July 22, 2014

The Indonesian Guide to Shanghai Traveling

Truthfully, I don't know where to start this entry. The experience itself is kinda overwhelming for me.
Maybe I'll just divide this post into the preparation 101, how to get around, where to go. SO let's start.

Preparation 101
Lucky for me, my hubby and parents have been to Shanghai before. So I got a few of advises before I went there. Besides that Uncle Google also offers various informative websites. Nevertheles, here's a list to help you prepare your trips.
  • Periplus Map : sometime I ask my dad why he has a collection of map (you name it, he has it). But when I'm going to Shanghai, I guess I have to thank him for having it in the first place. Let's just say, I have the map memorized before I even went there. And also it helps me to better prepare my itinerary.
  • Google it! Most of you would definitely go to tripadvisor for advise. But for specifically China tourism I would suggest you to visit this page : http://www.chinatouristmaps.com/travel/shanghai.html. Let's just say that I got whatever I need from that page. I didn't get lost in Yuyuan Garden, Xintiandi or any other tourism site because of the detail tourism map of each area. And don't forget to sneak a peak at their itineraries, you'll be able to match it with the time you want to spend in Shanghai.

Going Around Shanghai
First off, when you get to Shanghai you don't need to worry how to get around. There're various choices of transportation mode you can choose of. Each has it's ups and downs.
  • Taxi : seems to be the most convenient type of transportation you can use. You only need to give the address to the driver then doze off or enjoy the Shanghai scenery and voila you'll be there. However, do be cautious. First, like most cities in China, not many taxi drivers can speak english fluently. Most of the time, when you give an address you need to show it written in Chinese character instead of latin. Second, during rush hour, there's not so many taxi around. Eventhough you flag your hands up and down, and the taxi light is on signaling that they're not taking any passenger, none of them would stop. Which leads us to third, sometimes the taxi doesn't want to use meter. They'll just name the price before you hope on, and it will be two sometimes three times higher than what you will pay using meter.
  • Metro : The Shanghai metro covers a large area of Shanghai, the network is extensive. Although not as clean as Singapore's MRT, but it's a good choice for low budget roundabouts. Not to mention it's extremely fast. No traffic, just be prepare that you need to exercise your feet, changing lines, up and down the stairs, and get a bit crushed in the Metro. But, don't be afraid, the Shanghai Metro is perfectly bilingual, unless you have an issue with map reading, I would suggest you at least try to get around using Metro.
  • The Big Bus : IMO for tourists, I guess the Big Bus will be one of the preferable choice. The double decker bus is open from 9.00 AM to 6.00PM. With 100RMB you will get a 1 day pass, means you can just hop on and hop off the bus at any stations. They have 3 bus lines, which cover almost all the Shanghai landmarks. When you get on the bus, they will give you a map of the tourist sight and a headset so you can listen to the Shanghai introductory along the way. It's easy to spot the Big Bus station, you can buy the ticket on the spot or if you'd like to plan you can also book via their web. Apparently available in other countries too.

