Zhujiajiao ancient town Shanghai

Venice in Shanghai – Zhujiajiao ancient town :Shanghai

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Well it is known as the Venice of Shanghai. Zhujiajiao is an ancient town located in the Qingpu District of Shanghai. We had no idea how or where to buy tickets from because we didn’t want to go through a tour or an agent. We googled the ticket center address and we knew we could get a bus from there. Now this sounds easier said than done. Because if you can’t speak Chinese, good luck with making the cab driver understand what you’re saying. So we did the smart thing, got the hotel receptionist to write down the ticket counter place in Chinese and we also took a map. It still took us 3 rounds around the same junction to find the place.  Again we rushed to find the counter because it was nearing closing time. We found the counter at the basement and with hand gestures and map and our Chinese translation, managed to get two tickets to the place. Thankfully everything but the date and timing was written in Chinese. The ticket counter guy was sweet enough to point us to a English pamphlet of the place.

Zhujiajiao Ancient Town

The next day we reached 5 mins before the bus left and found it already boarded and waiting for late comers like us. All the people in the bus were Chinese and they were nice enough to point out our seats when we took the wrong seats the first 2 times.  We reached the place in about a couple of hours or maybe even less.

Zhujiajiao Ancient Town

There are rows and rows of weeping willow trees that great you on the way to the entrance. Since it was our first time seeing these trees, we were kind of  distracted. Zhujiajiao is what it says it is.  An ancient village on water. We had fun strolling around the cobbled streets looking at different varieties of food and souvenirs, dress shops and other entertaining things.There are a lot of alley ways and small shops along the way. The small streets open up to a huge junction.

Zhujiajiao Ancient Town Zhujiajiao Ancient Town

There are a few cozy and pretty cafes scattered along the way and there’s Starbucks. I wonder how Starbucks found it’s way here, but it was a relief to get a reliable chai latte to lift our tired spirits.

Beware of the temple in the village. We went in and couldn’t say no when the 2 Chinese temple guys separated us and took us to two opposite tables. The one who guided me saw my hand, pretended to read the lines, then wrote something down on a paper, put it in an envelope and gave it to me. Then he showed me a register to sign and obviously pay, which I was not going to go. I hate scams like this. I refused saying I had no money. He asked me to return my fortune back to him. Of course. I was only glad to return him the scrap of paper.

Zhujiajiao Ancient TownI bought soft wool socks made for my darling niece from this sweet lady. We also got our paper cut outs made. We watched a 5d movie (yes!) and I had my picture taken in a Chinese dress. I simply cannot resist things like that.

Zhujiajiao Ancient TownAs the sun started setting, it scattered a warm glow over the place which made it look even more beautiful. We might have enjoyed it even more if it wasn’t super hot.

Zhujiajiao Ancient Town

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Liebster Award!!!

Liebster AwardWe have been nominated twice for this after a month of blogging. We put up our first couple of posts in January but somehow we couldn’t follow through. We just revived this blog in April and so glad that we have now come to know many awesome blogs and people.

It’s a very good way to know about new bloggers and encourage them because no matter how much we love blogging, it does take up a lot of time. Being appreciated is nice. So thank you – 2ticketstowonderland and myrainbowtravel.

Sharing the rules here

  • Thank the blogger, who nominated you
  • Answer the eleven questions they ask you
  • Nominate eleven bloggers with less than 500 followers
  • Ask those eleven bloggers new eleven questions
  • Let those bloggers know, they have been nominated, so they can continue the chain

Since we have 2 nominations, we have 2 sets of 11 questions. We’ve decided to mix the questions and answer a few from each. Hope you don’t mind.

Why have you decided to start writing a travel blog?
We wanted to document our travels, it’s fun to go back and read, and it’s much better than just looking at pictures.

What’s your first travel memory ?

