Chengdu, Home of Giant Pandas

Whoops this is an extremely overdue post and I hope my memory will serve me well because I do not have my itinerary with me. I’ll just probably feature those that are mention-worthy 🙂

My year-end vacation destination last year was Chengdu and I went with Alph and his family. It was an 8-day trip with Jun-Air travel agency (spent my Christmas and New Year’s there) and the destination was chosen by Alph’s father because he’s a fan of scenic views and China has plenty of them. It was my second time to China but my first time experiencing extreme cold weather at negative temperatures (the coldness I described in my Beijing post is nothing as compared to this) and *drums roll* snow! Other than Chengdu, we also went to nearby cities like Sichuan because it was where the main highlight – Hailuogou – of the trip is.

At Chengdu airport

At Chengdu airport

We departed Singapore after midnight on Christmas Day and if I remember correctly, the Air China flight took about four hours? Once we touched down in the freezing cold Chengdu, we had our breakfast in a random hotel and then set off to our first item on our itinerary instead of going to the hotel straight to unpack our stuff. Thus our time in the plane was our only sleeping time but as you know, the seats in the economy class are cramp and never comfortable so I could barely sleep. Imagine how tired I was on day 1 and I had to brave the cold until I finally got into my hotel room at night.

Day 1

The first place on the itinerary we visited after touching down was the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding. Because we came directly from the airport/our breakfast, we didn’t have time to change into thicker winter wears (didn’t want to cover myself in thick clothings in Singapore!! It was SO WARM), so navigating around the panda base in the cold was a torture!! I had to use my hair as a scarf and ear muffs because the cold caused me slight breathing difficulties. But it was definitely fun to breathe out cold air 😛

Anyway, I have never been to our River Safari but I guarantee you that after going to the one in Chengdu, you’d never want to go to the one here unless you don’t mind spending so much money just to catch a glimpse of only 2 pandas. Over in Chengdu, there were so many pandas – infant ones, adult ones and also the red pandas (another kind of panda breed which are more ferocious to humans). We couldn’t touch or play with the pandas (taking pictures alone with the pandas could cost more than SGD200) but we could see them very clearly from outside of their enclosure. I spent a lot of time standing at an infant one because it was so adorable, acting like human baby and constantly asking its caretaker to carry it. Seeing how fluffy and clumsy it was was already enough to make me coo. 😀

我要抱抱! Baby panda wanting a hug ^^ Sucha cutie.

我要抱抱! Baby panda wanting a hug ^^ Sucha cutie.

Awww

Awww

Oops I'm caught on camera!

Oops I’m caught on camera!

Round and fluffy backside hahaha just wanna smack it.

Round and fluffy backside hahaha just wanna smack it.

Why are you always taking pictures of me? I'm a shy panda!

Why are you always taking pictures of me? I’m a shy panda!

It's play time!!

Quick quick run away!!

Am I safe yet?

Am I safe yet?

Then there were the adult ones, which technically did nothing but laze around with their furry tummies facing up while munching on bamboos. Thanks to Bf’s awesomeballz DSLR camera, we managed to capture a few clear shots of the pandas eating. They look so contented with their bamboos and even closed their eyes while savouring them. 😀 I read on their brochure that they have adoption services for giant pandas… but seeing how sacred they are to the Chinese, I doubt such service even exists. Perhaps “adoption” just refers to caring for and feeding the pandas using monetary means (while they still continue to stay at the base).

Don't you just want to tickle its belly ^^

Don’t you just want to tickle its belly ^^

Finally sit up straight! Lazy panda.

Finally sit up straight! Lazy panda.

I haz bamboo? :D

I haz bamboo? 😀

Munching on my bamboo #likeaboss. Omnomnomnom

Munching on my bamboo #likeaboss. Omnomnomnom

My favourite picture of the panda eating! It's now my desktop wallpaper hahaha.

Close up! My favourite picture of the panda eating! It’s now my desktop wallpaper hahaha.

Of course every tourist attraction will have a souvenir shop but the items were not pricey at all (duh because it’s China) and I lugged a lot of panda plushies back for my friends. I believe you’re able to find big panda plushies there which are less than half the price of the ones found here. Good idea for blogshops? Hahaha.

Before we left we went to see the red pandas which hid immediately when we were approaching their enclosure. We were told not to go near them too because they are unfriendly and fierce creatures, though they can be shy to humans at times. But I’d rather spend more time looking at the black and white pandas than to watch them hide in their shelters any time. 😛

Hmph don't mess with me. I'm ferocious and I even look like it. Check out my furrowed brows.

Hmph don’t mess with me. I’m ferocious and I even look like it. Check out my furrowed brows. I’m tough.

I may be on cloud nine but I still look angry. ANGRY

I may be on cloud nine but I still look angry. ANGRY. So that you won’t approach me because I’m actually camera-shy.

Wait this isn't working! Must hide quick.

Wait this isn’t working! He’s still snapping away!! Must hide in the shelter quick.

Dammit all shelters are occupied

Dammit all shelters are occupied

Stop it already.

Stop it already.

It was one of the highlights of the trip other than playing with real snow and it kind of raised my expectation for the trip from the very first day. Unfortunately it didn’t meet my expectations in the end and I will elaborate more on that later.

Alph and I at the jewellery shop.

Bf and I at the jewellery shop.