Where to Go

  • Madame Tussaud : I never went to Madame Tussaud before, and was a bit doubtful if Shanghai has one. And apparently they do! Luckily it was only two doors away from my hotel in West Nanjing, so visiting Madame Tussaud is definitely the first thing we do. Like any other Madame Tussaud the museum is filled with wax figures of famous people from celebrities to athletes, royals to innovators. What makes Madame Tussaud Shanghai different? It is filled with Chinese celebrities, such as Fan Bing Bing, Jackie Chan, Vicky Zhou and many others. Don't forget to bring your selfie stick (tongsis) when you visit Madame Tussaud, it's definitely the place to get selfies with your favorite celebs.
  • The Bund Area : The Bund area is a nice place to enjoy the Shanghai skyline. Right by the Huangpu River which was the busiest river for trading back in the time. Featuring old buildings with European architecture used to serve as merchant banks. On the other side of the Huangpu river is the Pudong district, featuring the famous Oriental Pearl TV Tower, which was the tallest building in Shanghai until 2008 when they completed Shanghai World Financial Tower. At night you can enjoy both building lit up from the bund area, with the Huangpu River cruise boat cruising here and there (also lit up, so it's kinda festival of light in the night)
  • The Oriental Pearl TV Tower : I went here the first day I came, which was on a weekend. It was so packed with tourists (mostly locals), and I have to queue at least 1km (1.5hour) to get to the observation deck. The tower has 3 observation deck which is at 90m (filled with binoculars at every corner), at 259m where they have the skywalk, and at 315m where they have the space capsule. Oriental Pearl Tower has a 360 degree observation deck, means you can go around the observation deck and enjoy every corner and crooks of Shanghai. For 160RMB you can get up to the skywalk observation desk. It's worth the try, having the sensation of standing up above a clear glass watching the busy street. For 220 RMB you can get up to the highest observation desk. Sadly I bought only the 160RMB ticket, and can't tell you what it feels like at the space capsule.
  • The Bund SightSeeing Tunnel : To go back and forth between the bund area and the oriental tv tower, you don't only get to use the taxi. There's another fun way to go, it is through the Bund sightseeing tunnel. If you get to the bund, just look for a stair way down that says "Bund Sight Seeing Tunnel", it's near the intersection with Nanjing Road. For a roundtrip ticket you have to pay 70RMB, but you can buy a one way ticket as well. You can also buy the Bund Tunnel ticket bundled with tickets to other tourism site such as Oriental Pearl TV Tower, SWF Tower, the Marine Park. What's inside? It's basically an underground tunnel dividing the Huang Pu River. The tunnel's wall are filled with laser lamps, and you'll be entertained by the laser light show.
  • YuYuan Garden : Now this is actually one of my favorite place in Shanghai. How can I not love! It's a beautiful place with a very chinese architecture. It's like I'm suddenly in a Kungfu Boy comic. Around the garden is filled with shops selling souvenirs, local delights, authentic tea, and many others. Moreover the garden itself is beautiful, with 30RMB per person it's heavenly. Try to enter the garden during low season, I believe you can imagine yourself as a Han Dynasty poet wandering around the garden looking for inspiration, listening to the sound of silence. I can't get enough of the YuYuan Garden & the surroundings that I visit the place twice (yes,, twice!!) during the trip.
  • Religious Sites : As a Chinese country, Shanghai is influenced by confucianism and buddhism. There're some famous temples that worth the visit. Just to look around, enjoying the golden roof, jade buddha, or observing people praying and making a wish by throwing coins. I visited two, there was the Reclining Jade Buddha, the temple was a bit far off from the city, therefore taking the Big Bus was an advantage. The temple was filled with Buddha statue and all the other Gods. At 4 PM, I was able to witness the monks doing their daily prayer. There's another one at the corner of Yan'an street right straight from Nanjing Road. It was called the Jing'an Temple. The temple is slightly smaller, but not less majestic. The roof, the top of Pagoda is all coated in gold. Eventhough you are new to the neighborhood you can immediately spot the Jing'an Temple from far away.
  • Nanjing Lu : I believe this is the most famous road all over Shanghai. The East Nanjing part is strictly for pedistrian only. You can see the place is kinda the heart of the city. It's always filled with people. And on weekend nights, it's the sea of people out there. What to do here? Obviously shopping! It's like 2km of shopping malls, from international brand to local brand, everything is here. Two blocks away from Nanjing Lu is the Fuzhou Lu. Basically known as the cultural street. Why? Well simply because the street is filled with stationery shops, And,, if you're a fan of chinese calligraphy, it's the best place to get the "four treasures of study" at a bargain. Moreover we have lots of books shop and book cafes on the street.
  • Xintiandi : Basically the most uptown area across Shanghai, filled with branded designs, variety of international and a bit expensive cuisine. Yes, it's a place where the expatriates hangout. What's interesting is the architecture of the street. Build on the French Concession Area, entering Xintiandi is like suddenly you're in Europe, complete with the European fountain, outdoor cafes, brick road and brick wall. The site of The First National Congress of the Communist Party is also nearby. 
  • Around People's Park : People's Park is probably the best meeting point if you'd like to meet up with a friend. When you call it People's Park it's definitely for the people of Shanghai. I manage to get a stroll by the park. It's busy, as it is the intersection of 3 busy metro lines, and right at the corner of Nanjing Lu. But it's also busy with kids playing the carousel, or senior residence gathering and exercising together. I guess People's Park really is the Central Park of Shanghai. Just a walk on the outer side of the park you can find Shanghai 3 popular buildings : The Shanghai Urban Planning Exhibition Hall, The Shanghai National Museum, The Shanghai Grand Theatre. Too bad, I don't have the time to visit all, just manage to enjoy the building from the outside.
I guess that's about all the interesting sites I manage to visit. There are tons of others though. If you're interested in Chinese history you can visit the Sun Yat Sen Residence, or if you're familiar enough with Chinese literature & poetry, you can also visit Taikang Lu. I also heard from a friend that the botanical garden is worth a visit, although a bit far from the centre of the city. If you're staying a while longer you can also sign up for a trip to nearby cities like Shuzou or Huangzhou which are famous with their waterfrons cities (almost like the Venice of Asia).