Rohtang Pass

Rohtang Pass : Credit indiantourist-spots

Trupti: My first travel memory would be going to Himachal Pradesh in India with family. It’s the most beautiful place I’ve been to in my whole entire life. Someday I’ll go there again.
Mohit: Mine would probably be when I went trekking with my friends in Dalhousie (which co-incidently is in Himachal Pradesh as well). We slept on the train and trekked through the whole night.

How do you get your free time for travel?
We take time out. After a few months of working the corporate game, we need a recharge. So we travel. It could be to one of the neighbouring countries for 2 days, but is still refreshing.

What is your dream destination, that you haven’t been to and would love to see?
omg so many. Kashmir, leh, Rajasthan (all in India), South Africa, South America. Sorry just too many to narrow down.

How many different countries have you visited?
We’ve only been to Asian countries for now. We’re slowly going to travel our way around the world. We’ve been to Srilanka, Bangladesh, Jordan, Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia, Cambodia, Thailand, China, Hong Kong (we’ll count it seperate for now), Qatar and Singapore where we live now. I won’t count India since that is our home country.

Are you ever homesick? You miss friends, family or home food?
Well, we live in Singapore, so that’s away from our families who live in India, Spain and US. So we’re perpetually homesick. But we have each other, so that is fine for now 🙂 We do get homesick, espcially during festivals.

What’s your best wildlife experience ?

Trupti: I was once travelling with family through the jungles near Ooty and it was pitch black. I was sitting on the front seat next to the driver and suddenly the driver had to stop because he saw something crossing the road in front of our car. The animal stopped next to our car, right below my window. It was a baby leopard. I will never forget that moment. It was beautiful. Since then I’ve been wanting to go to the forests in India to explore more. Someday.

What’s your next travel destination ?
We really want to go to Vietnam since it’s close to Singapore. It’s on our immediate travel list.

Have you ever tried any “weird” food whilst traveling (fried grasshoppers etc.)?

Night market in China
We saw a lot of weird food in a Beijing night market. But we didn’t dare try it. We did eat a lot of stuff that was supposed ot be pork but you’ll never know. It’s China after all.

Really enjoyed answering these questions. Our questions next.
1. If you could go travel to a place now, where would it be?
2. How many countries have you lived in? (not traveled)
3. How many foreign languages do you know?
4. Your most scary experience while traveling?
5. Have you ever traveled with people whose traveling style was not compatible with yours?
6. Who is your ideal traveling partner?
7. Which has been the most difficult place to travel to?
8. Do you backpack or luxury travel or both?
9. What’s your blog name means?
10.How do you take time out for blogging?
11. What do you most enjoy about being a blogger?

How to nominate 11 bloggers when we honestly don’t know who is new? Also, most bloggers don’t display their no of subscribers, so how? We’re going to nick the list off the 2 bloggers who nominated us. Hope you don’t mind 🙂

Now, here are 11 blogs we would like to share this award with

Do the same if you have enough time. If not, we won’t feel bad 🙂

Marina Bay Sands

Night Photography: Singapore

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Marina Bay Sands

Faces in the dark – with just 4 people

Marina Bay Sands

Ghosts!!!

I’m not a photographer by any means nor am I aspiring to be one. But I do love capturing memories and if they end up looking good I have no problem with that as well.

We had a short 2 month photography module when I was studying design and one of the practical classes was night photography. Mainly we learnt how to use exposure and different types of fun pictures you can click with long exposure.

Although the class was DSLR centric, these pictures are not taken by a DSLR since we don’t own one. We have a Canon G11 and it does a fairly descent job with exposures.

Marina Bay Sands

Light effects

Marina Bay Sands

Symmetry

Marina Bay Sands

Two in one

Marina Bay Sands

Bridge

Marina Bay Sands

The famous Merlion

Marina Bay Sands

There’s a boat on the river

The world's smallest escalator perhaps?

Shopping in Jakarta

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Senayan City. Credit: Rossrightangle

The world's smallest escalator perhaps?

The world’s smallest escalator perhaps?

