Monday, 28 April 2014

Flowers Blossom! My 8-days trip to Eastern China (Hangzhou, Shanghai, Suzhou, Wuzhen)

Ni Hao! On 13 March 2014, we started our journey to explore Eastern China after booking the AirAsia X FREE flight tickets to Hangzhou, China under the AirAsiaGo.com package. The last time I visited China was back in 2006 with my mum on a holiday-tour package to Beijing, Tianjin and Chengde during winter. 

For this trip, we (myself and Camel) took an early morning flight from Kuala Lumpur (LCCT) to Hangzhou and here’s what we did for our entire 8-days journey (13 March - 21 March 2014) in Eastern China:  <Hangzhou – Shanghai – Suzhou – Wuzhen – Hangzhou>

13 Mac 2014: 
Penang - Kuala Lumpur (LCCT) 

14 Mac 2014: 
KUALA LUMPUR / HANGZHOU - Kuala Lumpur (LCCT) - Hangzhou (Xiao Shan International Airport) - West Lake (Xihu) - Impression of West Lake  

15 Mac 2014
HANGZHOU / SHANGHAI -  Took high-speed "G" train from Hangzhou Railway Station - Shanghai Hongqiao Station (approx. 50 minutes ride) - Yu Yuan Garden / Yu Garden Area - the City Temple of Shanghai - The Bund (most famous landmark and a symbol of old and new Shanghai) -  Shanghai Book City (walking distance from East Nanjing Road) - Nanjing Road Pedestrian Street

16 Mac 2014
SHANGHAI - The Bund - Xin Tian Di - Tian Zi Fang at Lu Wan District - New Development Zone in Pudong & Oriental Pearl Tower - Pudong Riverfront Thoroughfare - Old French Concession - Cruise tour on Huangpu River

17 Mac 2014:
SHANGHAI / SUZHOU - Took high-speed "G" train from Shanghai Railway Station - Suzhou (approx. 30 minutes ride) - The Lion Forest Garden - Grand Canal - Silk Factory Museum - Tong Pak Fu Garden - Temple of the North (also known as Beisi Pagoda) - Return to Shanghai 

18 Mac 2014
SHANGHAI / WUZHENTook high-speed train from Shanghai Hongqiao Station -  Tongxiang Railway Station and local buses to Wuzhen Water Town - Indigo Fabric Workshop (West Scenic Zone) - Folk Customs Museum - Wedding Museum -  Chinese Foot Binding Culture Museum - Heal Town Pharmacy -  Traditional Story-telling Theatre - God Fortune Bay - The Former Residence of Mao Dun - Boat Culture Gallery - Wang Huiwu Memorial - White Lotus Pagoda (temple) - Temple of God Guan - Wuzhen Grand Theater 

19 Mac 2014
WUZHEN / HANGZHOU -  Took high-speed "G" train from Tongxiang Railway Station to Hangzhou Railway Station - Lei Feng Pagoda - Tomb of General Yue Fei - Red Fish Pond - Hefang Street night market 

20 Mac 2014
HANGZHOU -  Cruise across West Lake (ends at Flower Harbor) -  Walk along Su Causeway -  3 Pools Mirroring The Moon

21 Mac 2014:  
HANGZHOU - Return flight : Hangzhou - Kuala Lumpur - Penang


Hangzhou, an old Chinese saying goes, "In heaven there is paradise, on earth there's Hangzhou". When Marco Polo visited China in the thirteenth century, he remarked Hangzhou as the most beautiful city he'd ever seen. This place is described as an earthly paradise where one needs to do nothing but to take a walk in the scenic village path and listen to the moving love stories beside the West Lake (Xihu), a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Our first destination upon arrival was West Lake (Xihu). Apart from going to Hangzhou's scenic West Lake, taking beautiful walks at the roads along the West Lake, and trying out Hangzhou delicacies, another must-do things in Hangzhou is to watch the hugely popular "Impression of West Lake" show staged entirely upon the lake itself & directed by Zhang Yimou who developed the opening and closing ceremonies of the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing. I had seen pictures of it but it was nothing compared to the real sight. The lake itself was huge, and you could see layers and layers of mountains surrounding it. 
West Lake (Xihu), Pride of Hangzhou
Lei Feng Pagoda in evening glow
West Lake - the place comes alive at night
West Lake (Xihu) - You will forever remain in my heart

