Some Down Time in Hong Kong

It was time for me to adventure out in my own since Leslie had to go to work. I decided to take the day and head to Kowloon and conquer the Ladies Market. I had a friend that requested a few items and I took my negotiation skills and pictures to the market to find some purses and belts!

The market was not nearly as overwhelming as Beijing or Shanghai but walking through the streets, a constant comment of “copy bag or copy sunglasses” was whispered under hushed breath breath. I was looking at some sunglasses just because I thought they were cute and the guy asked to see my Jimmy Choos I was wearing and told me he had a copy. I pointed and said “these are real” and walked away.

Having had my adventure and also just wandering the streets, I relaxed a little bit back at the house before heading to dinner at Oola Petite. This is another local spot for Leslie and we opted to order some fajitas. With all the various cuisines I was consuming, why not throw some Mexican in there?

The next day Leslie had to work again and I was just plain old tired. I took the day to Netflix and chill. When Leslie got off work, we went to dinner for bottomless sushi! It would seem my last few days were focused on food which is absolutely okay with me!

Mission Impossible III has nothing on me!

If you have watched Mission Impossible III then you know that Tom Cruise ends up in Shanghai catapulting off buildings and then escaping and running along some canals to save his fiancée. Those canals are actually about an hour outside of Shanghai in a little place called Tongli.

Today started with a visit to Suzhou which is often referred by the Chinese as the “Venice of the East.” Suzhou is a 2,500 year old city renowned for its traditional gardens, ancient canals and silk production. In 1997 Suzhou’s classic garden was designated as an UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Chinese garden was developed as a synthesis of two concepts linked in Taoist philosophy – scenery and serenity. The thought was that the contemplation of nature in isolated meditation led to enlightenment. We stopped at the Garden of the Master of Fishing Nets which is said to be the finest of all gardens in Suzhou. The best known building is the “Pavilion for Watching the Moon,” from where the moon can be viewed in a mirror, in the water and in the sky. It was a rainy day but still a very tranquil experience.

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Our next stop was a tour of the Silk Spinning Mill where we learned how silk is created from the mulberry munching silkworms. It takes 6-7 cocoons to make one thread of silk. The entire production process of silk can be divided into several steps which are typically handled by different entities. Extracting raw silk starts by cultivating the silkworms on Mulberry leaves. Once the worms start pupating in their cocoons, these are dissolved in boiling water in order for individual long fibers to be extracted and fed into the spinning reel.

Caccoon Silk worm Silk worms

Finally, we ventured to Tongli for a gondola ride through the waterways and some free time to explore the town. Tongli gives visitors a good idea of what Suzhou would have been like in its heyday.


Rodeo Drive in China

Waking up in Shanghai at the JC Mandarin was like waking up on Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills. Outside the window was Cartier, Hermes, Chanel, Louis Vuitton and almost any other designer you could imagine. This was a vast contrast to the ancient architecture of Beijing.

Shanghai literally means “above the sea,” and is China’s largest and most dynamic city with a population of over 23,000,000 people! One of the most popular stops in Shanghai is the Bund which divides old Shanghai and new Shanghai where you can see the western commercial influence and power by the number of hotels, banks, offices and clubs.


After a walk along the Bund we went to visit the Oriental Pearl Tower  and the Shanghai Municipal Wax Museum. The Pearl Tower offers amazing 360-degree views of Shanghai. It was only once I saw the vastness of Shanghai from this view that I was truly able to grasp how large the city really is.


After viewing the city we were able to head one floor down (about 88 stories) and walk along a glass floor and look at the city in a different way. Needless to say this was an experience I will not forget!

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The last stop was the Shanghai Wax Museum which was fun but nothing to write home about. The best part was upon the exit where there was a Spiderman exhibit and the option to take silly pictures!



We had an option to attend a Shanghai Acrobatics Show that included plate twirling, hat dancing, motorcycles, bicycles and of course ton of acrobatics. It was an entertaining show and reminded me a lot of Cirque Du Soleil. Finally, we had to go to a local bar we had walked by just because of the name! It was a fantastic first day in Shanghai!

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Temples and shops and palaces, oh my.

Day 5 brought us to our last few sites in Beijing before our flight to Shanghai. We stopped by the Temple of Heaven, the Pearl Shop and the Summer Palace.

At the Temple of Heaven during the winter solstice, the Ming and Qing emperors would perform rites and make sacrifices to Heaven praying for good harvest for their entire empire. The most striking edifice is the “Hall of Prayer of Good Harvests,” which according to the emperor’s Fengshui masters, is the exact point where heaven and Earth met. Built in 1420 this masterpiece of Ming architecture, features triple eaves, dramatically carved marble balustrades, and a gorgeous glazed azure roof that symbolizes the color of heaven.


After our visit to the Temple of Heaven we made a stop at the pearl shop for a tour and education all about pearls. China has some of the highest quality pearls in the world due to the ideal climate in Southern China. China was the first country to develop cultured pearls in as early as 1082. If you want to know how to tell if a pearl is real or fake, you can rub one against your tooth and see if it has a gritty texture. However, many retailers may not approve of you biting on their pearls so rub them together and there should be some friction between them. Never get duped again!

Our last stop in Beijing was the Summer Palace which was the summer retreat and playground for the imperial family and royal court during the late Qing dynasty. This is most famous for Empress Dowager Cixi‘s rebuilding of the palace after it was destroyed by the British and French troops in 1860.


Finally, it was time to jump on our flight and head to Shanghai!


A quick trip to China? Why not?

I found myself taking a quick trip to China because of an amazing deal I found on Travelzoo for ChinaSpree. My good friend Kalindra decided to be my partner in crime for this epic adventure and we really had no idea what we were getting into.

ChinaSpree is a great organization that plans everything for you from getting your visa, to arranging your arrival and departure, to securing your entrance fees and arranging everything at your hotel. We basically just had to pay our money and show up to the airport!

Our flight left at 12:40am on November 8th for a 12.5 hour flight from Los Angeles to Beijing. This means we were up all day Thursday to catch our flight early Friday morning that then landed in Beijing around 5:00am Saturday morning.

The trip started with Kalindra forgetting her carry on at security and then a gentleman anonymously buying us a burger at the airport. The flight was relatively uneventful until Kalindra threw my neck pillow across the plane and we had a small giggle fit. If this was a sign of anything to come then we knew we were in for a crazy 7 days! Stay tuned over the next few days for the adventures that occurred in Beijing and Shanghai!