We visited a jewellery manufacturing company after that (typical in travel tours) , had our early dinner and went back to our hotel early to unpack and rest. I can’t remember the name of the hotel but it’s smacked right in the middle of a shopping district and it did not have a building on its own. It looked really small and you wouldn’t be able to tell that it’s a hotel without noticing the banner until you set foot in its lobby. Its lobby is extremely narrow and all of us had to literally queue to get into the extremely slow lifts (or sometimes only 1 because the other lift was always NOT working. So frustrating la). And whenever we returned to our rooms at night, we would ALWAYS find name cards for social escorts (or prostitutes) on the floor, slid under the door by some young boys exploited to do this dirty job. This was not allowed because I had personally seen them getting pulled out from the lift by hotel personnels, but they managed to sneak up so many times. Shows a lot about the hotel’s security huh? Also, I had quite a number of bruises from falling on my knees in Chengdu, and one of them happened at this hotel. I couldn’t see the ledge between the lobby and the road and I just tripped over it :\

Nearby the hotel were many shopping malls and eateries but we never got the chance to go any of them because they were closed by the time we returned (boring). BreadTalk was just behind the hotel but we only discovered it on our final day there -_- It could’ve saved our hungry stomachs because the hotel food wasn’t nice and sufficient for us.

Day 2

SNOWWWWW

SNOWWWWW

I’d say that this is the most fun day of the trip even though it’s not really the main highlight, because I finally got to touch and play with snow! We went to Chengdu XiLing Snow Mountain (yes it’s up on the mountains! The snow never happened on the ground level.. Cheat my feelings), took a bus to a very very snowy place. Bf and I spent more than 2 hours playing with snow and building our failed snowman.

Entry tickets to the mountains!

Entry tickets to the mountains!

When we went in it was exactly like this! Super misty and we could barely see what was in front! Just had to keep walking.

When we went in it was exactly like this! Super misty and we could barely see what was in front! Just had to keep walking.

Yay I touched snow!! I also tried holding some with my bare hands :D

Yay I touched snow!! I also tried holding some with my bare hands 😀

Yay iz me!!

Yay iz me agan!!

Our erm, snowman. #guaguagua. As you can see there's a (small) head and a very huge body. We finally understood why some kids make such a big fuss when somebody destroys their snowman. BECAUSE IT'S FRIGGIN DIFFICULT TO MAKE ONE. I think need a lot of hours lor.

Our erm, snowman. #guaguagua. As you can see there’s a (small) head and a very huge body. We finally understood why some kids make such a big fuss when somebody destroys their snowman. BECAUSE IT’S FRIGGIN DIFFICULT TO MAKE ONE. I think need a lot of hours lor.

We still purposely bought a shovel there just for this purpose and then we didn’t know what to do with it after we left.

Failed snowman so we decided to camwhore in the snow instead.

Failed to make a snowman so we decided to camwhore in the snow instead.

Found a perfect snowman done by others and decided to pose with it! Without this caption no one would know that it wasn't done by me hiakhiakhiak

Found a perfect snowman done by others and decided to pose with it! Without this caption no one would know that it wasn’t done by me hiakhiakhiak

I wanted to do snow angel since a long long time ago after watching one character doing it in Powerpuff Girls cartoon. SO HAPPY I MANAGED TO DO IT THERE!! There’s a video of me “flying on the ground” in action but of course I’m not going to show it here.. Hahaha.

My first snow angel! See my

My first snow angel! See my “wings”? Hahaa

Then we also went to another part of the place to ride on a sleigh down a snowy slope!! DAMNNNN FUNNNNN and I was seated at the most front (there were about 10 seats in total I think?) because no one else dared!! ALL THE HUMJI KIAS ESPECIALLY MY BOYFRIEND!! Also, we tried Go Kart (but in motorbikes) in the snow!! Sadly no skiing because we didn’t know where the booth was?? And I heard it wasn’t free so..

I really really enjoyed my time there!! There only. The rest (other than the pandas) were meh. Bf and I kept throwing and stuffing snow into each other’s top -_-

I had fun!! This is a must-go if you ever go to Chengdu :)

I had fun!! This is a must-go if you ever go to Chengdu 🙂

We had dinner at another random hotel and so coincidentally the tour agency we went with had a special occasion so we, having nothing to do there, celebrated with them. They bought many many sky lanterns and fireworks for us, I think even more than NDP. What we couldn’t do in Taiwan (lighting sky lanterns) were accomplished there! Hahaha. And it was also our first time setting fireworks on our own!

Wheeee free sky lanterns. There were MANY of them! Like free flow!

Wheeee free sky lanterns. There were MANY of them! Like free flow!

Happy boy finally did what he always wanted to do since planning our Taiwan itinerary.

Happy boy finally did what he always wanted to do since planning our Taiwan itinerary. Couldn’t do it there because of bad planning HAHA my fault.

And I had one too!

And I had one too!

Day 3

The onset of boredom started then. We woke up super darn early because the driver feared that we’d be stuck in traffic jam if it was later but we ended up shopping at a ghostly town because the roads were too misty. -_- Ghostly because it was barely 8am and many of the shops were still closed. But we still managed to shop a bit (very important to me. No shopping no fun!!) at some Tibetan-looking shop. Got a number of hauls from there.. mostly were stuff which we knew we wouldn’t use like kids’ xylophone – you know the very colourful one? Was just reliving my childhood memories. We also had tangyuan (glutinous rice balls) at a rather old-fashioned run down store. It made my cold tummy warm 🙂

Me in the ghostly town.

Me in the ghostly town.

Me again beside a plant in the ghostly town.