Impression of West Lake - A must-see show in Hangzhou 

Shanghai was our second stop for our trip. It was cool and windy in Shanghai during the month of March. We took the high-speed "G" train to travel between Hangzhou and Shanghai, which took only 1 hour ride between Hangzhou Railway Station and Shanghai Hongqio Station. Our trip in Shanghai started with Yuyuan Garden, located in an old town which is famous for its ingenious layout and delicate architecture. The treasure of the garden, Yu Ling Long (an exquisite jade stone), an artificial hill, is considered as one of the three most well-known peaks in Southern China.  The city of Shanghai can be easily accessible via various metro trains and public buses.

Yu Garden Area Commercial Building
Heritage-listed houses at Old Shanghai

Heritage-listed houses in Shanghai

               An old Cathay cineplex in Shanghai 

The Giant Dumpling Soup filled with tasty soup that requires straw to sip in at Nan Xian ManTou Dian in the heart of Yu Yuan Garden is definitely a must-try for all travelers.  

Giant Dumpling Soup
Later in the late afternoon, we took time to explore The Bund (which we visited twice in our trip to Shanghai), famous for its colorful neon signs on the skyscrapers on the eastern bank of Huangpu River while warm yellow and silver lights on the Gothic-style buildings on the west. Later in the evening, we headed to Nanjing Road, the main shopping district in Shanghai, and one of the worlds busiest pedestrian streets. 

Old Shanghai - Nanjing Road

The wonderful Shanghai city view at night

Modern Shanghai

Beautiful Gothic-style buildings with warm yellow lights in the evening 
 

Went for a walk at The Bund

Lu Wan District
Am I a religious architecture person in general? ;) 

For the Suzhou day-trip, we took a morning bullet train from Shanghai to Suzhou, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Many classic buildings were seen here. Suzhou is well-known for its beautiful gardens, girls and silk factories. Upon arrival, we visited the Lion Forest Garden, (also known as the Kingdom of Rockeries), a famous Yuan-Dynasty Garden in Suzhou followed by a boat trip along the Grand Canal and get close to the world's oldest and longest canal. Later on, we visited  Tong Pak Fu Garden and followed by the Temple of the North, a Buddhist temple with a 7-storey pagoda where we walked all the way to the top for the great views of Suzhou.
Places of Repose Sought
The Lion Forest Garden - Lots and lots of rocks 
The Lion Forest Garden - The Mid-Lake Pavilion
The Grand Canal in Suzhou 
Temple of the North, Suzhou
Planning a trip to Wuzhen Water Village can be quite confusing. This ancient water village is divided into 2 main zones - the East Zone (Dong Zha) and the West Zone (Xi Zha). The East Zone has many old residences maintaining their original appearance while the West Zone is mainly developed for visitors with accommodation is also available there. To enter the Wuzhen Scenic Zones, visitors need to purchase an entry pass which cost about 120RMB/pax/single entry (which also covers return ferry rides) for 1 scenic zone. 

For this trip, we bought the Xi Zha (West Zone of Wuzhen) entry pass. We were told that the West Zone (Xi Zha) is quieter and is more spacious with a good number of side alleys, small bridges, balconies, ancient docks and secondary waterways, which makes it a fascinating place to stroll around. The area is actually not that big so you can see most of it in just 1-day.
 
To enter the West Zone (Xi Zha), we took a short ferry ride across a man-made lake from the main lobby (where we bought our entry pass). The streets of West Zone (Xi Zha) are lined with guest houses, restaurants, bars and souvenir and arts and crafts shops. Our Guesthouse is also located at the West Zone (Xi Zha) and it is run by a landlord with his/her family members. The Guesthouse was pretty basic but it was built in the local style and our bed was carved from antique wood and comes with heavy morning breakfast. 
The ancient houses in Wuzhen
The ancient houses in Wuzhen
Cruising on the Grand Canal

Beautiful night scene in Wuzhen
An ancient town of Wuzhen
Ancient house in Wuzhen
Ancient house in Wuzhen
Colourful lanterns hung outside an ancient house
Fine wood carvings
Not-to-be-missed in Wuzhen:  We wandered along the winding streets and bridges that crossed over the many canals during day time (before the sun sets) and during night time when the village is tastefully lighted.