Shopping in Jakarta is supposed to be very cheap. So we decided to ask at the hotel reception for good places to shop. The 2 giggling over excited receptionists sent us to Senayan City which was by any means not cheap. It was very similar to the high end malls in Singapore, just bigger. Needless to say we didn’t buy anything there except Crispy Kreme doughnuts and the ever reliable Chai Latte at Starbucks. 

The next day I googled for factory outlets and off we went to D’ Brasco Factory outlet, South Jakarta.

D’Brasco Mall. Credit: The Honeycombers

 

D'Brasco

D’Brasco

It was exactly the kind of place we were looking for. With 3 floors to boast, it housed brands like Burberry, Abercrombie and Fitch, Levis, Nike and others. We did some shopping there. Now I’m not sure if the clothes were authentic or not but they were definitely good quality. I wouldn’t say no to a $25 Jeans which was as soft as velvet even if it was fake. 

Another place we went to was Block M mall opposite our hotel Ambhara (opp Pasaraya Mall). Our main purpose there was to buy DVD’s and we definitely found a lot of those. Block M Mall is one of those cheap malls where they sell fake stuff. Didn’t buy anything else there as the quality was definitely not good. Nonetheless, its a huge mall where you can buy trinkets for your friends and family back home.
Our bargain treasures

Our bargain treasures

If you want to shop in Jakarta for cheap I suggest you do your research beforehand as it’s easy to get lost in one of the many high-end shiny malls which are a dime a dozen in Jakarta.
Forbidden City - Beijing

The Forbidden City – Beijing

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Forbidden City - BeijingIt’s bloody huge. It’s really huge. Did I tell you it’s huge. If you manage to not get lost in the palace, figuring out your way between thousands of rooms, kudos to you. There are 9999.5 rooms in the Forbidden city, all of which are not open to visitors.

Forbidden City - BeijingThe Forbidden palace is on every China Traveler’s agenda after The Great Wall. I’ve read a couple of books on Empress Dowager Tzu Hsi who was the last Empress of China. Since then I’ve been fascinated by this place.

Forbidden City - BeijingWe went in early and we expected the ticket counters to have long queues but seemed like almost everyone was either with a tour guide or had purchased tickets beforehand. We went in but not before buying an electronic guide which not only looked very pretty and snazzy but was very helpful.

Forbidden City - BeijingThe first thing we noticed was the crowd, there were so many people inside. I started thinking about our vacation pictures with herds of people in it. But you can’t really complain when you’re part of the same crowd now, can you? But you go further and the palace splits into 3 sections, that’s when the crowds start fizzling out.

Forbidden City - Beijing Forbidden City - Beijing

The electronic guide did a good job of explaining the significance of each structure. All the rooms and halls have beautiful, poetic names (Hall of Supreme Harmony, The Hall of Central Peace, Palace of Earthly Tranquility, Palace of Heavenly Purity, Palace of Earthly Tranquility, Hall of Mental Cultivation ) and distinct purposes.

Forbidden City - Beijing

China had such a rich, fascinating and vibrant history that I feel one cannot appreciate any site fully if you don’t know the history.

Indian Village

A day in an Indian Village…

Indian Village

Today I would love to show you my father’s village. He grew up and studied in a village up to 10th grade and then moved to the city (Pune) to study his diploma in Engineering. Since then he’s made Pune his home. Occasionally we go to visit his village for a day since it’s very close to Pune and it’s always fun. It’s slow, relaxing and a great getaway, not to mention getting to meet the rest of the family members.

Indian Village

Last time we went it was the beginning of summer. Because of the open spaces and the vegetation you feel the summer heat more. you can see it in the dried up lake and the browning vegetation.

Whenever we visit, we take pictures with the cows and the hens and the tractor like tourists who have never seen a village before. We also look at plants laden with tomatoes and take pictures with it. We’re crazy like that.

We saw huge full grown onions. They were planted when the onion prices in India were over the roof, but now that the prices are down, don’t know how much profit it could fetch. We also saw chilli plants. There are some chillies grown in our village which are actually sweet. You can eat them raw without burning your tongue. We posed on tractors and ate sugarcane. As always my dad peeled and broke the sugarcane for us to eat since we are delicate city people.