Me again beside a plant in the ghostly town.

The Tibetan souvenir shop I was talking about! They have many masquerade stuff which I wanted to buy but upon second thought I knew I would chuck it aside as I don’t really need it. And.. I just saw the “No Photography” sign oops.

After having lunch we finally headed to Sichuan (Moxi Town to be exact, a rather rural part of it). It was a very very long ride, I think about 6 hours?? Had plenty of sleep on the bus and even had so much time to train my Pokemons and had their levels increased by 10… (okay off-topic)

We accommodated at, according to our tour guide, one of the better hotels there (can’t remember the name but there aren’t many hotels in that old town. After a simple Googling I am pretty sure the hotel’s initials are BC). I can’t verify his claims but when I stepped into the hotel, there was a very strong “old” smell, like rotting wood. It was still bearable but it just didn’t make me feel comfortable at all. It didn’t look run down though. We had our dinner there and guess what? We were the only ones (the tour group) in the restaurant! It felt really eerie and the food also tasted terrible and that was our dinner for 2 consecutive days. Luckily Bf’s parents bought some cup noodles during the day so we didn’t had to go to bed with an empty stomach. But I took comfort in knowing that there was free Wi-Fi which was very important for me because my results were about to be released then!

One of the programmes on the itinerary at Moxi Town was some Tibetan dancing-cum-singing performance at night. Dragged our feet there because the place itself already made us very sian. All shops were closed and there was nothing to do at all. The venue was pretty near to the hotel so all of us walked there together as a group, led by the tour guide and his assistants. Then we arrived at what seemed like an abandoned temple with some of the performers ushering us to our seats (there were also other tour groups around) while shouting “Zhaxidele”. Apparently it’s means happiness and good luck in Tibetan language. We went in,  sat down, waited patiently for the show to begin and then the most unexpected thing happened: BLACKOUT. The place turn pitch black and it really looked creepy like some horror movie setting!! The performers tried to divert our attention and fill the awkward silence with random Tibetan songs. We waited for another half an hour for the power to resume but nothing happened, so we headed back to our hotel. The entire Moxi Town was in complete darkness then. We had to use the light from our mobile phones to find our way back to the hotel, which was fortunately not affected by the blackout.

So later in the night, we ate our cup noodles, watch some TV shows and I went to take a shower. Then as I was about to apply body shampoo, the lights went off!! IT WAS THE HOTEL’S TURN TO GET A BLACKOUT WTF. I had to stop bathing (thank goodness I hadn’t started washing my hair yet!) and I felt so disgusting and filthy because technically I hadn’t started bathing -_-! Oh I forgot to mention that when we checked into the room, we found a torchlight on the dressing table! NOW WE KNOW WHY!! Blackouts are not uncommon in that old town…. But what to do? We couldn’t do anything but to force ourselves to sleep. What a terrible, terrible night!

On the following day, the power came back but there wasn’t any TV reception and the Wi-Fi was not even working!! Then blackout happened again in the late afternoon. So irritating. I hated that place. A lot. Not trying to sound spoilt but we paid to relax ourselves, not to fret over silly issues like this!! If I have volunteered to help out in some third-world countries, I wouldn’t even mind about the blackout but OI, WE PAID MONEY FOR THIS LEH!!! NOT CHEAP SOME MORE.

Day 4

Woke up feeling extremely grumpy because we slept through the night without air-con. Luckily it was winter otherwise our faces would be blacker than Bao Qing Tian. We had breakfast at the hotel which tasted as vomit-inducing as dinner and then we took the bus to Hailuogou (HLG). Whenever I mention this place to anybody familiar with China, they’d assume that I’d be going to Jiuzhaigou too but sadly it wasn’t part of the itinerary. 😦

We took HLG’s hired coach up to the mountains. As we ascended further, the windows turned misty and you could easily estimate when you’d be arriving at the place just by looking at them. We reached the place and was told by the tour guide that we had to pay to take the cable car to go further up to the mountains (where HLG was. We were only midway), which was really ridiculous because we had paid everything necessary to the tour agency. Even if it was a separate charge, we were not informed at all beforehand!! All of us argued that the cost of the cable car tickets should already be included in the amount we paid but the stubborn tour guide just refused to budge. But what could we do? Suck thumb lor! We couldn’t just stand there and do nothing. There was literally nothing there. Not even a single snow.

We're almost there!

We’re almost there!

Hailuogou, from the bus.

Hailuogou, from the bus.

Went up and felt no more than a sense of disappointment. I was expecting an experience like the one at XiLing Snow Mountain but it turned out to be another boring trip. Indeed the mountains were really beautiful but other than admiring them there was nothing much to do except to camwhore. Hahahaha!! And Bf being super humji didn’t dare to go down the mountain slope to touch the snow -_- Our stomachs then started to rumble so we went to find food! WE FOUND DELICIOUS BEEF SATAY!! Damn nice we ordered more than 5 sticks. Hahahah!!! Or maybe we were just hungry………….. And we had a hot cup of strawberry drink (it’s rather popular in China with nata de coco and it comes with bendable big straw). Whoa we felt so warm and fuzzy inside!!

Alph didn't dare to go down so this was the lowest I could go.

Bf didn’t dare to go down so this was the lowest I could go.

And he just stood there lololol lousy leh you

And he just stood there lololol lousy leh you.