  • Yes! It's always crowded. China is one of the most populated country in the world so don't be surprise if it's always crowded. Especially during summer holiday and weekends, be prepare to queue at every favorite tourist attraction (I learned this the very first day I arrive). I got to witness the swarming sea of people moving from West Nanjing to East Nanjing trying to reach The Bund in the afternoon. It's like a mountain spitting lava, that's how Nanjing Road looks like.
  • Limited English. Not many Chinese know how to speak English. Most of the time I went shopping, they will show you the calculator the agreed price. Some strangers had come up to me, mistaken me as  local, asking me (I don't know what) something about their Nikon camera or Instax camera, but when I said "Sorry,," they will immediately retract and waving their hands no longer interested to ask. 
  • The cleaning forces are superb! Yes I have to give them thumbs up for this one. At a place where cleanliness is not a habit (truthfully I saw a lady squating at side of a busy street just because she needs to take a loo, and yes spitting on the street is not forbidden here), the cleaning forces do manage to get all the trash out from the street. I even get hushed once, because I spill crumbs on the road, and the cleaning lady wanted to sweep it away. 
Last but not least, are you ready for the sneak peak? Well here's one made using TripWOW.

July 19, 2014

Sand & Beach - Freebie

It's Summer Madness at PixelScrapper!!
We have the Summer Layout Madness throughout July in which everyone is invited to set a digiscrap target and enjoy the pack with a different theme everyday. It is so much fun, you can still hop on for the ride, as July is not ending yet.
And to top it of, Elif Sahin (one of our designer) is launching a Sand & Beach bundle kit this weekend. The perfect kit to capture your holiday at the beach. Hey! It's summer we all need a little tan during summer.
Here's a sample layout created by me.

Ain't that fun?
The bundle consist of 5 different kit: elements, solid papers, patterned papers, journal cards & stamps.

Last but not least! Here's a stack paper & cluster freebie created using the Sand & Beach kit by Elif Sahin.


July 16, 2014

Say Hello to the New Addition for Pixel Scrapper Team!

After one year going around the web searching for the perfect digiscrap community out there, I finally set my foot on PixelScrapper. I never thought I would ever be more involved in the forum, but yet here I am. Applying for a spot on the team earlier this month, and now I'm officially part of the cheer team! :)
For starter, Marisa Lerin one of our designer is publishing a new kit called Road Trip this July 14th. The perfect kit to embelish your road trip/travelling photos. And as Indonesian, I would say this kit will match perfectly well with the "Mudik" excitement we're going to face in less than 2 weeks. So here's a sneak peak of Marisa Lerin's new bundle (image is linked)

And, here's a sample layout and a quick page freebie for you! (click image for the QP freebie)

The pictures are from my Shanghai vacay/business trip last week, which I promise will make another post for you about the Shanghai roundabouts.

July 01, 2014

July! Happy Ramadhan!

Hello,, hello,, 
First I'd like to say happy ramadhan, for those of you who will be fasting for this one whole month. May the month of Ramadhan filled with rahmah and baroqah.
Second, I can't believe it's July already! July is the month of birthday for almost everyone in my family. It's like a never ending celebration for us. As most of chinese origin families, every birthday we always eat noodles. Why? they say it is so we can have a long life. Maybe the length of a noodle is an inspiration to resemble a long life. :)
Next, I'm sharing a desktop calendar for July with you. I'm using a kit from the PixelScrapper : June Blog Train, the theme is "Oh Baby Baby". If you're just having a baby or would like to give a digiscrap gift to your friend who just gave birth, this is the perfect theme to use. As for me, as I'm celebrating "my 29th day" this month, I'm using this kit to reminiscence my younger year as a baby.

P.S. I'm sneaking one picture of my baby boo here. Can you tell which one it is.


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