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Win a FREE trip to China

Thursday, October 16th, 2008

CNReviews has just announced a contest which will  give away a free trip to China. The trip has a cool name: China 2.0 Tour which includes stops at Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou from Nov. 10 – 17. Within one week, you can see the top 3 big cities which will be in very different flavor in China.

CNReviews and The China Business Network have a seed idea of bringing western bloggers to China to create more understanding and dialogue btw the West and China early this year. Now the idea is going to be realized. The contest is sponsored by VituralVC. Find more details on Mashable and CNReviews.

Hurry up, the contest is ended on Oct. 28, 2008.

My Last Minute Trip Plan to Suzhou, China

Thursday, May 1st, 2008

May 1st is a public holiday in China, as it is International Labor’s Day which is originated from a labor dispute in the United States (although it is not a public holiday in the States today). lol. We had a rough plan to visit a nearby city in the three-day long weekend. However, when we were on elong and ctrip (the two major travel booking sites in China), almost all the hotels under 400 RMB in the downtown area were fully booked, even through May 8. Obviously, there are quite some tourists around the country taking vacations during this long weekend.

The weather in May is so beautiful – warm enough to walk outside without wearing layers of clothes, but not to hot to get sweaty easily. So, it is a good time to visit East China cities: Shanghai, Hangzhou, Suzhou, Wuxi, Yangzhou, and other tourism destinations such as Thousand Islands Lake(qiandao hu, 千岛湖), Putuo Mountain (putuo shan, 普陀山). This beautiful weather will continue until the last week of June – a tip to plan your trip to East China.

So, I want to get out, but don’t want to over-spend for our outing. My last minute holiday trip plan starts from cutting the trip length. Suzhou is only 50 miles away from Shanghai and it takes 37 minutes by train. So we cut the 3-day trip to 1 day long hour trip. The last train from Suzhou to Shanghai is 10pm. We can be home before midnight.

My plan is to visit a 2000+ year old historical site called Huqiu (虎丘, means Tiger Hill) + Suzhou Museum which has a new wing designed by Chinese American architect, Pritzker Architecture Prize winner,  Ieoh Ming Pei (贝聿铭), + one of the gardens. The other important “mission” is to try the local Su style food. The restaurants can be old style, the service can be bad, but as long as the food are good, we won’t complaint!

It will be a cheap holiday trip. My secret of a bargain holiday is to think about what are the most desired things to do in your vacation. Then plan around the objective/goal, the earlier the better, the more flexible, the cheaper.  I will share my photo trip when we are back.

Spring Break Trip Plan : Hangzhou

Thursday, March 27th, 2008

(I am going to Hangzhou this weekend to celebrate our wedding anniversary. Here is what I have done in planning our trip:

1. Where to go: Nanjing and Hangzhou were our two preferred options: a nearby city with enough attractions for a 3-day vacation. Both of us haven’t been to Nanjing, and I have been to Hangzhou once 8 years’ ago (I’ve been to Hangzhou in 2006 for Chinese Blogger Conference but I didn’t go anywhere, so it didn’t count.). I know Hangzhou will be extremely beautiful with plum and peach blossom in early April, but I don’ t know about Nanjing. So we decided to take a less risky option to avoid ruining our vacation. Later, I found out there is also cheer blossom and an exhibition of tulip in a park called “Prince Bay Park” (太子湾公园).

2. Where to Stay: I spent a weekend night reading hotel reviews on two major hotel booking sites in China: elong and ctrip. Ctrip has much more user reviews and even has a page of the ranking. For one moment, I was every exciting that I found a great hotel in Ctrip with a very high user rating. But then I cross-checked it on elong and there were only less than 10 (maybe 3) reviews on this hotel. What’s worst: they are all very negative. I was then very frustrated in whether or not to trust the reviews. It is easy to trust when all you hear are good news, but things become complicated even when you read one line of negative words. At the end, I picked a hotel under “holiday inn” brand rather than a highly recommended “best western” one. In my knowledge of hotel, “holiday inn” is a better brand than “best western”. This experience really made me wonder “how hotel reviews will be useful to users” ? I wish I can ask an emotional search engine to filter the reviews for me!