Overexposed shot sorry but I think you can still roughly see the beef satay in my hand! It's damn yummy omg and I think our constant purchase attracted many people to the shop as well haha

Overexposed shot sorry but I think you can still roughly see the beef satay in my hand! It’s damn yummy omg and I think our constant purchase attracted many people to the shop as well haha

The shop was rather quiet before we bought the satays from them! Barely a single queue. We brought them more customers teehee!

The shop was rather quiet before we bought the satays from them! Barely a single queue. We brought them more customers teehee! The drink I was talking about is the pink looking cup on the bottom left corner of the picture. Likewise, the drink was sold out soon after 😉

Near the exit of Hailuogou there was another person selling food. This piece of bread-like thingy was one of them! Nothing special.

Near the exit of Hailuogou there was another person selling food. This piece of bread-like thingy was one of them! Nothing special.

When night came, we returned to the abandoned temple again to watch the Tibetan performance because they didn’t want to refund our money. It was.. nothing fantastic. Ha. -_-

Day 5

Checked out of the Moxi Town hotel (finally) and we were en route to Chengdu. But since it was a long journey, we stopped by at some places along the way.

The other places we visited all had got to do with seeing snow. And for the first time in my lift I saw a snowflake! It looked exactly like how artists always draw them!! Really really beautiful! We also supposed to go to a hot spring but once again, we had to pay additional charges to go in! RIDICULOUS RIGHT?! How could an agency include something on an itinerary and not make it compulsory by collecting the entry fees beforehand?! Knowing that we had to pay again (now we wonder where the money we paid for miscellaneous charges went to?), we of course didn’t want to go in anymore la!! Walao eh! So we wasted our time drinking hot tea in a coffee house and watch wild monkeys watching us and our food while waiting for some people to be done with their hot spring. Sickening!!

Annoying monkeys kept following us wherever we went, and even attempted to snatch the bag of one of the people in our tour group. Luckily the men scared them away lol. Because of them we didn't dare to drink and eat while walking.

Annoying monkeys kept following us wherever we went, and even attempted to snatch the bag of one of the people in our tour group. Luckily the men scared them away lol. Because of them we didn’t dare to drink and eat or expose anything edible while walking.

Then we were brought to another hot spring place for foot bath (泡脚). Entry fee was cheaper and we didn’t had to remove all our clothes so we agreed to go in. The feeling of getting your cold feet warm was priceless but you risk getting your trousers/pants wet which would make you feel even colder once you are done! And we even bought hot spring egg to snack on! Yummmmmy 🙂

Our legs!!

Our legs!!

One of our tour group mates (is that how you call them lol). There were many different temperatures of water ranging from normal (where there would be fishes to eat your dead skin) to boiling hot (about 70 degree Celsius). Me being ballness dared not try the boiling water one. I stuck to the second hottest one until we left.

One of our tour group mates (is that how you call them lol). There were many different temperatures of water ranging from normal (where there were doctor fishes eating your dead skin) to boiling hot (about 70 degree Celsius). Me being ballness dared not try the boiling water one. I stuck to the second (or third?) hottest one until we left.

For dinner, we had an option to dine at the hotel we were staying in for the night and a steamboat restaurant. The tour guide sugar-coated his words to make dining at a steamboat restaurant seem like a better idea and that we’d be able to experience the Chengdu cuisine. We had actually paid a certain sum of money for that dinner which everyone believed was supposed to be in the hotel (more expensive than steamboat, in other words). Some gullible and more outspoken people in the tour gave him the green light so we went ahead as already planned by the tour guide.

Unique dining experience.

Unique dining experience.

At the steamboat restaurant, I didn’t eat much as I wasn’t used to their choice of food and most importantly, it was a CANDLELIGHT dinner!! The area had a blackout oh my god… Seriously I’m never going back to that place again. Not even for the pandas. No matter how cute they are. No, no, no. Then after the meal, the bus didn’t drive to the restaurant doorstep to pick us up because according to the tour guide again, “the driver would need another 40 minutes to make a U-turn here”. What the hell man… if that’s the case, why didn’t you tell the driver to set off EARLIER then??? What a dimwit. Because of him everyone had to walk in the extreme cold and darkness to the meeting point (not very near ok). And the best part? THE BUS WASN’T EVEN THERE YET WHEN WE REACHED UNTIL 10 MINUTES LATER. Kanasai bunch of idiots. They made my boyfriend who was already down with a fever, even more ill!!

The bus finally came and not even a word of apology from the tour guide nor the driver (go and die la still want to earn tips from us). We were driven to our hotel for the night and it was the best we had been to in the entire trip. It was like any 5-star hotel, clean and very presentable and all the lifts were definitely working. We even had bellmen to help us with our luggages, unlike the first two hotels we’d been to. But sadly we were only there for a night -_- And remember I mentioned about my bruises from falls? I got my next one there, in the wet toilet, and it hurt like hell. HURT!!! Because my knee hit the cold hard ground flat. I cried so bad and I couldn’t walk properly for the night. My knee swelled a bit and Bf helped me up even though he was sick himself. So many mishaps in this trip -_- Ok also partly due to me clumsiness but still… my other trips were fine.

My bruises! One on each knee and gotten on separate occasions -_- Ok picture size intentionally reduced so that it won't seem so scary. Thankfully I was insured.

My bruises! One on each knee and gotten on separate occasions -_- Ok picture size intentionally reduced so that it won’t seem so scary. Thankfully I was insured.

Day 6 omg yes my misery is ending. Just send me back to Singapore already.

