our bags, then went through security, immigration very easily and found our gate. They had big cases with Lego displays of wind power in the terminal, so we amused ourselves with those for a little while. The terminal looked out to the water and we could see all the container ships heading out. We changed planes in Hong Kong with a little over an hour layover, but we made it. Easy flight, easy getting through Singapore airport, short line for taxi, went quickly. Took a taxi to the Raffles Town Club, where we were staying. (DH belongs to a club with reciprocal privileges there).

    July 10, Saturday -- Singapore

    We had breakfast at the Club – I had noodles, shrimp balls and chicken curry. I love Asian breakfasts! They also had American breakfast food. We took the bus, which picked up almost in front of the club, to Newton MRT station. We bought EZ Link cards and took the MRT to City Hall Station. We saw the outside of St. Andrews Cathedral (there was a wedding taking place). We proceeded to the Raffles Hotel, to have our requisite Singapore Sling at the Long Bar. Beforehand, however, I was distracted by the shops at Raffles. I was very excited to see a Jim Thompson store, as years ago, in Thailand, I had bought a little silk zippered pouch for my mother and it was getting worn out, so I found a replacement here. DH bought a very nice tie. We also looked at the Raffles gift shop. We then had our drink at the Long Bar. Drinks were good, but pricey, but we just had to do it. We then visited the Raffles Hotel Museum, which was interesting.

    We hopped back on the MRT and headed to Little India. We ate lunch at a restaurant called Kashmir on Race Course Road. I had Kokkar Rogan Josh and DH had a prawn curry. We also had 2 orders of garlic naan bread. Came to $43.45 Singapore dollars. We enjoyed our meal here (and the air conditioning) very much. We walked through the streets in little India, which was a lot of fun. We worked our way to Mustafa Center, with what we thought was good timing, as it was clouding over and looked like rain was coming. Wow, what a place! I’ve never seen anything quite like it! We started exploring and I found women’s clothing. I bought 2 embroidered shirts. We also bought some detergent to do a little hand washing of clothing with, as well as some postcards. We looked for a lightweight silk shirt for DH, but he didn’t see one that was lightweight enough.
    We headed back out (no rain!) and went to the Muni Buddha Gaya Temple (Temple of 1,000 Lights). We saw the mother-of-pearl Buddha footprint and the very large Buddha. Someone made a donation right after we arrived and all the lights around the Buddha came on. Perfect timing! We then crossed the street to the Taoist temple, Leong San See. We then headed back to the hotel via MRT & bus, had drinks and called a taxi for the Night Safari.
    I have always wanted to do the Night Safari and DH was excited about it too. I was surprised at how “Disney-like” it was at the entrance. Not sure what I expected. We bought tickets for the tram ride. We took the tram ride first and saw lots of animals. We got out on the trail at one point and walked – we saw civets, lots of antelope and little mouse deer. Under the binturans, there were some very noisy otters who were anxious for the binturans to drop food they were eating! We also went into an enclosure where bats were flying around. One little bat landed on some bananas hanging right next to the walkway and was eating away. It was fun to see one eating up close – he had a cute little face! I think this was my favorite part of the safari! After the tram ride, we caught the “Creatures of the Night” show, which was fun. On the way out, we had a late dinner of hamburger and chicken nuggets. On exiting, there was an enormous line for taxis. For a while, they seemed to be coming regularly, then they stopped and the only ones coming were for people who had called and requested one. I think a worker at the safari must have made a call, because all of a sudden about 30 taxis showed up! It was a late night, but fun. I would recommend setting up a pick-up time with a taxi if you plan on doing the Night Safari.

    July 11, Sunday – Singapore

    This morning we went to the Buddha Tooth Relic Temple in Chinatown. They have a lovely roof garden with orchids and a huge cloisonné prayer wheel. They had a wonderful chanting music playing up there. We then went to a large gold room that houses the Buddha’s tooth relic. The same music was playing in there. They have a large, very good Buddhist museum in the temple. We also went to the gift shop and purchased the CD with the chanting music and another music CD. We proceeded to a balcony that went all around the second story of a large room with Buddhist monks chanting. The balcony was screened with shades of something like Bamboo, but you could see through them. Nearly across the street was the Maxwell Road Hawker Center. I had sliced fish bee hoon and DH had seafood noodles. All was excellent. We then went shopping in Chinatown. I bought several purses for about $5 each and a shirt. DH found the lightweight silk shirt he was looking for and bought one. We then went through a little shortcut through Ann Siang Hill to the Tian Hock Keng Temple. We had dinner at the club. I had Nasi Goreng & satay and DH had spaghetti. We had ice cream for dessert – DH had vanilla and I had durian. All was good. After dinner we went swimming in their large pool.

    July 12, Monday – Singapore

    This morning, we headed out to join up with Singapore Walks for their “In the Time of Empire” walk. Our guide was Razeem. He gave a very good history of Singapore and we toured St. Andrews Cathedral (saw the inside this time) and the round Armenian church, CHIJMES old convent and ended up at the Raffles Hotel. The walk was very interesting and our guide was entertaining and informative. It was, however, unbelievably hot. DH was particularly uncomfortable. He said the worst heat was inside the Armenian church, but the cathedral was a close second. We went back to the Maxwell Road hawker center for lunch. I had Fuzhou Oyster Cakes (stall had been closed on Sunday) and DH had stir-fried chicken & vegetables, which we watched them cook We went back through the stalls in Chinatown. I got a little silk cosmetics bag for my sister and DH got another one of his shirts. We came back to the hotel that afternoon for a swim. I had noticed the pool had 2 water slides and wanted to try them out – they were for kids only, but we were the only ones at the pool and I am just a hair over 5 feet tall, so from a distance, might pass for a teenager- ha! I took 3-4 quick rides, then we spent some time just hanging out in/by the pool. We took the bus down to the Newton Circus hawker center for dinner. We had HUGE tiger prawns with garlic, sweet & sour chicken, chili squid and 2 large bottles of Tiger beer. Everything was delicious, even the squid, which DH thought looked horrifying. We sent an i-Phone video to everyone back home of our food that night. My sister had a few choice comments about the squid – it was very “tentacle-y” but it was really good!!

    July 13, Tuesday – Singapore to London

    We caught our flight to Hong Kong, We had a little less than an hour to change planes in Hong Kong – and of course, we came in at the end of one terminal and had to go all the way to the end of another. I think I also remember having to go through security again here? We actually ran for a lot of the way. When we got to the gate, people were lined up and boarding, so we got in line and took our seats. On to London.

    We really loved Singapore – it was DH’s favorite place, despite the heat. I really want to go back and eat at more hawker centers and try more restaurants. I would also like to visit Sentosa Island and the Bukit Timah preserve. I’d like to combine a return visit to Singapore with a place we haven’t been – perhaps combine Singapore and Bali. Since coming home, we found a recipe that replicates the Singapore Slings we had in the Long Bar perfectly. When we make them it takes us right back there.

    If you want to follow our adventure into Europe, I’ll post the continuation of our trip on that board.

    If you have any questions about our trip or things we did, I’m happy to answer them!

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    Will do. I have been to Singapore a few times before but I liked the look of these walks and thought they would give me an opportunity to see Singapore in a way I haven't before. Will let you know if I end up doing it.

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