3. What to Do: “West Lake” (xihu, 西湖) is the natural landmark of Hangzhou, capital city of Zhejiang Province. So this is a must-go spot. And I am highly interested in Chinese green tea, and Hangzhou is the home to the best green tea – longjin tea (龙井茶) in China. I want to hike into the village to buy some fresh green tea of 2008, and watch people “stir fry” the tea leaf. And also check out a few museums.

4. How to organize the trip: We love map! so we start looking at the maps to plan our itinerary. The most interesting map I found is a 3D virtual map (see below screen). It is specially helpful to optimize the route by grouping the attactions by area with map like this.

(click to see  larger image)

Hangzhou visual map

Images of today

Wednesday, November 28th, 2007


This is picture I took in Apr. 2003 in Yangshuo, Guangxi, China. We were rafting on Yulong River and took a break on the river side. This sow was very freindly to her master as she is his pet.


4-Day Trip to Jiuzhaigou, Huanglong, Songpan of Sichuan, China (Part I)

Monday, October 15th, 2007

Before I come up with a well-organized travel report, I would like to share some pictures with you. They are just too Beautiful to be kept in my own hard-drive.

From airplan, before landing on Huanglong Airport

The airplane to Huanglong

Huanglong, Sichuan, China, 黄龙

Huanglong, Sichuan, China, 黄龙

Huanglong, Sichuan, China, 黄龙 - Yellow Dragon

Say “中秋节快乐“ to Your Chinese Friends! Happy Mid-Autumn Festival to You!

Monday, September 24th, 2007

Mid-Autumn Festival comes on Sept. 25 this year — Aug. 15 in Chinese calendar every year.

Mid-Autumn Festival is a day for family reunion. Chinese character for “Reunion” is the same as “round”, that’s why a moon cake is round-shape.

As a native Cantonese, I grew up eating moon cakes which are sweet in taste. Not until I was 18 and went to Shanghai for college; I didn’t know there is a kind of moon cake which is salty. Can you believe a CAKE is not SWEET?

Well, people in Shanghai area have been having “pork meat stuffed with puff skin“moon cakes for centuries, which is not SWEET. They taste very good!

traditional Cantonese style mooncake with lotus bean paste and salty egg yolk

Tradictional Cantonese Style Mooncake, lotus seed paste with salty egg yolk. (One with two yolks is Dulex!)
Su style mooncake with pork meat inside Su style mooncake with pork meat inside

Su (Means Suzhou) Style Mooncake, minced pork meat inside.
Haagendazs icecream mooncake

Localized Haagendazs Icecream Mooncake.

stir fry pond/river snail

Stir fry river/pond snail. Cantonese love to have this on Mid-Autumn Festivel. A family will sit together, eating the snail while “appreciating” the perfect moon of a year.

Understand China, Chinese and Shanghai (yes, it is difficult)

Sunday, September 23rd, 2007

I read a review about Taiwanese Ang Lee’s new Venice Film Festival 2007 award winning movie from one my favorite magazine on Saturday. I then followed the movie and research the story, the writer of the story, the husband of the writer, and the characters in the story/movie and reviews about the writer during the weekend. I enjoyed doing this because I really like the writer and her books. She is Eileen Chang (张爱玲). Life weekEileen spent 30 years writing this 29-page short story which happened in 70 years’ ago.

The movie is rated as NC-17 in US. Ang Lee said Don’t expect much from ‘Lust, Caution’ to USA Today. He was talking about the box office performance; I think he was also talking about culture difference. I really doubt that people with Chinese culture background can understand it as the way Chang wanted to express. Can you undertand why it is a big deal? But maybe Chang took 30 years to make it for everyone. We will see.

Anyway, I would strongly recommend people who like Shanghai or want to understand Shanghai should go for the movie. Chang keeps every details through each single Chinese word, and Ang Lee repeated every detail about Shanghai in it. [Note: the woman on the magazine cover is the main original character in Lust, Caution from 1930s’; her name is Ruping Deng.]

I always wonder what do you see when you visit “ancient city/town” in Shanghai neighborhood, like Suzhou, Zhouzhuang, or Zhujiajiao.

Zhujiajiao, China

This is the hometown to NBA hero Yao Ming.

Zhujiajiao, Shanghai, China

A boat ride will be fun.

Zhujiajiao, Shanghai, China

Windor shopping.