My skin (especially my legs which are already very dry to begin with) was starting to crack even though I had been consistently applying lotion. I guess cold weather is not for me. We continued our journey back to Chengdu and it was another 5 hours doing nothing…

Upon arrival in Chengdu, we were taken to a theatre to watch the highly talked about face-changing show (变脸show) coupled with other equally terrific performances. The venue was flooded with Caucasians especially and there were subtitles flashing on mini screens on both ends of the stage for people who didn’t understand mandarin. The face-changing performers even went to the audience and changed their faces in front of them! But no one could see how they did it because they were too fast.

Some emperor/eunuch (I'm sorry but I'm totally clueless when it comes to chinese opera opera) vs concubine performance.

Some emperor/eunuch (I’m sorry but I’m totally clueless when it comes to chinese opera opera) vs concubine/empress performance.

Ok this is probably the emperor. Haha

Ok this is probably the emperor. Haha

The eunuch (I think? Since he isn't in yellow here lol) and the empress and her many many palace maids.

The eunuch (I think? Since he isn’t in yellow here lol) and the empress and her many many palace maids. Now that I clearly see their faces they are all very good-looking leh *_*

Then the next segment was on hand shadows. Damn cool! I wish they had done more.

Then the next segment was on hand shadows. Damn cool! I wish they had done more.

Another one! A swan.

Another one! A swan.

Next, puppet show! The puppet could even do stunts that I couldn't do lol. But one thing I didn't was the distraction caused by the puppteer.. Wouldn't it be better if she couldn't be seen?

Next, puppet show! The puppet could even do stunts that I couldn’t do lol. But one thing I didn’t like was the distraction caused by the puppeteer.. Wouldn’t it be better if the lower part of the body was hidden?

Then we saw this funny husband-and-wife skit which focuses more on the husband. Basically the wife was punishing the husband (I forgot for what reason) by asking him to do dangerous stunts. One of them was this.

Then we saw this funny husband-and-wife skit which focused more on the husband. Basically the wife was punishing the husband (I forgot for what reason) by asking him to do dangerous stunts. One of them was this.

And then moving on to this! Crawling under the stools without making the bowl containing lit candle fall.

And then moving on to this! Crawling under the stools without making the bowl containing lit candle fall.

Followed by this lady here doing all sorts of stunts that made everyone's heart beat so fast lol. This vase looked damn heavy and it could fall on her face any time if she wasn't careful.

Followed by this lady here doing all sorts of stunts that made everyone’s heart beat so fast lol. This vase looked damn heavy and it could fall on her face any time if she wasn’t careful.

Vase not impressive enough? She's got a table. Wahaha

Vase not impressive enough? She’s got a table. Wahaha

Finally, the face-changing show.

Finally, the face-changing show.

我变我变我变变变!

我变我变我变变变!

After many changes, back to his face.

After many changes, back to his face.

And we were back at the hotel where young boys slide name cards under room doors..

Day 7

In the day, we went to Huan Hua Xi Park which apparently is the largest park in Chengdu. Since it’s a park, there isn’t much activities for us there. We walked around and saw people feeding fishes, so we bought fish food from the booth manning the pond and joined in the fun!

At the entrance! Sorry if I dressed like aunty. When I'm overseas I sometimes couldn't care less about my dressing especially during winter because I already look so damn fat lolol. This one not bad already.

At the entrance! Sorry if I dressed like aunty. When I’m overseas I sometimes can’t care less about my dressing especially during winter because I already look so damn fat lolol. This one not bad already.

Here fishy fishy

Here fishy fishy.

Yay to cheap thrills!

Yay to cheap thrills!

We managed to touch the fishes!

We managed to touch the fishes!

We then left the park for a shopping district (?) which didn’t have anything interesting to buy. As you can already see from this travel journal, there wasn’t much shopping done because of the same reason 😦

Bought this as we thought it looked like our local 龙须糖 but it tasted totally different -_- Ate 2 and threw the whole box away.

Bought this as we thought it looked like our local 龙须糖 but it tasted totally different -_- Ate 2 and threw the whole box away.

Real-life mannequins.

Real-life mannequins.

Panda shop! Everything in there was about panda.

Panda shop! Everything in there was about panda.

Starbucks!! We behaved like we'd never seen Starbucks before and went to buy our green tea frappe immediately LOL

Starbucks!! We behaved like we’d never seen Starbucks before and went to buy our green tea frappe immediately LOL

More panda shop. Seriously they're really crazy about pandas.

More panda shop. Seriously they’re really crazy about pandas.

At night, we caught Zhang Yi Mo’s 4D show but I felt that the one I watched in Beijing was much better. Nevertheless it was still a great show 🙂 Here are some pictures. There are more but I’m really lazy to resize everyone of them lol.

Look at those costumes *_*

Look at those costumes *_* And the stage set up.

The colours. Just so vibrant and elaborate *_*

The colours. Just so vibrant and elaborate *_*

The waterfall at the back is just image projection, unlike the one I saw in Beijing which was actually REAL water.

The waterfall at the back was just image projection, unlike the one I saw in Beijing which was actually REAL water.

Fake water again but still has to give the show designer some credit for putting so much effort. No wonder the tickets so expensive.

Fake water again but still have to give the show designer some credits for putting so much effort. No wonder the tickets so expensive.

Look it's Lady Gaga and her twin! Hahaha just kidding. Costumes with LED lights. Cool right?!

Look it’s Lady Gaga and her twin! Hahaha just kidding. Costumes with LED lights. Cool right?!

The closing. Very very talented people!