All pictures taken by Nokia Lumia 1520.

Shanghai to Beijing high speed train

Shanghai to Beijing…on a train!

Shanghai to Beijing high speed train
Shanghai to Beijing high speed train
When we wanted to travel to Beijing from Shanghai and were looking for options, we zeroed in on a High-Speed Railway that travels at around 300 km/h. This rail line is the world’s longest high-speed line ever constructed in a single phase. It was more expensive than the airfare but we decided to take it for the thrill of experiencing something new. And we’re ever so glad we did.

Shanghai to Beijing high speed train
First off, the train station is huge, it’s almost like a mini airport. In spite of the chaos  its very well managed. Even though we can’t read or speak Chinese, we didn’t have any trouble locating the boarding area. As far as we remember, there was no check-in luggage line. If you have bags, you can keep them in the train when you board in a separate place for bags. We bought the business class tickets but the second class didn’t look bad either. Considering there was no food served in the train I don’t think it matter what class you take. The seats for both classes looked comfortable except business class has more leg space.

Shanghai to Beijing high speed train 901182_10151762123933999_1013490411_o

At 300 km/h we thought the world outside would be a blur but we could see very clearly and also take pictures. If you ever want to travel from Shanghai to Beijing or vice versa, do think about this option. Firstly, you don’t have to reach the place 3 hours in advance. One hour is fine. The boarding process so painless and quick. And the journey is very comfortable. All in all a very good experience.

Bukit Brown Cemetery

Bukit Brown Cemetary

Bukit Brown Cemetery

Bukit Brown Cemetery

Cemeteries are fascinating. Being a Hindu the only time we go to cemeteries is when we are traveling. So when I got a chance to do a photography project in design school, my first choice was a cemetery. Now I’ve seen Christian cemeteries before so I kind of thought a Chinese Christian cemetery would be more or less similar. Well, not really.

Bukit Brown cemetery was the biggest Chinese graveyard outside China. The cemetery is home to many bird species and wild life and is popular among nature lovers and photographers. There are also organized tours every weekend.

Bukit Brown Cemetery

But the cemetery has been in news lately because of governments decision to build a 4-way lane through the cemetery by exhuming thousands of graves. And in about 40 years new public housing will take the place of cemetery. This is so typically Singapore, destroying heritage and nature to build modern structures and on the other hand building a million dollar artificial garden. You see the Irony?

 

2 girls backpacking in 1986 China

Not everyone of us can travel to every place in one lifetime. There’s another way though. Why Armchair travel of course. In this new feature I’ll be reviewing travelogues or books that give us some understanding of a particular place or culture at a particular time. I hope you have fun reading it. Today we go to 1986 China.

Undress me in the temple of heaven by sudan jane gilman
Title: Undress me in the temple of heaven
Author: Susan Jane Gilman
Genre: Travelogue, memoir
Paperback: 320 pages
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing; 1 edition (February 8, 2010)

When I read the words ‘China’ and ‘travelogue’ together, I instantly gravitate towards it. And the events in this book take place in 1986 when China was only recently open for travel to foreigners. We went to Shanghai and Beijing about a year back and even now, it’s very difficult to communicate because other than the hotel staff no one spoke English. We faced a bit of difficulty traveling as we had to write down the name of places in Chinese and also take the map along with us. Going anywhere impromptu was out of the question.

So when Susan and Claire decide to go travel the world for a year and choose China as their destination, I was equally fascinated and weary considering the state of the country back then.This travelogue is funny and raw and honest. Susan accepts that they both didn’t know what they were doing. They were in a land about which they knew nothing. They were afraid and lonely. I expected a typical self-absorbed backpacker travelogue where they hook up with other backpackers, have drunken nights, break the rules and finally get enlightened by the meaning of life and happiness. Continue reading