Some hotels/hostels available at Wuzhen West: 
- Waterside Resort 
-Tong An Hotel 
- Zhao Ming Academy Inn 
-Water Fair Inn
- Passage d'Eau Hotel / Youth Hostel
- Wisteria Youth Hostel  
- Wuzhen Guest House   

Hangzhou was our first and last major stop of our trip to China. I'd say we were lucky enough that we were greeted by sunshine and clear skies when we arrived here at the most cherished cities in China. The best site in Hangzhou is definitely the gorgeous West Lake (Xihu). The view was amazingly beautiful and has plenty of photogenic spots that we took advantage of. We took time and walked along the Su Causeway, in which we had a great view of the Leifeng Pagoda. During the evening, we went over to Hefang Street night market where we found all types of tasty sweets and delicacies being sold. I really found Hangzhou to be my favourite spot of our entire China trip. It was truly beautiful, relaxing and breathtaking. Aww, I miss the calmness of West Lake!  

Let's sit together and watch the sun greet the sky
The reflection mirrors the city's beauty
A nice spot to watch the sun set over the lake
West Lake, my city of calmness
Come and discover the magic of West Lake!
Street art in Hangzhou
I feel peace within me
Let's sail together to a forever land
Temple roof - "I maybe small, but I am a guardian angel" 

In the middle of West Lake, truly beautiful and breathtaking
Myself with winter plum flowers at West Lake
You know spring is finally here when the beautiful blossoms bloom 

Seeds sprout, flowers bloom, and the sun warms the earth
Beautiful spring at Yu Yuan Garden
We really enjoyed our brief trip here very much and will definitely return some day if I get a chance. 
Air Itinerary Details: 
AirAsia X: Penang - Kuala Lumpur (LCCT) - Hangzhou (Xiao Shan International Airport)  / Hangzhou (Xiao Shan International Airport) - Kuala Lumpur (LCCT) - Penang 

Accommodation: 
Hangzhou - Westlake Youth Hostel  www.westlakehostel.com
(** 5 minutes walk to Lei Feng Pagoda)
Shanghai - Jin Jiang Metropole Hotel
(** 5 - 10 minutes walk to East Nanjing Road station - Metro Line 2 & 10 / 5 minutes walk to The Bund
Suzhou -  N /A (day trip from Shanghai)
Wuzhen - Wuzhen Guest House (a type of old wooden structure house, which are distributed along river or street with many room types) (**Rooms are limited during peak season)
Click here for details: http://www.wuzhen.com.cn/english/hotel.asp?hid=49

Local Transportation: 
HANGZHOU - SHANGHAI 
How to get there: Took high-speed train from Hangzhou Railway Station - Shanghai Hongqiao Station (approx. 1 hour)

SHANGHAI - SUZHOU 
How to get there: Took high-speed train from Shanghai Railway Station - Suzhou (approx. 26 minutes) 

SHANGHAI - WUZHEN 
How to get there: Took high-speed train from Shanghai Hongqiao Station -  Tongxiang Railway Station (approx. 50 minutes), take bus no. K 282 to Wuzhen Bus Station (approx. 1 hour) -  take bus no. K350 to Wuzhen West Scenic Area (approx. 30 minutes/2RMB) 
**There are 11 shuttle airport express lines available everyday from Hangzhou Xiaoshan Airport to Wuzhen.
**Direct bus is also available from Wuzhen Bus Station to Shanghai Hongqiao West Station (one shift daily) 

WUZHEN - HANGZHOU 
How to get there: Took high-speed train from Tongxiang Railway Station - Hangzhou Railway Station (approx. 1 hour)
Our one-way ticket 


China's high-speed CRH train - No hassles of taking flights!
Admission Fees at Wuzhen:
Wuzhen East Scenic Zone - 100RMB/person
Wuzhen West Scenic Zone - 120RMB/person
Package ticket for Wuzhen East & West Scenic Zone - 150RMB/person 
(**please note that the admission fees exclude tour guide fee, tourist boat, bus, parking) 

Impression of West Lake - A metropolitan outdoor performance on a natural stage setting directed by Zhang Yimou and other famous directors. The soundtrack earned the nomination of the 52nd Grammy Award. 