The closing. Very very talented people!

It was New Year’s Eve and I was not with my parents for the very first time. I texted my Mom to wish her as I watched the countdown on television at night.

Day 8final day in Chengdu

Woke up early in the morning to see flowers at the Visitor Centre of San Sheng Hua Xiang. I’m not a fan of flowers so we got back into the bus after like 30 minutes of walking? Yawn.

The flower paradise.. Nothing much to see unless you're a fan of flowers.

The flower paradise.. Nothing much to see unless you’re a fan of flowers.

For lunch, we had steamboat again which was a little better than the candlelight one. After we were done with our meal, I saw the scumbag tour guide beckoning Bf’s father back into the restaurant. He had a piece of paper in his hand and I could immediately tell what he was up to. Well apparently many people were unhappy with him mainly because of what happened in HLG (having to pay again for the entrance fee when we’d already paid, bringing us to a steamboat place that blacked out, the bad vibes he gave me.. ok that’s probably just me) so he decided to make the master of every family agree not to report any negative occurrence to the agency when we returned to Singapore. How? By making them sympathise with him lor, that he needed the money to support the family lor and other bull crap. Win already lor play dirty zzz.

Then we were brought to a medical centre which specialised in foot massages? Hahaha I don’t know what exactly the place was but they did not allow foot massages on anyone below the age of 21! Poor Bf’s brother didn’t have the chance to experience the shiok massage because he was so-called underaged.

The final place we went to before we headed to the airport was some random shopping mall. I (finally) bought something useful after 8 days – a winter coat for myself, and even got my eyebrows shaped, which was my BIGGEST regret there. I could tell the lady was very inexperienced and I ended up having the length of my right eyebrow shortened! And now it’s taking a long time to grow back…

I was so glad to be back in Singapore (how often do you see someone on vacation dying to go home lololol). My dearest parents picked me up from the Changi airport near midnight *sheds tears* and they commented that I lost weight. That pretty summed up my experience in Chengdu.

Bye Chengdu, I doubt I will ever see you again.

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6-hour Flight to Beijing

Hello guys! Many things happened while I was on hiatus so I’m going to pen them down one-by-one slowly on this space 🙂

Two weeks back I went on a tour with CTC to Beijing which marked my first holiday trip in 2012. I know many would frown upon the words “Beijing” and “Tour” because yes, I do agree that China isn’t the most ideal place to go since we already have a taste of the people here in Singapore (if you know what I mean) and that was also my initial reaction before booking the tour. BUT my 7-day stay there proved me wrong. More on that as we go along!

So why did I choose to go on a tour instead of roaming around on my own (free and easy)? Simple. I was lazy (and busy) as hell and I’m seriously bad at planning and directions and I wouldn’t want to be lost in a foreign land because of that. On top of that reason, CTC was offering a 1-for-1 promotion at that period so I thought, why not? Bf and I paid up immediately (before that I was super reluctant because of the destination, lol) for both this Beijing trip and the upcoming Taiwan trip in July, all for less than SGD1000 per person (including all relevant taxes) for an 8-day event via Singapore Airlines. What’s more, the hotel we were/are going to stay is/will be a five-star one! What a steal right? Teehee!

Who is excited?? Me!! Finally a break from work 🙂

DEPARTING slightly after 5.30pm!

Bf and I were undoubtedly the youngest in the tour so naturally all attention was shone on us with many others (including the Singapore-based and Chinese tour guides) wondering why we chose China. Hahaha! But those who went with us were really really nice people which added on to the pleasant experience I was already having in Beijing. Absolutely not awkward with these older people at all while dining together. We talked and joked about everything! 🙂

On 5 April, Bf and I boarded an afternoon SQ flight at T3 and only touched down in Beijing after midnight so the tired us only visited our rooms at Sheraton Hotel that day. Let me first comment on my virgin flight with SQ! I can say I’m pretty lucky to have boarded the newer SQ plane as it’s less cramped with only 2 seats by the window (as compared to 3 in the older ones)! So less difficult to get to the toilet – hooray! And they have awesome collection of music on their entertainment system because they have Enya! Oh my, you don’t know how that helped to much in getting me to sleep soundly LOL. Sadly the older plane (which I took on my return flight) didn’t have her 😦

Hihi we are aliens – at Beijing Airport

As weather was pretty cold there (it was towards the end of winter at that time but still chilly), the hotel felt there was no need to switch on the air-conditioner. The room wasn’t particularly stuffy but can be a little warm at times. But opening the windows slightly could do the trick. Our hotel was smacked in the middle of nowhere with no malls nearby but thank God there was a clean & reasonably-priced (still cheaper than those in Singapore) foot reflexology parlour about 7-10 minutes walk away which we could escape to after a long day outside! And there was a Hard Rock Cafe just beside the hotel which we did not visit because we were usually bloated by the time we reached our room 😦 Next time, maybe.

I shall skip the mundane parts of the trip but honestly, what made me feel not that bad about going to China (besides the awesome offer) was the chance to climb the Great Wall of China (万里长城)! It was one of the highlights of the tour and I was definitely looking forward to it :)! I’ve heard soooo much about it during Sec 1 History lesson (Burma Railway a.k.a Death Railway as well) and it’s been etched in my mind since then. And not forgetting Forbidden City (紫禁城)which I yearned to go after countless ancient Hong Kong drama I’ve watched. It was a surreal experience and I really feel that all Chinese should go on a cultural tour to Beijing at least once in their lives!

Enough of words, let the pictures do the talking!

Only the Great Emperor has access to anything in Gold/Yellow so no one was allowed to use that colour!

Boarding the boat to view the scenery around Long Qing Xia! Too bad I was dead sleepy that day so I was dozing off most of the time on the boat 😦

At Tiananmen Square (with Mao Zedong’s huge portrait at the entrance of Forbidden City) which can occupy a million people!

Entrance of Forbidden City! All excited already!

At the exit of The Forbidden City!

Another pretty shot (not me lah) at Long Qing Xia! Blooming flowers indicating that Spring is coming!

Olympic Park (Bird Nest) exterior!

They need to space out the 2 destination names!! (And I am holding on to an elongated kite that can be bought anywhere in Beijing! Planning to fly it at Marina Barrage some day!)

Artsy Fartsy shot by Bf! 😛 (though I gave the creative direction)

Trishaw ride to Hutongs and local Siheyuan Houses

At the doorstep of a traditional Beijing home! Antique feel 🙂

Meet one of the locals’ pet dogs! I can’t remember his/her name but it’s something really cute-sounding like Ling Ling. THEY ARE MAD ADORABLEEEE and they DON’T BITE! In fact they were so friendly and welcoming 🙂

Hehee close-up of this cutie

See!! Enjoying my touch. ^^

At Ming Tombs! Despite the name, no tombs to see there except the huge one belonging to an Emperor

At Chengde Imperial Summer Resort! Nothing much though, just huge portraits of Kang Xi and his people

Temple of Heaven! As beautiful as the Forbidden City

Another picture with the flowers! Aren’t they prettyyyyyy

…Yeap, it’s a cannon.

Decided to dedicate one part of this blog entry just for The Great Wall of China to celebrate our successful climb!

It’s just the beginning!

Our target – the topmost beacon! *pants*

Steep and uneven steps! Extremely dangerous for people with wobbly legs! If you miss a step and fall, you’re probably going to spend hours limping back to the bottom!

Halfway there! See how far we have gone! Not recommended for those who are afraid of heights! But I’m so proud of Bf who made it with me even though he felt nauseated on his way up but did not surrender *woohoo*

Just and few more climbs and we are done! And look, we got ourselves some medals! But must buy lah of course.. Wow I swear the people there are super smart in milking money from tourists lol (and I wonder how they get the energy to climb up and down everyday to man the stalls, seriously)

AND WE ARE HERE ERRBARDDY!! *pops champagne* Basically no reward other than the huge sense of satisfaction for climbing to the top. Nope, not even someone who gives out balloons as a congratulatory present

But I’ve got to admit that after exploring so many historic landmarks and commercial museums I grew a little sick of it! Probably if I was some retired hag I wouldn’t mind going on a full-fledged cultural tour but nay, at my age, shopping is definitely a MUST! So we were brought to 3 major shopping destinations: Silk Market, Ya Show and Wangfujing (王府井 Beijing’s Orchard Road with established brands all over) which we spent a fortune there.

All smiles at China’s Orchard Road – Wangfujing!

RAWRRRR

Beijing Nike and their nice display!

Went home broke because of Silk Market as we were.. *ashamed* ripped off. Only found out about it when we chanced upon a similar – or can I say DUPLICATE – dress, which I bought for 430RMB at Silk Market, going at 100RMB at Ya Show BEFORE PRICE-SLASHING. And worst of all, 430RMB was the price after intense bargaining with the very-persistent shop owner who initially offered to sell it to me at 1200RMB (INSANE) and also bragged about exclusivity -_- Exclusivity mah arse!! I so wanted to leave the store as I was running out of shopping time but the woman kept stopping me and praising my body shape sky-high, saying that I’d look so awesome in her maxi dress (weakness!!). HAHA but the dress is really pretty! From 1200RMB, to 800RMB, to 500RMB, to 480RMB, we finally settled upon 430RMB (she was almost on her knees, lol) which still burned a huge hole in my pocket. With such a huge leap from the original price, who would have taught that I was still overcharged? -_-

At Silk Market, shop assistants would offer you 朋友价 (literally means Friend Price) to trick you into thinking that you’ve got a very good deal. While making our purchase, we also had friendly chats with shop assistants there and surprisingly they appeared rather envious of Singaporeans. In fact before I decided to show my amiable side, I was quite worried that we’d get hostile treatment from them in return because of how *we* Singaporeans treat their people here (e.g. despising them and trying so hard to get rid of them). So I behaved like some westernized bitch and spoke English all the way, attempting to hide my nationality.. until Bf gave up comprehending them. But despite us admitting we were from Singapore in Singlish-Mandarin (you could see their faces lit up immediately like FINALLY A MANDARIN-SPEAKING ASIAN!!), they remained hospitable towards us.

Some whom we spoke to looked pretty young and they told us how much they hated English language in their schools because they struggled a lot to understand it (they only started learning at Primary 3 or 1-2 years earlier which in my opinion is a bit too late?), but nonetheless they still TRIED to speak it because of their job nature.

The huge Apple store that is rather near to Ya Show, at Sanlitun. Was so disappointed upon realizing we got ripped off before that we roamed around the area instead of staying at Ya Show, haha!

Thank God we did – Simple yet tasty Butter crepe found at Sanlitun Village Shopping Mall!

A tip to those who have never been to Beijing before: Never go to Ya Show after Silk Market or you’d walk out of the former feeling extremely cheated, disappointed and furious!! But I’d have to warn you that Ya Show is pretty boring with limited variety. However if you look really closely you should be able to find great apparels which Silk Market may not have (and definitely way cheaper!)