Where to Eat:
Nan Xian ManTou Dian (Shanghai) 
The Grandma's Restaurant / Wai Po Jia (Hangzhou) *** 


Read more about our travel experiences @ Guangxi, China:   
8-Days Travel Itinerary in Guangxi, China. Scenic Yangshuo
8-Days Travel Itinerary in Guangxi, China. HuangYao - An Unknown Ancient Town
“Travel is never a matter of money but of courage.  I spent a large part of my youth traveling the world as a hippie. And what money did I have then? None. I barely had enough to pay for my fare. But I still consider those to have been the best years of my youth.The great lessons I learned has been precisely those that my journeys had taught me” - Paulo Coelho
Welcome to Small World! This blog allows me to share my travel experiences with others in a straightforward and far-reaching way. I often made great use of other peoples travel blogs and websites every time I plan for my travel trips as they often contained most updated information and invaluable resources from their past travel experiences. 
I really hope that you will find every piece of information contained within my blog 
handy and useful for your upcoming trip.The writer is a passionate traveler who enjoys speaking to young keen travelers about the freedom to get cultured and to taste the fullness of life. Feel free to contact the writer if you need any travel guidance or tips or if you have any burning questions with regards to your upcoming trip/ journey 
Be inspired but more importantly be inspiring -

10 comments:

  1. Hi Christine,
    Thanks for dropping by. With regards to your concern, i personally think a 21" luggage is stil manageable. We took the 27" sized luggage but then still manageable. But then, i highly advice that you start your journey early from Shanghai as trains and buses get crowded during peak hours. Upon arrival at Tongxiang Railway Station, we took a public bus (K282) to Wuzhen Bus Station which was a long distance journey (approx 1 hour) and then get down and transfer to bus no. K350 (approx 25minutes) to Wuzhen West Scenic Area. Those public buses wasnt like a coach /tour buses where you may put your luggages and bags in the compartment. Thus, I highly advise that you carry along your small luggages (can be placed near driver's seat) and keep light as seats are also limited (be prepared to see mad dash of local passengers as they wrestle for empty seats).

    Hope the above info helps! Happy planning and do let me know if you need any other info. Please like our page or leave a testimonial if u love reading them or if u highly recommend this article to other travelers.

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    1. Please support our humble blog if you find it informative / worth a read by casting a vote in the Singapore Blog Awards 2015 here: http://sgblogawards.omy.sg/2015/category/editors-choice-finalist.php
      Thank you.

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  3. Thanks for sharing your experience of beijing tour.Nice picture have been clicked. That’s a awesome article you posted. I found the post very useful as well as interesting. I will come back to read some more.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi John, thanks for dropping by. I am glad you find them useful and feel free to share them with your circle of friends. Final thank you for the support and hope you continue to drop by my blog :)

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    2. Please support our humble blog if you find it informative / worth a read by casting a vote in the Singapore Blog Awards 2015 here: http://sgblogawards.omy.sg/2015/category/editors-choice-finalist.php
      Thank you.

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  4. nice pictures and thanks for sharing so much useful info.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi missywanderlust, thanks for dropping by and for reading my blog posts. Do let us know if you need more information/ details with regards to your upcoming trip to China. Happy Planning! Cheers Camel & Chengy

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  5. Hi, glad that I stumbled upon ur interesting blog.thanks for sharing the itineraries which will aid me in planning my trip. By the way, may I know how much did you spend in MYR including flight ticket?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi, thanks for dropping by and reading our blog post. With regards to your inquiry, we actually booked the flight tickets (KL - Hangzhou- KL for 2 pax) together with the accommodation which comes under the AirAsiaGo travel package, which costs us around MYR700 only in total The flight tickets were actually FREE so called. Our travel dates for this trip was from 14-21 March, and then we took the speed train from Hangzhou to Shanghai and spent few nights there in Shanghai at Jin Jiang Metropole Hotel which we booked seperately and later on took train back to Hangzhou after couple of days. As for our total expenses for the entire trip, we brought about MYR1500 per pax (which cover meals, transportation and entrance fees) and it was sufficient to last us for the trip. Hope the above info helps and do let us know if you need more details :) Happy planning! Cheers Chengy & Camel

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