Oh oh I realized I have not talked anything about my meals in Beijing!

Some weird dumpling with lotsa veggies inside

How could we miss their famous delicacy PEKING DUCK? The one that we were brought to wasn’t that great coz as we roamed the streets (鬼街) one night, we found and tasted BETTER Peking Duck (scroll down)!! And very value-for-money too! 🙂

Every other day we had zhi char for lunch and dinner. Nice but so boring! So this individual steamboat differentiated itself from the rest! Yumz!!

And the food that went with the steamboat!

Last breakfast in Beijing and decided not to have it in the hotel! Had ours in this restaurant (Jackpot) just a stone throw away from our hotel! Came in very small portion but it’s cheap too! So we ended up ordering the pork chop a-la-carte after we were done with this set meal 🙂

Took a stroll at an eatery street 15 minutes drive away (by taxi) with a few other tour mates one night..

I love the interior of the restaurant! Very authentic and ancient feel..

This, I swear, is the nicest Peking Duck tasted there. Unlike the previous one we tried, THIS had its skin and meat separated! The real deal!

Custard bun but not very rich with custard. Prefer the Singapore version with overflowing custard 🙂

Fried Oyster? Something like Orh Jian I guess..

Was craving for anything custard so we ordered this coz of its colour. But was disappointed when we found out it’s just yellow-coloured buns -_-

And I ordered century egg porridge as I wanted something hot and soupy to soothe my bloated stomach (from dinner earlier on)! It came in such a huge pot that I couldn’t finish it, so the porridge ended up being shared by everyone! Anyways it was delicious! 🙂

Absolutely value for money! There were eight of us and we only paid SG$6 each for the bill (and bear in mind I only took pictures of SOME food. There were 1 or 2 more dishes which I forgot to snap pictures of as I was happily eating, haha!!)! Dirt cheap and it’s in a RESTAURANT!! Moreover there was Peking Duck which probably costed the most among the dishes we ordered. Oh gosh because of this I’m definitely going back!!

And we also caught some amazing shows! I’m probably just like you, thinking that I’d be brought to boring Chinese opera or some plays that only the elderly would enjoy but NO!! Their performances were AMAZEBALLZXSZ! Their props were like whoa, unbelievable! Makes one wonder how they hell they achieved those effects! For example:

Dafuq?!! It’s a stage filled with WATER coming out from NOWHERE!! The audience were just as surprised and we thought we were going to die in the flood HAHA. But no the water didn’t hit us. At all. (how the hell??)

For interested parties, that was the Golden Mask Dynasty.

The final stop before we headed to the airport to catch our flight home was the renowned high-speed railway from Tianjin to Beijing! Our coach driver brought us to Tianjin earlier for some last-minute shopping (where I got my supplies of Shan Zha Pian, yumyumz) and then to save travelling time, we took the bullet train back to Beijing and met the driver there. All it took was an hour which is the time I always take to travel from Bukit Batok to Pasir Ris (like 1/30 of the distance from Tianjin to Beijing I reckon??) -_- Oh boy how I wish MRT were as fast as this. It probably won’t happen so oh wells…

Train is coming train is coming

Here it is!

Boarding pass!

Off we go!!

The interior! Nice right?

The interior of the train is pretty much like one of a plane, complete with train attendants with UNIFORMS. The passageway is just right for the merchandise/food trolleys to be pushed through. Yes, they serve titbits and beverages in there! While the train was moving we were admiring the picturesque view by the window. It felt as if my Geography textbooks had gone live as you could see rice and other plantations everywhere, lol!

The nicest grass picture taken in the fast-moving train with my slow-in-capturing-pictures camera! Turns out to be not too bad~

Back in Beijing!

Bf and I touched down in Singapore weighing 1-2kg heavier due to excessive eating in Beijing (you could see my chubbier face in most pictures anyway) and poor us had to lug our 20kg luggages + boxes of goodies back home. We let loose too much in Beijing that we ate even when our stomachs felt like they were going to explode because of the thinking that we wouldn’t be back so soon (so better gobble down as much as we could otherwise it’d be too late to regret)! So putting our newly-bought Li-Ning running shoes to good use, we ran our first rounds ever in 3-4 years and burned some calories. Whoot it felt so good sweating out those fats!!

(and then we took in a large bowl of Prawn Mee at Redhill Market later that night…)

Okay so I pretty much summarized my 8-day stay in Beijing! I don’t mind going back again if there happens to be similar promotions in the future by any tour agencies 😉 I loved what I saw in Beijing and the people there definitely conducted themselves WAY BETTER than those in Singapore! Well, except for some 北京人 who probably couldn’t get used to toilet doors so many a time I would see stuff I wouldn’t want to see -_- But having said that, though I have met nice Chinese people, I’m sorry but I’d still distance myself from the uncouth and disrespectful ones here :\

I’d probably go back to Beijing again (hopefully Forever21 and many other unopened stores would be ready by then!) but I would love to visit Shanghai before doing so!

And now that I’m done with my Beijing, I shall look forward to my Taiwan trip coming up in July!! Another good deal from CTC *hehehe*

Will be back with more updates on my Uni application (yes you people flocking in to view my post on NTU Linguistic application and interview last year, hope you guys got something out of it! :)) as well as my dearest Shih Tzu, Angel‘s 11th birthday celebration happening tomorrow!

xx